Enjoy the Life that is Now!


When God invented life, He intended for it to be a time of happiness, blessings and delight. In His original creation, man and woman had unlimited access to all that God created and He created it all for them. There was no pain, no sorrow, no sadness, no sickness and no death. There was no disruption in God’s provision for his precious people and everything they touched turned to gold. Then, something happened. Evil found a way to gain access to man’s heart, deceived and tricked them and eventually took away all of the rights God originally gave to man. From that fateful day forward, unto this very day, the creation continues to function in a disrupted, decaying state. Evil’s involvement resulted in pain, sorrow, sadness, sickness and eventually death. This is the life people live today. Instead of rejoicing in the experience of life, people settle for survival, unfamiliar with any alternative way to live. Enjoying and rejoicing in life doesn’t appear to be an option except for fleeting periods of happiness destined to return to the old familiar misery. Yet it is not necessary to live this way any longer. There is a life available to you that encompasses all that you could have ever imagined. It is the life God gave you to enjoy.

Jesus Christ lived God’s Word perfectly in a world subjected to evil the same way it is today. Jesus had no sin in his blood and by his freewill choices, never sinned or broke his unity with God. He obeyed God’s Word for mankind perfectly, a feat no other man had ever been able to do. And when he freely gave up his life for mankind, despite being the innocent blood, he paid the price for everything that was ever flawed or corrupted in you and me. By his sacrifice, he gave back to mankind everything mankind had lost when evil entered the creation. Once a person decides to accept his sacrifice by making him Lord in their lives and believing that God raised him from the dead, they become born again and receive God’s spirit inside, forever setting them free from the claims of sin and evil. From that day forward, the believer has the capacity to live the enjoyable and blessed life God originally had in mind for His people.

So you may ask, why am I telling you these things? I’m telling you this because people have been living far, far below par. People spend their entire lives in the grips of fear and uncertainty. Folks over occupy their minds with sin and condemnation, guilt and shame, all of which has been throughly purged by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. When Jesus said, “it is finished” just before he gave up his life, he meant it. What was finished forever was any need on your part to try and earn God’s love, protection and care. Good people work hard to be worthy before God and it’s a futile work. God made you worthy in the life of His son. Trying to do it on your own simply crucifies the son of God afresh. People have so many, many unmet needs but are afraid to go to the One who promised to supply all of their needs. Folks walk around with anxiety about everything. It’s no wonder they aren’t enjoying the life that is now. You are never going to be able to really enjoy your life until you let God be God and you content yourself with being you. Honestly, what problem have you ever been able to solve with all of your worry and fret? What guarantees do you have in your life outside of God? God never intended for you to live that way. The only way to enjoy your life, I mean really enjoy the experience of it, is to let God do the things He promised to do and you to simply keep yourself in a space to receive it. It is never more complicated than that. The real complication and perplexity in life comes from evil, masterfully manipulating people’s minds in a corrupted, broken and sad world. Endless causes. Ceaseless distractions. Perpetual shifting away people’s focus from God to everything else supposedly going on in the world. As if men that God made can band together and fix something God made. You are missing the enjoyable, blessed life.

And, here is the ultimate irony of the whole thing. You can have this life God promises right now in your day to day existence if you only knew it. It is already here for you to live. It has already been done for you. Your job simply is to accept it. Once you accept it and learn to trust God, you can start enjoying your life like a five-year old does at her birthday party. Like when you were a youngster, you can put your focus back on enjoying things instead of killing your joy with worry and concern. You can finally stop over thinking everything and for God’s sake (literally) let stuff go. You can open your heart and have fun in life. You can be vulnerable. You can share the love you have been burying inside. You can be perfectly imperfect. You can be flawed yet tremendous. You can be any damn thing you want to be because God has already covered you forever. Don’t you see it? You can stop waiting to exhale and rejoice in the life you get to live. Rejoice in it. Live it. Experience it. Prove it. Test it. You no longer have to be worried about what God thinks, He tells you what He thinks in His word and when it comes to you, it’s all good! So live your life now. Enjoy the life that is now. Rejoice and treasure the life that is right now. You owe it to the God that did so much for you to experience it. God ain’t mad at ya and neither am I!

Enjoy the life that is now…

Just some good thoughts….

Do No Harm…


firstdonoharmI was talking with a doctor friend of mine the other day and she reminded me of the sincere oath that all doctor’s take, namely, “First, do no harm.” Contained in that little phrase applied to all would be doctors, is the key to living a successful Christian life. It is interesting to think that of all the shenanigans people may have attributed to God in terms of rituals and required behaviors and the giving up of something, the thing God values the most is how you and I treat other people. Love other people as you love yourself. On that principle hangs all the law and the prophets. Brothers and sisters, it behooves us to do no harm.

Many years ago, while sitting in a one-time revolutionary class about the Bible called, “Power for Abundant Living,” the teacher of the class made a statement I will never forget. In summarizing the beauty of the Grace Administration and demonstrating the freedom we all have in Christ, he remarked our whole duty simply by stating, “Love God, love your fellow man and do as you dang fool please!” That small declaration literally changed my life. I learned that life with God wasn’t about man-made rules and regulations, but rather a relationship with God based not on fear, but on love and with it an additional request that we love other people. To love God and to love my fellow man was something I could handle. This idea that being a Christian means everything is somehow wrong and everything is evil in some way, was something I could never reconcile in my mind and heart. The people I saw endeavoring to live this way were not happy people at all, skulking around all whipped, wounded and guilty. If life with God is harder than life without God, why would someone choose it? Why would anyone want to subject themselves to living life in this way? Further, how could we possibly love our fellow man by making his life harder than it was before he began to know God? In doing no harm to our brothers and sisters, we have a duty to offer them all the freedom and love that God has offered us. God loves us into doing good things and we do so in response to the love He has given us. In this, we do no harm.

Perhaps the best way to live your life is with the freedom to do as you dang fool please. Everything you and I do with compulsion, of necessity, because something bad will happen if we don’t do it, is not freedom, but rather religious bondage. Bondage demands of us certain behaviors that will please God; behaviors we must do in order to be okay; in order to be safe, to be protected. Yet, the harder we try to please God by our good works, the more we fall short, the less pleasing we become. In this we don’t live, but only half live. We become consumed with our shortcomings, our weaknesses, where and how we fall woefully short. We comb through our days and nights evaluating where we went right and where we went wrong, always ending predominantly in where we went wrong. Instead of enjoying the freedom God purchased for us in the life of His son, we reduce ourselves to less than God’s best and work out all kinds of schemes and plans to prove our value and our worth. In this we go astray and subject ourselves to misery, all somehow in the name of God. Yet, this is not what God asks of us. God said all of the commandments in the Old Testament could be summed up in one simple phrase, generally, love God and love your fellow man. Love, not rituals is what God is after. Kindness and a willingness to help others is what blesses God’s heart, not behaviors done out of fear. To do no harm we must have love in it.

This may surprise you, even shock you perhaps, but God has released those of us who believe from the curse of the law. The purpose of the law wasn’t to make people right, but instead to clearly identify what sin was in order that there would be a standard God could use to redeem His precious man. If there was no law, you would be free to do as you dang fool pleased without fear of consequences and trouble. You would actually be free to make decisions, not based on fear, but instead based on love with no compulsion in it. Just as any parent seeks freewill love from their children, God seeks free will love from us. Can you even imagine your children doing things in order to gain your love when they already had it from the onset? Would it bless you to observe consistent, good behavior from your children because they feared what you might do to them if they didn’t do it? If it is so obvious in the natural realm it must be equally as obvious in the spiritual realm. We do no harm to our brothers and sisters when we do things free of any compulsion or requirement.

Doing no harm to other people means that we love them like God loves them. However, we can only love people in this way in response to the love God freely showers upon us. Absent God’s love and gentle work in our hearts, we could never get the job done. As long as our relationship with God consists of rules and regulations in order to be successful, we will at best convey the same to our fellow man. Yet, this will never help him because it never helped us. That so-called Christian lifestyle never helped anyone. People don’t need more stuff to do or more reminders of where they fall short. We do a good enough job of that on our own. Instead people, our brothers and sisters, need freedom, freedom only God could give them. People need to be able to choose on their own. Only one choice is not a choice. I think folks would be surprised at the freedom God has given us if they only knew it. God said, all things are lawful for me, but not everything I can do is going to bless me or build me up. Amen, but all things are lawful for me. I am free, you are free as a human to experience life and prove all things, holding fast to the good. Sitting behind closed doors in fear of sin and evil and destruction is not life at all. How many Christians have stopped living out of fear when all of life remained open to them? Do no harm by telling your brothers and sisters the truth!

Absolute freedom to make your own choices is the very essence of life. Only when you are free yourself can you offer that freedom to another person. Only engulfed in God’s undeserved love and compassion can you offer love and compassion to other people. You cannot give what you do not have. You love your fellow man by loving him how God does without any compulsion or constraint. He or she does not have to be or do anything to deserve that love, but instead receives that love freely in the same way that you received it. To do no harm means simply that you do not do things that wound your fellow man or hurt him. You seek only his good, her good and have no other motive in it. When you love people like God loves them, you have finally let go of self and all that may be wrong with self and have decided instead to focus on the goodness that God is and is in Him and Him alone. Love God, love your fellow man and do as you dang fool please.

Just some good thoughts…

Turn Your Focus Outward…


With so many people engaged in the pursuit of happiness, there is one principle that is absolutely sure. When your focus is yourself, you end up looking at yourself, dwelling on yourself, evaluating yourself and comparing yourself to others. And, the happiness you so ardently sought slips away imperceptibly, leaving you alone with yourself and miserable. When your focus is for others and what you can do to help them, your own happiness follows like your own shadow sure…

One of the greatest dichotomies in life is that when you seek yourself, your own self loses out. The more you study yourself, evaluate yourself and look within, the more you see your flaws, your imperfections, your foibles and your foolishness. And, in so doing, your confidence in yourself falters. Your focus is wrong. You’ve been tricked into trying to do what you need to do to be happy, not realizing that true happiness is found in what you can do for someone else. This is not to say that you cannot have dreams and goals or that you cannot pay attention to getting your own needs met, but rather, those things cannot be allowed to occupy your entire focus.

God’s grand design of life is very simple. He envisioned that you would rely on Him to supply all of your needs. In so doing and so trusting, you would be free to help your fellow man. The error behind self-focus is that you become the center of your own life and as such have to find out how to meet all of your own needs. You have to foolishly take on the role of being the God of your own life, minus all of the power, ability and love. Add to that not being able to see the future and you’ll find yourself in a precarious position. You want to be happy and Lord knows it has been a major focus in your life, so it behooves you try something new. Turn your focus outward…

Most Christians, and I do mean most Christians, find themselves in this situation, though by very different means. The believer has a heart for God and as such wants to do the things that please Him. However, they fail to recognize their spiritual opponent, also called the accuser, who accuses them night and day. In that accusation, he reminds them of God’s perfection and His perfect Word and then how they aren’t living up to that Word. He boldly and subtly points out their imperfections and where they come up short. And, instead of remembering to live their lives according to the accomplishments of another man (Jesus Christ) they try in vain to measure up on their own. They forget the “finished” work of Jesus Christ and add their own works of righteousness to be righteous before God. And, the harder they try, the more they come up short. They end up living their lives in perpetual condemnation, striving day by day to make their imperfect flesh perfect before Him. They cannot live for even five minutes without thinking about something they did wrong. Unknown to them, their focus is turned inward more and more, day by day, as they grow weaker and more miserable. They painfully recount all of their past moments, dwelling in and living out every failure, every misstep, every fault. Their solution isn’t more striving to be good, but rather to accept their Savior’s work; get out of their own head and help somebody else.

Have you ever noticed that the more you turn your focus inward, the more troubles you find? The longer you focus on something not working right in your body, the more negative things appear to focus on. The more you dwell on yourself, your situation, your life, the more your mind fills with petty worries and injuries and slights. The harder you press to get your own needs met, the more unmet needs you discover. But conversely, the less attention you pay to the so-called ills in your body, the better your body feels. The less you dwell on yourself and what you don’t have in your life or haven’t accomplished or haven’t yet acquired, the more things you have to be thankful for; the more you can accomplish, the more abundance flows in your direction. Life was not intended as a contest for you to get all of your own needs met, but rather an opportunity to help others get all of their needs met, ending in not only your own needs being supplied abundantly, but a sublime sense of happiness that does not go away!

You, my weary friend, must learn how to get the focus off yourself and onto other people. Listen with your heart to what people are saying to you. Understand how they communicate their pain and find ways to alleviate that pain. Ask yourself what you can do to help them or make their life a little easier. Offer them good words and hope and encouragement and love. Give them your whole, undivided self with nothing held in reserve for yourself. Bless them and be willing to make your own needs secondary and see if our great God will not only bless you with abundance, but with a peace and enduring sense of love and joy that never fails. Turn your focus outward and see how quickly things turn around for you…

Just some good thoughts…

Making Your Mind a Friend…


Different emotionsYears ago I wrote a book called, “Making Your Mind a Friend.” It was an amateurish project at best, but at the time I penned it, it helped save me from a world of suffering; suffering mostly self-imposed by wrong thought with a heavy, heavy dose of religious bondage. Somehow, in some imperceptible way, I had morphed (or had been morphed) into everything I hated in life. I became sickly religious and when you get religious enough, everything you do or say or feel will be wrong. It’s wrong because you have set up for yourself an impossible standard. And, before you know it, your worst, most pervasive enemy will be your very own mind. Thus, making your mind a friend isn’t about splitting yourself into two separate entities and having positive dialogue with each part. It’s about learning to extend kindness and forgiveness and friendliness to your own self in the same way you might extend it to your friend.

I remember years ago when my brother had agreed to watch our boys. When we picked them up he explained incredulously, that one of them was throwing rocks in the road and when he told him to stop, he threw another one! He couldn’t understand how that could happen. Of course, he didn’t have his own children yet. He now knows that disobedience happens but it is the parent’s job to correct it. So here’s a thought. Disobedience happens with adults also. But, just like when you correct a child, no matter how satisfying the chastisement feels, all a parent is really after is an acknowledgement from the child that they did something wrong. There’s rarely much to say after the apology occurs.

How many of you have spent years and years chastising yourself for some event that has long since expired? It’s gone from life and is in the books. It only shows up again when you re-read the book. Stop re-reading the book! The things you do wrong and have done wrong were committed to the history book just as quickly as they happened. They are no longer a part of your life unless you allow them to be. The egregious errors, the scarring hurts, the bruising slights all have vanished from the present reality. You make your mind a friend by not subjecting your friend to the same old, tired story. Like your friend who might tell you it’s time to get over it, it’s time to get over it. You don’t magically transform bad behaviors by punishing yourself, you know that! You transform yourself the same way your child transforms, by receiving your forgiveness. And don’t you think for a second that God is bringing it up. God forgave you the FIRST time you were sorry. You have to “accept” His forgiveness also. Beyond that it’s all a bunch of egotism and you can take that to the bank!

Once I heard a father say how dumb his kid was and that he didn’t think his elevator went all the way to the top. How sad is that? To think that a father would say that about his own flesh and blood, astounded me. All I could think was, he’s your own kid! What the eff is the matter with you? Your child will be about as smart and talented and good as you can teach him he can be. You, horrible father, are outrageously defining his limit. Now as bad as I guess that made you feel, how about the things you say to yourself? Would you so easily tell your good friend that he was an idiot? Would you be so quick to focus on and point out his every weakness and fault? Oh sure you would see both, but out of love you wouldn’t bring them up, would you? Do you know anyone on earth that gets better at something after repeatedly being told he sucks at it? Weakness is never overcome by focusing on the weakness. You win at life by focusing on your strengths; what you can do the best! Strength is built from strength! All you accomplish by acquiescing to an endless stream of negative chatter about yourself is to weaken and severely limit your true capabilities. And, the worst part? You are saying those things to yourself! You aren’t just being honest! You are treating yourself like an enemy and not a friend. If you don’t love you, who does? Well, God does and He disagrees with your estimation of yourself. Again, beyond that, it’s all just a bunch of egotism…and your insistence on self harm.

Making your mind a friend is about choosing what you will and will not think about and choosing what you will and will not say to yourself. Your mind is your mind and you may use it in whatever fashion you see fit. You may say, “I can’t stop thinking about it!” But, oh yes you can! Like a lifelong smoker, the longer you’ve been engaged in the habit, the harder it is going to be to stop. The new non-smoker has to say ‘no’ to himself one hundred times a day at first, but the next day may only require seventy-five. Eventually the thought comes up ever so rarely. The same with negative talk and condemnation, once you break the habit, it happens less and less. And like the smoker that quit, you brighten your prospects for a long, happy, successful life.

At the end of the day, you my dear friend, are the only you, you’ve got! And, like your heart would seek in earnest to console your sad, defeated child, you must learn to be good to yourself. You aren’t serving God by behaving that way, no matter what some preacher may have told you, you are serving your enemy by your refusal to believe what God has already said. You aren’t the evil one, but you just may have been listening to him. Be kind with yourself. Be forgiving with yourself. Learn to accept your imperfections and just be. It’s okay. God knows all about you and loves you anyway!

Just some good thoughts…

 

The Secret to a Good Relationship…


Relationships come in all shapes and sizes (yes, clichés are my life!).  Relationships represent one of, if not the greatest,  component of our lives. You can’t really function as a human without some sort of relationship.  Oh, you can try, but you aren’t going to be very happy. But when it comes to relationships between men and women, we as collective group, have developed some rather odd expectations.  How many times have you heard of someone looking for their soul-mate or for Mr. Right?  The idea behind those notions is somewhat unrealistic.  First, that whole soul-mate thing presumes that there is that one person “out there” who is predestined to be your other half.  You, apparently, have little or no choice in the matter and have to get busy finding them.  (And there are how many people in the world?)  Then, funnily enough, when you find them they only lived about 20 minutes from you (smile).  Amazing!  And then there is Mr. Right.  Mr. Right is again that one fella who is just right for you.  You can tell when you have found him because he will be just right (haha).  Those of us that have been married for any length of time know that our Mrs. Right or Mr. Right is far from always being just right (Just ask my wife!).  Add to this, can you even imagine living in a culture where your folks choose your mate?  No thanks Mom and Pops!

So what exactly then is a relationship supposed to be?  I think we are smart enough to recognize that any two people can make something work, if they are committed to it.  But what is the secret to a good relationship?  Is there a secret?  To answer that question we have to go back to the origin of man.  Before there were Adam and Eve, God was.  God being all-knowing and all-powerful came up with the grand idea of people.  But there is another aspect of God we must consider as well.  God is love.  God isn’t just the act of loving or One that maintains a loving nature.  God actually is love.  Whatever love is, is God and whatever God is, is love.  They are inseparable.   Interestingly, the one thing the whole world seeks is love.  Mankind is born with a God-hunger on the inside, which can also be called a hunger for love.  In light of that, we have been looking for love in all the wrong places…(singing)…I digress sorta.  Now back to Adam and Eve.  (Hey maybe Eve was Adam’s soul-mate?  Okay only choice?  I guess Adam was Mr. Right as well as Mr. Only…again I digress.)  When God made Adam, He made him body, soul and spirit.  Adam’s spirit was his connection to God, or if you will, his connection to love.  Eve came in similar fashion and was connected to God’s love as well.  They started out connected to and filled with love; God’s love.  There wasn’t much competition so they formed a relationship together (smile).  We can assume as the prototype that they were both pretty “hot” and attracted to each other.  Though they started out perfect, they soon proved by their own free-will that they weren’t perfect.  (You know the story…)  Now if you can take a brief pause from your uncontrollable laughter, the secret to a good, if not great, relationship is in that story.  Relationships between men and women were “supposed” to be based upon a strong, wonderful love from God and a mutual love and devotion to God.  With that firmly in place, the rest was easy!  Sure there was still forgiveness.  Sure there was a willingness to let the past be forgotten.  But in reality, those wonderful qualities are all a part of God’s love anyway.

Accordingly, the problem with relationships now-a-days is that we are looking to fill that void with our mate.  We foolishly think, “if this person would just do what I want; look how I desire and treat me the way I deserve to be treated, I will feel loved.”  Then, when they fall short, as they invariably will, we wrongly conclude that love is lost and that they weren’t really our soul-mate after all.  In reality that approach is very selfish.  Your mate’s job is not be everything you think they should be.  Their job is to be everything they want to be with you being there to support them and love them and encourage them (and vice versa).  Marriage is not two people living one same life.  Marriage is two people living “separate” lives together.  And the only way for that to work out most effectively is for both of the parties involved receiving and sharing God’s love with one another.   Folks ask how Connie and I have stayed together for so long and the answer isn’t, as Connie jokingly says, “that we never wanted to get divorced at the same time.”  The truth is that when things got real crappy, we both loved God enough to persevere.  Without God we would have never made it this far.

So don’t spend all your time and energy looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right.  Spend your energy learning how to receive and give the love that God wants to give to you.  Get good and full of that love and you will suddenly discover there’s a whole lot of soul-mates out there waiting for you!

Just some good thoughts…