Featured

Cleanliness

The words “Cleanliness is next to godliness” were first recorded in a sermon by John Wesley in 1778 but the idea is as ancient as the Sumerians. God cleans the earth with rain, the air with storms, and corpses with scavengers.  Many animals bathe themselves such as birds, elephants, and cats. Cleanliness is associated with purity of mind, speech and conduct in the Hebrew and Christian religions. Hence, cleanliness is both a practical and spiritual practice.

Anyone is capable of being clean. You can live in poverty, yet still be clean. I might not have the nicest house and newest car, but I can still have a clean house and clean car. I might not have the most expensive brand of clothes, but I can have clean and neat looking clothes. This discipline of cleanliness will spill over into other areas of your life, too, helping you to prosper. 

Cleanliness is important for clarity.  A cluttered house, vehicle, schedule etc., leads to a cluttered mind, which leads to stress and mistakes.  Most of our messes only take about 20 seconds to clean up if we clean it up immediately.  The problem, however, is when we allow an accumulation of 20 second messes to turn into two hour messes.  Clean as you go.  It usually only takes about 20 seconds to clean each mess, if you do it as you go.  Throw your trash away immediately.  Put your dishes away immediately. Put your laundry away immediately  You’ll be happy that you did so. 

Try cleanliness as a way of life. Clean as you go. You’ll be glad and proud that you did. 

BEcoming Your Best

I want to ask you two important questions.  These questions often go unasked, yet the answers can be life changing. 

QUESTION #1:  Did you do your best today?

If not, then why not?  Only YOU can stop yourself from doing your best in any situation.  Only YOU have the power to make yourself do your best today.

QUESTION #2:  Are you the person you want to be?

If not, then why not?  Only YOU can stop yourself from being the person you want to be.  And only YOU can make yourself the person you want to be.

If you’re anything like most people, then chances are you did not do your best today and you are not the person that you want to be.  But don’t be discouraged.  This is easily changed by following the wisdom and actions below:

The ONLY action needed:  BE the person you want to Be!

Imagine the person you want to be.  Write down a description of that person.  Choose to be that person today.  When you fall back to your default person, don’t beat yourself up.  Just be the person that you want to become again.  Even on the day when we do our best, we might not be the person that we want to be.  But eventually you will become the person you want to be with continued best efforts.  You will become your best you.

BECOME the person you want to BE by BEING the person you want to BECOME!

It’s not difficult.  It’s not complex.  In fact, it’s so simple that people overlook this method of self-improvement.  Create the person you want to be in your mind, then be that person.  Begin living like the person you want to be, thinking like the person you want to be, talking like the person you want to be, and acting like the person you want to be, then you will become that person.

The greatest changes that we can make in our lives begins and ends with the mind.  What if tomorrow you woke up with a new mind?  I’m not talking about a new body, new job, or new income, but just a new mind.  When you woke, you were confident, happy, adventurous, excited about life, loved people, eager to learn, assertive, etc.  If you only changed your mind to be this way, the results would come to your body, finances, social life, etc.  You would see physical results in time.

I want you to wake your alter ego.  Awaken your alter ego, your Tyler Dyrden.  Remember the movie Fight Club?  Tyler Dyrden played by Edward Norton, a man that was frequently ran over in a dead end job, awakened his alter ego played by Brad Pitt, a confident, outgoing, adventurous man that lived by his own rules.  The difference in the two characters was all in the mind, yet it resulted tangible differences such as companionship and adventure.  I want to encourage you to create your ideal self, then be that person.  Try it for just one day!

Presence: The Power of Saying “I AM”

The Hebrews had a name for God that was more of a verb than a noun:  I AM.  Similarly, in English you are a “Human Being”.  The emphasis in both titles is Presence, Existence, Being.  You might try saying to yourself, “I am, I exist, I am being.” 

Too often we can fall into the temptation of focusing on things that “are not” as if they are more real than the things that presently are.  We do this by worrying about the future and living in the past.  We do this by pining for how we wish things would be instead of the things that are.  We demote ourselves from being “I Am” to non-being (i.e. I am not). 

So frequently remind yourself to be fully present in the moment.  I Am.  I Am here.  I Am now.  I Am fully present now in what I’m doing and with who I Am. 

Now is the only time you possess.  Tomorrow exist only in potential.  Yesterday has passed.  Now is the only moment in which you can be.  So be in the now.  Now is the most important time in your life because it is the only time that exist.  What you’re doing right now is the most important thing you will ever do or have ever done because now is the only time in which you can do anythingThis mindset makes the mundane immeasurably important.  The person you are with right now is the most important person with whom you will ever be.  You can’t be with a person in the “later” or in the past.  You can only be with a person in the present so fully be with that person in your focus. 

Should we forget about history?  No, but we should contemplate the lessons of history and happy memories of the past while being mindful of the present.  “I am presently remembering the past.”  The past only exists in my present memories.  Should we prepare for the future?  Yes, but our plans for the future can only be made in the present.  By being fully present in the now you can make better plans for the future. 

Thinking too much of the past or the future or what’s happening with other people in other places scatters your attention and weakens your power in the present moment, present task, and present people.  So be present now.  It’s the most important time of your life.   

Worship Truth

My religion is the worship Truth. I am devoted to Truth above all other gods. Why? Because Truth is real. Truth is not based on wishful thinking or grand delusions. Truth is reality; reality is the Truth.  Devotion to Truth will take you far beyond the boundaries of sacred opinion and those who wear its short leash.  Truth is eternal and all powerful.  The laws of Truth are set in place everywhere; they cannot be violated.  Truth exists whether you believe or not.  Sometimes you will love Truth; sometimes you will hate It.  Regardless, Truth remains.  Truth is unmoved by your feelings, hence, you might as well love and accept Truth.  Truth can be both mysterious and obvious.  At times, you will need to pursue Truth; often, however, Truth will pursue you—you cannot hide.  Though Truth can be detrimentally denied, real power comes from acknowledging Truth, Confessing Truth, and obeying Truth.  Whereas Truth is your faithful companion, what is false opposes you.  Deceit, self-deceit, delusions, etc., are your enemies.  Jesus called the Enemy the “father of lies” (John 8:44).  People who deny and avoid Truth entangle themselves in the Enemy’s web of lies.    In the Hebrew religion, the fall of humanity occurred because they believed the Enemy’s lie and hid from Truth when It came calling (Genesis 3).  People who do not love Truth will fall under the Enemy’s “strong delusion” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).  Jesus said, however, that your increasing knowledge of Truth will set you free (John 8:32).  Once you know Truth in any matter, deceit will have no power over you.  As Thomas Paine wrote, “The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.”  Worship Truth.  Learn Truth.  Know Truth.

Life Is A Quest

The word “journey” is frequently used nowadays by people to describe their lives on social media. In my opinion, the word is tired and overused. I’ve determined that the word doesn’t apply to my life anyway. People on a journey think they know where they are going and how to get there (or at least believe they do). I think life is better described by the word “quest”. A quest is a long and arduous search. Quest is the root of “Question”: Where did we come from and where are we going? Most people love the supposed certainty of a journey; I am comfortable with the mystery of the quest. Life is an odyssey. When someone tells you they or their book has all the answers and knows the way, question them/it, accept what is helpful, and keep searching. Learn to love, accept, and enjoy the unknown and uncertain.  And, trust the Universe, of which you are a conscientious part, has it all figured out.     

Affirmations

It is important that you repeat positive affirmations to yourself on a regular basis.  It is easy to fall into the habit of negative self-talk, which carries the danger with it of being self-fulfilling prophecies.  So be very careful what you attach to the words, “I am…..”  This is especially true since the Hebrew name for God as given in Exodus 3:14 is “I AM”.  When you criticize yourself by saying, “I am clumsy” or “I am not good at math” or “I am unattractive”, you are associating the name of God with negativity.  When you insult yourself, you insult God, since you are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; Isaiah 43:7).  Therefore, make it a daily practice to repeat positive affirmations to yourself.  Teach your children to do the same from an early age.  My practice every morning and night is to deliberately say positive affirmations in alphabetical order.  For example, I AM authentic.  I AM bold.  I AM confident.  I AM determined.  I AM energetic.  I AM fulfilled.  I AM genuine.  I AM happy.  I AM important.  I AM joyful.  I AM knowledgeable.  I AM loved and loving. Etc.  Use multiple adjectives with each letter if you’d like, especially the ones that you struggle with the most.  The person you will talk to and listen to the most in your life is yourself.  So make sure that you are an encourager.

The World Moves, So Should You

Movement is essential to a healthy, energetic life. The world teaches us to move by the constant motion of life. Galaxies swirl. The earth rotates. The planets unceasingly orbit the sun. Your heart continuously pumps blood through your body. Air enters and exits your body as you breathe. Oceans, rivers, wind…it all moves. Even sounds are vibrations moving through the air. Without motion there would be no time because time is measured by movement (i.e. before and after something moves). When motion doesn’t happen, stagnation, atrophy, and death occur.   So keep moving. Stay active.  Work.  Exercise. Turn off the TV, put down the book, get off the phone, and do something.  Start rolling and gain the momentum of life. 🤟🏼 

Moral Obligations of Atheism

“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.”  Proverbs 29:2

 

Joseph Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death in 1953.  Though he grew up as a member of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church and attended Seminary to prepare for a life in the ministry, he turned from his faith to atheism.  This turning from belief in God to atheism resulted in his hatred for all religions.  Stalin’s hatred continued all the way to his death-bed.  In fact, according to his daughter, Svetlana Stalin, Joseph Stalin’s last gesture was a clenched fist toward God.

With out his belief in God and the fear of the Judgment to come, Stalin’s motives for being a good person and a noble leader disappeared.  He was responsible for the deaths of millions of people.  In Ukraine Stalin is remembered for what is called the “Holodomor,” which means “murder by starvation”.  The numbers of death in this strange famine during peacetime in 1932-33 resulted in the deaths of over 2.6 million people.  He is also remembered for “The Great Purge,” in which thousands of people were sent to 476 work camps for “extermination by labor”.  Stalin lived up to his name, which means “steel”.  It was not his name by birth but was given to him by his contemporaries who fell under the steel-like determination of his will.  In view of such oppression in his own time, king Solomon wrote, “Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun.  And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them.” (Eccl. 4:1).

The example of Stalin shows the logical results of atheism.  Many atheistic writers today such as Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins believe that a society is liberated by atheism, but history testifies that societies are oppressed by atheism.  The ultimate reason for an atheist to be moral is removed in atheism.  Unbelief eventually leads to wide-spread and accepted evil because without God one can choose for himself what is good and evil.

Knowing the terrible results of unrestrained atheism should motivate every person to turn to believe in a Higher Authority.  It should also motivate believers to combat atheism with reasonable debate and civil discourse.  Auschwitz survivor, Victor Frankl, knew the value of combating atheism in the classroom writing, “I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz…were ultimately prepared not in some ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in lecture halls of nihilistic scientist and philosophers”.

Several millennia ago the brutal tyrant Pharaoh asked, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and beside, I will not let Israel go.”  (Ex. 5:2).  Pharaoh was his own highest authority, hence, he could keep the Hebrews as slaves and murder their children for population control.  Let us do all that we can to help people come to know the Highest Authority.  For “When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.” (Proverbs 28:12).

 

Deciphering Gossip

“The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps.”

Proverbs 14:15

Participation in many sins can be easily avoided.  Just stay out of those places and situations where you would be tempted to participate in sin.  This is simple enough.  Avoiding the hearing of gossip, however, is close to impossible.  You’re just minding your business when someone says, “Did you hear what _______ did?”  Or “Someone told me that _____said…”  You didn’t ask for the gossip.  You didn’t go looking for it.  You may have even been at a worship service thinking the good thoughts of Philippians 4:8, but gossip found you.  So how should we respond to gossip when a reviler tries to include us in his or her sin?  Most of the time we address the person who is gossiping, but I want to address the person listening to the gossip.  There are several things to keep in mind when hearing gossip.

First of all, do not give attention to gossip.  Proverbs 26:20-22 tells us, “Without wood a fire goes out, and without gossip a quarrel dies down…”  Gossip causes strife and division.  It’s best to not throw wood on the fire of gossip by listening to it.  This principle has been very easy for me though it may be difficult for those who love to gossip and hear gossip (the two go usually go together—Pro. 18:8).  Personally, I am the worst person to gossip to.  I don’t enjoy it.  I’d rather talk religion, history, sports, go to the dentist, etc.  Typically, I am very uninterested, and don’t care to hear negative information about what someone did or said.  And if someone gossips to me about second hand information, I almost never fully believe them.  It’s not that I think the person isn’t truthful, I just understand that full truth is often lost in transmission from the person or event and the telling of what happened.  This is a biblical attitude to have toward gossips.  Proverbs 20:19 says, “Whoever goes around as a gossip tells secrets. Do not associate with a person whose mouth is always open.”  Great, that was just the thing I wanted to do anyway!

Second of all, remember that there are two sides to a story.  In fact, there may even be three or more sides to a story.  Haven’t we all heard negative information about a person only to later find out from others that it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be?  It’s good to get all the facts together before spreading rumors about things we have not personally witnessed.  Deuteronomy 13:12-14 says, “If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that some worthless men have gone out from among you…then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly.  If it is true and the matter established…”  Rather than taking off with rumors to share with others, get all the facts first from all the persons involved.  Then, if you’re truly that concerned about the truthfulness of a rumor, confront the people involved with your information.

Thirdly, keep in mind that people often exaggerate.  This is not an indictment against all people, but observation has proven throughout time that we exaggerate the facts.  The clichés we use every day prove this.  “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”  Someone who runs really fast is said to be “flying”.  In regards to gossip, it is good to be a bit skeptical before accepting any rumor we hear as total truth.

Fourthly, people frequently misunderstand or misinterpret what is said and done.  Let’s face it, how much effort do we really put into understanding what actually happened behind a rumor?  Do we talk directly to the person involved first to find the matter out? (Pro. 25:9-10, Matt. 18:15-19).  Truth is often missed in second and third hand stories.  Information is passed along from uninvolved person to uninvolved person until the truth is so diluted that there is no telling what really happened.  An old Jewish proverb is important to keep in mind here, “What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth.”

Finally, and most powerfully, rebuke the gossiper.  A wise older preacher told me when I first began in ministry, “People are going to come to you and talk badly about others.  If they do, stop them immediately and say, ‘Don’t tell me anything else, lets first go talk to the person who did/said this together.’”  He said that doing this will stop gossip in its tracks.  People love to spread a rumor, but they don’t like to confront a rumor head on.  Let’s stop gossip by refusing to hear it and rebuking the reviler if necessary (1 Tim. 5:20).  This will discourage people from gossiping to us which would be a blessing to us and the gossiper.  We won’t have to hear it and they won’t get to say it.

Hearing gossip will be unavoidable.  But how we respond to gossip is our choice. Let’s choose not to fully believe every rumor we hear. Let’s choose not to listen to gossip.  Let’s choose to go directly to the source to get the truth.  And let’s stop gossip in its tracks by rebuking the gossiper.

Caleb Cunningham