What will your extra be today?

November 27, 2020

Pastor Freed used a quote from a football coach today – “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”  (Jimmy Johnson – Football Coach)

Phrases like that are often used by coaches during pep talks to get their players fired up and motivated to find that little extra for the game. But, how does it apply to the normal person in their normal (one might say ordinary) day?  

We often here people saying, “Have a great day”. How does one do that? How can you make it a great day, today? Maybe the secret is in that little extra that you can put into the day that will change it from ordinary to extraordinary for someone else.

The extra that you can add to the day to make it extraordinary may be as simple as a smile or kind greeting to someone that you don’t even know. Maybe you can hold a door open for someone or offer to help carry something for him or her.

Lately there has been a practice called “paying it forward” in which someone at a drive-up window at a fast food place pays for the order of the person behind them. That extraordinary act of kindness makes the day for the person behind and makes the person in front feel great, too.

Doing those little extra things during your day takes a conscious effort and out of being conscious of it comes your own sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Stop and ask yourself before you start your day what you can do extra today to make the day better for someone else. That frame of mind itself will make your day better.

What will you do extra today?

On being thankful…

November 26, 2020

Our thoughts turn to things to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving ay 2020. It has been a year, so far, that saw the cancelation of almost everything that we look forward to sports events, parades, wedding and more have been put off or were not held , due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many it has been a year of gut-wrenching pain as they lost loved ones to the disease. Many others, who lived through it, continue to suffer the debilitating after effects of it. For others, the loss of jobs has left them destitute and barely able to hold on. For them, this Thanksgiving feels like one that Charlie Brown described in a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“I can’t cook a Thanksgiving dinner.  All I can make is cold cereal or maybe toast.”   (Charlie Brown)

Yet, all who are in those states still have something for which to be thankful. They are all still alive to be thinking about it. If they are reduced to eating cold cereal and a piece of toast that is still more than the starving children of many African nations have today. If they ae homeless and living on the streets, they are still LIVING and being thankful for that is a start.

Most of us are probably not facing such hardships this day, but most also probably don’t begin each day by being thankful that they woke up again. As one gets older, that becomes more of a thing for which to be thankful. If one starts by thanking God for giving them another day, it is easier to move on to finding other things for which to be thankful – friends and family come immediately to mind.

Each of us could quickly compile a list of other things for which we are thankful. That puts one on the right frame of mind to go out and create new things for which to be thankful – successes in one’s job, meeting new people and making new friends, experiencing new and different things in life and so much more.

So eat the cereal and toast, if that’s what life gives you, and be thankful that you are still here to do so. Take a moment to thank God for giving you another day in which you can do better, experience more and be happier. God’s promise was not heaven on earth; but rather Heaven after earth. Don’t ask God to give you more; ask instead that He help you find more joy in what  you have already. The Bible tells us…

“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.”  (Ecclesiastes 5:18)

We are also admonished to lighten up about life –

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:25-34)

God’s got our backs.

So, be at peace this Thanksgiving holiday and take a moment to find the things that you should be thankful for, beginning with that moment that you have of life.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Be thankful and be safe.

Right is not just noble…

November 25, 2020

“Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble.”  (Henry Royce) – thus quoted Pastor Freed in a recent post to his blog Jack’s Winning Words.

Henry Royce was one of the founders of the Rolls-Royce car company, a company known for its endless pursuit of perfection in cars. They strive to do it right. One of their claims is that at 60 miles per hours the only thing you will hear in the Rolls-Royce is the sound of the electric clock. They have almost perfected the quiet ride.

I would add to Royce’s quote that things done right are also comforting, reassuring and satisfying. At the end of the day, if one can look back and know that what they did was right, they will be at peace with themselves. They will not have regrets or second thoughts about the events of the day. They will not have to try to remember any lies or deceptions from the day for future reference.

I’m not sure when WTF replaced WWJD in our lexicon and on our T-shirts and wrist bands; but I am sure that WWJD would provide better guidance for daily living that WTF ever will. Using WTF is just an excuse and a cover up for doing the wrong things.

It is also easy to blame the rapid pace of our daily lives for the mistakes that we make; however, the truth is that we always have time, in any decision (even a so-called “split-second decision) to do the right thing. It all starts with knowing right from wrong and that is based upon the morals and principles that guide your daily life. If one does not have the moral compass that a strong faith provides one is destined to lurch through life without direction, making one bad decision after another.

Before sailors set out to sea they check and set their compass because they know that once out at sea there will be no visible points of reference for them to use to orient themselves, just their compass. Our lives can be like that. If we don’t have a good moral compass. We can become disoriented and are soon adrift, being carried along by events, rather than navigating them with solid direction. Jesus is our compass. He showed humankind the way to heaven and he provides the moral compass that we need for daily living.

So, start each day by checking and setting your compass in prayer. Put WTF out of your mind and replace it with WWJD. Ask God to be there with you as you make decisions during the day, helping you see right from wrong. If you take that compass with you throughout the day you will arrive home at night without any need for regrets or second guessing.

Have a noble day!

Don’t dwell on what might have been…

November 24, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “There’s another life that I might have had, but I am having this one.”  (Kazuo Ishiguro)

I suppose that all of us, from time to time, muse about what might have been…how our lives would have been different had we made a different decision at some critical juncture. While musing about past decisions might be harmless, if we go beyond that and dwell upon those events or decisions that shaped our lives into what they have become, we might become fixated upon what might have been and sink into depression.  

It is much better to move on as Ishiguro indicates in his quote and focus upon the life that you did end up having and which still lies ahead of you. Life does not give us “do overs” it only provides the opportunity to “do next”.

Life does give us the chance to change the course that we are currently on and get back on a track that we deviated from through some decision that we now regret. The detour that we took may have set us back a bit, but it does not have to prevent us from doing the right thing or accomplishing our original goals.

Maybe say a little prayer asking God to help you to not look back; but, instead to focus on what is ahead. That will help turn around your thinking and stop thinking about what might have been. Instead, you can think about what might still be. Planning for your success is a much better use of your time than regretting your failures.

walking man

So, don’t dwell in the past and on the past; instead, live for and in the future. The future is a much more pleasant place in which to spend your time; for as Anne of Green Gables author L.M. Montgomery said – “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Be happy with who you are…

November 20, 2020

“We are not what other people say we are.  We are who we know ourselves to be.  That’s OK.”  (Transgender Slogan) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

While this little saying may be attributed as a transgender slogan, it really should be everybody’s slogan. Too many of us worry about what we think others think we are or say we are when we should be more focused upon who we say we are. You might find it interesting how many people in places like New York City or Los Angeles call themselves actors or actresses and not the waitresses or cab drivers  or whatever that we think and say that they are when we encounter them in their jobs. To them those are just gigs to tide them over while they pursue their true calling in the arts, be they actors or singers or dancers or whatever. They know themselves as something else and for them that’s OK.

I have posted here many times about being happy with yourself, with who and what you are, with how you look, with what your goals and aspirations in life, and with being alone with yourself. It is probably more important than ever, in these days of COVID lockdowns, to be comfortable and happy being alone with yourself. Maybe it will help to know that you are never alone. God.is always there with you.

In the Tom Hanks movie Castaway, Hank’s character created an imaginary friend that he calls Wilson (after the brand on the ball) from a volleyball. He spends much of the movie “talking” to Wilson. It was a convenient vehicle in the movie for dialogue. In real life, many of us (I include myself here) talk to our pets or maybe to ourselves. Some of us may talk to God, but we probably don’t expect any more back from God than what Hanks got back from Wilson. It is a mechanism for us to have a “conversation” that helps lead us to decisions or to calm fears or concerns.

There is currently a Subway ad on TV featuring New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick in which a young lady bumps into Belichick while on her way to get a burger. She has a quick “conversation” with Belichick without him saying a word and makes a decision to get a Subway sandwich instead. At the end of the commercial she says, “Nice conversation.” To which he replies, “I know”. Our talks with God are often that way and we don’t even get the “I know” at the end; but, you know.

I’m OK

When I was in the big business world I got to go to many training session for managers. One was called “I’m OK, You’re OK”. It was based upon the 1967 book by the same title by Thomas Harris, M.D. The class helped the students understand various personality types, so that they could understand both where they were coming from (their own personality type) in any encounter and where (personality-wise )the other person might be coming from. A key take-away from that class is that no matter the differences both parties are OK – there is no wrong in any encounter, just differences and they need to be addressed with understanding of the other person’s point of view.

So to get all the way back up to the top of this post, we must start with I’m OK and then we can explore You’re OK and go from there. Know yourself and be OK with that. Maybe you need a Belichick-like conversation with God first. You’ll find it to be a good conversation. You’ll know.

It’s time to unlearn…

November 19, 2020

Pastor Jack Freed used this quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Be open to learn, to relearn and to unlearn.”  (Unknown)

That quote is probably based upon the words of Alvin Toffler. Alvin Toffler (October 4, 1928 – June 27, 2016) was an American writer, futurist, and businessperson known for his works discussing modern technologies, including the digital revolution and the communication revolution, with emphasis on their effects on cultures worldwide. He wrote the 1970 book Future Shock. Toffler is credited with saying: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Toffler was focused upon our ability to change in order to move on to future technologies. I prefer to focus here upon using unlearning and learning to change our behavior towards others.

It is widely believed that our preconceived notions and prejudices are learned behaviors, mostly picked up in our youth as we watch and learn from what is happening around us. If they are learned they should be able to be unlearned, which would free us to relearn the proper response to people and events. A key to unlearning is to be cognizant of the reaction or response and to question what it is based upon.

Is an immediate fear of someone because of their color or what their appearance in any way justified? Does the visual impression that someone new makes upon you bring with it the baggage or a pre-conceived idea of his or her behavior? How is it possible before you have even spoken to that person to have reached some conclusion about them? Those are all good questions about  our learned behaviors.

If you can ask yourself those questions before you go any further in the encounter with them, you at least have the opportunity to unlearn the things that are driving your immediate reaction to them. The unlearning process begins with suppressing any action based upon your initial thoughts – the turning away, the snide remark or the frown on your face. Those were things that you may have seen or heard your parents or friends do while you were growing up which you allowed to seep into your mind and influence your behavior. They have no basis in facts or any proof that they are valid. They are just learned behaviors. The fact that you have stopped yourself to question them means that It is time to unlearn.

Unlearning means that you admit that something that you thought was true is not, or at least that something that you have been allowing to control your actions is not right, or that you are no longer comfortable letting those thoughts control your behavior. If you can build that wall to stop the old behavior before it occurs, then you can explore learning new behaviors that are based on facts or actual input from your interactions with that person.

Replacing fear with curiosity is a great start. Instead of a reaction to avoid that person out of preconceived fears, you might approach them with an excited curiosity about the things that make them different. They obviously have a different view on the world than you do and you might learn something new about the world by exploring that point of view. That is why diversity in the business world is so important. A diverse company benefits from seeing more of the differing points of view and changing their strategy and products to accommodate or include those points of view.

Just as in the business world, your life can be so much more interesting and fulfilling if you unlearn your old prejudices and open yourself up to new and exciting relationships with a more diverse group of people. You must be open to new ideas and new ways of seeing things. That openness does bring with it some risk, but the potential rewards far outweigh the risks. You may still walk away from some encounters with no desire to get to know that person further, but you will more likely have started a new relationship with someone from whom you can learn and grow as a person.

Every new point of view that you encounter and embrace gives you a slightly different perspective on the world. Instead of just marching with a sign that says “Black Lives Matter”, you may now understand why and how they matter, because you took the risk and the time to get to know them. You may never choose to dye your hair green or purple or to wear a nose ring, but if you let yourself learn, you may appreciate the point of view that thinks that is a cool look. In that appreciation of the difference between you and them, you will have grown as a person. Even making the effort to understand the fears that are driving the behavior of the far right or far left political demonstrators will help you grow. You will better understand the positions of both groups and maybe find common ground in solutions to deal with those fears. If that can lead to discussions instead of yelling; that is a good thing.

In your prayers today, ask God to calm your fears and give you the patience and courage to unlearn your old prejudices and to learn how to become a better person – the person you really want to be – and as he cute saying goes – the person that your dog thinks you are.

Start unlearning, relearning and learning  anew today.

Being happy with me…

November 16, 2020

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this Jim Carrey quote – “I think that everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.

Freed went on to write, I’m satisfied to be who I am, even if I’m not a millionaire.  Are you satisfied with who you are?

It is important that you be happy with yourself. I’ve written here before about loving yourself before you can love others. Too many people spend way too much time wishing that they could be someone else, usually someone famous. What they seldom realize is exactly what Carrey and many other famous people have shared – that the fame and fortune that they have has not made them happy. In fact, in many cases, it has had the opposite impact upon them and in extreme cases led to suicides.

“Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Happiness is not fond by amassing fame or fortune or even in accomplishing some lesser life goal that one may have. Successes in business and life are often fleeting and possessions are incapable of returning love. Most often the happiness that we seek in life is found in relationships. Long and successful marriages provide one example. Long and close friendships are another example of things that truly make us happy.

Perhaps the most important relationships that we can have to insure our happiness are with ourselves and with God. We must like ourselves, even love ourselves before we can even attempt to share love with others. A key to loving yourself is to accept the love of God, which frees you to forgive yourself and to love yourself – to be happy with who you are.

It is all too easy to get down on yourself, to be unforgiving with yourself, to be disappointed with yourself, to be unhappy with yourself. People who go too far down that path end up in the dungeon of depression and many have a hard time escaping. It is the overwhelming sense of futility with life that drive some to suicide. They see that as the ultimate way out of their unhappiness with themselves.

But, that is not the answer. The answer lies in accepting and forgiving yourself for whatever was in your past and turning away from the darkness of the dungeon and towards he light of hope. Whether faith kindles that hope or the hope provides the spark to light your faith up and show you the way out, a key step is the step you take towards God as part of your escape. Accepting God’s unconditional love allows you to love yourself and move on.

You can start by saying. “I’m happy with who I am, what I am and what I have.” From that point on, it is OK to seek more, achieve more and acquire more, so long as you always stay happy and thankful for whatever you become and whatever you achieve or acquire. Good thing and some bad things may happen in your life, but you will always be able to cope with whatever happens, if you are grounded in a love of God and self.

So start with God and ask him to help you be happy with “me”. Carrey was alluding in his quote to that real answer.

Yolanda is soooooo over…

November 15, 2020

I get several emails a day that are apparently misaddressed because they are all supposed to be for someone named Yolanda. That’s the “cute” opening written by some hack with too little imagination to come up with something original. The Yolanda opening was cute, perhaps one time, but it is just tedious now and sufficient reason to hit delete without even reading the rest of the missive.

If one Googles “Who is Yolanda? The Google answer is – Yolanda Hadid – a Dutch-American television personality and former model. She is best known as a star of the American reality-television show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

So, perhaps all of those emails addressed to Yolanda that I got from the political parties asking for contributions were meant for her. I also get emails from companies advertising various products, so perhaps Ms. Hadid is also an avid on-line shopper.

Like so many other cultural things that go viral in today’s world, the Yolanda things seems to be yet another cute idea that quickly went viral and stale at the same time. It is a Beanie-Babies moment for the late 20-teens and 2020 – over used and quickly tiresome.

I sure some inventive soul will come up with the next cute thing that all of the hacks of the world can jump on. Until that time, I will probably have to keep deleting emails to Yolanda before I read them. Speaking of hacks, remember when that was the big thing? Everything new or any suggestion for doing something differently quickly became a “hack” of some sort. Was that annoying or what? The originality-challenged are still using the term “hack” as they bring up the rear of things grammatically.

What will be the next big thing? I don’t know, but it is sure to be fresh and original for a nano-second or two before “going viral” and becoming overused and stale. The internet is the fastest way to spread and to kill a good new idea, phrase or approach. Once out there on the web, it becomes repetitive and tedious almost immediately.

Hey, Yolanda, have you heard about…

You hold your future…

November 14, 2020

Pastor Freed recently used this John Wooden quote in his blog , Jack’s Winning Words“I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.”

Wooden, the famous UCLA Basketball coach and one of the winningest basketball coaches ever, was an inspirational leader and quite the philosopher.

This quote acknowledges two great truths – none of us knows what the future will bring and each of us has the power to control how we react to whatever the future brings.

Events, the things that happen around us or maybe most often to us, are mostly out of our control. Sometimes what control we have is not to place ourselves in the way of those events; but, most of the time, we don’t have enough warning or information about what is going to happen to even make that decision.

There are times and events in our lives that we know enough about (maybe from previous attempts at something) that we can consider the various directions that the future might take and plan our response for each. Even then, we seldom really “see” more than a few of the possibilities and surprises often still occur. That is the future. How we deal with it is our future.

Some might say, “Well it’s all in God’s hands.” While it may be true that God knows what will happen, it is also true that the free will that God gave humankind leaves up to us to decide how we will react to those events. If we have no moral compass, no sense of what is right or wrong it is likely that we will choose poorly and our future will not be what we hoped it might be.

It is our faith (or lack of faith) that provides that compass or leaves us without direction. Charles Spurgeon had this to say about Mankind’s free will – “Free will carried many a soul to hell, but never a soul to heaven.”

[Charles Haddon Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892) was an English Particular Baptist preacher. Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of various denominations, among whom he is known as the “Prince of Preachers”- Wikipedia]

Martin Luther (who hopefully needs no introduction) weighed in on Free Will with this thought – “Free will without God’s grace is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bond slave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good.”

So, free will gives us the freedom to make decisions that impact our future and God’s Grace helps us make the right decisions. Maybe we do hold the key to our own future, but God’s grace helps us choose the best door to the future in which to use that key. That is why I have posted here a few times that one ought not futilely pray to God to make the situations that one faces go away; but, rather, one should pray to God for help to make good decisions to deal with those situations. I recently post What kind of karma are you making about that very thing.

John Wooden knew and now you know who holds the future. You do. With God’s at your side it is a bright one.

Make your own future today. God will be there to help guide you.

Don’t just say it…do it!

November 12, 2020

Two recent quotes on the Jack’s Winning Words blog seem to go together to reinforce a point –

“We must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  (JFK) 

“Don’t tell me what you believe in; I’ll observe how you behave and make my own determination.”  (Alex Trebek)

We’ve probably also all heard the old saw – “Do as I say, not as I do”. Yet it is from watching what we do that our children really learn, not from listening to what we said.

In business there was also the admonition that, “we must walk the walk, not just talk the talk”.

When it comes to one’s religious beliefs, it is most important that we find ways in our daily lives to live what we believe. We have a whole book full of advice and instructions on how to live, so it’s not as if we don’t know. However, knowing what’s right and doing what’s right are often different things. No matter how much noise the supposedly pious person makers about being a Christian, if he/she then turns around and makes life decisions based upon prejudices, hate and exclusion they are left standing naked in the court of public opinion. They are exposed for what they do and not for what they have said.

It is not always easy to choose the right path. In fact we are told in the Bible that life will not always be easy, but that in the end our continued faith will make it  worthwhile –

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  (James 1:2-4)


“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

The most common error, to my way of thinking, is acting or doing without thinking. It is in those knee-jerk reactions to things that our hidden prejudices and fears manifest themselves. After the fact, we often have an immediate reaction of “why did I just do that or say that”. This causes us to stop and think and to confront those hidden fears or prejudices. If only we took the time to think before reacting, we might better be able to act as our core beliefs would dictate. Those feelings might still be there, lurking in the back of our minds, but we can maintain control over them and not let them dictate our actions. The Bible tells us –

“I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

And –

“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

So then, a key to living your faith and not just talking about it is to develop the discipline to keep yourself under control such that you think before you act and guide your actions according to your beliefs. I know I have some work to do on that. How about you?

Don’t just say it…Do it!