Monday, March 20, 2017

The More You More

Isn't funny that no matter what we have, we always seem to want more. At every level of life, it seems to ring true. The more you get, the more  you want. It seems that contentment is an elusive commodity. It seems that the human condition makes us want more than we really need. If we really received the blessing that we desire at the moment, would we be fulfilled or still wanting? When I was young I longed for syrup for my pancakes as we were too poor to afford it then. Now I think about a new pair of shoes frequently and a new car once in a while. I have that human condition too.

What if you Had It all?

It would be dangerous to have all those blessings as we would go weary of them. Look at the richest person you know. They are always striving for more. Look at those who do not count wealth, but relationships. There is never enough people to satisfy their longings. It is easy to boast and be arrogant if you had all that you wanted. It most likely would be a curse in disguise.

Is Happiness Only About Circumstances?

Can you recall saying to yourself? If I only had "X". Fill in that "X". If you are hungry, it's food. If you are cold, it's a coat. If you are sick, it's being well. Are we constantly is a state of wanting more? I would assert the answer is yes. It's like an unquenchable thirst. This seems a bit like a personally driven rate race where we are running the race.

Real Contentment:

Want we really want after we peel away all the circumstances is God. God gives that contentment through his continual love and mercy. God is at the end of our journey, but we all get so detoured. Seeking God humbly is the real "MORE" we all want though we may have a hard time admitting it.

Bottom Line:

Before you rush off chasing your "more", remember this parting thought. You came in the world naked and you will go out of this world naked. What do you really want in light of that reality?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Disappointment: It Just Happens

While disappointment isn't going to kill anyone immediately and it isn't as bad as suffering, but it can certainly affect the quality of life. It's like a low grade fever or a headache that just makes you feel miserable. Disappointment is normal and natural, but it still feels bad. In today's world we all put on the face of success, but under it all we are disappointed in some way. There are several sources of disappointment.

Lack of Something We Want:

As a child I remember wanting a special toy. I kept looking forward to getting for several birthdays and every Christmas holiday season. My mom, who was great at reading me, asked why I looked down. I mentioned my desire for this toy, but never asked. Guess what appeared at my next birthday? We silently desire things and don't communicate with the people we love. Shame on us.

Lose Something We Value:

I lost a son in 2014 at the peak of his career. I really still miss him more than anything, but I was disappointed that he did experience many things in life. He did see his children grow into adults. He never had a grand child to spoil. He never got to sit back and look fondly at his accomplishments. I am still disappointed that I can't talk with him, though I try, but I am also disappointed for him. A real double disappointment for me.

Little to Look Forward to in Life:

I have never been here, but I know of those who are feeling like their life is slipping away. As we age we lose capabilities and dreams. If you let this get to you, this trap is surely waiting for you. I would guess that a life of not getting what we want and losing many things of value over time could put you right here.

Bottom Line:

We can deny disappointment and act like life is great, but we are better to admit it and turn it to God. Can you imagine how God is disappointed with us humans, myself included, but yet he loves us so much that He gives us mercy. We only need to seek Him and ask Him.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Are You a Coffee Bean?

This is a cute story I head the other day from my buddy Dan Lind. This young man said to his mother that he was having a bad day and that all the students in college were poking fun at him. She asked for him to elaborate while she pulled out a pot, from the cabinet, and filled it with water and dumped some carrots in it and turned on the burner to boil the water and carrots.

Then the young adult told his mom that he was having trouble with his studies and was ready to give up school for good. She asked him to tell her about it while she pulled out another pot and filled it with water and eggs. Again she turned on the burner to bring the eggs to a boil.

After this the young man said he was having problems with his girl friend and all he did was upset her. Again the mom started asking follow up questions while she pulled another pot out of the cabinet. She filled this one with coffee beans and proceeded to bring this one to a boil as well

The young man was a bit confused and looked at his mom and asked "so what do you think?" The mom proceeded to pour out the stained carrots in a bowl and asked her son. "How are the carrots?" He said they were soft and mushy. Then immediately after she pulled out the eggs and gave him one to eat. "How is the egg?" she asked. He said it was tough and hard. Then she proceeded to pour the strained liquid in a cup and said "taste this". He said "this is great".

The Mom then said "Life puts you under pressure like the boiling water does all these ingredients. They are like people. The weak people turn out mushy and the bitter people turn out hard boiled. But the coffee beans change the water into something better. Son, you need to be like a coffee bean flavoring life with the best with a splendid aroma."

Bottom Line:

We all come under pressure. I pray that my life would be like a coffee bean where my influence is in good taste and my spirit picks up other peoples senses and energy levels. By the grace of God I would like to be like the wonderful coffee bean. Are you a coffee bean or want to be one?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Confidence Amongst Turmoil

Looking at today's world and you can see that the seeds of change are sprouting. We see geopolitical upheaval. We hear threats and rumors of wars. We are seeing things that are unprecedented. Is this because of the technical revolution that is impacting everything? Is it because we are approaching the limits of how many people our plundered planet can support? Is it because there is a power grab to be in the best position as resources deplete? It might be a bit of each, but the real question is

                                "What do you put your confidence in today?" 

Your Own Dreams & Efforts:

There are many self esteem coaches that say you need better self esteem and better dreams and all your problems will melt away. Getting to maximum physical shape is also a major thrust today (I'm still looking for my six pack). Others say keeping your mind sharp to last into your later years is fantastic way to go forward. This helps, but

Your Family & Friends:

We have families that love us for the most part and friends that accept us unconditionally. I suspect when the "chips are down" and things get tough, there will be fewer friends and part of that family support system will fade. Family and friends help, but

The Younger Generations:

Youthful energy and fresh ideas always get accepted into society and help all generations alive and to come. The question is will this be enough and youth may lack experience. Youth helps, but

The System & Institutions:

We look to our governments and businesses to take care of us. It seems with everyone fighting for the few funds that are there, we the people get lost in the shuffle. Look at how companies used to be loyal and took care of their people. Now longer. Government institutions can help, but

Technology & Science:

There are new medical and technical breakthroughs happening daily. These are encouraging and they will continue us to help cope and extend life expectancies. Technology will help extend the power and reach of man, This is all good, but

Bottom Line:

These issues we face are bigger than all of these combined and the momentum of change and potentially bad outcomes will accelerate. I would suggest you put your confidence in God first because He loves you unconditionally. All these other things help, but are insufficient over the long haul. We are eternal beings, but life on earth is temporal. We all need to get to know this God who loves us. Keep seeking brothers and sisters with a humble spirit and God will meet you where you are with the grace He can only provide through Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

All You Need is Love

Is love the thing that makes the world go around? If it is, why are we seeing less and less of it demonstrated in the world today? It seems that this fast paced world full of extremes seems to have forgotten about love in all of it's forms. I'm less afraid of climate change than I am of the lack of love that seems to be winning the day. There are basically three kinds of love that we demonstrate on a regular basis.

Romantic / Erotic Love:

This is when you become so enamored with someone, you can't be too close to them. You want to be part of each other. Today this happens too fast and really doesn't last as long as it should. In fact the emphasis in today's world seems to be focused on the erotic form only often leaving the romantic part at a low or non-existent level for fun / kicks. It is easy to be seduced into temporary erotic acts that is not compatible with what we really desire long term. This sometimes shows a lack of real love.

An Affectionate Love:

This is when you feel a fondness or an endearment towards someone and you care for them, but not in a romantic way. You feel a closeness and want only the best for this person. This is typical of a friendship and you want to spend time with them frequently. Today there are so many channels for people to express their friendships and "likes" openly. Social media gives us an opportunity to devote time to friendship efficiently without being present. While this is an opportunity, it also carries some "bad juju". First you can have fake friendships and secondly you can hurt others more easily. It may be on purpose or not even knowing. This sometimes shows a lack of love as well.

 A Great Interest:

This is when you like an activity or a thing in a significant way. People want to spend time pursuing this love. This is a very fulfilling thing to have and it makes us satisfied. The problem comes in that when we pursue this thing so much that we unknowingly hurt the two kinds of love mentioned above. Too much time can be spent pursuing interest to the detriment of others we love. This sometimes show a lack of love.

Bottom Line:

There is a greater love than all these three that is the love that is sacrificial and puts others ahead of our convenience or desires. This is the kind of love that God has for all of us, but we do not take advantage of his free gift of love.  God loves us more than we can comprehend. This is the true kind of love we all should seek. This kind of love can be turned around and shown to others. It may be doing something for person who makes you feel unformatable. I would like to start turning to love more, by spending more time with the ones I love and doing something nice for the strangers I meet along the way, even if they appear unsavory or offend me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Who is Unlovable?

You see people everyday that make you wonder who could love them? People pushing to get ahead of others and not stopping to help those who can't keep up. Their noses are in their phones and they are quite oblivious to the fact there are others around them. While they are probably pursuing goals that are important to them, they have little regard for the hurt people left in their wake. Does this make them unlovable?

People are Hard to Love:

It seems today that people have lost their kindness button and seem to be out for themselves at the expense of others. There is more public insulting than I can ever remember. It was there before the election year of 2016, which seems to have amped up the hate machines on both sides based on what I see on Facebook. There is brutal criticism going on all around us and it has been magnified by many outlets like social media, tabloids and reality TV shows. There seems to be a real raw edge being exposed and it makes loving people difficult. One really has to work at loving others today.

I'm Hard to Love: 

Sometimes I look in the mirror, I don't like what I see. Sometimes I don't react well to people and situations. I usually kick myself later and wonder why anyone would love me for the long term. Sometimes my gifts and personality work for me to meet people, but sometimes I am just like those other goal driven people I mentioned above and don't behave well. I sometimes feel unlovable and I have to work at it.

We all Want to Connect:

Deep down we all need and want to connect with God and others. If we feel unlovable and we see the lack of love in others, we are likely to double down our efforts to love God.  Is that what God really wants?

Bottom Line: 

God loves all of us more than we can imagine. He understands we are not capable of loving others or ourselves like he does, so He helps us. It's hard for us to understand that God thinks we are all a treasure to Him. To that end, God, who knows what's good for us, gave us Christ to be the perfect intermediator on our behalf. God's own son had to die to reconcile our relationship. Painfully, my son died in 2014 and it was not my choice. God chose for his son to die for us. Now that's love.

Monday, January 9, 2017

There Has to be a Better Way

We live in a fast paced world today and if you don't keep up you feel like you will be buried. If you don't keep up with the work pace, someone will replace you. If you don't keep up with your relationships. you will be left out of the action. If you don't plan for the future now, you will be destitute later in life. If you don't eat well or exercise, you will pay for it later in life. If we aren't proactive,  our competitors will outflank us. This sounds so stressful, one is likely to have health problems just thinking about it. Is there a better way?

A Better Way by Showing Mercy, Kindness & Forgiveness:

It is so easy to get ruffled by the rudeness of the world today. People cut you off driving and act like you are in their way. People all rush to get off the airplane to be first. Folks are rude to people in service jobs. If you just sit and observe modern behavior, it's gotten plain ugly at times. Practicing some kindness proactively and forgiveness in reaction mode would go along way to improving our little worlds. Yes there will always be rude people, but if we all take steps to show some kindness, the world would be better. We don't have to look for it in our leaders, we just need to practice it. 

A Better Way by Showing Thankfulness:

If you are thankful every day for something, you have to be in a better state of mind. There is always somebody who has it worse than you do. Concentrate on being thankful for a few things every day. Even if you have to put them in you "to do" lists or on your calendar, you should be thankful for something. This really works when you encounter those rude folks as well. You can be thankful that you have seen a bad example and that you were spared from responding badly.

A Better Way by Stopping to Enjoy and Meditate:

We need those moments of silence and peace. It is hard to find them, but when you are bored and in a safe place exercise a prayer, a meditation or an appreciation of a special memory. It may be in a quiet time when you are trying to sleep, Maybe it's when your plugged into great music when you can think of peaceful moments. Maybe it's at Yoga or when you are doing boring exercise, mental refreshment is essential to practice. 

Bottom Line: 

There are better ways to live and enjoy life. It's important to practice and enjoy mercy as we all make mistakes of omission. It's important to be thankful and accept your life as good in at least some small way. Get away from the buzz and stimulation to get in touch with nature or your God, who wants a encounter with you. There is a better way besides blasting people on social media or getting upset with some news story that stokes your emotions.