Friday, September 30, 2011

More Random Thoughts

Here are a few more random thoughts:
  • Judgment sticks evaluative labels on people that create fear, but real love peels them off.
  • If you have a question about whether to say, do or buy something, don't.
  • Professional critics are better at finding fault than at giving praise; so are amateur critics.
  • We chisel our own epitaph by the way we live our lives. The human ego is an addict; it gets hooked on overindulgence or deprivation of self.
  • Be careful how many rigid stands you take on issues; one day you may have to eat a bouquet of previous opinions.
  • Never make a decision because of past regrets or future anxieties; let peace guide your decision process.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More Random Thoughts

Here are a few more random thoughts:
  • There are three stages of friendship: first, we see each other's virtues; next, we see each other’s faults; then we just see each other.
  • The people who irritate us most are often shouting, "Will you please notice me?"
  •  Many times what we call communication is talking at someone or talking about something with them; no, communication is sharing our feelings, longings, and needs with another person.
  • Only when you trust a friend or a peer are you able to occasionally express anger at them without fear of losing the relationship.
  • Never trust a person who says, "I don't care what people think." They will lie about other things as well.
  • We love other people best when they are busy themselves; we love ourselves best when we are being ourselves.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Some Random Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts that have come to me recently:
  • When it comes to a choice of being right or being human, always choose to be human.
  • People are uninformed more than they are wrong.
  • If I have to ask myself if I am hungry, I'm not.
  • Examine your lies and they will tell you in what areas and with which people you feel inadequate.
  • Only when you accept your faults will you be able to accept your virtues.
  • People who try to make general statements that cover every exception are demonstrating their shallowness.
  • Profanity makes the mistake of fixing the other person's attention on words rather than thoughts.
  • Perfectionism is a slow death caused by the fear of making a mistake.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

High School Basketball Game

When I was a junior in high school, my peers talked me into playing basketball for the first time. I was tall, but gangly and awkward.

In one of the first big games, I faced a 6'9", three-sport All American named Randy Mahaffey. He later went on to be an NCAA All American, and spent several years in the NBA.

To say I was outmatched would be a huge understatement. Half-way through the second quarter I became frustrated and balled up my fists for a fight. Randy looked at me and said, "Calm down, Jackson," and proceeded to lope down the court.

The coach took me out of the game. His first words were, "I just saved your life, son."

I learned that day that truly strong people – people who are secure and have nothing to prove can walk away from a fight.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Never get too sold on your own theories. After all, theories are just theories, not realities.
Everyone who knows me well knows that I'm full of theories. People who think manufacture theories. At least that's my theory.

The problem with theories is that they are inevitably proven to be false - or at least to have exceptions.

What do we do with our theories when they do not prove to be fact? Some of us stick with them. We preach them, propagate them, and push them on other people even though in our heart of hearts we know our theory doesn’t work. It is a form of intellectual myopia.

And why do we engage in this mental dishonesty? Because we are afraid of developing new ways of thinking.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Do you believe in miracles?

Let me tell you about a genuine miracle. It is the fact that you are alive. You woke up breathing this morning.

You did nothing to deserve birth. You had no right to live even a single minute. Your life is an undeserved, unrepayable gift.

You have likely had a friend your own age die. Why are you alive when he or she is not? It is not because you are more deserving. Your life is a gift.

You may die tomorrow, and that is okay. We will all die one day. But today you are alive. You have the privilege-the grace-of being here for another day.

And that, my friend, is a miracle.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Some Ideas

Here are some ideas that have floated through my brain recently:
  • Accepting responsibility is not the same as accepting blame.
  • No single person who was ever born was a mistake.
  • Never underestimate the human capacity for selfishness.
  • Habits are changed by additions not subtractions.
  • Marital sex is a form of relational laughter.
  • Getting even is a lazy form of grief.
  • Live as if everything you do and say will eventually be known.
  • There is a time to make things happen and a time to let whatever is going to happen just happen; know what time it is.
  • Make your peace with the fact that when you go to your grave the things you care about most will be unfinished

Friday, September 23, 2011


One fall, a Native American chief instructed the members of his tribe to gather firewood for the winter. Shortly afterward he decided to contact the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to see if the government knew anything about the severity of the upcoming winter.

The representative of the Bureau told him the winter was predicted to be severe, so he told the members of his tribe to increase their stores of firewood.

Again he called the Bureau to inquire about what they knew about the upcoming winter. This time they told him it was predicted to be the coldest winter in many years – perhaps even the coldest ever.

"How do you know for sure?" asked the chief. The Bureau representative answered, "Because the Indians are gathering firewood like crazy!"

That story is a parable about a lot of people I know.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Favorite Athletic Teams

Did you ever wonder why people are so passionately supportive of their favorite athletic team? It usually has something to do with support for their university or their city's professional team. But I believe it goes even further than that.

I believe it is a throw back to an era when humans moved in small, closely-related clans. Each clan had members who foraged for food and fought to protect the group. If your warriors defeated your neighbors' warriors, it meant your clan was superior.

Our athletic teams are our warriors. If you don't believe it, listen to the cheers: "Kill'em!" When we sit in the stands cheering, we are essentially watching our soldiers doing battle against the soldiers of the enemy tribe.

Come to think about it, maybe we take sports too seriously.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Want Inner Peace?

Do you want inner peace? Here are ten suggestions that I believe will increase your peace quotient:
1. Listen to the voice of your Creator saying, "There is going to be enough." Say, "No" to the voice of fear.
2. Walk away from conflicts. Just let things go.
3. Refuse to evaluate or judge the motives of others.
4. Stop competing or comparing yourself with others.
5. Think of something you are grateful for every hour.
6. Smile a lot.
7. Let go of the need to control things or people.
8. Consciously enjoy each moment of your day.
 9. Stop multi-tasking.
10. Pray constantly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Just in case you are not feeling very good about yourself, receive these words of affirmation:
  •  You are unique, precious, and wonderful - just the way you are.
  • You are breathing and alive, so no matter what your situation is, there is hope.
  •  Certainly things are not perfect. Of course you face difficult challenges and hard choices. Nevertheless, you have what it takes to turn the situation you are in into something meaningful, productive, and good.
  •  You have a lot to be grateful for today. You are extremely fortunate to be where you are and to have the opportunities you have. You are blessed.
  •  The path that leads to the best in life is the one you are on. All it takes is for you to do your best.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Would you like to become a more spiritual person? I've got the answer for you, and it is simpler than you likely have imagined. If you want to be a spiritual person, do spiritual things. Spiritual is as spiritual does.

If you want to be a person of prayer, pray.

If you want to be a generous person, start giving away things that your flesh says you need to hold on to.

If you want to be a student of the scriptures, read and study the holy books.

If you want to be a contemplative person, then meditate. It is not about calling yourself spiritual or appearing to be spiritual.

It's about doing spirituality. Remember, spiritual is as spiritual does.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lesson Learned

I'll tell you what I've learned from Alcoholics Anonymous: the best way to help yourself is to help someone else.

People think "the twelve steps" are the basis of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is an important part of the program, but frankly, it was not original to the movement. It got added later.

The most important principle in AA is that we stay sober by helping others to stay sober.
It is a principle that affects every aspect of life. If you are struggling with grief, help someone else going through grief. If you are a cancer survivor, give aid to other cancer survivors. If you are depressed, assist someone else suffering from the dark night of the soul.

The best way to help yourself is to help someone else.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

For No Good Reason

There is nothing in life that feels better than acceptance. Acceptance is unconditional, positive regard. It is the essence of true love.

Acceptance means you don't have to prove anything. You are not being measured, judged, or evaluated. It means you are alright, acceptable just like you are. When you are accepted, it means you're okay; you're not on a performance basis.

When you truly accept people just as they are - with all their issues, faults, and problems, the best way to explain it is not to try to explain it. Why do you accept me as I am? "For no good reason;" that's why.

When you love someone, it's not because of what he or she has or will do. If it is, then that person has to fear not being loved because of not doing or having. The best explanation for love and acceptance is "for no good reason."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Clergy People

If I confess something to you, will you promise not to tell anyone?

Most folks think clergy people-the folks with religious titles on the front of their names-have some sort of special spiritual advantage over the average person. The fact that they've been to seminary or have an advanced theological degree means they don't struggle with the temptations, problems, or desires that their next door neighbors fight. You know what? That's a false assumption.

Clergy are just people. There are not three sexes-male, female, and clergy. There are just males and females. And all of us are subject to the same struggles.

So, when you meet a clergy person, don't put him or her on a pedestal. And remember that you have the privilege of being as close to your Creator as they do.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Live in The Moment

There was once a movement in Greek philosophy called Epicureanism. The bottom line is that life is brief, and we should drink deeply from the well of life now. The Epicureans said, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."

The Epicureans were partially correct. We should live "in the moment" but not necessarily "for the moment." Pure Epicureanism is living "for the moment," which will produce disaster for you now and later.

Conversely, living "in the moment" will help you to appreciate and savor what is happening to you. It focuses your energy on what you are doing. It keeps you from getting stuck in the guilt of the past or the anxiety about tomorrow.
Live "in the moment" – not "for the moment."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Asian Folk Tale

There is an Asian folk tale about an elderly monk who was meditating peacefully when a young monk came up to him to give him a message. The young monk attempted to break the older monk’s concentration. After all, the message he was bringing was urgent.

After several failed attempts to break the elderly monk's concentration, the young monk sat down and waited.

After some time the senior monk stopped his meditation and prepared to leave. The young monk began to question him about why he did not respond earlier. Without hesitation, the elder responded, "My son, when someone offers you a gift. it is not yours until you accept it."

There are a lot of people around you who are going to offer you gifts that you should not take. Do you know what I mean?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Return To Sender

During the dawn of the "rock and roll" era, Elvis Presley sang a ballad called Return to Sender. The song is a lament. He grieves that his girlfriend wrote "Return to Sender" on his love letters and handed them back to the postman. Each one of us who has ever been rejected in love can identify with Elvis' sadness as he sings the song.

But the truth is that when a person no longer wants to be with you, you are better off without that person. To try to hold onto a dead relationship only prolongs the pain. You don't need a love in your life that doesn't really want to be with you.

It stings to be spurned, to have someone tell you that he/she doesn't want you any more. But, in the long run, this kind of honesty is a gift. In this way both parties are free to lick their wounds and move on to a relationship that works better.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Palm Sunday 1865

The day was Palm Sunday, April 19, 1865. General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Confederate Army, mounted his horse, Traveler, and road to Appomattox, Virginia, to surrender his sword to General Ulysses S. Grant, Commander of the Union Army. Lee expected to be humiliated, shackled, herded like a cow to a Union prison, tried, and executed as a traitor. There in that tiny living room, Lee surrendered unconditionally to Grant and offered him his sword. Grant refused it and allowed Lee to leave in dignity and honor. As Lee mounted Traveler and road back to his troops, Grant took off his hat and saluted his vanquished foe.

That occasion left a deep and lasting impression on Lee. As long as he lived, Lee refused to allow anyone to speak ill of Grant in his presence.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Good Thing or A Bad Thing

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether what happens to you is a good thing or a bad thing. There were two middle aged women who encountered one another. They had not seen one another in sometime.

One said, "By the way, I just got married."
"How wonderful," answered her friend.
"Not necessarily; he's twice my age," came the reply.
"Oh, that's bad," said her friend. "Not necessarily, he has built me a million dollar house," said the newlywed.
"That's great," chimed her friend.
"Not necessarily, it burned yesterday," she answered.
"How sad," she said in a comforting tone.
"Not necessarily, my husband was in it."

Do you get the point? When something you think is bad happens, sometimes it is the means by which good flows into your life.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pain is a Two-Person Dance

Believe it or not, you are in charge of how you respond to other people.
  • No one can make you feel inferior without you permission.
  • No one can make you angry without your permission.
  • No one can frighten you without your permission.
  • No one can make you feel guilty without your permission.
  • No one can make your response shame without your permission.
  • No one can offend you without your permission.
  • It takes your participation for someone to suck you under with their words, actions, or attitudes.
Pain is a two-person dance. One leads, and the other follows. The good news is you can choose to lead. You can decide what emotions will govern your life. Nothing can control you without your permission.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Life is Like a Card Game

Life is a lot like a card game. You've got to learn to play with the cards you are dealt.
If you can replace your cards, good, go ahead and do so. If you can't, make the most of the cards you have been dealt.

Let's face it, all of us have been dealt a less than perfect hand. Our parents didn't have halos. We have weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and dark sides. Some of us even have disabilities. But these do not have to doom us.

I'm dyslexic. But, I know dozens of people who have my disability who are high achievers - CEO's, university professors, and business owners.

How is this possible? They learned how to play with the cards they were dealt. They organized their cards, kept their wits, refused to tip their hand, and learned to play a smart hand.

You can do the same.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

You Are in Charge

Has it ever occurred to you that you are not who you think you are? In other words, your thoughts about yourself may be lying to you.

I know people who have negative, condemning thoughts about themselves. They would slap someone else who spoke to them the way their self-talk communicates with them all the time. They are cruel and heartless, not to other people but to themselves.

Don't let your thoughts get away with abusing you. They are telling you lies, and these lies can become self-fulfilling, thus creating havoc in your life.

You are in charge. You can decide today to listen only to the internal voices which speak truth – that you are unique, wonderful, and precious. Tell all other thoughts to get out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


We put people in categories, don't we?

Italians are emotional. The Scotch are frugal. Football players are dumb. Redheads have tempers.

I've heard physicians refer to their patients by disease and room number—"The hip replacement in 409." Attorneys refer to people as "plaintiff" or "defendant."

We categorize people in order to make life easier for ourselves. By categorizing folks, we can pigeon-hole them and relate to them in a pre-determined way. Never mind if they do not fit all the characteristics. Refuse labels.

Don’t let people categorize you. Choose to be yourself.

I'm Caucasian. I'm an alcoholic. I'm dyslexic. I'm a pastor. No, I'm not. Those are labels. I'm Jim Jackson.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stronger Person

Anything that doesn't destroy you can make you a stronger person.

One of the strongest young men I knew was held back in the seventh grade. For years his greatest fear was having to repeat a grade, and suddenly it happened. But, rather than letting it defeat him, he used it as a benefit. The worst happened, and the world didn't end. So why be afraid of the worst happening?

Today that young man is a professional who owns a successful business. He is an entrepreneur who refuses to allow the fear of failure to rob him of success.

How did he become this kind of dynamic person? By choosing not to allow his early failure to define him.

Remember, anything that does not destroy you can make you a stronger person.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Michelangelo was a genius. He was a philosopher, artist, sculptor, and musician. The secret of his achievements, however, was not brilliance, but hard work. He said, "If people knew how hard I have to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful to them."

Thomas Edison said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." We think high achievers get there because they are prodigies, naturals. That's an insult.

The professional athletes we see on television who make it look so easy work at it long hours every day, twelve months a year.

The professional musicians who make it look so easy work at their craft several hours each day.

So, if you want to be successful, do the work.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Someone said, "If the horse you are riding dies, dismount." In other words, if what you are doing is not working, you’ve got to change something.

Apparently this is a difficult concept for some folks to figure out. So, they go through life repeating the same mistakes over and over. They whine, complain, belly-ache, but they refuse to make the changes necessary to alter the situation.

The principle is, "If nothing changes, nothing changes."

You know the classic definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Stop complaining and ask yourself what needs to be changed. Get help from a counselor if it is necessary. Then, take courage and change the things that need to change.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Surviving a Huge Loss

I buried the child of a church member the other day. How do you survive the death of your child? How do you carry on?

In 1980, a thirteen-year-old California girl was killed by a drunk driver. Her mother began an organization called MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Drivers - which has transformed the legal code and no doubt saved thousands of lives.

Rabbi Harold Kushner who lost his son struggled with the question , "Why?" and wrote his best selling book Why Bad Things Happen to Good People as a result. His struggles with grief have helped countless people.

How do you survive a huge loss? You process your pain and then use it to bless someone else whose wounds are fresher than yours.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Subjective Truth

Earlier in my life, I gave up on subjective truth. I decided to only believe in things I could see, prove, and hold in my hands. But, life has taught me that subjective truth is more real than objective truth.

For example, is a rock real? Not really. Scientists will tell you that all matter is composed of atoms, and atoms are mostly empty space – a few particles circulating in empty space. Even the nucleus of the atom, as well as the protons and neutrons inside the nucleus, are largely empty space.

If you took the massive Rock of Gibraltar and took out all the empty space, it would be microscopic in size. There are no solids in the universe.

I have come to believe that subjective reality is more real than objective reality. So, don't neglect non-material, spiritual things – like faith, hope, and love. They matter more than all the matter in the world.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ability to Foresee The Future

Sometimes it is hard to look at things as they are and imagine how anything good could come out of it.

Who, looking at an egg, could imagine a magnificent eagle coming from it? An egg bears no resemblance to an eagle.

During World War II who could have foreseen that Japan and Germany would one day be friends and political-economic allies?

In my boyhood, the Soviet Union was "the evil empire" and our cold war enemy. Today the Soviet Union no longer exists and the "Iron Curtain" is ancient history. Who could have foreseen this?

Because none of us has the ability to foresee the future, we can never know enough to be hopeless. So if your situation is bad, and it looks like nothing good could possibly come out of it, hold on. Things can turn around