Owning It


Here’s a great blog from Introvert, Dear on Owning Your Introversion: 12 Ways to Own Your Introversion

Number 4 is Leave when you want to.

I want to leave.  Leave my job.  Owning my introversion means taking responsibility for my own happiness.  And this job doesn’t make me happy.  It makes me miserable.  In my “role” as a manager, I’m expected to be a take-charge outgoing socializer.  Not happening.

I heard about this book, Never Eat Alone, and just about freaked.  I almost had a panic attack when I saw it in the bookstore.  That’s what I mean.  I can’t even handle the idea of going to lunch with a new person every day just to be successful in my job.

Time to leave this party.

So, I have been thinking about early retirement. But, I have a big obstacle.  Huge!

The company I work for has a tradition of throwing big blowout parties for anyone who retires, with catered food, speeches, balloons, and all the retiree’s relatives that they can convince to show up.

I can’t face retirement because I’m terrified of the party.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

Diagonally-Parked in a Parallel Universe: Working Through Social Anxiety

Random Thoughts on Training


Rev. Moon says, “There is no substitute for training. Don’t depend on miracles to bring about restoration. We also need training–not random training, but well planned and practical training.” He goes on to say that, “It is training that makes an army efficient and feared by its enemies.” From: Single Mindedness at the Risk of Your Life.

A co-worker gave me American Sniper for Christmas. This quote is what came to mind as I was reading the chapters on Navy SEAL training. Efficient and feared indeed. It was those stories of SEAL training that motivated me to get my sorry butt in gear and get in shape this year.

My usual routine would have been to take a rest day, but these thoughts motivated me to get out and walk anyway.

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My intention was just to walk, but longer thatimage usual. The these stairs started calling my name. I went up and down three flights of stairs to get my heart rate up.

I walked a total of 3.25 miles in just over an hour. (My pedometer app says I set a record with a total of 12,414 steps today.)

I concentrated on gratitude and appreciating nature, the ocean, the sky the birds. I always enjoy watching pelicans skimming the leading edge of the waves. I always hope to see the diving for fish.

Amazingly, a bunch of them started diving just opposite my position. Out of a two-mile stretch of beach, they started diving just near me.  Synchronicity. Just as I got to the pier, a guy on a bike started hollering and pointing,”Wales! See the spouts?” He must have had sharp eyes, because they were pretty far offshore, but sure enough, there were several whale spouts out in the offing.

I’m glad I made the effort to go out this morning. I felt really blessed all day.

 

 

Where you don’t want to be on the Stairway to Heaven.


Someone posted a question on Facebook recently: “What question about the bible would you really like have answered?” When I first seriously read the new testament the summer I turned eighteen, I was surprised by the Jesus that I met through the Gospels.  He said a lot of challenging things that made me uncomfortable or plain-and-simply scared me to death.

Sometimes we treat the Bible like comfort food for the soul.  We prefer the nice, loving Jesus to the scary challenging Jesus.  We would rather hear, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28 (ESV) instead of “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25 (ESV).

Spiritual comfort food has its place, but we need to face the challenging stuff if we want to grow in faith.  (I’d love to hear what Bible verse challenges you the most, and how you came to terms with it.)

Here is the challenging verse that has bothered me since my conversion in 1974:  Why did Jesus said about John the Baptist, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  Matthew 11:11 (ESV).

I keep imagining the stairway to heaven that ends at the threshold of the Pearly Gates. The poor soul who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is standing just inside the gate.  He barely squeaked in past St. Peter and his big book.  Then there’s John the Baptist, standing on the stairs, just below the gates.  He wants to get in, but can’t because he is less than the least, less than that guy over there, just inside the gate.

John the Baptist must have made a pretty imposing figure, in his camel-hair suit, leather belt and fiery sermons.  Aside from Mary, Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, John was among the first to recognize Jesus as the anointed one.  He was the first to publicly testify that Jesus was the Lamb of God,

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (ESV)  “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” John 1:34 (ESV)

Most Christians would love to have been there in John the Baptist’s sandals, giving that testimony.  You’d think that would earn you a seat pretty near the top tier of the Kingdom of Heaven.

So how did John the Baptist, the greatest born of woman, end up less than the least, outside the gates of heaven?

In Matthew 5:19, Jesus defines who is least in the kingdom of heaven. 

“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”  

That’s pretty serious stuff.  So what did John the Baptist do that made him less than the least?  

Maybe John’s mistake was that he knew Jesus was the messiah, but turned his back on Jesus and went his own way, somehow thinking his path was more important. John’s disciples were reportedly at odds with Jesus’s disciples.  Only two of John’s followers (Andrew and one other) joined up with Jesus.  John had ample opportunity to testify to Herod about Jesus, but Herod knew nothing about Jesus, thinking that John had resurrected.  It seems to me that John the Baptist missed the salvation boat and led all of his own followers away from Jesus at the crucial moment.  Instead of leading his people to salvation, he led them astray.  Could I be right?

Have you ever noticed?


Complainers are blamers. Complainers don’t take responsibility. It’s always someone else’s fault.

People who step up and take responsibility never complain. They don’t have time to blame anyone. They are too busy fixing things or making things happen.

Playing the blame game is a waste of time. By the time you figure out who to blame a responsible person could have fixed the problem already.

The Paradox of Blessings
Everyone wants to receive blessings. Blessings are the same as wishes on a star, but they come from God. To receive a blessing you have to ask Him first.

God usually says, “OK, take responsibility for . . . this.”
You say, “What? Where’s my blessing?”
Like He didn’t hear you, He repeats, “Take responsibility for . . . this.”

Eventually you say, “Yes,” because He’s God, and your conscience agrees with Him. It’s only after taking responsibility for God’s assignment that you realize, “Hey! I’ve been really blessed by this responsibility.”  (He’s tricky that way.)

Then you feel this awesome gratitude.

So way back in the beginning (Genesis) God gave the first man and woman three awesome blessings.  To be fruitful (mature, responsible and loving sons & daughters). multiply (create wonderful families full of amazing and awesome love), and have dominion over all things on Earth (loving, caring peaceful dominion).

The God does something weird, He asks them to be responsible, not to eat that fruit (before it’s ripe).  But something goes wrong, and they eat that forbidden fruit (before it is ripe).  Suddenly everyone is pointing fingers and blaming each other.  The man, the woman and the serpent.  Instead of the three wonderful blessings, they received three curses.  And humanity has been pointing fingers and blaming each other ever since.

It’s not a failure to communicate, it’s a failure to take responsibility.

Something failed? Someone didn’t take responsibility.

Remember what I said about blaming others being a big waste of time? We have wasted 6,000 years or more on the blame game, and we are still no closer to God’s world of blessings and love than when we started.

God still has those three awesome blessings wrapped up and ready to give to us.  We just have to ask for His blessings, and take responsibility for our lives and for each other.

Stop wasting time on blame.  Ask for your blessings.  Take responsibility.  I dare you.  

God will bless you.

Pelicans and the Principles of Freedom


I like watching birds.  That’s not the same as bird-watching.  Just watching birds.  I’ve always been fascinated by birds in flight.  When I’m walking or running along the Strand I keep my eyes open for birds. Typically I see pigeons, a couple of crows, some pelicans and seagulls  There’s always bunch of seagulls hanging out near the Redondo Beach Pier. Most are just standing on the beach, looking our to sea. There are always a few picking at trash in the parking lot, chasing each other and bickering over some choice morsel.

I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull when I was a teenager and even saw the movie in the theater when it was released.

 

But like Johnathan, ordinary seagulls don’t inspire me.  I like to watch the pelicans in flight. On land pelicans are awkward, ugly creatures. A friend of mine, who is a fisherman and surfer says he hates pelicans.  They are always trying to steal his bait.  If they catch the bait, you have a heck of a time reeling it in and getting the hook out of its beak.

But in flight pelicans are transformed into something entirely different. They can soar endlessly with only an occasional flap of their wings.  They usually fly in formation, one behind the other, just to the side of the leader’s wingtips.

Early in the morning the Santa Monica Bay is often still and smooth as glass, reflecting the pale blue of the dawn sky.  When the water is like this the pelicans skim along just inches above the water.  I’ve often wondered why they do this and how they can stay in the air so effortlessly.

Another favorite flying technique is wave hopping.  As a wave rolls in the line of pelicans form up and skim along just inches above the wave.  As they skim along the length of the wave they angle in slightly toward the beach, riding on the cushion of air pushed up by the swell. As the wave starts to break they flap two or three times and glide out to the next wave that is just beginning to swell.

Pelicans understand the natural laws governing their environment, like the laws of aerodynamics.  Whether they learned from inborn instinct, following examples, or their own experience, somehow they know and this allows them to survive and thrive.  It’s when they stray from the natural environment that they know that they run into trouble.

When a pelican tries to snag an easy meal by stealing my friend’s bait, they get snagged instead. When they stray from the laws that they know they lose their freedom and suffer the indignity of losing their freedom of flight and suffering the pain of having the hook extracted from their beak or gullet.

People are kind of the same way.  If we stick to the right principles, life goes smoothly. When we stray from what is right we can get ourselves in trouble. The challenge is to know what is right.

Physical laws like gravity are pretty obvious.  You can’t say that you don’t believe in gravity.  Whether you believe in it or not, it will still have the same effect. If you trip on something, you will fall down. There are the scientific laws of the physical world: physics, chemistry, and biology.  There are the laws of mathematics: algebra, geometry and calculus.

Then there are traffic laws.  If you drive responsibly, obeying the traffic laws, stopping for red lights, drive the speed limit and don’t drive drunk, you are free to drive all over town.  But if you decide not to obey or believe in the traffic laws, “Red lights don’t apply to me!” Sooner or later you will get a ticket or have an accident. Then you will lose your freedom  because your car is totaled, you get injured or end up in jail.

There are other types of laws, societal mores, emotional and relational principles.  If you learn these principles and follow them you will enjoy freedom, peace and loving relationships.  Many of these are laid out in familiar and ancient scriptures.

The Bible teaches in the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Very good advice.

There is usually reciprocity in these spiritual principles, meaning what you give is what you get.

Judge not lest ye be judged.  
The measure you give will be the measure you receive.
You reap what you sow.

Even common sense says, “What goes around, comes around.”

Just like gravity, these principles rule our lives even if we decide not to believe in them or follow their wisdom.

Even Freedom follows certain principles.  I have tried to illustrate the first of these in this blog post.

The Principles of Freedom are:

(1) There is only freedom within the Principle (Physical and Natural Laws).

(2) There is no freedom without human responsibility (consequences, good or bad).
Our primary responsibility is to learn the principles and apply them in our daily lives. Dad always told me when teaching me to drive, “Ignorance of the Law is no excuse.” These principles are always in action, whether we understand them and whether we believe in them or not.  Ignorance of the Law is no excuse.

(3) There is no freedom without good results. (The Pursuit of Happiness)  If you act “freely” and experience bad consequences, or cause harm to others, that is not true freedom.

In this blog post I tried to illustrate the first principle of freedom, Freedom within the Principle.  In future blog posts I will tackle the other principles of freedom.

I welcome your comments and questions.