Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Big "If Only"

Have you or others said "if only I had" or "if only I was"? Life can be filled with "if onlys"  It seems like we are always looking for that next goal. There are a myriad of categories of "if onlys" that seem to tug at our imaginations and hearts. Let's look at a few.




If Only I Was Smart and Educated:

There are many in the quest for knowledge and education so that they could either show others or progress in a better way in today's world. While this is a good thing to want, it's a never ending journey with constant thirst for more. Many people get stuck in a cycle for more knowledge and credentials.

If Only I Was Great Looking:

There are even more folks that desire to be attractive. This is what drives a significant amount of marketing and advertising. There are whole industries that are driven by our wanting to be desirable. While this a a good thing if handled with some reason. The fact is we will all age and look worse over time makes this a bit futile.

If Only I Had Enough Money:

We all want to be debt free at some point and have enough money to buy the desires of our heart. While more riches many help, it also is a drug that addicts. If you have ever watched the very rich, they always want more and contentment is elusive. The love of money is the root of all evil.

If Only I Had a Life Partner:

Everyone want to be loved. Sometimes it's hard to admit, but we need others. If it is a close loved one or a circle of good friends, we want and need close interaction. Some hop from person to person seeking that perfect match, but many prefer to settle in on a deep and stable partnership.

If Only I Had Health and Energy:

We all wish to be well at a minimum level to function without pain and sorrow.  Many seek to have that perfectly cut body, but most of us want to enjoy ourselves and stay in a good body tone zone. We want to feel good about ourselves and our ability to enjoy our physical world greatly. If might be great journeys (a nice walk for me now) or great adventures (free climbing in my younger years) enjoying our bodies to the fullest. We don't want our bodies to betray us, but eventually bodies die.

THE BIG IF ONLY:

The most important, in my mind is to know what happens when we are done on this earth?  Will God approve of my life. I have chosen the free Grace that God gives to forgive the fact that I am not perfect nor will I ever be perfect. God loves me no matter what I say or do. I have put my faith in His grace and mercy to help me have a time for eternity with Him when my body finally gives out. I wouldn't want to say "If only I would have trusted God for his grace and mercy?"

We all like free and God gives this mercy to all of us for free. We certainly like free especially if it is from God. He gave us our lives and gifts, now he offers eternity with him. It won't be boring. Only If we all had eternity with God. That's my big "If Only"

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sleep Walking Our Lives Away

Today's society has us so hypnotized we often miss the importance of the basics in life. While we all would say our family, friends and relationships are most important, but really act as if they are important. We would all say we enjoy the peace of  nature when we go on holidays, but do we still pursue the beauty of the world as a priority? What has us so distracted that our top priorities suffer quite a bit?



Hypnotized by Our Pace:

We are under such pressure at work and home it's really hard to keep up. The bosses always want more. Your family and friends always want more. Sometimes it seems we are on a treadmill that we can't get off of at any time soon. Maybe this explains the need to temporarily escape from the pain of the pace. We are Obsessive Compulsive to a Disease level (OCD) about getting the most out of every role of our lives.

Hypnotized by Our Phones:

We are always looking at our electronic devices, especially our phones, to keep up with our social links, our work emails, the next destination we are traveling to at the moment. People can't walk without collisions because of phones much less driving in cars. We are expected to be available in real time at all times. We are OCD about missing anything aka Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Hypnotized by Riches:

We all want the best we can get as we think we only go around once in life. Men want the most expensive toys and homes to prove their prowess. Women want the best wardrobe and eternal bodies to show their attractiveness. Both are trying scratch and crawl over each other to have riches to trust for the rest of their lives. We are OCD about our money

Hypnotized by the News:

We all know CNN was created by Ted Turner, who couldn't get enough news, much less real time news. We have to know the latest to be able to protect our investments and appear to be "up" on the latest. We are being trained to be OCD on the news.

Hypnotized by Reality Drama:

Many are so captured by watching others live through conditions and events that would rattle the best of us. We want to live out the lives of rich people without being rich. We want to live out the lives of pioneers in  the remote part of the world without being there ourselves. We want to pan for gold and cheer on vindictive women as they kick and punch each other. We are OCD on drama.

Hypnotized by Carnal Beauty:

Many are captivated by big butts and lusty men or women. Our children are sexting in the dark because they are possessed with knowing all that is carnal. Porn of all imaginable kinds are pushed our way, hidden under ads. We see a rise in sexual preditors in every corner of our lives. We are OCD about lust.

Hypnotized by Self Image:

Many want to appear better than we really are, so we work at our digital personas like they are super important. This goes beyond watching what we say online to avoid a bad reputation, but to projecting an image that is desirable to others. We are OCD about our public image.


What are we missing?

We are sleepwalking following these false goals and we really don't attain many of them. What our lives really are missing is God. We need to open our minds and hearts to who God is and what he has done for us with his mercy and forgiveness. The hope of God and his provision for us destroys the despair of unattainable goals and even takes the sting out of death with a promise of spending the rest of time with Him.

Bottom Line:

Seeking God in everything is the real important thing to do. We can see God in nature and children. We can see God in others and the inventions of man. God had given us so much, including the understanding of science to make our lives better. It's time to wake up from our sleep walking.















Thursday, April 13, 2017

For Those Who Celebrate Easter or Passover

Peace be to all. If you don't celebrate Good Friday and Easter, please pass by this one. For those who do, Easter is the celebration of our freedom and peace. Happy Easter !!!!  I created a new painting last year based on my past visits to Israel to see Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. I hope you enjoy seeing it as much as I enjoyed painting it. I have also included other past years paintings celebrating the wonderful Gospel and our forgiveness. For my Jewish friends, I wish you a happy Passover and have completed a painting for you as well. 

                                                              Risen




 
                                                           Star of David 



                                                          Mercy Mountain 
     

                                             


                                                               Flying Cross




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Fear the Mirror

We all have expectations that we do not meet. It might be something we want that we can't get. Maybe we want to accomplish something, but have been frustrated in making it happen. The real test question is "Are we what we want to be? Maybe it's bravery, tenderness or truthfulness. All these self imposed expectations add so much pressure to our lives on top of everything else that comes our way. It makes me want to run away from self introspection at times, because it might hurt.





Character Goals:

We all want to be the best we can be, but we often stumble and become disappointed in ourselves. For many, it's that sports hero, performer or wonderful leader that we want to emulate. It might be that you want to be the best child, sibling or parent you can be. It might be emulating values you look up to on a consistent basis. We all fall short when we look in the mirror, but there is hope.

Competence Goals:

We all want to be capable in the things we do, so we are looking to add value in our thoughts, advice and actions. We want to be reliable and faithful to others and ourselves, so we can look into the mirror with no regret. We really want to be valued as competent to ourselves and others, but often we don't exercise our gifts like we should.

Bottom Line:

You are not a failure in God's eyes, but our disappointment is meant to draw us closer to Him. The God who loves us despite our inability to even please ourselves. He is always open to us when we look in the mirror and come clean that we really need Him.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Why So Much Suffering?

It's hard to imagine so much suffering and injustice that seems only to be growing in intensity and scope. Do you ever wonder why the wicked prosper and why you seem powerless to do anything about it? It seems that circumstances are getting harder and harder all the time. A good friend of mine really questioned why God would let all this happen? This made me think deeply about this topic.



Wondering About Why the Poor Suffer:

It is sad to see how many people are poor and do not have proper nourishment, clean water, cures from diseases or proper health care. It's very difficult to look at the conditions that exist in many countries. Even the most "civilized" societies have those that have little or nothing. I remember a period in my life when we didn't know where the next meal was coming from. It makes me be thankful for what I have today and want to share with others.

Wondering Why There is So Much Arrogance:

It is also sad to see wicked arrogance by those who have power and leverage. It seems like the wicked have stacked the system to drain those who can least afford it. It's a power thing; not a political thing. It seems like there are examples of selfish indulgence everywhere and it gets flaunted in front of those that would not likely ever arrive at that point. It seems to erode character and values of many societies and held up as a false destination for us.

Wondering Why So Many are Oppressed:

It is also hard to swallow how the wicked and powerful try to stay in power. They do it by oppressing those who a beneath them in the power and wealth curve. It seems that the thirst for greed drives the wicked to prosper at the expense of the weak and meek. It's like the powerful are afraid of a reversal in fortunes where the last will be first and the first will be last.

It seems like God is allowing this to happen and it is easy to get mad at God. We wonder why God didn't heal our good friend and why others have to suffer. Gods plan is to allow us to make choices with the freedom, but there are many that chose to behave badly.  These choices have a cumulative effect that we see as suffering and evil.

Bottom Line: 

Judgment is inevitable and we can take that to the bank. God has purposes that will reach their destiny and we will all face an accounting for our lives. Don't be mad at God. These sufferings are a result of humans behaving badly outside of the wishes of God. God has given of of us a choice to trust him, or not, despite the circumstances. I pray for forgiveness for any of my strays that hurt others because I trust God even though I can't see him.


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. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017: Seeking A Better Self

2016 ended and we all sighed with relief. We saw some of the most famous and gifted pass away, especially at the years close. These celebrity deaths affected all generations this time as some were heroes of the younger generations. There is not much of a silver lining in these deaths other than all of us need to embrace our lives with better relationships. Love is the answer to a 2016, where so much hate was visible and so much death was witnessed. We all will likely seek a better 2017, but there is an opportunity to seek a better self to help assure a better year for us all.



A Better Self with Spiritual Depth:

Have you ever felt the peace of a sunset, the beauty of nature or the solitude of a quiet time. These are moments that speak to your spirit. Seeking these experiences will grow your spirit and give God a chance to speak to your heart. Separation from the hustle, technical immersion, and business of life will be a key for a better 2017. This works in good or bad times.

A Better Self with Loved Ones & Friends:

Deepening your relationships with your closest peeps is a proven way to have a better life thus a better 2017. This may mean being less prideful and more vulnerable than you have in the past. Expressing positive thoughts and making these statements out loud to your loved ones always pays dividends. Being kind, to even strangers, never hurts. Now if we could only be kind to those who cut us off in traffic :)

A Better Self with Thankfulness:

No matter who you are and what circumstances you are experiencing, you can find something to be thankful for. It just takes a moment to focus on what is good in your life. Don't look at the rich and famous who have it all, but look at those who are needy or suffering to be thankful. There is always someone who has it worse than you and they are not hard to find. Be thankful for something as often as you can.

A Better Self with Service:

You can always express your love and increase your self worth by helping others. Giving to charity is an easy way to get started, but the real payback comes with spending time and talent to serve others. When you actually see and feel the impact of your service, the value to your self image is extraordinary.

A Better Self with Investment:

You also need to invest in yourself. Maybe its taking time for one of your favorite hobbies, maybe it's learning something new, maybe it's meeting some new people or deepening your relationship with others. Setting some small doable goals and accomplishing them is key. Once success is experienced, repeat the process again and again. Don't cruise, but keep investing and stretching.

Bottom Line:

2017 can be a better year for you despite your circumstances, if create a better self. If circumstances are great there is a multiplier effect. We hope your 2017 is better and would appreciate if you shared other self improvement approaches. May God bless you richly in 2017.