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.


Somebody ought to do something about that…

March 20, 2021

How many times have you heard someone say that (today’s post title) or maybe even said it yourself? When we encounter things that we think are wrong, what is our reaction? When we do something that is wrong, how do we react? Do we look for somebody else to blame or to take action to correct the problem? I saw today’s quote on-line somewhere and it resonated with me – “If it is to be, it is up to me.” ― William H. Johnsen

I often look up the authors of the quotes that I use to see what else they might have been quoted as saying. Interestingly this is the only quote ever attributed to William H. Johnson. According to Wikipedia – William Henry Johnson (1901 – 1970) was an American painter. Born in Florence, South Carolina, he became a student at the National Academy of Design in New York City, working with Charles Webster Hawthorne. He later lived and worked in France, where he was exposed to modernism. I was initially amused by the fact that this was his only quote; but then I realized that he has one more quote that is used all over the world than I do or that most of us will ever have.

Looking at Johnsen’s one quote in depth, it has much more meaning that it initially appears to contain. On its surface, it is a simple and straightforward call to action, sort of like Nike’s Just do it. In reality, it begs the issue of one’s view of the world and events that are happening all around us. It is very easy to become hardened and almost impervious to the news of the day – the injustices to, and on-gong hardships of, those faces that we see on the nightly newscasts. There is also that tendency to look for someone else to take up the responsibility to do something to right those wrongs – the somebody ought to do something reaction.  “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

We know that we cannot solve all of the problems of the world and we can see that some of the issues that need to be addressed require action from those who are well above our pay-grade; however, that should not detour us from taking some action. If we cannot make the big decisions ourselves, we can at least let those who can know how we feel about it. We can call or write our representatives in Congress and express our support for actions to correct the problems. We might be able to donate money or time to organizations that are working on the solutions to hunger or homelessness or other ills. We can take Johnsen’s quote to heart and do something. “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

It is important (and Johnsen’s quote rally points to this) that you not allow yourself to become numb or complacent about things that are wrong or injustices that you see every day. Prejudices – racism, homophobia and misogyny – continue to exist only because we allow them to exist. If they are to stop, where do you think that begins? Johnsen had the answer. “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

For Christians, Johnsen’s quote is particularly true. Jesus said that we must take up the cross to follow him. Taking up that cross is not just about bearing the pains of life, but about taking an active role in making things better for all. Taking up the cross is the ultimate expression of Johnsen’s s quote, because you are saying it that moment – “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Yes, somebody ought to do something about that and that somebody is you. Take up your cross and repeat after me – “If it is to be, it is up to me.”


We do know better…

January 26, 2021

“Do the best you can until you know better.  Then, when you know better, do better.”  (Maya Angelou)

That was today’s quote in the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

The fact is that we do know better about al lot of things; but, many just choose not to do better.

We know that racism is not right, yet we let racist thoughts dictate our reactions to people and situations involving people of color. We know that homophobia is unwarranted, yet we shrink away from the gay person out of some fear or false disgust. We know that there is no basis for gender based discrimination, yet we continue to tolerate a huge inequity in pay and advancement for women in business.  We know that we could do more to help the homeless or the hungry, yet we look the other way and hurry past them on the streets. We have been told by health experts that wearing a mask in public can slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, yet many refuse to don a mask or wear it in such a way as to render it ineffective. We know better.

What causes this disconnect between knowing better and doing better? Do we learn anything from the man in the news report who is dying saying that he should have heeded the warnings and avoided getting the virus; or, do we continue to let ego or pride, ignorance or stubbornness get in the way of logic and acceptance of the obvious truths? We know better.

It is hard to understand how so many people can come to such different conclusions about things like wearing a mask to protect others or trying to understand and be accepting and inclusive instead of turning to fear or hate in matters of race or sexual preference. Perhaps systemic prejudices are the masters of hiding in plain sight; and most of these are systemic in nature. We know better.

A popular fashion item of several years ago were the little bracelets with WWJD embossed into them or printed on them. They were meant to help the wearer stop and consider “What Would Jesus Do”? The assumption was that thinking about the teachings and guidance that Jesus provided would help the wearer do the right thing. One doesn’t see those bracelets much any more and certainly doesn’t see people stopping to ask themselves that question as much anymore.  We know better.

 Perhaps at the root of these differences in behavior today is the acceptance or rejection of religion and faith in God as the moral foundation of life. If one does not have that foundation to point to what is better, then one has no reason to do better and may not even be capable of recognizing what is the right thing to do. However, if one claims to be a Christian and a follower of the teachings of Jesus, then one has no excuse not to be doing better. We know better.

The term Fake News become popular over the last four years. Perhaps what we have also seen are Fake Christians – those who proclaim loudly that they are Christians and then go out and demonstrate behavior that is anything but what Christ taught. They know better, but they choose not to do better. We know better.

What can you do as an individual? The best thing is to actually do what is right, what is better; to live your life in such a way as to serve as an example to others of what is better. There are times when you must take the next step and act on what you know is better by not “going along to get along” or not allowing yourself to be swept up in the moment, as some who stormed our nation’s capital claimed afterwards. There are even times when you must proactively try to influence the actions of others to prevent them from harming themselves or others. We know better.

We know better. Now, let’s go out and do better.

Live like you know what Jesus would do and follow Him. We know better. Let’s do better!


You can’t wrap your head around God…

January 24, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Jack used this quote, which appears to be his own thoughts – “They say that God is everywhere, yet we always think of him as somewhat of a recluse.”

Jack went on to relate a cute story about a child trying to understand the concept of God being everywhere.

The post and the story that he relates in it serve to illustrate one of man’s biggest challenges (and I might say failings) when it comes to God – the need to understand God within our limited abilities to define things. Our imaginations are so limited by our need to relate God to things that we can see, feel, touch or otherwise experience in the real world, that we are unable to find a place or category in which to put Him in our minds. We tend to use comparative phrases – “God is like…” – in order to try to get comfortable with the otherwise troubling concepts of God being everywhere, knowing everything, being all powerful and all of the other concepts and things that we have heard or read about Him during our lives. We are constantly trying to wrap our heads around the concept of God. But we can’t.

There is an argument t to be made that God sent His Son Jesus into our world as a physical embodiment that we might be better able to understand. We could see Jesus and touch Him and therefore we could believe in Him. Jesus made God real for us in terms that we can understand and made Jesus the route through which we could wrap our heads around God. Jesus even told us – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus knew the limitations of men’s minds to understand  God and the concept of life after death and heaven. He used parables when he was trying to teach his Disciples as a way to relate what he was saying  to everyday things that they could understand. Even his description of Heaven is couched in terms that they could understand from their everyday lives. – “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? “– (John 14:2).  

Faith is the only way to take the needed step beyond man’s limited ability to reason and understand. Instead of trying to wrap your head around God, by trying to understand God within your own limited intellectual context, one needs to shift from understanding to accepting, from being able to define God within the limitations of your own terms, to accepting God on His terms through faith.

We all have difficulty getting comfortable with the unknown and our imaginations can run wild trying to fill in the blanks. Sometimes fear takes hold and we imagine all sorts of terrible things. Sometimes cynicism overcomes us and we wander away from our beliefs and our faith. We can spend an inordinate amount of time wresting with potential explanations or definitions for God, but eventually it always circles back to faith – to our belief that the unknown that is God and the destination that is Heaven exist and that God will watch over us and Heaven awaits us, even if we don’t understand it.

We can’t wrap our heads around God; but, if we accept Jesus, we will start to experience, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Stop trying to wrap your head around God and just accept Jesus as your savior and your only route to eventually knowing God.

Peace be with you.


What do you see?

August 5, 2019

From a recent post in the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this thought – “The traveler sees what he sees.  The tourist sees what he has come to see.”  (Gilbert Chesterton)

arrogantAs I thought about Chesterton’s quote, going to church on Sundays came to mind and the saying morphed into – “The self-righteous sees the church service. The faithful sees the face of Jesus.”

It is all too easy to become wrapped up in the beauty of the church building or the carefully choreographed rituals of the church service and be like the traveler in Chesterton’s quote. For many years the Catholic Church resisted the movement away from using Latin in the Mass because the inability of the laity to preacher-pointingunderstand what was going on was a big part of the mystery and drama that the clergy wanted to maintain. It was considered to be part of the show that the congregation has come to see. What do you see?

But, the faithful, like the tourists in Chesterton’s quote, have come to see something in particular – they have come to be with Jesus. In Matthew 18:20 we are told that Jesus said jesus-as-light– “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” The faithful came not to be entertained, but to see Jesus. What do you see?

Look around the next time that you are in church. Which one of the others who are there with you is Jesus in your midst? Is He the well-known congregant who is always faithfully at church or that stranger that you’ve never seen there before? Is He the infant noisily crying in the back of the church or the hunched over elderly man in the pew next to you? Could He be delivering the sermon or just listening to it like you are? What do you see?

 The difference between the traveler and the tourist that Chesterton was pointing out is one of intentional focus. For the traveler, the scenery unfold around them as they proceed, but it may be barely noticed – it is simplify background noise in their lives. For the tourist, the scenery that is unfolding around them as they go IS what they came togods-hands-2 see. They not only notice, but also take it in and savor it. It is often much the same with church. One can just get through the service, mindlessly mouthing the words of the songs and blankly staring ahead during the sermon; or one can be in the moment, savoring the time that they have to be with Jesus in worship. For those who open their hearts to God, church is a time to see what you came to see – the face of Jesus in your midst. What do you see?

 So, next Sunday; be the tourist and savor the moments that you will have with Jesus in your midst. Focus upon what you came to see and find God in the crowd, in the service and in the building. Ask yourself – What do you see? Do you see what you came to see?


Will you make a difference today?

June 26, 2019

From today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this inspiration – “It’s easy to make a buck.  It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”  (Tom Brokaw)

We begin each day faced with lots of choices – what to wear, what to have for breakfast, what route to take to work and many more. Add to that list the simple question, “What can I do to make a difference today?” and maybe that will put you in the right frame ofbored mind to go out and make that difference. Making the world a better place is a pretty big difference making challenge to throw at yourself the first thing in the morning; so. maybe start with the goal of just making a positive difference in someone else’s life. Something as small as a smile and a friendly “Hello” or holding a door open for someone can make his or her day better. Acts of kindness and consideration make a difference, one person at a time. Will you make a difference today?

If you have a goal to make the world a better place through some larger change, keep in mind that those changes take longer and that you may only be able to accomplish small increments on any given day. Keep at it, even though the evidence of change that day may be imperceptible. Persistence goes hand-in-hand with making a difference. Maybe sewrving soupyou are collecting signatures for some ballot initiative and today your goal is to get another 10-20 signatures. Keep at it. You are making a difference, however small today. Maybe you are saving your change each day, so that you can contribute to a worthy cause. Keep at it. Your nickels and pennies are adding up. Maybe you only have a little time after work that you can devote to helping coach a little league team or perhaps help at a local food bank or shelter. It makes a difference that you are spending that time making a difference in the lives of others. Will you make a difference today?

If you are hungry and I give you food; does that make a difference in your life? If you are cold and I give you a coat to wear; does that make a difference in your life? If you have nowhere to sleep tonight and I contribute to the local shelter; does than make a goaldifference to you? If you are seriously injured and you receive the pint of blood that I gave at the Red Cross; does that make a difference to you? If you suffered through a tornado that destroyed your home and the Red Cross uses the money that I contributed to provide you with shelter; does that make a difference to you? Making a difference comes in all sizes and forms; however, it almost always starts with a single person making the decision to make a difference by giving or their money or time. Will you make a difference today?

We often start our day by praying for God’s help in our own lives. We pray for the strength or courage or wisdom to get through a tough problem at home or at work. Maybe we pray for success in our business life or for help in resolving a conflict in ourGods work our hands personal life. How many of us pray for the opportunity to help make a difference in someone else’s life? That opportunity is the chance today for you to meet Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 25 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. When the disciples said that they had seen or done none of that, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Will you take the opportunity to meet Jesus today? Will you make a difference today?


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!


Get out of the shadows…

October 2, 2018

Jack Freed had a post that is so good today on his blog Jack’s Winning Words that I need to re-post the whole thing before I add any comments.

“We’d forgive most things if we knew the facts.”  (Graham Greene)  Being prejudiced means to judge before knowing all of the facts.  RLS wrote: “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me…” and that shadow, at times, can be the tendency to form opinions based on partial knowledge.  Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism…these are more than words.  Leaning, left or right…we daily have to examine “our little shadow” of pre-judging. – Jack

It’s interesting that this tendency to pre-judge, to be prejudiced, comes from the shadows, preacher-pointingfrom a dark place – a place in our hearts and minds where the sun doesn’t reach or perhaps where the Son doesn’t reach. Just as these preconceived notions, most born in ignorance and fear, could not stand the light of the truth, they also could not stand having the light of Christianity shined upon them. The fact that many words of hate and prejudice are hurled from the shadows by people thumping Bibles and loudly devilproclaiming to be Christians just shows the power of the Devil in their lives. They have allowed fear and hate to overcome the love and acceptance that Jesus taught.

Get out of the shadows…

What “little shadows” do you allow in your life? Is it a fear or prejudice against of people of color? Is it disgust or disdain at hearing others speak a foreign language in a store? Is it the ignorance and loathing of homophobia? Is it just the discomfort that you feel being around people who are “different”? Perhaps you sneer at eyes of revengea women wearing the Habib or those who look or dress differently. Perhaps you have allowed yourself to become a snob about some things and tend to discount the tastes of others who do not share you appreciation for that thing. Maybe your little shadow is just the indifference to your fellow man that allows you to turn away from the homeless beggar in the street, rather than reach out to try to help.

Get out of the shadows…

Whatever your personal little shadow is, you need to get out from under it. Shine the light of Jesus teachings on those fears and prejudices. Get yourself one of those little WWJDWWJD bracelets and start wearing it. When you find yourself in a situation where the shadow of pre-conceived notions is starting to darken your judgement, take the time to look at the bracelet and ask yourself that question. If you take the time to ask yourself What Would Jesus Do in those situations, you will find that the shadows go away. They cannot stand the light of the Son.

Get out of the shadows…

Have a great day walking in the light of the Son.


Looking for a superhero? Find Jesus instead.

May 14, 2018

In a recent post to his blog – Jack’s Winning Words – Jack referenced the time when Mohammed Ali (then called Cassius Clay) made the proclamation “I am the greatest”. I remember that evening and listening to the boxing match between Clay and the Cassius Clayformidable Sonny Liston. Nobody gave the young, brash Clay a chance against the bigger Liston, who had destroyed the former champion Floyd Patterson. When Clay made good on his boast that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” and knocked out Liston, he proclaimed to the world, in the post-fight interview with Howard Cosell that he was ”the greatest of all time”.

These days we are preoccupied with the super heroes that we see on the screen – Ironman, Thor, Wonder Woman, Superman and the Black Panther. We seem to need, and to revel in, the larger than life exploits of these heroes, many of whom have egos to match their super hero status.

In Jesus’ day the people were searching for (waiting for) a super hero (the Messiah) to come and lead them in triumph over their oppressors. Many believed that the Messiah would be a great warrior, possessing supernatural strength and powers. When that Messiah came in the form of a normal and humble man – Jesus – most could not believe that this was the “savior” that had been foretold. They did not see a might warrior riding into battle on a great horse, but a humble and modest man riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Many had heard of the miracles that he had performed, but they were acts of kindness and concern and not the winning of great battles or the vanquishing of foes.

The people then, as many do now, were looking for a superhero and what they got instead was Jesus, a man who could not even save himself and who died on a cross. When confronted by Pilot with the question “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus did not say, “I am the greatest of all time”; but rather answered humbly, “You say so.”  What most in his day did not see or hear about until later was that he rose again after three days and ascended into heaven. What they did not understand was that the foes that he fought on our behalf were sin and death.

Super_heroesSo, if you are looking for amusement, go see the latest super heroes movie or dress up and go to a convention and enjoy yourself; but, if you are looking for the only true super hero of all time to save you, look to Jesus. With Him on your side; there are no foes that can defeat you, not even death. Now that’s a super hero worth following.


Don’t give up the chase…

October 9, 2017

From a collection of inspirational sayings that I found on the internet comes this saying – “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” —Vince Lombardi

For many years, Lexus used the tag line “The relentless pursuit of perfection” and they made excellent automobiles. They have been questioned for changing their tag line to “Engineering the impossible”, which is perhaps a little harder to relate to for the common man.

bored2In day-to-day living, many people claim to be (or at least, admit to being) perfectionists – people who constantly strive for perfection, sometimes to the consternation of those around them. Many times, if the object of their desire for perfection is a sport, you will see them practicing, doing something over and over until they master that aspect of the sport. For many, the inability to achieve perfection dominates their lives and makes them unhappy.

I think it is OK to constantly have perfection as a goal in whatever you are doing. After all, not striving for perfection as you do something is admitting, up front, that you willmediocrity quote accept mediocrity as a final outcome. One seldom hears cheers being lead that proclaim proudly, “We’re number two” or signs extolling you to “be good enough”. Rather, we see and hear, “Be the best that you can be”; strive for perfection.

Striving for perfection may seem to be a prescription for constant frustration and disappointment, but it needn’t be; rather it should be the constant goal that keeps us learning, evaluating, adjusting and improving. One should never stop asking themselves, “How can I be a better spouse, a better parent, a better sibling or just a better person?”

The dictionary defines perfection as – the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

Perhaps the flaws or defects in our lives are our sins. Maybe if you start by striving for WWJDperfection in your religious life those other things will take care of themselves. At least we have one “perfect” example to try to emulate in our pursuit –  Jesus. Perhaps one of those little WWJD bracelets would cause us to pause and think before we act, before we say something or do something that would cause us to backslide on our pursuit of perfection.

We may not achieve perfection, but we might get closer to excellence in life if we stopped to think “What would Jesus do?” I’m pretty sure that He would not do anything that He would regret later or that would hurt someone else. Maybe that’s a good starting point for your pursuit in other aspects of life. Another thing that we will realize, once we embrace Jesus in our lives, is that he has already forgiven all of our flaws and defects. The grace of God that he died on the cross to give to us has already made us perfect, oncewoman-praying we accept Him.

So, never give up the pursuit of perfection in life; but, perhaps reevaluate your priorities and whomever you’ve been using as a role model for perfection and refocus yourself on the one role model who promises that you will achieve perfection through Him. Start with a prayer.

Have a perfect day.