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Don’t Be Bitter

Bitterness is such a destructive thing.  Bitterness is something that can take you from doing great things to doing no-things.  Bitterness is so self destructive.  It’s like taking dynamite and placing it underneath a bridge and hitting the detonator.  Sure you make sure that you keep people that you’re angry with at a distance but at the same time you’re now trapped because of your destructive behavior.

I have played a popular online game for a few years now and all of the time that I have played it I have been at the very bottom level.  No matter how hard I tried or how much I wanted it I couldn’t do anything but be a bottom dweller.  It was this summer that I figured out why I was stuck in this level.  When I would play and I got frustrated with myself or others who were making mistakes I became toxic.  I would let my bitterness cause me to lash out at others.

After a lot of contemplation and recommendations from people who had been through the same things I realized that it was my attitude that was keeping me in the cellar.  Because when things go wrong and you start acting bitter it actually causes people to not be able to meet their potential.  Your chances of success become so marginally thin that you pretty much guarantee your failure.  This is a never ending cycle of self destruction.  You basically have to put yourself in land of make believe to cope with it.

The point is that you should make a conscious effort to not be bitter.  You’ll be amazed at the results. I stayed on that bottom level in the game for over 40 months.  When I changed my attitude it took me less than 4 months to climb out.  This is a principle that goes through all of life.

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We Have No One Else to Blame

“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is set on earthly things.”  Philippians 3:19

According to a recent ABC poll 83% of Americans responded that they are of the Christian religion.  That’s a pretty big number.  According to polls over the years homosexuals make up anywhere from 1% to 3% of the American population.  Yet the will being displayed in government and in pop culture is the will secularists and supporters of the lgbt community.  Now how exactly is it that approximately 263,000,000 people are being dictated to by 3,100,000 to 9,500,000 people?  How is it that people that call themselves Christians allow the society they live in to become so ungodly that now as recently as just yesterday a Christian bureaucrat was thrown in jail because she would not issue marriage certificates to gay couples because it violated her conscience?

I’ll tell you how it happens and if you’re as angry as I am the first place you need to look is in your bathroom mirror.  You need to look there and get angry at the person you see staring back at you because that’s the person that let this happen.

I once heard my pastor say that the most popular face in the church is George Washington.  Because when the offering plate gets passed around that’s normally the only face you see in it.  The fact is that we have become a perverse church who’s god is in their belly.  Hey I’m just as guilty as anyone else so don’t think I’m up here on a soap box lecturing and pretending that I’m above this.

We show where our loyalties lie when we won’t come off with our cash.  We throw ol’ George Washington in the offering plate when we make $400/week.  We say we can’t afford anymore than that because of bills but our bills are things like the fully loaded cable package that we can’t live without or the 3 gallons of ice cream we have in the freezer.  Don’t make up excuses.  If you created a line item budget showing how much money comes in and how much money goes out and exactly what it’s going toward I’m 100% certain that every single one of us will find that we pay a lot of money for things that we don’t need and then turn around and act as though those things are necessities.  Meanwhile back at the ranch the damned farm is burning down and we let it happen.

What I mean is look at the amount of money that lgbt groups and secular progressives have spent on campaigns to change minds and look at how much money we have spent to change minds.  Try getting around town on 1$ in gas.  You won’t get very far and yet we try to accomplish the exact same thing as Christians.  We want to give like Ebeneezer Scrooge and expect to reap over flowing harvests.  But the woeful fact of the matter is that he who sews sparingly the same reaps sparingly.  And brother when we sew sparingly in our nation today we begin to see the deliberate and cruel treatment of Christians right out in the open even though we supposedly make up the majority.

Our gods are our bellies.  That’s the sad fact here in America.  We have placed money on a pedestal.  Paul called the love of money the root of all evil because he knew what we need to know and that is that money is a servant and it serves the desires of the person who has it.  We spend it to “get” things.  The modern church in America has become a black hole of desire.  We don’t want to come off with anymore than we have to because the rest of that money is like our own little fix.  It’s like our own little morphine drip.  We have become junkies and let our country go to hell on a moped.

Wake up Church of America.  We will soon find ourselves in quite a spot if we don’t change our ways.  I mean it’s already here.  Christians are being dragged into court and fined more money than it takes most people several years and sometimes a decade to earn.  Christians being thrown in jail and told to comply or else.  Like Solomon once said “Only a fool sees trouble coming and does not prepare themselves.”  Change your ways or else you’ll pay more than it would have cost you to save yourself.

Glory

Glory is something that most people want.  It’s something that we work hard to obtain.  I know that I personally dream of the moment I can bask in the glory of achievement.  Everyone of us has something we want to achieve or be great and we have an idea in our mind what it would be like to achieve this one thing.  There would be bitter sweetness to it no doubt but we can’t always put our finger on what this feeling would be like or what it is exactly.

In my mind…..glory is many things.  To me glory is a place.  Glory to me is the place where hard work and victory meet the spiritual.  To me it’s the place where we have a realization of what it feels like to be what God created us to be.  God made us to be winners.  But think about what happens when most people reach the top of the mountain.  They’re overwhelmed by the heaviness of the emotion that they break down weeping with tears of happiness.

Glory to me is when we get a little taste of what life is supposed to be like.  We live in a brutal world and it’s full of brutal people.  We sacrifice so much and we fight so hard to try to be victorious in this world.  When we reach that supernatural place we realize just how indescribably awesome the world God intended could be.  When we see where we came from and we look from the top of that mountain down to the valley we came out of we often find that we can’t see the bottom.  It’s being so far away from our problems we know that they can’t reach us.  We could die and that would be preferable to going back down.

But we do come back down from this place because our poor earthly bodies can’t handle being on the top of the mountain.  So we drift back down.  But when you experience glory know that if you love God you will have the promise of being there forever.  So you can fight and claw in this tough world but just remember that if you’re lucky enough to get a taste of glory that it’s just a very small down payment on perpetual glory.

Ironic Thought of the Day

There is a story that I have heard many times in my life from many places about some things that are supposed to happen one day after you’ve died.  The story isn’t always the exact same but it generally goes something like this….When you’ve died and you go to heaven before you’re let in Jesus is going to replay every moment of your life.  And you will be incredibly ashamed of the things you’ve done when you thought nobody was watching.  The moral of this story is that you weren’t supposed to do things that were sinful because you will be exposed one day.

I haven’t thought about it until recently but it seems like kind of a ridiculous story.  I mean God goes through all of the trouble of taking the ultimate punishment for sin but then suddenly he has to shame us one last time before we go off into eternity?  That is frankly one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard and frankly I wish that when I heard this as a child that I had the mental foresight and analytic ability to tell the people who told me this little story that it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

Think about it for just a second.  The insinuation is that God is so vindictive and thin skinned that he can’t just let it ago and that once he poured out his wrath on Jesus on the cross to judge sin that it just wasn’t enough?  That says more about human beings than it does anything else.  Because people are so flawed and insecure that they can’t let things go and they can’t truly forgive.  God says that he forgets sin when we repent.  But we project our own precious qualities onto God sometimes.

Just a side note but I always pictured this little meeting happening in a white walled office.  The apostle Peter walks in and pops the story of my life vhs in the vcr while they give me nasty looks.  Hahahahahaha.  Oh Lord what a life I’ve led.

What Are You Worth?

I have said for a while that I believe that being an artist (whether it is an actor, singer, painter, etc.) is an incredibly dangerous profession because so much of your success is determined by whether or not people want you.  This isn’t like an inanimate object that you are producing on an assembly line.  You are the product.  The more successful you are the greater the risk of being greatly injured when the crowds of fans aren’t there anymore.  I believe that’s part of the reason why we see so much dysfunction in Hollywood.

But recently I started to re-frame my perspective on this idea.  Because I think that it exists in more basic ways and its implications are far-reaching.  What I mean is the idea that you have value based on what people can get from you.  There are so many people out there in the world that think that if they can please someone, they will feel better about themselves.  I know that in my own life I have had this notion in the back of my head at times.  But as I’ve gotten older I have tried to divorce myself of it, which has at times, caused me to drive into the ditch on the other side of the road which is denying people what they want because I simply do not want to give them that power.  Sounds a little twisted but I recently stumbled across a name that defines it.  It’s called “Cerebral Narcissism.”  I’m not exactly a narcissist, but I won’t get into that.  You can research it yourself.

But there is this idea that if I can just emotionally gratify someone, or if I can sexually gratify them then I will get the affirmation that I desire so much.  So what do we do?  We bend over backward.  We say yes when we know that we’re compromising ourselves and we should be saying no.  We think that if we can just get people to love me for whatever I am that I can put out this fire and finally have some contentment.  But unfortunately it doesn’t work.  Because it is the nature of desire to never be satisfied.

But we’re blind to it.  We don’t see it and so we get into relationships and associations with goals of being pleasing to someone else.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying we shouldn’t please people, it’s just not good to want to please people because our self-worth depends on it.  But even if we don’t acknowledge this principle in our heads we act upon it like it was pre-programmed in our very DNA.  We take it into our social settings and make judgments about people based on it.  Who do we want to be like?  We are envious and covetous of the lives of others.

Now I’m not saying that everyone is like that.  But I know many people who are.  I think this is why we as a society put so much stock into the things that celebrities say and do.  Think about it for a second.  Our favorite actor becomes an activist of some kind and we become micro-activists for the same cause.  Part of the reason why we listen to people about a variety of social issues is simply because of their celebrity status.  These people aren’t Plato’s Philosopher Kings.  They aren’t these mythical godlike creatures that possess all of this wisdom and hidden information.  They are mimes.  They are parakeets.  Yet we are so swayed by say.

I think the reason for this is because there is an algorithm or what have you, in our mind filter that sees their fame and their ability to please others and something just clicks inside of us that makes us want to believe them.  It makes us want to obey them because they are loved and if we can be like them then we’ll be loved and we’ll have value too.

But let me just say this.  Your value goes far beyond what you can do for others.  Your value comes from a God that created the entire universe and loves you more than you can ever know.  This is just my opinion but I think that if we could understand how much God loves us it would kill our earthly body.  I don’t think our poor old tickers could handle it.  But God loves you and you have value simply because He says you have value.  Because that part of your mind that is distinctly separate from your physical body comes directly from Him.  It’s a part of Him.  Don’t be a people pleaser anymore.  Love God with all of your heart.

A Strange Dream

I woke up at almost 5 o’clock this morning after having an incredibly strange dream.  I figured I would write it down while it was fresh in my mind.

The dream took place in a little town called Kingston, Ohio.  Kingston is about 20 minutes away from the town I live in.  Except in my dream the streets were backward.  Most of the streets ran north and south instead of east and west.  I remember in my dream going through a Dairy Queen drive through and ordering a sandwich and then pulling out.

When I got to my house there were a group of people standing just down the street and so I stopped to see what they were doing.  It was a group of several women and one man.  One of the women was younger, probably mid 20’s.  She was rich but she dressed like she was from the country.  She wore a flannel shirt over top of a white shirt and she was wearing rubber boots like she had just got done doing some farm work.  The guy was basically dressed the same and he was a successful farmer.  The other women there were friends of the first woman.

I walked into the conversation and the guy says “I tell you what.  I am going to come back here at 1a.m. and consequences be damned”.  I got the feeling that he wanted to have a romantic relationship with this girl.  She seemed like she was a little emotionally overwhelmed by this guy’s advances.  So she walked away and he walked away.

I walked into my house with the food that I had bought at Dairy Queen which was now suddenly a bag of groceries (not sure how that happened).  My dad was sitting in the living room and my brother was there.  It was also suddenly night time outside as though time had advanced to 1 a.m. There was a bookshelf by the door that I had just come through and my brother was standing next to it.  He told me that they guy that I had seen previously had written a couple of volumes of books and that he was some sort of an expert in hog farming.

It is about this time that the guy walks in through my front door.  We talked for a moment, but I don’t remember what about.  Then the girl that he made the offer to walked through the door.  She said that she needed our help and told us to follow her.  So we took off up the street in the dark.  We got to the end of the street and made a right onto another street.  I lost sight of her but I could still hear her.  The street was lined with these very dense trees which seemed to absorb all of the light.  But basically I was lost and just kept following the street I was on.

When we got to the end of the street there was a house with a garage door open.  There were some people working on something and the guy that was with us walked in and that’s the last I saw of him.  The girl and I walked to her house.  When we got inside she started to walk up the stairs to her room.  I stayed at the bottom of the stairs and saw a bunch of pictures on the wall.  One of them was a blonde haired woman with the same last name of the girl that I was with, but I can’t remember the name.  I said something to her and she came back down and told me that the woman was her mother and that she had died from cancer.

She started back up the stairs and asked me if I wanted to come.  I told her that there was no way that I would be caught hanging out with her when that guy comes back because I saw how passionate he was about her.  She told me that it didn’t matter because he had caught her hanging out with some guy named Jerry 7 times.  I felt like this was different so I told her no thanks and I walked out the front door.

When I walked out the door I really had no idea where I was going.  Maybe to my car, or maybe to my house.  But either way I don’t remember.  Also I remember the feeling of having trouble swallowing.  As I got outside I looked up into the night sky and I saw some strange lights.  Something was moving in the sky and it was coming closer.  The underbelly of this thing was tapered and had a blue color to it.  Two quick bursts of laser light shot down into the trees.  It was so fast that it made me wonder if it had actually happened.  I tried to start running in the other direction but suddenly there was a tall dark figure standing over top of me.  It was several feet taller than I was.  There was a feeling of no escape.  Then I woke up.

I should also mention that I remember periodically waking up during my dream.  I was sleeping in my living room and I can remember the computer monitor being lit up and I remember seeing two baby blankets draped over each leg of the baby swing.  I woke up and I had trouble swallowing like my throat was incredibly dry.  This is going to be a long day.

Christian Arts Suck…..Just Kidding…..Sort of.

I hesitate to write blogs when I know that this blog will specifically offend people that I actually like and I don’t want to make them angry, upset, etc.  But usually when I write something like this it is because it is lodged in my brain and it will not leave me be.  So having said that, what I want to talk about the box that very sincere Christians have put themselves into and how it hurts the Christian culture as a whole.

I hate the word “secular”.  If you look up the definition of secular it means having no religious or spiritual basis.  Christians use this word as a way to denote the difference between their activities and the activities of those who are not involved in their Christian world.  I used to keep a sign taped to the wall above my computer and taped to my front door that said “It’s all spiritual”.  I did this because the truth of the matter is that whether something is done for God or not doesn’t make it less spiritual.  I’m not saying that it can’t be evil, but you can’t call something secular and act like someone farted in the room and then bolted.  But generally it is a word that people use to create a walls.  And while you’re free to create the walls if you like, you are doing yourself and those you want to help an incredible disservice.

What I am talking about in particular is in the arts of film and music.  I can’t bring myself to listen to Christian music because it sounds so neutered and bland like a bowl of orphanage gruel.  Christian movies to me are so boring and so poorly made that I can’t bare to watch them.  Now don’t get me wrong there are exceptions but the exceptions are just that…..exceptions.  Keep in mind that I love God, but if we’re talking about making a movie that is about God could we at least capture the essence of God that has a hint of the weight of his glory?  We fail to do that over and over.  Why?

The reason why we fail over and over again is because art imitates reality, and when we get in a Christian bubble we can often become removed from what it’s like to be real.  Our buzz words and lingo alienate people and so we end up clumped together with people that are like us, which is not necessarily bad because the bible says we’re supposed to fellowship and that lightness and darkness are not supposed to be yoked.  But you have to stop looking at people that don’t know God as the darkness.  They are lost but they are not this dirty disease that needs to be avoided so that they don’t contaminate your purity.  Be in the world but not of the world.  That tells me that we can spend time with unbelievers and collaborate with them on projects.  We can actually enjoy spending time with them.  When you restrict yourself to just working with, and spending time with, Christians you limit your ability to grow.  Don’t get me wrong there are tons of talented Christians but it’s like painting a picture and limiting yourself to a couple of colors.

I know that cinematic and musical tastes are subjective, but I want to watch something about God that does Him some kind of justice.

Can I be candid for just a moment without being excommunicated?  I get tired of saying the same thing over and over again.  You know…..”You’ve made me so happy”…or…”Thanks for saving me”…or the handful of themes that are in Christian music and film.  I am grateful for all of those things as well but as a human being I am subject to the same laws of the universe that everyone else is and I have diminishing marginal utility for saying and doing the same things over and over.  When I am in a worship service after a while I start getting a pounding migraine no matter how much I have felt God.  The point is that there is a multitude of different ingredients of being a human being other than what we have concocted as Christians.

Let me just give you an example of some of the stuff that is being put out by Christians right now.  This supposedly is supposed to be a ground breaking Christian movie.

It is loaded with inside jokes and Christian lingo/culture that makes it completely irrelevant.  It has a sickening amount of poor green screen usage.  The dialogue is clunky cheesy and at times unbelievably unbelievable.  This to me is a complete failure.  This isn’t a Christian movie to me.  This is a movie based on a religion I like to call churchianity or bibleanity.  I know that this all sounds harsh but I am just sick of seeing Christians produce garbage.  This is unacceptable to me.  Make a movie that really dives into the human condition and explores it.  How about a movie where a person doesn’t get saved?  Why is it that in every Christian movie that I’ve ever seen someone comes to renounce the error of their ways and gets saved.  Why can’t a Christian make a movie that involves the tragedy of never knowing God.  I want to see realistic movies.

I want music that sounds diverse.  When’s the last time you heard a Christian band that sounded like the eagles, Neil Young or blondie?  When’s the last time you heard a Christian group that sounded like Three Dog Night, CCR or Bob Dylan?  What about Heart, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, etc.?  To me it’s a result of an lack of diversification that is a result of intentionally cocooning ourselves so that we don’t get contaminated by those evil unsaved.

I have an incredibly talented friend who is an artist and was a talented writer.  He hasn’t written a book in a decade because he felt like anything he wrote had to be Christian based or he would anger God and felt condemned if he didn’t throw in Christian elements of dogma and talk about salvation.  He absolutely won’t write anymore.  This is an incredible shame to me because if you knew what I know, the world is missing out on some hard hitting insights into the very nature of existence.  But because of pressures from Churchianity we won’t get to see that.

Shame….For shame….