OVERCOMING SELF-DEFEATING THOUGHTS
4:44 pm cdt
I once heard a story about a man who was driving down a farm-road late at night and had a flat tire.
While searching for his tire-iron, in order to change that tire, he discovered it was missing. Feeling helpless, he
looked around and saw a single light in the distance...a farm-house. He suddenly had a thought. "Perhaps
the farmer who lives in that house will have a tire-iron I could borrow."
He began to walk toward the
house and as he did so his mind began to work. "It sure is late...perhaps the farmer and his family are asleep
and would not appreciate being awakened by a stranger seeking help. After all, it's my own fault I don't have
Walking further, his mind began to add even more thoughts. "What if that
farmer is really a 'mean old man,' and doesn't like people coming onto his property! What if he thinks I'm
so stupid for being out this late...without a tire-iron? What if he becomes very angry with me and shouts insults at
Soon he was standing at the farmer's door. He rang the bell and in a few minutes
the porchlight came on. An older gentleman opened the door...a quizzical look on his face. Before the old farmer
could say a word, the man with the flat yelled out, "I didn't want to borrow your stupid old tire-iron anyway...
you mean old man!" And walked off into the darkness.
How many times have we let our own thoughts get
the best of us...causing us to act in self-defeating ways? If you're human...and I assume you are, (he said grinning),
then you can completely understand this story.
Let's face it, there are times in our lives when our thoughts
get the best of us, leaving us distraught with painful and...in some cases...emotions that are out of control. When
our emotions get out of control...our actions are soon to follow, and the usual result is negative.
Have you ever
wondered what goes through the mind of someone who commits suicide? It begins with thoughts of complete failure...fear
of facing more and more hurtful events...a feeling that life will never get better...and that it simply hurts too much to
live. In fact there is an old saying in Psychology that says: "Suicide is rarely about wanting to die...it's
about hurting too much to live." Sadly, statistics show that if these people could have received the proper help...with
time, their desire to die would go away and their desire to live and prosper would return. In short, suicide begins
in the mind as self-defeating thoughts, long before it becomes a reality, ending life and leaving devastated people behind.
What I'm trying to say here is that our "emotions" are extremely powerful forces that can cause us to
do extreme things. The killer behind the Virginia Tech murders is a class example of this process to the extreme.
These "extreme and poweful emotions" are the result of destructive and self-defeating thoughts
that haunt us like a ghost...and if we continually entertain them, can lead to actions that are hurtful to others and competely
defeating to ourselves.
But how do we learn to "control our emotions?" We first have to learn how
to control our thoughts! Although there are few things in this life we "can" control...we can control our
thoughts. I've often heard people say in counseling, "I can't help the way I feel."
I always tell them, "You can help the way you feel by helping the way you think." They usually look
at me...at first...like I'm an alien from the planet Weirdo.
However, once I can convince them that
the "way they feel," is the result of the "way they think," I begin to see them making progress.
The first step to overcoming self-defeating thoughts is to become very aware of a "negative thought," when it
crosses our mind. A negative thought will always portray itself by making you feel a sudden tinge of fear, hopelessness,
anger, defeat, disgust, bitterness and the like...none of which are "feel good" emotions.
As soon as
you identify this thought...STOP IT. Don't allow it to grow like a nasty weed in your garden. Refuse to embrace
it. Instead, use your mind to "solve the problem," instead of letting the problem at hand overwhelm you.
If you don't have the answer (or solution) at that moment, just say to yourself, "There's an answer to this
problem...and I'll find it in my own time." Believe it or not, your mind will respond by calming your emotions.
This buys you time to seek help for the problem from others or to find one yourself in your own time. The real issue
here is not "solving the problem," but "not allowing your mind to bring you into a state of painful emotional
distress!" This principal really works.
For example: did you know you can watch a sad movie and
your emotions will be sad, reflecting the thoughts that have been entertained in your mind. Shortly after, you can watch
a comedy and you'll notice that your emotions are no longer sad. Our emotions follow our thinking.
hope this series on the mind is helping someone. I will continue this series in the weeks to come, hoping that many
will grasp the truth of it, and put it to great use...and in the process, find that they are feeling better about themselves,
their lives, and those around them.
I love you all,
THE "MOVIE THEATER" IN THE MIND
12:26 am cdt
One of the most incredible creations of God is the human mind. With the ability to think...mankind
has learned to reason, plot, plan, discover, create, design, invent, and to feel and express emotions. It is truly a
As you know, our mind allows us to controls certain things like our movements and our communications
with one another. God only knows how many brain cells are working when we decide just to stand up and walk across a
room or to engage in even a light-hearted conversation.
The mind also works to identify things to us like
heat, cold, wind, wet, pain, and so forth. We are able to function throughout our day by sight, smell, touch, sound
and taste...all coordinated within the tender gray mass inside our head...the size of our two fists put together. Wow!
With your mind hard at work, you are reading this article...made by various shapes that form letters.
These letters form words and by memory you are able to instantly recall their meaning...thus the ability to understand what
I'm writing. (Unless my writing is bad and I just confused you, which would be my fault...and not that of your brain).
There are so many things we do everyday, without even realizing that our brain is hard at work...giving us this miraculous
ability. When we sleep...although we seem unconscious....our brain continues to work, maintaining our breathing and
regulating our heartbeat. Sometimes it will throw in a dream, just to keep us entertained. Wow, again.
It's not hard to see that the human brain is an amazing creation...it also has dangerous and deadly potential.
For example, murder, suicide, rape, lying, stealing...and a host of other vicious acts begin to form first within the mind...long
before they became deadly actions of reality. Just think how long the attacks of 9/11 had to be in the minds of the
perpetrators before it ever happened, ruining the lives of thousands and affecting the lives of billions. Consider how
many times those evil minds thought out these vicious attacks. For every one of those thoughts, there was an opportunity
to "change their mind," and choose not to perform these acts. History records their choice.
many ways our mind is like a movie theater with a very large library of movies we can call up at any time. With a little
bit of thought and focus, we can visualize past events in our lives...some happy...some very painful...and play them like
a movie within our heads.
What I've discovered is that these movies (that play in our minds) can either be
very fruitful...as we envision a brighter future and dream of big plans, success, joy and happiness...or they can be devastating
as we replay our past failures and even invent new one's of what 'might' be lying ahead.
Think about this statement: "Fear is a movie that plays over and over in our heads, trying to scare us. Most
times...it's a work of pure fiction."
You see, I spend a great deal of my time in counseling helping people
realize that they can change the way they feel and act...by simply changing the movies they allow to play in their heads.
Many people seem amazed to learn that they have control over this part of their mind...and not the other way around.
I can promise you this...when you see successful, happy people that are able to accomplish big goals...you're seeing
people who've learned to think successful, happy thoughts. Sounds a little "New-Ageish" I know, but it's
a proven fact. You can do the same...it's all about which movies you choose to play on the screen of your mind's
There was a time when Sharla and I decided to get back into better shape physically. We purchased
lots of exercise equipment...all with 100 percent guarantees to work! The only problem? The biggest thing needed
to succeed in exercise is "Will Power," and that...unfortunately...is not included in the box. Will Power
is developed within the mind.
Think about this...the only thing standing in the way of a healthier...better-looking
you...is your MIND! Remember...your mind controls your body and therefore can MAKE your body do what you tell it to...like
going for a walk...etc. Instead, most people tend to replay the old movies...you know...the one's where we're
fat, unhappy, lazy, tired, struggling to fit into our clothes...etc.??? Yeah...those movies...best sellers...block-busters.
My goal in this series of articles on the subject of the mind...is to help you understand that God gave you a wonderful
mind...what you accomplish with it...is completely your choice. I'm still learning this myself...so please don't
think I'm coming across as some "know-it-all guru," who makes money pumping people up. None of us need
that. What we need is to understand how our minds work...and how to make them work for us, instead of against us.
Let's do it. Let's let God help us discover the power of our minds and how we can use it
to benefit us emotionally, physically, spiritually, and in our relationships and so forth. Ok?
See you soon,
I love you all,
THE PROBLEM IS IN THE MIND
3:24 am cdt
During my absence from the Internet, I was saddened to learn of the sudden death of a dear friend
and a wonderful mentor...Dr. Harry Gray.
Harry was a powerful preacher, a funny man with a great sense of humor,
and was a intellectual genious in the field of Psychology. He pastored from the time he was 18 years old or so and passed
away in his late 60's. He lived a full life...had a wonderful family and touched countless lives, including mine.
The first time I met Harry Gray I was drawn to him for his "no-non-sense" approach to people. He believed
every word of the Bible, but he also realized that mankind is much more than just a spirit...that he is also flesh and mind.
Too often, ministry is focused solely upon the spirit...leaving the mind and body out of the mix...except to blame
it for all our sins. Unfortuately, this leaves many people struggling with issues that are not addressed in Church or
Bible-studies...for lack of "spiritual significance," or for simple lack of understanding the "whole man,"
all of which are important to God.
A good example of this is human sexuality. For too long the Church has
steered completely clear of teaching healthy sexuality to it's members...leaving them with the impression that Satan created
sex, rather than God. This short-coming on the part of the Church to teach the beauty of love between a husband and
wife, and the affects of hormones upon the mind, has left many Christians feeling guilty for having thoughts or emotions that
are clearly designed by God...not Satan. On an issue as powerful as this...a lack of teaching leaves the door wide open
for Satan to distort and abuse people emotionally and mentally. I know...I counsel them regularly.
Harry Gray who sparked my interest in the study of the human mind and how our thoughts affect everything...from our day to
day lives to our belief system and the importance of developing a healthy mind if we are to develop a healthy spirituality.
That interest has led me to years of study upon the issues of the human mind and how it affects us almost every second
of our day. I have used that knowledge to help many people by "clearing up their thinking," where they could
move forward with their lives in God and in peace. I have God and Harry Gray to thank for that.
my years of research I have found that the majority of the problems that affect us...even as Christians...are issues that
originate within our minds. It is with our minds that we "perceive what is true or false," and thus determines
our believe system. How important is this? It's as important as eternal life. Remember it is faith that
saves us...and faith is decided in the mind, before being transferred into the heart.
BELIEVES in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." That's how important the mind is.
It is with the mind that we either choose to believe in Christ...or reject Him as fantasy or religious propaganda. It
is within our minds that we "decide" what we believe and those beliefs then filter into our hearts becoming solid.
Not too long ago, I had some negative things said about me...due to the judgments and perceptions developed in someone's
mind. They began to spread their negative judgments of me onto others and it was a very difficult time for me personally.
Once these people allowed their perceptions of me to become belief...no amount of trying to defend myself
would have changed their minds. These perceptions were wrong...yet they ended these relationships to my great sadness
and dismay. Once a person develops a negative perception of someone or something...it becomes nearly impossible to change
that perception. All of this is because of the mind...not the spirit...not demons or angels...but the mind. While
it's true that Satan can plant thoughts into our minds...only we can entertain those thoughts...give them credibility
and then choose to believe them.
My only consolation is that someday...maybe in Heaven...maybe here on Earth,
God will reveal the truth and these negative perceptions will be revealed as totally false. Until then, I cannot be
responsible for what others think.
What I have discovered is that most of our problems are a result of poor thinking...or
unhealthy thinking. Sadly, once we think something...we tend to believe it as true...whether or not there is a single
shred of evidence to prove it.
Let me give you another example of this: I once knew a guy named Scotty Richards.
Scotty was a wonderfully talented guitarist and we crossed paths many times at various concerts where both his band and mine
were performing. For many years he truly believed me to be one of the most arrogant people he had ever met. Years
later we became good friends and he discovered that my "stand-offishness" was due to my severe shyness...not arrogance.
It took him years to realize that his perception of me...which he believed strongly to be true...was completely wrong.
How often have we met someone and formed an opinion within our minds without having enough evidence to prove our
belief? I've done it countless times. I usually find out I was totally wrong.
My prayer is that
the Church and Christians will begin to learn how the human mind operates and how to "bring it under subjection to the
thoughts of Christ," before it destroys us or others.
This particular article is the first of several dealing
with the mind that I hope will shed light on how our minds operate...and how we can use them for good...rather than evil.
I love you all,
MAKING IT THROUGH THE VALLEY
1:55 am cdt
This tidbit of information will probably come as no surprise to any of you...but life is uncertain.
We never know what problems, trials or troubles await us in our journey from the cradle to the grave.
we all start life with big plans, high expectations and dreams, but it doesn't take too long to realize that many of them
were as fleeting as the bubbles we blow from one of those dime-store bottles of suds.
I graduated from Sudan High
School when it was still a square, two-story building with windows in almost every classroom. I remember sitting at
my desk staring out the window and daydreaming of all the awesome things I was going to accomplish upon my final release.
I mean...I had some plans!!! In fact, I daydreamed so much I often found myself in trouble for not paying attention
in class. I'm not sure why...but when I began to daydream...the voice of the teacher seemed to resemble the voice
of Charlie Brown's mother. (Remember that?)
Anyway...after much anticipation the BIG DAY finally arrived
and I paraded down the isle to receive my long sought after High School Diploma. I was free! NOT.
I realized I had to get a job and my first job was a construction laborer...doing what? Helping to build the "New"
Sudan High School. So everyday after school...the Man with a Plan...the Great Big Dreamer...got to wave at all the kids
as they passed by...me with shovel in hand...dirty and digging ditches. Wow! Hurrah for the big-time dreamer!
Way to go race-horse number zero!
I soon found out that life does not mold itself to our desires, dreams, goals
or plans. Sickness, divorce, failures and a variety of other dream-thieves are waiting to pounce on our nice big future.
Since that time, I've done lots of great stuff...met some wonderful people...loved and been loved...succeeded
and failed, succeeded and failed again...and am still going forward. I could never have day-dreamed the reality of my
life as it's been.
There have been times when I have been through valley's that were so deep I just knew
I would not make it to the other side...that I couldn't possibly survive such a hard time and live to tell about it.
There have also been times when I've looked ahead and saw mountains before me that where frightening and extremely worrisome
and wondered if there was even a remote chance of making it over.
I'm sure you can relate to these trials and
the emotions that accompany them.
One thing I have figured out though...that no matter how deep the valley or how
high the mountain...that no matter how many times my plans or dreams have drifted away into the darkness...God has already
written the end of my journey...and I live happily ever after!
The Bible is a wonderful
roadmap for our lives...because as Christians...we get to "peek" into the back of the book and find out that...ultimately...all
our dreams will, in fact, come true. I don't know about you...but knowing how my story will end, really helps me
when I'm fighting the dragons that await me in the dark valley's of my life...or the lions, tigers, and bears I might
face as I cross the next mountain.
No matter how "bad" something might seem at the moment...or how "uncertain"
my immediate future may appear...I know that in less than 50 years...I'll be home...struggle done...game over.
I've have often used my vision of my end...Heaven...as a great comfort when I am struggling with my present.
Honestly...there have been times when it was my only mental and emotional comfort. Thanks, Holy Spirit!
I was honored to preach the funeral of a 93 year old woman. She had lived a full life. It doesn't take a genious
to realize that some of those years were good and some were probably very difficult. As of today, though...all her struggles
are over. The final chapter of her book is written and is finished with: "And she lived happily ever after."
What a comfort to know that we have a God who is watching over us daily...aware of each struggle...both external and
internal...and is lovingly guiding us to our final destination. It is sometimes hard to see the glorious glow of Heaven
from the dark valley's of life...but we can be assured...it lies directly ahead in our path!
going through a tough time right now...I hope you'll stop fretting just long enough to remember...at the end of your
story...it all ends well. In fact, better than we could ever imagine.
Eyes have not seen, ears have not
heard, nor has it entered into the hearts of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him! Pretty sweet promise
My prayer for you today is that no matter what Giant you might be facing in your life...you know of a certainty
that at the end of your "life-novel," you will, in fact, live happily ever after. The best news is...it's
not a fictional fairy-tale, but the greatest of all realities.
I love you all,
WHEN WE'RE ALL RICH
5:31 pm cdt
The Bible tells us that God is "No Respector of Persons." It also tells us
that as Believer's we are "Joint-Heirs with Jesus Christ." In John 3:16, Jesus opens the promise
of eternal life to "Whosoever will."
These references are biblical proof that God views us all
equally. There is no favoritism in God's heart...He loves us all the same...as any good Father should with His children.
Sadly, we currently live in a world that is anything but...equal. We are torn into social classes, races, financial
status, intellect and knowledge, opposing religions and so forth. We have the "have's and have-not's"
and we have those who virtually work themselves to death simply trying to have a meal and a bed. It doesn't take
anyone long to realize this current life is not fair and equality for all is a fairytale.
It's easy to
think that with hard work and some luck anyone can aspire to greatness and wealth. That is hardly the case. As
you know some people are born at a severe disadvantage and life becomes a day to day battle to survive...without much hope
of getting ahead. For example: my grandfather had to quit school at an early age...leave home and find work for one
dollar a day...just to survive. It's hard to get ahead...pay college tuition and so forth on one dollar per day.
I too had such a desire to go to college. I would have loved to become a Christian Psychologist, open a
practice and help loads of people. I have studied for years...on my own in this field. I have been able to
help many, many people with this knowledge...but without a degree...I must do it all for free. It's hard to get
ahead financially...when you do it for free. (He said grinning).
Don't get me wrong...I'm not complaining
at all...I wouldn't trade the world for what I've done for hurting people...I'm just using this as an example.
The problem was...because of being born into and raised in poverty...college was out of the question. I had to go to
work for minimum wage instead. I'm sure most of you can relate.
We also live in a world that is dominated
by the principle of "pecking order," where the strong survive and the weak either support the strong or die.
Even the childhood story of Robin Hood exposes the plight of the poor, where the government lives wealthily upon the backs
of the poorest people or the common man.
Thankfully...this type of suffering will not endure forever.
We serve a God who has promised us a bright future where no-one will lack. Why? Because our Father owns the "Cattle
on a Thousand Hills," as the Bible says and is prepared to give all He has as an inheritance to His Children...divided
equally with Christ. Our Father is so wealthy that He paves His streets with pure gold.
How do we obtain
this wealth from God? Work for it? NO! Beg for it? NO! It is a free gift to those who will believe
and allow Him to adopt us into His family.
I long for the day when worry will no longer be a part of the Christian
life. Although the Bible tells us not to worry...it's hard to break away from that part of our humanity. Research
papers are full of stories that relate most major illnesses to prolonged stress and worry. My precious friends...a day
is coming when all that will end with a simple sounding of a trumpet.
I must admit there are times when I grow
weary thinking of how many people in our congregation and in this world suffer from lack and the worry that accompanies it.
I wish I could help them all.
My prayer for you today is that God will fill you with a sense of love, belonging,
equality (at least in His Kingdom), and peace...knowing that our suffering is temporary and there is a day coming when you'll
think you've won the biggest lottery of all time...entrance into God's unthinkable Kingdom.
I love you
12:47 am cdt
Well...as you can tell, the website is finally back online. I was able to place the web domain-name
along with the site which should really help in keeping the same thing from happening again. I actually feels like I've
been reunited with an old friend.
Since last we talked, I've been very busy with the Church...teaching, preaching
and counseling. I continue to see God's love changing lives almost everyday and it never ceases to amaze me.
Sadly, I hear reports that many Churches are experiencing smaller crowds, offerings and overall participation.
I've noticed this myself in our congregation and I'm a bit amazed...especially in light of the problems facing the
World today...and by extention...all of us. In light of a struggling economy I can understand falling offerings as people
have to cut corners somewhere and oftentimes their Church is one of the victims. However, I am a bit bum-fuzzled over
the lower attendance since we are obviously living in perilous times...times when people should be running to Church rather
than staying away.
I am amazed when I read about the number of Tornadoes that have swept America in the last few
months from Los Angeles to the East Coast. A tornado in Los Angeles??? Sounds like a movie rather than reality.
How crazy is that? We also see Earthquakes causing massive death and destruction in places like China. Add that
to the fact that the World is deeply divided and War and animosity seem to be rampant and it makes one wonder if Jesus
is about to come back. We have the President of Iran promising to "wipe Israel off the map," and Israel
and America promising that will not happen...even if it means Nuclear War. We also find our own Country deeply divided
as the Presidential race seems to spotlight.
These and other events and news make me wonder why Churches are not
completely full of Believer's praying for our World, our families, Christianity, and the Lord's return.
Now you guys (and gals) know that I try to never be negative or fearful in this journal, but I must tell you that it concerns
me that many believer's seem to be completely unaware of the dangerous times in which we live.
My prayer is
that the Christians of the Earth will feel a new sense of urgency about our times...and for those who are lost without any
knowledge of the precious salvation of Christ or the coming destruction upon the Earth.
My precious friends...we
have such a wonderful message of love, salvation, forgiveness and eternal life. This old World offers nothing but more
death, more war, more hatred, more killing. I wish it wasn't so...but the Bible tells us it is...and the fruit proves
My prayer is that our Congregations will become powerful places of love and acceptance, where we drop all the
religious emptinesses in favor of real rescue missions. Not with arrogance but with compassion and grace...with the message
of life...real life, without fear, death, pain, poverty and continued sorrow.
Please join me in prayer for
these heartfelt thoughts.
I love you all...and have missed you tons.