Is God your Obi Wan?

January 6, 2020

Jack used this quote from Star Wars in today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”  (Princess Leia)

For many the entire Start Wars saga was always a thinly disguised tale of faith and religion. The battle of good vs. evil and the mysterious “Force” seeming to take their cues from various religious beliefs. It does not take a giant leap to imagine substituting the word God for Obe Wan Kenobi in the quote above or using “God” instead of “Force” in the phrase “May the Force be with you.”

Jack asked the question in his post, “Who is your Obe Wan?” Within the context of characters in the Star Wars movies, he chose Yoda as his Obe Wan. Many men might identify with Obe Wan, or perhaps Luke Skywalker or maybe Hans Solo. Jack did write that Princess Leia was the most popular character of all.  

In creating the Star Wars universe and saga, George Lucas took advantage of our need to find a way to equate God to things that we can see and experience. He turned our faith into the Force and gave faces to characters who might otherwise have been angels or spirits. He created the epic struggle of good vs. evil by creating a host of fallen angels that he called “the Dark Side.” Whether the Emperor or Darth Vader represented the Devil is open to question, since both were portrayed as evil personified.

The whole Star Wars phenomena is just one example of man’s need to try to put God and faith into some smaller, more familiar context that he can understand.  The whole of religion is really man’s attempt to explain God and faith by creating structure, rules, and pageantry that the common person can relate to and practice. Most religions have developed elaborate explanations of what life after death will be like. There are many names for where we supposedly go – Heaven, Valhalla,  Swarga Loka, Nirvana, Jannah, and Tiān are just a few of the places where people believe that souls go after death.

Man’s imagination is so limited that he must couch things like heaven in familiar terms and descriptions that he can understand. It is that mental barrier between what we can understand and what we can just accept and believe that holds man back from a better relationship with God. If, instead of Obe Wan Kenobe, we said and truly believed, “Help me God, you are my only hope”; we might experience the relationship with God that He has in mind for us. Trying to understand God and putting Him in our own small context is a manifestation of our own egos.  It is that leap of faith that we take when we finally admit that “I don’t understand, but I believe” that clears the way for a direct relationship with God. One cannot understand “the peace that passes all understanding” by continuing to struggle to understand it. Just accept it.

So, make God your Obe Wan and the Force will be with you. Have a great week ahead. May God be with you.

Epiphany, what’s Epiphany?

January 4, 2020

Monday, January 6, is Epiphany, a day to remember the three wise men who journeyed bearing gifts  to see the baby Jesus. If you Google Epiphany you will get lots of information about how it is celebrated in other countries, some with parades of people dressed up as the Wise Men. Not so much in the United States. In fact, I’m surprised that some merchants aren’t advertising Epiphany sales, since they seem to take every opportunity to have a sale.  

If you Google Epiphany, one of the suggested definitions is for the term “epiphany moment”, which is more how we use the word today, From the Google definition –  

Epiphany is an “Aha!” moment. As a literary device, epiphany (pronounced ih-pif–uh-nee) is the moment when a character is suddenly struck with a life-changing realization which changes the rest of the story. Often, an epiphany begins with a small, everyday occurrence or experience.

 For Christians, that small, everyday occurrence was the birth of Jesus. That event certainly changed things in our lives.  Churches will celebrate Epiphany this weekend, but few of us in the pews probably give it a lot of thought. After all, there are no Epiphany decorations that we can put up and Monday isn’t even a national holiday. It is however, the end of the 12 days of Christmas and does provide us with yet another opportunity to pause and thank God for sending us His Son – that was our “epiphany moment”

I have found a way to at least acknowledge Epiphany at my house. Every year, as part of our  Christmas decorations, I light up a large star of Bethlehem decoration that is placed on the second floor of the house. It can be seen from quite a distance. So, even though I took down the rest of the Christmas decorations yesterday, the star remains lit up at night, through Epiphany. It is a symbol of the star that guided the Wise Men to the manger in Bethlehem. I  hope that it give pause for reflection to those who see it as they come over the hill towards my house.

How do you celebrate Epiphany? Did you even know or remember that Monday is Epiphany? Does one say Happy Epiphany as a greeting? On Easter Morning we greet other Christians by saying, “He is risen”; maybe for Epiphany we should greet others with the phrase, ”He is born”. Was the birth of Jesus so long ago an epiphany moment in your life? Maybe Monday will be different from all other Monday’s this year, if you pause to reflect on that epiphany moment so long ago that lives on today.

Let Epiphany change your life.

A new year…A new you?

January 1, 2020

I saw a quote on the music channel recently that seems apropos for today-

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” – Fulton Oursler

If that description fit for you, perhaps it’s time for a change. Today is the perfect day to start changing your life. Yesterday was a day to look back on the events of the past year. Today is the day to look ahead to the New Year and resolve to make the changes that are necessary in your life to make it better. Why? Because what happens next is really up to you. It’s your destiny.

William Jennings Bryan said it best – “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.”

I also like this quote attributed to Unknown – “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”

So, use today as your starting point. Take note of your current situation, not with regret; but, so that you can measure your progress as you move in that new direction. Don’t let yourself think that it’s too late for you to change. Bikram Choudhury said -“Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.”

A big roadblock to change for some is just recognizing the things that need work – that need to change. What to change in order to make a difference in your life is often as simple as adjusting your attitude, your outlook on life. There is a fine line between being realistic and being pessimistic. The pessimist sees the challenges ahead and admits defeat before he even starts. A realistic person sees those same challenges and begins formulating a plan to overcome them. The line that separates the two is called optimism. It is better to be an optimistic realist than a pessimist any day.

Maybe you can decide today that you are going to start each day looking forward to what is to happen, rather than dreading it. A big part of looking forward is having goals that you are working towards. Those goals may be short or long term and most will usually have multiple steps along the way, so chose a step that must be taken and make that your goal for today. Another part is confidence that, no matter what comes your way, you are prepared to deal with it. That confidence comes when you develop a good problem solving method and stick to it. See my post on Problem Solving 101 for a start on that.

You will quickly find that the world is a much better place when you approach it with a positive, upbeat attitude. People will enjoy being around you and in many cases that leads to more success in business, as well as in life. Not only that; you will actually enjoy life more when you spend less time in the dark dungeon of despair and more time in the sunshine of happiness. That will happen when you decide to heed the advice of Anthony J. D’Angelo –  “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”  Once you decide to do that, you will not spend time in the darkness of despair because, as Helen Kellor once said – “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”

So, use today to reset your outlook on life. The choice of what to do in the coming year is really a no-brainer. Find an optimistic happy place and vow to stay there this year. Don’t dread what life throws at you; rather, relish the opportunities to overcome adversity and learn from your mistakes on your journey to your goals.

Have a great New Year by becoming a new you!