Conquering fear with faith…

July 19, 2017

Fear of the unknown is at the root of most of the fears that seek to control us. We don’t do things that we may wish to do because we are fearful of some unknown (and unknowable) outcome. We don’t reach out to others because we fear an unknown outcome, perhaps rejection or worse. We don’t stretch ourselves and go for that new jobtimid or try that new sport because we don’t know enough about them and fear the consequences of those unknowns.

Perhaps no unknown is more feared than death. We think about it, but we can’t imagine what it will be like and what, if anything, comes after death. That is where faith comes in. Faith in God and His son Jesus is the only real option that you have when facing death. Jesus promised us life after death when he said “Where I go there you will be also” and many other comforting passages from the Bible. Having faith can help you conquer many fears while you are here on earth; however, the biggest fear that faith can help you conquer is the fear of death.

Our human imaginations help us find solutions to many of the problems that we VR2encounter in life; however, our imaginations at too often limited by our understanding of the physical world around us and the knowledge that we might have accumulated in life. We tend to frame things, including our ability to imagine life after death in very restrictive human terms. Some religions have very elaborate descriptions of life after death that imagine things almost completely in normal human terms. Other religions define the afterlife in terms that not even they understand. Even Christian religion uses descriptions of the afterlife in heaven that the common man might relate to – a “house with many rooms”; however, it is also alluded to a “peace that passes all understanding”.

As humans we tend to define what we hope heaven is like in terms that we can relate to. We hope to see loved ones there. We hope that our past pets might be there also. We depict people in white robes with wings and halos. We see it as a bright light at the endhelping hands of a tunnel. We do all that we can to imagine it as something warm and bright and comfortable, because we are trying to overcome our fear of the unknown. If any and all of that makes you feel better about it, imagine away; however, know that it is your faith that there is a life after death, that you will be with Jesus in His Father’s House and that your earthly fears and concerns and pains will all drop away.

What will it be like? No one can know until they get there, but we can be sure in our faith that it will be wonderful. Let your anticipation of what is to come next become stronger than your fear of the transition to that next life. That is called faith and faith conquers fear every time.

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Be the person that you would like to be…

March 13, 2017

I attended a very good real estate training session last week, put on my Steve Woodruff of The Woodruff Group. Steve is a well-known in the real estate world as a great motivational speaker and trainer. I came away with enough sayings from that session to last me a long time here, especially when I combine them with things that I get from Jack Freed in his blog Jack’s Winning Words.

One of the first good quotes from Steve was this one – “How would the person that I would like to be do what I’m about to do?” Some might try to substitute the little phrase WWJD“What would Jesus do?”, but I submit that doing so abstracts the process too much. These are our decisions to make and it is up to us to make them. Perhaps a better way to phrase that last saying might be to ask yourself, “What would a person who follows the teachings of Jesus do?” That at least brings us full-circle back to thinking about the person that we’d like to be – a person who follows the teachings of Jesus.

Bringing up thinking leads us to a little quote from Jack’s blog –

“Many problems in life are caused because we act without thinking or because we think without acting.”  (Unknown)

How often do we see an injustice or someone in need and just pass the situation by, thinking that we don’t have time for that right now?  That leads to the second quote from Jack’s blog –

“How soon, not now, becomes never!” – Martin Luther

Perhaps the situation is one that requires that you break away a bit from the norm and gopredjuices against the stream of what appears to be commonly accepted practice. That requires courage and a strong belief that what you are about to do is the right thing, the thing that the person that you wish to be would do. Steve had a great quote for that –

“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.” – Rollo May

It takes courage to stand up for the person being bullied. It takes courage to befriend the person in your class who is “different”. It takes courage to stop hiding in the closet and come out and live the life that you were born to live. It takes courage to admit that you need help and seek it. It takes courage to stand on the opposite side of the police line and courageprotest the treatment of people of color or ethnicity. It takes courage to stand up and say that I will not be treated like an object anymore or take any more of your abuse. It takes courage to decide that you are not going to continue to “go along to get along” anymore. Be the person that you would like to be and act now, before “not now” becomes never in your life.

Many people like to play the role of the victim. They are constantly complaining about what others have done to them or done that holds them back. Steve had a great quote for that, too.

Do not complain about what you permit – Anon

I found a great follow-on to that quote – No one can “walk all over you” unless you lay down and let them. – Maria Moore

The point to both quotes is that you control what happens to you – the situations that you life-choicesget yourself into and the reactions that you have to them. Ask yourself how the person that you would like to be would act and react in those situations. Would that person show courage or cowardice? Would that person act without thinking or think about it without acting and perhaps let not now become never?

A great way to start off this week is to take a moment before you dive into your normal workday life and think about another short series of quotes from Steve Woodruff –

Success is a choice not a circumstance – make the choice and act upon it

Take Responsibility – It’s your life and no one else can live it for you and make the decisions for you unless you lay down and let then walk over you

Attack your Fears – Fears, uncertainty and doubts are just temporary roadblocks that life throws up in front of us. Do not let them stop you. Attacked them, overcome them and move on.

Invent your Future – Become that person that you would like to be and you will have the life that you’ve dreamed of living.

Have a great week ahead.

 


Now more than ever…

November 22, 2016

“Cast all your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”  (1 Peter 5:17) – from a post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time ago.

Anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”

The recent election has caused a great deal of anxiety among people who voted for Hillary winner-loserClinton and against Donald Trump. That anxiety is driven by fears that President-Elect Trump will actually carry out some of the more outrageous promises that he made while campaigning, concerning things like building a wall at our southern border and deporting illegal aliens or taking harsh and discriminatory measures against various ethnic or religious groups. There would have been a similar anxiety had Hillary won from those who saw her as a threat to their right to own weapons or who fear more and bigger government interference in their daily lives. Those on both sides should step back and remember Peter’s advice – “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

There is a great deal of irrationality in both of those views. While a modern President can impact our lives in many ways, our governmental system does not allow for him/her to run roughshod over the will of the people or even that of the minority. Having rebelled against an onerous king, the founding fathers of America put enough checks and balances into the reality2system to insure that tyranny by a ruling leader would not be possible. Also at work here is the shift that President Obama has spoken about that occurs once one actually has to be the President, rather than just campaigning to be the President. We can see that already in Mr. Trump’s rapid backpedaling away from some of his more outrageous stated positions from his campaign. Some have called that being pragmatic, but perhaps the Lord is already at work and you can, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

If one lives long enough, one gets to see (and live through) the various swings of the political pendulum back and forth between the two major parties and their underlying philosophies on government. The earliest that I recall being actually aware of who was President and what they meant was during President Eisenhower’s terms in office; although I do vaguely recall early TV news reports of Margaret Truman playing a piano eisenhowerconcert for her family while in the White House. I do remember how the press seemed to cover every golf outing that President Eisenhower took and how he was called the “do nothing” president; even though he was the father of our modern Interstate system of highways and a bulwark against the spread of Communism after WW II. Eisenhower also created NASA in response to the launch of the Sputnik satellite by the USSR. He fought behind the scenes against Joe McCarthy and effectively ended McCarthyism. There were many who feared what would happen when Eisenhower was elected; but, also many who had faith enough to, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

I could go on to give examples of the anxieties caused by the elections of each of the Presidents since Eisenhower; but, here we are today, still anxious yet still hopeful. Things will change for a while as the pendulum prepares to swing back towards the other side. Perhaps it is at its furthest rightward point away from the center, but I suspect that this last election was actually a turning point and the momentum has already shifted back reality-checktowards the middle for the next few elections. Those most likely to be disappointed are not those who voted for the losing candidate, but those who voted for the winner, in hopes that all of their anger, hate and prejudices would be assuaged. For those who standing quivering in fear and anxiety at this turn of events, I can only offer the comfort of faith and ask them to, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

Now is not the time to abandon your faith; now is the time to find strength and comfort in it. Many may feel the same way they recalling feeling when they faced a bully at school or bully.pngat work. There is a lot of bluster and bravado from the winning side and some disappointment, whimpering and shame on the losing side. Both have already subsided as both now try to envision a future with this status quo. One side is focusing upon what they can actually do for the next four years and the other is deciding what they can actually prevent from happening in that same time period. The gridlock that is our Congressional arm of government has shifted from “prevent Obama from doing anything” to “prevent Trump from doing anything.” The Lord does work in mysterious ways, indeed. “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

In churches across the land the prayers remain the same – “Lord give our leaders the wisdom to lead us wisely and to do the right things” (or words to that effect). We haveman praying no power over what those leaders see as “the right things”, but God does. Now, more than ever, we need to trust in God to put into the hearts and minds of those in power the wisdom and compassion to do the right things. So pray often and pray hard for God to intervene to make the right things happen; and, pray with the conviction that you can, “Cast your anxiety on the Lord, for He cares about you.”

Have a great and anxiety-free week ahead.


Don’t let an illusion block you…

March 3, 2016

“Life is full of obstacle illusions.”  (Grant Frazier) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.

I love this little quote. It reminds me of something that Malaprop Man would say in the Frank and Ernest newspaper cartoon stip. It also sounds like something that Yogi Berra might have said. It is so appropriate to discuss, because so many obstacles in our lives are just illusions; figments of our own imaginations. In cases involving egomaniacs and self-centered narcissistic people, the quote might be changed to read “Life is full of obstacle delusions.”

I think the point of Frazier’s quote is that too many of the things that we see as obstacles are actually figments of our own imagination – illusions. The human mind is a wonderful thing, capable of figuring out and finding solutions for complex situations that defy duplication by man-made alternatives like robots or artificial intelligence. It is also capable of conjuring up fears and scenarios for failure, however unlikely, that give us roadblockspause before acting. We can create our own roadblocks to success in our minds – obstacle illusions.

I think the key to making sure that you don’t get blocked in life by obstacle illusions is to develop a quick mental routine to use when confronted by what appears to be an obstacle. If you ever watched golf on TV (and this applies to other sports, but is just not as obvious as it is in golf) you’ll notice that the gold pros have routines that they faithfully go through before each shot or putt. They are analyzing and visualizing the shot or putt in their minds and recalling the muscle skills that they have developed over hours and hours of practice. They are essentially taking the time to bring to bear on the situation at hand all of the knowledge, experience and best practices that they have trained for to get to that point. They are eliminating the obstacle illusions that might otherwise be in the shot or putt by visualizing a successful outcome and then trying to execute that vision.

We can all do the same thing in our daily lives. Instead of focusing upon the obstacles that we think we see to our success, if we concentrate instead on using our knowledge and experience to visualize a path to success, we might find that many of the obstacle illusions that we thought were blocking our way just evaporate back into the thin air from which our imaginations conjured them. Our focus on the positive things that we need to do to achieve success doesn’t allow us the idle time to imagine every possible way that we could fail.

Sometimes the obstacle illusions that we see ahead of us prevent us from even starting; wemind at work are frozen by the fear of failure. Many times those are fears of things that have no chance of happening anywhere other than in our minds. We may talk ourselves out of even trying, or let the first set-back stop us from continuing to try. Justr remember a quote by that great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar – “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” So, don’t let obstacle illusions prevent you from starting.

Don’t let an obstacle illusion block you from greatness.


Battling the enemies within…

October 21, 2015

Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer –  Sun Tzu

The attribution for that that little phrase is in some dispute. It is attributed by some to Sun Tzu in his book The Art of War and by some due to a bad translation of the letters of Machiavelli. Some even attribute it to the movie The Godfather. Wherever it’s from, I’d like to focus on a slightly different look at the enemy – the enemy within.

 “It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.”  (Sally Kempton)

In this little saying it is impossible not to keep the enemy close because the enemy is already in our heads, or at least has outposts there. What does that mean? Let’s assume for the moment that the enemies that you are trying to fight are prejudices or bigotry or any other pre-conceived notions about things that might lead you in a direction that you really don’t want to go.

How did the enemy, which rears its ugly head from time to time in your thoughts, get an outpost in your head?predjuices For most of us the answer lies in our childhood, in our homes and how we were raised. For those of us who are old enough to have lived through the racial ugliness of the mid-twentieth Century (or even earlier), you know that those outposts are there. They were planted by usage in the language of the time of derogatory terms that are politically incorrect today. But it wasn’t just the language. Also planted in those outposts were stereotypes, prejudices, and, in some cases, hatred. Knowing that they are there keeps one on high alert to not let those enemies escape the outpost and get out into your speech and your actions. These days there are new negative outposts being planted in our minds about such things as homophobia, stereotypes about recent immigrants or refugees, prejudices about religious preferences and more.

Other outposts which harbor our enemies within have other labels – fear, uncertainty, doubts, and anxiety. Many afraidof these outposts have names ending in phobia. Some phobia’s have such strong footholds in our minds that they can become debilitating. There are thousands of phobias that people might experience. According to the Web site www.fearof.net, the top 10 phobias for 2015 are these:

  1. Arachnophobia – The fear of spiders
  2. Ophidiophobia – The fear of snakes
  3. Acrophobia – The fear of heights
  4. Agoraphobia – The fear of open or crowded spaces
  5. Cynophobia – The fear of dogs
  6. Astraphobia – The fear of thunder and lightning
  7. Claustrophobia – The fear of small spaces
  8. Mysophobia – The fear of germs
  9. Aerophobia – The fear of flying
  10. Trypophobia – The fear of holes

There’s probably something on that list that you can relate to in your own life. I know that a couple make me squirm.

As debilitating as phobias can be the outposts in our minds that can lead us into depression are worse because they actually turn us against ourselves. We may have funny comedy skits about a phrase like “I’m not worthy”; but, that phrase, and the enemy outpost in the minds of many,  lead them to dark places. Feelings of being exclusionunloved, unwanted, unworthy can be as debilitating as any phobia. The writings of too many recent serial killers point to the enemies within those outposts taking over and leading the person to take actions that we cannot even fathom. From the outside we ask, “How could they do that?” From the inside the answer too often is, “I had to.” The enemy within took over from the outposts in their heads and made them outcasts in their own minds.

What can we do to help ourselves and others fight off or keep under control these enemies within? Logic and rational thought can only take us so far. I suggest that we keep our friends just as close by giving them outposts in our heads, too. Just as you can have negative or ugly outposts in your head as the result of exposure to teachings and events, you can plant the good things to balance your life out by embracing faith and givinghand reaching for heaven outposts to the teachings of the Bible. You can start small and simply by giving an outpost to the Ten Commandments. You can build an outpost for The Lord’s Prayer and raise the flag over another outpost for The Apostles Creed. Add to that outposts for the messages that you receive when you read the Bible or pray and soon you will find that the enemies that have outposts in your head will keep hunkered down in the holes where they live, because they cannot stand up to the light of the Son.

As I’ve mentioned here before in several posts, one of the most important steps that one can take is to let go of the need to feel in control of everything. The frustration and sense of defeat that comes from not being in control of events in your life can become overwhelming. Let it go. Use the simple little prayer that I’ve offered up here several times – “Not my will; but, thy will be done.” You aren’t giving up. You can praying in different religionskeep trying; but realize that any and all outcomes must be accepted. It’s not your fault. I guess that makes the acceptance of God’s will the ultimate No Fault Insurance policy. Blast that over the outposts of evil that may lurk in your mind and those thoughts will keep their heads down where they belong.

Have a great day and keep building good outposts in your head.


Take your shots today…

September 14, 2015

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky (as seen on a motivational site, while looking for something else). Great athletes are often the source of great motivational quotes.

hockey shotLife is full of opportunities for us all to take a shot at greatness, or at least at betterment. Many of us let those opportunities pass us by because of some fear, usually the fear of failure. We might think, if I don’t try I won’t have to deal with failure. How pathetic is that? Gretzky’s quote is certainly true if that is your philosophy of life.

A life lived without any failures is a boring life indeed; because it is usually a life lived without trying. It results in an old age full of coulda, woulda, shoulda’s, regrets and leaves little to be remembered by.

So, when those shots come up (and they do come up every day) to do something different, something bold, something that is potentially life changing, take you shot. You may fail, but at least you will have tried and perhaps you’ll even learn something about life and about yourself. Maybe you’ll succeed and then you’ll be someplaceask for dance where you’ve never been before, with great new adventures ahead of you, perhaps with new friends that you finally took the opportunity to talk to, maybe with a date that you never thought that you’d get or a new job that you thought was out of reach. You’ll never know if you don’t take your shot. Another great athlete put it this way –

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

So, take your shots today. Look for life’s opportunities; not to avoid them, but to take advantage of them. There is great joy in the successes that you may achieve and even a sense of satisfaction that you can get out of the failures that you will have because at least you tried.

Take your shots today…


What we have here is a failure to change….

May 11, 2015

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be. – John Wooden

There seems to be quite a bit of failure to recognize changes in our society lately, especially in Washington and various state legislative bodies, as they deny and try to legislate against the changes taking place. Perhaps these are really attempts to hold back change, which is also doomed to failure.

afraidChange is very scary to many and confusing to others. Things aren’t as they always have been and that is frightening. Anxieties are fueled not by facts; but, rather, by fears of the unknown. After all, THEY are not like US; and that can’t be good, can it? Their values don’t match OUR values, so they must be wrong, because we know that we are right; RIGHT?

It’s all very vexing, this change stuff. So, the thought process might be verbalized like this – “Maybe there’s a way to hold back change. Maybe if I make change illegal here it will go away. At least that’s my theory. Maybe I can pass laws that make people behave the way the WE behave; or at least I can make it illegal not to behave the way that WE behave. If that doesn’t work I’ll make sure that at least THEY don’t get the same rights and privileges that people who behave like WE do get. That’s OK because we’re in the right; RIGHT? After all WE have GOD on our side; Right? Here, let me show you passages in MY Bible that say that WE are right and THEY are wrong. Shame on THEM; Right? I feel better, now.”

The good news is that these hypocrites are now in the minority. Even though they currently hold economic and political power;  in the long run, there is no way that they can gerrymander the political maps enough to hold on to that power for much longer. The economic power issue will take longer, but they too will change. They have failed to change and theydinosaur are failing. They are in the process of fighting a rear guard action to hold off change for as long as they can; but it is a losing battle. Change is inevitable and unrelenting and patient enough to outlast these holdouts. They will join the dinosaurs as relics of our past.

Rather than spend time searching for Biblical passages that seem to justify their position, maybe they can find a way to embrace the overall messages about love for neighbor and inclusion in God’s kingdom that was the real intent in those same Bibles. Finding a way to embrace change and to value differences would seem to be a much better use of everyone’s time.

As for those who continue to resist change, rail against it and pass laws to stop it; we should continue to try to help them to get over their fears and see the benefits for all of a more diverse and inclusive society. We need not be angry at them (that is a waste of our energy) nor pity them (that is an empty emotion); but rather keep reaching out them with love and helping handsunderstanding. They are afraid of the change and we need to help them get over that fear. Not making that effort and leaving them behind would constitute a failure on our part. Remember to love thy neighbor as yourself, even if he is currently ranting against you. You must continue to reach out to the hands that have been slapping your hands and help them see that they need not be afraid of change.

Have great day and a great week ahead.