The Lure of Greed, Power & Ego

Too much of the world operates around greed, power, and ego. Unfortunately, I see this in D.C. all the time and it reverberates out through the media across the world. Sorry to say this and be a downer but it’s true now more than ever. The devil lures with greed, power, and ego and is doing a very good job in the temptation department.

I’m thinking about this because I’m already fast-forwarding to the end of Lent. Only a few days in and I’m having dreams of diving into a big bowl of chocolate anything because I gave chocolate up for Lent. Not that I think giving up something is more important that doing positive things during Lent, but if I can’t stay away from chocolate I won’t be able to resit any temptation.

So, in thinking about the end of Lent I’m picturing the devil tempting Jesus. He first offers Him all the bread he can eat—after not eating for 40 days in the desert. He then shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offers it to Him. Finally, the devil takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and tells Jesus to throw Himself off because His angels will swoop in to save Jesus. Greed, power, and ego. The devil tests Jesus and fails. Jesus comes out of the desert and starts His ministry.

It’s easy to give into greed, power, and ego. They play out on big and small stages all over the place. There is one thing that stands in the way of greed, power, and ego: humility. Humility that realizes that anything we have comes from God. He gives and our path in life is to use our God-given talents to the best of our abilities. And use them for good, just as Jesus did. And just as His Spirit empowers us to do on a daily basis.

My wife teases me that I think Lent is the best time of the year. In a way it is, if we take the time to reflect. That reflection should include getting grounded in humility as Jesus did in the desert for 40 days and resisting the urges of greed, power, and ego.

Have a humble week ahead! And eat some chocolate for me!

Change, But Don’t Change

Well what the heck does that mean? Change, but don’t change? How does that make any sense, let alone is possible? Simple. It means always strive to be better. Everyone can improve. No one is perfect. Only God can claim perfection. But always realize who you are and the special, unique purpose that God hardwired into you. Change—strive to be better. But don’t change from what God created. Be comfortable in your own skin.

As we get past January, a lot (most?) of us leave the well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions in the rearview mirror. We were going to do this or that—diet, exercise, have more patience, etc, etc, etc. But the change for the better part falls short. That’s natural to a degree. But just because January has come and gone doesn’t mean we can’t renew our striving to change, to be better. Make what you have been given better step by step. It won’t all happen over night.

I always go back to trying to understand what God has given to me. The special, unique purpose He has for my life. That takes listening for/to God. You can’t understand God’s purpose for you if you don’t “hear” from God. And that takes finding quiet time to spend with God.

When you know your purpose in life it’s easier to change by building off of that foundation. Think house. You may repair the house or even tear it down and build a new one but the foundation always stays. That foundation in your life is the special, unique purpose God built into you. Understand it. Build off of it.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Have a FANTASTIC week ahead. Change, but don’t change!

One Step Back, Two Steps (Or More) Forward

I started 2021 with a renewed outlook on life, optimistic that sometime this year COVID-19 will be behind us. I was focused, and had some good New Year’s resolutions. Things I want to do and move my life forward. Until I managed to take a step back on a few of those resolutions.

It’s easy to be bummed when you fall back to old ways and habits or, worse, fall even further back than before. But sometimes falling back isn’t so bad if it makes you even more determined to move forward. Failure can be the best road to success. But you need to learn from your failures and keep plowing ahead.

Thomas Edison was fired from his first two jobs. He supposedly failed over 1,000 times trying to invent the light bulb. We may operate on a different stage but my point is don’t let failing or falling back get you down. Learn. Reflect. Meditate. Then, plow forward. Be determined that for every step backwards, you take at least two steps forward.

New Year’s resolutions are only as good as your determination. Be determined. Don’t let failure get you down. I’m not perfect and neither are you or anyone else. We make mistakes. The lesson in life is learning from those mistakes and always making sure that you’re moving ahead.

Remember—each one of us has a special, unique purpose in life. A purpose that is only yours. A purpose that is truly God given. Find that purpose and pursue it. Don’t let any failure get in the way.

Have an OUTSTANDING week ahead!

There’s Only One You!

I am dating myself, but there’s a one-hit-wonder from the early nineties The One and Only performed by Chesney Hawkes that hit #1 in the UK and even #10 in the US. The chorus goes…

I am the one and only
Nobody I’d rather be
I am the one and only
You can’t take that away from me

For all the cheesiness of the lyrics, the song does have a point: You are the one and only. Just like I am the one and only. Each one of us on this planet is “the one and only.” “You can’t take that away from me” or you. And there is “nobody I’d rather be.” I hope you feel the same way about you.

When God made you He threw away the formula. The same with me. We are both totally unique, even if we had an identical twin. We are unique, one-of-a-kind, special, and novel, especially in the eyes of God.

As I have written more times than I can count, God has a special, unique plan and purpose for each one of us. That individualized plan goes along with our one-of-a-kind uniqueness as a person. Simply put, we are special with a special plan. One of the keys to life is understanding that plan and following it. That’s when we become whole and truly comfortable in our own skin. That’s when we live by “nobody I’d rather be.”

I have The One and Only in my running song collection not only because it’s a catchy tune to run by but also because it reminds me every day I hear it that “I am the one and only.” And that “nobody I’d rather be” and you can’t ever “take that away from me.”

When I’ve blasted the song in the house my wife thinks it’s all about ego. But I look at it in a very different light. It’s about being me. And you being you. Both unique and loved unconditionally by our Creator. And comfortable in our own skins knowing our places in this crazy world.

If you struggle finding out who you are, and what your plan is, spend some time with God. LISTEN for/to Him. Find some quiet time. Quality time. It’s not one-hit-wonder time. It takes some time investment. But God is there for you as much as He is for me and every other person. Just LISTEN. Yes, it’s that simple.

Have a FANTASTIC day and week ahead being you. You are the one and only!

And stay safe out there!!!

Where is God?

It’s times like these when we ask that question. “Where is God?” With death swirling around us worldwide, we at least think the question, it not say it. “Where is God?” I thought of the question this morning when I heard the gospel account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha and Mary must have been at least thinking it over and over again—“Where the heck is Jesus?” “He could have saved our brother from dying?” Yet, Jesus finally showed up and raised Lazarus from the dead.

God is where He always is—less than a heartbeat away from each one of us. A natural disaster has hit and God is not off on some vacation in heaven. He’s here. And if we LISTEN for/to Him we will weather this storm.

These are times that not just try souls (shoutout to Thomas Paine) but shake our faith to the core. Does God really care? Why can’t He stop the sickness and dying? How can God sit back and not do something? Anything?

Like the disciples in the boat terrified during the storm, we have to have faith. Faith will get us through this. The same faith that tells us that no matter what happens in this life that it is less than a heartbeat in the eternity we have been promised.

What’s very important during this crisis is how we act. Do we reach out and help others, however we can? Do we PRAY? Do we donate? Or do we simply hunker down and worry about ourselves. How we act during a crisis like this says everything about who we are as a person.

Have faith. Believe! It’s tough going right now but we will come out stronger. If that’s what we want.

I hope you are keeping safe, helping others, and BELIEVE!

Spend some more time with God this week. LISTEN for/to Him!!!

You Need a Vision!

The Israelites had no vision. They aimlessly wandered the desert for 40 years before the next generation made it to the Promised Land. They had no vision. The same can be said of this country. We’re aimlessly wandering the desert of politics and hate with no clear path or end in site. But the same doesn’t have to be said about you. You need a vision for your life, as do I. As does everyone.

You need an understanding of the God-given, unique, special purpose for your life. Then, you need a vision of how to fulfill that purpose.

Jesus is our model. He knew what His purpose was in life—to save us from our sins. To wipe the slate clean with His death. And He had a vision of how to fulfill that purpose. And that fulfillment of the vision came only at the end of Jesus’ life. There’s a message in that. It’s never too late to understand your purpose and have a vision of how to fulfill that purpose.

I have ended up in the world of cancer, especially relating to policy and politics. My purpose is to somehow do my little part to help people with cancer, now and generations to come. I know my purpose and have a vision of how to fulfill it. Along the path, I want to do everything to become a better person. Trust me—I’m no saint!!! The vision get’s cloudy at times and I’m far from a good person at times. But I am trying. And I have a vision.

I have written before that the Father shows us our purpose in life (if we’ll just listen); Jesus shows us the path by His footsteps, which provides the vision; and the Spirit empowers us to keep the vision clear in order to fulfill it. Purpose, footsteps, empowerment. You have a lot of help if you just look for it!

I hope you have your vision.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Psalm 138:8

Have an EXCEPTIONAL day!!!

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!

Humility

If there is one word after “love” that makes the world go around it’s “humility.” Unfortunately, there is not enough love in the world and way, way too little humility. Love is what God commands us to do. In fact, it’s His only command. Humility is an outgrowth of love and the understanding that anything you have in this world is from God. Sure, I have worked hard for everything I have in this life. But everything I have, including my ability to work hard, is from God. Pure and simple!

I think Paul said it best:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

If you watch the news—and all the news is the same, just variations on left and right—the pundits (in general) are a study in a lack of humility. And with that lack of humility comes a complete lack of compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience. And the politicians generally follow the same theme. This is what we are exposed to day in and day out.

The devil loves this! Toss out the love and humility from this world and you get hell on earth—literally. And that’s where we are heading unless we wake up!

So, what to do? LISTEN to God’s call for you—yes, you! You have a special, unique purpose in life because you are special and totally unique in the eyes of God. He is calling you to fill that purpose as you walk in love and humility. Like God intends life to be, this is easy! Really easy!!! You just have to do it.

PS—I’m writing this (and posted Paul’s quote on my personal facebook page today) because humility has been an issue for me the past several days. It’s my own personal message to tone it down and remember who has given me everything I have—whatever that is.

Love. Humility. Note to self!

Have an OUTSTANDING day!!!

You Are An Artist!!!

Trust me—I have little to no artistic talent. I can’t really draw. In college, I took an art class and fashioned myself as a modernist (translation: throw paint on a canvas and call if art). But I am an artist, and so are you! We make “art” every day if we just think about it. I came upon this observation, which says it all too well:

Most of us feel uncomfortable thinking of ourselves as artists, but we are. With every choice, every day, you are creating a unique work of art. Something that only you can do. Something beautiful and ephemeral. The reason you were born was to leave your own indelible mark on your personal world. Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance

I always say that each one of us can change the world every day if we just believe and put our fingers in our ears of doubt. The world is our canvas if we just try and use some creativity. We can inspire with our “art.”

Make some “art” today. Be creative. Think outside of your box. Stop listening to the devil’s doubt holding you back. Be an artist!

Have a CREATIVE weekend!

There’s Always a New You in You!

Happy New Year!  It’s that time for resolutions, diets, and promises to hit the gym every day. But whether it takes a new year to get you thinking about you, there is always a new you in you. A you that builds on whatever has happened in the past, regardless of what has happened. A better you, a stronger you, a more promising you.

A lot of people get dragged down by their past like an anchor. They focus on what they did, and shouldn’t have done, and failed to do. They don’t look ahead at all the possibilities, regardless of the past.

Whatever has happened in the past is just that. It’s the past. And you can’t change the past. But you can shape the future by finding a new you in you. You can always reinvent yourself.

Jesus held down a job in obscurity for 30 years. Then, for 3 years he did something totally different—and changed the world in the process. There was a new Him in Him.

Don’t just make resolutions. Find the new you in you. Or simply build on you. You can do anything, be anyone. God is in you. The only one holding you back is you!

I wish you the very best and blessings of peace and joy in this new year!!!