Looking for a superhero? Find Jesus instead.

May 14, 2018

In a recent post to his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – Jack referenced the time when Mohammed Ali (then called Cassius Clay) made the proclamation “I am the greatest”. I remember that evening and listening to the boxing match between Clay and the Cassius Clayformidable Sonny Liston. Nobody gave the young, brash Clay a chance against the bigger Liston, who had destroyed the former champion Floyd Patterson. When Clay made good on his boast that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” and knocked out Liston, he proclaimed to the world, in the post-fight interview with Howard Cosell that he was ”the greatest of all time”.

These days we are preoccupied with the super heroes that we see on the screen – Ironman, Thor, Wonder Woman, Superman and the Black Panther. We seem to need, and to revel in, the larger than life exploits of these heroes, many of whom have egos to match their super hero status.

In Jesus’ day the people were searching for (waiting for) a super hero (the Messiah) to come and lead them in triumph over their oppressors. Many believed that the Messiah would be a great warrior, possessing supernatural strength and powers. When that Messiah came in the form of a normal and humble man – Jesus – most could not believe that this was the “savior” that had been foretold. They did not see a might warrior riding into battle on a great horse, but a humble and modest man riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Many had heard of the miracles that he had performed, but they were acts of kindness and concern and not the winning of great battles or the vanquishing of foes.

The people then, as many do now, were looking for a superhero and what they got instead was Jesus, a man who could not even save himself and who died on a cross. When confronted by Pilot with the question “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus did not say, “I am the greatest of all time”; but rather answered humbly, “You say so.”  What most in his day did not see or hear about until later was that he rose again after three days and ascended into heaven. What they did not understand was that the foes that he fought on our behalf were sin and death.

Super_heroesSo, if you are looking for amusement, go see the latest super heroes movie or dress up and go to a convention and enjoy yourself; but, if you are looking for the only true super hero of all time to save you, look to Jesus. With Him on your side; there are no foes that can defeat you, not even death. Now that’s a super hero worth following.

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Be that person…

May 2, 2018

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote – “Every man has three characters – that which he exhibits, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has.”  (Alphonse Karr)

I have a feeling that if Karr was alive today he might enjoy adding to his thoughts about character with this modern quote by J.W. Stevens – “Be the person your dog thinks you are!”

We are all somewhat conscious of the character that we are trying to portray to the jerkworld. Most of the time we are trying to appear to be normal and maybe even “cool” (or what we think is cool). Very few people set out each day to be perceived by others as being a dork or a jerk or anything negative, yet many achieve those distinctions through their actions and behavior.

I think Stevens advice may be the best of all. I don’t think your dog starts off thinking about you based upon looks or color and any of the other preconceptions that we allow to creep into our evaluations of people. Instead your dog is trying to give you unconditional love and just wants your attention, care and love in return. Your dog misses happy dogyou when you are gone and is happy when you return. He or she just wants to be accepted and welcomed into your “pack” and maybe be given an occasional treat and a pat on the head.

We can’t walk around patting others on the head and handing out treats, but we can greet them with a smile and a friendly hello. We can extend a hand, ask about their well-being and compliment them. In doing so, we become the person that they hoped they might meet today – someone friendly and open and interested in them. Hopefully, that will bring the character that you are exhibiting more in line with the character that you think you are. Few of us think of ourselves as cold, callous or unfriendly.

So set out today to be the person that your dog thinks you are and see if that doesn’t handshakework for you. Start by putting a smile on your face and being conscious that you are smiling. Greet others when you meet them, rather than just looking away. Resolve to take the time to greet and speak to those whom you already know and to make the effort to meet some new people today. See if being perceived as a friendlier and welcoming person doesn’t make you feel better at the end of the day. Perhaps you will even find that your day was more successful, because more people felt good about meeting and interacting with you.

Be that person who makes someone else’s day and it will make your day, too. Maybe then you will be the person that God hoped you would be.


Change your life today…

March 26, 2018

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s tip – “Big sweeping life changes really boil down to small, everyday decisions.”  (Ali Vincent)

Jack went on to write – In meteorology it’s called, The Butterfly Effect…how small changes in a weather system can cause big variations.  That’s why forecasts aren’t always correct.

The theory of the butterfly effect is that the flapping of the wings of a single butterflyButterflies somewhere in the world caused enough change in the movement of the atmosphere to cause minute changes to the weather patterns in the entire world. If you’ve ever wondered why it may be raining across the street, but not on your house, perhaps it was a butterfly somewhere in Asia that was flapping it’s wings that caused that weather pattern. At least it’s more fun to think of that butterfly flapping away in Asia than dwelling on the fact that it may be raining.

Back to the quote. One of the things that sometimes holds us back in life is spending too much time thinking about what we see as the big problems in our lives, rather than making the small decisions that can eventually lead to life changes. Jack also wrote about a recent news article that covered the health aspect of doing just a little exercise every day and eating several small meals during the day, rather than a few large one. I’m man lifting weightscertainly guilty of procrastination about exercise. When the gym that I was going to closed, I told myself that I’d join another gym and get back to regular exercise. I’m still telling myself that. I’ve been looking at it as a big decision, when in reality there was a small decision that I could have made to do a little exercise at home each day, until I found a new gym. It’s time to make that small decision and change my life. Time for some home burpees.

What small, everyday decisions have you been putting off in your life? Why? Isn’t it time to do something, no matter no how small t may seem, to move off that dime? Make that first, small decision to change something in your life and see how it begins to affect your life overall.

Here’s a suggestion. Make the decision to start each day with a moment of silent prayer.woman-praying Reconnect with God each morning and put your trust in what He has in store for your life today. I use the little prayer that I’ve posted here many times – “Not my will, but Thy will be done”.  You will find that you start each day with a new attitude when you take that moment to reconnect and reassure yourself that God is with you. That new attitude and the aura of God working through you will carry over into the decisions that you make that day, which can’t help but change your life and the world around you. You will become God’s “butterfly effect” on the world.

Make your little ripple in life’s fabric and be prepared to be swept along in the life changes that will occur. Change your life today.


Keeping an open mind…

March 23, 2018

Jack Freed recently posted this little quote on his blog Jack’s Winning Words“I believe in having an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.”  (Arthur Hays Sulzberger)

I like that quote because sometimes, under the guise of having an open mind, people do let their common sense (their brains) fall by the wayside and end up doing stupid things. An open mind is one that is willing to consider a change in position or understanding on a topic. Everyone and everything that we interact with conjures up some mental insightpredisposition in our minds about them/it and how to react to the encounter. Sometimes, those predispositions may be strong and well as wrong and have turned into unfounded prejudices. Many times it may just be a feeling of unease or fear, if we have little or no experiences upon which to fora more positive reaction.

When you’re a child prejudices may be more excusable, because you haven’t experienced enough or learned enough to really have an informed opinion. As you grow up there is an expectation that your will gain first-hand experiences and knowledge that helps you make better decision; or at least that is the hope. A key to that growth is your ability to keep an open mind, but also to use your brain to sort, categorize and assimilate new bits of knowledge so that the basis for your reaction to events and people is based on better knowledge. Some do a better job at that than others do.

arrogantSome people really don’t have a mind that is open to change, no matter what evidence is presented that a long held conviction is wrong. They have locked their brains tightly into a reality that is theirs alone and they “see” the world from within that realm. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case in Washington these days, as the politicians there become more and more polarized. One certainly doesn’t see a lot of open minds there, just a lot of brainless behavior.

How do you start each day? Are you open to new ideas, new thoughts and new ways of seeing things? Do you see meeting new people who are different from you as an opportunity to learn or as a threat? Is your brain open to learning new things or too busy defending old prejudices, fears and unsubstantiated positions?

Being open to new ideas, new thoughts and new people does not mean blindly accepting them or immediately acting upon them, as Sulzberger was saying in his quote. You still have to engage your brain to evaluate their worth and place within your life. Some newsmirk idea may well displace old ideas that you now know were not completely right or which no longer fit for you. New people in your life may replace old friends who no longer share your values or whose position on things is no longer aligned with yours. Life happens and you move on.

So, let changes happen in your life and your outlook on life. Don’t let where you were at hold you back from where you are going. Use your brain to sort through new thoughts and beliefs and to control the pace and extent of those changes, but not to block them out. Keep an open mind. Don’t worry, your brains won’t really fall out.


Love is like the Bird of Paradise…

March 15, 2018

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote – “The Bird of Paradise alights upon the hand that does not grasp.”  (John Berry)

Jack went on to explain that the Bird of Paradise is an actual bird, a very beautiful bird,Bird of PAradise in Indonesia and thought by many to be the first bird that God created in the Garden of Eden. To see such a bird is rare and to actually have one alight upon your hand even more rare.

It occurred to me that the quote could also apply to love. Just as the Bird of Paradise goes not wish to be grasped and possessed; love is something meant to be shared not grasp and held onto like a possession. I have heard of more than one relationship failing because one of the parties became “too possessive”, too “graspy”.

It is a fault of our human nature that we want to possess things and sometimes even to Controllingpossess people. We want them to be “ours” and ours alone. What we don’t understand is that love is a feeling that must be shared and not possessed. Saying I love you to someone does not carry with it “I own you”; but, sometimes people imply that into the relationship. Those relationships are doomed to fail. Love is something that is at the same time shared and earned in return.

One earns love in relationship through kindness, gentleness, consideration, attentiveness, loyalty and many other things that are all oriented towards giving in the relationship. Freedom is one of those things. You cannot earn the love of another by holding them captive as if they were a possession. Most often the possessor’s own insecurities and fears drive possessive behavior. Rather than show love towards the partner to earn their love in return; these insecure partners try to grasp them instead and hold them hostage.  We use terms like manipulative, domineering or controlling for men and clingy, manipulative and high-maintenance for the women in these possessive relationships. No matter what we call it, they are grasping for love.

Often these possessive relationships remain intact long enough to evolve into domesticgirl crying violence situations. It is often the case that domestic violence is driven as much by the need to control the other person as from any other reason. Once all other techniques of control fail, the possessive person is left with physical violence or threats as a mechanism of control. Domestic violence becomes the final spiral towards oblivion of a long failed relationship.

So, what is the take away from all of this? It is that love, like the Bird of Paradise, lights on the open hand of trust in a relationship. You love someone and hope that they love you back. There are things that you can do to earn that love in return andholdiing love in hand there are things that you could do that would cause love (and the Bird of Paradise) to fly away by being too possessive. Love cannot be grasped it can only be shared and it must be shared freely and without constraints. Just as the Bird of Paradise is beautiful to behold, love is a beautiful things to see and feel and even touch, but it cannot be grasped and possessed.

Share a loving day with your partner with an open hand and an open heart.


Choose to be kind this week…

March 5, 2018

“Choose to be kind over being right every time.”  (Richard Carlson)

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write about the Mr. Know-it-all syndrome that some people exhibit. Unfortunately, that hits too close to home for me, as my wife often calls me out on.  I really have to work on not jumping in to arrogantcorrect some factual error (at least in my opinion) that I think may have just been made in something that is said. Sometimes (probably most of the time) it is better to just let things go, even if you know that what was just said is not correct. Be kind this week.

One way to look at things is to just say to yourself that what was just said is what the person who said it believes and messing around with beliefs is usually a losing cause. Perhaps it was their opinion about something; and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It is surely a mistake to jump in with a correction on anything that may be political or religious, since those are two areas that are very personal and difficult to argue. Just say to yourself, “I don’t agree with your opinion or judge thingsview on things, but that’s OK.” Don’t say that out loud, unless you are just spoiling for an argument. Be kind this week.

Rather than trying to assert the “right” (from your perspective) opinion into the conversation, be kind and try to understand the other person’s point of view or at least honor his/her right to that opinion. One can be kind without being condescending and one can be kind without surrendering their own position or opinion. Be kind this week.

Another good trait to develop is being able to admit when you were, in fact, wrong on some opinion or “fact” that you held a strong belief about. Sometimes additional information or event prove the position that you held to be wrong and rather than cling stubbornstubbornly to a disproved position, it is much better to admit your mistake and move on by embracing the new “truth” of the matter. Perhaps now you will be better able to understand the position that others held all along, which you considered “wrong-headed” until now. You will probably also realize that, had you chosen to be kind rather than right in your position, you would now be in a much better position. Be kind this week.

So, choose to greet others ready to accept and understand, rather than ready to correct. Try to understand things from their perspective rather than forcing them to see it from disagreement2yours.  Maybe there is no right and wrong, just two wrongs that will get you nowhere. Life does not have to become as dysfunctional as our current political system, where everything is judged using a far-right or far-left litmus test. There is a win-win middle ground were different opinions and perspectives may be valued for providing diversity to the conversation and where the truth is somewhere in the middle or, perhaps, somewhere else altogether. Be kind this week.

When you hear someone say something that you would normally try to correct; rather than blurt out, “You’re wrong”, try “How interesting of you to say that”, or perhaps reply, “I hadn’t thought of that view of things.” You may be pleasantly surprised at the conversations that follow. Be kind this week.


Say something nice to somebody today…

March 1, 2018

From the blog Jack’s Winning Words comes this quote of the day – “Why do we have to wait for special moments to say nice things or tell people we care about them?”  (Randy Milholland)

Jack went on to tell a little of Randy’s life success story because someone took the time to say something to him in his youth.

I believe that there is also a benefit to you if you take the time to say something nice to someone – it makes you feel better, too. Taking the time, making that effort to think of handshakesomething nice to say to someone puts you in a positive frame of mind, because you are being positive and not just finding fault with that person. It can be something as small as “your hair looks great today” or maybe just “you look great today”. You’ll probably get a smile and maybe a reply and it will usually be positive, which helps reinforce the positive vibe that you were on when you made the comment.

The second positive thing from doing this is that it puts you “out there”. By making the comment, you reached out from your protective shell and touched someone else in his or her shell. If you get a response, you have the beginning of a conversation and perhaps a relationship building moment. Humans are really all about interacting with other humans and it can be very lonely if you never take the opportunity to interact. Even if you just a get a fleeting, “Thanks”, from the person as they scurry away, you tried and they did acknowledge you. Perhaps the next time that you meet, they’ll have more time and they’ll remember that you’re the one who said something nice to them.

this-is-meAnother side-benefit of making the effort to say something nice is that it will usually put a smile on your face, which may be a pleasant change from your normal “at rest” face. It is quite natural that most people’s faces droop a bit into what might be interpreted as a frown by others. You aren’t really unhappy or trying to frown and probably don’t realize that your “at rest” face doesn’t look inviting or friendly. By conscientiously preparing to say something nice you will reflexively put a little smile on your face, which will be a pleasant change for those that you meet.

So, go out there today prepared to say something nice to those that you meet. You will make it a much more pleasant day for them and I think you’ll find that you have a much more pleasant day, too. Bye the way; you look great today; have you been losing weight; is that a new hair style for you; where did you get that great outfit? I feel better already. How about you?