A New Year to Reconnect with Life…


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As we reflect on the past year, it is easy to think about all of the things we didn’t like and make grandiose plans for the coming new year. But, do we really need to do that? If we want to lose weight, did we not want to lose weight last year? If our aim is the elimination of bad habits, did we engage in those bad habits in the year that is ending now? The same logic could be applied infinitum. Thus it seems it’s not so much changing the small parts that make up our life as it is our attitude towards life as a whole. There is a reason we get too heavy; we engage in unhealthy behaviors; we become bored and depressed and seek something new, exciting and different. But, that which we seek really has nothing to do with the date on the calendar as much as it has to do with our overall general approach to the life we are living now. The life you are seeking underneath your list of new year’s resolutions is actually here already. You just need to reconnect with it. You need to reengage with life.

All living things are either living or dying, thriving or deteriorating. There is no status quo when it comes to life. And, as you no doubt have guessed already, living in this world there is a tendency towards deterioration and decay. It’s not how God originally planned it, but it is what it is at this point! The world is a frightfully negative place. Social media is negative. Your friends tend towards being negative. The circumstances you find yourself in – negative. It is how the world runs and it is how the world functions. Ever since that old snake got involved with God’s creation, decay replaced flourishing with loss and defeats becoming the order of the day. As such, it is no wonder we have all become disconnected with life. It’s not so much the world’s way that has defeated us as it is how we have let the world into our hearts. We expect things not to work out. We peer around the corner in good situations waiting for the the shoe to drop; the bad things to appear. We are not gluttons for punishment, but rather have been systematically trained to expect negativity; to look for the cracks; to find reasons not to maintain any semblance of hope or positive expectation. In this, over time, we have been swept away from life and not to life. And, in our ignorance, we have been led away from the source of life and all that could ever be good about life. We chase money and status and sunny days without troubles. We long to feel good again and long for the energy and enthusiasm that accompany that goodness. We promise ourselves to get better at this and stop doing that in the hopes that we can discover or rediscover that which we seemed to have lost. Enter the new year and its promise for better things ahead.

Curiously, instead of taking the time to think and consider what might have occurred that robbed us of our life or our happiness in life, we flap around on the surface of things assuring ourselves that if we only had more money or more time or more favorable circumstances, things would quickly take a turn for the better. Surely dry January will do the trick instead of learning what all that alcohol is replacing in our minds. We eat too much and hate the result, but never quite figure out why we are eating so much. All excesses, a thing we are all guilty of, point us to some missing element in our lives, some unresolved issue, some fear allowed to hang around and plague us. Fears and worries and our constant preoccupation with ourselves and whether or not we are going to be okay, suck the very life from us. The more we think we have finally figured out, the less we actually know, yet we keep persisting in the same game year after lousy year, loving life less and less as every year transpires. What, you’re thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years old and you already have figured everything out? You don’t need to make any changes in your thinking or your conclusions? You don’t need to consider that you have perhaps been led astray in some capacity? I submit to you, with all the honesty my soul can fathom, that if your life sucks it does so because you have been deceived in some category of life which you have yet to discover. You have, as my wife is wont to say, gotten entrenched in some fixed mindset that serves only to limit and curtail your life rather than to enhance it. Look, we are all in this thing together and there is nothing you are experiencing that all of us haven’t experienced at one time or another. We all get down in life and feel miserable. We all get wrapped up in stupidity and the things that rob life from us. We all get perplexed, lost, confused and afraid. That isn’t the issue at all. The issue is whether or not we can humble ourselves to figure out why and then at last find the way back. The way back exists regardless of the date on the calendar!

When you reconnect with life, you will find that life and God and goodness have been here all along. God is more than willing to teach you something new. He is infinitely capable of exposing the darkness that has been wearing you out. He sees all and knows all. If you are going to make a New Year’s resolution, resolve yourself to rediscover life. Step down from that old, high horse of ego and be willing to admit that something has gone astray. You know if things aren’t working for you so you might as well admit it! I’m not sure what it is about being a human being that convinces us there is nothing new to know; no new path to discover; no new road to take. Sometimes you just need to find someone you love and trust and talk things through with them. Then while you are discussing your plight, listen to what they have to say. There will be errors of thought and subsequent actions you are taking. Be open to it. Lord knows we all need help from the people that love us most. But, in the end, seek the help from the One most capable of providing it; the One that knows you better than you know your own self. Don’t spend any pointless time lamenting your past errors. If there wasn’t an adversary, all of us would likely remain error free. But, there is an adversary and he happens to be dang good at his game. Forgive yourself, learn and find that life you have been missing. No matter what has happened to you or how low you may have sunk, underneath it all are the everlasting arms of God, ready, willing and able to give you a fresh start! Reconnect with life. Reengage life, your life. Look for the promise of brighter days ahead no matter what the calendar is reporting. Happy New Year my friends and I love you.

Just some good thoughts…

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Something is Supposed to Happen!


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You ever have that experience where you expected something really cool and then nothing happened? I feel like this is the experience of most Christians today. I know it isn’t God’s fault in that He would somehow be less today than He was in the past. Or, that our relationship with God is nothing more than replacing poor morality with good works in exchange for a ticket to heaven. Or perhaps, that believing in God is psychologically good for the soul whereby you can talk things over but not expect anything to actually change. It seems to me that maybe we got it all wrong. Maybe our starting premise is incorrect. Maybe we have been so schooled to expect nothing to happen when we seek God that we have settled for less than His best. I mean if we are being honest, if my belief in God produces nothing tangible in my life, then what would be the point? And, all these shenanigans folks do for God, why would they even do them? In reality, we the common folks have been sold a bill of goods. We have been craftily and artfully talked out of the power of God which should accompany our relationship with Him. The abundant life promised in John 10:10 just doesn’t happen on its own despite what we believe. No, my friends, we’ve got something wrong with our thinking and with our heartfelt expectations. When you become a child of God, something is supposed to happen!

The starting point for this dilemma comes when we do not understand spiritual realities because of our insistence in trusting, believing and acting upon only that which we can perceive with our five senses. The spiritual realm is outside of our five senses perceptions. We are deceived into believing God’s Word isn’t true because our five sense counter what God says in His Word. The evidence, if you will, is not apparent and believing thus, we quickly give up. We think it looks bad so it is bad and it looks good because it is good. However, that is not how it works. What God says is true whether it ever looks true or not. What God has promised you as His child is your reality, not what the doctor says, the economy says or the world says. As a believer, you have perpetual access to God’s power and God’s goodness and kindness towards you. The reason you don’t believe that is because someone taught you incorrectly. They tied God’s goodness towards you to your own weakness and inadequacies and in so doing stole away the power of God from your life. You are still trying to get right with God who, through the finished work of His son, already made you right with Him. You think, foolishly, that you could somehow make yourself good enough to deserve His love and goodness towards you. And then it is no surprise that you fail and in failing, fail to believe God’s promises to you. You are part of a grand deception, because when you believe God, something is supposed to happen!

With that spirit you received when you believed God’s record of His son, you received power. The point of the power is to help you overcome the power of evil in and over your life. The only reason you suffer in any capacity; the only reason you live with unmet needs; the only reason you cannot seem to get ahead or over certain obstacles is because you are losing in the contest with evil. You are losing in the contest because you either don’t know or do not use God’s power in your life. You are still relying on old “figure it out on your own” brain, which is easily defeated as you can readily attest. God has given you power for abundant living! With this power from God you can surmount any mountain in your path. God’s will is to heal you today of any malady that assaults you. God’s power can break the powers of evil over your life. God can reveal to you what is going on spiritually and what to do about it. God can right any wrong, restore any part of your life, strengthen you, bless you and cause you to ride on the high places of the earth. It is never His will that is in question! God is only good always in every capacity, in every act, in every conceivable way. His goodness is there for you if you want it. Oh my God, something is supposed to happen!

How many people understand the working of God’s holy spirit? Again, most people are still waiting for a feeling, some indicator that God’s spirit is inside and they usually end up waiting a very long time. God isn’t found in your feelings. God’s spirit that resides inside you (when you believe) is always ready to go into operation for you! It is you, the new you. That spirit inside you has different manifestations or evidences. The purpose of those manifestations is that you might use them (it is your spirit) to win in life. It is God’s solution for you! Part of that spiritual package you received enables God to talk to you directly. Imagine, God Almighty can converse with you! He can tell you what is really going on in a situation and what to do about it. He can provide you with clues and insight into your relationships, your work life, how to be successful and the list goes on. But, sadly, most people remain absolutely clueless about the power of God in their life. They sort of limp along, praying and not receiving, hoping, wishing and not getting anywhere fast. They are so caught up in their own bullshit that they miss God a lifetime. Instead of relying on God’s solutions that they desperately need, they focus in on their own missteps and failures as if the power of God hinged upon their good behavior. How absurd it is to think that the God of Heaven and Earth would limit Himself to human behaviors and mistakes! You’ve got it all wrong and no wonder because that is how you have been taught. Everything God does for man He does from His grace, His divine favor that He freely gives to every man. You finally can operate the power of God when you stop making it about you and make it about Him! God already knows your whole future (and mine) and loves you anyway. Don’t you love your children? Do you only provide them with the solutions they need when they are good or do you do it out of your pure love for them? Well, I imagine God is at least that good, don’t you? When you learn to operate the power of God, something is supposed to happen. Something good will absolutely happen!

The whole point of this life is to learn about who God is and to live your life with Him. Don’t spend another day trying to go it alone. You need help and you know it. Life, absent God is confusing and scary and hard. Life without God is futile and miserable. Brethren, these things ought not to be. The power of God is inside of you already if you have been born again and all you have to do is learn how to use it. Once you get God involved, life turns around in a hurry. You will find that it was never about your good works, but rather about the God who made you. His love is unparalleled. His kindness and compassion, unrivaled. You could not find a better friend or a better source of all that is missing from your life. All that God seeks from you is a willingness to learn of Him. Ask the questions and see if He will not give you the answers. Oh how grateful I am to have learned of Him. Oh how good my life is with Him. With all of my decidedly suspect behaviors, He loves me still and gives me all that I could ever need. Surely you want that in your own life. You would be crazy not to want it! When God is involved, something is supposed to happen! Always!

Just some good thoughts…

Be Patient…


We live today in the culture of hurry. We want our food fast, our internet fast, our weight loss programs fast, our test results fast. We tend to seek out the quick fix, the shortcut. We don’t want to invest the time, just get it done, the sooner the better. Microwave beats stove top and temporary repairs are preferred over lasting solutions. We just don’t have the time to invest in doing things properly or the right way because we have to get to the next thing. Can’t we just pay a guy or order it on Amazon and get it done already? And while technological advances have certainly made life easier, we seem to have lost our ability to exercise a little patience. The best things in life always seem to take a little time. Do we even know anymore what it means to be patient?

If you have ever watched a craftsman at work, it becomes apparent rather quickly that there is always an element of time involved. The craftsman isn’t just trying to get the job done, but instead is seeking to get the job done where the result is perfect and beautiful and pleasing. People are willing to pay more for that person because the quality of the work speaks for itself. And as much as our frenetic world says otherwise, quality always makes the lasting impression. It’s quality, not quantity that we are after. The lowest bidder’s work generally reflects a lower quality because of the time and effort they are willing to exert on the task. If you pay less, you generally get less. The cheap clothing doesn’t last and for every dollar you save in your purchase, you pay for in terms of its longevity. It is better that you spend more on the front end than count on the bargain to stand the test of time.

In life, the best things take time. Relationships take time. Raising children takes time. Perfecting a skill takes time. Success takes time. Learning to live life the best way takes time. There are no shortcuts. Shortcuts always promise a faster result but fail to deliver, though they appear to do so at first. Whatever is easy generally isn’t worth it. That’s not to say that everything good is hard, but rather that good things require an investment on your part. Expecting good things without investing your own personal time and energy into those good things cannot fail but to produce loss. You may be able to count on the conveniences of technology to make things happen faster, but the real things in life; the most important things, require time and with time, patience.

Patience is a lost virtue in the helter-skelter of life today. We have been seduced by technology into thinking that there is always a way to obtain a result more quickly. We carry that mindset into our important life activities and expect a similar result. We seek to get the degree quickly in order to advance, but leave off the learning. We pursue important changes in our lives by employing the method that seems to get us there the fastest. We are all hat and no cowboy. We look good not by patient training and self control, but by the cosmetic surgeon’s scalpel. We want the diet plan that offers to burn the calories via a pill that requires neither exercise nor portion control. We want to have our cake and eat it too. In terms of our mental health, we don’t want to invest the time in discovering where our thinking patterns have gone astray, but instead seek for a diagnosis with its subsequent promised medication fix. And while medication is a beautiful addition to life, the goal was always that we arrived at the good place naturally, even if it took a little time. Modern advances certainly succeed in making life easier, but sometimes the ease and the convenience are not what we really need. It’s the pricks and the obstacles and the difficulties of life that really put us on our toes and awaken us to life’s more important lessons, as Emerson masterfully noted. Give a man a serious challenge to contend with and note how quickly he engages himself fully until a solution is at last found.

The reason we do not exhibit patience in life is that we have bought into the illusion that we have no time. We fail to recognize how forcefully we are being pushed and pulled towards activities that have little impact in helping us to live our best lives. We feel as if we don’t have time to think things through, much less the time required to actually solve our problems and make strides towards a brighter future. We are loathe to engage in something uncomfortable or new even if that new thing might serve to completely revolutionize our lives. Instead we go to work expending our best efforts for someone else and leave ourselves and our happiness undone. When we try something new or endeavor to move in a different direction, we feel that we don’t have the time or the energy to make the necessary changes though we only gave it a minimal try at best. Living this way, we soon find ourselves at the end of this brief life, full of regrets regarding the man or woman we always knew we could be. And all along all we had need of was a little patience. All we needed to do was step off the hamster wheel and take ourselves to account. We only needed to slow down a little and give our lives a little more consideration.

It’s never too late to begin practicing patience. Patience isn’t as concerned in getting the job done as it is in getting the job done properly. Patience knows that all good things take time and allots its time accordingly. Patience is required to live a successful life and to allow yourself the love and the space to get it right! Be patient with yourself and extend that same patience to everyone and every thing that you love. Be patient.

 

The Elusive Quiet Mind…


imagesThe world lives and moves amidst a persistent and pervasive low-level anxiety that permeates every thought, every action and almost every decision. You have been living with “it” for so long that “it’s” hardly recognizable. It’s sort of like this hidden specter in the background of your life, quietly, secretly whispering, ever whispering “trouble is coming” “trouble is coming…” When it first appeared, when you were a child, you recognized it as an aberration and did whatever you could to escape it. But then, as you got older, it happened so regularly that it no longer seemed unusual. In fact, you got so habituated to it, you gave up all hope of ever having a quiet mind again. You can’t concentrate; cannot sleep; need prescription meds, drugs and copious amounts of alcohol just to make it through the day. What the hell ever happened to your elusive quiet mind?

I’ll tell you what happened to it! Someone stole it from you. You had it at one time. But, as you got older it sort of dwindled away. You didn’t see it making an exit, you only experienced what it felt like after it was gone. Here’s a macabre thought, you never see the good things being taken away until it’s almost too late and you can apply that to unlimited situations. You can’t detect it because of its subtlety. All error works that way. No one grows up dreaming of being a junkie or a prostitute. They just get swept up and away to a strange land located who knows where.

So, here’s the rub… It’s your mind, quiet or restless. Your mind produces or replicates your own thoughts. You think and therefore you are. All throughout the day you are thinking and processing and feeling. You are doing it almost subconsciously, but make no mistake you are doing it. And, if you are like most folks, you are receiving a plethora of information every day. It’s like you are laying in a hospital bed hooked up to an IV of cable television, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest of the Internet. Info, info, info, feed, feed, feed! All of that ‘so necessary’ information going in and taking root. Snippets of scary health information, fearful predictions, hatred, division, greed and a vast army of endless negative possibilities. All going in; all upsetting; all producing non-specific feelings of anxiety. And you wonder what happened to your quiet mind?

There was a time when people didn’t have access to so much information. There was a time when everyone didn’t know everything that is going on in the world. But that time is no more, so you have to do something to protect yourself. You wouldn’t think of eating poisonous food or drinking arsenic, yet give little thought to the daily onslaught of deadly toxic thoughts that are entering your noggin.

Worse than the external environment is the things you say to yourself on the inside. You being the only you, you have got, it seems you should always be on your own side! But instead, you say all manner of insults and think nothing of it. And, at the top of the list is that whole, “I’m not worthy thing!” Feeling unworthy and guilty is the precursor to anxiety. You know why? Because anxiety literally means divided and when you aren’t okay with you, you are most divided. You have got to come to terms with that right away quick, pronto! If you want to measure yourself accurately, know this ~ we are all unworthy in its truest sense. Who exactly is good enough for this life? No-one that’s who! So give yourself a break and stop vomiting on yourself! All that “I don’t deserve good things” nonsense serves only one purpose. To make you better? Hell no! To divide you against yourself and to defeat you before you ever get started!

So, how might someone like yourself get your quiet mind back? Well, here’s the shortlist:

1. Take control over the things that you are allowing into your mind.

2. Control your thinking and stop entertaining thoughts of fear and defeat. (They only gain power over you when you entertain them!)

3. When an agitating thought shows up, take the time to resolve it in your mind. Refuse it. Say it aint so! Challenge it (don’t argue with it!)

4. Practice being quiet. Quiet down, settle down, pursue peace like your life depends upon it.

5. Stop accepting anxiety as a normal part of life. Fear is not natural or normal no matter how long it has been going on. Your true natural state is one who is at rest, like you were when you were 7.

6. Begin to recognize triggers and sources of unrest. Then, find ways to avoid them. Unrest is ALWAYS a sign that something is not right. (Let the peace of God rule [umpire] in your heart..)

7. Stop verbalizing negatives and complaints. By verbalizing you are simply strengthening the things you do not want. Complaining just confirms your victim status and you are NOT a victim!

8. Take the time to learn about God and His ways. Be honest with yourself and recognize that you are afraid of life and NEED some assistance figuring this thing out. Caution ~ don’t pursue religion because it derives control from your fears!

Your quiet mind is not as elusive as you think. It is already there waiting for you to take back control and get back the booty that was stolen from you. The God of all peace wants you to be peaceful. However, you aren’t ever going to find it if you continue mindlessly trudging down all of the same paths you walked before. Instead of running from that specter promising you trouble,  listen for the true voice saying, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ~ Psssst “This is the way; walk ye in it.” There is just no other way my friends… Be quiet.

Just some good peaceful thoughts…