Embracing Where You Are At

Your fulfilment is in the present, not future.

Crises, like earthquakes, shake your foundations. And after they expend their natural force you are never the same. This is a good thing!

Often leaders and managers encourage you to set goals. This is a good so long as it remains in balance. The danger is a subliminal message: your fulfilment is in the future.

Your fulfillment is in the present.

It is true fulfilled desires yield sweetness. It is equally true you need to stretch yourself for growth. As the son of a farmer, I know the storms of wind and rain strengthen the grain for a hearty harvest. And that’s the point: fulfilment is discovered in the process not in reaching some future goal.

Are you grieving over losing a loved one to death? Are you hurting from a relationship freshly lost? Are you dealing with an unexpected illness recently diagnosed? You are in a crisis. Embrace the present! The change cannot be undone.

Living in the present does not mean you mortgage your future at the expense of the immediate. It does mean you accept your present circumstance as part of a greater Power. In submitting to that Power you will find the strength to live.

I cannot promise where that Power will take you. But I can promise you that if you embrace the present you will find fulfilment. Maybe not while your foundation is shaking—survival is all that is on your mind! And that is just fine. Take those steps to endure but utilise that Power greater than you. You are heading to solid ground!

You may come through with a different career, new partner or no partner at all! But you will survive! And you will possess a depth in which greater things will take root in you.

Embrace where you are at.

Balcony Blues

I stepped out onto my upper story balcony wanting to inspect more closely. Bracing against a blast of Auckland damp cold air, I shut the ranch slider door behind me to keep my apartment warm. That is when I heard the click.

The winter fog lay heavily over Oteha Valley. Audible sounds of traffic trapped beneath its weight attracted my attention. I stepped out onto my upper story balcony wanting to inspect more closely. Bracing against a blast of Auckland damp cold air, I shut the ranch slider door behind me to keep my apartment warm. That is when I heard the click.

I didn’t know ranch slider doors could lock themselves! It was a freak of circumstance that led me to sing the Balcony Blues.

Blues lyrics are associated with misery and oppression. Standing in my bathrobe becoming exposed to public view as the sun burned off its ally to my shame; I was coerced into singing my woes.

A dozen types of emotions were strummed in an electric rhythm reminiscent of Detroit! I sought a way to break back into my own home. Thankfully, it didn’t work.

And that is when it happened—I started to laugh! Raunchy as it may seem, I couldn’t help but see the humour in this Universal Conspiracy.

Of course by now more than an hour has passed. A complete album had been recorded when I felt salvation inside my bathrobe pocket: my IPhone!

Talk about being technologically dependent! I couldn’t put on my bathrobe without slipping my phone inside its pocket? That prompted another round of laughter.

The property manager was contacted and I was rescued within 10 minutes. But I’ll never forget the joy of singing those Balcony Blues!

No matter how far down you go, there is a song to be found. When you find that song, sing it for all its worth! Life’s Music is to be enjoyed no matter where you find yourself—even it is being trapped outside on a balcony.

[The above incident was originally recorded December 7, 2012 while still living in New Zealand.]

Creating Order from Your Chaos

The story of creation provides a model for new beginnings. All cultures share this story and at its root is order from chaos. By embracing the chaos in a person’s life or organization’s current standing; you position yourself to receive an orderly creation of something better.

Producing a new beginning for any person or organization means just that: creating order from chaos.

This powerful notion of success is discovered by using a shared language of the Elements. Comparing explanations of origin in different cultures, faiths, and ancient philosophies, there is a shared story. The traditions have passed down:

Fire, Air, Water, and Earth were combined through a Spirit process that began with chaos and ended in order.

The Genesis story of Creation widely known in our Western civilization also preserves this ancient understanding of the Elements. It begins by recognizing existing chaos: “The earth was without form and void.”

  • SPIRIT – And God said.
  • FIRE – Let there be light.
  • AIR – Let there be a firmament (space as in “outer” space).
  • WATER – Let the waters be gathered.
  • EARTH – Let the dry land appear.

Enjoying hard earned success is finding order in your life. To get there, you followed a process because your life or your business needed change. Something was missing. You were seeking fulfillment.

From within yourself (spirit), you articulated a plan (fire). You separated into divisions (air) everything surrounding your project. From there a plan was formulated (water) connecting the divisions and your success appeared (earth).

Following this pattern propelled you to success. Recognizing this configuration allows you to enjoy continued success.

I have applied this arrangement to assess several sales organizations. The company would have already enjoyed success. It reached a plateau and was finding it difficult to grow beyond its last level of success. It was usually bogged down with a toxic environment.

Every time I assess a successful team in trouble, I emphasize two truths:

  1. The current problem was a result of their success and therefore contains the very elements for the solution;
  2. To go forward they had to be willing to allow “Light” to shine in the darkness of their chaos.

Many a successful person repels such revelations. They don’t want to face the reality of their problems. They state they want solutions but in practice their pride stands in the way. As leaders, they know subconsciously they are responsible. After successfully building their dream, they personalize attempts to apply needed change. They interpret these efforts from well-meaning consultants, staff members, and even colleagues as attacks on their character and/or position.

To enjoy the abundance of your hard earned success, you must remain open and coachable. Success never changes that fact. You are right to repel judgment on your actions. You are successful! You fulfilled your dream. However, do not allow that to cloud the light of reality. Remember that rules change to sustain success. Embrace the chaos. It is proof you possess the elements of success.

Remain open to the light of truth. It is your friend. It will be the difference between enjoying good success and great success.

Affirmation: I am abundant enjoying my hard earned success.

From 56 Notions of Success

The New Testament Problem of John’s Writings

Christian thought–what was once known as theology–has evolved over the centuries. Ever since the State takeover of the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.), Christian thought has incrementally removed itself from the original teachings of Jesus Christ.

The first century A.D. preserved the oral wisdom of Jesus in writing. Those writings continued over the next two centuries. The Primitive Church faithfully preserved Christic traditions. Unfortunately, they were not the chosen favorite of the State. Emperor Constantine’s Council created orthodoxy as opposed to heterodoxy.

Adherents of the Primitive Church were thenceforth branded as heretics. Their writings were systematically destroyed. Later generations were dependent on their enemies to explain what they taught. Would you trust your enemy to faithfully represent your beliefs and practices? Of course not!

There have been several more crisis points in the history of Christian Theology. The Great Schism of 1054 A.D. saw the Eastern Church split from the West. Now known as the Orthodox Church, it continues to preserve traditions in place a thousand years ago. Their traditions, however, are still 700 years away from the Primitive Church.

When the Roman priest Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door of Wittenberg, the so-called Great Reformation was well underway. Rather than reform the Roman Church it created another schism. The Protestant Church was exorcised for its protests. Although claiming to return to Primative teachings, it took with it many of the religious practices of the time.

The Protestant Church opened the door for further schisms. Different denominations were created. I grew up under the Baptist banner. Baptists, continuing the ancient tradition of schisms, have created an array of traditions. The American Civil War preserved cultural differences between the South and North. The Southern Baptist Convention remains powerful to this day producing 3 U.S. Presidents:

  • William Jefferson Clinton;
  • Jimmy Carter; and
  • Harry S. Truman.

The North did put their own Baptist in the White House: Warren Harding.

Baptists are a haven for Fundamentalists. Any layman could answer “the call” and become a minister. Whether or not he received training was irrelevant. “The blind leading the blind” enabled extreme teachings.

I was a leader in one of those Fundamentalist Baptist sects.

Born and reared under this strain of Christian Thought, I embraced its principles of individual soul liberty and truth being rooted in the scriptures. I began reading the bible at 8 years old. It took me 4 years to finish it and I have repeated that exercise scores of times.

In my teen years I got my hands on the writings of Primitive Church teachers. Much of what I absorbed raised questions when compared to Christian Thought. After divinity training I was lost in the work of the ministry. Any study seemed to be preparation for the 5,000 times I taught or spoke. During the three decades of Baptist ministry, there was a niggling in the back of my heart:

The problem of John’s writings in the New Testament.

Whereas the Catholic and Orthodox Churches emphasize the Gospels over the rest of scripture, the Protestants and Baptists elevated Paul’s writings as the filter to read the Gospels. The niggle in my heart was the fact that John wrote his Gospel and Apocalypse decades after the others.

Why?

My theological and divinity training suggested John later wrote to combat Gnosticism. The problem was when I read John’s writings, I see the preservation of what has been labeled Gnosticism. His high Christology; his emphasis on the Word; his revelation in the spirit of the Book of Enoch; it was hard for me to fully comprehend my denominational teaching.

And then again, should I trust the opponents to faithfully represent what Gnostics teach?

“I trow not” (Jesus, Luke 17:9).

I am not claiming to be a gnostic!

I am reclaiming my heart belief that the Primitive Church faithfully preserved the oral teachings of Jesus.

And I am now filtering Paul’s writings through John’s.

The Power of Contentment

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming sequel to 56 Notions of Success. The new book will be titled, Ethical Success.

§ § § § § § §

Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking. ― H.L. Mencken

YOU are responsible for determining and exercising what is good, not Society. Society is not a person; you are. Society is a collective of individuals and entities. You cannot hold Society responsible for your behavior. You do what you choose.

And only you are responsible for your own contentment.

Contentment empowers your decisions to find that Golden Mean. It is more powerful than happiness. Happiness can be fleeting; contentment is a steady, constant state of being.

On more than one occasion I have counseled persons on this point. I remember when Doreen came to me distraught. As she told her story she reached a point of anger and proclaimed, “It’s his fault that I’m not content with living and I never will be until he changes.”

Explaining to Doreen that he is not responsible for her contentment was a delicate exercise. That work, however, began with a blunt statement of fact: “Doreen, you and you only are responsible for your contentment. Do not give that power to anyone else.”

Contentment is such a powerful virtue!

Western society wages war on contentment. It bombards its inhabitants with commercialized desires of discontent. We are constantly reminded of what we don’t have and why we supposedly cannot live without these objects.

Contentment, however, does not mean trying to improve your Self. The danger lies in connecting self-improvement with tangible items as proof of growth. That is similar to rewarding yourself food when you are dieting to lose weight. It is self-sabotaging.

Contentment begins when you keep life simple. The number of lands, vehicles, or electronic gadgets cannot determine your contentment. Knowing how to enjoy what you do have is determinate. So often we ignore the beautiful sunsets, birds flying through the air, children laughing, and rivers flowing. Learn to enjoy the simple things and you will discover the power of contentment.

Doreen grew from her experience. She was in a season of life where she required public transportation. The problem was the closest stop to her work was two miles away. Rather than focus on what she didn’t have: a car, a supportive husband, etc, she began to enjoy that two mile walk. She reported that she began to notice things she never saw before: lizards stalking dragonflies, raccoons coming out of the lagoon, rabbits jumping freely, kingfishers on the power lines and herons in the water. She said she felt more rich enjoying the moment than any tangible asset she has ever owned.

And that brings us to another aspect of Contentment: keeping finances streamlined. Unethical expenditures are those spent out of greed or excess. We get so caught up with the unethical commercialized life-style that our money situations become complicated. How many credit cards do you really require? It is no wonder Aristotle taught, “Happiness is self-contentedness.”

Keep your relationships satisfying. That includes work-related ones too. Lasting happiness and security are discovered when ethical behavior yields a good reputation and honor. True friendship and happy family life are also part of the reward for ethical relationships.

Contentment is found in peaceful and secured environments, not in those where others are manipulated for personal gain. Routine might seem like you are “in a rut,” but it is also signals an ordered environment. Don’t look outside of yourself for fulfillment; look within.

Challenge: Ethics begins by staying true to your Self. Do I act with integrity and enjoy contentment as its reward?