Are you all-in?

October 7, 2021

A couple of quotes that I picked up from the Jack’s Winning Words blog just seem to fit together this morning –

“Love is, or it ain’t.  Thin love ain’t love at all.  (Tori Morrison)

“Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief and there ain’t no neutral ground.” (Bob Dylan)

Jack used the first quote today and commented on recalling “thin soup” from his life during The Great Depression, which extra water was added to soup pots to thin out the soup and make it go farther. Thin love, or watered-down love, he opined is as unsatisfying as thin soup. The Dylan quote he used some time ago in another post and he commented on the inability to have partial faith in God.

It is not possible to say that you believe in and love God only some of the time. However, what sometimes happens those who believe, is that they get distracted and wander away from God from time to time. Jesus told a parable about sheep that occasionally wandered away from the flock and how the good shepherd searched for those sheep to bring them back into the flock.

The events of life can distract us and cause us to wander away from our faith. We may become too focused on success in our work life and begin to ignore both our family and our faith. Perhaps we get so wrapped up in the secular events of our family, like sports practices and games, that we abandon our churches and temporarily lose sight of our faith. In some cases of the loss of a loved one, we may become overwhelmed by grief or remorse or even anger and turn away from God. That is the “How could God let this happen” reaction to a personal tragedy.

But the words of Morrison and Dylan provide the answer to our questions and the relief of our pain. If you love God and believe in him, but have wandered off; let the good shepherd, Jesus, find you and lead you back to the flock. Just like in a poker game, you must play the hand that you’ve been dealt in life, so either fold (not a good option at all) or go all-in with your faith. There is no thin love for, or partial belief in, God; you either got it or you ain’t. If you got it, let Jesus find you through all of life’s challenges and lead you back to the flock.

Are you all-in?


Keep looking for the rainbows in life…

September 13, 2021

We tend to associate rainbows with the beautiful and positive things in life. Here are two quotes that I had in my collection of quotes about rainbows –

“If you want to see the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”  (Dolly Parton) Parton

“You’ll never find a rainbow if you are looking down” – Charlie Chaplin

Dolly reminds us that there will be hard times in life, but that there is often a rainbow at the end of each hardship. We must persist through the tough times to get to the good times. Having the attitude that you will get through whatever you are facing and continuing to look for the rainbow at the end is made easier if you recall the words “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

It is in that peace, just as in the calm after the storm, that you will often find the rainbow.

Chaplin’s quote reminds us to keep our heads up and not get down, during difficult times. If you walk through life with your head down, you will miss seeing the rainbows in your life. Always be looking for the good things in life (the rainbows) and you will find them. Ziggy Marley put it this way, “There’s a rainbow in the sky, all the time, don’t be blind.”

An even better approach to life was suggested by poet Maya Angelou – “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” Imagine how good it would feel to be the rainbow in someone else’s life. Keeping your head up will allow you to see those opportunities, too.

Yes, there will be rain in your life – failures or disappointments, setbacks and even the deaths of loved ones. However, if you keep the faith and keep your head up, there will be rainbows, too. Keep looking for those rainbows and keep being a rainbow to others.


What do you do with your failures?

July 9, 2021

I really don’t want to write about failures; but, rather, how you react when you have experienced a failure in your life. I found this quote that kind of sets the tone for this post…

I’ve observed that if individuals who prevail in a high competitive environment have any one thing in common besides success, it is failure — and their ability to overcome it.
– Bill Walsh, college and NFL football coach

Failures are an inevitable part of life, unless you never try anything, which would make your life really boring. Some people spend so much time worrying or planning for failure that they actually DO very little. Others develop a fatalistic outlook on life that almost assures the failures that they are confident are about to happen to them.

We don’t have to be highly competitive people in sports or in business to better position ourselves to deal with failures – to overcome them. Overcoming them, by the way, may not always mean continuing to try to do the same thing over an over until you succeed.  Sometimes overcoming a failure means learning and accepting that doing the thing that you failed at is not possible and deciding to try something different or a different approach towards the same goal.

Many people spend a lot of time following a failure trying to find something or someone else to blame. That is basically a denial of personal responsibility for the failure or a way to refuse to accept that the failure happened. Some people retreat into a “poor me” response and try to find comfort in the thoughts that the whole world is somehow against their success. They make up conspiracy theories to explain their failures.

A key word in Walsh’s quote is “prevail”. One dictionary definition of the word prevail, when used as a verb isprove more powerful than opposing forces”.

How does one prevail and prove more powerful than whatever failure the opposing forces have caused? One can begin by not allowing the failure to extinguish hope. Then you can turn that failure into a learning experience that will help guide a future attempt at success. Instead of spending time asking who or what caused this failure, instead ask, “what can I learn from this and what can I do differently in the future to avoid another failure like this one”. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, turn your energy towards planning a better future attempt or perhaps even a different thing to attempt. Doing that requires two things – letting go of the past (the failure) and continued hope for the future.

I’ve posted here a few times about the intertwined impacts of faith and hope in our lives. Whether hope precedes faith or faith is the bedrock upon which hope is built is a debatable topic. I choose to believe that having faith in God allows us to have hope in the face of our trials and failures in life. It is in that moment of surrender to God with the prayer, “not my will but thy will be done”, that hope is rekindled. It is that surety that God is with us that allows us to prove more powerful than opposing forces – to prevail.

So, what do you with your failures? If you take them to God in prayer, you will prevail. After all we have been told in Romans 8:31 – “If God is with us, who can be against us?”

Remember, however, to pray for the right thing: not that God make the challenge facing you disappear (God doesn’t work like that); but, rather, that God be with you and give you the strength and perseverance to prevail.

That’s what you can do to overcome your failures.


Don’t lose hope…keep the faith…

June 7, 2021

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”  (MLK Jr)

That was the quote used by Pastor Freed in today’s post to the blog, Jack’s Winning Words. It pairs nicely with a sign that I have in my yard right now – “Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.”

Hope and faith are often paired, and one could argue forever about which one comes first or which supports which. Does faith give us hope or does hope lead us to faith? I think that they are so intertwined that the one cannot exist without the other.

Life is filled with small and large disappointments or setbacks, yet a person of faith never loses hope for better days ahead. When faced with disappointments, we search for answers to the question – Why? – but a person of faith learns to accept what has happened, trusting, and accepting that it was God’s will and moving on.

The key to never losing hope in the future is found in the King quote about living with an audacious faith in the future. How can we have that audacious faith? The answer is that we have already been promised a future of everlasting life by Jesus. The trials and tribulations that we suffer here on earth pale in comparison to the promised eternity with God after life here.

The dictionary definition of audacious is bold, daring or fearless. In the context of the events of his day, I suspect that King’s quote was using the fearless definition. That is also a good definition to use for people of faith. Certainly, faith will not prevent the disappointments in life from happening; however, when the fear of death is replaced by faith in life everlasting, one can step into the future with a confident stride. One can audaciously look life in the eye and say, “bring it on”, I’m ready for you. You have faith in God and an unshakable hope for the future.

So, start each day by praying that God recharge your faith and renew your hope. Remind yourself that your faith has already cemented for you an infinite future with God, and you will see the trials and tribulations that you might face today within the proper context, and they will melt away. Hope is a great thing, but your faith is the greatest thing of all.

Be audacious in faith today.


Be a different person today…

April 24, 2021

A quote that I’ve kept around in my collection of quotes to write about seemed very appropriate today – “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” ― Lewis Carroll

Carroll was not thinking about the impact that the CORONA Virus pandemic would have on us all and certainly could not have foreseen the changes in us all caused by the George Floyd verdict; however, he puts in words a truth that many try to avoid accepting – there is no going back to the way it was, because we are all not the way that we were.

We hear a lot about “getting back to normal” when the virus pandemic is discussed, and it usually involves returning to the way things were before this all started. Yet, we know in our hearts that we can’t go back to the way things were. Just in the U.S. alone, we are missing almost 700,000 people that were there before all of this started, and over 3 million worldwide. That means there are over 3 million holes in “the way things were”; over 3 million opinions, actions and reactions missing from the way things were. We are all different people today because we are missing those people and our interactions with them.

You are a lot different if one of those missing people was a husband or wife, a parent or child, a relative or a close friend. Those holes loom larger as voids in the lives of those left behind. For those left behind, life is different today and they are different people today. There is no going back to the way it was for them.

We must all accept that there is no going back to the way is used to be and instead focus our energy on making the future look more like we would like it to be. We cannot change yesterday, but we still have time to influence tomorrow.

For a while, we must still observe the guidelines about wearing masks, washing our hands and social distancing. The pandemic isn’t over, yet; and, we must all get vaccinations. And, we can take steps to better control gun violence and we can do things to slow or reverse global warming. Those things have huge impacts on our lives, too. We can support police reforms and help in the fight against systemic racism and prejudice and hate of all types. In short, we can become different (better) people and not who we were yesterday or even today.

If you need a touchstone, something unchanging that you can cling to that is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow; look no further than to God and Jesus. We are told in the Bible

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)

AND

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Yes, we are all different today that we were yesterday; however, our faith can remain unchanged and that is a reassuring thing. Lean on your faith for the strength to get through this pandemic and to give you the resolve to move forward. We know that change is inevitable and that death is inevitable; however, we also know that death is not final and that gives us the hope and courage to face even that change.

From the shifting sands of uncertain change, climb on the solid rock of your faith and be safe. Be a different and better person today than you were yesterday.


It is all on where you focus…

April 5, 2021

“Focus upon an ocean of positives, not a puddle of negative” – as seen on a social media graphic post.

I get a daily graphic for social media posts to my Facebook real estate business page through my company. It’s helpful, because one cannot always think of something to post and certainly can’t always find a nice graphic to go with the thought. Today’s “quote” was on the graphic that I got this morning.

I was going to use the headline “Which you would rather dive into?” I think we’d all feel a bit safer and more comfortable taking a dive into the ocean rather than diving headfirst into a puddle. Yet, in life we may seem to be surrounded by puddles. The news media tends towards telling us all of the negative news of the day, because they think that we want to see and hear it, plus they think it “sells” and makes them more money. I wonder how a show called “The Nightly Good News” would fare?

Being surrounded by negative puddles means that we will occasionally step into one. We may not have dived in headfirst, but we still get wetted by negativity none the less. A key to not sitting in that puddle and wallowing in negativity and self pity, is to be more like a bungy jumper and bounce back before you hit bottom. The bungy cord that makes that happen and keeps you from becoming mired in negativity is your faith.

Faith takes our eyes off the negatives in life and refocuses them on the positives. We have just gone through the biggest refocus of all – Easter. Easter reassures us each year that we can take our minds off the puddle of death and focus instead on the ocean of everlasting life with Jesus. Easter shouts “He is risen!” and assures us that we will, too. Easter forces us to look away from His death on the cross and towards His resurrection and the promise of our own.

So, use the bungie cord of your faith to bounce back out of life’s puddles. Refocus your life around the positives. Easter is our ocean of positivity. Dive in! The water’s fine.


Seek and you will find…

March 28, 2021

A quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog that has been hanging around my saved quotes list for a few days just seemed to jump out this morning – “Take heed: you do not find what you do not seek.”  (English Proverb)

The title for this post comes from Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

The point of both is that you must take some action to find your faith. Just like the opposite of love is not hate, but rather indifference, the opposite of having faith is being complacent or indifferent. If one has no faith they likely also have no hope, since they have nothing to base that hope upon. Having faith and hope drives one into actions, in order to fulfill those hopes. Having neither faith or hope can immobilize one and lead to the spiral of depression.

Faith is often kindled by seeking to understand the meaning to life and to find a purpose in life. It does not take too long in the search for answers to those questions for one to arrive at the doorstep of faith. While man’s search for more and more knowledge about the world around him has created a huge pool of understanding of nature and the universe in which we exist, it always ends up with those unanswered questions. Even the worlds greatest scientists eventually arrive at the doorstep of faith and most choose to enter, as the answer to their search for understanding.

So, it is OK to ask the questions and to seek to understand the meaning of life. In fact, it is necessary because you will not find the answer unless you seek it. “It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most.” ― Patrick Rothfuss

So, do not be indifferent to the question of the meaning of life, but also do not be afraid of the answer. Knock on the door of faith and it shall be opened to you, for Matthew 7:8 tells us – “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

You might object that faith is not the only possible answer to that question.  I would submit that man has been seeking that answer for thousands of years and no matter how far afield he ranges for answers and no matter how much knowledge he has accumulated about other things, the road always leads back to the door of faith. Without faith, there is no answer and that is a very unsatisfactory ending to the search indeed.

Knock on faith’s door today. It shall be opened to you.


Be a magician today…

March 18, 2021

From my favorite source of quotes, Jack’s Winning Words, comes today’s thought provoker – “The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.”  (Josiyah Martin)

So, why are new beginnings so magical? I think it is because they rekindle hope and hope is a powerful elixir indeed.

New beginning usually occur right after something has ended, perhaps something that ended badly or maybe just in disappointment. After those few moments of admission that all hope was lost for the old, new hope springs to life for the new and a new focus upon that hope energizes us to move forward again.

Sometimes it is not that hope was lost or that defeat was admitted; but, rather, that hope was temporarily forgotten or was lost in the loud din of day-to-day life. Out faith and the hope that comes with it can be like that – drowned out and forgotten in our focus upon our daily lives. We become so focused upon monetary success that we let our faith slide into the background. We fixate upon the here and now and forget about the rest of eternity. The old saying “the Devil is in the details” is perhaps talking of us focusing too much on the mundane details of life and not enough on the bigger picture – not enough on God.

We can correct that by treating each day as a new beginning and pausing each morning to thank God for the new chance to do better each day. Certainly, we have to put in the effort to maintain our jobs and provide for our needs and that of our families; however, we can also renew the hope that our faith provides and rededicate ourselves to doing the good which that faith requires. With each new day, each new beginning, we will find renewed hope. Acting upon that hope, we will provide the magic in the lives of others and that is the most powerful thing of all.

So, take some time each morning to stoke the fires of your faith and rekindle your hope, so that you can go out and perform magic all day long. The world is full of people who have lost hope. Give them some of yours and make the world a better place for all.

Make each day a new beginning and fill it with hope.

Be a magician today!


It’s a personal thing…

March 3, 2021

Today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this quote –  “I can explain it to you, but I can’t comprehend it for you.”  (Edward Koch) 

There is a tendency to immediately substitute the word “understand” for the word “comprehend” in that sentence, but that isn’t really what the sentence is saying. It is different to comprehend something that just to understand it.

One way that the Webster’s Dictionary defines “comprehend” is –

1: to grasp the nature, significance, or meaning of

In fact, even most dictionaries use the word understand within the definition of comprehend. Koch’s quote actually is right on as to the personal nature of comprehension. One can understand something at an intellectual level without really comprehending it, just as one can comprehend something without having to understanding it.  

Understanding is a rather emotionless term that points at how things fit into our minds and memories – what category will this be filed under in my mind and how might this knowledge be used and applied in the future?

Comprehending, on the other hand, I think, leads to changes in how one perceives and reacts to the world around them. It is a very personal thing, involving how you grasp or perceive the things that you encounter.  One does not so much understand love as to comprehend it for themselves.  The same is true of prejudice or hate. You would be hard pressed to understand what causes them in you, but you can comprehend them as being there.

Ones faith is another thing that cannot really be understood, but which is comprehensible. How do you understand or explain your belief in a God who cannot be seen or heard, but whom you comprehend is always there with you? It’s a personal thing.

So, take a moment during the day to comprehend God. Don’t try to understand God, you really can’t; however, you can grasp the nature, significance and meaning of God in your life – you can comprehend. For me, that’s enough. I will not worry about understanding God, so long as I comprehend Him in my life.

How about you? Do you comprehend?

Sorry, I can’t help you with that. It’s a personal thing.


Know it or believe it…just do something with it.

February 27, 2021

A quote from an unknown source was used by Pastor Freed in one of his recent posts to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“It’s not what you know, but what you do with what you know.”  (Unknown)

There’s certainly a whole riff that could be written about putting your knowledge to use, but when I saw that quote I mentally substituted the word “believe” for the word “know” and thought about what it is that I can do to turn my beliefs, my faith, into action. What “something” can I do with it.

One does not have to stand on soap box on a street corner preaching to no one in particular to demonstrate and live their faith. In fact, I think many of those who do that are still trying to convince themselves of their beliefs as much as anything. How many times have we seen stories of the famous TV evangelists being carted off to jail or disgraced in public for their actions and not their words?

The easiest way to put your faith into action and perhaps influence others to the same path is to live your life as an example of that faith. Not judging others (lest you be judged), being kind and caring and doing the right things when faced with decisions. On the surface, that may seem to be a rather off-handed way of looking at things, but it requires a conscious effort to think about your decisions in the light of your faith.

Many people used to wear those little rubber or metal bands with WWJD embossed or printed on them – What Would Jesus Do. That was a great memory device that caused one to stop and think before acting. I don’t see many of those wrist bands around anymore, but that thought and that pause to think is needed more now than ever.

Faith is just one of the touchstones available to us for grounding our thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, there are also things like prejudice, hate and indifference available as alternative approaches to decision making. The appeal of these alternatives is most often that they are easier to implement than the love, caring and acceptance of others that faith requires. It is easier to turn one’s back on the poor, homeless beggar than to take the time to help. It is easier to dismiss the person of different color or appearance out of prejudice than to take the time to get to know them. Look at your wrist. WWJD?

So, it is not enough to just profess your faith, one must put that faith into action, to let it influence and lead your actions – to do something with it. The “something” that your faith drives you to do does not always have to involve dramatic actions, but it should always be actions that demonstrate the answer to the question that you stopped and ask yourself.  WWJD? You don’t need to wear a bracelet with that question on it; just keep that question rattling around in the back of your mind as you go through your day and let it stop you so that you can think about the answer to that question.

Perhaps one can add to their morning prayers a simple thought – “Lord let me live my life today to reflect your glory in the decisions that I make.” Then ask yourself WWJD and get on with your day.

Have a great day of demonstrating your faith through the living of your life. Keep looking at your wrist and asking the question. WWJD?