What do you see in your mind?

October 15, 2018

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed used this quote to write about the wonder of our minds – “To different minds the same world is a hell and a heaven.”  (J.B. Priestley). Jack’s post talked about how our brains perceive things and he shared a book, It’s All in Your Head, that modern school kids are using to explore how their brains work. A fascinating statistic that Jack cited is that science only understands what about 10% of the brain does, with 90% still to be discovered.

We use such phrases as “in my mind’s eye” and “it’s all in your head” to describe how we perceive and react to the world around us. Some people’s brains work differently. Try todepression2 imagine having two minds inside your brain, one which sees the world as heaven and one that only sees darkness and hell. A bi-polar person may actually be living that experience, although only one of the minds may be in control at any one time. Schizophrenics may house many minds, perhaps with more than one “mind” fighting for control at any given time.

The mind is where fantasy and reality are supposed to be sorted out and kept in order, but for some that process doesn’t work well and we say of them that “they are living a fantasy world.” For some an imbalance in the brain may drag them into the dark pit of depression. Fortunately, for people suffering from depression, science has discovered solutions that can maintain a better balance within the brain and allow them a more “normal” life.

It is interesting that we have evolved to the point where our brains are contemplating insightthemselves and how they work. Much of the work in this area of science has focused upon how the brain controls various functions of our bodies or how it gathers, sorts, stores and recalls the information that it encounters in order to build our knowledge base. Yet to be understood is how the brain is capable of original thoughts. It may be that most of what we think of as original thoughts are really just well organized paths of discovery of the origin of something or the solution to a problem.

An even more interesting question is did our brains invent the concept of God or did God invent our brains so that we could “see” Him in our minds. Having been a Star Trek fan from the very first episode on TV, I can conjure up a vision that talking with God is like the Vulcan mind meld, with God playing the role of Spock. Imagine how far back God must have to throttle His mind in order to have a conversation with the small minds thatwoman-praying He encounters here on earth. When you talk to God through prayer, what do you “see” in your mind’s eye? Does God sound like James Earl Jones when he answers you?

It is inevitable that religion and science intersect, even in contemplating or own minds. I like a little saying from Einstein – “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” As scientists study our brains and the minds that they house, they will come to dead ends where the next steps can only be explained by religious belief. Where science stops is where God begins. Perhaps we should spend less time contemplating why things are as they are and spend more time just appreciating the beauty of things as they are. Stop and look at the beauty all around you. Anne Frank put it this way – “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” 

It is in the appreciation of that beauty that you will “see” the hand of God in your mind. Have a beautiful day!

Advertisements

You are never alone with God in your life…

October 5, 2018

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this little quote –

“People love company, even if it is only a small burning candle.”  (George single candleLichtenberg)

That quote caused me to think that it is out of our aversion to being alone that we give voice to our pets, speaking for them and sometimes carrying on conversations with them, if only in our minds. I also remembered the Tom Hanks movie Castaway and the volleyball he called Wilson. For the Hank’s character, Wilson was a companion and that meant he was not alone.

Yet, we are never really alone, if we have God in our lives. He is always there, ready to listen to us and sometimes to talk back to us (if we are ready to listen).

“God is with you – wherever you may go and no matter what life brings.” – Joshua 1:9

For many people, the flame of that small burning candle in today’s quote represents God, bringing light into our lives and overcoming the darkness that might surround us.

helping handsIf you are a person who feels uncomfortable or even fears being alone, try reaching out to God in those moments of panic or fear. He is there; ready to answer your call.

A side benefit is that you can have a much more intelligent conversation with God than you can with your dog/cat or a volleyball. Try it the next time that you feel alone. He will be there.

We are not alone.

 


Getting other things out of the darkness…

October 3, 2018

Yesterday I wrote about not allowing hatred, fear and prejudices to lurk in the dark shadows of your mind and influence your daily life. There are other things that lurk infacing the wall 2 the dark places in the minds of many; things which can be debilitating and cause them pain. Fear’s cohorts – anxiety and depression – can live there, too. Self-doubt at the dusky edges of the darkness can lead to self-loathing in the depths of the pit. The sense of powerlessness and hopelessness that may accompany these things can lead to thoughts that suicide as “the only way out”.

Jason KandorWe saw on the news last night the story of a man, Jason Kandor, in Kansas City who withdrew from the race to be mayor there because he suffers from PTSD and depression from his time in the military serving in a war zone. The memories of that time had been living in the dark places in his mind for over 11 years and had pulled him into bouts of depression. For years he suppressed it, because that just what we do.

Some of the women who have come forward in the #MeToo! Movement have described the experience of suppressing the events of their sexual abuse in terms that sound a lot like PTSD – reactions of fear, anxiety, depression and more resulted not just from the actual event, but from the holding in of it, rather than reporting it.

Compounding the problem form many, especially the men, is a macho, sports-oriented culture in which phrases like “shake it off”, “man up”, or “play through the pain” are used as solutions to both physical and mental injuries. It wasn’t until recently that football player1athletes began to realize the permanent, life-changing damage that concussions can cause. Before that, it was “shake it off and get back in the game.” We still don’t appreciate as a society the debilitating impact that depression can have on people. We are still saying to them, “suck it up and get back in the game.” We try to force them to push their depression back into the shadows of their minds. For most that really doesn’t work.

It would be easy to throw in some reference to Jesus and God here; and some readers would probable say “Oh good, he finally got the religious angle in”; but that is not appropriate here. This is not about religion and whether or not the person suffering help-methrough depression believes in God or not. They may have doubts about that because of their depression, but just telling them to pray about it is not the answer. If you want to tell them to pray; tell them to pray for the courage to get these things out into the light and to seek the help they need to deal with them. Tell them to make the same decision that Jason Kandor did and admit to themselves and others that they need that help and will seek it. This is not something that they can shake off or that they need to suck it up about, nor is it something, for which they can play through the pain.

So, what is our role when someone we know finally gets these dark things out into the open and seeks help? Many might turn their backs to them, trying to avoid being associated with someone who has “problems”. This is a time for unconditional support and friendship, helping-2not for criticism. This is not the time for a “Get back in the game” pep talk, nor for a “Oh, you poor thing” pity party. Those who are truly Christians will open their arms and ask, “How can I help you?” They need more than a pillow to cry on; they need a pillar to lean on. Be there for them. Be there to listen. Be there to understand. Be there to comfort. Be there to encourage. Be there to accompany them on their journey out of the darkness. You will never do anything more important in your life.

Have a great day in the light of the Son. If there are those around you who are dwelling in the darkness of PTSD or depression, be there for them. If you are wearing one of those little WWJD bracelets you will know what the answer is to that question when you extend your hand to help. Be there.


Get out of the shadows…

October 2, 2018

Jack Freed had a post that is so good today on his blog Jack’s Winning Words that I need to re-post the whole thing before I add any comments.

“We’d forgive most things if we knew the facts.”  (Graham Greene)  Being prejudiced means to judge before knowing all of the facts.  RLS wrote: “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me…” and that shadow, at times, can be the tendency to form opinions based on partial knowledge.  Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism…these are more than words.  Leaning, left or right…we daily have to examine “our little shadow” of pre-judging. – Jack

It’s interesting that this tendency to pre-judge, to be prejudiced, comes from the shadows, preacher-pointingfrom a dark place – a place in our hearts and minds where the sun doesn’t reach or perhaps where the Son doesn’t reach. Just as these preconceived notions, most born in ignorance and fear, could not stand the light of the truth, they also could not stand having the light of Christianity shined upon them. The fact that many words of hate and prejudice are hurled from the shadows by people thumping Bibles and loudly devilproclaiming to be Christians just shows the power of the Devil in their lives. They have allowed fear and hate to overcome the love and acceptance that Jesus taught.

Get out of the shadows…

What “little shadows” do you allow in your life? Is it a fear or prejudice against of people of color? Is it disgust or disdain at hearing others speak a foreign language in a store? Is it the ignorance and loathing of homophobia? Is it just the discomfort that you feel being around people who are “different”? Perhaps you sneer at eyes of revengea women wearing the Habib or those who look or dress differently. Perhaps you have allowed yourself to become a snob about some things and tend to discount the tastes of others who do not share you appreciation for that thing. Maybe your little shadow is just the indifference to your fellow man that allows you to turn away from the homeless beggar in the street, rather than reach out to try to help.

Get out of the shadows…

Whatever your personal little shadow is, you need to get out from under it. Shine the light of Jesus teachings on those fears and prejudices. Get yourself one of those little WWJDWWJD bracelets and start wearing it. When you find yourself in a situation where the shadow of pre-conceived notions is starting to darken your judgement, take the time to look at the bracelet and ask yourself that question. If you take the time to ask yourself What Would Jesus Do in those situations, you will find that the shadows go away. They cannot stand the light of the Son.

Get out of the shadows…

Have a great day walking in the light of the Son.


Are the outcomes really coincidences?

October 1, 2018

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “When I pray, coincidences happen.  When I don’t, they don’t.”  (William Temple)

Temple is referring to things that “happen” which seem to be the result of, or at least associated with, a prayer. Sometimes, if the coincidence is important or significant enough, it may even be called a miracle. A logical explanation that one may pursue is thewoman-praying thought that praying for something in particular, or some outcome to an upcoming event, forces one to visualize the steps necessary to achieve that outcome. Visualization is a well-known technique for success in athletics and other pursuits in life.

Another possible explanation for the coincidences of success after prayer might be that prayer puts one in a positive frame of mind and being positive and confident going into a situation has a strong influence on the results. The feeling that you have God on your side is a huge positive motivator and comfort through any adversity. I’m sure that research could prove some proof that prayer releases some endorphins inman praying the brains of those who fervently pray and they feel better (perhaps even invincible) as they tackle the challenge that they prayed about.

Perhaps prayer forces us to take the vague and amorphous fears that we have about whatever it is that we are praying about and put them in a box that we then hold up in front of God and ourselves. We are able to acknowledge that we need help with the things in that box. The fact that we express that need for help in prayer allows us to admit to ourselves what our fears are mind at workand forces us to deal directly with them. The feeling that, through our prayers, we have God on our side in dealing with those fears provides the strength and courage to take the first steps towards overcoming them. Prayer often provides that little push that we need to get started.

Oft times, we allow things in our lives to grow in importance all out of scale to their actual meaning or impact. I posted not too long ago about a great piece of advice that I got from a friend who had noticed that I was obsessing about something that had little real significance in the grand scheme of things. He just looked at me as I was lamenting something that I hadn’t done and ask, “Did anybody die?”  As absurd as that sounded initially within the context of my diatribe, it was actually the exact thing that I need to hear and think about to put things back into perspective. I use it often now to re-position the importance and priority of things in my mind

Finally, taking things to God in prayer allows us to reset our perspective on things thathelping hands might be going on in our lives.  In my prayers, I often use the little phrase “not my will, but Thy will be done”. For me, that is the quickest and easiest way to let go of things that I have no control over anyway and put my trust back into the coincidences that God makes happen in our lives.

What works for you?


Find God; you’ll be glad you did…

September 20, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this challenging question from Zig Ziglar –   “Will you look back on life and say, I wish I had, or I’m glad I did?”

coulda woulda shouldaI’ve posted her a few times about not ending up with a bad case of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s” in your life. Most of those posts concerned making good decisions in life. Most of those decisions involve being able to distinguish good from bad, right from wrong or maybe constructive vs. destructive behavior.

A core principle that should guide most of those choices may be stated – “do unto others and you would have them do unto you.” Underlying everything upon which you might base the decisions in your life is the foundation of your faith – what you believe in. Bob Dylan put believeit rather starkly when he said – “you either believe or you don’t believe, there ain’t no in between.”

woman-prayingSo it is in life; you either walk with God or you walk alone. You may both turn to God for help with your decisions, and trust in the direction that He takes you; or you have nothing to turn to for help and find no happiness in your decisions, no matter how things turn out. In the end, will you be looking back and saying, “I wish I had found God in my life”, or will you be saying “I’m glad that I had God in my life to guide me?”

gods-hands-2

Don’t end up saying, I coulda, woulda, or shoulda; say instead, “I found God”.

You’ll be glad that you did.


The shiny mirror of judgement…

September 1, 2018

I save many of the little quotes that Jack Freed uses in his daily blog Jack’s Winning Words. I save them because I know that sometime in the future they will inspire me to write something. Sometimes I notice that two or three of them just seem to go together and reinforce or strengthen the message behind the quotes. This morning, as I perused my collection of quotes from Jack’s blog these three just seemed to jump out as belonging together.

 “If you could stand in someone else’s shoes, would you treat them differently?”  (Whitney Hess)

“Don’t judge some just because they sin differently than you.”  (From Katie Wiese)

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  (Carl Jung)

In one way or another they all speak to the topic of judging others and doing so only from our own perspective. When we see people of different ethnic backgrounds, perhaps arrogantwe begin to question. Do they look different than me? Do they dress different than me? Do they speak different from me? Do they act different from me?  Do they have opinions that are different from mine? Do they sin differently than me?

Since the answer for many, if not all, of those questions that we quickly run over in our minds may be yes (at least in our opinion); we rush to a judgement that they irritate us or worse that we should fear and hate them. Perhaps they have done nothing more than stand in front of us, but we have rushed to a judgement based solely upon what we can see and our preconceived notions about what that mirrormeans.

If we took a moment to really think about what was happening we would see that the shiny mirror of judgement was showing us an ugly reflection of our own sins and shortcomings. Perhaps we would even make the leap of understanding that Jung was alluding to in his quote and “see” the things in ourselves that need to be corrected.

Why do the clothes than someone is wearing or the color or style of their hair irritategirl with nose chain you? Why does their accent when they speak bother you? What possible difference does it make to you if they have tattoos or nose rings or other things that you might not have? Unless they have a weapon and are aggressively approaching you, why do you feel threatened or uneasy with their presence? In what way does their sexual orientation or preferences impact you directly?

All of the things that you may notice about others and which may for some reason irritate you or may cause you to rush to a judgement are things that you should be asking yourself, “What different does that make?”  Those things have nothing to do with what kind of person that individual may be and they may not be any more offensive than the look, clothes, and speech that you present to the world to anyone but you.

Can your rush to judgement withstand the spotlight of the question “Why”?

worriesWhy does that make me uneasy? Why am I offended by something that they have done or maybe not done? Why am I irritated by their accent with which they speak? Why does the color of their skin immediately make a difference to me? Why do I immediately fear them or hate them, when I don’t even know them?

Maybe you should be asking, “What is it about me that makes me feel this way?” What prejudices or preconceived judgement has caused me to jump to this conclusion.? What can I do to avoid jumping to a judgement before I even know them.

Any pause for self-reflection, before you jump all the way to a conclusion, is a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to reexamine old prejudices and forces you to see them forbored what they are. It also give you the opportunity to adjust your attitude before you act. It allows you to use the shiny mirror of judgement for some quick self-examination. Maybe it will allow you to put a smile on the face that you see there to replace the scowl that was there.

So, before you judge others; stare into the shiny mirror and look within yourself.