Who do you think you are?

February 19, 2019

Have you ever had someone ask you that question? Often the question is asked right after you’ve tried to do something that is reserved for others, perhaps for dignitaries or famous people. Or, maybe you’ve tried to cut into a line, like the football player in the pizza commercial. You’ve tried to claim a privilege that you are not due. Who do you think you are?

In today’s post to his blog Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote –  “The difference between you and God is that God doesn’t believe he’s you.”  (Anne Lamott)

It’s not so much that we actually believe that we are God as it is that we tend to try to control things in our lives as if we were God. We try to bend things to our will. As Jack put it in his post, we tend to pervert the Lord’s prayer to read “My will be done.” Who do you think you are?

arrogantWhen God gave humankind free will, it also gave birth to man’s ego and that ego grew to believe that men could control their own destinies. One perversion of thinking that comes out of this ego-driven way of thinking is the confusion over what things are privileges and what things are rights. Men who develop God complexes often believe that everything they are doing is their right. It is that ability to forget who we are and assume privileges as rights that allowed the settlers of America to displace the Native Americans that they found here. The settlers and those who followed claimed that it was their “manifest destiny” to take the land. The Native Americans were asking all along- Who do you think you are?

The same God-like ego allowed the introduction of slavery into America. After all, the slave owners told themselves, these slaves were not men and women like us. There was certainly a lot of precedence in the Bible for slavery and, after all, they were God’s good preacher-pointingChristians, so it was OK. The slaves had a different view of things and asked, Who do you think you are?

In today’s world, we have many people in business and government who assume the mantle for God to tell us what is good for us. They see nothing wrong with raising the price of a drug by 1,000% or evicting homeless people from the hovels in which they found shelter. They pass laws that they say will prevent us from harming ourselves or push products upon us for conditions that we did not know we had. They see nothing wrong with depleting our natural resources and polluting our environment. They get indignant when we ask, Who do you think you are?

Yet, that is the question that we need to continue to ask- of them and of ourselves. It man prayingstarts with getting your own head straight about who you are and how you relate to God. Once you figure out the part about “Thy will be done”; then you can ask the real questions, “How can I help? What is my role?” First, you must correctly answer the question, “Who do you think you are?” Then you are ready to say to God, “Here I am, send me.”

So, think about it, before you set out on another day, Who do you think you are?

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Good times or bad, thy will be done…

January 26, 2019

There were repeated images on the Detroit area news shows this week of Nancy Kerrigan, after she had been attacked during practice for the 1994 Olympic Trials, crying out “Why? Why?”. That old news footage served to add meaning to something else that I saw this week.

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this bit of wisdom – “We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way.”  (Unknown)

There is within that question the implication that one is asking this question of God – “God, how could you let this happen to me?” In his post, Jack referenced a book – When Bad Things Happen to Good People. I have not read that book, but I’m sure that it musthelping hands seek to refocus people from thinking that God made those bad things happen and being confused about why onto looking instead to God for help in dealing with the bad things and our reactions to them. I don’t ever pray to God to protect me from all bad things, but rather to help me make good decisions in life to be better able to deal with what comes my way.

The second part of that little saying above is also important. We tend to turn to God for help in bad situations, but seldom take the time when good things happen to thank Him man prayingfor those things. We see professional athletes sometimes pausing in the end zone or as they cross home plate making some sign towards heaven and thanking God for their good fortune at that moment. How many of us make that same effort when good things happen in our day-to-day lives? How many good things happen to, or for, us every day that we don’t even think about? Why did they happen and to whom do we owe thanks?

Yet there are countless times in every day when things could have gone a different way, sometimes in a very bad way. Every now and then, it will hit me, when one of those moments has just passed without something bad happening, that I was “lucky” that I had made a different decision or chosen a different path. Then I stop to consider whether that was luck, or God playing a role in my life. I ask, “Why did this just happen to me?” I chose to believe that it was God helping me through what could have been a bad time.

The take away from all of this is that we should be thankful for God’s hand in the good woman-prayingthings that happen to us and we should ask for his help to make good decisions and for the strength to deal with the bad things that might happen. We must accept the bad with the good when we pray, “Thy will be done.” However, we can go on in that prayer to recognize and thank God for the good things and to ask for His help in dealing with the bad things.

Have a great and reflective weekend. What are you thankful for and what things could you use God’s help with?

 


A star shall be your guide back home…

December 24, 2018

“In everyone’s heart stirs a great homesickness.”  (Rabbi Seymour Siegel)

I saved that quote from a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog because I knew that I wanted to write about what it meant (at least to me).

Christmas is a time of great joy and celebration, but it is also a time of reflection and peace. It is a time when you can let your soul see the solution to the great homesicknessstar and wise men that may dwell there. For, when you imagine that star that guided the wise men to that manger in Bethlehem, you are seeing the star that will guide your soul back home, to God.

The great homesickness in Rabbi Siegel’s words is not about a physical place so much as it is about being back in the presence of God. The birth of a soul launches it on an adventure of wandering about in the physical world, some for a long time and some for a very short stay. No matter the length, during that time, that soul is away from God’s presence. The longing in our soul to get back home, to that relationship with God, grows and nags at us like a homesickness.

Some wander through life trying all sorts of different things to try to quiet that uneasy bored2feeling, that homesickness. Many believe that the accumulation of worldly power or wealth is the answer. Some turn to drugs or alcohol to try to quiet the sense of loss. Some may fall into mental illness trying to deal with this unknown and unrelenting feeling of loneliness and fear. Eventually, all souls realize that the only answer is to look to the sky, find the star that guided the wise men so long ago and follow it home…back to God.

The help that you need and desire to find your way back to God may be found as the wise men found it, in that manger in the little town of Bethlehem. Jesus was sent as our savior and guide to help us get back home to God. In John 14:6 He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

So, the path back home to God is clear. Accept Jesus as your savior and guide and follow Him back home. Surrender yourself, pray, and look for His star this Christmas Eve. There need no longer be a great homesickness in your soul – His star shall be your guide back home.

jesus-in-manger

May your soul once again know the presence of God. Follow the star and have a great Christmas!


Don’t allow yourself to be held down or back…

December 8, 2018

From a recent TV ad – “Live life anchors up” (Pacifico beer commercial slogan)

While that is a cute beer commercial slogan; it is really great advice for life. Too many people allow themselves to be held back or held down by “anchors” in their lives – guilt,baggage fears, self-doubt or perhaps the opinions of others. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t listen to common sense when it is trying to prevent you from doing something really stupid or self-destructive. That’s not self-doubt; that’s self preservation. Live Life anchors up.

Sometimes what we mistake for the restraint of common sense is really just a boundary or border into something unknown that should be explored or tried. Just because “nobody’s ever done that before” doesn’t mean that it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done. Nobody ever flew before the Wright Brothers decided to pull up the anchor of gravity and break through that boundary. There are tons of examples like that. Live life anchors up.

angry accuserSome go through their life held back by the opinions of others. They may here “You’ll never amount to anything” from their own family. They may be teased or bullied at school, perhaps because of how they look or act. Some overcome that or escape those anchors to go on to become famous actors/actresses, scientists or to excel in their field. There are also lots of stories about that in the stories about the lives of famous people. Live life anchors up.

In our more ordinary, day-to-day lives the anchors or boundaries that we might hit that hold us back are many time self-imposed. We don’t ask that person out because we fear rejection. We don’t ask for that raise because we have doubts about our worth to the company or the quality of our work. We become stuck in place; anchored by our fears and self-doubt. Live life anchors up.

So, how do you hoist those anchors and live the life that you’d rather have? I’ve writtenwalking man here before that you must first love yourself before you can love others or help others or become happy with your life. When faced with barriers we must replace fear and self-doubt with hope and hard work. We must turn guilt into resolve to do better next time. We must become focused upon forming our own opinions and learning from our mistakes, rather than wallowing in self-pity. Live life anchors up.

The best way that I know to let go of the anchors that may be holding you back is to get woman-prayingright with God and go with the flow that He has in mind for you. God is not an anchor holding you back; He is the wind taking you forward. Tell God, “I’m ready to pull up my anchors and go where you want me to go. I put my trust in you. Not my will, but thy will be done.” Then hold on for the journey through life  that you’ve been dreaming about. Live life anchors up.


What do you see in beauty?

November 20, 2018

Today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog begins with this quote – “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread.”  (John Muir)

Among the words that Jack always adds to the quote of the day was this sentence – A hungry man, with little money, used it to buy a loaf of bread and a rose. Why do you suppose the man wanted in the rose? He needed the bread to live, but he needed the rose to be alive. I think he saw the face of God in the beauty of the Rose.

What do you see when you see something beautiful? Do you see the hand of God at work, creating that beauty for you to enjoy? Look for beautiful things today and see if you can see Him as you admire whatever it is.

As we head into the Thanksgiving Holiday let’s pause to give thanks to God for all of the beauty that he surrounds us with. These are things that we do not have to wait until Black Friday to enjoy and best of all they are free. If you pause to give these things more than just a glance, you might look deep enough into them to see God smiling back at you.

Have a safe and beautiful day as you travel for the Holidays!


What do you see in your mind?

October 15, 2018

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack Freed used this quote to write about the wonder of our minds – “To different minds the same world is a hell and a heaven.”  (J.B. Priestley). Jack’s post talked about how our brains perceive things and he shared a book, It’s All in Your Head, that modern school kids are using to explore how their brains work. A fascinating statistic that Jack cited is that science only understands what about 10% of the brain does, with 90% still to be discovered.

We use such phrases as “in my mind’s eye” and “it’s all in your head” to describe how we perceive and react to the world around us. Some people’s brains work differently. Try todepression2 imagine having two minds inside your brain, one which sees the world as heaven and one that only sees darkness and hell. A bi-polar person may actually be living that experience, although only one of the minds may be in control at any one time. Schizophrenics may house many minds, perhaps with more than one “mind” fighting for control at any given time.

The mind is where fantasy and reality are supposed to be sorted out and kept in order, but for some that process doesn’t work well and we say of them that “they are living a fantasy world.” For some an imbalance in the brain may drag them into the dark pit of depression. Fortunately, for people suffering from depression, science has discovered solutions that can maintain a better balance within the brain and allow them a more “normal” life.

It is interesting that we have evolved to the point where our brains are contemplating insightthemselves and how they work. Much of the work in this area of science has focused upon how the brain controls various functions of our bodies or how it gathers, sorts, stores and recalls the information that it encounters in order to build our knowledge base. Yet to be understood is how the brain is capable of original thoughts. It may be that most of what we think of as original thoughts are really just well organized paths of discovery of the origin of something or the solution to a problem.

An even more interesting question is did our brains invent the concept of God or did God invent our brains so that we could “see” Him in our minds. Having been a Star Trek fan from the very first episode on TV, I can conjure up a vision that talking with God is like the Vulcan mind meld, with God playing the role of Spock. Imagine how far back God must have to throttle His mind in order to have a conversation with the small minds thatwoman-praying He encounters here on earth. When you talk to God through prayer, what do you “see” in your mind’s eye? Does God sound like James Earl Jones when he answers you?

It is inevitable that religion and science intersect, even in contemplating or own minds. I like a little saying from Einstein – “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” As scientists study our brains and the minds that they house, they will come to dead ends where the next steps can only be explained by religious belief. Where science stops is where God begins. Perhaps we should spend less time contemplating why things are as they are and spend more time just appreciating the beauty of things as they are. Stop and look at the beauty all around you. Anne Frank put it this way – “Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” 

It is in the appreciation of that beauty that you will “see” the hand of God in your mind. Have a beautiful day!


You are never alone with God in your life…

October 5, 2018

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this little quote –

“People love company, even if it is only a small burning candle.”  (George single candleLichtenberg)

That quote caused me to think that it is out of our aversion to being alone that we give voice to our pets, speaking for them and sometimes carrying on conversations with them, if only in our minds. I also remembered the Tom Hanks movie Castaway and the volleyball he called Wilson. For the Hank’s character, Wilson was a companion and that meant he was not alone.

Yet, we are never really alone, if we have God in our lives. He is always there, ready to listen to us and sometimes to talk back to us (if we are ready to listen).

“God is with you – wherever you may go and no matter what life brings.” – Joshua 1:9

For many people, the flame of that small burning candle in today’s quote represents God, bringing light into our lives and overcoming the darkness that might surround us.

helping handsIf you are a person who feels uncomfortable or even fears being alone, try reaching out to God in those moments of panic or fear. He is there; ready to answer your call.

A side benefit is that you can have a much more intelligent conversation with God than you can with your dog/cat or a volleyball. Try it the next time that you feel alone. He will be there.

We are not alone.