Win the Day!


FBHave you ever felt worn down like maybe you have run out of energy? Or maybe you are having a good day and something comes up apparently out of nowhere that seems to zap away your strength? Perhaps you just feel bored with life and can’t seem to find anything that turns you on. These sorts of things are common to human beings and we usually dismiss them as a product of certain circumstances such as not getting enough sleep or maybe being a little dehydrated. And while these types of things may be a factor in how you feel, what if there is more to it than that? We are all in a competition in life between good and evil and because of that truth, certain things are working behind the scenes to shape our existence and convince us of things that are not actually true. These forces work in the circumstances of life to discourage us and steal away our happiness. This competition takes place in our minds. When given access to us, in particular our thoughts, we begin to lose in the competition. For this reason, we need to win the day!

What does it mean to win the day? God designed life to be lived in day-tight compartments. In particular He said, you will have enough trouble with the difficulties of today that you don’t need to start rashly adding on the cares of tomorrow. The troubles that accompany today are the competition. Winning the day means taking the time to focus on the day at hand and not allowing yourself to be taken down the wrong paths in that day, ending in defeat. In other words, take the time and make the time to get things straight. When you feel good and suddenly find yourself agitated, something happened to you. Don’t dismiss it. When you feel as if life has lost its purpose and you are just going along to get along, something has gotten into your thinking (usually fear) and is calling aloud for remedy. These mental assaults which can be incredibly subtle, are endeavoring to work you over. Like thieves that creep in unawares, these thought bandits are hell bent on interfering with your experience of life. People waste days and months and even years wrapped up in some lying notion always predicting something dreadful in their future. But, they are lies from the author and originator of lies. These forces have been so successful in robbing people of life because most people don’t take the time and effort necessary to take them on. Unfortunately, most people aren’t even aware of where their thoughts are going and as such, live according to the dictates of another. Winning the day means first hearing the foul thoughts, then countering them with something that is true. You can do this and you must do this in order to win the day. It doesn’t so much matter where you have been, but instead where you want to go. When you find yourself miserable and defeated, chances are you have been losing and it is incumbent upon you to take a pause and set things in order. Win the moment, win the day.

It seems that people as a whole have been sort of tricked into looking inward when things go south on them instead of looking outward. Thinking you are the sole cause for every negative you encounter is a fool’s game. There is nothing wrong with you, despite your endless considerations. What is really wrong are the forces of evil working behind the scenes to bring you down. You are in a fight man. You are in a contest woman. It is neither neutral or benign. And it is certainly not just a matter of your perceptions which serves to remove the absolutes of good and evil and replace with them some kind of moving target no one can accurately identify. If you think it through a bit, thinking there is something wrong with you every time you feel down or lost or confused, negates the existence of spiritual forces that have surreptitiously led you to that conclusion. How can you be on top of the world yesterday and dazed and confused today? Indeed, something happened to you right between your ears and you didn’t catch it or address it. But, lest you lose all hope, there is something you can do about it. Win the day!

Sometimes I think we all need to slow down and get back in touch with our thoughts. Step off the treadmill where the rats are racing and slow yourself down. You owe it to yourself. When you are feeling off, give it some thought time and track down the culprit. Figure out what is assailing your thought life. I guarantee you behind the obvious there is something nagging at you, threatening you, accusing you and leading your mind away from the goodness of God to some other alternative. Take your mind and your thoughts back! Quit just accepting every ‘nutso’ thing that runs across your brainwaves. In the end, I think you will quickly discover some fear threat, some outlandish accusation about who you are, some rationale attempting to justify why you deserve whatever negative things are going on in your life. The claims of your personal adversary and mine are never true. You know, if there were no such thing as evil, something to look forward to in the future, your days would move along delightfully and with ease. You would feel good, do good and be full of joy and peace. But, today evil still exists and our duty in the competition is to fight back. God will help you my friend. Win the day!

If you want to live a good life you have to learn how to win in the competition. You win as you control your thinking and when you find it has gone south, you reign it back in again to where the blessings are. There is no sin in getting yanked off course, the sin is found when we refuse to fight back. Fight back and win. First win the moment you are in, then the next moments and eventually the day. Don’t add in the cares of tomorrow and for goodness sakes don’t waste time looking back. At the return of Christ, I wonder how much time God will spend showing us what was really behind our bad days and our good days. Slow down a bit and grab that unruly mind of yours and reign it back in. Find the promises of God that refute the lies and think those things instead. Your life, your happiness depends upon it. Win the day!

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Slow Down and Pay Attention…


how-to-slow-down-time-1_0ce709aLogic would seem to dictate that the faster you go, the further you would travel. However, life doesn’t really function that way. It seems we have all gotten it into our heads that speed equals progress. We fly through our responsibilities in an incessant effort to get more things done. We but half recognize what is going on as we add more and more to our “to-do” lists. We don’t enjoy the present moment because we are always looking down the road for the next set of requirements. In the end, we pay a price for our lack of focus, no longer able to detect important details. We miss life; our only life and trade away the beauty of the moment for some future day when we will finally be able to relax. In this, we need to slow down and pay attention.

Often when we get in a hurry at work, we miss important details; things we would see if we weren’t moving too quickly. We botch the project of the week by trying to get it done too fast. At home, we skip through important responsibilities or necessary tasks in favor of doing something else. We fail to see what the situation requires of us and barge ahead oblivious. All of these missed items take a toll on us and before we know it, we find ourselves worn out and dissatisfied. It never quite dawns on us that everything we let go, presumably from an absence of enough time, remains behind nagging at us and taking away our peace of mind. All of us have enough time to do what we really need to do, but we allow our time to be stolen away by frivolity and endless distractions. It is no wonder the people of today are so full of anxiety and distress. Their minds are a literal battlefield of unfinished business, so much so that they don’t know where to start to set it aright.

Life was never intended to be lived so fast. Living too fast and adding in too much extraneous activity leaves our minds threadbare and exhausted. This usually leads us to more distractions and attempts at medicating ourselves through a variety of means. Eventually our minds, overloaded and confused, feel the weight and begin to skew our emotions rendering us agitated and upset, easily provoked and manipulated. We have trouble problem solving and even the simplest of requirements overwhelm us. The solution isn’t to work harder and drive ourselves further. The solution is to take the time to slow down and handle the things we have, in ignorance, let go. We have to give ourselves an opportunity to relax and recover. We must take time to rest. It’s not noble to work so frenetically that we have little time left for ourselves. Otherwise, the obvious consequence will be found in the distress we are feeling. Internal distress informs us of the need to slow down and recognize what is actually going on. We need some time to think about what we have been thinking about. Bashing forward like a bull in a china shop does nothing but leave us damaged and in a worse state. When things are bugging you, you don’t overcome them by charging ahead no matter the cost. Instead, you have to give yourself some quiet time to begin discerning what is actually going on. As you endeavor to look back at where you have been, you will find clarity and begin to understand what you let go; what you failed to handle; where you brushed past something important and will be able to secure the remedy so much more easily.

We live our lives through our minds. No matter the reality of a circumstance, you live that circumstance through your mind. Life becomes miserable or enjoyable by what you put through your mind. Negative thoughts, fearful thoughts burden your mind down adding weight artificially. Self condemning thoughts convince you, you are something you are not and as a result, hamper your ability to process things properly. Everything you let go, that needed to be properly addressed, stacks on top of itself rendering you confused and distraught. It’s not one problem or difficulty that is defeating you, it is compound difficulties, multiple agitations, numerous unresolved slights banding together to overwhelm and overtax you. You wouldn’t feel so confused if you were only dealing with one marauder. And, the only reason this happens to us is because we have failed to take the time we needed when we needed it, to get things straight. To be your best self, you need to keep things straight. That voice in your head that never has anything good to say about you is only silenced one good thought at a time. Letting it speak unchecked and unchallenged is why you feel unhappy and why you are not at peace. You have to slow down and pay attention.

There is something marvelous about doing things properly and in the right way. We don’t have to be perfect, but we do have to apply our full hearts and our full focus. And focus only comes as we eliminate the distractions, one by one until they are gone. We owe that to ourselves. Some folks spend their whole lives entertaining negative thoughts about themselves that were never true to begin with, yet they persist year after year living in a prison of their own making; living amidst a refusal to challenge the thoughts; a distracted, unfocused, perpetual continuance in error. My friends, this does not need to be.

If you find yourself agitated and confused, distracted and distraught, take the time you need to get things straight. Slow yourself down and begin to think. Cut off, at least for while, the endless stream of distractions and give yourself time to think. And, for goodness sakes, stop letting things go. Be in the moment and live in the moment. Look around you and really see. Notice the people you have been blessed to interact with and look for the needs you can help supply. Pay attention to the people you love most with open eyes, listening ears and open hearts. Stop fretting over next month or next year or when you plan to retire and instead live right now. Live the day you are in and only the day you are in. That will be enough to handle on its own. The recipe for future happiness, peace of mind and a blessed life is to slow down and pay attention…

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.

 

Chase the Appeal…


Have you ever considered why some memories remain in your mind out of all proportion to other memories? (I’m not talking about the things that scared you or that time you got in big trouble.) Certain smells, a song from the past, a phrase or expression, carry with them some wonder; a warmth you find difficult to describe. Similarly, particular aspects of life like an abundant flower garden or a freshly mowed lawn seem to speak to something inside of you. Or maybe it’s the feel of a hardbound book cover or the thin rim of your favorite coffee mug. Whatever it is in this world of infinite possibilities, those things are what they are and where they are for a reason. They make their appeal to an important aspect of who you are and your responsibility is to pursue it. Catch the message. Chase the appeal.

Often, it seems, we fail to recognize our individuality and instead opt for conformity. It’s like we cannot fathom our uniqueness and do our best to like what everyone else seems to like. We so desperately want to fit in to our own detriment; to the sacrificing of everything we and only we can bring to the world. We don’t trust ourselves. We don’t believe in ourselves. When our bodies try to tell us something, we don’t listen. We do not follow our own hearts, but instead chase after whims and passing fancies. Ultimately, we should have the courage to choose our own paths. We should not be so afraid to upset the herd. In every situation of life there is one right way to go and we can always find it if we pay attention. Yet, the circumstances of life are so loaded with distractions and alternate courses that we miss it almost every time. And afterwards we often find painfully that we already knew. In order to be consistently happy, you are going to have to learn how to be you; how to do you; to become the best version of you. There is only one you and no-one else can bring what you alone can bring. What is appealing to you?

Emerson said, “The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray.” As such, there is a distinct uniqueness to the things you experience, though they be quite similar to someone else. The words of a certain poem, the feeling you experienced seeing the woman laughing on the beach, the high view of the lush valley below, all contain within them something specific for you. Follow after them. They are God’s little clues for your greater experience; for your own abundant life. Don’t lump them all together and chalk it up as oddity. Don’t be so hurried and distracted that you miss them. The more you are willing to see, the more you will see. God is a God of specificity. Haven’t you noticed? The One that made your eye with all of its complexity, made your mind as well with all its complexity and as such knows in great detail how to appeal to you. Follow the appeals.

“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages.”  (RWE) There are things in your experience that brighten your mind and fill and fulfill your heart. Similarly, there are things that serve to darken your mind and numb you to life’s greater realties. Get yourself to the light. Notice the things speaking to your heart and investigate them further. They are not random and not happenstance. They lead you directly to the things that are for you. The appeal carries with it some deeper reality, some hidden truth for you, that you need. Darkness also carries with it an appeal, but that appeal will always promise to satisfy some desire and damage you in the process. It’s interesting to consider that God is not limited to church meetings or conventional settings, while absent from the grand majority of life. As the Author of life, He is in every aspect of life without limitation. Yet, many seem to think He is separate from the other aspects and as such miss the messages. Perhaps God wrote that line in the poem you can’t seem to stop reading. Why does that song make you feel warm inside? What is that vivid flower communicating to you? All around you everyday is intricate and unlimited beauty trying to tell you something, if only you remained willing to hear. Track down the appeal.

Life today is so hurried and frenzied that we miss it. There is so much at which to look. Things are confusing and distracting, overloading us with information and more things to do. But, one thing is needful. Return to the one thing. Live the day and the day only. Don’t rush through the days trying to get to another day. Live the day. Experience the moments you are in. Be fully present. In so doing, you will begin to understand (again) that you aren’t supposed to just get through life or reach some acceptable age before you die, but actually live life. There’s happiness and fulfillment out there waiting for you to come upon it. Life is to be a period of discovery, ultimately discovering the One who made it all. Hold on to the good things. Savor those memories that stand out for you and make you that much better. Pay very close attention to those aspects of life that speak to you directly, even if you cannot fully understand them yet. There is something glorious behind it looking to care for and love you. Slow down a little bit. Trim back all those activities. Turn off all the noise makers. Look around you and listen intently, for the best parts of life are right there seeking you. Chase the appeal!

Just some good thoughts…

Slow Down to the Speed of Life…


All of this social distancing and requirements to stay home have inadvertently provided us with some important clues about how we have been living our lives. Most of us are moving too damn fast. We have so many things to do, much of which are self-inflicted, too many obligations, too many commitments. We have been literally running for our lives from thing to thing, activity to activity, trying to get it all done and by all I mean everything we have read we should be doing. In between all of our “must-dos,” we fill the remaining moments with our televisions, binge watching Netflix series coupled with our incessant need to check Instagram and Facebook and whatever else pops us to use our every remaining moment. Like an addict, we have been convinced we need something else like non-stop activity to be okay. God forbid we should have nothing to do! The things we do, we don’t do properly or give our full attention. We ram and cram and make do ever trying to get to the next moment, the next fun time, the next vacation. And while we are being completely preoccupied, we have stopped thinking and dreaming and planning desireable future moments. We no longer have time to get the bottom of our issues. We don’t have time to think or so we think. Someone convinced us we have to figure everything out for ourselves and work harder and do more etc. We are driving ourselves crazy. We need to slow down and return to the speed of life.

There was a time when we didn’t have the Internet or for that matter TV (or TV consisted of 3 channels and they all went off around midnight). We didn’t know what everyone was doing at all times and it was good for us. The news we did get was very limited, reserved for the big things that threatened our happiness. Today we devour the bad news, filling our minds with it in excess under the guise we are keeping ourselves informed. How much more do you want to know about the virus?  How much more is there to know? It’s not education, it is fear being fueled and fed by more fear. It’s no wonder the world runs on anxiety. The world can appear to be a scary place, but how much more so when your mind is constantly being filled with all of the things that can get you? That’s maybe why we are so dang busy. If we take time to slow down, we might actually have to deal with it all. But, dealing with it is exactly what you need to do. You have to take time to do something with your mind about the things that are bothering you. You HAVE to deal with them. I know you would rather not. Me neither. But, like any obstacle impeding your happiness, you have to take them on and move the roadblocks from your path. They aren’t going to move themselves no matter how busy you make your life. Slow down, breathe and take the time you need to get things straight. Get things clear. Take the time. You cannot get to the next place until you learn to overcome the challenges in your current place. Slow down people and learn to live again.

Life was never designed to be this frenetic experience where you run from thing to thing, from pillar to post, hoping you end up somewhere good. Life is full of variables and things that need your attention, many of which aren’t monumental. Sometimes I think that God is more pleased that you took the time to fold your sweater than He is with all of your super accomplishments; that you took the time to organize that harassing evil called your sock drawer, over all the money you donated. Don’t you see it? Your only requirement is what the day demands of you and whatever that is, that you invest your whole heart fully into its accomplishment.   Call your mother. Clean out the closet. Write the poem. Tell someone who has been on your heart how much they mean to you. Buy someone a gift instead of the gift card. Think! Make time for yourself to think and consider. What has been eating at you lately? What, like a splinter, is under your skin? You can either get it out or wait for the infection. But, either way, it has got to come out. The unseen problem with the frenetic life is that you don’t have time to handle you! You haven’t given yourself an opportunity to get you straight. But, trust me on this one, you gotta be straight before you can get anything else straight. Murky and confused isn’t going to get the job done. Clarity and clear perception gets the job done. Slow down and get things straight.

Slowing down to the speed of life is about getting back on God’s wavelength. God is not in a hurry. God doesn’t miss anything, ever. He isn’t running you around like a squirrel, herky-jerky, flitting around, full of anxiety and care. He is calm and relaxed and sure of everything. He wants you to feel the same way. He doesn’t require that you know all the answers, but rather acknowledge that He does and in so knowing, lay it all on Him. Everything that ever bothered you, bothers Him when it isn’t resolved in your life. Like any good parent, He wants you to be happy. He already knows what has been screwing you up and exactly what you need to know and do to make it stop. But, in order for you to know, you have to give Him a little time. You have to slow down in your quest for self and trust someone outside of yourself. You need time to think. You need time to pray. God is bigger than any virus!

Stop running man. Stop dashing lady. Stop letting fear dominate and rule your existence. There’s an infinitely better way and you can find it (Him) by slowing down to the speed of life…

Just some good thoughts…