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…

Thinking for a Change…


Did you know that your experience of life takes place almost entirely in that thinking mechanism between your two ears. Oh sure you have your senses to help you, but even then those sensations translate into thoughts. Your thoughts literally color your existence. If your thoughts are positive and helpful, they can make your life joyous and blessed. But, if your thoughts are negative and fearful, they can distort your life into a living hell. But, here’s the catch, your thoughts are constantly filtering, highlighting and ignoring. They focus in on things you have previously identified as important and they blow past things you deem unimportant or in ignorance, chose not to see. How you think is how you live…

If you haven’t noticed by now, I can’t seem to get very far away from this topic. Your thoughts literally influence how your life turns out, yet it remains one of the greatest secrets in the world today. All of us think, all day every day and sometimes in the middle of the night, yet somehow still haven’t made the connection. We still drag along thinking poorly, whining and complaining, worrying and entertaining fearful considerations, without ever taking full ownership of our thoughts. It never seems to dawn on us, being the only creatures capable of thought, holding the ability to imagine the future, how unique we are in all of God’s creation! We never fully comprehended the idea that maybe in our unique position there is something we are responsible to do with our thoughts. And in not knowing, we let those babies run like a ship on the ocean during a storm. We believe that our own thoughts; yes our own thoughts, sort of tell us what is actually going on and that those thoughts are not to be questioned. Thus we live in perpetual confusion being blown about as the chance winds gust in our lives. But, we occupy and steer the helm…

The reason people say, “life sucks and then you die,” is because their thoughts suck (and then they die). They live in a negative world, run by a negative energy source, ever scheming and plotting to set up conditions that appear to be true, in order to negatively influence people’s thoughts. And, if you don’t mind me saying, they do a damn fine job! The whole world reels in a perpetual misery as captives and victims by a hidden, yet persistent enemy. They trust scientists and doctors and scholars and influencers more than they trust God. They have succumbed to the systems of the world and thus live in never-ending torture from it. They are literally scared of everything…everything! All day long they mope about only half engaged, besieged by the latest thing that is going to get them, end their life early, or take something away that they enjoy. And, that is all they can think about. While recognizing that they probably aren’t going to change the world (God will fix that up later), they can change something and that something is their life. You can change your life…

Learning to control and change your thinking is an absolute necessity. You already know the old let it run mentality doesn’t work. Recognizing and changing your thoughts isn’t about trying to make everything positive. It’s sort of obvious that everything in life isn’t positive. We all have to deal with negative realities in varying intensities, yet we don’t have to be controlled by these events. In fact, with God’s help, we can overcome everything that has ever assailed us…everything! Learning how to think properly involves first of all figuring out what is actually true. Maybe the biggest lie you will ever be confronted with in your life is that something is true because it looks true or seems true or feels true. Things in the world are manipulated and controlled to deceive humans (not by God of course). The reason your life isn’t working out how you wanted it to work out is because you are believing and acting upon those thoughts as if they were true. Then, in your mind those thoughts turn into beliefs and beliefs are powerful, good and bad. You were always in control of your own beliefs, but you just didn’t know it…

Controlling your thinking can be basically boiled down to thinking what God (who invented you) tells you to believe versus what something else is talking you into believing. “Fear not” is by far the number one admonition in the Bible. Fear has ruined more people’s lives than any other thing. Fear, which does not come from God, is believing or expecting something negative to happen. The more you engage in it, the more you persist in it, the more likely that terrible thing is going to manifest in your life! Look, the devil hates everybody, but he needs your cooperation in order to defeat you. You cooperate by entertaining fearful thoughts. Don’t you see it? It’s your fear that is holding you back and messing things up. Now logically, in order to beat fear you have to trust in something bigger than yourself. Without God’s help, we should all be damn afraid! But, with God’s help and only by God’s help, we can finally overcome every fear that ever challenged us and live out our lives in the beautiful way God imagined for us. You can experience joy and love. You can experience the peace that passes understanding. But, you have to learn how to control your thoughts, change your thoughts, challenge your thoughts…

Oh my friends, your life awaits you. Put your hands firmly on the helm of thought. Take your control back. Take your thoughts back. Think how God says to think and in your obedience see if all that He promised you is true. You experience your life through the filter of your thoughts and when those thoughts become beliefs and those beliefs are true, you will completely revolutionize your life. It can be done. It will be done. How you think is how you live. Think for a change…

Just some good thoughts…

 

Get Honest and Get Answers!


14533-woman-fake-smile-mask-happy-sad-wide.1200w.tnI have never been a big fan of going to the doctor. I suppose I don’t like my fate resting in the words or expectations of a medical provider. Yet, when I find myself at the doctor’s office, chances are I have some medical malady that is not going away on its own. I’ve probably already diagnosed myself  with several incurable diseases compliments of WebMD and decided in desperation to give the local Doc a try. I’m looking for good news so I agree to disclose only 30% of my symptoms. “Just say the right words Doc and I will be out of here!”

The aforementioned scenario, though silly, approximates how humans deal with their lives when fear is involved. Fear stops people from being honest. Fear predicts a dreadful outcome so the less a matter is discussed, the better! Fear stops you from getting the results you desire. Fear hides out in your thinking and prefers to remain hidden through a myriad of distracting variables. Fear does not wish for you to finally get honest with yourself because it knows when you do, you will be well on your way to finding solutions. But, get honest you must!

This is going to sound like a crazy thing to ask, but when was the last time you were completely honest with yourself? I’m talking take your shoes off, loosen your belt, lay it all out honest! When was the last time you admitted to yourself that something was actually wrong with your life and needed to be repaired? When’s the last time you told that great doctor of your own soul ALL of your symptoms without fear of what it might mean for your life? No-one is a greater fan of positivity than your’s truly, but that doesn’t negate the need to acknowledge when something has gone wrong. If your leg is broken, it’s broken and no ridiculous amount of a good attitude is going to fuse the bones back together.

A common method of thinking nowadays seems to encompass the notion that if you are being positive, you cannot give space to anything negative occurring in your life. This seems especially true for the believers. It’s as if acknowledging something has gone astray means you are no longer renewing your mind to be a positive person. Well, here’s a shocker, believers aren’t instructed to change every negative thought to a positive thought. They are admonished to renew their minds to what the Word says is true. Negative things are absolutely going to happen to you. You are going to be deceived off course. You are going to find yourself pushed and pulled in various directions. At some point you might even discover that your life is totally sucking right now and you are in desperate need of some divine guidance! That’s life folks, and to think otherwise is not being honest with yourself! You are not going to get better until you can finally get honest with yourself once again…

Where in the world did you ever get the idea that admitting something is wrong is some kind of testimony or predictor of the future? Unless I’m missing something, every aspect of life has the potential to go wrong at times. It’s not whether or not you ever get off course. Success is in recognizing you’re off course and getting back on track. Your life; your one short go round is immeasurably important for you. Who convinced you that your own personal happiness isn’t worth a discussion, or that you have to smile about everything no matter what? Honesty expects a change. Honesty demands a different result. Honesty lays the damn issues out there no matter how they look and keeps them out there until something positive enters the picture to remedy the situation. People are so desperate for an answer that makes sense; one that fills the void in their hearts, that they resort to all kinds of distractions to avoid the pain. Some drink to excess. Others fill their lives with a never-ending stream of activities. Some seek the perpetual mind loading of social media. For others it’s an escape to drugs or sex or anything powerful enough to numb the reality of unhappiness down at the heart level. The solution? Get honest with yourself!

Our fast paced world of today doesn’t have time for your problems. When asked how you are doing, you must reply with “fine” as anything further takes too much time! We’ve been arm-twisted into thinking our personal issues are selfish and to spend time discussing them with anyone is an “all about me” attitude. How difficult it becomes to pretend you always have it together and have need of nothing else. How absurd it is to ask people to serve and to help others when they are all bogged down, submerged in some personal dilemma! People today, more than ever, needs answers to the difficulties going on in their lives. They need a little light to shine in on their darkness. But before that can happen, someone has to admit to having a little darkness! Be honest folks…

I find myself at times playing the same little shenanigans with God that I play in the doctor’s office. Twenty or thirty seconds into a discussion with God about some grating issue, I quickly chastise myself for not thinking properly and then change my mind into everything is okay mode, while my leg remains obviously broken. If my leg is broken I don’t need a frikkin pep talk, I need for my leg to be healed! If something isn’t right in your life, you don’t need to just decide to be happy, you need the mother&*%*(ng answer! Haha there’s always an answer; a solution if God is involved! Your job is to be honest with Him and lay it all out there. He sees through our bullcrap anyway, so it makes perfect sense!

Most of us have been talked into letting things go and concluding that is just how life is… Well, that’s not how life is and the moment you quit settling for garbage or hand me downs and start expecting the best, the sooner it is going to arrive. Be brutally honest with yourself and with God. Call a thing a thing (thanks Iyanla)! You have absolutely nothing to lose except fear. If you are suffering in some capacity or feel stuck and trapped, know this, God is never stuck and has the life you’ve been waiting too long for and is most willing to share it with you. That is if you can step down off the pedestal of “I already know” and ask for a little help. Be honest my friends and live the life you still dream of living…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

Find Your Wings…by Trusting Yourself!


images-of-doves-1-white-flying-doveIt’s interesting to think that all of the famous or successful people you admire, be they a literary great, superstar performer, outstanding business person or even the President of the United States, all began somewhere. Maybe you read Shakespeare or Emerson with sublime admiration in your eyes. But remember, there was a time when Shakespeare and Emerson were just like you and me, beginners hastily penning their ideas into a journal at the dusty old library someplace. The reason these highly esteemed folk became so successful is that they learned to trust themselves. If you are ever going to discover your own wings, you have to learn to trust yourself.

The problem with our age it seems, is that people have become so unoriginal. It’s like someone put out a broadcast announcing that all of the things one may do, have already been done, so get on board someone else’s train and figure out where you fit! And even worse, people have learned not to question anymore. Attach an authority figure or better a scientific study and the whole world digests it as true without even giving it a second thought. The mass media machine has inundated us with so much information, that we feel we already know the answer before the question is even posed. And most dastardly of all, we’ve learned to trust what the vulgar crowd says over the still small voice within our hearts.

You, my friend, were designed to be an original. Observe nature and see if you can find any two things alike. You are unique in every sense of the word! So why should you trouble yourself so shamefully day by day for not fitting in with the organization of things? A society is made up of individuals and needs the best it can gather from each of them. A society that exists for the society is headed for disaster as group (mob) rule is always infused with danger. You don’t need a government or a celebrity or even your family to tell you what to think! Sure, you listen to advice, but then you must think for yourself. What should I be doing? Where should I be going? What do I have to offer to the world? These are the only questions that matter. The reason so many people are drifting along bored and unfulfilled is because they are busy living someone else’s dream!

Most of us shun our own insights because we have been herded and prodded to do so. Then, as Emerson aptly predicted, “Tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.”  We only half believe ourselves and that only half the time. We apply a strange method of thinking someone else always knows what is best for us, better than ourselves. Who should know more than I what is my duty; my obligations? Yet therein we travel down pathways and alleys seeking the happiness that someone else has promised us we’ll find there. You alone, in your heart always know what to do and what not to do. You are conspicuously aware of what causes you both delight and shame.

Though there be a thousand reasons why you distrust yourself, every one of them is a thinly clad veil for fear. If you are honest, (and who would choose to be dishonest with themselves?), the only thing that ever stopped a man from acting upon something he knows, is fear. And what great supremacy fear holds over the mind of man today! Fear whips you in line and threatens you with catastrophe for daring to step out of line! Fear drains the vivid colors out of men and makes them all grey-scale. Fear crushes your lofty dreams and orders you to settle for the status quo. Yet, fear is mastered in a moment of time when you choose to act upon what you and you alone do know.

Each person living in the world has his particular gift to offer the world. And though time is required for its development, it is there; it must be there, as all of God’s creation is never without purpose. To compare your purpose with my purpose is like expecting a salty taste from sugar. Salt is salt and sugar is sugar, and both are required according to taste; with a million variations therein. Thus your purpose must meet a need no other person can quite fill, else were all men the same and drudgery would overtake the planet. You find out your purpose by focusing in on your delights. When I read Emerson my heart doesn’t quite know what to do, but when my wife listens to him, most words offer her no meaningful impact. What is it that passionately interests you? What thing, when done by you, is without effort and that for which time stands still? In that thing are your wings, though they still exist in embryonic form.

It’s been said that if you find whatever it is you love to do and do it, you will never work another day in your life. I would expand that to say that if you find what you love to do and do it, you will be joyfully living the life God has personally called you to live. Your age doesn’t matter. Your circumstances don’t matter. How you’ve lived your up to this point doesn’t matter. What matters is that you pursue, with all that you are, your grand, unique purpose. And, that purpose will never appear written in cloud-like ink across the sky or be chanted by the convulsing masses. It won’t be written by the finger of God on your wall. Instead, it will show itself in your interests; in those things you cannot get enough of; in the quiet, silent, tender regions of your heart from whence the still small voice gently urges, go this way my wonderful son; head that way my beautiful daughter…

You owe yourself the courage to stand up and masterfully take your place in this life.

“Insist on yourself, never imitate. Trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

Just some good thoughts…

 

Why is Life So Hard?


Life-is-Really-SimpleI just sat down to write a little blog in the comfort of my living room. I poured myself a nice glass of Cabernet and stared at the screen wondering what to write. Just then my son Chris popped in and in a moment of impulse launched a pillow into the table that formerly housed my wine glass, shattering the glass and splattering red wine on the recliner, the brand new upholstered, khaki colored dining room chair and the white cloth lamp shade. We did our best to clean up the mess, including locating all of the glass. It seems the chairs are fine, but the lampshade may have suffered a fatal loss! And in that frenetic moment it came to me, why is life so hard, or maybe, is it really hard?

Maybe us humans make the mistake of assigning meaning to things that have no meaning and focusing on the material things while never really regarding the vital and necessary things. Maybe we have been deluded into putting such high importance on our stuff; maintaining our stuff and getting new stuff and neglecting those parts of life that have true meaning. As a functioning and ambitious member of the rat race, I like to be somewhere near the front of the line. Oh I don’t do it on purpose mind you, but this old world sucks me in at times. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s something else but I like my things to be a certain way. I clean, I organize (Lord knows I organize) and I get indignant when someone dares to mess up my stuff. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of your stuff, in fact it is a quality, but sometimes the people should come before your stuff. Is that a justification for pillow slinging? Of course not! But maybe, just maybe, my obsession with stuff takes precedence over the people and when that occurs, I may have missed the mark! I’m sure when I’m on my death-bed I’d rather have Chris there than all of the upholstered chairs and lamps in the world! Why is life so hard? Well, sometimes it seems hard because you are focusing on the wrong stuff!

If you lived any amount of time on earth you are well aware of the many challenges and pitfalls that are right around the corner waiting for you. Life can seem to be real scary. There’s a multitude of things that can go wrong at any time. Oh sure, you plan and prepare and do your best, yet still things go south on you and before you can even recognize it, you find yourself faced with stress producing situations. You just want to control what you can and, by God, you do your utmost. Yet, they still appear. Hopefully somewhere along the line it finally dawns on you that you just cannot control everything. And, I’m loathe to admit, you really control an infinitesimal amount of stuff. Take, for example, your adult children (yes, this includes Chris). When they were little it was duck soup. You watched over them like a hawk and decided exactly what they did and when. Now, however, you are no longer in control. You see them heading south (no, not Chris) and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. You have to rely on them to make good choices and like you when you were their age, they don’t always choose right. You don’t want them to suffer but they will and in that suffering sometimes learn a thing or two. Why is life so hard? Often it gets hard when you’re trying to control things you cannot control.

Now comes perhaps the greatest single factor in making life seem so hard. Recently I attended a birthday party for one of my closest friends. I was sitting next to another old friend and proceeded to lament about this and that and how I so wanted this to happen and wouldn’t it be great if that happened etc. In his one of kind manner he quietly commented, “Isn’t that God’s job…” There in 5 words or less was the answer to all of life’s apparent complexities! Life is hard because you and I are busying ourselves into oblivion trying to do God’s job while neglecting our own job, namely trusting Him. We are so smart, ya know? So smart, in fact, that we have become experts in what oughta happen and dumb dumbs in regard to how things really happen. Life, absent a true belief in God’s abiding goodness, is frightfully hard. You can figure it out, you say? No you can’t! The proof of that? Your thinking that life is hard! It’s hard because you are determined to do it all by yourself.   You think, I don’t need God, I will just make a lot of money. Well, the money you made comes from God whether you ever choose to acknowledge it or not! He is just that good! The trouble is that the same world that has you wrongly focused on your stuff and trying to control everything yourself is also extremely persistent in talking you out of who God is! If you knew who He really is and what He really does you would never have the audacity to utter that life is hard. Yes, you would face your share of challenges and even maybe more than your share, but in the end you would have still overcome because Gods job is to teach you how to overcome!

Life is hard my friends, but only because you’ve been talked into trusting in yourself and not in the One that made you! Stuff gets messed up; new stuff is always out there; you want to control everything but cannot control hardly anything; you’re tired and frustrated and anxious and afraid, yet amidst all that you can learn who God is and in a moment of time change your mind and realize, life isn’t really hard but instead it is my heart that has gotten hard. Ask God to teach you something new and in the process enjoy that new, tender heart He will give you! You can bet your entire, hard life on that one!

Just some good thoughts…