Nails In or Out?

Sorry for what may sound like some heavy religious mumbo-jumbo but this is my new visual. Nails in or out? Meaning, Jesus was nailed to the Cross for our sins. Yes, yours and mine, as well as every other person, dead, alive, and to be born. So, we’re either there helping to nail Him to the Cross or trying to take the nails out. Pretty compelling visual, at least for me.

It’s that simple, We’re either sinning and effectively hammering those nails in or doing our best to repent and pulling those nails out. If Jesus died for our sins—past, present, and future—we’re either sinning or trying to stop sinning. We’re either indifferent or trying to fix our failings. Nails in or nails out? It’s either one of the other. There is no in between!

So, I ask myself all the time—Nails in or out?

Hope this helps. ENJOY the day!

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!!!

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!

Our Demons

Last night my brother had a memorial “Celebration of Life” service for his only child. Jacqueline was 32 years old and died from an opioid overdose. She was a good girl, close to finishing her studies to be a physician’s assistant. But she fought a demon, as we all do to varying degrees. As I said last night to all attending, now she is in a place where there are no demons. What seems like a loss—to her and everyone—is a big win.

As I spoke to a room full of people last night, my niece like all of us battled a demon. In her case it was a very powerful opioid drug. Like to admit it or not, we all battle demons. Realizing that and knowing our demon(s) is half the battle. The rest of the battle is turning to God for help. That’s what my niece did not do.

Like my niece, her generation of “millennials” have less interest in religion. Research just out from the Pew Research Center shows the the religious “nones” (atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”) now makes up 26%—yes, 26%!!!—of the U.S. population. But I digress. My point is that my niece did not turn to God for help in her fight with her demon opioid. But God turned to her and now has Jacqueline under His watch, where there are no demons.

My message in all this? There are several. One, know your demon(s) because that’s half the battle. Two, God is always less than a heartbeat away ready to help. You just have to ask. Three, God is always there. You may lose the battle here but you win in the end because He is always there. God is the beginning and the end. That alone gives me such comfort. And it should you.

And, finally, if you know anyone dealing with a drug demon of any kind, help them get help!

God is always there! Remember that as you have an AMAZING day!!!

Screw Up

I screw up all the time. I identify with St. Paul who wrote, “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) I know exactly what I should do because I know what God expects me to do. But I screw up. Why? I just don’t know.

The good thing about screwing up—if there is any good in screwing up—is that God forgives me. As long as I know I screw up, ask forgiveness, and really try to not screw up, God is there with open arms. God loves and loves unconditionally.

There was a reason God sent His only Son Jesus to deal with our sins. They were nailed to the Cross with Jesus. Our job is to pull those nails out and atone for those sins.

If you know what God expects, especially in how you should live your life, it’s even worse when you screw up. I’m dealing with that right now. But for every step back in life you may take, you have to commit to taking at least two steps ahead. That’s how you move forward in life. I can’t undo my screw ups but I can move ahead and do better.

Have an OUTSTANDING week ahead!!!

Faith, Hope & Love?

What’s the greatest? Most people would say “faith.” Everything flows from faith. Of course. But if you know 1 Corinthians 13:13 you know the answer. The greatest of faith, hope, and love is LOVE.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

How can love be greater than faith? Simply because if you don’t have love you can’t have faith. God is love. Faith is belief in God. So, it all starts with love. If you don’t have love you’re a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Translation: if you don’t love, everything else, including your faith, is blah, blah, blah. Nothing.

Love is like electric current. It flows. In fact, if it doesn’t flow it is nothing. God flows His love out to us and He expects it to keep flowing from us. You have to flow God’s love out of you to others.

1 Corinthians is read at so many Christian weddings that most people think it’s about the love between a couple. But it’s not. It’s about what love is supposed to be so we understand how we need to love. God loves us unconditionally. We need to at least try to love others unconditionally. That means letting love flow to others with no expectations that love will be returned.

You will never feel God’s love for you unless you let that love flow to others. It’s the nature of love. It flows. It’s that simple. But, then again, life is simple. Or supposed to be simple.

Let some love flow this week. And have a FANTASTIC week ahead!!!