Question it before you act upon it…

October 16, 2017

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog come this little piece of advice – “It’s a healthy thing to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”  (Bertrand Russell)

We all have things in our lives that we take for granted, that we have long believed to beworries true; sometimes with no actual basis in facts. Most prejudices are based on things that we hold to be true with no actual facts to back them up. They are based upon unfounded hate or fear of something or someone. All of our fears, uncertainties and doubts are also baseless in facts and mostly founded in our own imaginations.

Even your faith practices may be based upon some things that you’ve long taken for granted without ever questioning why you do some things in certain ways. Asking yourself those questions is not really questioning your belief in God; but, rather, questioning the practices that have been implemented by men. Martin Luther questioned the practices of the Catholic Church hierarchy in his day, martin-lutherbut he was not questioning his faith, just the practices of the men who were the religious leaders of the Catholic Church at the time.

Faith, like patriotism, has never been based upon blind acceptance of whatever direction the leaders of the church (or the country) were taking at the time. Questioning the rules that are promulgated by those leaders does not make one a heretic or any less the patriot, if they are remaining loyal to the principals upon which the institution was based – the Bible or the Constitution, depending upon which one is being discussed.

Children have a natural tendency to question things; to ask why something is the way it is. Often they may run up against the answer from an adult that sounds like this, “that’s just the way it is” or maybe “because I said so.” Some of those things they just file away as things that they take for granted, without further questioning. Some of those things become the prejudices that they carry around with them in adult life. As adults, we all carry some amount of that type of baggage; things that’s we’ve just accepted or stoppedmystery head questioning long ago and taken for granted.

All of those things that we take for granted should set off little warning bells in the back of our minds and force us to question why we believe them to be true. What proof have we ever had for disliking (sometimes even hating) or fearing certain groups of people, people who are somehow different from us? Absent any proof, what sustains those beliefs? Is it just the laziness of mental momentum that keeps those fears or that hate in our minds?  Why not question those beliefs and seek the truth? Why not, as Jack’s quote today suggests, hang a question mark on every fear and prejudice that you carry around? You really have nothing to lose and perhaps quite a bit to gain in terms of new experiences and new friendships.

In your faith, God is the answer, not the question. It is fair to question the practices that men have tried to build to govern the practice of faith. All religions have created structure and rules to try to guide and control the practice of the religion by the believers.  Some have even created elaborate set of rules for day-to-day living and try to control all aspects of one’s life. Some have perverted the teachings that are the basis of the Bible in order to support their personal views of morality. None of that comes from woman-prayingGod, just from the minds of men. At its most elemental level, your faith is your personal relationship with God. All of the rest of the trappings of the various religions are the works of men. So question those trappings if they don’t seem right to you; but, not your relationship with God.

In Isaiah 41:10 God said – “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Having God and the teachings of Jesus at your moral core will give you the light up to which you should hold every other thing in your life that you “believe”. Prejudices melt away when held up to that light. Hate fades into the background when that light is shined upon it. Fears cannot withstand the light of belief in God and his care for us. Evil slinks back into the darkness from which it came when God’s light shines in your life. Uncertainty is replaced with self-confidence when God’s light shines through you.

So, question everything else in life, but hold fast to God as the center of your life and the rest will take care of itself.

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Find God and find yourself…

October 13, 2017

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning words blog posed this question – “If I am what I have, and I lose what I have, who then am I?”  (Eric Fromm)

If you’ve watched the news lately there have been many examples of people losing everything, whether it was to hurricanes in the Caribbean or earthquakes in Mexico orfire burning home fires in California. There were scenes on the nightly news of people returning to their homes only to find that they no longer existed. More than one was heard saying, “I’ve lost everything.” Many were also heard thanking God that they had been spared their lives.

Some people seem to base their identities largely on what they have accumulated in life – their possessions. Others, especially men, express their identities through their jobs and what they have achieved at work. In either case, life can throw curves at us that take away either or both. Most people eventually gather themselves up and realize that they can replace or rebuild most things that have been lost and start new careers if necessary. They are forced into the realization that life itself is the most important thing and the lives of those that we love. In some catastrophes even the lives of those we love may have been lost. Even in those darkest of hours, most eventually find strength within themselves to go on.

this-is-meIt is important, as I have expressed here a few times, that you have a strong sense of self and that you love who and what you are; not letting your sense of self-worth be based upon possessions or job.  That’s not to say that you should become self-centered; but, rather, that you become self-confident. If your self-examination of who and what you have become leaves something to be desired, then you have something to work upon and not something to be depressed about. Since no one is perfect, you are always on a self-improvement journey to be the best you that you can be (see my post – see my post Don’t give up the chase…).

Perhaps a good way to start each day is with a little personal assessment about where you are in life and what things you might do today to get to where you want to be. It is also a good idea to acknowledge God’s role in your life and to ask for his help in prayer. Iman praying can’t think of a better way to start the day than being square with yourself and with God. Bring it on, world! I know who I am and where I’m headed and I’ve got God in my corner. Talk about self-confidence as you face the day.

Have a great and self-confident day. God’s got your back.


So, you’re the reason that bad things didn’t happen…

October 11, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this:

“Don’t tell me it doesn’t pay to worry; most of the things I worry about never happen.”  (The Church Secretary)

I’ve sometimes heard someone comment, “Well, if I didn’t worry about it, who would?” I always wondered about that. Was the energy and time that person spent worried1worrying about something bad that might happen the cause for it not to happen? Do you see how silly that sounds? If you can see that in a third-party example, what do you think is the different if it is you worrying about something.

Now, this is not to say that one should never consider and plan for alternatives in upcoming events that may not go the way that we want them to. Contingency planning has some value, worry does not. You see, worry is not planning. Worry is undirected restless sleepconcern and the expenditure of energy without focus or purpose. Worry is trying to solve the unsolvable problem. Worry is man’s ego being unwilling to accept its own limitations and inability to control things that cannot be controlled.

Some people convince themselves that if they worry about something long enough and hard enough that they will someone influence the outcome. For others worry is the doorway to depression. They become inconsolable about the things that they worry about, but unable to let them go. I’ve shared here many times about my own release mechanism for worries – finally saying to God, “Not my will but thy will be done.” It works for me. Try it.

The Bible has this advice about worry:reading-bible

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

-and-

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

So, as the Aussies say – No worries, mate.  Be like Alfred E. Neuman of MAD magazine smiling-sunfame and adoption his tag line – “What, me worry?” Or, you can take the advice of Bobby McFerrin’s song – Don’t worry, be happy.

Have a wonderful, worry-free day – God’s got your back.


Make a life – be a giver…

October 10, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  (Quoted by Dave Johnson)

donateMany people associate the word “giving” with money and there certainly are any number of things and causes that ask us to give money. However, giving doesn’t just mean throwing money into the collection basket or bucket. There are more opportunities in life to give of your time and talents than there are Go Fund Me pages. In fact, your time is the most important gift that you have to give.

Giving of your time can be as simple as taking the time to play catch with your son or driving your daughter to the mall with friends. It can be taking a walk, hand-in-hand with a spouse or just sitting and listening to them on the front porch. Maybe it’s visiting acaregiver sick or elderly relative and helping them with some day-to-day task. The point is that you are making the conscious decision to spend some of life’s most precious commodity – time – with someone else or doing something for someone else.

Volunteering your time and talents to help or serve others is one of the highest forms of giving and, ultimately, one of the most satisfying. There is always a little bit of quid pro sewrving soupquo in acts of kindness or service to those that we know – a sibling, spouse or our children; however, there is no expectation of a return to be found in helping a stranger in need. Think about how the simple act of holding the door open feels slightly different when it is a stranger entering verses your spouse entering. Both may say, “thank you”; but the acknowledgement from the total stranger will feel a little different.

So, get a life and find ways to give of your money and your time. At the end of the day you will have less of both and feel the better for it. Do not worry that you don’t have lots of money to give, the Bible says:

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” – 2 Corinthians 8:12

And let your heart be your guide to what you give. Again the Bible says:

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7

Be a willing and cheerful giver and God will take care of the rest.

Have a generous day. Have a great life.


Don’t give up the chase…

October 9, 2017

From a collection of inspirational sayings that I found on the internet comes this saying – “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” —Vince Lombardi

For many years, Lexus used the tag line “The relentless pursuit of perfection” and they made excellent automobiles. They have been questioned for changing their tag line to “Engineering the impossible”, which is perhaps a little harder to relate to for the common man.

bored2In day-to-day living, many people claim to be (or at least, admit to being) perfectionists – people who constantly strive for perfection, sometimes to the consternation of those around them. Many times, if the object of their desire for perfection is a sport, you will see them practicing, doing something over and over until they master that aspect of the sport. For many, the inability to achieve perfection dominates their lives and makes them unhappy.

I think it is OK to constantly have perfection as a goal in whatever you are doing. After all, not striving for perfection as you do something is admitting, up front, that you willmediocrity quote accept mediocrity as a final outcome. One seldom hears cheers being lead that proclaim proudly, “We’re number two” or signs extolling you to “be good enough”. Rather, we see and hear, “Be the best that you can be”; strive for perfection.

Striving for perfection may seem to be a prescription for constant frustration and disappointment, but it needn’t be; rather it should be the constant goal that keeps us learning, evaluating, adjusting and improving. One should never stop asking themselves, “How can I be a better spouse, a better parent, a better sibling or just a better person?”

The dictionary defines perfection as – the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

Perhaps the flaws or defects in our lives are our sins. Maybe if you start by striving for WWJDperfection in your religious life those other things will take care of themselves. At least we have one “perfect” example to try to emulate in our pursuit –  Jesus. Perhaps one of those little WWJD bracelets would cause us to pause and think before we act, before we say something or do something that would cause us to backslide on our pursuit of perfection.

We may not achieve perfection, but we might get closer to excellence in life if we stopped to think “What would Jesus do?” I’m pretty sure that He would not do anything that He would regret later or that would hurt someone else. Maybe that’s a good starting point for your pursuit in other aspects of life. Another thing that we will realize, once we embrace Jesus in our lives, is that he has already forgiven all of our flaws and defects. The grace of God that he died on the cross to give to us has already made us perfect, oncewoman-praying we accept Him.

So, never give up the pursuit of perfection in life; but, perhaps reevaluate your priorities and whomever you’ve been using as a role model for perfection and refocus yourself on the one role model who promises that you will achieve perfection through Him. Start with a prayer.

Have a perfect day.


What will you DO today?

October 6, 2017

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” —Leonardo da Vinci

We start each day with some sort of list of good and kind and helpful things that we know coulda woulda shouldawe should do and which we could do; but, then we think of other things and those initial thoughts become things that we would do if we weren’t already so busy. At the end of the day we may pause to reflect on our coulda, woulda, shoulda list of things left undone. We knew and maybe we thought ourselves to be willing, but we didn’t DO.

We are all presented with hundreds of opportunities/challenges each day to either do something or ignore something. In most cases, we know “know” what needs to be done or what should be done; however, as Leonardo said, knowing doesn’t always lead to doing the right thing. Many times it isn’t that we are unwilling to do the right thing; rather, it is that we choose to give something else or someone else our time and attention. We know, but we don’t do.

sewrving soupPerhaps it was calling or visiting someone that you know in alone or could use your visit to make their day. Maybe it was taking time to volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen or with organizations like Meals on Wheels. Maybe it was stopping to talk to someone at work whom you know is going through some difficult times. Maybe it was just taking time to spend with your spouse or children. We know we should do those things, but we don’t. Maybe we are even willing to do those things, but we let other activities consume our time.

Perhaps the secret to implementing Leonardo’s advice is to spend those quiet moments at the beginning of the day with a prayer that asks for God’s help in setting your man prayingpriorities and committing your time. I find the simple prayer “Not my will but thy will be done” and the request “Help me make good decisions today” to be a good way to start my day. The first part is an ego release that relieves me from having to try to solve every problem on my own and the second part makes me stop and think about that the right things to do are in any decisions that I’m faced with making during the day. Leonardo would probably want me to add, “and let me act (DO) on those decisions.” You can come up with your own prayer, but be sure to ask for help doing and not just thinking about things

What will you DO today?


Keep an open mind…

September 27, 2017

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this morning’s inspiration – “I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say.”  (Marshall McLuhan)

Jack when on to write – Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois was once criticized for changing his vote on a certain issue.  His response: “The only people who do not change their minds are those in asylums or cemeteries.”

Do you change your mind on things over time? That’s usually a sign of keeping an open mind, which is a good thing. People who are labeled as “prejudiced” are many times insightpeople who hold some negative opinion or dislike for some group or groups of people and who are unable or unwilling to consider a different point of view. That is not to say that you have to agree with those people or practice whatever behavior it is that offends you that they display. But, it is to say that you at least try to understand that they have a different view of the world and come to peace with the fact that those differences exist. So long as the differences in appearance or behavior are not destructive or disruptive, what real difference does it make? Keep an open mind.

In our society, prejudices are an easy to spot sign of closed minds. We have racists , homophobes, anti-immigrationists, extreme nationalists and other groups who seem toarrogant make the nightly news. It is hard to tell whether it is fear or hate that is the primary driving force behind these groups, but interviews with members of the groups quickly demonstrate their closed-minded nature. Even for what we might call “normal” people, there are often many things that might cause discomfort or anxiety just beneath the surface of their otherwise calm expressions. Keep an open mind.

Keeping an open mind means allowing things to play out without preconceived notions about the outcome. It means taking the time to listen to, evaluate and trying to understand the other person’s point of view. It doesn’t require that you convert to that point of view; only that you understand and appreciate that it exists and that it most diversitylikely presents no threat to you. In fact, study after study in the business world has shown the benefits of having a diverse workforce with a rich diversity of ideas and approaches to the same issues, as opposed to having a homogeneous workforce that s all driven by the same set of beliefs and standards (and prejudices). Keep an open mind.

As for changing your mind; that is something that is a natural consequence of opening your mind. If you live by the mantra, “It’s this way; it’s always been this way; and, it will always be this way”, you face the prospect of joining the buggy whip makers of yesteryear on the dust heap of history. Some people wear a little bracelet with the lettersWWJD WWJD on it. That stands for What Would Jesus Do and is a good way to pause and think about things before letting some preconception or prejudice dictate you actions. The bible says – “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…” – Romans 12:2 Keep an open mind.

So, be open minded to differences and not fearful of them. Take the time to consider and appreciate the other person’s point of view. You don’t have to convert to that view; but, do try to understand it better. Be open to change, if you see that your old beliefs were wrong or ill-founded. Let go of the negatives and embrace the positives that can come out of diversity. Allow yourself the knowledge-expanding experiences that can accompany a diverse point of view. You need not follow the old American Indian advice to “walk a mile in the other person’s moccasins”, but at least mentally try those moccasins on and take enough steps in them to understand the different path that person is on. Keep an open mind.

comfort-zoneKeeping an open mind will mean getting out of your comfort zone. Comfort zones are often defined by pre-conceived notions and even prejudices.  Comfort zones have walls that are built at the edges of understanding, beyond which lies our fears, uncertainties and doubts. Comfort zones start at our mental dawn and runs until dusk, with everything beyond them hidden in the dark. You must be brave enough to venture into the dark in order to discover new things, have new experiences, make new friends and expand your knowledge. Rosa Parks put it well when she said – “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear.” Make up your mind to Keep an open mind.