Question it before you act upon it…

October 16, 2017

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this little piece of advice – “It’s a healthy thing to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”  (Bertrand Russell)

We all have things in our lives that we take for granted, that we have long believed to beworries true; sometimes with no actual basis in facts. Most prejudices are based on things that we hold to be true with no actual facts to back them up. They are based upon unfounded hate or fear of something or someone. All of our fears, uncertainties and doubts are also baseless in facts and mostly founded in our own imaginations.

Even your faith practices may be based upon some things that you’ve long taken for granted without ever questioning why you do some things in certain ways. Asking yourself those questions is not really questioning your belief in God; but, rather, questioning the practices that have been implemented by men. Martin Luther questioned the practices of the Catholic Church hierarchy in his day, martin-lutherbut he was not questioning his faith, just the practices of the men who were the religious leaders of the Catholic Church at the time.

Faith, like patriotism, has never been based upon blind acceptance of whatever direction the leaders of the church (or the country) were taking at the time. Questioning the rules that are promulgated by those leaders does not make one a heretic or any less the patriot, if they are remaining loyal to the principals upon which the institution was based – the Bible or the Constitution, depending upon which one is being discussed.

Children have a natural tendency to question things; to ask why something is the way it is. Often they may run up against the answer from an adult that sounds like this, “that’s just the way it is” or maybe “because I said so.” Some of those things they just file away as things that they take for granted, without further questioning. Some of those things become the prejudices that they carry around with them in adult life. As adults, we all carry some amount of that type of baggage; things that’s we’ve just accepted or stoppedmystery head questioning long ago and taken for granted.

All of those things that we take for granted should set off little warning bells in the back of our minds and force us to question why we believe them to be true. What proof have we ever had for disliking (sometimes even hating) or fearing certain groups of people, people who are somehow different from us? Absent any proof, what sustains those beliefs? Is it just the laziness of mental momentum that keeps those fears or that hate in our minds?  Why not question those beliefs and seek the truth? Why not, as Jack’s quote today suggests, hang a question mark on every fear and prejudice that you carry around? You really have nothing to lose and perhaps quite a bit to gain in terms of new experiences and new friendships.

In your faith, God is the answer, not the question. It is fair to question the practices that men have tried to build to govern the practice of faith. All religions have created structure and rules to try to guide and control the practice of the religion by the believers.  Some have even created elaborate set of rules for day-to-day living and try to control all aspects of one’s life. Some have perverted the teachings that are the basis of the Bible in order to support their personal views of morality. None of that comes from woman-prayingGod, just from the minds of men. At its most elemental level, your faith is your personal relationship with God. All of the rest of the trappings of the various religions are the works of men. So question those trappings if they don’t seem right to you; but, not your relationship with God.

In Isaiah 41:10 God said – “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Having God and the teachings of Jesus at your moral core will give you the light up to which you should hold every other thing in your life that you “believe”. Prejudices melt away when held up to that light. Hate fades into the background when that light is shined upon it. Fears cannot withstand the light of belief in God and his care for us. Evil slinks back into the darkness from which it came when God’s light shines in your life. Uncertainty is replaced with self-confidence when God’s light shines through you.

So, question everything else in life, but hold fast to God as the center of your life and the rest will take care of itself.

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Find God and find yourself…

October 13, 2017

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning words blog posed this question – “If I am what I have, and I lose what I have, who then am I?”  (Eric Fromm)

If you’ve watched the news lately there have been many examples of people losing everything, whether it was to hurricanes in the Caribbean or earthquakes in Mexico orfire burning home fires in California. There were scenes on the nightly news of people returning to their homes only to find that they no longer existed. More than one was heard saying, “I’ve lost everything.” Many were also heard thanking God that they had been spared their lives.

Some people seem to base their identities largely on what they have accumulated in life – their possessions. Others, especially men, express their identities through their jobs and what they have achieved at work. In either case, life can throw curves at us that take away either or both. Most people eventually gather themselves up and realize that they can replace or rebuild most things that have been lost and start new careers if necessary. They are forced into the realization that life itself is the most important thing and the lives of those that we love. In some catastrophes even the lives of those we love may have been lost. Even in those darkest of hours, most eventually find strength within themselves to go on.

this-is-meIt is important, as I have expressed here a few times, that you have a strong sense of self and that you love who and what you are; not letting your sense of self-worth be based upon possessions or job.  That’s not to say that you should become self-centered; but, rather, that you become self-confident. If your self-examination of who and what you have become leaves something to be desired, then you have something to work upon and not something to be depressed about. Since no one is perfect, you are always on a self-improvement journey to be the best you that you can be (see my post – see my post Don’t give up the chase…).

Perhaps a good way to start each day is with a little personal assessment about where you are in life and what things you might do today to get to where you want to be. It is also a good idea to acknowledge God’s role in your life and to ask for his help in prayer. Iman praying can’t think of a better way to start the day than being square with yourself and with God. Bring it on, world! I know who I am and where I’m headed and I’ve got God in my corner. Talk about self-confidence as you face the day.

Have a great and self-confident day. God’s got your back.


Tenacity Grand Opening in Milford

October 12, 2017

Tenacity store frontThe long awaited and much anticipated Grand Opening of the new Tenacity store in Milford took place this morning. The Tenacity owners, Genise and Eric Horsley,  use the motto “Shop With Purpose” for the store and plan to donate a portion of the proceeds from each sale to two charities that they have taken to heart – The Milford chapter of the Northwest OaklandTenacity card image Abolitionist Hub, which is part of the Michigan Abolitionist Project or MAP; and they will also be supporting Hope Centers of Grace in Pontiac.

Genise and Eric have long been stalwart supporters of local charity causes in the Milford area, but they have taken as a more personal cause the Human Trafficking problem in Michigan and in the Detroit area in particular. Michigan is the number two human trafficking state in the entire U.S., due in part to its location close to an international border. Here is a short uTube video on the Human Trafficking issue.

Genise and Eric wanted me to mention that there is an important event Hope Gala invitecoming up on October 19th – The Welcome Home Gala (Hope Against Trafficking), which will raise money to enable the Hope Against Trafficking organization to buy a number of safe houses in the Pontiac area for girls and women who have been rescued from captivity. They will be there and hope that you can attend, too.

There’s a very good possibility that someone whom you see often is a victim of humanHope against trafficking card image trafficking and you just don’t recognize how to spot it. I’ve posted a guideline from the hopeagainsttrafficking.org web site to help you recognizing that someone is being kept as a slave by a human trafficker – Identifying a victim.

So, take some time today to stop by Tenacity and take advantage of Tenacity Grand Opening Signtheir Grand Opening special prices. You’ll be helping with the fight against human trafficking, too. You still have lots of time. They are open today until 8 PM. Say hi to Genise and Eric and thank them for their support of this great cause.

There is also an event coming up next Monday for men only at the Milford Knights of Columbus Lodge at 212 Union St. Mr. Mel Braggett, Founder and Director of Night Angels, will talk aboutMens event on human trafficking how men can help with this problems of human trafficking. The human trafficking problem is not just a women’s problem and sometimes men get frustrated when they start to understand the nature and the sized of the problem. Maybe this event will help with that frustration and anger.

 

 

 


So, you’re the reason that bad things didn’t happen…

October 11, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this:

“Don’t tell me it doesn’t pay to worry; most of the things I worry about never happen.”  (The Church Secretary)

I’ve sometimes heard someone comment, “Well, if I didn’t worry about it, who would?” I always wondered about that. Was the energy and time that person spent worried1worrying about something bad that might happen the cause for it not to happen? Do you see how silly that sounds? If you can see that in a third-party example, what do you think is the different if it is you worrying about something.

Now, this is not to say that one should never consider and plan for alternatives in upcoming events that may not go the way that we want them to. Contingency planning has some value, worry does not. You see, worry is not planning. Worry is undirected restless sleepconcern and the expenditure of energy without focus or purpose. Worry is trying to solve the unsolvable problem. Worry is man’s ego being unwilling to accept its own limitations and inability to control things that cannot be controlled.

Some people convince themselves that if they worry about something long enough and hard enough that they will someone influence the outcome. For others worry is the doorway to depression. They become inconsolable about the things that they worry about, but unable to let them go. I’ve shared here many times about my own release mechanism for worries – finally saying to God, “Not my will but thy will be done.” It works for me. Try it.

The Bible has this advice about worry:reading-bible

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

-and-

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

So, as the Aussies say – No worries, mate.  Be like Alfred E. Neuman of MAD magazine smiling-sunfame and adoption his tag line – “What, me worry?” Or, you can take the advice of Bobby McFerrin’s song – Don’t worry, be happy.

Have a wonderful, worry-free day – God’s got your back.


Make a life – be a giver…

October 10, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  (Quoted by Dave Johnson)

donateMany people associate the word “giving” with money and there certainly are any number of things and causes that ask us to give money. However, giving doesn’t just mean throwing money into the collection basket or bucket. There are more opportunities in life to give of your time and talents than there are Go Fund Me pages. In fact, your time is the most important gift that you have to give.

Giving of your time can be as simple as taking the time to play catch with your son or driving your daughter to the mall with friends. It can be taking a walk, hand-in-hand with a spouse or just sitting and listening to them on the front porch. Maybe it’s visiting acaregiver sick or elderly relative and helping them with some day-to-day task. The point is that you are making the conscious decision to spend some of life’s most precious commodity – time – with someone else or doing something for someone else.

Volunteering your time and talents to help or serve others is one of the highest forms of giving and, ultimately, one of the most satisfying. There is always a little bit of quid pro sewrving soupquo in acts of kindness or service to those that we know – a sibling, spouse or our children; however, there is no expectation of a return to be found in helping a stranger in need. Think about how the simple act of holding the door open feels slightly different when it is a stranger entering verses your spouse entering. Both may say, “thank you”; but the acknowledgement from the total stranger will feel a little different.

So, get a life and find ways to give of your money and your time. At the end of the day you will have less of both and feel the better for it. Do not worry that you don’t have lots of money to give, the Bible says:

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” – 2 Corinthians 8:12

And let your heart be your guide to what you give. Again the Bible says:

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7

Be a willing and cheerful giver and God will take care of the rest.

Have a generous day. Have a great life.


Don’t give up the chase…

October 9, 2017

From a collection of inspirational sayings that I found on the internet comes this saying – “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” —Vince Lombardi

For many years, Lexus used the tag line “The relentless pursuit of perfection” and they made excellent automobiles. They have been questioned for changing their tag line to “Engineering the impossible”, which is perhaps a little harder to relate to for the common man.

bored2In day-to-day living, many people claim to be (or at least, admit to being) perfectionists – people who constantly strive for perfection, sometimes to the consternation of those around them. Many times, if the object of their desire for perfection is a sport, you will see them practicing, doing something over and over until they master that aspect of the sport. For many, the inability to achieve perfection dominates their lives and makes them unhappy.

I think it is OK to constantly have perfection as a goal in whatever you are doing. After all, not striving for perfection as you do something is admitting, up front, that you willmediocrity quote accept mediocrity as a final outcome. One seldom hears cheers being lead that proclaim proudly, “We’re number two” or signs extolling you to “be good enough”. Rather, we see and hear, “Be the best that you can be”; strive for perfection.

Striving for perfection may seem to be a prescription for constant frustration and disappointment, but it needn’t be; rather it should be the constant goal that keeps us learning, evaluating, adjusting and improving. One should never stop asking themselves, “How can I be a better spouse, a better parent, a better sibling or just a better person?”

The dictionary defines perfection as – the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

Perhaps the flaws or defects in our lives are our sins. Maybe if you start by striving for WWJDperfection in your religious life those other things will take care of themselves. At least we have one “perfect” example to try to emulate in our pursuit –  Jesus. Perhaps one of those little WWJD bracelets would cause us to pause and think before we act, before we say something or do something that would cause us to backslide on our pursuit of perfection.

We may not achieve perfection, but we might get closer to excellence in life if we stopped to think “What would Jesus do?” I’m pretty sure that He would not do anything that He would regret later or that would hurt someone else. Maybe that’s a good starting point for your pursuit in other aspects of life. Another thing that we will realize, once we embrace Jesus in our lives, is that he has already forgiven all of our flaws and defects. The grace of God that he died on the cross to give to us has already made us perfect, oncewoman-praying we accept Him.

So, never give up the pursuit of perfection in life; but, perhaps reevaluate your priorities and whomever you’ve been using as a role model for perfection and refocus yourself on the one role model who promises that you will achieve perfection through Him. Start with a prayer.

Have a perfect day.


What will you DO today?

October 6, 2017

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” —Leonardo da Vinci

We start each day with some sort of list of good and kind and helpful things that we know coulda woulda shouldawe should do and which we could do; but, then we think of other things and those initial thoughts become things that we would do if we weren’t already so busy. At the end of the day we may pause to reflect on our coulda, woulda, shoulda list of things left undone. We knew and maybe we thought ourselves to be willing, but we didn’t DO.

We are all presented with hundreds of opportunities/challenges each day to either do something or ignore something. In most cases, we know “know” what needs to be done or what should be done; however, as Leonardo said, knowing doesn’t always lead to doing the right thing. Many times it isn’t that we are unwilling to do the right thing; rather, it is that we choose to give something else or someone else our time and attention. We know, but we don’t do.

sewrving soupPerhaps it was calling or visiting someone that you know in alone or could use your visit to make their day. Maybe it was taking time to volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen or with organizations like Meals on Wheels. Maybe it was stopping to talk to someone at work whom you know is going through some difficult times. Maybe it was just taking time to spend with your spouse or children. We know we should do those things, but we don’t. Maybe we are even willing to do those things, but we let other activities consume our time.

Perhaps the secret to implementing Leonardo’s advice is to spend those quiet moments at the beginning of the day with a prayer that asks for God’s help in setting your man prayingpriorities and committing your time. I find the simple prayer “Not my will but thy will be done” and the request “Help me make good decisions today” to be a good way to start my day. The first part is an ego release that relieves me from having to try to solve every problem on my own and the second part makes me stop and think about that the right things to do are in any decisions that I’m faced with making during the day. Leonardo would probably want me to add, “and let me act (DO) on those decisions.” You can come up with your own prayer, but be sure to ask for help doing and not just thinking about things

What will you DO today?