Posts Tagged: challenge


5
Sep 13

The Lie about Lying

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Just so you know, I’m not trying to be cutesy with the title.  I don’t want to dilute the message of this blog entry by trying to be clever.

It may sound weird but there are lies about lying… really.

When I look at the issue of lying and habitual liars in particular, I tend to see people falling into three groups.

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Side Note: My writing about lying seems very strange to me.  I don’t know much about lying.  Frankly, lying is not one of my personal issues.  Believe me when I say I have plenty of flat spots in my life… but lying isn’t one of them

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As I was saying, I see habitual liars falling into three groups.

Group One:  Proud Liar

As mentioned in my previous blog entry, there are people who are really good liars… and proud of it.  They clearly know they are liars and are proud of having mastered the art of deception and enjoy working their craft.

After a successful display of deception they stand puffed in conquest over the carcass of the gullible.

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The essence of lying is in deception, not in words.

-        John Ruskin

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Group Two:  Diluted Liar

There are those who know they stretch the truth or may leave out relevant facts to reach their end goal.  But they have no idea that they are in reality, habitual liars.  They have lived in the shadowy world of lies for so long that their lives have lost distinction of color between truth and lies… there only exists shades of grey.

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The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

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This type of liar, lies to himself.  They conveniently apply the same false logic to themselves as they do to their prey.

They alter the reality of who they are to accommodate the lie they want to believe about themselves.  They lie to themselves, and believe the lie that they are not liars.  They justify their craft by believing that they are not as bad as other people, or that the situation demands the stretching of truth.

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I do myself a greater injury in lying than I do him of whom I tell a lie.

- Michel de Montaigne

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Group Three:  Trapped Liar

These are the people who have given in to their dark side and have done things that no one knows.  They live a lie and are entombed by their hidden choices.

They live in fear that someone will find out the things they have done and their world will collapse.  As much as they put on a good face to the world, fear is slowly suffocating the life out of them.  They feel the slide of the slippery slope into the darkness.

To the person reading this who is in this last group… I say very directly and loudly…don’t believe the lie that there is no way out.

Yes, there may be consequences for decisions you have made.  But the ability to breathe the fresh air of freedom is worth it.

This blog entry is not meant to be dramatic.  I write what I think I am to write.  Who knows, God may use my simple words to do a profound work in someone’s life… maybe yours.

See you later.

Ciao.


30
Mar 13

More than eggs and bunnies

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Hi… welcome.

As you can see it’s Easter weekend with all the eggs, flowers and… bunnies?  Humm, I think the bunny looks a bit suspicious.

The day I am writing this blog entry is Good Friday.  It’s a special weekend.

This weekend is more than eggs and bunnies.

Those who are regular readers know that I stay away from God stuff.   Well, at least talking directly about God stuff.

Most everything I write has an element of Spiritual truth but I avoid being “in your face” or churchy.

I ask that you stick with me today even though I plan on talking about some God stuff.

But talking about God does not mean I will be preachy.  I never will.

Do I believe that God is more than an invisible force in the universe?  Of course.

Do I think a relationship with God is important?  Absolutely.

And since I have encountered a God in a personal way, do I want people to know Him too?  Yes.

But in all honesty it is not my responsibility to get you to believe the way I believe.  I can’t.  If I share something that helps a person in their God search, super.   But I still can’t make a person believe the way I do.

It has always been my belief that if a person is open, God would reveal himself in his own way in his own time.

I ran across a video that describes the last sentence perfectly.

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Pretty cool huh?

I’m sure some people watching the video were okay until Jesus was mentioned.  For whatever reason most individuals don’t seem to mind “God” talk, but throw Jesus into the discussion and people seem to get weirded out and start to bristle.

I think broad God talk is safe.  People feel like they have enough room to maneuver with their own personal beliefs.

But when Jesus is brought into the mix it forces a narrower discussion.

Like most things in life, the things that are the best, most valuable, and potent are the things that require some effort and investment.

Most people like a God relationship but enjoy it more from a comfortable distance.

The reality is, a God who desires intimacy with His creation does not want distance.

Think about it.  Does a parent want a distant relationship with their child?  Absolutely not!

Regardless of where you are in your faith… this weekend is the time to step beyond where you are and explore two simple words.

Consider Jesus.

Yep, just open up and consider the reality and implications of an encounter with Christ.

Even though I talked about “Jesus stuff” today, I hope you will come back to visit.

See you next week.


11
Feb 13

Don’t Fence Me In

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Yep… me again, and yes one more entry about South Africa (SA).

But before you grimace and start moving your cursor to the exit icon, stick with me.  I think you will find the topic quite interesting.

The pictures above are examples of the typical fence you see here in the US.

For the most part fences here serve as decorative accent and provide visible separation between property lines.  They are meant to keep little kids or pets from darting out of the yard into the streets.

Usually the fences in the US aren’t designed to keep people out.  Yes, we do have security fences around some businesses such as the one below but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

In all honesty fences like this are designed to be more of a deterrent than actual security.  A person can easily cut through the chains.  And yes, there are a few affluent areas where subdivisions use security fences and gated entry.

All of this talk about fences brings me to the second thing that screamed at me while I was in SA.

There are massive, keep you out, don’t come near, make you bleed, don’t even try, you’ll be sorry fences everywhere.  I mean everywhere.

Virtually every home, business, and church were surrounded by amazing security fences.  I am not talking about fences in just the nice part of town.  Even in the poorer areas, each little home had a fence and gate of their own designed to keep people out.

Here are a few pictures to give you a sense of the typical fence.

The only place you did not see these types of fences were in the “informal settlements” where the poorest of the poor lived.

Yes, SA has had very violent times in their history.  And yes, poverty is rampant thus making theft a major problem.  I understand all of this.

Here is the point that struck me.

I know the “Why” but I don’t know the effect on the people.

I have really wondered what the psychological affect is on the people where all they know is massive security fences designed to keep one safe by keeping people out.  You live your life behind a security wall.

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Fear is the highest fence.
- Dudley Nichols

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It is obviously fear based.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am not judging them.  I would probably do the same thing if I lived there.

The point I am making is that there has to be an emotional toll living in a world behind a security wall.

What does it do to a person living with the norm of walled security?  Maybe nothing.

All I know is that when I returned home to fenceless neighborhoods and openness between houses I rejoiced in the feeling of freedom not needing to live behind a barbed wire topped wall.

The contrast between the two worlds was striking.

Like most of the entries I post, I don’t have a convenient answer to all the weird life questions I surface.

Maybe you have some insights that will shed light on the psychological or social impact of a world of barbed wire walls.

Well, enough of South Africa.  See you Thursday.

Ciao.



4
Feb 13

The BIG Surprise

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Hi there… welcome back.

If you read the last blog entry you know that I just returned from a church mission trip to South Africa.  I mentioned that there were several things that stirred me, confused me, and challenged me.

Before I go any further I have to do some damage control.

I may be a lot of things, but one thing I don’t tend to be is a critical person.  It’s pretty easy for me to find the best in people or the situation.

But what I talk about today may seem very critical; critical of a particular segment of our society.  When I tell you the group I am referring to you will most likely think that I am an insensitive arrogant pig.

Maybe… I don’t think so, but I’m open to that reality.

I don’t mean for my comments to be critical.  These are just observations that I am still trying to sort through to gain a deeper understanding or broader insight into some disconnects present in our world.

The group that came to front of my mind during my visit to South Africa and whom I am puzzled about is the American poor.

Yikes!  As soon as I identified the group I could immediately sense the polarization of readers.

Some of you immediately bristled up and began making judgments about middle-class insensitivity to the poor and the inability to breakthrough societal barriers that limit their opportunities.

Others of you spontaneously perked up and started to salivate over the possibility of someone confronting those that seem to be too lazy to do things for themselves and thrive on exploiting the entitlement system.

Both sides share a kernel of truth and both are grossly erroneous and narrow in their thinking.

When I went to South Africa I saw poor… lots of poor… really, really poor.  And I saw wealthy, very wealthy.

The poor in South Africa are much poorer than in the US.  And the proportion of the population in poverty is significantly greater than here.

There are literally millions (seriously millions) of people living in makeshift shantytowns made of discarded tin sheets, board and canvas.

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Side Note: In South Africa the shantytowns are referred to as “informal settlements”.  Some how this seems much too sterile for the reality.

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There were piles of rubbish on virtually on every corner waiting the Friday evening burning.  On Friday evening we saw scattered fires throughout the neighborhood emptying the corner for the accumulation of the coming weeks trash.

Although it was very trashy, one could quickly sense a level of order and organization to the seeming chaos.  Masses of people were moving around seemingly with some level of purpose in their movement.  Survival.

The conditions in South Africa are so massive it seems hopeless.

I can safely say that the poor there have significantly more obstacles to overcome than their American counterpart.

Please believe me when I say that I am not trying to minimize the difficulties nor the tragedy of the American poor… not at all.  The poverty we do experience here is totally unacceptable in my opinion.  But still not nearly as bad as South Africa (or any third world country for that matter).

What I am doing is laying the foundation for the real issue that prompted this blog.  And believe it or not, the disconnect for me was not the severity or extent of poverty as compared to the US.

It was the smiles on people’s faces that I saw there compared to the faces of poverty I see here.

I will share more about this on Thursday.

Ciao.


27
Nov 12

Bland and Boring or Quirky and Spicy

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Howdy.

I don’t know about you but people fascinate me.  Seriously.  I love to sit and just watch people.

I am continually amazed at the different qualities and unique quirks in people’s personalities.  I can’t imagine how boring this world would be if we all had similar likes, dislikes, traits, and temperaments.

The quirks may be something I wouldn’t do or be but I’m sure glad someone has them.  It’s sort of like what my wife and I say about Christmas decorations.

Yep, Christmas decorations.  I know the decorations reference seems totally random.  But actually there is a point.

We’ll see some strange or tacky decorations  (according to our taste) and usually say something to the effect… “I would not decorate like that but I’m glad someone does.”

The same is true about people.  So like I said earlier, the quirks may be something I wouldn’t do or be but I’m sure glad someone has them.

Yes, there are a lot of great qualities that I admire in people.   But there is one quality that I particularly appreciate.

I admire the people who are totally comfortable in their own skin.  They are who they are and they don’t seem to be bothered by the fact that they may be a bit different than the world around them.

They are totally unconcerned about what people think.

I’m not talking about a person who is selfish, self-centered and symbolically shoots everyone the bird by their outrageous in your face behavior.

I’m talking about people who are good, life-loving characters that are comfortable with their uniqueness.

Maybe this quality jumps out to me because I grew up as a preacher’s kid and I always had to be careful about what I did and what people thought.

I’m not complaining, it’s just a theory why I worry too much about what people think.

I have my unique quirkiness too but it tends to be subtler and socially acceptable.

I ran across a video of a very unique person.  He is part of a reality show called Duck Dynasty.  But even though he is part of a reality show you can tell he has some legitimate quirkiness.

Meet Silas Robertson.

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YouTube Preview Image

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Now, I don’t want to be like Si but I am sure glad there are people like Si.

People with different personalities and quirkiness are to society what spices are to food.  They add amazing flavor to the world.

Humm… maybe this is what this topic is all about.  Maybe I think I am a bland person and add no real spice to the world.

I will have to mull that over a bit.

I think I’m a pretty spicy person but then again that can be a very relative statement.  It could be that I am the most unique grain of rice in a bland batch.

Maybe I need to liven myself up a bit.

See you Thursday.


18
Sep 12

“Come on baby light my fire”

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I love that song.

Whether you prefer The Doors version or Jose Feliciano, they’re both great.

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Side Note: If you’re in the mood to listen to either one of the versions you will find them at the end of the blog.  I hope you check them out for a quick trip down memory lane.

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Even though I am referencing the song a lot, this blog entry is not about this song.  The song just sparks a bigger topic.

Light My Fire is a song whose lyrics are obviously sexual in nature.  But the premise is what I want to talk about – small things spark big things that happen.

Here are some quotes to make my point.

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“A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark.”

- Dante

“You can’t start a fire without a spark.”

- Bruce Springsteen

“There must be a spark of search for meaning.”

- Viktor Frankl


The reality is, we will never move, go or do without some impetus to do so.  Something needs to spark action.

The most challenging part of getting to where you want to go is starting.

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You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

- Zig Ziglar

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It seems I have been talking quite a bit over the past few months about starting… move… do something.  It must be for someone… maybe for me.

In June I had the blog titled Get Off Your Ass.  It was a pretty good blog entry but I particularly liked the picture.  It is a keeper.

But I digress.

All I know is this, unless a sparks ignites the flame nothing happens.

The potential the flame has is meaningless.  There can be huge reservoirs of fuel capable of a massive fireball but it never happens without the catalyst.

Your potential is worthless.

It doesn’t matter what you have or what you think you are capable of.  Unless something lights your fire you will never burn.

I tend to think there are two types of sparks.

There are sparks that inspire you to move and then there are sparks that grab you by the neck and slam you against the wall.

The spark is something that either invites or challenges.

I could be all syrupy and encouraging.  If that is what you need today I am sorry to say that you’ve come to the wrong place.

I’m not in that kind of mood.  I do inspire and encourage but I’m not in that kind of head or heart space.

You can probably guess pretty easily what kind of spark I am offering today… yes, you guessed it… it’s a grab you by the neck and slam you against the wall spark.

I don’t know what you need to do.  But DO SOMETHING.

See you Thursday.

Ciao.

Here’s the videos.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image

13
Sep 12

Look at it my way!

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Yep, I’m back.

For those of you who are regular readers (both of you), you know that I have been pretty good at posting a blog twice a week – but not lately.

But you have to admit, although my postings have been erratic as of late, my commitment to mediocrity has not been compromised.  That was supposed to be a joke.

Today I am going to talk about perspective.  WooHoo, how exciting is that!?

On the surface this topic may seem pretty mundane.  I encourage you to read on because you will find it much more boring than you may think.

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Side Note: Yes, I know.  I am in a very strange mood this morning.

Not funny… just strange.  But read on anyway.

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But on a serious note, I am continually amazed how two people can experience the same reality and walk away with two totally different perspectives.

I am not talking about differences in taste.  For example two people looking at a piece of art and having differing opinions as to its beauty or quality.

Differing tastes are not problematic to me.  In fact, I think that our differing taste about things is one of the greatest gifts of God to His creation.

Wow… the variety for us all to enjoy in different ways… how cool is that?

This would be a great topic for a different time, but not today.

Seeing things from a different perspective can be somewhat amusing, like the pictures I have sprinkled out in this blog.

It’s fascinating how a simple twist of position can totally distort reality.  How very clever and creative.

The issue of perspective I am talking about are life issues.  The types of situations that aren’t amusing nor fun.

Everyone has experienced times when something happened and you and the other person(s) involved engage in verbal fisticuffs because you saw the same event differently.

This is when frustrations heat up and tensions rise because you know what you saw and heard while the other person is adamant about what they saw and heard.

The communication gets heated and of course you know that their head was up their ass because if it weren’t they would agree with you.

The only problem is, they too are questioning the location of your head also.

Yes, situations like this are very frustrating and totally suck the sweet out of the day.

Now to make a negative topic even worse, there are no easy answers.  Nope.

This is life. Sorry, but true.

Wow, I sound negative today don’t I?  I don’t mean to be because I am not a negative person.  But I am realistic.

Yes, there are days that are difficult because of situations like I just discussed.

As I said there are no easy answers but I do have some opinions that hopefully will help.

Difficult situations like this either make us a better person or we become bitter and more locked in to our point of view.

Struggles in life sharpen us, educate us, and develop us… if we are open to it.

Every one of us has been programmed by what we’ve been taught or by life experiences.  Some of our perspectives are perfectly accurate… but frankly, these are fewer than we may think.

The majority of our perspectives have varying degrees of distortion.  And some are totally distorted.

This is how we learn and grow… going through the tough times.

Yes, I like to write about the kittens and rainbows of life where we walk away smiling coated with a happy mental salve.

But life’s tough times make life… life.  Personally I don’t like the negative things but I am thankful for them.

See you Monday.

Ciao.


14
Aug 12

Who are you?

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I’m really glad you popped in to visit but… who are you?

If we just met and you thought I was serious with the question you would probably give me your name and basic data.  This would give me some data but no real information.

Who are you?  Probably the more probing question is, what is your identity?

There are things that identify you like the color of your hair, height, etc.

But… what is your identity?

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An un-named song is like an un-named child, it has no identity.
- Robyn Hitchcock
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This is a harder question for some of you than you may think.

Our identity is who we are as a person, not data about us.

There are different levels of identity.  Much of it is wrapped up in things such as our family, culture, likes and dislikes, and an assorted other tidbits of stuff.

But there are deeper, more profound things that are part of our identity that impacts daily how we live out our lives.

Toward the end of the last blog I started raising questions about our identity when I suggested that many people’s identity is tied to something very negative in their life.

Seriously… ask this question – What is my identity?  What is my deeper identity?

What comes to mind?  Does it tend to be something negative or positive?

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I don’t need to worry about identity theft because no one wants to be me.
- Jay London
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I was talking to a guy friend that was sexually molested as a child.  As he got older he started acting out in sexually unhealthy ways.

Somehow, over time, he started to believe that unhealthy sexual behavior defined who he was.

He started living his life around the thing that he felt defined him as a person – his identity.

It’s sad but true that many live their life defined by negative experiences.  Some of these experiences were not of their own choosing and other negative experiences they brought on themselves.

Many of you are probably saying that things like sexual abuse are not part of your life or a part of your identity.

Maybe not, but there are many of you, who when asked, see yourself (your identity, definition) by some other negative thing…

  • I’m a failure
  • Not good enough
  • Not valuable
  • Not talented enough
  • Insert your own negative moniker

The point is, regardless of how you feel, or no matter what you’ve done or what you’ve been told… this is NOT your identity.

You are not trapped by this self-imposed straightjacket of identity.

The first step of shedding this straightjacket is allowing the truth that I am speaking to seep through the cracks of your heart and head.

In times like this you cannot trust how you feel.  Your feelings will always default to the identity you have of yourself.

We will try to make more sense of this as we hike up this mountain.

Ciao… see you Thursday.


29
Jun 12

Time to Weed!

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Howdy… I’m back.

Toward the end of the last blog I started talking about lies that we tell ourselves and how destructive they are to us.

I am not talking about lies in general.  I am talking about the lies we believe… the ones that strangle the life out of the good we want to do and keeps us incarcerated in the invisible prison of perception.

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We cripple ourselves with lies.
-  Jim Morrison
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I feel the need to do a little more digging about this topic.  Digging around the topic of lies is not an easy task.  Lies are like an insidious weed.

One would think that you can simply pluck it up and rid yourself of the unsightly pest.  But the removal of the stem is only the portion that shows on the surface.

In actuality you have not removed the weed (the lie) because over time it has developed a vast network of roots that have wormed their way deep into the soil.

So the question is, how do we rid ourselves of lies?

First we must have the “want to”.

Let’s be real for a moment… lies have successfully rooted because for some people they serve a purpose.

Yep, served a purpose.  They can be very convenient excuses not to change.

To add to the complexity, the lies that are the most vile are the ones that have a kernel of truth.  The trap becomes when we focus on the speck of truth and cannot (or will not) see the massive lie that surrounds.

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A lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies.
-  Alfred Lord Tennyson
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As I said in the last blog, you cannot free yourself from a lie until you believe that you have lies.  And the reality is… we all have lies that we believe to some degree.

I ran across a quote that talks about believing lies.  I am not totally sure I buy in to it completely but it makes me think and examine the truth in the quote.

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People do not believe lies because they have to, but because they want to.
-  Malcolm Muggeridge
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Like I said, I don’t know for sure if I totally believe it but it makes me think.

OK… back to the lies we know.

The best way you kill the weed lies is not by an exhaustive digging into the dirty soil.  This approach can easily become a morbid introspection that is both discouraging and tedious.

I believe the best way to rid yourself of most lies is two ways.  You either destroy by neglect or you displace it with truth.

To destroy by neglect means that you don’t nurture them.  Believe it or not you can feed and nurture weeds.  But Why?

This is rather faulty rationale but from a distance weeds look green like grass.  By keeping people at a distance they can’t tell what’s healthy grass or rampant weeds.

So the first step… don’t feed them… neglect them.  Identify them for what they are and let them go.

It does help smother the weeds if you have truth but at the very least we need not feed them.

I do believe (and I have been there) that we may not know what the truth is in our lives.  But the power of putting the lie in its place frees us to embrace truth.

Go ahead… destroy by neglect.

See you Monday.


1
Mar 12

The Complexity of Simplicity

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Bonjour… yep, I’m in one of my international moods again.

I know, I know, it’s true… I can be just a little on the strange side at times.

I may be strange but not in a bad way.  At least when I meet people they don’t seem too intent on needing to get a chair or obstacle between me and them.

My strangeness has a certain innocence that appeals to the simple.  Although chit chatting at a party may not be my forte’ I tend to do pretty well with a group of kids.

I don’t mind being simple or appealing to the simple.  In fact, there’s a lot of power in simplicity.

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They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong.
Ronald Reagan

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In reality, simple is good, very good.

Now here’s the kicker, simple does not mean easy.

I tend to believe it is the clutter in our heads that makes things more complex than they need to be.

The clutter can be an assortment of things such as preconceived notions, personal baggage, influence of others, the environment or setting, the way we are taught, and especially our EMOTIONS.

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The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.
Warren Buffett

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A person’s inability (or willingness as we will see later) to clear the clutter and latch onto the core elements is overwhelming and paralyzing.

The clutter seems to fragment the core issue and magnify it into a thousand pieces as if mentally you are looking through a kaleidoscope.

But unlike the kaleidoscope, the picture has neither the pattern nor the beauty.  It is a cacophony of fragments piled together making it impossible to sort.

Very honestly, I believe most things tend to be pretty simple.  Please don’t hear me say that there are no complex issues, there are.  But what I am saying is that we tend to make far too many things much too complicated.

So I work hard at keeping things as simple as possible.

I by no means have mastered simplicity.  I’m not that clever or smart.

But if I can keep in touch with the direction I am going, the overarching goals, and my core values, I tend to do pretty good.

But if you loose touch with who you are, what you believe, and what’s important… uh… you’re in deep do do.

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Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Albert Einstein

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I would like to ask a question.  What is the situation you are currently facing that seems overwhelmingly complex?

For a moment step back from the clutter, especially the emotion, of the situation and look at it in a very sterile way… like you are a third party observer.

Without over simplifying your situation allow me to offer a couple of questions to ask.

What makes sense?  What is the right thing to do?

Generally, if I am honest with myself, I really know what I should do.  The trouble is, I don’t want to do it because it’s difficult.

Don’t confuse difficult with complex.  And remember… simple does not mean easy.

The scary reality is this.  The greatest threat to simplicity is that it is easier to hide in the clutter of complexity when things are difficult.

It takes hard work to be simple.

See you Monday.

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