What do you know about you?

July 28, 2021

I saved this quote about a month ago – “Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort.” – Fred Rogers

As I’ve looked at it over time, my thoughts on it have changed a few times. I’m not sure that I like the word “discovering” at the beginning. Perhaps accepting or dealing with would be a better way to start, but I suppose the revelations we make about ourselves as we become more conscious of our thoughts and actions could be classified as discoveries.

I also think the focus should be more on what we do about those discoveries than just about making them. How does one come to grips with discovering racist, homophobic, misogynistic, or anti-Semitic bents in one’s thinking? How does one deal with fears that are unfounded and based on biases or bad information that was instilled in us as children? When one is confronted with irrefutable evidence that a “truth” that we had long held is false, what are we to do?

Facts and beliefs have always coexisted in an uneasy mix in our minds and our perception of ourselves has always been made up of that same uneasy mix. Perhaps that is why some may have a tough time having love for themselves – they don’t really like some of the things that they see in themselves, yet they are unwilling to change what they see.

Discovering or getting to know yourself requires time to think and reflect on the thought processes that drive the decisions that one makes in life. How many of your decision are based upon real thought and how many are just knee-jerk reactions, based upon long held, but perhaps baseless biases or prejudices? When you recognize those poorly based decisions, what do you do about them? It’s a conundrum.

Without going to far down this rabbit home, there are a couple of passages from the bible that provide some guidance and hope for dealing with these issues.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

-AND-

“Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good.” – Proverbs 19:8

Some people wear those little bracelets that have WWJD on them – What Would Jesus Do? Asking that question whenever you hit one of those knee jerk moments may help you at least stop to think about what is driving your reaction to the situation. So long as you are uncomfortable with the answer there is hope. Stop and try to discern the will of God – what is acceptable to God.

You may discover truths about yourself that you don’t like and that is OK, Discovery is the first step to recognizing and correcting them, it is the start to discerning what is good and acceptable and perfect. You may never get to perfect, but you can sure get further away from those old bad habits and reactions. As Mr. Rogers said, “It is worth the effort”.

What do you know about yourself and what is driving your decisions? Think about it.


Look at life in a different way…

April 25, 2021

“When you look in a different way…you find different things.” – Kris Stanek. Stanek is co-author of a study by scientists at Ohio State University who recently discovered a small black hole that they dubbed “The Unicorn”, which is the closest black hole to Earth yet discovered. The Ohio State scientists looked at the distortion of a red gas giant star only 1500 light years from earth differently than previous observers had and proved the existence of the black hole that is paired with it is causing the distortion.

You don’t have to be a scientist to look at things and life differently. Rather than accept what at the time was the conventional wisdom about the distortion of the star, the Ohio State scientists postulated a different explanation, a different way of looking at it and set out to prove their theory.  

I was for a while on the board of our local Community Coalition group, a group whose mission is to try to keep kids off drugs and alcohol. We would occasionally participate in various health fairs in the area with a booth. One of the most popular things that we did in the booth involved a simulation of the effect of alcohol on vision. We used a special set of goggles with lenses that distort one’s vision the way being drunk can distort it. We asked the participants to place simple shaped pieces into the proper place in a board with cut outs for those pieces. They couldn’t do it, because the goggles distorted their view of the board and the pieces.

We all “see” life through various lenses that can distort how we see things. The lenses that we look at life thorough might be called our attitude towards life.  Some see life through the lenses of prejudices and hate. For them, life is a dark and angry place to be railed against. Some see life through the lenses of fear, uncertainly and doubt. For them life is a scary place, indeed. Many just see things with some form of “conventional wisdom” in mind, never stopping to challenge the source or accuracy of that wisdom.

It is not my intent here to go into depth about attitude and how it effects one’s view of life; but, rather, to raise the flag that it can have an impact and that one needs to stop and question why they are reacting to something or someone in a certain way. We all need to ask ourselves if we are looking at things through lenses that ae distorting our view – fear, hate, prejudice or some other lens. Then ask yourself if there is a different way to “see” the situation, maybe even from the perspective of the other person. Just stopping to question your own reaction or thoughts will force you to think about it before reacting. – and that is a good thing.

If you need a new way of looking at things, try this from the Bible –

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Maybe having a little reminder close at hand would help. Many find those little bracelets with the letters WWJD embossed on them help. It is hard to come up with a hateful answer to the question, “What Would Jesus Do?”

If you look at life through the Jesus lens it will look a lot brighter to you and will become a happier place to be.

 What lenses will you look at life through today?


Know it or believe it…just do something with it.

February 27, 2021

A quote from an unknown source was used by Pastor Freed in one of his recent posts to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“It’s not what you know, but what you do with what you know.”  (Unknown)

There’s certainly a whole riff that could be written about putting your knowledge to use, but when I saw that quote I mentally substituted the word “believe” for the word “know” and thought about what it is that I can do to turn my beliefs, my faith, into action. What “something” can I do with it.

One does not have to stand on soap box on a street corner preaching to no one in particular to demonstrate and live their faith. In fact, I think many of those who do that are still trying to convince themselves of their beliefs as much as anything. How many times have we seen stories of the famous TV evangelists being carted off to jail or disgraced in public for their actions and not their words?

The easiest way to put your faith into action and perhaps influence others to the same path is to live your life as an example of that faith. Not judging others (lest you be judged), being kind and caring and doing the right things when faced with decisions. On the surface, that may seem to be a rather off-handed way of looking at things, but it requires a conscious effort to think about your decisions in the light of your faith.

Many people used to wear those little rubber or metal bands with WWJD embossed or printed on them – What Would Jesus Do. That was a great memory device that caused one to stop and think before acting. I don’t see many of those wrist bands around anymore, but that thought and that pause to think is needed more now than ever.

Faith is just one of the touchstones available to us for grounding our thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, there are also things like prejudice, hate and indifference available as alternative approaches to decision making. The appeal of these alternatives is most often that they are easier to implement than the love, caring and acceptance of others that faith requires. It is easier to turn one’s back on the poor, homeless beggar than to take the time to help. It is easier to dismiss the person of different color or appearance out of prejudice than to take the time to get to know them. Look at your wrist. WWJD?

So, it is not enough to just profess your faith, one must put that faith into action, to let it influence and lead your actions – to do something with it. The “something” that your faith drives you to do does not always have to involve dramatic actions, but it should always be actions that demonstrate the answer to the question that you stopped and ask yourself.  WWJD? You don’t need to wear a bracelet with that question on it; just keep that question rattling around in the back of your mind as you go through your day and let it stop you so that you can think about the answer to that question.

Perhaps one can add to their morning prayers a simple thought – “Lord let me live my life today to reflect your glory in the decisions that I make.” Then ask yourself WWJD and get on with your day.

Have a great day of demonstrating your faith through the living of your life. Keep looking at your wrist and asking the question. WWJD?


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!


Right is not just noble…

November 25, 2020

“Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble.”  (Henry Royce) – thus quoted Pastor Freed in a recent post to his blog Jack’s Winning Words.

Henry Royce was one of the founders of the Rolls-Royce car company, a company known for its endless pursuit of perfection in cars. They strive to do it right. One of their claims is that at 60 miles per hours the only thing you will hear in the Rolls-Royce is the sound of the electric clock. They have almost perfected the quiet ride.

I would add to Royce’s quote that things done right are also comforting, reassuring and satisfying. At the end of the day, if one can look back and know that what they did was right, they will be at peace with themselves. They will not have regrets or second thoughts about the events of the day. They will not have to try to remember any lies or deceptions from the day for future reference.

I’m not sure when WTF replaced WWJD in our lexicon and on our T-shirts and wrist bands; but I am sure that WWJD would provide better guidance for daily living that WTF ever will. Using WTF is just an excuse and a cover up for doing the wrong things.

It is also easy to blame the rapid pace of our daily lives for the mistakes that we make; however, the truth is that we always have time, in any decision (even a so-called “split-second decision) to do the right thing. It all starts with knowing right from wrong and that is based upon the morals and principles that guide your daily life. If one does not have the moral compass that a strong faith provides one is destined to lurch through life without direction, making one bad decision after another.

Before sailors set out to sea they check and set their compass because they know that once out at sea there will be no visible points of reference for them to use to orient themselves, just their compass. Our lives can be like that. If we don’t have a good moral compass. We can become disoriented and are soon adrift, being carried along by events, rather than navigating them with solid direction. Jesus is our compass. He showed humankind the way to heaven and he provides the moral compass that we need for daily living.

So, start each day by checking and setting your compass in prayer. Put WTF out of your mind and replace it with WWJD. Ask God to be there with you as you make decisions during the day, helping you see right from wrong. If you take that compass with you throughout the day you will arrive home at night without any need for regrets or second guessing.

Have a noble day!


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.


Be the person that you would like to be…

March 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do not complain about what you permit – Anon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week ahead.

 


A life lesson from the King of golf…

October 20, 2016

arnold-palmerArnold Palmer was called the King of golf because of his key role in making golf successful in the 1960’s and establishing it on TV. Palmer was followed on the golf course by his army and was the first great athletic hero of the Television Era. Palmer passed away this year at age 87.

 Palmer was extensively quoted during his life and Jack Freed used on of his quotes in a recent blog post to his blog Jack’s Winning Words.

“Success in golf depends less on strength of body than on strength of mind and character.”  (Arnold Palmer)

I would submit that Arnie’s saying is good advice for life in general. Success in life is not about physical things, such as strength or beauty; it’s much more about the strength of one’s mind and character. We’ve probably all known someone who was very beautiful or handsome in their looks but totally insecure and perhaps shy or withdrawn. Certainly most of us have seen many examples of very strong or athletically-gifted people whoGandhi failed in life, due to severe character flaws. Certainly Mahatma Gandhi was not strong of body ans not all that good looking, but he had tremendous strength of character and mind and was wildly successful in his efforts to free India from Colonial oppression.

Dicionary.com defines character as –

the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

So, character is what makes you unique; and your character can be viewed as having good or bad traits or features. You might be described as kind, gentle and loving or perhaps arrogant, loud and self-absorbed. You could be seen by others as a saint or a sinner, a winner or a loser, or trustworthy or flaky.

Likman lifting weightse lifting weights to build strength, there are things that we can do to improve our minds through training and education. We can be more ready for things that may come at us in life. We can also strengthen our characters.The key to developing and having a strong character, to my way of thinking, is to base your character on a strong foundation of faith and belief. Character built on the teachings of Jesus will make you stop before acting and consider what the “right” thing to do is in the situation. A mind trained the teachings of the Good News makes decisions based upon asking the simple question that has been printed on millions of posters and bracelets – “What would Jesus WWJDDo?” If you can’t see Jesus going down the path that you are about to take; why would you go down that path yourself?

Many might say, “Jesus was perfect; why should I hold myself up to a standard that I can never achieve?” The answer is found in the benefits that accrue when you continue striving towards that image of perfection. A better question for us to ask ourselves might be, “If I understand what the right thing to do is, why would I do the wrong thing.” Doing the right things is both based upon and further adds strength to your character. It gives your mind a stronger base upon which to make life decisions. Conducting your life, based upon a strong character and a mind rooted in faith and belief gives us integrity, which is the right path to true success in life.walking man

Proverbs 28:6 – “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.”

Face the day and the rest of the week with strength of character and mind. Peace be with you.


It’s just a boo-boo; you’ll live…

January 14, 2016

“Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo.”  (John Sinclair) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I really like that little saying because it is such an appropriate way to think about the failures and setbacks in our lives. The analogy holds up to a good deal of thought, too. Usually the event that causes a bruise involves something that causes pain first – a bump or a fall or running into something. It hurts at that instance and then your body may turn the site of the bump it into a bruise. The bruise still hurts, if you poke at it; but over time it heals and goes away. Of course, if the incident was traumatic enough to have broken or cut the skin, you may also end up with a scar instead of just a bruise. Scars are more like tattoos: they stay with you for a long time, but they, too, fade away over time. Some failures in life may leave scars, too.

Remember when you were little and fell off your bike or ran into the door while trying to mother with childrun away playing tag. It hurt; but, your mom kissed it and told you it was just a boo-boo and that you’d be OK – you’d live. Life’s failure are much the same, only mom isn’t there anymore. If you’re lucky you have a life partner who can kiss you and tell you that it’s just a boo-boo and that you’ll live. That failure is just a bruise (primarily to your ego) it’s not a tattoo. It may take a while for the bruise to heal and for you to forget about it, but it will heal eventually and you will forget and move on with life.

There are things that can tattoo you for life and I suppose that they might be called failures; although most of them are called crimes. Having a criminal record, especially for the more heinous crimes definitely act like tattoos on those who commitment. The record follows them around and some crimes involving sex or children or both result in those tattoos being registered in databases that all in the public can see. The exceptions usually involve juvenile offenders whose youthful criminal records are expunged when they turn 21. It’s sort of like having that tattoo removed through laser surgery.

Other things that we experience may causes bruises in our lives. The loss of a loved one, remorsefulrejection by someone that we hoped would be a loved one, loss of a job, divorce and more can all cause bruises. All of those bruises heal over time, though some require quite a bit longer than others.

There is a corollary saying that also rings true – “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” You may not think that the healing of that latest life bruise will make you stronger; but, you will learn something from it, you will know better the next time and you may be able to avoid getting bruised again by the same thing or person. If you develop the ability to look at life’s failures and setbacks as temporary bruises, it will make life much less stressful or depressing when you have those failures.

If you don’t have a loved one to turn to for a kiss and the reassurance that everything will be OK – that you’ll live; turn to the One who is always there for every boo-boo in life, the One who will never judge you or abandon you; the One to whom you can and will turn to even in the final moment of your life – embrace God and let Him kiss your boo-boo and make it better. In fact, even if your mom is still there, or you do have a loved one that you share your life with; taking your boo-boos and bruises to God in prayer will speed the healing. As you get older you may get a bit cynical about the medicinal impact of mom’s kisses, but you should never lose faith in the healing power of God.

If you must get a tattoo, get a small cross tattooed somewhere where you can look at it when yo need to. Then, in those times when something has just happened that you know is going to leave a bruise WWJDor maybe even a scar; you can look at that tattoo and say out loud, “this is the only thing that is permanent in my life.” That will start the healing process. If you really don’t want a tattoo, get one of those bracelets that have WWJD engraved or printed on them and wear that; because what Jesus would do is kiss your boo-boo and make it better.

It’s just a boo-boo: you’ll live and you’ll be stronger for it. Have a great day.