It’s Sunday morning; time for…

July 9, 2017

How do you end that sentence? For all too many, the ending is Golf, a ball game, a soccer match, or some other recreational or sporting activity. For fewer and fewer the ending is “church”. I read recently that in America 51% of adults claim to be religious but that on average less than 20% of the people regularly attend church services on Sunday mornings. Declining attendance could be blamed on many things, but the one that I find most alarming is the trend over the last few years for organized youth activities like baseball, soccer, and hockey to view Sunday mornings as prime game or practice time. The result is whole families missing church because they have to be at a practice or a game during the times that churches are holding services.

I remember times when many states had what were called “blue laws” that required that all stores be closed on Sundays and no alcoholic beverages cold be sold, so that people could go to church. They were gradually weakened or abandoned, which was probably a good thing, but it started the process of viewing Sundays differently and with less emphasis on God and church. Now Sunday’s are all about almost anything else than going to church – sports, shopping, entertainment. There are 168 hours in each week and all that God asks for is that you take one of those hours to go to church and say thanks, by worshiping Him.  Call me old fashion; but, that doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

Parents are expected to try to give their children opportunities in things like sports, but they should also take seriously the need to teach their children about God and the practice of religion. It’s hard to do that if parents choose to put their child into sports that demand their time on Sunday mornings. Some parents push back and say that the church needs to adapt and offer services at more convenient times. To them I would say, “No; you need to get your priorities right.” It is not right to place the worship of God second to the playing of a game. What lesson is that teaching your children and bye the way, where were you during the church service? Both you and your child or worse for the decision to place God after your games or other distractions.

I’ll stop for now; but I won’t stop trying to get people back to the values that are really important in life and cajoling everyone to make better decisions about how to use their time on Sunday mornings. You won’t find God sitting in the bleachers next to you at your child’s game.


Life is lived somewhere in between…

June 22, 2017

“Mountaintops inspire leaders, but valleys mature them.”  (Winston Churchill) – as seen on a recent post to the blog Jack’s Winning Words.

Life is full of ups and downs. We have times when we are viewing the world from the mountain peaks of a success and other times when the world looks pretty dark from the deep valley of a failure or disappointment. Usually, though, life is somewhere in between and perhaps not as memorable as the thoughts that we have from the mountains and the valleys of our lives.

For reasons that I can’t explain that thought also made me think of the song, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Their lyrics were about love and begin with the one that you love. I suspect that there could have been cover of that song by God, because there is nothing that can keep God from your life and Hreaching goale is sure handy to have around when you enter one of life’s valleys. Have you also noticed how many great athletes take the time to thank God right after they have reached a sports mountain top – a home run, a touchdown or a goal.

But, as the headline for today’s post says, life is mostly lived in between the mountain tops and the valleys. It is lived on a fairly level plain, with little of the drama of the mountain top or valley experiences. It is easy todepression3 become complacent in everyday life and forget to call on God or to thanks Him for the everyday small things that He does for us. I catch myself every now and then saying something like, “Boy I got lucky with that” or maybe “Wow I’m glad that didn’t happen.”  Then I stop and think about it and take an opportunity to thanks God for either my good fortune or for protecting me from a misfortune.

So, as we live our boring little, somewhere-in-the-middle, everyday lives; let’s not forget to thank God for being with us in the middle as well as when we need him at the bottom right-and-wrongin our valleys or thank Him at the top of one of our mountains. Personally, I don’t usually start the day asking God for anything in particular, but I do quite often just say,” God, help me make good decisions today.” Really what more can you ask for?

I’ll see you somewhere in between.


In God We Trust…

May 26, 2017

Seen on a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog was this saying that Jack said he saw on a protest sign somewhere – “In God we trust; everyone else must cite their data.” 

We live in an era were claims of “fake news” shake our confidence in what we see, hear and read. It is also an era where the so-called “Scientific Method” is under constant attack from those who choose not to believe the data cited by scientists on a variety of In God We Trust on Dollartopics from global warming to the lunar landings. Yet we still print “In God We Trust” on all of our money and pay at least lip service to that motto.

What I think the protest sign was trying to convey is that our belief in God marks the line between things that we say (or think) that we can prove using what is called the scientific method of devising tests in order to prove or disprove a theory. Scientists recently were successful with a test to prove the last great unproven theories that Einstein proposed when he did his work on the nature of time and space – the existence of gravity waves.

When it comes to God, proving or disproving His existence defies any scientific testing and requires that last giant step into the world of just believing. There have been, of course, many cases throughout history that have been well documented of so-called miracles that purportedly occurred because people who believed in god prayed for Him to intercede and change the expected course of the future. The Catholic Church documents at least 3-4 such miracles of intercession with God by candidates for man prayingSainthood; however, that is less of a planned and scientific test than it is a recording, after the fact, of an event in which someone believe that God had a hand. The scientific part may be that the original condition of the person receiving the miracle was well documented and the resulting condition after the miracle is well documented, but the occurrence of the miracle itself remains a mystery.

Perhaps that is as it should be. Even scientists accept that there are things that cannot be explained; things that cannot be tested, which must just be believed. Scientists have long struggled with the answers to the simple questions “what came before that and what caused that”; until they get to the point where the only answer is God.

In our daily lives there are many things that we wrestle with and expend energy on trying to solve or resolve. Many of them can be handles with just good problem solving techniques and I’ve posted about that here before – see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/03/05/problem-solving-101/ as an example. Some things are beyond our ability to solve for others or for ourselves and that is when we should turn to God. I’ve written about that, too, as recently as this month – https://normsmilfordblog.com/2017/05/04/consider-the-alternative-and-turn-to-god/

In reality it is God acting through us that makes either approach work. So, perhaps a woman-prayinggood way to start each day would be to take out your wallet and look at the back of whatever bills you have in it and read the motto – In God We Trust. If you don’t have any bills, look at your coins; it’s printed on them, too. The point is to take that motto to heart and start the day with the thought in mind – In God I Trust. You’ll have a great day, no matter what happens.


Maybe it’s a matter of trust…

April 11, 2017

From a recent blog post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this wonderful little play on words – “Nothing recedes like success.”  {Walter Winchell)

Jack went on to write – There’s a Latin phrase, similar to this quote, “Sic transit gloria mundi,” worldly glories are soon gone, or, what have you done for me lately?”

In our modern, me-oriented, short attention span and throw-away world; the phrase “what have you done for me lately” defines the credo that too many people live by in group-of-girls-looking-at-phonestheir day-to-day interactions with others and in their relationship with God. If God were to come to earth and stand next to these people, the first things that they would do is whip out their phone and try to take a selfie with God, so that they could post it on Facebook.

“It’s all about me” is another favorite catch-phrase. So, I guess it somewhat natural for the self-centered person ask God, “what have you done for me lately?” I might suggest that the better question to ask is “What have I done for God lately?” Perhaps you have had success in life. Did you thank God for that? Did you give a portion back to God, so that he could use it to help others? Did you even think of God, or were your thoughts on how good you are at what you do and how to achieve even more success? Did your hubris cause you to push God aside and even ask, “What have you done for me lately?”

Maybe the real issue is a matter of trust in God. Do you trust God in your life?  Corallie Buchanan put it this way in her book Watch Out! Godly Women on the Loose – “…You say to God, “I have never seen you provide for me.” God says to you, “You have never trusted Me.” I can hear the protests now from people claiming to be good church-going Christians; people of faith. Danny L. Deaubé put it this way – “One may have an abundance of faith in God, but do we trust Him when we don’t understand? What helping handsgood is faith without trust?” It is our natural tendency to want to (maybe to have to) understand what is going to happen that causes us to have doubts that God is with us and will protect us and guide us to do the right things. We just can’t bring ourselves to let our guard and move forward with total trust in God. We cannot take the risk.  “Risk taking is believing in yourself while trusting in God; knowing that He will open doors for you, even when you don’t see any.” ― Farshad Asl

If you saw the 1986 Eddie Murphy movie The Golden Child, you may recall the scene where Murphy’s character (the chosen one) is tested by having to follow a path in the dark cave while carrying a glass of water that he must not spill. When the path to the place where the Ajanti Dagger is located, it suddenly becomes a series of wavering towers over a seemingly bottomless pit. Then even the towers stop and Murphy’s character is told to take a leap of faith and trust and step off into the darkness. He steps off and discovers that there is some hidden force that allows him to complete the journey and recover the dagger. That was entertainment and the example setting was couched in Buddhist terms; but the concept of having that kind of faith in our God was a good message for us all. We need to the faith AND the TRUST to step off, even when we don’t see the next stepping stone in front of us.

“If you’re wrestling with some sort of decision, reflect for a moment and ask yourself, Am I being brave, or am I being safe? In the end, it depends on whether we think God can be trusted.”  ― Gary Haugen. Why aren’t we all braver in our day-to-day lives? Our tendency to be safe, to not take risks in life is a failure to trust that God will hand reaching for heavennever let you tackle something that you cannot accomplish, because with Him all things are possible. It may not happen right away and you may not recognize the hand of God in what transpires. Often you will feel like the door to the opportunity has been slammed shut and God has abandoned you; however, as William Branks put it – “When God closes a door He does not always open a window. Sometimes He wants you to sit in the quiet darkness while He transforms your fear into trust. How long that takes, is often up to you!”

Others may go through life without letting fears slow them down, but also not stopping to appreciate the help that God has provided them in their success. For these people life is just a joyous happenstance and maybe God was along for the ride because of their faith. I love the way that Albert Einstein characterized God’s presence in their lives – alone at sunset“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” So if you’ve made it through life with one happy coincidence after another, maybe you should take some time to reflect on that, too. Perhaps you just never have taken the time to characterize your great good fortune as the hand of God in your life.

There are two takeaways here –

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:5-

And, once you have come to the place of trust in God;

“Don’t ask God to guide your steps if you’re not willing to move your feet.” – Unknown

Taking that next step is still up to you. Trust in God and move your feet.


The destination is worth the journey…

March 17, 2017

Recently the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this quote from Sam Worthington – “It’s just a journey I’m on, discovering what my connection to and relationship with God is.”  

For those who may not know who Sam Worthington is (and I admit that I was among that group before I looked this up), here is a snippet from WikipediA about him.

Sam_WorthingtonSamuel Henry John “Sam” Worthington[1] (born 2 August 1976) is an Australian actor. He played the main character role of Alex Mason in the Call of Duty: Black Ops series. He portrayed the protagonist Jake Sully in the 2009 film Avatar; Marcus Wright in Terminator Salvation; and Perseus in Clash of the Titans and its sequel, Wrath of the Titans; before transitioning to more dramatic roles, in Everest (2015) and Hacksaw Ridge (2016).

To read the whole WikipediA entry on Sam click here.

It always causes somewhat of a stir when someone famous, especially one of our modern media stars, even mentions their faith, hints that they may believe in God, or goes do far as to say that they may be a Christian. Yet, the journey that Sam admits to being on is one on which many of us are fellow travelers. Some search all their lives without realizing that the God that they were seeking was standing right there with them the whole time. Some get confused and become disillusioned by the rules and requirements that many organized religious groups have created for their own purposes. Some of them are never able to look past the trappings of the church to find God in their lives. Fortunately, most who start the journey eventually find the peace and understanding of having God in their lives; although for too many it is not until the final moments of their lives.

For those who need the help there is a GPS for this journey. It is called the Bible and it provides a great road map for those seeking a relationship with God. For those who prefer,jesus-as-light or really need, a guide for the journey, God provided that centuries ago when He sent His Son Jesus to live among men. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So we all have our GPS and our guide to help use get to God. All that might be lacking is the will to make the journey.

I think taking a little time to think about what the alternatives are may help some decide that the destination is worth the journey. Deciding not to take the journey or trying to take an alternative path in life always leads to the same thing – a dead end. Literally, all other paths end in death and then nothing else. Only the path that leads you to Jesus and on to God has no dead end; in fact, only it has no end at all, because only that path promises eternal life.

It’s comforting to know also that you may begin that journey at any time in your life, or perhaps continue the journey you were on before you got sidetracked by life. Many may start out in life being taken to church and Sunday School, without really understanding teenswhy r what it was all about. If they stick with it long enough their intellect catches up with what the Sunday School teachers were try to tell them and they begin to understand and may even begin to believe. Somewhere around high school age that same intellect is joined by a growing ego and the first tastes of freedom and many wander off from their faith, convinced at the time that they know better than to believe what they are being told. For some that loss of faith is just an extension of the rebellion against all things that can set in at that age. Eventually self-control and intellect again gain the upper hand and the adult mind begins to look for the meaning of life and wondering about what comes next. Faith provides the only reasonable answer to those questions. All other answers still lead to dead-ends. And so, the journey is taken up again.

Where are you on your journey to understanding your connections to and rhelping handselationship with God? Are you still unsure and wandering about looking for signs from God; or, have you settled into a comfortable relationship that brings you peace and assurance that everything will be alright? Remember that, wherever you are on the journey, you can find directions in your Bible and you can turn to your guide, Jesus Christ, and ask for help. You will not be turned down and you will not get lost on the journey if you just do those things. If your journey hits a few bumps along the way, don’t get discouraged; just keep in mind what the final destination is – your place in heaven that Jesus has prepared for you – and keep on keeping on. The destination is worth the journey. Maybe I’ll see you along the way.


First of all be happy with yourself…

March 15, 2017

“Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.”  (Unknown), as seen so time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

We have become too much of a “See me” and “Like me” society, always seeking the couple-looking-at-phonesopinions and approval of others to validate ourselves. The self-promotion of many social media sites supports that need to be seen and to receive approval from others. We’ve even become comfortable with asking people to “Like me” on Facebook or elsewhere. We keep score by how many “Likes” we get. Yet none of that really makes a difference if you do not like yourself or your life.

Happiness with one’s life and with one’s self starts with accepting who and what you are and finding some level of peace with you circumstances. That might be very hard for someone who is starving or cold or lonely; however, somewhere, deep within them there is the recognition that at least they are still alive and able to hope and strive for a better tomorrow. Most of us never get to that state where just being alive is all that we can be man prayingthankful for; but, many of us don’t take the time to really think about all that we have and have been given and thank God for what we have, much less thank Him for who we are. God made each of us unique, each with talents and abilities that please Him in some way. He sees our value, so who else really matters? You don’t have to pray to God “See me; Like me”; He already does.

If you can accept that God sees your worth as a human being, the next step is not to seek the approval of others; but, rather, to help others accept that same message and to become happy with who they are, too. You’ll be able to do that because those who develop a good sense of self-worth also develop self-confidence.  Jack Welch said this about self-confidence –

“Giving people Self-Confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do, because then they will ACT.”

God will give you the self-confidence to act, to share your story and to help others find caringself-worth through their belief in God. Instead of wandering through life asking others to “See me; Like me”, you will be able to seek out others to say, “I see you and I like you; you have worth to God”. All of this will happen when you have come to peace with who you are and see the value in your life as your ability to serve God by helping others.

Being at peace with yourself starts by resisting the tendency to measure yourself and your circumstances in life against others and what they have. You are not them and you may never have all of the things that they have. Even if you did have those things, do you really think that would make you happy? Rather, focus upon being the best you that you can be. I jesus-as-lightwrote about that in my post of February 16 – Be the best you that you in existence… and again just two days ago in Be the person that you would like to be. If you can stop worrying about what other think and start acting upon the mission that God has given you to spread the Good News, you will be much happier with your sense of self-worth. After all, one “Like” from God is worth more than thousands of “Likes” on Facebook.

Have a great, worthy and self-confident day! Like yourself first.


Hold on, the future is starting now…

January 10, 2017

“I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”  (Homer) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

VR2Isn’t it amazing that the wisdom of so long ago, such as that of Homer, is so applicable in today’s world. One wonders if William Shakespeare was somehow channeling Homer when he said – “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

In more modern times Steve Jobs put it this way – “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

I might have added under Steve’s category of whatever (things to trust) that trusting God is a good way to face the future. I have posted here before about the cathartic moment in my life when I finally surrendered myself to God and prayed “Not my will, but thy will be done.” From that moment on, for me the future held not fear, but promise.

How do you face your future? Is the future a scary place that you’d rather not think about or a grand adventure just waiting for you to jump aboard? Do you see the future as being full of dangers or full of opportunities? Are you trying to hide from the future or boldly woman-prayingjumping into it? How have you prepared for the future? Have you been sitting in fear contemplating all that could go wrong or confidently striding forward in anticipation of all that will go right?

The future is in your own hands; however, you don’t have to face it alone, God is always with you. He has told you that –

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

So, like Steve Jobs said; do not worry about connecting the dots of your future. God has a plan for connecting those dots and will be there to help you. He will give you the strength that you need, the perseverance that is required and the resolve to get to that future, if you just trust in His plans for you.

The future starts now, are you ready to go?