What fountain are you drinking from?

May 17, 2021

In his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, today, Paster Freed used this quote – “Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge; others just gargle.”  (Robert Anthony)

The today’s world of rampant misinformation and even disinformation, there are other fountains to drink from and many have chosen those founts of “knowledge”.

It is disturbing to think that there are forces (nations) at work trying to feed us bad information and conspiracy theories as a means of causing confusion and chaos, thus weakening us as an adversary. Yet sufficient evidence exists that Russia, China and Iran, just to name a few, have state sponsored disinformation campaigns under way all of the time aimed primarily at the United States. Their constant efforts at fomenting unrest have been more successful than they probably hoped and more effective than we may have believed was possible.

These disinformation spreaders have even succeeded recently is stirring up trouble for the very people who have dedicated themselves to the truth – the fact checkers. The fact that they can have their toadies in America proposing laws that would hinder the efforts to check for the truth is truly disturbing, yet we have bills being introduced in our own state legislature designed to make checking on the fact and presenting the truth harder. It is ironic that the argument for these laws is that facts interfere with the “rights” of the spreaders of misinformation to free speech – to be free to spread lies without being confronted with the truth. Yet that is the defense of their actions. Those same people would stifle or hinder the rights of the fact checkers to refute those lies.

But, back to us. What fountain do you drink from? Do you drink in deeply from the fountain of knowledge, seeking to understand and assimilate knew knowledge and add it to your store of wisdom? Or maybe you just gargle with new knowledge, content to have a temporary insight and then spit it out, essentially learning nothing from it. It is interesting that the very things that put instant knowledge at our fingertips, like the internet, social media and Google, also encourage us to accept knowledge in sound bites and short TikTok videos (or maybe Tweets) and then discard them without further thought or consideration about where they fit in our life’s storehouse of knowledge. Those quick tidbits of “knowledge” do not become wisdom because they are gone before they can be evaluated and find their proper place in our minds. We are quickly on to the next shiny new Tweet or post.

Pastor Freed mentioned in his blog post that he believes that he was just gargling with knowledge before he made the connection between religion and philosophy while in college. I, too, remember that college was the place where I first started having a deeper understanding of things and began drinking in knowledge rather than just gargling with it. Do you remember when that happened in your life? Perhaps you are still awaiting that “Aha” moment. In that moment, the taste from the fountains of misinformation and disinformation will turn bitter in your mouth and seeking the truth, so that you can add it to your knowledge will become a life goal.

Before you start out today and this week, take a moment to visit one of the best fountains of knowledge – the Bible. In it you will find the answers to many of the questions that may have been bothering you and some good advice on living. The information and knowledge that you find there provide a good foundation upon which to build the wisdom that will serve you well in life. It will also equip you to deal with the Devil and his minions in the disinformation world and allow you to better know the truth when you see it.  In the Bible we read –

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

What fountain are you drinking from? Try drinking in the knowledge from the Bible first and much of the rest will fall into place.

Slay your dragons…

May 8, 2021

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”― Neil Gaiman

Fairy tales exist alongside hopes and dreams in our minds. Like parables in the Bible, many fairy tales are stories that make a point, sometimes about good defeating evil, but also about innocence and honesty winning out over guile and cheating.

As we grow older the wonder that we found in fairy tales might be replaced by our hopes and dreams. For some, the fairy tales just dim and become memories, replaced by cynicism. That cynicism becomes their new dragon, and they might find it hard to defeat.

Perhaps that is because they are reading the wrong book now. The fairy tales that were read to us or that we read as children from books fade once those books are put away. Instead of books of fairy tales, we may watch the news or read the newspapers. Perhaps we still read books, but they are now lengthy and complex stories, either true or made up. In either case they are usually set in the real world and many times have unhappy endings.

There is a book that one can read that still carries a message of hope and a happy ending – the Bible. The Bible tells the story of the biggest defeat of a dragon of all time – the defeat of death. One can argue about the historical accuracy of events that are chronicled in the Bible, but that is not the point of it. The Bible tells us stories meant to help us understand and accept God and the gift of eternal life that He had given us.

The dragon of death will never go away, but it also will not defeat us. Death is but one dragon that we might face in our lives. There are dragons of hopelessness or maybe dependency and feeling helpless. Sometimes the dragon tries to imprison us in a dungeon of despair.  Whatever your dragon, just imagine yourself standing there in a full suit of armor ready to do battle.  Where will you get the armor? The Bible tells us  in Ephesians 6 –

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Just ask God for his help and then imagine suiting up in God’s armor – nothing can touch you, not even death.

So, suit up and go out and slay your dragons. Put on God’s armor and nothing can defeat you.

Find your way to peace in the present

September 21, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this little saying that he saw on a Burger King crown –  “No one’s happy all the time…and that’s OK.” 

Jack must have seen that crown in May of this year, when Mental Health Month was celebrated in the United States. We see mental health advice or tips in many places, mostly in cheery little messages that are trying to chase the blues away. It is more realistic to say, as Burger King did, that we all have ups and downs and that it is OK to be down a little, so long as you don’t allow yourself to spiral all the way down into depression. In fact, poking a little fun at being down can often help relieve some of the tension that comes with being down.

A down feeling can result from many causes – a failure or defeat at work, the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship and many other causes. In most cases the thing that you are down about was always out of your ability to control, but was all have a tendency to think that we could have done something different to effect the outcome and change history – we get down on ourselves.

That feeling of guilt stems from the thoughts that we could have done something different noticed something sooner or made a different choice or decision. Those thoughts can keep us awake at night going over and over the scenarios in our minds that will forever remained as options that we did not choose.

Sometimes our down mood is not about the past, but about the future – we play out option after option in our mind, fearing that the worst that we can imagine is going to happen. We spend restless nights in mental anguish fearing things that will never happen.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu had this bit of philosophical advice –

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Lao-Tzu  was a Chinese philosopher believed to have lived in the 6th Century BC and is credited with founding the philosophical system of Taoism, which stresses being in harmony with nature.

The best way that one can be at peace in the present is be at peace with God. Accept that God’s will has been done in the past and trust that it will be done in the future. Rather than lament what is past or fear what is in the future, marvel at what God is unfolding for you in the present.

Focus your attention on the wonderful people that he is causing to cross your path, so that you might experience them. Become more aware of, and thankful for, the wonders of nature that God has put all around you. Be thankful for the challenges that God is presenting to you to keep your life interesting. Make use of your time to learn and to increase your knowledge. Put 100% of your mental and physical effort into the moment at hand, rather than wasting either on things that are past or which may be in the future. 

Many find the Bible to be the best guide book for life and in the Bible we find these words –

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” –  John 14:27

Find your way to peace in the present.

What’s in your anti-stress kit?

December 15, 2016

Recently Jack Freed had this post on his blog, Jacks Winning Words

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”  (Lily Tomlin)  In a devotional book I use, an anti-stressJack Freed kit is described for those who need “relief.”  It contains a rubber band (be flexible), a candy kiss (everyone needs a kiss–encouragement), a life-saver (be a helper), an eraser (we all make mistakes) and a toothpick (pick out the good things in others and in yourself).  Other stress relievers: Eat wisely, breathe deeply, shake and dance…and watch TV (not the news).    😉  Jack

 We all need an anti-stress kit of our own; some things relieve stress just by looking at them or maybe doing them. Some things help us break the hold of stress on our lives, if only for a moment. I have posted here before that I often make a funny face in the mirror in the morning while getting ready for the day as a way to start off the day in a better, less serious and less stressful way. Jack’s advice that adds dance to the anti-stress Snoopy joykit reminds me of Snoopy of the Peanuts cartoon. Snoopy often would break into his care-free happy dance, much to the chagrin of Lucy. Eventually his infectious joy would crack even her facade of stressful seriousness. We all need more Snoopy-like happy dancing in our lives.

What makes you forget about the stress of the day and be happy and maybe break into your happy dance? I find that my two dogs help me a lot. It’s hard to remain grumpy and stressed out when they come bounding at me just trying to share their unconditional love as I return from work. We go on four walks a day and those turn out to be four of the most peaceful and stress free times of my day. Maybe a pet is in your kit.

Other than the items mentioned above, what can you think of that might make it into an anti-stress kit? I might  include:

  • One of those little teddy bears that have “I am loved” stitched onto their little sweaters. It forces us to think of those we love who also love us, no matter what.
  • A favorite love song or the “our song” that you and a loved one share
  • Your favorite pair of worn old jeans. Nothing disassociates you from the stress of the business world like getting home and putting on your old jeans (an maybe having a glass of wine, too).
  • A hug – I’m not sure how you would put a hug in your kit – maybe just a little sign that says “go hug somebody.”
  • A quiet corner somewhere. Stress seems to make us hyper-sensitive to the noises and chatter going on all around us and a quiet place allows us escape the din and relax a bit.
  • A time out timer. Maybe it would help to give yourself a 5-10 minute time out by using one of those little timer gadgets that you can get for almost nothing these days. A key to heading Lilly Tomlin’s advice from Jack’s blog post is to stop, take some deep breaths and then to proceed more slowly.

So, what would be in your anti-stress kit?

There’s one item not mentioned above that is really like the Penicillin of stress relief and that is the Bible. Most of the things mentioned above just take your mind off the stress and hold it at bay for a while. Reading the Bible can actually destroy the stress by putting the things that cause that stress into the right perspective and providing the reassurance that no matter what, it’s going to be OK.

Reading the Bible allows you to get to that place where you off-load the stress to God. Youreading-bible may find comfort in the words of Philippians 4:6-7 – “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.” If you can get to that peace, you will realize that the stress is gone. So, make sure that a Bible is in your stress relief kit.

Make your own little stress-buster kit and keep it with you, so that you can drag out the list when you need it and think about the things that make you happy. Use your anti-stress kit and have a wonderful and stress-free rest of the week.