Good and Evil Are Roommates At War Here

One word: paradise.

Blue skies stretch across a vast horizon. The soothing sounds and colors of a landscape come alive along paths of trees bearing fresh fruit for the picking. The scenery is a tropical postcard—gentle river streams babble along with waterfalls that outline a garden of extraordinary design and resource.

Everything needed for happiness is present. Here is a paradise of abundance. Here, there’s no want. There’s no hunger, thirst, or need of a doctor. There’s no white collar or blue collar, first class or coach, millionaire or minimum wage. No sorrow, worry, or problems.

It’s a place of good and right and truth. It’s where you don’t live, nor do I.  We don’t live in the Garden of Eden.

You and I live in a place of disease, struggles, and mistakes. We live in a land of inconsideration, crime, and loss. We’re surrounded by tragedies, unspeakable acts, and fears. We dwell among those who seek to define winners by possessions, status, and bank balances. We’re exposed to the greedy, the unkind, the bias.

This is a place of bad and wrong and lies. This is our place—our world—the outcome of Adam and Eve’s choice. Good and bad, right and wrong, truth and lies are roommates at war here. This is where you and I live. This is our reality.

Adam and Eve had it all—no wishful thinking, no bills, no body aches, no wants, no worries.

They possessed a park-like mansion and owned a river that divided into four more rivers (two are still identified today in Iraq each over 600 miles long where Eden existed). They had land bigger than the size of Texas. They were given forests, beaches, oasis, mountains, prairies, and golf course landscaping. They had security for themselves and inheritance for their children to come.

Still, there was one tiny, very small part of the whole earth they did not have—a tree. Just one tree. The Lord asked Adam and Eve, who stood as the sole receivers of the Earth, to recognize one, just one, itsy bitsy tiny request. You are free to eat from any tree, but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Assurance of life to them, immortal life, was theirs if they would honour this one request asked of God.

It required a decision.

They had the freedom to choose whether to focus on their paradise or to focus on the one forbidden tree.

At first, Adam and Eve must have passed the forbidden tree many times without a thought. After some time, perhaps they would look at the one tree as they walked to the river to swim. They didn’t talk to each other about the forbidden tree, but they each knew it was permanently off limits or as God told them, the consequence would be they will surely die.

One day Eve walked up to the tree, stopped and stared at it—focusing on the one thing she and Adam didn’t possess.

She dismissed the truth, denied the existence of repercussions, and justified listening to the words of a snake over the Word of God.

The rest is history.

Many people choose to focus on what they lack, what’s unfair, what they should have, and they are soon blinded from the blessings already bestowed upon them.

Like Adam and Eve, the given abundance is lost in the more they seek to have. These individuals focus on the one tree—the one thing they don’t have, don’t possess, don’t experience, or don’t feel.

What they do have is taken for granted. We can’t appreciate what we take for granted.

When a problem gangs up on us, all the struggling aspects of living seem to take the stage and the positive advantages of our lives—the blessings—seem to be missing from the role of credits.

Enter the nature of God—abundance.

Look around you. There isn’t just one leaf, one river, one snowflake, one flower, one feeling. There isn’t just a single dollar, a single gemstone, or a single piece of gold. These things are in abundance!

Jesus said that He came to give life—not just ordinary existence, but life in fullness, abundance and prosperity.

The choice of what to believe and what to focus on requires your decision—the same decision required of Adam and Eve—are you going to focus on what you don’t have or are you going to focus on a life of gratitude for what you do possess?

Are you going to believe what God says or are you going to doubt God exists?

On one side is God with goodness, eternal life, and “plenty” of all that is necessary for life and on the other side is the enemy of your soul who comes to rob you of God’s blessings, to oppress your mind with lies, and destroy an attitude of gratitude.

You choose every day what you’re going to believe and who you’re going to believe.

Choose wisely, my friend.

Think about it.

drsandynelson@gmail.com, © Life101Blog.com, Sandy Nelson Ph.D., All Rights Reserved

What Do You Deserve In Life?

What do you deserve in life? – by Dr. Sandy Nelson
Did you find yourself hesitating to answer the question?

 

I did.

What do I deserve? Nothing.

But that’s old school thinking. That’s my unhealthy and incorrect thinking from decades ago.

You see, I was raised as a Missouri Synod Lutheran with a doctrine that preached, in my opinion, self-abnegation in church and you-don’t-deserve-crap in its parochial school.

My takeaway experience with religion by junior high graduation was: Jesus died for my pathetic existence and worthless life. I should live in continual disrepute, guilt and shame that He was killed in my stead.

I came to learn that many religions have a knack of guilt-tripping and adversely branding people who believe in something different than what the churches are preaching and demand within their denomination.

I believe in the full and true Grace of God.

In my opinion, there is no religious guilt, judgment, self-denial or shame under the Grace of God. We are free and we are to love one another as Jesus said.

It’s pretty simple when you take out all the bylaws and rules and rituals associated with many sects.

We have no right to judge or condemn others or ourselves.

Each of us has been given talents, skills, gifts, strengths, and abilities for use to better our lives and to help the lives of other people.

So, what do I really deserve? I deserve happiness, love, and success. And you deserve joy, affection, and achievement from your endeavors, too.

We deserve shelter and sunlight and shade and warmth. We deserve the free will to determine our destinies. We deserve the moon! And we have it. We deserve a universe! It’s all ours.

But, be alert to any invalidating thoughts you hold about yourself. They can cause you to sabotage relationships, success, and happiness.

If you do not treat yourself with love and respect, you can not experience the love and respect that other people want to give you.

So, seriously jump on any negative thoughts in your head about yourself. Refuse to criticize your mistakes or degrade your limitations or weaknesses—we all have them.

Self-love is necessary to succeed, to be happy, and to love other people.

Listen to the words you choose to use every day. Are they complaining and critical words? Are they judgmental phrases? Or do you hear encouraging expressions? Phrases of kindness? Words of gratitude out of your mouth?

The words you speak reflect your character. Your words reflect what you believe about yourself.

Stay aware of the words you choose to verbalize. Do they match the character you want to role model to your children, family, co-workers or other people? Are they in agreement with the integrity in which you want to be associated?

Where you are today can be attributed to the words you tell yourself.

What do you deserve? Are you ready to answer the question?

Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com  ♦  Any photos courtesy of Pixabay unless otherwise noted

What Negative Thinking Guarantees

What negative thinking guarantees is a longer journey in the pursuit of solutions, answers, and remedies.

Have you ever known a pessimistic person to be immersed in enthusiasm and a positive outlook? Me either. In fact, the negativity that appears to reek from pessimists reminds me of static electricity—energy in the vicinity that gets encased and stuck in its sphere.

Negativity in a person tends to guarantee a toxic energy that breeds ill—physically and emotionally. Negative-focused persons have the appearance of mentally shackling the people around them into a mindset that diminishes any encouraging conditions in life. It’s all Armageddon to them.

Pessimists spend a good portion of time engaged in discussions on only what’s dreadful, what is deficient, and what is wicked in the world. Their focus tends to lack any concrete observations of what’s effective, what’s good, productive, and positive. If this describes you, allow me to stretch my hand out and shock you back into worthwhile thinking.

Imagine a planet where blame was missing. Picture a world absent of faultfinders and pessimists.

Now, try to be a part of creating that vision. Put down any doom and gloom binoculars. Stop peddling criticism. Stop the negative rehashing of the problems we face in this society.

The more we stop the blame and catastrophic views, the more of us there are available to focus on solutions, answers, and remedies. Blame keeps us glued to the dilemma instead of adhered to a resolution. Explanations keep us attached to the problem instead of fastened to improvements.

We all hold a position on this earth. And our positions are better served in discovering tonics for peace and understanding instead of judgment and condemnation.

In Working and Thinking on the Waterfront, Eric Hoffer wrote:

Fair play is primarily not blaming others for anything that is wrong with us.

 

the problem with religionThink about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com  ♦  Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com unless otherwise indicated

 

How To Stop Hate

Only a person with self-contempt can contemplate murder. Self-esteem and self-respect can’t co-exist with hatred. But organized hatred helps give new meaning to the lives of those who feel marginalized. That’s how one learns to hate.

In 1915, D.W. Griffith used the technology of motion pictures to make Birth of a Nation. This film prejudiceportrayed African-Americans as being stupid, lazy and inferior, and glorified the Ku Klux Klan for standing up for the rights of the white supremacy majority. It was so effective in fostering hate against African-Americans that even Griffith himself was said to have been shocked.

One hundred years later, in Charleston, South Carolina, Dylann Roof, a Caucasian male, walked into a Bible study on Wednesday evening, June 17th with a mindset of hate. His reason for attending was to shoot and kill everyone there—all African-American’s. For an hour, Roof sat with the group and participated in their discussions about Scripture. Later, Roof told police he almost aborted his plan to kill the group because they were so welcoming and kind to him.

Michael Daly of The Daily Beast wrote:

But that would have meant giving up the hate that filled the hollowness of being born of a fleeting reunion between his parents three years after their divorce and of getting no further in high school than the ninth grade, but wearing a jacket with an “Academic All Stars” patch rightfully worn only by seniors in the top 10 percent. 

He had compensated for that false claim by sewing two other patches on the jacket, flags of apartheid-era Rhodesia and South Africa, symbols for those seeking another kind of supposed supremacy. 

And his older sister, Amber, was to be married on Sunday. To have just left the Emanuel A.M.E. Church on Wednesday night would have meant going to the wedding at the end of the week as a rank loser from a fractured family who could rightly declare himself supreme in nothing at all.

Even so, Roof seems to have understood in his moments of indecision that these warmly devout people of the Bible study group were putting the lie to his racism. He may have sensed that the faith filling their lives might also fill his own.

After an hour, just as he was apparently losing his resolve and his hate was slipping away, Roof seized it anew. He allegedly produced the Glock .45 automatic that he is reported to have purchased with birthday money from his father.

That was when Tywanza Sanders is said to have told him, “You don’t have to do this.”

Roof is said to have replied as if he were also trying to convince himself. He was not some loser. He was a champion of the white race about to start a race war.

“I have to do it,” he reportedly cried out.

His next words were the language of white supremacists. “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

Hate is a painful state of being because the mind is not ordained to hate. Everybody is born to love—to love our Creator, to love ourselves and to love others.

IMG_2247It is not only our hatred of others that is dangerous but also, and above all, our hatred of ourselves: particularly that hatred of ourselves which is too deep and too powerful to be consciously faced. For it is this which makes us see our own evil in others and unable to see it in ourselves, wrote Catholic Monk Thomas Merton in New Seeds of Contemplation.

A zero self-love is a developed misery. It’s miserable because it’s painful and unnatural to hate one’s self—it goes against our very nature. Our core disposition is to love, not despise; to include, not shut out; to embrace, not isolate.

When we, as a society reverse the hate, overturn the prejudice and embrace all human beings with dignity and respect they’re entitled to, then maybe the violence will rescind. When we encourage and support one another, then the inner flames of self-esteem and self-respect are not extinguished.

FullSizeRender (6)Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com

The Problem With Religion

It was shocking. And for most Americans, it was unexpected. And then the problem with religion was on center stage.

On June 26, 2015, the SCOTUS, in a landmark decision ruled that same-sex marriages were legal. The hashtag #Love Wins flooded the internet, as did #Equality For All.

People were shown hugging one another with tears of joy. Now, for the first time ever, same-sex couples are protected under the Constitution from any bans that would deny them the same rights as heterosexual couples.

That’s how love won.

A paragraph of the majority opinion in the ruling authored by Justice Kennedy prompted comments from people on what they believed to be a beautiful, compassionate and romantic definition of marriage. An hour later, the paragraph had gone viral:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. —Justice Anthony Kennedy

Then the love that was won hit the wall.

The problem with religion was ablaze. Conservative Christians, some GOP leaders, and Presidential candidates disagreed, intensely, with the ruling.

Probably the most wigged-out reaction came from Bryan Fischer of American Family Radio. In just one paragraph, Fischer compared the ruling to slavery, 9/11, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Sodom and Gomorrah. A frenzied Fischer announced:

From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is the new 9/11, because it was on this day that five justices of the United States Supreme Court became moral jihadists, They became rainbow jihadists and they blasted the twin pillars of truth and righteousness into rubble. And they did this by imposing sodomy-based marriage on the United States through an act of judicial tyranny. Today, June 26, 2015, is a date which will live in infamy. On this day, the United States became Sodom and Gomorrah.

Yikes! That’s an offensive thing to say. That’s the problem with religion.

But Fisher was not the only conservative Christian who reacted with agony and sorrow at the prospect of gay marriage across the land. Indeed, there was a great deal of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

All of the nay-sayers seem to believe the institution of marriage is at stake. Their priority is to uphold this sacred union. This is God’s will. The Bible states marriage is between a man and a woman.

Now here is where this Bible-quoting loses credibility.

Divorce is against God’s will and against the teachings in the Bible. Having sex outside of marriage is also a big no-no according to Bible teachings. And living together in sin? A huge taboo in Scripture.

What’s the difference between these sins and the implied sin of same-sex marriage?

Can someone explain that to me?

I asked that question in a Facebook group that was declaring how America was on the verge of collapse and every American was going to hell because the ruling is against the inerrant word of the Bible. The group could not answer my question, but they did send me a short video of why they thought Obama is bad for America.

I moved on and had a three hour back and forth conversation on a Facebook group belonging to Fr. James Martin. Even with over 11,000 comments, no one could answer my question. That’s the problem with religion.

My point is there is no difference. Every sin is against the inerrant word of the Bible.

Divorce is against God’s will, and Christians get divorced all the time. There’s no revolt about that sin. Christians have premarital sex and cohabitate outside of marriage. That’s a sin in the Bible. Where’s the protest about that to the Supreme Court? Why is that seemingly tolerated with little objection, but same-sex marriage qualifies for continued flogging and imprisonment?

That’s such hypocrisy and that’s the problem with religion!

God is love. As followers, we are to love one another. Why is that so difficult? We are all created equal in the eyes of God, but that equality is blurred by many so-called Christians who believe themselves superior.

It reminds me of the dogmatic practices and beliefs of the Pharisees. They were so blinded by greed and power, that they missed the possibility that the Messiah could be the humility and grace in a man called Jesus.

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com  ♦  ©All rights reserved 2014, Dr. Sandy Nelson, Life101Blog.com

Why Do Our Choices Matter?

Hindsight always reveals the right choice. The one I should have made. The option I should have chosen. Why can’t I have a peek at hindsight in the here and now so I can make the best choice and best decision, today? That’s possible if I learned anything from my past.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld was a noted French author of maxims and memoirs. He held a clear-eyed and worldly view about human conduct in the 16th century. Perhaps he was scolding his fellow peers for spending half their day in bed with women when he wrote:

Everybody complains about their memory, and nobody complains about their judgment.

Five centuries later, I think his snide comment still has merit. Why do our choices matter? Many people speak about their lapse of recall saying, “Gee, I can’t remember anything these days; my memory is awful.” But we don’t make comments about our choices. We don’t say, “Gee, I can’t make correct decisions anymore, my judgment is awful.”

I wish I realized my decision-making ability had needed an overhaul before half my life was over. My earlier years might have been more pleasant and less turbulent.

But, unlike chatter about better golf grips, better gas prices, or better political races, the topic of better decision-making or why our judgment matters, is hardly the choice of conversation at a dinner party. If it were, perhaps there would be less regret and less hurt in our lives. Maybe we would have learned something beneficial for a lifetime from one another.

I like the idea of taking a moment with my family each night to reflect on the decisions and choices made throughout the day. It’s a good mental exercise to look at which decisions showed the use of better judgment and the opportunities that didn’t?

J.K. Rowling says: It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

I think she’s on to something! It’s at least worth a try. So I’m going to take a look at my decision-making process with honesty.

Want to join me?

FullSizeRender (5)Think about it.

drsandy@life101blog.com