Life in Your Sixth Decade…


Family 1Having just recently entered my second year in my sixth decade (happy birthday to me), I thought it might be good to reflect on the past year. Something about the sixth decade that causes you to take pause and think about things more than you have ever done in the past. Not thinking you would ever actually be this old, you start to learn some things you probably should have learned years ago. Last year was a year of intense learning and untold insights for me concerning life and living. And, at the risk of bringing you into an idea mosh pit, I’m going to share some of those things with you. 

Maybe the most profound thing I began learning this year was how to escape from mental and spiritual bondage. You don’t really know that you are all tied up when you are all tied up. You sort of need something outside of yourself (thanks God) to shed some light on your darkness and make things that have become invisible, visible again. Suddenly you begin to recognize stuff you do with no love in it. You begin to discern how fear is making all the choices. Your enjoyments become less and less and all that you do comes into question. Freedom exists on the other side of all that. Fear only gains power over you when you give it head space. You have to entertain it, talk with it, mull it over a bit, really try to reason it out, but when you do, fear always wins. Overcoming fear, which equals overcoming bondage, which equals gaining freedom, happens first in your mind and then in your heart. You have to put a complete end to fearful considerations, which equals worrying about future events, which equals being driven to behaviors and performance in order to be okay. Fear is such a slippery creature and can attach itself to things you may not have thought of before, yet there it lurks pulling the strings in your life and leading you away from the things you really want. The good Lord has set us free from all that garbage, if we only knew it. 

I was blessed to have the opportunity to rethink and relearn what it means to believe God. I already knew that to be able to receive something from God, you had to believe that God both could and would do it for you. What it really meant to believe God was the mystery for me. It’s not some type of powerful thinking or willing or demanding etc. It’s not checking to see if you doubt it or maybe aren’t fully persuaded. It’s not a good feeling or a bad feeling. It has little if anything to do with your feelings. It’s not magic or mystique. It’s more of a dogged determination. It is to keep saying what you want, not what you wish would go away, until you get it. As a wonderful man once said, “dwelling on the darkness won’t bring forth the light!” Spending all day confessing all that is wrong, every place you are dissatisfied, what you don’t like, what you wish would stop, what you wish would start, what you really, really need, all point back squarely to the darkness that engendered it to begin with. Do you think the obstacles you encounter in life are simply random? Believing is not saying what you need over and over and over again. Believing is saying what God’s Word says about your situation. If you have a need, God knows what it is already. You simply keep repeating His promise to supply all of your need which aptly applies to your situation. You’re not following a formula until the magic happens. You’re not saying it out loud to people as proof that you believe it when, deep down, you know you don’t. Instead you are saying God’s promise, which equals light, to yourself until the darkness has to flee. You’re not going to beat the devil with your adamancy, I can assure you of that. You just dwell on what you want and continue dwelling on it, until it comes to pass. There’s no time limit. There’s no secret recipe. There’s no mystery or intrigue. You don’t have to perpetually wonder if you are “believing.” Those mental games lead nowhere and produce nothing. You just keep after what you need faithfully backing it with promises from God’s Word. All the rest is simply accepting the fact that it won’t come to pass. All the rest! Believing God has to be simple because truth is always simple and plain. Error is complicated. Fear is complicated. Bondage is complicated. That thing you need so desperately, God already knows you need so desperately. Turn on the light by adding in the light. Keep saying what God says in your mind and what God says will get into your heart. Believing comes from your heart. 

Next, and certainly not in importance, I learned how much I valued and treasured my private time with God in the mornings. For me, as you might expect from a writer, I prefer to write in my journal and share my heart with God. It is my attempt at “Morning Pages” as was so beautifully outlined by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way. Morning Pages are my opportunity to talk things over with my Papa (God). I ask Him questions often and He is faithful always to answer (always). He listens (patiently) to my complaints and whining at times and still, gently, always supplies me with what I need to know or often what is really behind the things that befall me. What I learn on those sweet mornings is not always revolutionary, but often subtle insights and unveilings that meet my needs perfectly. It is so honest, so pure, so refreshing. We all need to talk with our Father at times and we are never the less for doing so. Some mornings I have to miss it and I miss it. Some mornings I’m like the psalmist that begins in despair but ends in victory. What I know for sure is that I need God’s involvement in life and we just happened upon a medium that makes us both happy. (I assume God knows I am a writer!) However you choose to do it or not do it is entirely up to you. But, if you are willing to reach outside of yourself for the answers, you will surely find as I found, God is there. 

Many of my other lessons came in a variety of settings. Each time it was gentle, easy to be intreated, something I could grasp and benefit from and never to condemn me. I learned that all fun has an endpoint and pressing beyond the endpoint doesn’t produce more fun. I understood that moderation has both freedom and limits. I learned that loving God, loving your fellow man and doing as you dang fool please had a lot of depth to it. I learned that God never expected me to be a perfect man, but rather believe in what a perfect man did for me. It finally dawned on me that you cannot add to “it is finished.” I recognized that relationships are two way streets and that sometimes you are the problem. I began to dare to follow God’s advice in no longer judging myself and even learned to extend that to other people. My own shenanigans alone attest to that reality. I learned that it’s not so much what people think about you as it is what you think about yourself. Self doubt is learned and can be unlearned. I saw that God was pretty dang good at taking care of me and my family. I understood that God meets you right where you are and for that I am immeasurably thankful. It became so vivid that God’s will for my life was that I enjoy it as much as I could, whenever I could. How many times he whispered, “enjoy your life.” I learned that my life was my choice and that nothing was supposed to intervene in that. I began a greater appreciation for my family and my friends and endeavored to show love whenever I could. I went on trips, I basked on beaches on both coasts, I traveled, we traveled, hosted parties, made hundreds of Old Fashioneds, spoke kind words to the weary, entertained guests, ate at restaurants, played many rounds of golf (never actually improving, but enjoying it nonetheless!), spent time with the likeminded,  and many more things that would mark a truly blessed life. I had my share of troubles, was pressed at times, afraid, unsure, bewildered, anxious and plain old pissed, but those times never lasted and I was always able to get back to my light, back into the fight. I guess looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Life is good my friends, so good. 

Six decades of living doesn’t produce the best skin, the best hair or the best body, but it does produce a depth of soul you may have never encountered before. It provides you with a time to reflect, to look back, to remember, to embrace and to wish you would have known better. You start to see that every day living is a good day and that life is that much better with God in it. You wish you could say and do all the things your heart always wanted you to do, but at the same time understand that you can do it now. All of us need love and we can only give it when we have it to give. Life is best lived above bondage and fear, but you have to get there when you get there and hopefully it is sooner than later. None of that stuff that has been dragging you down comes from God and if you will let Him, He will change your life forever. I love God and I love you. (M 60’s)

Just some good thoughts…

The Elephant in the Room


elephant-roomWhen I first began writing, “Just Some Good Thoughts” a number of years ago, my goal then was and my goal now is to help people escape the dark side of life; escape the suffering; escape the bondage; escape the pain. In that vein, my aim is to point people towards the light; towards the happiness and towards the joy. It has been my experience that life itself is not unhappy, nor should it be accompanied by difficulty as if by design, but rather those things come as a result of influences hell bent on making trouble for people; setting up and crafting hardships; obscuring man’s mind from the things he really needs to see. The reason a man or a woman cannot see is because their minds have been blinded to some reality. Further, it seems those evil influences don’t gain access to people’s hearts from many avenues, but instead a few areas craftily hidden from view. Complete catastrophe and disaster would render any heart humble in desperation to survive. But, the little things, the small compromises, the continued allowance of things that cause pain, they seem to be the chosen method for attack. Often these disturbances are easier for other people to see, but remain veiled to the soul of the one caught in the trap. Clearly there is an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. What is the elephant in your room?

None of us needs any more judgment than we are already subjected to in our daily life. It is never helpful for a person, determined to set a matter right, to come crashing in pointing out our weaknesses with a wrecking ball approach. Wrecking balls, however efficient, tend to smash things down rather than build things up. Instead people need to arrive at their own conclusions. Pointing out the errors in someone’s ways needs to be reserved for the person with no error in their own ways and that lone person who lived above error, out of love, chose not to do it. And, if you’re honest, do you really know the source of the other person’s problem? Difficulty and distress have many different disguises. Some much like the ones you wear. The elephant in the room must be found by the one it affects. 

In order for a gigantic creature to escape a person’s view it must be deftly hidden from them. Or maybe it is something that can be seen, but is not seen correctly for what it really represents. All deception functions this way. And all of us have been deceived. Deception is successful because it covers the real causes and as such masks the real effects. No man, no woman would persist in error if they saw it for what it really was. Instead, the error is portrayed as something good ever offering the promise of good times and lasting pleasures. The measure, therefore, is the fruit it is producing in your life. If the fruit is good, God bless it and may it continue. If the fruit is bad leading to problems and difficulties and mental duress, it deserves your further inspection. That which you do and every time you do it, it leads to turmoil and unrest, is likely in need of some revision. None of us produce only good fruit and we all are in need of some revisions. It isn’t that all of our life is bad or evil, but rather some several areas are in need of repair. Those are our elephants in the room and often they can be remedied by slight modifications and changes, not complete life overhauls. It may be as simple as making the decision to exercise some control in an area whereby you formerly held no control. It may be ridding yourself of a trusted friend who is not your friend and serves only as a thorn in your flesh. It may be as nonthreatening as a shift in priorities. If our lives were a complete wreck it would be more clear to us by now. It is in the subtleties where the ruse takes place. It is error practiced for so long that it no longer appears as error. How much suffering has been engendered by an elephant we can no longer see or even discern?  

God is more than willing to help you spot these elephants in your existence. He not only sees them for the error they really are, but also sees what is behind them. He knows precisely how they got to you and even more precisely how to help you escape from them. In this you can always trust God. Unlike the many false reports concerning Him, He is very tender and long suffering in our lives. He brings you to a place only when you are ready to see it and even then leaves your freedom of will intact. His will for us is only the best things in life, though it often take us years to gain this recognition for ourselves. Like any loving parent, He does not want to see you suffer. It pains Him to see you rebelliously moving forward on things that will result in your own harm, but allows you to do so anyway, remaining ever present to pick you up when you fall.  What a glorious day it is when you finally decide to stop leaning to your own understanding and lean to His instead. God looks on your heart. He heard your prayers. He knows you don’t understand what is going on. He hears your cries to Him. But, in order to receive your answer, you have to begin listening to Him. Follow His gentle promptings and be assured He is not the one accusing you or causing you to suffer, ever! He is faithfully at work helping you to see and rid yourself of all of the elephants in your own rooms. He desires you be free from all bondage and hardship and pain. Is there an elephant in your room making your life less than what God intended it to be? If so, let God help you and guide you in not only beginning to see it for yourself, but also in helping you remove it from your life. 

What is the elephant in the room? Nothing if you trust God and let Him show you the best way to live!

Just some good thoughts…

Buried Feelings…


As far as I can tell, projections you may put upon your pets aside, human beings are God’s only creatures that came from the factory equipped with feelings. That alone should have arrested our attention! Human beings have feelings and those feelings are vast and complex. There are more feelings than there are descriptions for them. Some people say you should honor your feelings, while others say to ignore them. Some folks are described as emotional, yet others appear emotionless. Men attribute feelings to women and women demand more feelings from men. Have you ever wondered why people have feelings? What is the purpose for your feelings? Can you feel too much or too little? And most importantly, why would God have given you the capacity for all of those feelings if they didn’t have any value in your life? You feel how you feel for a reason. But, have you taken the time to figure out the reason? Or, have you learned to bury your feelings instead?

The feelings that you experience are a barometer of your soul. And, like any good barometer, they provide you with important information concerning your internal weather patterns. Sometimes your feelings are sunny and warm and at other times your feelings are gloomy and foreboding. Some feelings are turbulent and agitated while other feelings are peaceful and calm. Feelings provide both warnings and confirmation. Certain feelings have no clear description associated with them like when you feel something is right. Other feelings are painful and inform you something is very wrong. You can feel anxious and apprehensive. You can experience feeling afraid.  But, you can also feel confident and assured. Strangely, sometimes your feelings point out a lack of meaningful activity (boredom), yet also signal an overload of activity defined as stress.  With all of the vast world of feelings at your disposal, there must be some intention behind them. Though infinitely complex, to you they are always understood, though sometimes needing further examination. Do you understand your feelings and receive the message they contain for you or have you learned to not give them much credence and go on about your merry way?

Feelings have been described as being no guarantee for truth. And while that is certainly true, feelings do represent the truth about where you are in your journey. Your feelings, both fleeting and long standing, exist to act as a compass to guide you in the right direction. Feelings are not the “truth,” but do indicate your position in relation to the “truth.” When you are off track, you feel miserable and defeated. When you are right on, your feelings are light, pleasant and enjoyable. Feelings of apprehension do not necessarily indicate something is wrong, but do indicate more thought and understanding may be required. To consistently ignore your feelings is to run headlong into the unknown, risking life and limb. You are feeling what you are feeling for a reason! Learn the reason. Most people don’t feel their feelings because they have no feelings, but rather because the world has succeeded in numbing their feelings. A callous isn’t formed from being tender, but instead from repeated rough treatment. Thus, having strong feelings isn’t an indication of weakness, though it is reported as such, but rather points to a heart that is still tender, soft, pliable. The more you understand your feelings and acknowledge them, the more successful a human being you will become. This insulting notion that a real man is devoid of feelings is an affront to his Creator. A man is a man because he feels and a woman is a woman because she feels, though their feelings be as different as night and day.  Burying your feelings as an act of self-preservation provides a completely opposite result than was intended!

Human beings are social creatures. Yet each creature feels independently. In order to get along, each others feelings must be considered. Relationships do not end because of bad feelings, but rather because those feelings eventually go unexpressed. Every time you ignore the feelings that well up inside you, and do not express those feelings where appropriate, you do yourself a disservice. While seeking harmony with another, you cause disharmony within yourself. To play a role as an actor or a politician while being untrue to your own feelings, is to live a fraudulent life. You feel that you may know and you know that you may grow. Even anger, while feeling unpleasant and toxic, simply acts as a signal that something needs an immediate remedy. Anger ignored comes back with greater velocity until the pressure builds to a breaking point. How much destruction could be avoided simply by faithfully speaking up and expressing honestly how you feel?

To feel is to be human. Not feeling may aid a business endeavor, but eventually the one not feeling will have to come to terms with himself. You cannot be successful and prosperous while ignoring your feelings. Oh you can for awhile. You may garner for yourself much wealth and riches, but you will have paid the price with your very own soul. Listen to what your feelings are telling you. Feelings of boredom inform you of activities left undone, meanings ignored. Agitated feelings point to disturbances and call for a calming solution. How good we feel when we find the answer! Feelings of satisfaction point towards completed efforts. While feeling unfulfilled indicates greater purpose to be discovered. Use your barometer! Pay attention to the weather. It may be stormy today, but storms do not last forever. See your feelings for what they are – indicators, and adjust yourself accordingly.

Our great God equipped you with those feelings to help guide you on your way. Don’t ignore them! Don’t discount them as petty and meaningless. They are not your truth, but will certainly help you discover it. Trust yourself. Trust how you feel though the whole world disagrees with you. Don’t live in a world governed by other people’s feelings. Instead live in a world where you honor your feelings, right or wrong and adjust yourself accordingly. You feel that you may know and you know that you may grow! Don’t bury your feelings! Feel them, experience them and see the message they have been communicating to you. It’s never too late. Feel…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

Living Your Reflection…


reflection_28Here’s some food for thought… The life you are presently living is a direct reflection of your most dominant and habitual thinking. Read that again! Up to this point you may not have made this connection. Most folks don’t. Instead people think that life is happening to them and they are simply reacting to whatever life does next. People that live in a perpetual struggle falsely conclude that circumstances are working against them and probably even long for the time when the struggle will end. But, they remain unaware that their habitual thought forms the basis of their expectations and as such they are living in a world of their own making.

Habits are, in themselves, useful. On the positive side they free your mind of the unnecessary thought required to complete mundane tasks. However, habits also have a dark side. Negative patterns of thought, rehearsed over and over again lead to negative expectations, which manifest themselves in negative circumstances. And, to make matters worse, the habits become invisible to you because of their habituation. And, once darkness has become invisible to you, it is allowed to perpetuate within you to bring about those struggles you’ve been trying so hard to avoid.

I’m sure you’ve heard people complain to God about why life is so hard and why there is so much struggling going on. And, let’s be honest, there is some heavy-duty struggling happening. But, what you may not know is that God has given you control over those struggles once you know how to go about turning things around. God hasn’t left us without a remedy and surely doesn’t condone pain and hardship. But, until you finally learn that your life is “your” life and that you can exercise control, things will go on as they’ve always gone on since the beginning of time.

Just so you don’t think this is “crazy” talk, let me ask you some questions. At this very moment in time, what do think about life? Do think it is a struggle? Do you think it is hard and random and filled with the unexpected? Do you think that is always hard for you to get money and that it always will be? Do you think that disease just happens and that you are powerless against it? Your honest answer to those questions is the life you are presently living. Your expectation; your belief is precisely what you are experiencing and will continue to experience as long as you keep thinking the way you are thinking. Life won’t turn around for you and your ship won’t come in. It cannot because it is a direct reflection of your inmost thoughts. Change your thoughts; change your expectations; change your beliefs and your life will change.

In order to right the ship, you have to become keenly aware of what was formerly invisible; namely your thoughts. You have to start recognizing your negative thought habit patterns. You have to see where you have become your own worst enemy. You must clearly discern that negative chatter, ever providing reasons why you cannot succeed; why you cannot get ahead; why you cannot win. And once you finally hear it, you have to start forcefully challenging those false assumptions. Those assumptions are not “just life” but instead are lies you have been worn down into accepting. There’s no shame in being led astray because the whole world has been led astray, on purpose, by the evil that lies deep behind it, hidden. The real shame comes when you see a glimpse of the light and refuse to heed the lesson.

Have you ever noticed how people set goals for themselves? They set goals with tiny incremental increases as if one can only progress with baby steps. They don’t realize that the larger the goal; the larger the expectations, the larger the result. It is like that with your thoughts. Once you have begun to see and challenge a series of thoughts, your responsibility is to change your thoughts and expectations to something you actually want. It takes the exact same amount of effort to think something good as it takes to think something bad. But make no mistake, you are choosing by what you “choose” to think and hold onto.

I should add, because I know what you’re thinking, that sometimes you “find” yourselves in a challenging situation that you didn’t necessarily bring upon yourself. Sometimes people are under attack; in bad environments and feel that they are being tested. Well, they are being tested but never by God. The test is in how you respond to the challenge. Will you accept what it “seems” like or will you remain stedfast in your beliefs and overcome? You would be surprised how quickly things turn around when you make your mind up! But, if you succumb to what “appears” to be real, you end up down the same blind alleys you traveled before.

As living, breathing, thinking human beings, we always have a say in how things are going to turn out. Always! The key lies in refusing to accept the information that comes to your mind via your five senses, and trusting instead what God says is true! Obviously you can ridicule this notion and demand that what it seems like, is true, but with that you can resign yourself to your usual, perpetual struggle.

Your life, my life is a reflection of those things we think about the most. Change your thoughts and your life will change. It isn’t about being naively positive, it’s about choosing what you will and will not accept in your life. You have more control than you ever thought. God would have it no other way! Really!

Just some good reflections…

 

WTF? (Fear)


WTFDid you know that your number one enemy in life is fear? Fear is the killer of all your hopes and dreams. Fear takes away all opportunities for success. Fear steals your happiness and anything else that is important to you. Fear destroys your life! WTF? And, although the number one admonition in the Bible is to “fear not,” fear continues to work its hardship on all of us everyday. Why? Why and how does fear access our minds so easily? Fear gains easy entrée because we don’t see it for what it really is – False Evidence Appearing Real!

Fear and its companions are much more subtle than you may have imagined. In fact, most folks would tell you that they aren’t afraid. But, when they speak of fear, they’re usually referring to its obvious side. The kind they feel when a snarling Pit Bull is running in their direction or what they experience while teetering on the edge of a cliff. Yet fear is involved in many other facets of life. The stress you feel at work is fear. The overwhelm you experience because you have a lot to do is fear. Worrying about not having enough money is fear. Choosing to do things you know you shouldn’t do is fear. Every addiction, everything that holds you captive is fear. Agitation, restlessness and boredom is fear. Chronic indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome…fear. The massive industry of pharmaceuticals comes from fear. Health issues, mental issues, exhaustion, all fear. Fear, fear, fear rules the world.

The peace of mind you so desperately seek is not found in money, or the right job or the perfect partner. It’s found right inside your own head when all the fear is finally gone. Some folks live their whole lives and rarely get to experience it. Maybe you found it during that family vacation or during a particularly happy time in your life. In reality it wasn’t the vacation or the pleasant circumstances, it was found because you momentarily let go of the fear. Fear is epidemic, my friends, and it’s after you everyday! If it’s not a deadly disease, (Ebola) it’s an Earth that’s getting too hot. It’s a struggling economy or the loss of your job. It’s every disease and every sickness. It’s the news and the media and your friends and your family. It literally surrounds you and it’s all a damn lie! A lie that rules the world!

In order for fear to get a foothold in your life it needs a willing host. Fearful suggestions don’t hurt you. But, when you accept those fearful suggestions, that’s when the trouble starts. Fear rules your life because you cooperate with it everyday. Instead of dismissing those fretful ideas you take them on with the false hope that you can figure it all out. Well, you can’t figure it out. They’re an invitation for disaster. They (those fears and their source) are counting on you and your ego to take the bait. How much life have you already wasted on some unreasonable proposition? How many hours have you dedicated to worrying about that job of yours? What if you fail? What if they fire you? What if the business goes under. What if you fail to get a project done on time? What if you aren’t a success? What if don’t have what you need and you are reduced to suffering and shame? What if? Feel free to apply that scenario to every aspect of your life. What if? What if is FEAR!

This is why I can’t understand how people live their lives without God. If I didn’t have a relationship with God, I would be a miserable wreck! This life has just too many scary variables to take them all on with my little ol’ mind. The only way to defeat fear is to learn about God; His omnipotence and His power. There’s nothing God can’t fix and that is the end of all fear. God’s love is the antithesis of fear and the knowledge of God is the only way you’ll understand that fear is always a lie. I took a class in 1982 called, “Power For Abundant Living” and for the first time in my adult life experienced the complete absence of fear…peace. How sweet it is!

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done in the past, God is there for you. With Him you can only succeed and without Him you can only fail. Fear is the most destructive force in the universe and it’s not easy to overcome. You’re not going to beat it with your human logic and rationality and smarts. Fear is spiritual at its roots and requires spiritual insight to defeat. As darkness is simply the absence of light, fear is simply the absence of love, God’s love.

This life is just too precious and way too short to spend your days living in fear, in all of its subtle forms. How much would it be worth to you to finally stop all of your striving and your worrying and your fretting? What price tag can you put on uninterrupted peace? Once the fear is finally gone your life can take off how God originally planned it to do. Without fear you’ll find that everything you have been seeking has really been seeking you. Yet, you don’t find it by pressing harder, you find it by letting go! FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL…

WTF? The only way to rid yourself of WTF is by getting serious about getting rid of fear, once and for all. Talk to God; get to God; find God. God and His Word will expose every form of fear to you and in that marvelous light, everything else that has ever bothered you as well. You owe it to yourself, don’t you think?

Just some good thoughts…

Peace.

The Religious Right (and left…and uppercut)!


NoReligion_Window_Sticker_MAIN1_300_329984.jpgI have never been a fan of religion; any of them. Scratch that! I hate the stuff (swear word thought of but not typed)! Being an ardent lover of God and His son, my issues are never with Him. My issue is with religion and its man-made doctrines that drive men and women bananas. I have never met people more defeated and discouraged than religious folks. All day long trying to follow impossible rules, and impossible standards, stamped by men and issued as if from God directly. Discipline to no purpose. Denial to no end. The torture of human beings. Believing God is tempting them and praying for deliverance from temptation. Looking for godly meaning in catastrophes and disasters. Wanting to punish rich folk for using people, but believing that God is using them!  Guilty for this; sorry for that; regretting this choice and hating themselves for that. And all this being done by perhaps some of the kindest and most thoughtful people in the world. The ones that actually care. The problem isn’t the people, the problem is the religion that drives people insane.

Assuming I may have already pissed you off, allow me to explain. Truth, if it is really truth, must have a logic to it. Illogical and true cannot mix. Think about it. God is angry with you for looking at that woman’s butt, but He’s the one that made it attractive to you (not me honey…theory 😉 ). God forbids you to defile your body with alcohol, yet Jesus’ first miracle was resupplying the wine at the wedding. God gave you sovereign free-will to choose for yourself, but occasionally uses you for His own ends. (Forgive me Father I’m making a point) God makes you ill to test your faith, then asks you to pray to Him for healing.  God made sex feel really good, then expects you to only do it to produce a child. I could go on, but now I’m annoying myself…

You see folks, this aint about me being right and you being wrong, or doggedly defending “my” way of thinking as superior to your way of thinking. This is about applying the test of logic to what you believe. IF God is perfect and all-knowing and all-wise, I’m thinking He is pretty dang logical (insert extreme sarcasm here). Perfection doesn’t need to double-clutch and cough and sputter to make sense of the nonsense. But religion does. Sadly someone has sold us a bill of goods. And that someone has done his job so well, his name doesn’t even come up in the discussion.

I currently live in a very religious state. Is that so bad? Ummm no… I don’t feel unsafe in my neighborhood. I leave stuff unlocked often. There’s an excellent chance of a neighbor upon finding my wallet, actually returning it. People want to help us; take care of us and bless us. My state is one of the safest and cleanest in the nation because of the religion. Yet my state also has one of the highest rates of prescriptions for depression and anxiety per capita in the nation. You know why? It’s damn hard to live that crap! Damn hard. I know because I got caught up in it myself. Someone, or a lot of someones, successfully convinced me that the love and protection I once freely enjoyed with God, required a much more complicated set of requirements than I had previously thought. You can get a lot of power over people if you can attach God’s name to it. So, in order to stay safe, I succumbed and began a litany of ridiculous choices all founded and formed in religion much to the detriment of everyone I came into contact with. I became religious. And while striving so hard night and day to please God, my believing decreased, my prayers answered less, my results – non-existent. Uggh… That it is until I had the good sense or maybe the God-inspired sense to break free. Break free from God? Never… Break free from religion, yes!!!

So why do I write this, you ask? The religious folks don’t want to hear it and the unbelievers don’t believe anyway. Well, I wrote this for you. I wrote this for every person waking up each morning scratching their head and mumbling, ummm I don’t get it. I wrote this for the good-hearted people out there killing themselves to earn God’s love, yet missing it at every turn. I wrote this for the folks that don’t believe the only two choices in life are be evil or be religious. I wrote this for my children and my grandchildren.

The God whom I love and serve isn’t into religion. He is into people and their hearts. 90% of that malarkey you have foolishly assigned to God doesn’t come from Him at all. It comes from religion and the minds of men. And ultimately, secretly it comes from that devious source of evil that seeks only to put you into bondage and torture you. Don’t get mad at me, get mad at the enemy.

There comes a time in your life when you have to stand behind what you believe and say it. In the words of Emerson,“Let us advance on Chaos and the Dark.”

There is a life with God that is sweeter than anything you may have ever experienced. And in that life, you will find that He is always logical and never religious. He is love folks, love…

The Tyranny of the Self-Made Life…


Self-Made-Man1There I was writing down my goals again and realizing that I have been writing the same crap for years! Same goals, same never-ending list of steps required to reach my goals. I’m going to stop doing this and start doing that, and ease up on this and cut back on that…Requirements, discipline, blah, blah, blah. Of course there is nothing wrong with writing down your goals and even better writing down steps to achieve those goals, but man, what a drag! What a freaking hard way to live. Never satisfied, never enjoying the moments called now. Perpetual work (mental work) towards some future day when… Add to that the mental consternation that goes with figuring out all of the complexities of life with your own little brain and you have a formula for misery. Can you even fathom how many variables life contains and the insanity of trying to control those variables? How many things need to line up with a multitude of other things for you to get what you want most out of life? And further, do you really, honestly think that your little plan, devised by your little mind could, by will power and determination, get a handle on all of the factors that must come together for you to be successful? Really?

I thought these thoughts and asked myself the same questions and, in all honesty, had to admit that my complicated plans with all of their required tasks, while offering the promise of securing “that life” were in reality complex wish lists that did little more than satisfy my intellect that I had devised “the plan” to get where I wanted to go. The tasks, unpleasant. The disciplines, undesirable. The probability of me carrying them out, zero. So, how do people reach their goals? How do some folks attain the unattainable? The so-called fortunate ones who seem to be living the life, what did they do so differently?

I think it’s safe to say they worked hard. That goes without saying. It’s obvious they were clear about what they desired. But, I’m willing to wager a lot of money that on the way to arriving, they were enjoying the journey. No-one does anything well that they don’t enjoy doing. Yes it’s work, but work you love isn’t really work (and if you have managed to touch on that you know what I mean). But work for work’s sake is drudgery and even more so when it doesn’t get you where you want to go. Oh try as you may, discipline your discipline, but in the end you’ll see (hopefully) that the path “you” chose for the fulfillment of your dreams isn’t the path to get to your dreams.

In the most simple terms, the first step to attaining your dream life is believe you can attain your dream life. I will say that again! The first step to attaining your dream life is to believe that you can. Until you get that step down, you are destined to work harder and get less. Your efforts, your energy to do, must be backed by the passion to do and without the first step, you can never get to the second step. Decision always, always, always precedes desire (passion). That solid, sold out, convicted decision produces the energy to do in exact proportion to the decision. A “hope so” decision; a wishy-washy decision; a maybe-maybe not decision can only produce a meager, so-so, half-hearted passion that neither has the energy or the will to accomplish anything. For real!

Doing first things first by whole-hearted decision gets God involved in your life. God, who happens to be aware of every variable, can work with decision. And, by His very nature, cannot work with indecision. Your lack of decision almost guarantees a lack of result and I don’t care how hard you work or how hard you try! It’s not your sincerity that gets the job done. Many sincere people have taken their dream to their grave. It’s your belief that gets the job done and without your cooperation, God Himself can do nothing! Conversely, making the strong decision to accomplish something leads to the strong passion (energy) required to do something which leads to the necessary details and finally to the required result!

How much time have you spent pursuing hopes and wishes? How much effort have you wasted on idle dreams that you don’t believe will really happen nor truly expect to obtain? My advice? Be like me. Recognize that you are tired of your lists and your requirements and your plans. Accept that what you are doing isn’t working and thinking that something magical will happen later is only a fantasy. Instead, take the time to decide exactly, precisely, clearly and emphatically what it is you want to accomplish; what legacy you wish to give to the world. And once you finally get that clear, act with the passion that accompanies your decision. It will be there. It must! And, along the way, give your poor, tired mind a break and cease trying to figure it all out. How you get there matters none, but rather “that” you get there. Let God do His job by “you” making a decision and then just enjoy the day that is today! Enjoy this day and give it all you’ve got. I mean really, if you truly believe that God is getting you where you want to go, you don’t have to spend another moment agonizing on how it is going to happen! You just live and move and expect and see…

Trying to figure out how to live a “self-made” life is a tyranny that will wear you out! You aren’t big enough for that fight. Trust me. But you certainly are big enough to make a decision and let God figure it out. Then, life becomes what it supposed to be – a joyful journey of discovery that ends in victory!

Just some good, clear, free thoughts…

The Happiness Myth…


Summer-happiness-photoHappiness is admittedly something we all desperately want in our lives, right?! There’s the “Happiness Advantage,” “The Happiness Hypothesis,” “The Happiness Project” and countless other books on the topic. Happiness is perhaps one of the most contemplated subjects in the world today. And although there are many wonderful books that offer the elusive promise of enduring happiness, there’s one thing I know for sure. Happiness is a dish best served…

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but I found myself going through a “bit of a rough patch” as my British ancestors are wont to say. As a self-proclaimed promoter of happiness, I felt embarrassed to find myself a teacher who no longer believed in his own message. So, I analyzed my life piece by piece looking for an answer. I tried blaming others and their apparent lack of support for me. I made the usual excuses, “I’m so busy.” “I need to get organized.” “I need to finish unfinished business” etc. etc. etc. Maybe I needed to start saying ‘no’ to other people’s requests. And, the more I searched for the cause the more lost I became. I thought I needed to be more selfish and devote more time to myself and what I wanted. Maybe it was not enough sleep or a bad diet or maybe it was my thinking and not paying attention to what I was thinking about. I knew better than to blame God, so I thought maybe I wasn’t devoting enough time to God or praying enough or studying. I searched myself from here to breakfast and the more I searched the more unhappy I became. I became critical of myself and judged myself harshly, rehearsing my shortcomings and my faults. Maybe I just needed to get better at… Or work harder to… Or exercise more discipline to… And, in the end, more of that pervasive misery.

Then something interesting happened. I received a call from a gentleman explaining that the Dale Carnegie franchise had returned to Utah and he wondered if I wanted to be a facilitator again. I vividly remembered how much I loved doing Carnegie classes, but I felt a hesitation in my heart. I couldn’t explain it, but I felt like I didn’t want to do it anymore. Yet I couldn’t shake the memory of how much joy I felt doing the classes. So against my own feelings, I reluctantly agreed. Fast forward a month or so and I found myself sitting in an immersion class (accelerated), learning or relearning the principles again. At first I was challenged and agitated because I knew I would be forced out of my comfort zone (that place I dwell in day by day where nothing happens!). But, I persisted and then it happened! As I made the long commute home, I recognized something that had been missing for a long time. Joy. Indescribable, all-encompassing joy!

So what happened to me? What took place that moved me so suddenly from misery to happiness in just under 8 hours? Well, while learning and practicing the principles in that unmistakable Dale Carnegie way, I finally took the focus off myself and on to other people. I practiced showing sincere appreciation and listening and seeing things from another’s point of view. I became more interested in helping my fellow-man than I was in helping myself. It was no longer about me…

One of the great paradoxes of life is that the more you seek the fulfillment of your own needs, the less they are fulfilled and the more you seek to take care of others, the more your own needs are met. The Bible states it this way. The more you lose yourself for others, the more you find your real self. And conversely, the more you seek to find yourself, the more lost you become. Crazy I know, but oh so true!

Despite the multitude of claims circling around the globe today, focus on yourself and only yourself can only result in misery. It has to; it must! Focus on yourself as the great starting point for all endeavors almost guarantees a negative outcome because all you’ll end up with is yourself; full of flaws and mistakes and weaknesses. Focus on yourself as an attempt to make yourself happy defies the laws of life. You want, you desire, you seek, but when done exclusively for yourself, subtracts life, instead of adding to it. Conversely, when you seek the good of others (giving) the laws of life cooperate by returning back to you (receiving). It really is more blessed to give than to receive. Read this little poem that I think says it best:

The Man in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self                                                                                                                   And the world makes you king for a day,

Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife,
Who judgment upon you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest. For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed the most dangerous, difficult test If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum, And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years. And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be the heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

Dale Wimbrow (c) 1934

And the only way not to cheat the man in the glass is by living your life in service to others.

So, if you my friend, find yourself searching for the elusive happiness and finding misery instead, don’t work any harder to find a way to give happiness to yourself, but instead find a way to give that happiness to others. And in so doing you will find what every truly happy person has found, you have to give in order to receive. Happiness is a dish best served…

Just some good thoughts…

The Slippery Slide of the Vegetable Mind…


1337256000000_cached(2)Log on to Facebook. Check notifications. Reply to comments. Check Home. Scroll down, down, down looking for content. Click like. Keep scrolling, scrolling. Click on Home again. Repeat. Searching, searching for something to read and add a response. Keep glancing at notifications. (2) Click and read. Accept mystery friend because he knows three other mystery friends. Respond to private message. Back to Home page. Repeat.

Close laptop and stare at the TV. Watch mindlessly for eight minutes, then commercial comes on. Open laptop, check Facebook. Repeat.

Grab cellphone. Respond to text. Write LOL a lot. Check emails. Click on Sturhling watch ad. Check other emails. Repeat.

Electronic media has truly changed our world. We are inundated with brightly lit screens to stare at. But, at what cost?  What is the payment that is being exacted for our obsession with our devices? Most folks would say it’s the lack of human interaction. But I think it’s deeper than that. Facebook for example, is all about human interaction in an electronic format. The greatest toll paid comes in the form of time. Wasted, wasted time. Time for conversations that matter, gone. Time to think about your life and what you want in it, slipped away. Time to work on personal projects, evaporated. Time to pursue your dreams, vanished. Time to get refreshed and rejuvenated, obliterated. Time…

We have become a collection of people distracted and divided. Things are coming at us a hundred miles an hour and we don’t have time to take them on. Have you ever noticed how great you feel when you go camping? Or for that matter, anytime you go somewhere that forces you to disconnect from electricity. Is it the serene surroundings? Is it the dirty campsite? Or is it having the freedom to just sit down and think?

Human beings need time to think. We need a separation from the sounds and images and the clutter so that we can process what is going on and how we need to respond to it. It sounds mystical perhaps, but we need our time for meditation; for prayer; for the quietness that helps our hearts find peace again. We need the space required to recognize what’s been bothering us and time to hear our solution.

Without all of the distractions we have time to talk to one another. Not about the weather and the economy, but about the things that are the most important to us. We need an opportunity to bring up our griefs, our hassles, our challenges. We require a chance to clear the air; to resolve our differences and to find the sweetness we once knew. We need it…

I would submit that many people are defeated for the day, before they even get up. They lay there enduring a cascade of thoughts about what’s wrong with them and how fat they are and all of the worries and cares of life, without offering the slightest resistance. Then, up and out of bed they go; hurrying to shower and get ready, while slurping down some coffee and arriving at work slightly frazzled. They’re pissed off but have now forgotten why… The day passes quickly and it’s time to get home, eat dinner and participate in the electronic media dance ’til bedtime. Tomorrow is a new day to start it all over again.

Our stressed, frenzied world has succeeded in talking us into the illusion that we haven’t got enough time. We are so busy everyday and it never stops. Then one day, we wake up and we’re 5o and haven’t accomplished a fraction of the things of which we used to ardently dream.

Thankfully there is a solution. The answer lies in making the decision to take back your time; your life! Take the time you need to find your peace (It’s there for waiting for you). Plan spaces in your daily routine to give that old processor a chance to turn back on and come back to life. Turn something off. Unplug… Silence that notification sound. Shut it all down. Being overly busy isn’t a sign of success, it’s a sign that something is using your precious time with or without your consent.

Now there’s nothing wrong with taking the time to relax and stare at the TV or to play on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. We all need a break to relax and veg out. The key is to set a predetermined limit on any activity that takes more time than it’s worth. And when your life remains exactly the same year after year after year, it’s not worth it!

Your precious life is shorter than you may have imagined. Those dreams, those ideals that remain in your heart and beckon for attention need to be given space for expression or they will go to the grave with you as something you wish you had done. Get off the slippery slide of distraction and awake your vegetable mind to the life, your life, that now is…

Those Facebook comments; those Housewives of Atlanta; those emails will be there tomorrow or whenever you decide to give them space again. The only difference will be that you can now entertain them with your happy, satisfied mind, pleased with the decisions you made to take back your life!

One life my friends, one life…alive!

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

The Santa Clause Effect… (Trying to Earn What Cannot Be Earned)


santa-claus-arrested-black-friday-walmartAs a kid, I remember joyfully anticipating Christmas Day! Somehow this dude named Santa Clause traveled the world  in a single night depositing presents under people’s Christmas trees. He must have been all-knowing because almost everything you asked for was right there waiting for you. This Santa fellow was pretty awesome. But, he had a dark side. You had to be “good” in order to get his blessings. If you were naughty you might just get a lump of coal. (I know, pretty random bad gift, right?) Some of his commandments were: 1.) No pouting 2.) No crying 3.) Do not be naughty 4.) And the all encompassing, you better watch out! Why you ask? Because he knows if you are sleeping and he knows if you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. Add to that, he keeps a detailed list of what you do and even checks it twice before deciding to give you things! And the final clincher? We teach this to our children.

I’m sure you noticed there are some strikingly obvious comparisons between Santa Clause and God. In fact, many people believe God functions the exact same way. He’s up there somewhere watching every move you make. And, He’s not only watching and judging, He’s also keeping track on a list. If your good doesn’t outweigh your bad, He is not going to bless you and might even curse you with something awful and black! So, my friends, you better watch out!

Have you ever noticed how people pray? They say things like, “Oh Lord let me get this new job.” Or, “God, let me win this lottery.” The not so subtle implication being that God is somehow stopping good things from happening in your life, presumably because you have been very naughty. And because He is all-knowing you figure you better behave properly if anything good is going to happen in your life. The evil behind this pervasive concept is two-fold. First, what exactly is good and second what are the degrees of bad? Some folks say it is a sin to drink alcohol. Others say there are hierarchies of sin including “little white lies” all the way to murder or something. How can you know? Well, you don’t know and if you’re honest you simply conclude that you’re not very good. I mean after all, didn’t you just watch Cinemax (Sex-a-max) last night?

In the words of a famous man, “I can assure you, God doesn’t bless you because of how good or bad you are, but rather because of your believing.” Read that again! In order to receive anything from God you have to believe. You must be fully persuaded that God can do it AND will do it for you! Now back to Santa. If you have bought into the notion that God will only bless you because you are the very nebulous “good,” then chances are you aren’t expecting Him to bless you. Actually, you are so convinced of your “badness” that you now have to pray for God to “NOT” do something or worse, allow something you want to happen. This concept could not be further from the truth!

Everything we have in this life we have because of God’s grace. Grace is unearned divine favor. You cannot earn something that cannot be earned. Read that again! Now, think of it this way. If you have children, I’m sure you do your best to make them happy. You not only supply everything they need, but you actually go out of your way to do things that make them happy. Yet, how do they measure up on YOUR naughty list? Pretty dang naughty, aren’t they? They disobey; break your expensive stuff; injure themselves; get in trouble at school; mess up the house etc., etc. And despite it all, you still want them to be happy… And you are a parent that sometimes pouts, cries and other things on the forbidden Santa list of commandments. Can you see how foolish that idea is?

God is not an ongoing list of moral requirements. You can be plenty moral with or without God. You can be so damn tightly wound that you squeak when you walk. And mid squeak you’re still begging God to “not let” something happen! Nah man, you gotta get that insanity out of your mind. God never wanted you to live that way. Even the Old Testament laws, all 86 million of them, weren’t designed to make people good. They were designed to provide a written standard of “good” someone could fulfill later in order for God to end that crazy logic once and for all. (I would say read that again, again but I’m over my limit!)

The truth is that God won’t withhold anything good from you…ever. Quit measuring your sins and remembering your mistakes and cataloguing your misdeeds. God knows all about you and still loves you! You can receive every blessing God intended for your life if you’ll just get rid of that Santa Clause logic. Don’t ask the preacher… Read it in God’s Word.

You better watch out, you better not cry… Ah shut up Santa! My God reigns supreme!