SB3 – Social Media Loses It as President Does Nothing Controversial for 24 Hours

A near meltdown recently occurred on social media and news outlets when the President of the United States didn’t do anything out of the ordinary for a full day. this strange turn of events has political pundits on both sides scratching their heads…not to mention the chaos that resulted on social media.

Liberal news show hosts expressed outrage as they were left to attempting to talk about real issues. Conservative show hosts were speechless, that is, they were after they had begun defending or clarifying the president’s actions, when their news producer told them in their earpiece that the President didn’t do anything recently unpresidental.

Users across all forms of social media were left to simply sharing pictures of their plate or their cute animals. Some even combined the two, showing their adorable pets eating! However, some would not go down without a fight. Those on both sides of the spectrum expressed their anger about the situation.

One liberal was quoted as saying, “Can you believe this? It’s just more proof that the election was rigged and Saint Hillary was the real winner!!” Then frequent #alwaystrump defender, George Bush (not to be confused with either former president or any of their family, but actually a distant cousin of Al Gore), stated he didn’t know what he would do with all the free time he had on his hands, moaning he might actually be forced into having a civil conversation online.

However, there’s good news…as this report was ready to post rumor was the President would soon be sending at tweet or two.

Disclaimer: No real bees were harmed in the process of creating this imaginary story.

Choosing Lemonade or Grenades

lemonade-or-grenadesIf life hands you lemons, you make grenades, correct? Of course not! The common saying is “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Yet, last night during a passing moment between stages of sleep, my mind came up with that rhyme. I’m not sure why it was that word, instead of say, “marmalade” or “retrograde,” that are among equally viable candidates. Some might wonder if what did come to me as I rolled over had anything to do with events from the presidential inauguration. After all, I did watch a summary of those happenings before turning in for the night.

However, if you had me lying on the couch to free associate, a different picture would emerge about why those thoughts came to me. While, these reflections can be applied to those who find coping with events like the recent change in power dissatisfying, they are more aimed at managing trials that are closer to home. How close, well, actually too close for me to reference at the present moment. So, instead I will relate events from my past that are similar in some ways and not so alike in others. Of course, I could use the contemporary moments and change the names to protect the innocent, but at the present I haven’t quite come to view them that way.

I’ve lost my job more than once due to factors external to my job performance alone. Three of the four times it occurred related to what essentially had to do with downsizing. So, I was definitely handed a bunch of lemons, wasn’t I? In each of those settings there was an expectation that one should be committed to their work. However, when the going got tough for the employer, it was “tough luck” that I received.

shockedShocked and feeling powerless to do anything were among my reactions to those events. While I did have moments of anger when I wanted to throw grenades, it was that fourth time (about ten years ago), when I more seriously considered actions along those lines. While I didn’t contemplate actual physical grenades, what I did ponder would have potentially had similar non-physical ramifications.

However, what ultimate good does the suffering of others at our hands accomplish? Short-term satisfaction may come, but it is at the expense of anything satisfying long-term. Revenge may be “a dish best served cold,” but the end result is a cold heart that may never leave you.

While lemonade has never been considered a “dish,” it will have to serve as my attempt to transition to what to do with lemons. As you recall from the original expression (and real life), lemons are sour and are akin to difficulties in one’s life. Therefore, making them into lemonade results in having something that is much more pleasant. But, isn’t this just another trite “positive thinking” mantra that get you nowhere? It is if you don’t consider what is involved in transforming lemons into lemonade.

After all, you can’t just snap your fingers and make the change happen. In addition to the lemons you need a fair amount of water and some sugar or other sweetener. I’ll leave you to sort out the details as to what it takes to figure out parallel ingredients in real life difficulties because this article is meant as a short reflection. Another reason for leaving things open-ended here is the fact that there are many factors involved in individual challenges, and thus most specifics of what worked for me might not apply to you. However, do keep in mind that only in your dreams can you make grenades from lemons, but in real life you could try lemon cookies if you don’t like lemonade.


Understanding Your Self-Talk Style

The following article was first written in 2010 and published in a local newspaper. This version is slight revised and includes illustrations not previously included. 

It’s been said that some people have style, while others don’t know how to dress. This may be true in the fashion world, however, that’s not the case in other areas of life. This is especially true when it comes to how you talk to yourself. I know you’re probably thinking, “Not another article about ‘self-talk’ that wants to tell me to think only positive thoughts.” I’m glad you’re thinking this, because that’s exactly what I’m NOT going to tell you.

In fact, if you continue reading, I’ll actually encourage you to have negative thoughts! You may be thinking “Doesn’t thinking ‘bad’ things go against the established beliefs of all the popular motivational speakers?” Well, yes, and maybe that’s why you don’t see me on TV. (Or it could be because I don’t have any sense of fashion).

Remember when you were a child and enjoyed riding the seesaw (or maybe you called it a “teeter-totter”)? One of my favorite things to do was to try to balance the seesaw with another person on the other end. This was often challenging if the other kid weighed a lot more (or less) than me. Picture this childhood activity to help you to understand your “Self-Talk Style.”

Imagine you have a perfectly balanced seesaw; that’s how your thought life should be. On each end you have an equal amount of positive and negative thoughts. Achieving this means you have a “Balanced” self-talk style. You realistically see both the good and the bad in your life.


For the second style, think of a seesaw with the right side pointed up (as if there was someone really heavy on the other side. This would be individuals who ONLY think about positive things. They totally avoid any negative thoughts. This is a “False Positive” self-talk style. Such a person ignores (or tries to ignore) any “bad” things, even if they are true.


Next is the “False Negative” style of self-talk. These are people you don’t like being around because they have such gloomy thinking it is visible in all areas of their life. They wouldn’t know a positive thought if it ran over them. Their seesaw is pointing down on the right as if the person on the other side is too light, or not even there.


You’re probably thinking there can’t be a fourth style. After all, what else is there besides a balanced, right side up or right side down seesaw? Have you ever been to the playground that had the balancing board of a seesaw removed? In terms of our self-talk styles, this is a “False Balanced” style. This type of person avoids becoming aware of the thoughts going on between their two ears. An individual like this doesn’t like reflecting on what’s going on in their life because it’s too painful for them. Often such a person will also stuff their feelings inside and might even have a blank expression on their face.


With the truly “Balanced” self-talk style, you are in tune with how you talk to yourself. You CAN have so-called negative thoughts because bad things do happen and they have to be acknowledged in order to deal with them. Only thinking “happy” thoughts will not serve you in the long run. I’m even proposing that you are allowed to have an equal amount of good and bad thoughts. That’s because realistically you are not able to manage life’s difficulties if you are not willing to look at them and acknowledge them. If you do then you have a greater chance at becoming more balanced. Thus, your goal is not to get rid of all “negative” self-talk. Instead, realistically face both the good and bad happening in your life to be able to manage them effectively.

Must Read Biography on Moody

DL Moody (Kevin Belmonte)What would you say if I told you that someone’s real life story had elements of Forrest Gump, Titanic and C.S. Lewis!

Someone in Hollywood needs to stop everything and make this book into a movie. It has elements of Forrest Gump, Titanic and (believe it or not) C.S. Lewis in it. Who would have thought the life story presented in D.L. Moody – A Life by Kevin Belmonte would be as dramatic as it truly is. I was certainly surprised.

If you are like me your only knowledge of Moody is that he was a 19th century evangelist. But allow me to greatly broaden your awareness of a man who was so much more than that by suggesting an opening scene for a movie adaptation based on what I learn from Beltmonte’s excellent biography.

There’s a terrible storm and in the distant you see a ship (it’s the SS Spree). As the thunder and lighting continues the camera zooms in on the Spree that is amist a group of frantic people crying and yelling, but the captain manages to calm them down. The scene changes to another part of the Spree and finds a man discussing with another whether or not he should ask the captain about holding a religious service to ask God to save the ship, but he doesn’t want to stir any panic for those whose fears were already calmed. Ultimately he gets permission to hold a prayer service.

Soon after this the Spree is rescued by the steamer Lake Huron. It takes eight days for them to be towed back to land and during this journey various individuals catch up with D.L. Moody to either praise him for his boldness or scold him for being a fool that wanted to prey on the fears of the uneducated. Each person who approaches him learned of a humble man who not only grew up with hardly any education himself, but was one of NINE children that knew poverty first hand. As several others talk with him on the return rescue journey they go on to learn that he not only met Lincoln, but several other presidents, had been a successful businessman before devoting his life and a great deal of the money he earned to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ across denominations (essentially espousing “Mere Christianity” before C.S. Lewis made it a well known word), that Moody was a major part of the development of the YMCA chapter in Chicago, had lived through the terrible Chicago Fire and more, all before almost being drown at sea!

DISCLAIMER: Having said all this I must make you aware that I received a copy of the book from the author and I produced an interview for my podcast called All About Jack about the book. I was actually reluctance to do such an interview, but was told Moody advocated the idea of “Mere Christianity” and because Belmonte had previously been a guest on my show for other issues more directly related to C.S. Lewis I agreed. However, I actually had another individual do the interview while I merely directed and produced it. It was only after listening to what Belmonte said that I become convinced I would find D.L. Moody – A Life interesting.  


If you want to hear the interview I produced then follow THIS LINK.

Lessons Learned (and Some I Haven’t Completely): A 50th Birthday Reflection

I write this on my 50th birthday to reflect back on a variety of ideas or notions I think I have learned or am learning. I had thought about writing about lessons I hadn’t learned, but that seemed to me more like telling you about something I didn’t know…and how can you know what you don’t know? Also, you’ll find that the following may not always qualify as a “lesson learned.” They may just be a principle or expression I’ve created to expound upon. Finally, they are not necessarily presented in any particular order.

It’s Okay to Laugh (But Better to Laugh More at Yourself Than Others)

Most jokes that begin with “a funny thing happen” seem to me to be not always humorous. What makes some people laugh isn’t always amusing to another. Which reminds me of a funny thing that happen to be while growing up; there once was a time when I stopped reading the comic section of the newspaper because “life was too serious for such trivial things.” That was for a short period in my late teen years. I’ve since regained my sense of humor (I think). But the most comical things I find relate to my own life. Not that I necessarily do or say funny things (which doesn’t stop me from trying), but I find more lasting pleasure from my own folly than from the aberration of others.

Music is My Life (Listening to it, That is)

I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this: music seems to keep me motivated. I hardly ever just listen to music and do nothing else. While I’m doing other things I often have music playing. Those who know me well are aware I enjoy a wide range of musical styles. Since about 1980 I’ve listened mostly to (what is really a broad category) contemporary Christian music. For me that includes artists like P.O.D., Twila Paris, Petra and Switchfoot. But I also enjoy Classical music and the Beatles!

I Cannot Not Write Without Mistakes (That’s Why Editors Excist)

Yea, I know I spell that last word wrong. Get over it. While I do try to compose writings that are as free from error as possible, I’m still learning to be better at writing. This is a far cry from my attitude as a young child (well, maybe it lasted a little longer than that). I felt I didn’t have to be good at writing or spelling…that’s what secretaries were for!

Don’t Ever Make an Absolute Statement (Unless It’s Absolutely Necessary)

That’s not very punny, I know. However, sometimes (notice the tentative word I’ve selected) communications is a rocky road; especially in relationships. When a person states “you never” or “you always” the recipient is more ready to defend than to focus on the actual topic.

The following are other ideas that have floated through my head that I haven’t quite finished reflecting upon; so I just offer them as they are for now:

  • My Perspective is Not Yours (But Why Shouldn’t it Be?)

  • I’m Proud of My Humility (In a Humble Way, Of Course)

  • I Never Break the Speed Limit (Or is it I Don’t Get Caught)

  • Someday I’ll be Old Enough (To be Young Again)

  • Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back (But Being Dyslectic I Reverse Them Sometimes)

Things Christians Forget (But Shouldn’t)

First of all, welcome to the debut post for this new venture I’ve begun for 2014. It’s a writing project where I want to share some thoughts on a range of subjects that pass through my mind. Please note that the majority of what I write here will not be “polished articles.” That is, I consider them rough drafts on material I hope to explore in the future.I start this blog because I get many ideas that I want to keep track of. Of course, please feel free to leave your comments about what I say and/or share it with others.

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Recently I came across a couple of articles that offered views on what Christians should stop either saying or doing. This reminded me of some ideas floating in my mind about things that Christians need to remember but often forget. Even though I aim this at those who profess Christianity, or consider themselves Christians, I believe those with differing religious beliefs will find what I have to say interesting.

1. Sin is Sin

I am sick and tired of Christians who think they are “taking a stand for Jesus” by proclaiming their belief that homosexuality is a sin. It’s not because I don’t believe this myself, and I’m not writing this because of the recent remarks by Phil Robertson. I don’t watch his show and haven’t read what he said. The reason I grow weary of anyone making a statement about viewing homosexuality as a sin is because the Bible I read states that all sin IS sin! While the consequences for one sin vs. another may be different, there is essentially no difference between one sin and another.

Having said that, I must qualify what I mean and risk contradicting myself. Considering the angle of consequences of certain sins, one might argue that the more the Bible warns against something the worst the repercussions are. Unless I’m mistaken there are fewer than a dozen verses dealing with homosexuality, but one translation of the Bible speaks against greed twenty-five times. Even worse, PRIDE is addressed sixty-three times! So, next time you are tempted to “stand for the Truth,” spend more time speaking out against greediness and the prideful.

2. Everyone is a Sinner

This next point, that “everyone is a sinner,” builds on my previous notion that “sin is sin.” While those of us who embrace the Christian faith are all actually considered “saints,” because of our human nature we share at our core the label of “sinner.” As a result of this, I encourage my Christian family to be less quick to point a finger at someone and call them a “sinner.” After all, when doing this you are pointing three other fingers at yourself! I find (when I’m honest with myself) that I have a lot of shortcomings and if I would only spend the time and energy on changing these shortcomings I would be a better example of what a Christian should be.

3. Grace and Mercy Make the Difference

While it is somewhat artificial to separate this aspect from the previous, I felt it necessary to do so to properly emphasize the last point and this one. Another way of saying the same thing is an expression that may be a little overused or misunderstood by nonbelievers: “there but for the grace of God go I.” I’ve always understood this to mean that given the right (or wrong) circumstances I could be in the same place (in the same shoes) as the other person. That is, it is nothing I’ve done in my own strength to keep me from it, but rather it was God’s grace or His mercy.

4. Don’t Confuse the Trees with the Forest

This last notion is actually one that is more general and something I’m likely to write a lot more about later. In other words, it’s a growing idea that’s been floating around my head for some time. The basic point is easy to understand regardless of religious beliefs. In some ways, getting a better grasp of the concept will help those who are Christians understand my three previous points.

I’m sure nearly everyone is familiar with the principle behind the expression: “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” The obvious meaning is that when a person is in the middle of a forest, it is not possible to realize the “big picture” because of being so focused on what is immediately in front of him. Restricting this illustration to ideas I’ve been sharing translates to this point: consider the larger context of your actions to recognize how they will impact others around you. Related to this is realizing the limits of your power to change others, but remembering your greatest power is in changing yourself. Accomplishing the proper task will likely be the start of a domino effect of positive influence and the best stand you can take “for Jesus.”

(revised 1/4/2014 from suggestions by Sorina Higgins)