Grace

The total untethered grace that God gives us is all about unconditional love, favor, mercy, and empowerment. It is that grace that has saved us, through God’s Son Jesus, and gives us the power to do anything in life with that grace. But that grace is tied to giving our own “grace” to others. Life is a two-way street. It’s not all about taking. It’s even more about giving. Want to feel God’s grace in your life? Give your own grace to others.

I know this sounds like more religious “mumbo gumbo” but it’s actually about life. Life that should be a two-way street with you taking in all that God has to offer through His grace while giving back to others through your own “grace.” This isn’t difficult. It’s pretty simple. Give and take. Don’t just take. Give.

I don’t know how to make this message simpler. Give. And I’m not just talking about money or other things. I’m talking about giving yourself. Start with a smile. Lend someone a hand. Pay forward a cup of coffee. Give to those in need. Go beyond yourself. Just give as God gives.

Simple.

Have an AMAZING week pouring out your grace!

Yes, There Are 7 Secrets to Life!!!

I started writing this blog almost eight years ago to share what I have found—seven Real Secrets to Life. Not some catchy, gotcha, “I have the secret to life” hype. Just what I have found that has worked in my life. They have helped me get through the chaos and clutter of life, as well as helping me simplify life. Life that we always manage to complicate, regardless of how simple God intends it to be. I don’t spend any time “promoting” this blog. I don’t make any money off this blog, which is not a bad thing, but I just keep it simple. My thoughts are as much for me as for those who read them. So, I thought it was a good time to briefly review what are the seven Real Secrets to Life that I have found.

LISTENREADLOVEFIGHTBELIEVELIVE & PRAY. There you have them. My Secrets to Life. For me they are a steading influence, helping me put life into perspective and serving as a map going forward.

LISTEN because God is calling to you—yes, you! READ the Bible because it has life answers (It’s God’s handbook on life, in case you don’t know it.). LOVE because God is love and commands us to live in love. FIGHT because the devil is all too real and whispering doubt and other temptations in your ear. BELIEVE that you can do anything—because you can! LIVE knowing this life is just the opening act to eternity. And PRAY simply because it works. God is listening (as well as calling to you, which loops you back around to the first Secret to Life).

The utter simplicity of these Secrets to Life says everything. They boil life down to its simplicity—the way God means life to be. They help me focus my life—what I did yesterday that needs correcting and the course changes I need to make today. They help me focus on what’s important and what is not. They help order the life chaos.

I hope these help you as they help me. But whatever you do, find your Real Secrets to LifeAnd have a GREAT day, and an AMAZING year, in the process!

 

Mulligans

I like to think of the New Year as giving me a second (and third, fourth, fifth, etc, etc.) chance at renewal. There’s something psychological about the fresh start the New Year brings. Dieting, exercising, being a better person, doing something different with your life, whatever. The New Year gives us another chance at changing. But then it hits me that God gives us a second chance every day. In fact, every second of every day. And God doesn’t count how many mulligans (sorry; that’s golf for “do-over”) He gives us in life. They are infinite.

I love the fact that Christmas is a week before New Year’s Day. It reminds me that God gave His only Son for us to give us all those mulligans in life. Jesus wiped out all our sins—past, present, and future. They are all forgiven if we just acknowledge them and ask for that forgiveness Jesus was born into our lives on Christmas morning. So, the new year may be psychological but it’s not important because, in a way, every day is New Year with Jesus in our lives.

We all screw up. Some  more than others (I’m in that camp!). I love what St. Paul says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15). Bingo!!! That’s me. I know what I should do but I don’t do it. That’s why I need a lot of mulligans. It’s pretty amazing that the guy (Paul) who almost singlehandedly spread Christianity to the world knew that he screwed up. Guess I’m in good company.

Thank you Jesus for those mulligans!

Wishing you the very best of the New Year ahead. Blessings, joy, health, and prosperity!!!

The Season of Expectations

If there’s one holiday that’s about expectations it’s Christmas. Whether child or adult, there’s that expectation of Christmas morning and the opening of presents. Whether you focus on getting or giving, there are expectations all the same. I get it and have the same expectations. But this season I’m trying to focus my expectations on Jesus truly being born again in all our lives. I’m not taking the fun out of Christmas. Just trying to focus on what Christ(mas) is all about. Christ, birth, and beginning.

It’s harder than ever to not get swept up with the commercial side of Christmas. Putting up the tree and all the directions, shopping online or at the store for presents, and baking those Christmas cookies. We even ventured into New York City for dinner with friends and we’ll be back for a family dinner next week, when my niece turns 21 the day before Christmas Eve, when my brother turns 50. Great time of year!

But in all the season rush, I’m trying to stay focused on the main even. The birth of Jesus Christ. Because that’s what this is really all about. Not a birth that took place 2,000+ years ago but a birth that should take place in each one of us on Christmas. Our expectations should be met by that birth and the joy, peace, and gratitude that comes with it.

Try to keep your expectations focused on the really important thing this year. Spend some time thinking about it and taking it all in. Seemingly “insignificant” people from an “insignificant” part of the world giving birth to a child in a barn in a manger where the animals feed. It’s a seemingly “insignificant” event that was the most important event in the history of the world then and ever to come. Try to make it the most important, significant event in your life!

I’ll try to write again by Christmas but if I don’t, let me wish you all the peace and joy of Christmas. Enjoy!!!  

Giving Thanks (for Real!)

OK. Thanksgiving, a time with an emphasis on eating (way too much), is over, we’ve survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the Christmas season is in full force. In fact, it seems it was in full force three weeks or so before Thanksgiving with all the decorations already out! We give a lot of lip service to giving thanks at this time of year and preparing the way for the Lord but the commercialism of the season often drowns out the real giving of thanks. Don’t let that happen!

If there is ever a time of year we should give thanks, reflect on everything we have in this country, and truly prepare for the birth (rebirth) of Jesus in our lives it’s this time of year. This should be a season of giving, smiling, and helping anyone in any way possible. Simply put, it’s a season to be nice.

I’m first in line for taking for granted everything I have, from the little things to the big. But I’m going to do my best this season to be thankful, to be happy, and to be helpful. There is so much (and so many) that divides us. To make us unhappy, and downright angry. I’m going to do my best to be the opposite. In my own little way to be a uniter, rather than a divider. I can’t change the world but I can sure try in my own little way. Change happens one person at a time.

Wishing you the very best of this thankful season that really should prepare for the way of the Lord in our lives!

Lost (Hopelessly?) in the Desert

I have written about this before but we (the world) are lost in the desert. We’re moving away from God and, as we do, the acrimony and downright hatred in the world increases. And we have no direction, no goals, and we’re just wandering. If you want a picture of this, and how it plays out, read the Old Testament. Seriously!

I hate to be gloomy because I’m an upbeat person, always trying to see the good. But it’s tough when you see the spitefulness and incessant arguing by the politicians, who we pay (with our increasing taxes!) to fix things—not break them. Riots, wars, and threats of nuclear bombs seem like a day-to-day constant. But most troubling is the fact that we are moving away from God.

It’s startling to think that 26% of the United States population now describes themselves as religiously unaffiliated; meaning, their religious identity is atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” and now stands at 26%. That’s up from 17% in 2009. So, translation, a quarter of the population basically doesn’t believe in God, or at the very least, doesn’t involve Him in their lives. If anything, He is just “he” (lower case intentional). Although an increasing number of people believes that He doesn’t exist.

The Israelites aimlessly wandered the desert for 40 years, taking that time to go about 11-12 miles. They turned their backs on God and bad things happened. All this is playing out now. We are the Israelites and we are wandering, turning our backs on God. And bad things are happening. None of this should be a surprise.

I’m not wandering. The world around me may but I’m keeping my eyes fixed on God—Father who sets my purpose, Jesus who has laid out the footsteps for me, and the Spirit who empowers me. Sorry if this sounds like religious mumbo-jumbo but it’s the only way for me to not get down and look straight ahead.

… this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13

Don’t wander. Look straight ahead with a plan. And keep your eyes fixed on God.

Have an AMAZING week ahead!

Purpose, Footsteps & Empowerment

This is real simple. God the Father sets the purpose, that special, unique purpose that we all have in life. And, yes, that includes you! Jesus the Son who walked among us provides the way—Christianity has been described early on as “the Way”—the footsteps we need to follow. And the Holy Spirit provides us with the empowerment to walk the walk—follow the footsteps in pursuing the purpose. Simple.

I could write on and on about this but, again, it’s pretty simple so I’ll keep is brief. One of life’s great secrets is understanding that purpose—special and unique; totally individualized for each one of us—and pursuing it. Jesus laid down the footsteps in His 3-year walk about how we should live our lives. And Spirit is all the empowerment we need to walk that walk in pursuing our purpose in life. And nothing is more fulfilling in life than knowing we have a purpose and pursuing it.

I know, I know. Sounds all too simple and packaged with a bow around it. But as I say and write all the time, God means life to be simple. We are the ones who complicate it. And boy do we complicate life!!! 

Don’t know where to start. Again, simple. Open up to God—Father, Son, and Spirit. Reach out. Talk and LISTEN. Spend some quality time with God. It truly is that simple. You can’t get results if you don’t invest the time. Seriously. It is that simple.

I hope you have a FANTASTIC week ahead on your walk!