March 31, 2016
“The devil saw me with my head down and got excited…Then I said, Amen.” (Facebook) – As seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write –
C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters, a story in which a senior devil (Screwtape) instructs a junior devil (Wormwood) on how to how to lead a person away from his faith. Tempt him to concentrate on self, materialism, doubt of God. Martin Luther once said that the best way to deal with the devil is to laugh at him. “Screwtape” was required reading in seminary. 😉 Jack
I’ve not read The Screwtape Letters, but the message that Jack writes that is about makes a lot of sense. It is tempting to become focused upon the material things in life and to lose sight of what’s really important – one’s faith and those we love in our lives.
When I saw the quote on Jack’s blog the first thing that came to mind is how often we walk around with our heads down or these days with our heads buried in our smartphones. Those insidious devices help the devil by isolating us from those around us. It is not unusual these to see two people out to dinner, sitting at a table together; but, both intently staring at their smartphones rather than talking to each other. We live in a materialistic society, so the smartphones accomplish the second task for the devil by getting us to focus on ourselves, rather than those around us. If you become fixated on your smartphone, the devil’s already two thirds of the way towards leading you away from your faith. Fortunately there are apps for that. Go to your app store and search for faith. You’ll find lots of apps that you might download to help keep you in touch with your faith.
The real message in the quote and the best way to fight the devil’s influence is in the last few words”…Then I said Amen.” Like the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”; one might also say, “a prayer a day keeps the devil away.” While one may pray for the well being of others, it is also a good idea to pray for your own well being each day. It can be a simple as asking God to be with you during the day and to help you do the right things and make the right decisions as the day goes along. That may not seem to you to be laughing at the devil, but nothing is more off putting to the devil than daily reaffirmation of your faith through prayer.
So, before you set out into our materialistic world today, have a good laugh on the devil by asking the Lord to walk with you throughout the day. If you must consult your smartphone, open up your faith app for a quick faith pick-me-up. That shuffling sound that you may hear is the devil skulking off into the darkness where he belongs.
Have a great day and a good laugh.
March 29, 2016
“We don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but everything is going to be OK.” (Toby Mac), as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
Sometimes in the midst of what seems like overwhelming pressures or problems in life, we lose track temporarily of God’s promise to us – “Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will recue you.” – Psalm 50:15.
The reason that we get overwhelmed is that our egos and minds allow us to believe that we should be able to find solutions for every problem that we face. We are reluctant (some might even say stubborn) in our inability to admit that we need help, that we can’t solve every problem or that some problems are just too big and too intractable for us. We get frustrated and angry that we can’t “work it out” or “work through it”. Sometimes that frustration turns to depression because we allow ourselves to feel like we are failures because of inability to deal with the problems at hand. But, take heart; everything’s going to be OK.
None of that sense of failure or frustration is necessary if we will only stop and turn to the one place that we can take any problem for help. Asking God for help is not giving up. It is only acknowledging and allowing Him to provide us with the assistance that He already has offered to us. It is saying, “You know what; I’m going to let my teammate in life take care of this one with me.” Once you let God take the yoke with you, the responsibility for bearing it alone will be lifted from your shoulders. Everything’s going to be OK.
I think the key to success with this is to have the discipline to stop yourself in the midst of the crisis and see it for what it is – something that you are not going to be able to take on by yourself. Once you get that in mind there are alternative paths that you will be able to see. Perhaps you have a good support system of relatives and friends around you who can help and that’s OK, too. Call on them and they will respond, just as you would respond to them in their time of need. When they do, you’ll know that everything’s going to be OK.
Sometimes even the best support network isn’t enough. Maybe the problem is too big or too personal. Maybe the “solution” is not really a solution at all; but, rather the need to just accept the situation or the consequences and move on. Many times the crisis is mainly of our own making or in our minds; a product of the scenarios that we conjure up in our struggle to deal with situations that have no real solution. Rather than continue down the rat-hole of trying to solve the impossible puzzle; stop and ask for God’s help. Try the simple prayer, “not my will but thy will be done.” Then let go of it. Give the problem to God and trust in Him. Whatever happens next remember that everything’s’ going to be OK.
Have a great and worry free day…everything’s going to be OK.
March 28, 2016
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson
Easter is a harbinger of Spring – that time of the year when most of nature’s plants start making a new ending. It is also a time of year when life us hit the reset button on lives and begin to make new endings for ourselves. It begins with Easter, which is a celebration of the new beginning that was ransomed for us by the death and resurrection of Christ. If one can accept and embrace that thought, then the trials and tribulations of this life fade into the background noise.
So, put the past in the past and face the future and the new ending that you can create from what you do from today on. Life is like a maze, full of false starts and dead end paths; but, it is also full of possibilities and new beginnings. Like a finding your way through a maze, life starts for everybody at the same point and ends at the same point. It is the journey through the maze that is different for each person. Perhaps, if you look at all of life’s trials or set-backs up until now as learning experiences, you’ll find it easier to see the path through the maze. The other thing that can help in traversing the maze of life is a good moral compass rooted in faith. If you stop and really consult that compass at each decision point in your life you may find it easier that you think to make the right decisions.
There is an oft heard saying that “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”; perhaps it can also be the first step in your journey to a new ending. Start by understanding that no one else can dictate your ending and nothing in your past can pre-determine your future. If you admit to yourself that you don’t like where you are headed, then change directions. Step off to a new ending. You might eve start enjoying the journey.
Have a great week ahead on your journey to a new ending.
March 22, 2016
“An open mind and a closed mouth work better than the opposites.” (Purple Clover) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
Too many Donald Trump is the epitome of the opposite that is referenced above, with a mouth that is seldom closed and a mind that certainly appears not to be open. He’s obviously an intelligent person; although seemingly ignorant or intolerant to the feelings and needs of those who don’t fit into his somewhat narrow and bigoted view of the world. While he uses the term “deal” quite a bit, I don’t think I’ve heard him use the word “compromise” at all.
Today’s saying seems t also work well with another saying about opening you r mouth – “engage brain before opening mouth”, which is EBBOM in Internet slang. Both offer good advice which is all too often ignored. Unfortunately even engaging your brain if it is working off a perverted or bigoted knowledge base, won’t prevent you from blurting out things that are hurtful or which you may wish later that you had not said.
Having an open mind does not necessarily mean that you agree with or accept whatever comes your way; however, it does require that you at least give those things the courtesy of a good, non-biased look before making your decision on how to react. Many times the best decision may still be to keep your mouth closed, rather than express the conclusion or position that you have reached, once you have considered things. Perhaps just saying nothing is the best course, when whatever you might say would express a non-favorable judgement. That’s sort of the live and let live approach to things.
There is one final saying that best sums up the strategy of keeping your mouth shut – “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt.” – Unknown. I doubt that most will think you to be a fool if you don’t open your mouth and say something stupid. I’ve known quite a few people who weren’t big talkers and the thing that was most often said about them is that they were very private and kept their thoughts and opinions to themselves. That’s not all bad and certainly better than being known as a loud-mouthed blowhard.
So, think before you speak and if have nothing to say then don’t say it. We’ll all enjoy that moment of silence.
March 21, 2016
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
Of course the Psalm was referring to God and most of us probably have turned to Him on more than one occasion. One can imagine God sitting at a big desk in Heaven with a sign “The Buck Stops Here” sign on it. After all there is nowhere else to go; no higher authority than God.
People with children or even pets know what it feels like to be the one in whom trust is placed. Most children run to their parents when they are afraid and many pet will do the same if frightened. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to sit calming our shivering dogs when there is thunder and lightning outside. Little did they know how I was calming my own fears.
Fear shouldn’t be the only thing that drives us to seek God’s help. Life is full of confusing or perplexing moments for which we could use the reassurance that everything will be alright if we just put our trust in God. Life also hits us with many times of sadness, due to the loss of a loved one or a great disappointment. Those are also times that we should find shelter and strength in God’s hands. We may also have times of doubt in ourselves and our ability to accomplish something or to weather a bad situation. Those are the times that knowing God is on your side and there to help you will give you the confidence to carry on.
So, before you face each day and whatever trials you may encounter; give yourself the advantage of having God with you throughout the day. Say a little prayer and ask Him to stay by your side and guide and help you through the day. That way, when you do hit something that requires His help, he’ll already be there with you and you won’t have to be afraid.
Have a great and fearless day!
March 14, 2016
“The fact that there’s a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven says a lot about expected traffic numbers.” (Shower Thoughts) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
My mom also often used the phrase, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I suppose that road is marker with round tuits, which you always meant to get. The side roads to that destination probably are named Coulda, Woulda and Shoulda. It’s no wonder that traveling on that path is often referred to “going down the road to ruin.”
The climb to heaven must seem daunting to many, too; since Jack went on to remind us that Jesus said it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to get into heaven. Of course He was talking about earning your way into heaven. He went on to explain that we get in to Heaven through the grace of God by accepting Him as our Savior.
So, if we can’t earn our way to Heaven, why live a good life in communion with God and perhaps service to others? The answer to that has to do with being ready for your own final judgement. No one knows when their time will come and no one is going to be given the time to say “I’m sorry” and ask for forgiveness at the end. It seems to make much more sense to be ready at any time.
Being ready means having a steady and meaningful relationship with God and the willingness to accept His will for your life. Most find that God’s will involves helping others and doing what’s right as you live out your days. From that service and acceptance of God’s will comes the peace and contentment with life that others may not understand. Perhaps that is how we climb the stairs to Heaven, one stair of service and prayer at a time – not earning our way; but rather, accepting our way into our final reward.
I’m sure that we’ve all met or heard about people who devote their lives to helping others. Mother Teresa in India always comes to mind; but there’s countless people right in our own communities that serve the needs of others. I think of the people of Supportive Alternative Living (S.A.L.) in my community who serve the needs of adult special needs people living independently in our neighborhoods and the volunteers at Community Sharing who provide food and services to those in need in our area. You may not see them providing those services; but maybe that’s just because they are a little ahead of you on the stairway.
So, this week, as life throws in your face the opportunities for you to get on the highway to hell, just say, “No thanks; I’ll take the stairs.” It doesn’t matter how far along you are; at least you’re going in the same direction, if you’re on that stairway. So, take your first step up today.
March 10, 2016
“Anyone can find the dirt in someone. Be the one who finds the gold. (Proverbs 11:27) – as seen in recent weeks on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.
We are in the silly season of political primaries and most of the candidates are all too happy to dish the dirt on each other. Only Bernie Sanders and John Kasich have tried to stay out of the dirt as much as possible; however, the reality of our national politics requires a tit for a tat and that usually means occasionally dishing dirt on the other candidates. I don’t think we hear very often one candidate saying nice things about the others – finding and sharing the gold in that person.
In our own, day-to-day lives, it is all too easy to join in the gossip at work about others or to toss off a hurtful remark about some dirt that you may have discovered about the other person. In truth the only reputation that you soil by doing so is your own. A much better way to spend your time is mining for the good (the gold) in that person; rather than joining in tearing them down.
Sometimes it is hard to see or find the gold in someone, especially if they have a particularly filthy past; perhaps even a criminal record. But there is good in us all and you have to make the effort to find it, even in those from whom you might initially recoil. You will make two people happy if you do – yourself for having made the effort and discovered the good (the gold) in that person and them because you had enough interest and faith in them to look for it.
You can find the gold (the good) in people, if you dig a little below the surface that they may present to the world by engaging them in conversation and exploring their “story”. Almost everyone starts with “their shields up”, so it is up to you to gain enough of their trust for them to drop those defenses and allow you to find and see the gold in them. You can do that by dropping your own shields and letting them see the gold in you.
So, be a gold digger with the people that you meet today. The rewards from getting to really know them will be better than gold and you may even make a new friend.
Go for the gold!