Perhaps our Native Americans had the best concept of God

October 26, 2016

From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this – “Goodbye to ‘he’ and ‘she’ and hello to ‘ze’?  (

Jack was writing about a new pronoun being suggested as a way to remove gender orientation when referring to someone. He went on to comment about our tendency to refer to God as He. I recall how my daughter used to amuse Jack when she was in his Confirmation class by always referring to God as She.

The whole issue of labeling God with some gender-specific term that reflects how we think of ourselves is part of the interjection of man’s own ego into his religious beliefs. Wejesus-as-light tend to think of God in our own image. Our ego is so big that we believe that He made us to look just like him. Of course that means for many that He is a tall, good looking white male; perhaps with white hair and beard, because He is old, after all. And His Son, while born in the Middle East in ancient times, somehow ended up looking like a modern European white male in most of the great paintings of ancient Christian religion. Amazing how that happened! Even today there are those who continue to insist that Jesus was a white man, just like Santa Claus.

Perhaps the most gender and image neutral description of God that I have heard is from Native Americans who called God the Great Spirit. While rooted in pagan origins, Native Americans saw God’s presence in all things; praying-indiannot just in mankind. They also saw a caring, loving God who provided for them and watched over them and all of the inhabitants of the earth. Their view of the Great Spirit didn’t have the pronoun ze, but it lacked the need to be classified by gender or even by species.

If we can start to think of God more along the lines of the Native Americans’ Great Spirit we can drop not only the gender issue, but all other issues that we currently use to judge people. It is unfortunate that some who claim to be religious put on the mantle of the Bible and religion while condemning others for alleged lifestyle transgressions against their “religion.” Those same holier-than-thou people would likely have joined the pharissesPharisees of the day in condemning Jesus for befriending and eating with tax collectors.

Much of modern religion has been contrived by man to make the unknowable somehow fit into what our small minds can conceive. Since we can’t really get our heads around the concept of God, we humanize Him by assigning to Him human attributes that we feel comfortable with. He, after all, must look a lot like us, since we have decided that He made us in His image. We don’t see the Great Spirit in all things as the Native Americans did, just in us. It is a relatively easy step for many to take to believe that he must also have the same prejudices against those whom we condemn as being “not like us.” After all, if God is on our side, how can he be with them, also?

It’s unlikely that the general neutral term ze will gain that much traction, especially in religion; but, perhaps, if we put a little more of the Great Spirit mentality into our religious practices we would end up closer to the true meaning of faith. May the Great Spirit be with you.

Focus on the right things…

October 25, 2016

“Don’t judge someone just because they sin differently than you.”  (Unvirtuous Abbey – from a recent post on the blog Jack’s Winning Words.

Jack went on to write – I “see” sin as failing to love and respect others, yourself and your God.  You figure out what that means.

It is open season on judging the sins of others during this “silly season” of presidential debaterspolitics. Both presidential candidates, and indeed most candidates for any office at all levels, tend to resort to mudslinging against their opponents, rather than focus upon what they would do if elected. The game seems to be trying to make the opponent seem like the worse choice because they have sinned differently than you.  Our country has a rich history of this type of behavior, going back to the founding fathers. These days the mud being slung is not about getting in bed with slaves, but getting in bed with wealthy donors and selling out votes on issues (although there is still a lot of bedroom or locker room talk). Focus on the right things.

In our own daily lives we have ample opportunities to judge someone else because they are different from us. It may or may not be about any sins that they commit differently fromjudge things us. Perhaps it is just what color or race or religion or sexual orientation they may have been born to or adopted. Perhaps it is how they choose to dress or to act. Maybe it is how they talk or what they have to say that we find offensive because it is different from our notion of things. Whatever it is we find offensive or sinful, it is likely because it is different from us. We let those differences become the focus of our relationship with them.  Focus on the right things.

Jack’s reference to loving and respecting other, yourself and your God is based upon the Two Great Commandments –  Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. A part of showing love is showing respect.  Loving and respecting others means not judging them because they sin differently than you. Focus on the right things.

ugly mirrorIf you must judge someone, buy a hand mirror and hold it up in front of you.  Get the person that you see in that mirror straightened out before you worry about the actions, beliefs or sins of others. I suspect that, if you focus on following the two great commandments, you will find that your concerns about the sins of others will fade away and hopefully your own sins fade, too.  Focus on the right things.

Perhaps we all could use the advice that the Bellamy Brothers put into their song  Lord, help me be the kind of person that my dog thinks I am. Dogs don’t worry about the sins of others.  Dogs don’t judge and give unconditional love.  Perhaps weno judgement could learn from our dogs and focus on the right things.

Have a great and non-judgmental day.

It’s a new day; let’s get started off right…

October 24, 2016

alone at sunsetIt’s a new day and a new week. Let’s get started off on both on the right foot. I found some quotes that all point in that same direction:

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” – Buddha

“Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Every morning we wake up is the first day of the rest of our lives.” – Unknown

“Your life isn’t behind you; your memories are behind you. Your life is ALWAYS ahead of you. Today is a new day – seize it!” – Steve Maraboli

For many people it is hard to let go of what happened yesterday or last week, but you mustbaggage do that so that you can focus upon what’s coming up or at you today and this week. Hopefully you learned something from what happened last week and stored that knowledge away for future use; however, you needn’t dwell upon it and let it distract you from what is ahead.

Don’t get bogged down in the coulda, woudla, shoulda’s of the past. You didn’t, so move on. You still have “I will” ahead of you. Make the most of your upcoming opportunities.

You will need more than just good intentions, however. One of my mom’s favorite savings was: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  Good intentions not acted upon just become paving stones to failure. The key to success is committing to an action plan that will make those good intentions come true.

smiling-sunSo, let us resolve that tomorrow is behind us, along with whatever disappointments or failures or pains that it brought. We have not failed yet today. We have not disappointed yet today. We have not yet experienced any pain today. What happens today or how we react to things today is still within our control. Seize the day! Own it! It is yours to make of it what you will. Perhaps we should start today and every day with this thought from Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

You might be pleasantly surprised how much better your days go if you start off rejoicing in each new day. Start off on the right foot.

A life lesson from the King of golf…

October 20, 2016

arnold-palmerArnold Palmer was called the King of golf because of his key role in making golf successful in the 1960’s and establishing it on TV. Palmer was followed on the golf course by his army and was the first great athletic hero of the Television Era. Palmer passed away this year at age 87.

 Palmer was extensively quoted during his life and Jack Freed used on of his quotes in a recent blog post to his blog Jack’s Winning Words.

“Success in golf depends less on strength of body than on strength of mind and character.”  (Arnold Palmer)

I would submit that Arnie’s saying is good advice for life in general. Success in life is not about physical things, such as strength or beauty; it’s much more about the strength of one’s mind and character. We’ve probably all known someone who was very beautiful or handsome in their looks but totally insecure and perhaps shy or withdrawn. Certainly most of us have seen many examples of very strong or athletically-gifted people whoGandhi failed in life, due to severe character flaws. Certainly Mahatma Gandhi was not strong of body ans not all that good looking, but he had tremendous strength of character and mind and was wildly successful in his efforts to free India from Colonial oppression. defines character as –

the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

So, character is what makes you unique; and your character can be viewed as having good or bad traits or features. You might be described as kind, gentle and loving or perhaps arrogant, loud and self-absorbed. You could be seen by others as a saint or a sinner, a winner or a loser, or trustworthy or flaky.

Likman lifting weightse lifting weights to build strength, there are things that we can do to improve our minds through training and education. We can be more ready for things that may come at us in life. We can also strengthen our characters.The key to developing and having a strong character, to my way of thinking, is to base your character on a strong foundation of faith and belief. Character built on the teachings of Jesus will make you stop before acting and consider what the “right” thing to do is in the situation. A mind trained the teachings of the Good News makes decisions based upon asking the simple question that has been printed on millions of posters and bracelets – “What would Jesus WWJDDo?” If you can’t see Jesus going down the path that you are about to take; why would you go down that path yourself?

Many might say, “Jesus was perfect; why should I hold myself up to a standard that I can never achieve?” The answer is found in the benefits that accrue when you continue striving towards that image of perfection. A better question for us to ask ourselves might be, “If I understand what the right thing to do is, why would I do the wrong thing.” Doing the right things is both based upon and further adds strength to your character. It gives your mind a stronger base upon which to make life decisions. Conducting your life, based upon a strong character and a mind rooted in faith and belief gives us integrity, which is the right path to true success in life.walking man

Proverbs 28:6 – “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”

Face the day and the rest of the week with strength of character and mind. Peace be with you.

Learn from and enjoy the detours in your life…

October 19, 2016

From a recent post to my favorite blog, Jack’s Winning Words“Sometimes the shortest path between two points is serpentine.”  (Christopher Penfey)

Jack went on to write about how sometimes the shortest (easiest) path in life isn’t the best or most interesting path to take. In the world of exercise and fitness it is well known that weight-liftingresistance is the key to building muscle (to increased strength and growth). In life, too, the twisting path or detours offer the type of resistance that allows us to get stronger and grow as human beings. We learn little from the straight and easy paths in life.

It is difficult for most people to appreciate a detour in their life when they encounter one. maze with help signIndeed it is the unexpected nature of those detours that prevent us from planning ahead for them. We can, however, be better prepared mentally for dealing with them. Perhaps it will take us a few moments of reflection to calm down and accept that life has taken yet another turn and that we must do something other than panic about it. In many cases the bend that life may have just taken you around can be very enjoyable. Some of the best times in my life were not the result of planning, but rather just happenstance – another detour that life took me on. I’m sure that all of us can recall some unplanned, but enjoyable event or place that we visited. Those were some of life’s little detours.

The key it seems to me is to be able to take life as it comes at you and deal with
it in as positive a manner as you can. Not every day will be a happy day. Not everything happy in rainthat you try will result in success. The secret is figuring out how to use this resistance that life throws at you to grow and get stronger and the key to that is keeping a positive attitude about life. You can start on that by taking to heart this little saying by Joel Osten –

“Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.”

Perhaps your life has been full of detours; things that seemed to throw you off the course that you had planned for your life. Things happen for you to learn from. Things happen for you to enjoy. Things happen, so deal with them. Perhaps the best line in Jack’s post is one that he himself penned –

roller coaster“I’ve come to realize that the detours can be the best part of the journey.” ( Jack Freed)
So, learn to accept things as they come at you. Learn to enjoy and learn from life’s detours. Life is not a straight-line race to get to the end. The more serpentine it is the more time that you have to enjoy it. Enjoy the journey.

Get started, already…the rest will take care of itself.

October 18, 2016

For many people, especially young people or people just starting a new career, the fear that they don’t know enough holds them back, even to the point of paralysis. That is restless sleepparticularly true ion the real estate business than I’m in. It is a fear of getting into a situation with which they are unfamiliar or being asked a question by a client that they don’t know the answer to that causes them to delay seeking or taking on clients.

I recently read an article sent to me by the manager of our local real estate office – Successful people start before they feel ready – by James Clark. It told the story of a young man who dropped out of school and started his first venture – a magazine for local college students. The story when on to chronical how he added a mail order record business, then opened a record store and eventually a record label. Over the next 50 years he went on to start or buy over 400 companies and today is a billionaire. That young man, who just kept pushing into new ventures, whether he felt ready or not, is Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand and owner of companies in the music, airline, train and mobile phone businesses, among others. Read the whole article here.

It seems that these successful people do not let fear of the unknown stop them from trying in business or in life. Branson is also a daredevil adventurer. I suspect that they actually thrive on the adrenaline that far brings with it, trusting in their own abilities to overcome adversity. They likely do not fear failure either, since they know that they will learn from boy-jumping-into-lakeeach failure.

Not all of us are adrenaline junkies, but all of us can be more successful in life by heeding the advice not to let our concerns (fear) that we don’t know enough to even attempt something new. I offer two pieces of advice that I gleaned from my favorite source, the Jack’s Winning Words blog and saved for just such a post.

“You know more than you think you do.”  (Benjamin Spock)

“Do not be afraid…for the Lord will be with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9)

Benjamin Spock wrote the definitive book for new parents – Baby and Child Care. His advice has been followed for decades and one aspect of it was that parents actually know more about caring for their children that they think they do. Some of it is common sense, which is also a big aspect of dealing with anything new. The other skill that most people have, at least to some degree, is the ability to problem solve. In any new venture, set-backs should not be looked at as failures; but, rather, as problems to be solved. Know that you will hit roadblocks or questions that you have not encountered before and be prepared to use your problem solving skills.

The second saying is from the Bible and should be the rock upon which you build your self-helping handsesteem and confidence when approaching new things. If you start with the thought in mind that the Lord will not abandon you in tough situations and will give you the strength to find solutions to the problems that you encounter, how can you go wrong? With that in mind, the second most important thing is to be unafraid of saying, “I don’t know, but I know where to go to find out.” Saying, “I don’t know” does not label you and a failure, so long as you demonstrate confidence that you can and will deal with the situation or question. Tossing off a wrong answer or lying to appear to be knowledgeable will get you into more hot water than an honest, “I don’t know.” Clients will not abandon you for that honest answer, so long as you follow up with the answer, once you have found it.

So, maybe before you start each day in a new job, or in the midst of new experiences, you should pause and say a little prayer like, “Stick with me today God and help me work my way through whatever I encounter.” Then you can walk out the door feeling confident that God is with your and that you are ready to take on the unknown.  You are already ahead of the game because you got started.

Have a great and successful week ahead. Just remember God is with you wherever you go.

Be that small thing in someone’s heart today…

October 17, 2016

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Ways blog come s this little gem –

“Sometimes, said Pooh, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”  (A.A. Milne)

Maybe it is just a smile or a quick gesture, or perhaps it is an act of kindness or a display ofhandshake affection. Often these are subtle, not grandiose, things that constitute a connection based upon live or concern and caring. You have hundreds of opportunities every day to do something or say something that takes up residence in someone else’s heart. The great thing is that you also get a small piece of that good feeling in your heart, too.

We live in a fast-paced world where taking that moment to open a door for someone or smile and let someone else go first is too often brushed aside and a waste of time or effort. looking-at-phoneThese days we may not even notice many of the opportunities, because we are “busy” looking down at our smartphones. We have become self-absorbed and self-centered to an extent that we are often by ourselves, even in a crowded room. It’s not that there isn’t room in our hearts for new things, large or small; it’s more that we aren’t paying enough attention to allow them in.

Perhaps, instead of hunting for Pokémon characters as we wander around the streets, we should instead seek out around us who could use a smile or a kind word or deed. Instead of being a Pokémon Trainer and battling against fictional characters we could become smile givers and see how many hearts we can reside in on any given day. Maybe we need an App to keep track of that.

One thing we don’t need an App for is living is such a way that we bring smiles to the faces of others. What we may need to focus upon is peeling away some of the layers of cynicism that we have developed as we grew and aged. One has only to observe small children playing together to see what the world could be like if we were not directed by learned prejudices and pre-conceptions of others. Children don’t see the differences in race or different peoplebeliefs as obstacles to just having fun playing with another human being. They just play. As adults we let all of our “knowledge” about the world – what we’ve been “taught” by others – get in the way, most of the time before the first word is even spoken. No wonder we have forgotten how to live together, much less to play together.

Maybe today, before you start out on your day, you can ask for God’s help to make you that person who brings a smile to someone else’s face and gets a place in their heart. It may help if you can start each day with this little passage from the Bible –

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32

Maybe you can ask God to make you blind – blind to the other person’s color or ethnicity being kind 1or life preferences – and open your mind’s eye, so that you can just “see” the person that is there in need of a kind word or gesture. Maybe He can help you overcome your preconceived notions and prejudices long enough for you to discover the kindred spirit of a fellow human being with needs and fears and beliefs that are shared with all others, including you. Maybe that will allow you to act and become that small something that they carry in their heart the rest of the day. You may also discover that they have taken up residence in your heart, too.

Make a difference – Be that small thing in someone’s heart today…