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.

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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.


Love each other as you loved me…

June 6, 2016

“I wish people would love everybody else the way they love me.  It would be a better world.”  (Muhammad Ali) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Ways blog.

AliLike, Jack, I first knew Muhammad Ali as Cassius Clay. I remember listing to that fight on the radio with my dad. No one thought that the brash young fighter stood a chance against the hulking Sonny Liston. Clay soon converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali and began the strange journey of a fighter who preached love and peace to all who would listen.

Ali’s quote is almost a take-off on John 13:34 – Jesus said: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Muhammad Ali was a beloved figure around the world. He was famous as a fighter, but beloved as a person. He used his bully pulpit as a famous fighter to promote peace instead of war and understanding instead of bigotry and hate.

Our society has become one where many people are presumed guilty (and thus unworthy to be loved) until they prove themselves to be innocent, just because of the color of their skin or their mannerisms or lifestyle. We can change our society one person at a timmen hugginge by
starting with our own prejudices and pre-conceived notions. If we start each encounter with the attitude of “I love you”, rather than “I’m afraid of you”; perhaps the outcome of each meeting will be different. Over time, enough of those meetings will occur, resulting in positive outcomes; that society will begin to shift away from suspicion and cynicism. At least that is the hope; and where there is hope there is possibility.

So, do your part this week to make the world a better place. Show love, rather than trustsuspicion, to those that you meet. Be open and attentive to their needs, not withdrawn and concerned about your own safety. You will be pleasantly surprised how much better life can feel when you show love to others and get their love in return.

Have a blessed and loving week ahead.


Work on what we earn in life…

April 21, 2016

“Talent is God-given; be humble.  Fame is man-given; be grateful.  Conceit is self-given; be careful.”  (John Wooden) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.kissing mirror

Aside from conceit, the quote above talks of things that we are given in life. I think it is also important to look at the things that we must earn in life, like respect and trust and love. No one that we meet will give us any those three things without us doing something, usually over time, to prove that we deserve them. Usually people that a measure of you over time and watch your actions to see if they match or exceed your words before they respect or trust you. In relationships those two always come before the third thing that we earn which is love.

Another thing that comes to mind when discussing those three things is that children’s song The Ittsy Bittsy Spider. Respect, trust and love can all be lost in and instant, just as mistakrethe rain washed the spider out of the water spout; and then, like the spider we have to start all over to earn them again. All it takes to destroy a hard earned reputation or the trust of others is one mistake or bad decision. Sometimes love is also lost due to things that negatively impact the trust and respect that those who loved you had for you.

So, we must always be mindful of the impact of our decisions and the actions that we take in front of others. Unlike conceit it’s not just about us; it’s about what others will think of us. The other thing to consider is how long lasting the consequences of a poor decision can be. The foolish acts of young men or women can stay with them for a lifetime, especially if they result in a criminal record. There appears to be no amount of good that one can do to cover up a moment of bad, if the bad concerned certain things. Once a reputation is ruined or trust is lost the best that one can hope fort is a second chance to earn that trust back and establish a new reputation going forward.

So take coach Wooden’s words of wisdom to heart but also be mindful of the things that are in your control (which actually includes the conceit part of his quote) and focus on making decisions in life that help build trust and establish a good reputation. From that base, hopefully you can then also earn the love of another.

As Warren Buffet put it – “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

And Steven Covey had this to say about trust – ‘Trust is the glue of life. It’s the mosttrust
essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

And finally…”Trust lies at the core of love; there can be no true love without trust.” -M.K. Soni

Work on earning the things that are important in life today…


Be a friend…

April 19, 2016

“A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.”  (Arnold Glasow) – as seen originally on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

soldiers on patrolThere’s a saying in the military, “I’ve got your 6.” In civilian life (and terms) it translates to, “I’ve got your back.” Basically it is saying that you are protecting the backside or blind side of that person. Usually this is for a friend, which in the military and in combat zones is everybody in your squad or unit.

In the business world there are courses on team building that use a technique for developing trust in the teamwork process by having one person stand with arms crossed in front and fall backwards into the arms of afalling back partner. The idea is to help people trust in co-dependent relationships with teammates in the business world. We inherently have the same kind of trust in those in life that we call our friends.

In real life, one doesn’t ask someone to “friend me”.  You might ask someone to be your friend, but that is usually after some period of knowing them and building trust in them. Real friends are those that you know you can count on, confide in and who will be there to catch you, should you start to fall. Real friends are there to listen to your problems and perhaps offer advice (if asked); but not to criticize or scold. Real friends don’t get in your way; in fact, they encourage you to try things or to become something more than you are now. They cheer your girls huggingaccomplishments and commiserate with you in your defeats. They share laughs with you and give you a shoulder to cry upon. They share your moments of pain and your times of joy.

One never knows where one will meet someone who becomes a friend. It could be at work, at church, in the neighborhood, anywhere. Some friendships are short lived. I remember friendships that were formed and lived only during summer vacations, sometimes over multiple vacation visits to the same places. Many of my lasting friendships started at work and were developed in more social, after-work activities, such as golf. I do remember the friendships that I had in the military; those that seemed so strong in the face of shared danger in foreign lands. There are bonds of friendship that grow out of shared experiences, both good and bad.

For those of us who get lucky, the best friend that one will ever have in life is the old cooupleperson that we choose to marry and spend our lives with. We may have other friends in our lives, but none will be as close, as intimately involved with us or and co-dependent upon us as our spouse. I have the great fortune to be celebrating 50 years together with my best friend this year.

Friendships are good for us because they both give to us and require of us. They force us out of our protective shells and draw out of us the good that is in us all. Think of those in your life whom you would call friends and those who think of you as their friend. If they were standing behind you, would you feel safe to fall backwards?  If you were behind them, would you make the effort to catch them if they fell? How does that make you feel? Be a friend today and feel good about it.


The buck stops here…

March 21, 2016

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”  (Psalm 56:3) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Of course the Psalm was referring to God and most of us probably have turned to Him on more than one occasion. One can imagine God sitting at a big desk in Heaven with a sign “The Buck Stops Here” sign on it. After all there is nowhere else to go; no higher authority than God.

mother with childPeople with children or even pets know what it feels like to be the one in whom trust is placed. Most children run to their parents when they are afraid and many pet will do the same if frightened. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to sit calming our shivering dogs when there is thunder and lightning outside. Little did they know how I was calming my own fears.

Fear shouldn’t be the only thing that drives us to seek God’s help. Life is full of confusing or perplexing moments for which we could use the reassurance that everything will be alright if we just put our trust in God. Life also hits us with many times of sadness, due to the loss of a loved one or a great disappointment. Those are also times that we should find shelter and strength in God’s hands. We may also have times of doubt in ourselves and our ability to accomplish something or to weather a bad situation. Those are the times that knowing God is on your side and there to help you will give you the confidence to carry on.

So, before you face each day and whatever trials you may encounter; give yourself the hand reaching for heavenadvantage of having God with you throughout the day. Say a little prayer and ask Him to stay by your side and guide and help you through the day. That way, when you do hit something that requires His help, he’ll already be there with you and you won’t have to be afraid.

Have a great and fearless day!

 


Doing the right thing is never wrong…

February 13, 2015

There’s a song with lyrics that say, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” That’s a touching claim to make, especially around Valentine’s Day; however, another saying that I saw in a recent post from the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this piece of advice:

“Never do a wrong thing to make a friend…or to keep one.”  (R.E. Lee)

That is particularly hard advice to live by for many confused and anxious young people, especially in their tween and teen years. It is also hard for many even after getting kids at schoolthrough the years of raging libido and crippling insecurity that sometimes define those tween and teen years. Even, so-called “grown-ups” often suffer from enough insecurity to do things that they realize later were out of character at best and just plain stupid at worst, all in the name of trying to “fit in” and make new friends.

The most basic problem with doing the wrong things to make a friend or to try to keep one is that your change of character is always just temporary and the burden of living the lie that you have created is not one that can be borne for long. The eventual revelation and correction of whatever that wrong was does not only take way any temporary advantage that you may have thought that you had gained, but also damages forever your credibility with that “friend.” They will realize that they can’t trust you to be honest about yourself or about them.

What is so hard about just saying “No, I can’t do that or won’t do that” in the face of the temptation to do the wrong things? Is it a lack of understanding of what is right or listeningwrong; or is it a fear of being rejected because you do understand that difference and chose not to do the wrong thing? How can that be bad? More important, perhaps; why do you want to be friends with someone who is urging you to do the wrong thing? What will that friendship be based upon? How can you grow that relationship when you can start off on such questionable grounds? Which direction will that friendship go from such a beginning – further down the path of wrong?

I don’t think that there is any valid argument that can be made that you are going into such a friendship in order to save that other person by compromising yourself and your values first. If you cannot get a positive reaction to someone accepting you for who you are and what you believe is right and wrong, then turn and walk away. That is not a relationship worth having.  I have only read some of the reviews of the book and the movie (disappointing according to most); but I suspect that at the core of the story of 50 Shades of Grey is a choice that was made by the young lady, perhaps out of naive curiosity as some reviewers have written, that was out of character for her. She friends at schoolabandoned her values for the thrill the unknown and the friendship (some may say the mentor-ship) of Mr. Grey. In the end, was that the right thing to do?

Sometimes we are faced with what can be even harder for us – doing the right thing in the face of a challenge or request from someone who is already our friend or loved one for all of the right reasons (or so we thought).  I have bailed friends out of jail or picked them up from hospitals when they had done something stupid; but I have also refused to hide someone who was on the run after doing something stupid. I tried to talk them into turning themselves in or to seek professional counseling help to avoid any more stupidity – I was not always successful at that. I lost some friends that way and I’m OK wioth that. I felt bad at the time, mainly for them; however, I felt good about not compromising myself or my values long after the incidents were over. Let’s face it, friends come and go, but you have to live with yourself forever and that’s a long time to be someone that you no smiling manlonger like. The old saying “to thine own self be true“, comes to mind.

So, as we head into another weekend, resolve to stay true to your values and not to do anything stupid or wrong just to try to impress someone so that they will be your friend. In fact, if you really want to be a valuable friend to them, make the effort to talk them out of doing those stupid or wrong things, too. Think of it this way: would the next lemming in line go ahead and jump off the cliff if his friend right behind grabbed him and suggested that they go get a Starbucks instead. They could have a lively discussion about what might be at the bottom of the cliff instead.

Have a great weekend and be a good friend…