My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
purchase it at B & N, Amazon or (click on image of cover)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Let There Be Light In Your Lifestyle

As a family we saw the Kevin and Sam Sorbo movie, “Let There Be Light”, a couple weekends ago. As I checked the local theater schedule I was glad to see that it was still going strong in our community of New Braunfels. My wife, daughter and I, felt it was a touching story and there were many angles to view different aspects of our life journey.

I felt the famous atheist character, played by Kevin Sorbo, captures the arrogance of the New Atheists. A Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris may not debate so over the top like in the movie but when watching them in interviews and debates they and other atheists carry an arrogant attitude with them. Of course why not? In their minds if there is no God, then they are a god themselves, better and smarter than most people -- especially those that believe in God. I present my thoughts on the faith beliefs of the New Atheists in my Spirituality chapter of my book, Living More Than OK.

The story lines of families dealing with loss of children and diseases such as cancer allowed for the movie viewer to think through the realities of the difficulties in life. Realities such as those can and do shake people’s religious faith. These hardships can also renew our turning to God as the Christian thinker C. S. Lewis stated, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” This thought of Lewis is seen in the movie story line. I think is it a wonderful movie for those who have lost loved ones and are processing the grief.

The story of the movie, also helps us think about purpose in our life journey. There is seen a renewed purpose in family relationships. Also as a couple and family, they think big about leaving a legacy in doing a work for Christ. The movie is about the Christian faith, (one reason movie critics are giving it poor reviews), and living out that faith. The movie is personally challenging from that point of view. I do hope Christians will continue to support the movie and I believe it is a great story for those who are seeking answers about the spiritual part of life.

We do need light in this world as there is much darkness. This is brought out in the movie as well. The recent church shooting in nearby Sutherland Springs, Texas reveals the evil darkness in the world. The church killings reminded me of the movie in that the killer according to quotes from his former classmates, was always promoting atheism and being antagonistic towards Christians. That is not to say all atheists are killers but that side of him could explain why he had no moral qualms of shooting up Christian worshipers and even little children. From that atheist standpoint I think of the quote of atheist, Richard Dawkins “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” With no moral absolutes the atheist killer was dancing to his DNA. That is repulsive thinking to those of religious faith traditions that believe life is precious and there are moral absolutes to follow.

I am thankful that the Sorbo’s wrote and directed the movie. I am also thankful there are people such as, Sean Hannity, who caught their vision for the story and helped produce and provide financial backing. If you are looking for a refreshing and touching true to life story about a spiritual journey I highly recommend “Let There Be Light”.

Reflection: How does your faith tradition deal with the darkness in the world? How can you be light to the people in your sphere of influence?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Heart Caths, Gratefulness, and Prayer

In my last post I shared about taking a positive look at my first heart catheterization and stenting of the blocked artery. That was a few weeks ago. Last week I had a second heart cath for another blocked artery they could not do the 1st time. As I look at the tiny dot of an incision I am amazed at the technology available now to help with arterial blockages. About 15 years ago I had two 99% blockages and these two now were 99% and 80%. My hope is that I do not have to go through any more in the future.

As I have been thinking and reflecting over the past few weeks I am grateful for being alive. I remember in my 40’s with the first blockages my cardiologist told my wife I would have died in my sleep if they would have not taken me to the hospital. I remember back to that time realizing since I was that close to death but did not experience a heart attack, as they did the heart cath just in the nick of time. I came out of that with a renewed sense of purpose and gratefulness to God as I was given a second chance.

Now looking at this time of heart artery blockages, it is like having a third chance at a renewed life and purpose. Not many people get that. I remember 3 weeks ago with the first procedure one of the surgical techs asked what music I wanted to hear at the start of the surgery and I said “classical”. Another tech responded with “I think he said classic rock”. Remembering that Tom Petty had just passed away from heart failure I said “Let’s go with Tom Petty music to remember him”. So as I drifted off I heard Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’ playing.

With the blockages removed I find I am breathing better so I am grateful for the renewed energy and just the ability to breathe easier. As I came home from both procedures my wife and daughter were a big help to me so I had a renewed sense of gratitude for family realizing some people don’t have family so have to be in hospitals longer or go into nursing care.

As I mentioned in my last post on positivity, my father had died of arteriosclerosis at age 58 when I had just turned two in October of that year. So with this happening in October I thought about my father’s death. He was a good man and a hard worker so I have carried the good I had heard about him throughout my life. I will continue to press on to be here for my family. I am renewed in finishing my PhD dissertation in Psychology. I know I am alive for my wife and daughter and any other purpose God has for me. I see in the future, more teaching of college students and counseling of hurting people so they can move higher up in living an abundant life.

Lastly I found myself grateful for prayer and it’s power. I have many friends from Facebook and churches, we are involved with, who were praying for my two heart procedures. Knowing about the prayers provided comfort and hope in going through the heart procedures. I am thankful to God for honoring the prayers of many people and mine in giving me this third lease on life.

Feel free to leave a comment.

Reflection: Have you had a second chance experience in your life? How grateful are you for the simple things in life such as just breathing and the family and friends in your life? Are you grateful for some of the life difficulties you have faced?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Change to a Positivity Outlook

I have been away from writing in my blog due to work and medical tests. This week I am back at it. I am reflecting on a book I read after attending the IPPA (International Positive Psychology Association), conference in Montreal in the Summer. The book is Positivity (Purchase this at Barnes & Noble) by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson. She is a professor of psychology at University of North Carolina. In her book she discusses many of the common topics within positive psychology. One of the many strengths of the book is that she includes the research behind positive psychology in an understandable fashion. I cover some of the same topics in my book, Living More Than OK (Purchase this at Barnes & Noble), but I do not delve into the research as I was writing a personal journey reflection book.

What is positivity? Most people are familiar with negativity. We are inundated with negativity in the news as negative stories draw people’s attention. Over the years working in different environments I remember that most of what people would bring up in the work place was how frazzled their day was or negative events. Dr. Fredrickson at the beginning of chapter 1 in her book she shares an experiential description of two perspectives of starting the same day that sheds light on positivity.

The first morning perspective is a mother who wakes up late as the alarm doesn’t go off. It does not take long to read the all too common negative self-talk we all do when we oversleep on a work day. The reading then shows how that negatively spirals down to harping at her children in getting them off to school. Then a further negative spiral downward occurs as she interacts in a negative manner with her co-workers. If we are honest this is all too common for all of us.

The second perspective shows the same mother waking up late but instead of the initial negative self-talk there is a positive realism on how to make the most of the day. That initial mental change creates a positive upward spiral in relating to her children with a further upward positive spiral with her co-workers. After reading through the two perspectives I thought back to some times in my life where I reacted negatively and could see now if I worked from a positive self-talk and positive actions, things would have gone better.

I read these pages from the book to my College Success students this semester and the two perspectives provided a helpful positive discussion on how our thoughts and perspectives can create better days through positivity. If you honestly think how often we spiral down in our days by reacting negatively in our thinking and responding actions; you can then understand that we have a choice to change our responses in a positive direction. Those few pages are worth the price of the book.

I experienced this thought on perspectives recently after doing a nuclear stress test. The nurses said I did great as I went the max speed and incline on the treadmill. So I felt pretty good. Then a few days later the cardiologist called me and was concerned over the cool down EKG results and pictures of the heart showed a possible blockage. Negativity set in as I had to schedule a heart cath to check for artery blockages. I was not looking forward to it as I asked the doctor to post pone until the end of the semester and his response was I could have a heart attack before then.

So my wife took off time from work and I went into the heart cath expecting to go home that day with no blockages. When I woke up later, I found out one artery was 99% blocked which they stented. Then I would have to go back in again soon for another lesser blockage. As I was resting in the hospital I thought of Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s book and thought on positivity in this situation. I thought back to 15 years ago when I was in my early 40’s, I had 2 other arteries blocked both at 99%. I thought also how about 56 years ago my father had died when I was at the age of 2 because they did not have heart technology to save him.

So while I laid in the hospital bed, I thought of the concept of gratitude considering that I have missed a heart attack or death twice. I was also grateful for the technology that could help with heart blockages before a heart attack occurs. Also I could be thankful for many friends who offered prayers for me. From my spiritual viewpoint, I also thought over purpose in life that if I have missed a heart attack twice. There must be other purposes for my continued future living. As the saying goes “God isn’t through with me yet.”

Back to Dr. Fredrickson’s book, another important strength of her book is that the last half of the book is filled with interventions to help you grow in positivity. As a therapist I appreciate her listing and explaining the positive interventions. I have used many of them in my own life and with clients. There are practical ideas such as gratitude journals, random acts of kindness, visualizing your future dreams, and focusing on your strengths. She also presents positive themed portfolios to help a person focus in on positive emotions. I will mention one here from page 117 to give you a feel for this activity (purchase her book or find it at a library to do the other portfolios). You answer questions about an emotion using words or pictures or drawings combined. I think of them as collage posters. Here is her “Serenity Portfolio:

1. When have you felt fully at peace and serene, truly content where you are?
2. When has your life felt so comfortable and so very right?
3. When does your body feel completely relaxed with all your physical tensions melted away?
4. When do feel like simply sitting back and soaking it all in savoring the goodness you feel, thinking of new ways to get that feeling in your life more often?

I encourage you to add Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s book Positivity to your must read list as it will help you spiral upwards in your life journey.

Reflection: Think through a recent negative life situation and how you responded. How could you have changed your thinking, feelings and actions in a positive manner? What are 3 things you are grateful for today?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Love’s Power Greater Than a Hurricane

With the recent Texas experience of Hurricane Harvey and watching Hurricane Irma in Florida I gave a fresh listen to the Switchfoot Song “Hello Hurricane”. In watching Harvey as the first forecast showed it moving our direction until it jogged Eastward it was amazing to see the power and strength of its furious winds and rain. In the aftermath watching the recovery in Houston and the Coast more amazing were the stories of people banding together out of love and concern for their fellow citizens in caring for their well-being. Take some time to click on the title of the song and listen to it while you reflect of the lyrics.

"Hello Hurricane" by Jon Foreman of Switchfoot (Click on title for video)

I've been watching the skies, They've been turning blood red
Not a doubt in my mind anymore, There's a storm up ahead

Hello hurricane You're not enough
Hello hurricane You can't silence my love
I've got doors and windows Boarded up
All your dead end fury is Not enough
You can't silence my love, my love

Every thing I have I count as loss Everything I have is stripped away
Before I started building I counted up these costs
There's nothing left for you to take away

Hello hurricane You're not enough
Hello hurricane You can't silence my love
I've got doors and windows Boarded up
All your dead end fury is Not enough
You can't silence my love Yeah my love

I'm on fire fighting for control I'm a fighter fighting for my soul
Everything inside of me surrenders You can't silence my love
You can't silence my love

Hello hurricane You're not enough
Hello hurricane You can't silence my love
I've got doors and windows Boarded up
All your dead end fury is Not enough
You can't silence my love

Yeah I said hello hurricane

Jon Foreman wrote the song in the context of Hurricane Katrina. Here are some of his comments from that time about the song: “"This is a subject matter that I speak of with holy reverence. Having grown up on the East Coast I know firsthand of the houses lost, of the dreams turned into nightmares. I take my shoes off and recognize that this is a matter that is dear to our nation, especially of late- with every passing hurricane season. Last year, with Habitat for Humanity we helped to build a house for a woman who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane had taken her city, her house, and her leg. As she relocated to Baton Rouge and learned how to walk as an amputee, her mantra was this: "I walked out of my house and my life in New Orleans on my own legs, I'm going to walk into this one the same way." This is the spirit that I wanted to capture with this song.” (from

Foreman’s song captures what we have seen in the news and internet about Hurricanes and other natural disasters. There is a fury that beats and batters the environment and homes. That is why people board up their homes. Although when you look at the people’s responses in the aftermath, you see the resilience and grit of the fighter in his song. Especially when you consider the thoughts in his comments about the lady who lost everything – “I'm going to walk into this one the same way."

A hurricane is a perfect metaphor for many of the problems we face in life. Many problems come into our lives with a furious pounding. Sometimes we have a warning like the red sky coming so we can board up internally with prayer, reaching out to friends, or creating a fighting back plan. We need to remember that with the storms of life that come at us with a vengeance we have a choice. The choice is to cave in and respond with bitterness and anger or to fight back with grit and keeping love as our foundation of healing after the storm.

Reflection: What thoughts do you have about the song that can help you through life’s storms. Think of a storm you went through – What helped you bounce back after the storm?

Monday, August 7, 2017

Mindfully Living More Than OK

On the Merriam Webster website mindfulness is defined as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” In my book, Living More Than OK, (click on the book title to see my book) I share in the chapter of savoring how living Mindfully helps us appreciate the present moments as we go through each day. Learning to enjoy the moments, instead of dreading them helps us in Living More Than OK.

From a Christian viewpoint much of what is taught about mindfulness fits well with Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Message Bible). Following Jesus each day one day at a time, if we are mindfully aware we can understand and see more of what God is trying to accomplish in our lives. Most of our worries and anxieties are future oriented that don’t ever occur so living in the present cuts down on our worries.

After attending a mindfulness meditation course we tried mindfulness meditation as a family. I was skeptical of it as first as we turned our living room recliners and couch into a family meditation center (Yes you can use a recliner! It is a mindful myth that you need to twist your body in an uncomfortable pose to meditate). We tried the Jon Kabat-Zinn 8 week body scan meditation system. The meditation was 30 minutes long. After a week of getting used to the meditation without falling asleep I found that my mind was more alert afterwards. We also found we slept better during the night. The benefits I had read in research articles on mindfulness I was able to see in my family’s lives. We have switched off to a shorter 20 minute body scan. You can find the body scan at this website my wife came across:
20 minute body scan from a mindfulness website:

Music can also help you mindfully relax and meditate. In my office when I am working on projects or paperwork to keep my mind relaxed and alert I often listen to the techno music of Dr. Jeffrey Thompson. Here is a link to one of his Youtube videos:

Dr Jeffrey Thompson meditative music:

When I think of meditation I remember at a conference hearing a secular therapist share how he was working with a client from the Christian faith and suggested mindfulness meditation to him. The man bristled that he could not do something contrary to his Christian faith thinking is was about New Age or Buddhism. The therapist shared how he then researched meditation in the Christian context and found a rich heritage in early Christian writings about meditation. He presented that to the client and that made a difference in the man’s mental health healing.

There are many scriptures that point to meditation for those like myself that look at life from a Christian worldview. I will list a few here:

Psalm 77:12 I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds

Psalm 145:5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

Psalm 119:15-16 I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.

The three verses from the Psalms reveal a type of meditation different from the mindful body scan mentioned earlier. They speak to a devotional meditation that is longer than a 5 minute quick read over a devotional. This meditation is making time to reflect on God’s work in your life, in creation and in the scriptures. Take time to reflect, muse and meditate on how God is working in your life and in the precepts and statutes in His Word.

Considering our noisy and busy world one of my favorite Bible verses that relate to being mindful in the moment is:

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

We need to take moments during the day to be still and be aware of all that God gives to us. This can build up a grateful spirit in us and we may be more aware in other moments of God’s little ways of speaking to us.

Reflection: What comes to your mind when you think of meditation? Try one of the links on meditation either the 20 minute body scan or the Dr. Jeffrey Thompson music. Did you find yourself more rested or alert? What do you think of the verses from the book of Psalms about meditation?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Resilience Building Through Our Comebacks

My last post spoke of the favorite sessions at the IPPA conference in Montreal. I mentioned my favorite session of the ones I attended was listening to Drs. Steger of Colorado State University & Russo-Netzer of University of Haifa, Israel, speak to the issue of purpose and meaning in their session, “More Than Skin Deep”. Another point they brought up was the difficulties we face in life we can grow through them with resilience. They mentioned at that point Victor Frankl known for his Logotherapy which came out of his enduring the suffering of German concentration camps during WWII. During their session at that point, I remember thinking about a Danny Gokey song “The Comeback”.

His song that he co-wrote speaks to the spirit of resilience that helps us to bounce back from difficulties and trials that face us in life. We all have different trials that face us but we all have been created with the ability to “Comeback” from the problems if we tap into resilience. As you watch the video by clicking on the title of the song you will see the video that looks at the example of a gymnast which is a sport like many others where resilience is seen if they want to improve and not give up. Take a moment to listen to Danny Gokey’s amazing voice and think over the message of the song:

The Comeback Danny Gokey (Click on Song Title to watch video)

After a season of night falls and push backs
After the heartache of wrong turns and sidetracks
Just when they think they've got you game set match
Here comes the comeback
Just cause you lay low got up slow unsteady
Don't mean you blacked out or bought out you're ready
Just when they think there's nothing left running on empty
Here comes the comeback
This is your time your moment
The fire the fight your golden
You've come so far keep going
Oh here comes the comeback
You feel the lightning the thunder you're soul shakes
Under the roar of the heaven the tide breaks
And from the ashes you will take your place
Here comes the comeback
This is your time your moment
The fire the fight you're golden
You've come so far keep going
Oh here comes the comeback
There is no mountain you can't face
There is no giant you can't take
All of your tears were not a waste
Your one step away
Just when they think they've got you game set match
Oh here comes the comeback
This is your time your moment
The fire the fight or golden
You've come so far keep going
Oh here comes the comeback
(Oh oh oh oh)
Your comeback
Your comeback
(Oh oh oh oh)
Oh oh
(Oh oh oh oh)
Your comeback
Your comeback
Oh oh oh
Here comes the comeback
(Oh oh oh oh)

Sometimes our problems and trials are short lived instances and other time like the first line says we go through a season of dark and dreary trials. Sometimes we pray and God answers right away and other times the purpose is to build our resilience levels to new heights to keep moving forward towards a Comeback. Instead of caving and giving in in the difficult times we need to tap into the fire inside and fight back to keep going. It is so easy to give up and blame God and others instead of keeping forward momentum.

The phrases: “There is no mountain you can't face, There is no giant you can't take, All of your tears were not a waste, .Your one step away” stand out to me. We see the mountain of the problem and freeze or become stuck with worry or fear. If we would only take a moment to breath and listen inside we could hear God remind us, “Step forward in faith you are just one step away!”. How many times do we stop one step away from victory because we are afraid of the mountain or giant of the problem facing us. That is the moment we need to go forward with the grit to know we can do it and move to the Comeback that is there for us.

Reflection: What one problem or difficulty you have faced or are now facing came to mind while listening to the song? What was the most important line in the song lyrics to you personally?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Positive Psychology and Kindness in Montreal

Last week my wife and I enjoyed a mini-vacation in Montreal Canada. My primary purpose was to enjoy learning at the International Positive Psychology World Congress. I was thankful for the opportunity to share in a roundtable discussion time my dissertation research on flow activities and at-risk college students. My wife’s main purpose was to rest and relax from her work. The IPPA congress provided a wide range of topics on how to help people flourish in their life journey and how to help individuals focus in on well-being. These are topics that I focus on in my book, Living More Than OK. It was my first time to attend one of their World Congress’s.

This week’s post I will share just a few points that meant much to me from the congress. Several of the initial speakers I listened to spoke of the research that shows the importance of acts of kindness for our well-being. An important happenstance event happened the second day to illuminate what I had heard. My wife and I in the afternoon planned to take the metro train to Montreal’s Botanical garden. We went to the Metro station near our hotel and bought tickets. As we went to the turnstile my wife went through without a hitch. I went through then and the metal bar would not move. We tried the ticket several times. Several people passed by and then a man our age came over and asked in a thick French Canadian accent what was wrong. We explained the situation and he tried that ticket as well. He then told my wife to go down to the train platform and wait for me. He then told me to follow him. We walked down a separate stairwell and he took me to another entry point in the same station where there was a worker in the ticket booth. He explained in French what had happened to my wife and I, visitors from the US. The agent apologized for our inconvenience and let me through and I reconnected with my wife. I thanked the gentleman for his help and he went his way.

The other pictures here are from the Botanical Garden green houses. It was a rainy afternoon but their Garden had the best greenhouses we had ever experienced. Looking back at the event the man’s act of kindness was a true life example of what I had heard from several of the initial speakers at the conference. That kindness towards others is helpful in a meaningful way to all parties in the experience. The man did not have to stop as he could have acted, just as others, who had passed us by. Instead he went out of his way to take me to a ticket agent, who could help with my ticket problem and explain our problem in French. We were thankful to find people like that in Montreal.

Back to other meaningful learning points from the IPPA Congress. One of the more enjoyable sessions was a presenter in one of the round table sessions I attended. There were two presenters at the table and both did admirable jobs on their research presentations. The one I preferred was Annie Norman, who is the State Librarian for the State of Delaware. She was sharing about her state library’s research on the study of lifelong learning of readers in their libraries through a tracking system they have created. They provide useful journals that patrons can use to reflect on their reading. Since, I emphasize being a Bookhead in my book, Living More Than OK, when I saw her presentation listed on-line I could not pass it up. Being an avid supporter of libraries and reading programs I could not pass up her presentation. Her information did not disappoint. It was wonderful to hear from a librarian who understands how the services of libraries can inculcate human flourishing in the lives of the communities they serve.

My favorite session of the ones I attended was Saturday listening to Drs. Steger of Colorado State University & Russo-Netzer of University of Haifa, Israel, speak to the issue of purpose and meaning in their session, “More Than Skin Deep”. They pointed out the reality too often people are busy being busy or live in a survival mode instead of being truly alive. This connected with me, since I emphasize to people to move beyond being just OK to be Living More Than OK.

Their focus from what I picked up focuses in on being mindfully aware of searching and finding meaning in your life. This reminded me of Dr. Seligman of University of Pennsylvania in his keynote discussion where he shared research on the importance of meaning in having a flourishing life. I appreciated their emphasizing being intentional in your life as too many clients I have helped are too often just running on a negative autopilot through life and not being intentional about the choices they make in life. I see this in college students I work with as well. Another important point was encouraging us to take reflection time to visualize and draw out an icon or poster in response to the question “Know your Why?”. We add significance to our lives when we take time to understand the why force in our lives. The presenters made good use of group interaction even though it was a packed room.

Another important point they brought to light was in a discussion to the question “What is being fully alive?”. They helped with the myth on positive psychology that it is about being happy all the time. Some of our life highlights that lead to learning are not always happy. My parents’ deaths were not happy, my job loss in Chicago was not happy, other struggles on my journey have not been happy but finding the meaning in the 20/20 of hindsight adds to the meaning of life.

It was a great vacation to see the beautiful city of Montreal and for my wife to have a much needed break from her work. The congress time also added more lifelong learning to my life experience.

Reflection: What does being “fully alive” mean to you? Take a day sometime just to think through and reflect on “knowing your Why” – draw of a poster or icon about it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Keeping Your Faith in Dark Times

I always enjoy having the opportunity to hear an author speak about their work. This past Sunday evening my wife, daughter, and I heard author, Laurie Short, present at the Author Series at the Gateway Church South Campus in Austin Texas. Her focus was on her new book, When Changing Nothing Changes Everything. We all had read her previous book, Finding Faith in the Dark. The women’s Bible study my wife goes to used it as a study, then my daughter read it and enjoyed it. I read it last which is odd as usually I read a book first and the other two read it. The time hearing her at Gateway Church was an insightful evening listening to Laurie. In person she is as honest and open as she is in her writings.

In my blog this week I want to share a couple of reflections on her book Finding Faith in Dark Places. In our life journey we have bright and cheerful times as well as dark and bleak times. The bright times are full of happiness and joy while the dark times fill our hearts and minds with despair, sadness and questioning. Unless your purpose in life is to out-gloom Eeyore of Winnie-the-Pooh fame, we all prefer and enjoy the bright and cheery times. But the reality of life brings to each of us dark times. How do we react to them? Do we cave in to despair or rise up to victorious faith?

Laurie in Finding Faith shares multiple stories of people’s times of traveling through their dark times. She also shares throughout the book her own dark faith journey. I won’t say what it is to keep you in suspense to read her book.

One of my favorite portions of the book was the chapter “God of the Present Tense”. Her thoughts here were a positive reminder that we too often neglect being attentive to the present moment. We dwell on the past that we cannot change or spend too much time wishing about the future. It is making wise choices in the present that help us obtain the future we want. I emphasize that often in my book, Living More Than OK. I like how she says it on page 57 “Most of our emotions are tied to something that was or will be—until that rare moment when something demands all our attention, propelling us to live in the now. These can be the most promising moments, for it is in the now that God can be found.”

She illustrates this with the story of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3. Moses finds himself in a wilderness time as a shepherd when in his past he was in the palace of Egypt. I wonder how often he thought back as to why he was out in a nowhere land of wilderness when in the past he enjoyed the glories of the palace. In this Exodus passage Moses is forced to be in the present as he hears his name called out from the burning bush. “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said “Here I am”. “Do not come any closer.” God said. “Take off your sandals you are on holy ground.” (verses 4 & 5). In that moment God was calling him while he was in his wilderness experience. In that time God was with him and came to him with new direction for his life. The passage reminds me as many other parts of Laurie’s book – that God is with us in our dry desert experiences of life when we feel all alone.

Further in the book she brings out a thought from Henri Nouwen. She brings to light Nouwen’s thought “that at every turn, we must open our hearts to the voice of God. This is the voice that whispers to us in the dark,’I have a gift for you, and I can’t wait for you to see it’. When we listen for that voice… every choice becomes an opportunity to discover the new life hidden in every moment, waiting to be born.” (pg 86). If we are mindfully aware we will be ready to hear God when he speaks.

There is so much more in the book to learn from for those who look at life from a Christian perspective. If you have stopped by this blog and you are not of a Christian worldview there are still principles in her book that points to what we can learn by mindfully being aware of the dark times in our lives. Every person no matter their worldview has dark times and the important thing is to not cave in from the darkness. Instead we can have the faith to keep on keeping on and resiliently move into brighter times in our lives.

Reflection: Reflect over a dark and dry time in your life. What did you learn from the experience. Who or what helped you bounce back into a brighter movement in your journey?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Make Time to Live Your Dreams

I am a big believer in encouraging people to follow their dreams. The thought comes across in my book, Living More Than OK, in the chapter on Goal Setting. I also promote following dreams to students that I teach. So the book, Live Your Dreams, by Jean Criss caught my attention easily and I had to read it.

Jean Criss exudes the entrepreneurial spirit in her life and in her book. According to her website, she has over 25 years in the career of media services. She lives in New Jersey and works in New York City.

Her book Live Your Dreams is a third book in her My Pain Woke Me Up Trilogy. I have not read the first two books but I am sure they are as enjoyable and insightful as this one. This title focused in on entrepreneurship, creativity, dreaming Big and living out your dreams. An important few phrases that stood out to me were found on page 36, “Believe that no matter how well you do something, you can always do it better. And chances are you will! Make change happen and believe in your dreams.”

Those are powerful thoughts. To live your dreams you need to really believe in them. Then in living the dream there is the reminder in her thought to keep growing and improving so that you are always spiraling up to new heights in your life. If you are living a dream filled life you do not settle for plateaus but keep spiraling up. I speak much about that in Living More Than OK.

In Jean’s book she is refreshingly honest that to Live Your Dreams does not mean that you have an easy life. She is transparent about her past struggles with relationships, her battles with health problems in battling cancer and her winding road of her career journey. You read of her initial passion in starting a jewelry business and then the progression into work in media. She provides useful resources for Business and Women’s Entrepreneur Organizations for readers with that interest for follow up.

Her emphasis in Live Your Dreams is found in the doing not just keeping the dream a wish inside that never comes to fruition. On page 71 her doing spirit shares, “In life, we need to make the magic happen, remember. What you are doing is most likely for your family or a loved one. … We live our lives to their fullest. We stop to smell the roses. We live our dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t live your dreams. If they do, run the other way. Don’t look back.” My thoughts on this is we have to be active in living out our dreams. They are not going to happen just sitting in the recliner flipping through channels. She is also reminding us to not listen to the negativity. That is not to say, if a concerned person has an honest critique -- do listen and grow from it, but her focus seems to be on the “You Can’t” people who try to pull us away from dreams we are following. Run from them.

Live Your Dreams is an inspiring story that can help motivate and encourage you to dream big and live out the dream that is in your heart.

Reflection: What are a couple of dreams that are inside your heart that you want to move forward living them out? Is there any negativity coming at your dream life that you need to move away from to move towards living your dreams? What was the last rose in life that you took time to smell?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Overcoming Worry In Living More Than OK

Many of the clients I work with struggle with anxiety. Of these, many of them struggle with excessive worry. I have had my share of excessive worry moments that have interfered with my life over the years. I am always looking for new resources on various mental health topics so I was glad to come across Worry No More! 4 Steps to Stop Worrying and Start Living, by Bruce Van Horn. Bruce is a writer, speaker and life coach. You can learn more about him at

Bruce in his book openly shares in a transparent manner his own personal struggles in life in relation to worry and anxiety. He rightly points out that if we are honest we all worry as it is natural. Worry in the best light can be seen as a built in thought warning system. The problem is when we let worry take over and we lose control over the thought process. We then let worry get us stuck in passive anxiety mode instead of actively moving in a positive problem solving mode. He encourages the reader to move towards really living in life instead of being stuck in worries.

One main emphasis in the book is how our thoughts are so important in guiding us into a life worth living. As he states on page 32, “Because our thoughts guide our behavior, and it is through our behavior that we create things, it reasons to say ‘thoughts become things’”. When we let worries get out of control and move to anxiety we need to understand as Bruce did in his life that our main problem is a thought problem.

One major turning point in his life was when he decided to move from negative thinking to a gratitude thinking by using a gratitude journal. I speak of this idea in my book, Living More Than OK, when I discuss the research on gratitude in my chapter on Thankfulness. He found that the simple move from negative worry thoughts to positive gratitude thoughts created a positive gain and benefit in his behaviors and building of further sound thinking. So he found it was possible to move from excessive worry to a more balanced positive outlook on life. A positive outlook does not stop devastating events from occurring. The bad things in life still occur and Bruce honestly shares some tough difficulties he faced even after his awareness of changing his thoughts. What he found was that devastating events do not have to devastate our future. We have with our mind and inner spirit great ability to rebound and create new possibilities.

In the book he provides a number of other book resources and tips to make use of, to really start living in your life. One tip that stood out to me was to stop being a negative critic of yourself and become your own best encouraging coach. Build up uplifting positive self-talk. Of course make it realistic but make sure the positives you say to yourself outweigh the negatives. Bruce speaks to this on page 59, “If you will constantly practice speaking kind, uplifting, encouraging, and motivating words to yourself, you will begin to develop an inner-strength and self-love that will allow you to endure hardships with more confidence…” Think through what he is saying in that statement. Be honest and reflect what kind of self-talk is programing your thought life? Are you tearing yourself down or building yourself up?

In his discussion of exercise he presents a helpful tie-in of exercise with mindfulness with the idea of “observation walks”. He says use some of your walking time not to plan out things in our life. Instead use the walking time to clear the mind by intentionally noticing what is in your environment while you are walking. Take note of the flowers and nature around you as you walk. What he is describing is the essence of mindfulness in being mindful of the present moments in your walk.

Bruce has numerous other ideas in his book. The final one that stood out to me is when he was sharing about his faith in a Creator God he shared a verse from Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” He speaks in this section how he believes we are each created by a Creator to live a life of purpose. I happen to share the same worldview concept. If we stay focused on discovering and following the purpose we are on this life journey for, we will find fewer reasons to allow worry to conquer our lives. As we let the worries go we can be freed up to enjoy Living More Than OK and Start Living.

As I stated I was in this post, just touching on a few of his ideas that stood out to me. Get a copy of his Worry No More! To find out other ideas he shares.

Reflection: What have been some of your worries that in retrospect you can laugh at yourself over them? How can you be a better encouraging coach to yourself? Go to a park or lake and try an “Observation Walk”. How did it feel and what did you learn?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Reading Can Help Build a Better World

Each June I usually focus one blog post on library Summer reading programs. Last week I was at my local New Braunfels Public Library and noticed on their Children’s calendar they were having a Kick Off Party for their Summer Reading Program on June 3rd. I would have liked to have stopped by to see the turn out but that was my Saturday to see therapy clients at the office.

Their theme for the Summer is “Build a Better World”. Here is the link to their reading program page - As I have stated in the past and in my book Living More Than OK it was library reading programs where I began my Bookhead journey as a lover of reading. That was in my hometown library in Barberton, Ohio. Here is the link to the Barberton Public Library Summer reading program -

I noticed that the Barberton library had the same theme of “Build a Better World” so it must be a national theme. I took time to reflect on that theme as to how reading can help build a better world. If you think about it reading is an important tool in improving our world. If we want to build a better world it has to begin with each of us as individuals. The Power of One is very important. We need to understand that in our own personal spheres we can make an impact on bettering the world around us. This is why I am glad when I see the Summer reading programs libraries promote they reach out to all age groups.

How does reading improve us as individuals? Through reading our critical thinking skills are challenged and improved. Our world is not improved through lazy passive thoughts but through active constructive thinking. As our thinking improves we become better problem solvers on the personal level and then we can possibly move on to use our problem solving skills to constructively improve problems we see in society.

Reading also taps into our creative mind and grows the creative mind. Much of stagnated living stems from boredom and passivity. When we are building creativity through our reading it may spur us into opening new doors of creative possibilities in our lives. We may read stories of people’s journeys to other parts of the world and realize why not try doing a vacation there as well. We read a story of someone helping out others and that may spur us personally to move into helping with a local or national nonprofit cause. Creativity opens possibilities to new growth in life.

The library reading programs can be a way as well to build a better world by building up the next generation. So many young children I counsel have a lack of interest in reading as they say the schools just give them boring reading material. One boy called it "old people reading". A library reading program allows the children to find books they are interested in and can then build that love for reading. Most librarians are happy to help a child or teen find books that fit their interests. So if you have children or grandchildren challenge them to be involved with their local library Summer reading program. This is another way you can help in building a better world by building into the lives and minds of children and teens for whom you care.

I also want to mention that in Summers Barnes and Noble stores do an incentive for reading. You can find information about it at their website Children can pick up a journal at their stores and after reading 8 books they can choose a free book. You can say that is a business gimmick but they still are encouraging reading. I also appreciate Barnes and Noble as they are still out there as a walk in store for books giving another presence in society about the importance of books.

The main emphasis here today is the local library. Another important reason for encouraging the young children and teens in your life to do these reading programs is that it gets them involved in hopefully a lifetime relationship to the local library. Since my early years when my mother took me to the Barberton library for the Summer reading program libraries have been a vital part of my life. So be involved this Summer with your local library reading program and start in helping to “Build a Better World”.

Reflection: In your opinion how can reading help in building a better world? What is one of your favorite library memories?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Exploring Healing for Life Traumas

Many of us if we are honest as we look back at our past, have hardships and traumas in our early life history. At a conference I was attending in South Texas a therapist friend of mine, Dr. Marsha Nelson, from Edinberg, Texas encouraged my family to read the book, Childhood Disrupted authored by Donna Jackson Nakazawa (if you want more information on the author click on the hyperlink to her webpage). We spent several weeks with our daughter each evening reading through the book aloud to us until the end (by the way this is a digression but reading aloud a book together as a family is a great way to encourage reading and to build discussions about a book).

Nakazawa’s book delves into neuroscience studies on how early traumas in our lives can negatively affect not only our mental and emotional aspects of our lives. She reveals how these traumas can imprint into the brain with aftereffects of physical problems such as heart disease, fibromyalgia, cancer, autoimmune diseases and other physical maladies. The first half of the book are true case studies of abuse and traumas that have happened in the lives of individuals. The trauma events differed from physical, sexual abuse or being involved in tragic accidents in the various cases presented. Early on obvious depression and anxiety based problems occurred in their lives but an interesting point was the amount of physical maladies that began to form in the various people whose stories were listed.

The book is research rich as the author goes beyond the particular cases to medical research studies that reveal thousands of cases of various physical problems seem to have a connection to early childhood trauma. As my daughter read through the book it allowed each of us to think through the problems we have each faced in our past. I thought over my life where my father died right after my second birthday. His sudden absence placed me into a 2 year period of shock where I expressed no emotion nor did I speak until after I was 4 years old. Understanding what the author was saying allowed me to make more sense of many of my problems I had as I grew up in my small town. It also made sense as to negative tendencies that still give me trouble in the present.

We were glad when we reached to part 2 of the book that looked at solutions. Many of the cases presented were very difficult. Even as a therapist, I was deeply saddened at hearing some of the major trauma that the people in the book were faced with as young children from physical and sexual abuse. Sometimes hearing other people’s stories helps to put life in perspective as we often think of how bad we had it in life. When we hear another’s stories we often realize maybe we did not have it so bad.

I will list some of the tips and ideas to help with the healing process that are listed in the later chapters. The first one that is important to me is “writing to heal”. Keeping a diary or a journal is a way to write out some of the pain and emotion from the past. Some authors and bloggers I have read share they started their writing journey as a healing process. There are exercises where people can write their traumas out in a letter maybe to send to the abuser or some gain relief by burning the letter afterwards. Writing can be a healing enterprise. As I mentioned research is important in this book and she shares researcher’s thoughts on writing as healing.

Nakazawa also discusses drawing as art therapy. Art is an effective way to grow in touch with your creativity and to express your emotions. My therapist friend I mentioned at the beginning, Dr. Marsha Nelson does amazing work with her Creative Expression workshops. Dr. Nelson was trained by Dr. Lucia Capacchione and her books are some of the best in using art as healing. A few of her books I would recommend are: The Creative Journal, The Power of Your Other Hand, and Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams.

Some of her other recommendations are mindfulness meditation which I often recommend to clients and as a family we have been helped by mindfulness body scan meditations. Other ideas are loving-kindness, forgiveness, yoga and healthy relationships.

As a Licensed Professional Counselor I also appreciate her chapter on seeking professional therapeutic help. It is good to try ideas for self-growth that were mentioned but if the trauma issues are difficult with the burden of emotional and psychological pain it is important to seek professional help. I was grateful that she emphasizes this important issue. There is a stigma still about seeking emotional help so it is great to see an author show how the therapeutic relationship with a caring and objective therapist can help through the difficulties individuals face in overcoming personal pain and traumas of the past.

If you are struggling with a painful past I highly recommend this book as part of the healing process. I also recommend this book just as it was recommended to me, for therapists to learn a variety of ways to help people in the healing process as they deal with the pains of the past.

Reflection: Think through your life journey have there been painful traumatic experiences in your life? What helped you through that time? If you are still struggling with problems from the past look beyond pride and fear and seek out a professional therapist in your area who can come along side you to overcome the pain.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Examining Your Goals and Achieving Them

As we near the mid-point of the year, Spring can be a positive time to re-evaluate your goals for the year. A helpful book to guide you through the process is Achieve Any Goal by Brian Tracy. Just the other day I was reading in Psalms 119:59 “I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws.” (NLT) and that reminded me of the need to slow down and ponder, think through, and evaluate how the direction of my life is going. Brian Tracy’s book helps in this process. I have looked at a couple of his books in past blog posts. I have reflected on his books – The Power of Discipline as well as Bull’s Eye: The Power of Focus.

One reason I am a big believer in creating personal goals in living the Living More Than OK life, is that they aid in giving direction to our life purpose. Brian Tracey near the beginning of his book describes the power of goals: “Living without clear goals is like driving in a fog. No matter how powerful or well-engineered your car, you drive slowly, hesitantly, making little progress on even the smoothest road. Deciding upon your goals clears the fog immediately and allows you to focus and channel your energies and abilities toward what you really want.” (pg. 20) It is a choice we must make do we want a bumpy and choppy life journey or a smooth life journey? With the chaos of life no one can be guaranteed a perfectly smooth life but with clearly established goals our life can be smoother. In this book Achieve Any Goal he provides 12 steps to help in the achievement process. This week in my blog I will focus on a few that stood out to me.

His step 2 jumped out at me in which Mr. Tracy says, “Believe that your goal is achievable”. If you have created a clearly stated realistic goal throw out the “I can’t” thinking and have faith in yourself. High achieving, successful people believe they can reach what they are reaching for in their goals. Have an inner conviction that you will reach the goal you created. He includes in this section one of my favorite Napoleon Hill quotes: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” (pg 47). Negativity in our mindset will limit our success in our goals. Of course we need to keep our eyes open as I said last week, to life changes in which we may have to tweak the goals but the goal keeps us moving forward.

The second thought from his book I would like to share is step 3 “Write Your Goal Down”. I have read other books on goals and research articles on goals and there is just something about taking the step to write down you goals. He points out that putting the goal down on paper makes use of our visual, auditory and kinesthetic senses. We can then place that written goal someplace where we will regular see it and the process then works in our subconscious mind to help us achieve it. I encourage creative people to even go so far as to make a poster with creative graphics that relate to the goal. This activates the imagination to think big with the goal.

In his step 5 section “Determine Why You Want It” Mr. Tracy’s thoughts on “Blue-Sky Thinking” was enlightening. This is the third thought from the book I would like to share. He says of this: “In blue-sky thinking you imagine that all things are possible for you, just like looking up into a clear blue sky with no limits. You project forward with several years and imagine that your life is perfect in every respect. You then come back to where you are in the present in your own mind, and you ask. ‘What would have to happen from this point forward for me to achieve all my goals sometime in the future?’” (pg. 74). I have done this for myself in the past and with clients in the form of having them write out what their life looks like 5 years from today. It is a helpful visualization process.

The other steps of the 12 in the book are important as well, but I hope if you are interested in finding them you will check at your local library or you can purchase the book from Simple Truths website or other book sellers. The important thing beyond the book is take time to create clear, concrete, and specific goals for the different areas of your life where you want to see growth and success.

Reflection: What are important areas in your life you could write a goal about to achieve? Are you working on a goal right now? What is it? Maybe this is a good time to review the goal. Try out some blue-sky thinking with a couple of your important goals.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Keeping a Mindset for The Very Next Thing Paradox

This past Sunday my family were grateful to enjoy a Casting Crowns concert in San Antonio. Unspoken and Danny Gokey were part of the concert tour as well. I’ve always appreciated the depth in the lyrics to Casting Crown songs. Their musicianship is superb and in the concert, Mark Hall’s sharing is clearly from the heart and very real. So as I was thinking what to write about in my blog this week one of their songs came to mind. The Very Next Thing. Take a listen and enjoy the video.

The Very Next Thing by Casting Crowns (Click on title to hear the video)

I spend all my time
Dreaming what the future's gonna bring
When all of this time
There's a world passing by right in front of me
Set my sights on tomorrow
While I'm tripping over today

Who says big things
Are somewhere off in the distance
I don't want to look back
Just to see all the times that I missed it
I want to be here and now
Starting right here, right now

With the very next words of love to be spoken
To the very next heart that's shattered and broken
To the very next way you're gonna use me
Show me the next thing
I'll do the next thing

Let my very next breath
Breathe out a song of praise to you
With my very next step
Be on a road that was planned by you
Lord, wherever you're leading me
That's where I want to be

With the very next words of love to be spoken
To the very next heart that's shattered and broken
To the very next way you're gonna use me
Show me the next thing
I'll do the next thing

Eyes wide open I see you working
All around me you're on the move
Step by step I'm running to meet you
In the next thing, in the next thing

Eyes wide open I see you working
All around me you're on the move
Step by step I'm running to meet you
In the next thing

With the very next words of love to be spoken
To the very next heart that's shattered and broken
To the very next way you're gonna use me
Show me the next thing

Eyes wide open I see you working
All around me you're on the move (I'll do the next thing)
Step by step I'm running to meet you
In the next thing, in the next thing

Eyes wide open I see you working
All around me you're on the move (I'll do the next thing)
Step by step I'm running to meet you
In the next thing, in the next thing

Eyes wide open I see you working
All around me you're on the move
Step by step I'm running to meet you
In the next thing, in the next thing

They played many of their old favorites in the concert but this new song stood out to me. From my book, Living More Than OK, to some of my blog posts I am very much a promoter of dream lists and reaching for goals in life. Yet from my study of Dr. Jim Bright’s works on Chaos Theory of Careers and Dr. John Krumboltz’s written works on being open to happenstance, Luck Is No Accident, I understand the need of being open in our daily journey to the things and people that come across our paths. This year I have attended mindfulness workshops and mindfulness relates to this song as living mindfully we are aware of the moments in our lives appreciating each moment and learning from the moments.

The phrases “There's a world passing by right in front of me
Set my sights on tomorrow, While I'm tripping over today” spoke to me about how often do we miss out on important relationships or miss positive possibilities because we let the present moments pass us by. We wind up tripping over the obvious and too often later say to ourselves, “I should have helped that person” “Wow, I blew that great possibility”. If we are mindfully aware and keeping our “Eyes wide open” we may be able to skip over the “should have” statements times and take advantage of life changing possibilities.

Of course as a Christian with the same spiritual mindset of Mark Hall, I also appreciate his thoughts on the daily relationship of walking with God in this song. As in the phrase “Eyes wide open I see you working, All around me you're on the move (I'll do the next thing)”. The Christian if walking in communion with God sees the Godwinks behind the chaos and happenstance events of life. If we are spiritually mindful, God will “Show me the next thing”. It is an encouragement to keep in a step by step walk with God.

I believe the song is a positive reminder to be mindfully aware during our walk through each day. As for goals I still believe they are an important way to keep moving forward and provide purposes for direction. At the same time don’t focus so hard on the goals that we trip each day and miss out on the flowers along the daily journey.

Reflection- When was a recent time where you felt you tripped up during a day (missed an opportunity to help or did not appreciate the little things in a day)? What does going through the day with “Eyes wide open” mean to you?
Do you think you can walk through each day mindfully and still have future goals?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Gods of Atheism Compared to Christ

I thought this week I would continue in the same spiritual direction as last week where I discussed the movie, The Case for Christ. The movie discusses a real life story of the spiritual journey of Lee Strobel from atheism to Christianity. This week I want to share thoughts from a book entitled: Jesus Among Secular Gods: The Counter Cultural Claims of Christ. The authors are Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale who are part of the RZIM team that speak often to university students concerning spiritual issues in a material world.

Their book speaks to the current secular mindset that is battling for the minds of people in the world. The secularists have been very successful in our school systems in mind numbing young people to think God is a figment of the imagination and that all life came to be by chance macro evolution. But is it based on truth or a leap of faith on the atheist standpoint? Ravi and Vince in their book clearly point out how the Secular Gods of this current age are based on faith. In my book, Living More Than OK, I point out in the spirituality chapter how the atheists are even starting churches to promote their views. This further reveals that they hold onto a belief system just as much as any other religion. We all are believers in something and I have admitted in my blog and book that I follow a belief in the Christian worldview. The book Jesus Among Secular Gods provides the Christian with ample evidence to believe that Jesus is superior to the Secular Gods.

Some of the “gods” of the atheists they showcase in the book are: Atheism, Scientism, Pluralism, Humanism, Relativism and Hedonism. Reading the book it helps to see that atheists carry differing emphasis just as many in other religions emphasize elements of their belief system. Atheism they point out is the denial of God’s existence. Rightly though, they present that belief is along a continuum of light agnosticism of those who admit they are unsure to what I think of as fundamentalist atheists who are obstinate and fully believe there is no God and that those who believe in God are the root of most of life’s problems. They have no proof that God does not exist yet act like they know for certain there is no God. This book provides a look into the belief system of atheism that helps to appreciate their beliefs along the spectrum of agnosticism to hard core atheism. What is also helpful about the book is that it compares the teaching of Jesus and the gospel to the various belief systems held by the atheists.

I will point to a few areas in the book that spoke to my thinking in hopes to encourage you in checking out this book no matter what spiritual journey you are on. One of my favorite chapters was on Scientism which shows how atheists place their faith in science. I have run into many people over the years who feel science has proven God does not exist. Looking at the facts there is no such proof. In my book, Living More Than OK, I point out that many of our great scientists in the past were of a Christian worldview – Kepler, Newton, and Pasteur to name a few. Vince in the chapter on Scientism discusses how science can be viewed as pointing to God. The rationale behind that is how the universe has a beginning, the universe is knowable, the universe is regular, and the universe is finely tuned for life.

For example just one thought to think about from their book is how did the whole universe begin in the first place? Vince presents 3 options: 1. God created the universe – this is what most Christians and other religions believe. 2. The entire universe popped into existence from nothing with no explanation – This is what most atheists believe. I call it the rabbit popping out of the magic hat in the sky. One moment you have vast empty space then bang- out pops a universe. Personally I believe it takes too much blind faith to believe that. 3. His last option is that the universe or series of universes have existed from eternity (pages 66 & 67). He then explores through the 3 options. Is there pure scientific proof for any of the options. I would say no - it boils down to a faith belief. Our worldviews on the beginning be they from an atheist or theist standpoint boils down to our personal belief.

The chapter on Scientism presents another issue that I have always felt moves me towards a belief in God. That is the section on “the universe is finely tuned for life”. The idea is also called the “anthropic coincidence” (of course I do not see it as a coincidence). When observing life on earth it looks like most everything was designed for the purpose of life on the earth. As Vince states, “If the Big Bang had been even the slightest bit weaker, gravity would have made the universe collapse back in on itself almost immediately, far too quickly for any form of life to develop” (p. 80). For myself the amazing beauty of creation and the complexity points to a creator God. If I go to a museum and see a beautiful statue I don’t shrug and think it came to be from happenstance. How much more is the complexity of the world around us. Just the other day, we were watching a hummingbird enjoying a red flower outside our kitchen. How did this amazing bird just pop into being by non-rational chaotic forces? Or in Springtime I am always amazed at the beauty of flowers. Why such variety and beauty of colors? It is like they were created to be enjoyed. Otherwise why didn’t just all plant life keep it simple with one or two colors? For myself, these are pointers to God.

Of course I said pointers to God. I did not say proof of God. Just as I say the atheist cannot prove there is no God I can’t say there is definite proof of God. God is so great why doesn’t He give us the proof? Don’t ask me -- ask God. Personally I think it goes back to faith. God is wanting us to have a faith relationship with him. As for atheism don’t believe the lie they try to foster that they are scientific and rational and Christians and other religions are ‘believers”. Atheists need just as much belief if not more for their belief in life with no God.

Reflection: Take some time to read Jesus Among Secular Gods by Ravi Zacharias & Vince Vitale – buy it or ask your local library to search it for you. Think through your belief system be it theistic or atheistic – why do you believe what you believe? Take some time to explore the wonders of creation around you. What is creation saying to you? Was this amazing wonder created by a Designer God or just popped into being like a rabbit popping out of a magician’s hat?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Insights From Case For Christ

I remember reading Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ, back in the 1990s so I was surprised to see a movie out about the book. The book is about his spiritual journey from being an atheist to becoming a Christian. There were numerous interviews in it with Christian theologians and philosophers, therefor I wondered how that would come across on the movie screen. There are not many people who want to go to a movie just to see a bunch of interviews with religious scholars.

We went to see the movie, The Case for Christ, on Easter Sunday and it turned out to be the highlight of the day. Instead of a dull series of interviews there was a driving narrative of his personal journey to disprove Christianity with the passion of a journalist seeking truth. In the narrative there is also a legal reporting case that goes on so the viewer can see the consistency of the drive Lee put into his journalistic work and the drive he put into his personal quest for spiritual truth.

In the movie there is a particular reason he was emphasizing Christianity that also explores personal relationships. That was another addition to the story that kept personal interest in the movie. The movie did not go into all the interviews included in the book. Instead the movie focused on a number of very important interviews that helped shape the change in his thinking.

In my book, Living More Than OK, I emphasize our worldviews and personal spiritual journeys are an important part of our lives. There are a number of religious faiths and each person travels their own journey. Mine has focused on Christianity. I never had an antagonism towards Christianity like Lee had but I have had my times of doubt. I believe it was C.S. Lewis or Francis Schaefer who points out that God does not make it so clear that we are forced to believe in him. Instead there is some room for doubt so that we may with our free will step out in faith towards God or away from Him.

I liked in the movie how it shows his one atheist friend who admits both sides- God believers and atheists need a leap of faith. I have always been upset with those who simply call Christians “believers”. Christians are guilty of the trap as well. “Believers” – what does that mean? Everyone believes in something. The leap of faith for the Christian is a leap into the arms of a loving God. The leap of faith of the atheist in my point of view, is a leap into random nothingness of chance chaos. The choice is a no brainer for me.

The movie reminded me of a debate I heard online between John Lennox, a mathematician/Christian apologist and an atheist at a European University.. The atheist argument brought out that Christianity is like a fairy tale believing in Santa. Mr. Lennox had a powerful thought in response. He reminded the audience that no one comes to believe in Santa Claus as an adult. Lee Strobel’s skeptical journey that led him to a rational faith in Christ began and ended when he was an adult. He used his professional skills as a journalist in his search so he was not caving to a fairy story.

There are many things that can be learned in the movie. It can help anyone of any religious faith system, (and I include atheism as a faith system), to understand the important of thinking through why they believe what they believe. Our differing faith beliefs shape our worldviews which shape how we live in this world so the Case For Christ can help in reflecting on that part of life. As you watch the movie listen for the line “you didn’t want to know the truth”. Think about how that line relates to more than just his interaction with that character in the movie.

Reflection: What faith tradition are you a part of – atheist, Judaism, Buddhist, Christian? Why do you follow this belief system? What are the factors that shaped your faith journey? Make it a point to see the movie The Case for Christ