Be God-headed, not bullheaded…

February 15, 2021

In today’s installment of the blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used is old Scottish-Irish prayer as his quote – “Lord, grant that I may always be right, for Thou knowest that I am hard to turn.” 

We use such euphemistic phrases and terms as “set in their ways”, “stubborn as a mule” or maybe bullheaded to describe those who refuse to change their minds, especially about things that we know (or think we know) they are wrong about. Do you know some people like that? Are you like that?

Sometimes these people have come to the wrong conclusions based upon receiving bad information or even disinformation that was purposefully planted in their minds. Many times their positions on things were cemented early in their lives based upon observing others (usually adults). That is usually how prejudices get started. Perhaps an unfortunate personal experience was the basis for a fear or dislike that refuses to fade away.

Whatever the reason, it is hard for many of us to turn, to change our minds on certain things or our reactions to certain things or people. We are not right on these things, but it is hard to turn, to change.

We read in Romans 12:2 – Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

While we may not be able to achieve perfection, we can at least continue to try to get better. Perhaps instead of praying that God allow us to always be right, as today’s quote suggests; we should instead pray that God open our minds to change and new ways of looking at things. We might say, “Lord open my mind to change so that I may be the person that you would have me be.”

A little trick that I learned a while back may help with this. It is to allow a little song that is based on a Psalm rattle around in your head – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10

Try that and see if you aren’t a little less bullheaded and a little more God-headed.

Have a great week ahead.


Time for an assiduity check…

February 14, 2021

Pastor Freed recently used this quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“The heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head.”  (Noah Webster)

Yes, I had to look up the word “assiduity”, too. It is certainly not a word that I drop into casual conversations or that’s I’m even likely to ever use again.

as·si·du·i·ty

/ˌasəˈd(y)o͞oədē/

noun

  1. constant or close attention to what one is doing.

“the assiduity with which he could wear down his opponents.”

2. constant attentions to someone.

I suppose that one could say that a person should display assiduity to the one that they love; however, no one would understand what you were saying that would probably just think that you are being pretentious.

All pretentiousness aside, it is actually good advice to pay close and constant attention to the ones that we love. That is not the same as overbearing attention, which might smother the relationship or sour it due to concerns about personal space and control. Rather it is to say that one should pay attention to the needs of the other person, whether they be physical or emotional needs.

A perceived lack of sensitivity to the needs of a partner is one of the leading causes of friction within relationships and that is due to a lack of assiduity to the needs of the partner. Men, in particular most often allow themselves to get so wrapped up in their work and careers that they lose focus upon the needs of their families, especially their life-partners.

So maybe keeping this weird word in mind – assiduity – will help you remember to pay attention to your significant other and not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.

In our faith lives, God, too, demands your assiduity. We are told in Hebrews 2:1 – “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

It is not so much that we overtly sin, as much as it is that we just lose focus and drift away from God. I have written here before about the voice of God in our lives being like a whisper that one must strain to hear and listen to intently, with great assiduity (see my post on Rebooting yourself by listening for God’s whisper).

Is it time for an assiduity check in your personal life? How about in your faith life? Maybe you can write the word assiduity on a little piece of paper and tape it to your mirror as a reminder to pay attention to God and those that you love. If it gets your attention, that’s a good thing.

Can one say, “Have an assiduitous day”? Not sure and not going there.

Just pay attention today!


Dare to be great…

February 13, 2021

A recent quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog inspired me to think about how one can move their life from good to great – “A great person does work that is useful to mankind and makes people happy.”  (Urban Dictionary) 

Most of us probably think of someone in particular when we heard the phrase “he/she was a great person.” Some may think of an influential politician of our time or maybe a famous movie or sports star. Maybe a teacher or pastor who had great influence on your life comes to mind. For many it is a parent, grandparent or other relative that pops into mind. Initially it might be that they made you happy that brings them to mind, but what about the part about doing work that is useful to mankind? I submit that their work to improve your life and set you on the right path in life was their contribution to mankind. You are the product of the useful work that they did.

Now, consider what you can do yourself to be considered to be great. The keys to accomplishing greatness are in the doing of useful work for mankind and in making people happy. One does not get to be considered to be great by just sitting around wishing for greatness. You must do things and those things should benefit others and, ultimately, make them happy.

But what can you do as an individual to benefit mankind and make people happy?

Nothing makes the lonely and hungry elderly person happier than when the Meals-on-Wheels driver shows up with their meal. They not only get to eat, but they also have someone to talk with for a few moments. Ask them how great that delivery driver is and they will tell you. And what of those back at the headquarters sorting and packing the meals for hours? Are they not dong useful work for mankind? They can only imagine the gratitude of he recipients, but they feel the happiness, too. Greatness is often accomplished in the background.

Does not the worker standing there ringing the Salvation Army bell by his kettle not bring a smile to your face? It’s because you know that your contribution to his kettle will make someone, somewhere happy and that makes you happy, too. You’ll never meet the person that you contribution makes happy, but you know that it will and that makes you great.

We are told in the Bible that we are saved by grace and not by our works; however, the things that we do to better mankind and make others happy directly reflects the love of God working through us – “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

There is a little saying that is used on T-shirts and elsewhere as inspiration – God’s Work Your Hands. But, that is really true. God works through us and it is in doing His work that we can achieve greatness, not for ourselves, but for God.

So, dare to do things that better mankind and make others happy. You need not be a powerful or famous person to the little things in life that make a difference to others. Be useful today. Look for a need in your community and fill it. Reach out and volunteer.

God has got work for you to do that is useful and which will make people happy.

Dare to be great today!


Keep going to keep growing…

February 12, 2021

I often use quotes from Pastor Jack Freed’s blog, Jack’s Winning Words, as my inspiration for what I write here. Today I’m using what might be considered to be a trite little phrase that I recently saw on a little plaque in a gift store – “You Grow Through What You Go Through”.

walking man

It is easy to just toss that little phrase off or to read it and not give it much thought, but then that would make for a very short post here. When I read it in the gift shop that was my initial reaction – cute little phrase. Giving it more thought, there are so many more dimensions to it than one initially considers.

One grows intellectually by just accumulating and organizing the facts and experiences that one encounters during a normal day. Hopefully one learns from both successes and mistakes and thus grows as a rational person.

It’s hard to even imagine living a life so devoid of challenges and failures that one has no successes or mistakes to learn from. It is perhaps a little less difficult to image a person who does not learn from their mistakes and keeps repeating them. Do you know anyone like that?

What I ended up thinking about is how we grow in our faith based upon what we go through in life. Few of us probably end the day with a prayer thanking God for another wonderful, conflict and problem free day. More likely we may thank God for the strength and perseverance he gave us to get though the day and pray for His help with tomorrow.

It is the day-to-day things that we go through that helps us grow in our relationship with God. Those trials and setbacks help us see the limits of our own ability to control things in life. Eventually they bring us to the point where we are ready to surrender to God’s love and state out loud for ourselves and Him to hear – “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Growing in your faith by coming to that conclusion in your life is one of the most liberating things that you can accomplish. It is a faith threshold that once crossed frees you to focus on the things that you can impact and give to God those things over which you really have no control. It also allows you to forgive yourself by accepting God’s forgiveness into your life – see my post Let God be Your Eraser.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that of you have faith, nothing bad will ever happen to you. Rather the Bible tells us that if we have faith, there is nothing that we cannot face, because we have God on our side. So, one can view the trials and tribulations that are a part of normal life as providing opportunities for us to grow in our faith. Face each test with the thought, “We’ve got this” (you and God together) and use what you go through to grow your faith.

In your faith, you really do “Grow through what you go through”, so get our that and grow your faith today.


Let God be your eraser…

February 10, 2021

In his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, today, Pastor Freed posted this – “The only mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”  (John Powell)  Written errors can be eliminated by erasers.  But, how do you get rid of life mistakes?

Freed went on to write about learning from one’s mistakes in life. I have posted here several times about that, too. My latest post was earlier this month about trying something different when you fail.

That little sentence about not having erasers for life’s mistakes caught my attention. In the legal system there is a concept called expungement, which basically means that one’s past criminal record is wiped clean, so that it does not follow a person around and further mess up their life. Michigan is considering a dramatic expansion of the concept of expungement for its legal system.

Almost every job application that I’ve ever seen has a question on it about whether one has any criminal convictions in their past. While it is important for the potential employer to know if they are dealing with a criminal who is likely to again steal or hurt someone, it is also important for the person who may have committed a crime early in their life to be given the chance to prove that they have changed their ways and would now make a good employee. Expungement is not aimed at the incorrigible criminal, but rather at the person who has learned from their mistakes and reformed their life. Potential benefits in this case outweigh the risks involved in  giving the person the chance at a good job and a new life by expunging their criminal record.

Not all mistakes that we make in life are criminal in nature, but many of them follow us around like the “rap sheet” of a criminal. In some cases the mistakes we ‘ve made may be known by many, but for the most part, the guilt that we carry with us for our mistakes is a personal thing. That guilt that we carry in our minds may prevents us from doing the things that we should be doing in life – they hold us back.

Hopefully we did learn something from those mistakes, but how do we expunge them from our lives and move on? We need an eraser.

That’s where God comes in. We are told –

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

And

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” – Acts 3:19

It all comes down to admitting (confessing) to God and ourselves that we did something wrong, that the wrong is in the past and can’t be changed and then accepting the forgiveness of God, so that we can forgive ourselves and move on with life. Expunge your past mistakes. Accept the forgiveness of God and move on.

Let God be the eraser for your life mistakes.

Make a fresh start today.


Laugh with the world…

February 9, 2021

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words,  Pastor Freed used this Cloris Leachman quote – “When something is truly funny, it’s funny all the time.” 

When something is funny, we think of laughter and one is  reminded of the quote – “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, but cry and you cry alone.”

A person’s sense of humor is as unique as their fingerprints. Different things tickle the funny bone of each individual. I think that Cloris was trying to point out that truly funny things are not only funny to us all of the time, but that they are funny to all of us. There are those who find the misfortunes of others to be humorous. That is actually the humor behind the prat fall, which has been a staple of humor routines forever.

Who doesn’t watch America’s Funniest Videos without knowing that somewhere in the collection of videos for that show someone on the night’s show is going to taka tumble that we will think is funny. But, not everyone laughs at that misfortune. Some are concerned for the safety and health of the person taking the fall. The show usually assures us that the person was OK after the tumble.

I think that example may serve to illustrate a point that I believe Leachman was trying to make. Something is truly funny if we can laugh with someone and not at someone.  

I remember in some of the comedy routines that he would do on his show that Red Skelton would find the routine he was doing to be so funny that he would start laughing himself. The same thing often happened on the Carol Burnett show when both Carole and Harvey Korman would find something that Tim Conway was doing to be so funny that they could not keep themselves from laughing. We could all laugh along with them and those sketches.

What makes you laugh? Do you ever feel guilty later about laughing at someone instead of with them? Do you find that incident funny after you’ve had time to think about it? Remember that laughing at the misfortune of others just means that in the end, the last laugh is on you. And that’s not funny.

Try laughing with the world and you won’t end up crying all alone later.


Enter with confidence…enter with God.

February 8, 2021

Just out of curiosity, I looked all the way back to the first post that I made to this blog, back in2012. Not surprisingly the quote that I used as inspiration for that first post was from the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” (Joseph Campbell)

In that first post I wrote about letting the fear of failure prevent one from even trying to do things that are important for success in business, like prospecting or cold calling.

The same is true of many of life’s decision points. It could be the fear of rejection and humiliation that prevents you from asking out the person of your dreams. Maybe it’s a fear of not feeling prepared or worthy that prevents you from volunteering to take on a leadership position within an organization. For most it is the fear of a possible failure that prevents them from even trying.

Yet we can read story after story of people that we hold up as examples of success having gone through failure after failure on their way to that success. What is the difference? They decided to enter that cave of fear of failure and hunt for the treasure therein.

Yesterday I posted here about being fearless by accepting God into your life. That post focused upon overcoming other fears in your life once you had conquered the fear of death by accepting the love of God and the promise of eternal life – see post.

That advice applies here as well. Many people lose that fearlessness of their faith when faced with day-to-day issues, especially those that deal with their jobs or with other people. Those caves all share the common fear of the unknown. What might happen if I fail at work and lose my job? What if that other person reacts badly to the massage I am about to deliver? What if I am rejected by that other person? What if? What if? What if? But those same cave also hold the treasures of a new friendship or the reward for a job well done or even a promotion. You’ll never know if you are too afraid to enter.

The wonderful inventiveness of our imaginations take us through all sorts of horrible scenarios. It is easy to lose sight of the presence of God in your life as those possibilities play out in your mind. Yet it is imperative that you keep touching that base for the assurance that you need to face the unknown. Keep reminding your self of Romans 8:31 – “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

So, face your fears and enter the caves that hold the treasures that you seek. You’ve got God with you. Perhaps that will bring to mind the saying that Mr. “T” used in the old TV show The “A” Team – “I pity the fool”, who goes up against you, with God at your side. Now doesn’t that make you feel better about entering the caves of your fears?

Put God in your heart and a smile on your face and get in those caves…there are treasures awaiting you.


Be fearless today…

February 6, 2021

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” (John 4:18)

The love referred to is this passage I believe is that mutual love between God and man. Those who love God receive God’s love in return and that love drives fear from our lives.

While the passage from John uses the word “punishment”, it is really the fear of death that the love of God drives out of our lives, because we know that Jesus overcome death for all of those who believe in Him. Once one conquers the fear of death, everything else that we might fear is put into perspective and we can become fearless. Once you trust in God to overcome death, how can you not believe in Him to help you with any of your other fears?

This is not to say that believing in God means that those things in your life that you might fear won’t happen; rather, that God will also be there with you as you face those fears. If you believe in Him, He will give you the strength to persevere and overcome those fears.

Being fearless due to your faith does not mean being reckless or stupid about what you do. One doesn’t jump off a tall building and say on the way down, “God will protect me.” A part of being fearless is making good decisions; decisions that are not based solely upon fear. Perhaps one should add to their morning prayers this request: “God help me make good decisions today by taking fear out of my life and replacing it with trust in You.”

In many of the computer games that are so popular there are things in the game that one may find to recharge or restore an injured character. These are sometimes called Golden Apples. In the games you can see the character’s strength restored, sometimes with a little on-screen strength meter. In our regular lives, touching base with God is our Golden Apple.

So, start today and each day by touching base with God and re-charging your faith. You’ll see your fearlessness meter go up when you do and you’ll be ready to face whatever the day throws at you.  

Love God and remember, “There is no fear in love.”

Be fearless today!


I forgive me. Now you forgive you…

February 5, 2021

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote from Joan Baez – “Forgiveness of self is the hardest of the forgivenesses.”

I’ve posted here a few times about loving oneself before one can love others. A key to loving what and who you are is forgiving yourself for the mistakes that you’ve made in life. We all tend to beat ourselves up for doing something stupid or failing because of a bad decision or maybe even making a horrible mistake that costs us a friendship or even a loved one. It is hard to forgive ourselves for those mistakes, yet it is essential in order to move on with life.

I think the thing that we need to do first, in order to forgive ourselves is to accept that God loves us so much that he forgives whatever we have done and continues to embrace us. Once you can accept God and His love into your life, you will find it easier to forgive yourself and move on. It allows you to refocus from the thoughts of “I wish that I hadn’t” onto thoughts of “I still can”. It resets your sights from the past towards the future. It allows you to move on from “What did I do” and instead start thinking about “What can I do”.

That refocus to the future points to another aspect of forgiving yourself and that is learning from your mistakes and doing better in the future. The goal is not to somehow wipe out the memory of whatever it is you did; rather, it is to learn from it so that you don’t do it again and perhaps even change the course of your life because of that learning.  We see stories on the news every now and then about ex-cons wo go on after their incarceration to become leaders and motivators in their communities. They forgave themselves and changed the course of their lives.

Most of us will not have an event as dramatic in our lives as going to prison; however, we have almost daily instances of the need to forgive ourselves for some small mistake or oversight that causes a guilty feeling. You know that you feel guilty when you look the other way and hurry past that Red Kettle outside the store  or that beggar on the street corner. And how about being too much in a hurry to hold that door open for the person just behind you at the store or maybe forgetting about a loved one’ birthday or your own anniversary? Those are little things that make you feel bad about yourself later. There are, of course, bigger things in many people’s lives; however they are forgivable, too.

Maybe you can start each day with a prayer asking God to forgive you and for His help in forgiving yourself. More importantly, start each day accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiving yourself. Start your day with that clean slate, instead of carrying around a “rap sheet” of past crimes.  

God loves us and forgives us. I forgive me. Now, you forgive you and this will be a great day for both of us.


You’ve got work to do…

February 4, 2021

In his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, today Pastor Freed used this quote –

“You can wake up every day and make today better than the last.”  (Tommy Lasorda)

He went on to write about having a positive attitude every day. One might ask how to make each day a better day and the answer may be found in another quote from Freed’s blog that I had saved –

“You can look anywhere and find inspiration.”  (Frank Gehry)

The fact is that there are always things all around us that need doing, in order to make it a better day for someone. And in recognizing those things and doing them, you will make a better day for yourself. Some of the things are very small and subtle – smiling at someone when they needed a smile today or opening a door for someone and letting them go ahead of you. Sometimes they are bigger, like stopping to help someone in distress or rushing into a burning building to recue a trapped occupant.

I think a key point is that you have to work at it. Lasorda didn’t just say everyday is going to be better than the last; he said that you can make it better. Better doesn’t just happen all be itself. You don’t just sit there all day, waiting for better to happen; you have to work at it. What Gehry was saying is that yo have to look for the opportunities to make things better and when you see them to be inspired to take action.

Perhaps you can start each day by getting help with that. Ask God in your prayers to help you see the opportunities to make things better and to not be satisfied with just seeing them, but to take action to make better happen. That can start with asking God to help you to make better decisions during the day and to help you to be more sensitive to the needs of others.

We often hear the phrase in the eulogies for those who have passed that, ”He/She made the world a better place.” Many times that is a reference to the love that was shared with family and friends, but often it is also a reflection of the actions that the departed took to make the lives of strangers better. Maybe it was the hours of toil to earn money so that a child could go to college. Perhaps it was volunteer charity work or work within the church or the community. Possibly it was some work of art or literature that they created that impacted the lives of others. The point is that they worked at it; it didn’t just happen.

So, as you start your day, look around for your inspiration. Ask yourself how can you make this a better day for yourself and others. Then get at it.

Make this a better day!

You’ve got work to do.