Blog Feed

If Our Dogs Were to Sing Some Johnny Cash

I love animals—especially doggies! I believe there is truth in “dogs are a man’s best friend.” I also believe a person who is cruel to animals (or people) is not worth trusting.

Several years ago our family adopted a black lab mix named Jolie. A couple years later we adopted a black pit mix who had been neglected and mistreated. His name was Cash. One day my wife had mentioned Jolie and Cash, and my mind just went running…. Imagine if our pups were country legends. You might hear, “Doggie Kennel Blues” (to the tune of “Folsom Prison Blues”):

“Hello, we’re Jolie and Cash.”

(music starts playing)

We hear the squirrels a-ramblin’,
They’re running ’round the bend,
We ain’t seen the sunshine
Since we don’t know when.
We’re stuck in doggie kennels,
Time keeps draggin’ on.
But we hear those critters running
All over on our lawn.

When we were but just puppies,
Our mama told us dogs,
“Always be good pups,
Don’t ever eat like hogs,”
But we bit Mom in the kitchen,
‘Cause we thought she had pie.
She threw us in the kennel –
We give our sad pup eyes. (Phooey!)

We bet our peoples eatin’
On their nice clean plates —
Fried chicken or grilled pork chops,
Or nice big juicy steaks.
Well we know we had it coming,
We know we can’t be free.
But our peoples eatin’ good stuff,
And that’s what tortures we!

Well if they free us from these kennels,
If that big back yard was ours,
We bet we’d run all over awhile —
We’d run around for hours
Far from doggie kennels,
That’s where we want to stay.
And we’d let those outside breezes
Blow our blues away. 🙂

After writing “Doggie Kennel Blues” a friend of mine told me I should do “Dogs In Black” (instead of “Man In Black”). So I did. And just as Man In Black deals with the struggles of mankind, I thought it fitting that Dogs In Black deal with the struggles of animals (after all, both of our dogs were rescued and adopted through an animal shelter). This is for fellow animal lovers and critters everywhere.

Dogs In Black

Well, you just might wonder why our furs are black
Why you never see bright colors on our backs
And why do our appearance seem to have a somber tone
Well, there’s a reason for the fur that we have on.

We wear the black for the dogs who are beaten down
And all those forgotten all across our town
For all those in the shelters, neglected, or abused
Who want to be loved but are pushed off and refused.

We wear black for those who’ve not heard said
“I love you” from whom they’re loved and fed
For cats and dogs without people who they can call their own
For those without a place to call their home.

Well, some are doing fine, we do declare
Living with their people without a care
But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there oughta be some dogs in black.

We wear it for the ones who have the mange,
And all the ones abandoned in places strange.
We wear the black for mourning for the pups that could have been
Each week we lose some because of cruel men.

And we wear it for the many who have died
Believing someone cared when e’re they cried
We wear it for another thousand who are chained outside —
Hot or freezing, no concern if they died.

Well, there’s things that never will be right, we know
Critters need lovin’ everywhere you go
But until people start to care and treat their critters right
You will never see us wear furs of white.

Ah, we’d love to have steaks and bones everyday
And tell cats and dogs that all’s okay.
But we’ll try to carry off a little darkness on our backs.
Til things are better, we’re the dogs in black.

“A righteous man cares about his animal’s health, but even the merciful acts of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10 (HCSB)

Gaining the Upper Hand Over Our Thoughts and Feelings

In my last post I discussed the illusionary reality our minds and feelings can project. That is, one can experience an unpleasant or hurtful event (for example, a disappointment, an unkind word, abuse, etc.), and our negative thoughts can lead to negative feelings, leading to a projection of an illusionary reality that does not correlate with truth.

Here are a few examples:

1. A person is harmed by a person of another color, so the Illusionary reality is that everyone of another color is bad.
2. A person sits alone on a weekend, so the Illusionary reality is he has no friends and no one cares.
3. A person loses their job and has a difficult time finding another. Eventually he settles for a job that pays less. The illusionary reality is that he is a failure and the world would be better off without him.
4. A person is hurt by a churchgoer, so the Illusionary reality is all churchgoers are hypocrites and faith in God is a joke.
5. A disagreement between a married couple gets heated and hurtful words are spoken. The illusionary reality is one of the persons is horrible, and the other is so angry he/she wants a divorce.

These examples might initially seem far fetched, but they are quite real, and more common than we realize. I dare say that many of us experience such illusionary realities while being totally unaware of it. If this is true, then how do we begin to gain the upper hand over our negative thoughts and emotions?

Before I begin to answer this, we must understand that we live in a fallen world. Bad things—tragic things—happen. Life is not fair, as corruption and apathy infect our societies. Indeed, there is darkness, evil, and things that are grotesque. On the flip side, amazing things happen to people. Life is wonderful, as love and compassion are displayed in our societies. Indeed, there is also light, goodness, and beauty! Most of us have experienced some of the bad: an injustice, loss of a loved one, broken heart, illness, etc. Yet, most of us have probably experienced some of the good: love of family and/or friends, the birth of a child, a present, a passionate loss, etc. I say all of this to lay a foundational truth that I think many of us would agree on. We live in a fallen world consisting of both bad and good, pain and pleasure, repulsion and beauty.

Next, I want to pose a theological consideration. As a Christian and (former) minister, persons ask me, “If God is good, then why does He permit evil?” Or those who are filled with scorn and mockery will ask, “If God is good and all-powerful, then why doesn’t He eliminate evil?” as if they just delivered a checkmate. Such a question in no way wins the argument because we are still stuck with the problem of evil and pain. The difference is one position still holds a measure of potential of hope, while the other holds a fending for one’s self. Either way, both positions must still face the fact of living in a world of both good and bad, and both desire hope in the midst of it all.

Now, some of you might be waiting for me to clear up all the confusion as to why God has permitted evil. Here it is: I do not know, for I do not possess the mind of God. What I do know is the Scriptures reveal He is perfect in holiness, love, and wisdom. As for me, I am perfect in none of these. Furthermore, the Scriptures reveal that God created men and women in His image, and placed them in a garden that was “very good” (see Genesis 1:27, 31). The Scriptures then tell us God had warned against the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (2:16-17). Chapter 3 tells us curiosity and desire got the best of them and the couple chose to partake of the forbidden. The consequence was both horrible and extreme, distorting our thinking, desires, and the core of our being. We read in the New Testament:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles….
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. ~ Romans 1:18-23, 28-32 (ESV)

Later, we are told quite explicitly:

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. ~ Romans 5:12

Yet, a few verses later we read:

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! ~ 5:15-17

The reason I share all of this is, according to the Scriptures, we do live in a world where there is pain and trouble. In fact, Jesus tells His disciples forthrightly, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Because of sin we have long forgotten who we are and what we are to be. Through Jesus Christ God desires to reconcile us to Himself, and to restore unto us life, honor, virtue, love, joy, peace, and the like. All of what I have written this far might seem totally unrelated to our thoughts and feelings; however, our minds are bombarded by lies from the world (vain philosophies and false religions); spiritual adversaries (temptations, accusations, and deceptions); and evening our own selves (illusionary realities). In order to gain the upper hand over our thoughts and feelings, we must be able to know truth to combat the lies. What we think and believe will affect our worldview, perception of the world, and how we perceive others and ourselves.

Throughout our lives, from different sources and experiences, we are besieged by statements and thoughts of two extremes: 1) We are number one, as a god worthy of praise, submission, etc.; or 2) We are worthless and unworthy of love or acceptance. Both extremes are riddled with error, and result in much of our unhappiness, restlessness, and discontentedness. How can we experience happiness, rest (peace), and contentment if we are always desiring more but never satisfied or always feeling a loathing for and envious of those who do have more? Is it not strange that we can become our own worst enemies?

So, gaining the upper hand over our thoughts and feelings is a process. Often our thought patters took years in the making, so changing these do not happen overnight. Nevertheless, change is possible.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. ~ Romans 12:2-5

In Christ, we find our true worth and purpose. In Him we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). We are loved unconditionally, and are no better or no worse than others. We, and the works God calls us to, are different—but each are necessary. If I have more than another, I have no reason to gloat or think I am somehow better. If I have less than another, I have no reason to be upset or envious. My identity is to be anchored in Him who died for me. Thus my focus should be rendered to Him only. So whenever we feel dirty, worthless, etc., we should always remember His great love and sacrifice for us. One the other hand, whenever we feel proud, as if somehow better or more significant than others, we should always remember our own helpless state, and remember our need for grace just as everyone else!

Our minds are constantly under attack by proud or degrading thoughts, whether stemming from the words of people or our circumstances. We are not to sit idly and do nothing. We are to rise and fight.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Our thoughts dictate much of our feelings. I am encouraging you to challenge your thoughts, and combat the lies with truth. Remember your true identity in Christ.

You are loved, you are needed, and God has a unique work tailored for you. But what will you choose to do with this information?

The Illusionary Reality of Feelings

The French philosopher, Rene Descartes, once said, “I think, therefore I am.” There is truth to this, as his point is that his existence is proven by the fact that he could think and reason. One could not do so if he did not exist. Such logic is indisputable.

An error many of us make is thinking, “I feel, therefore it is.” That is, the way I feel necessarily reflects reality. However, our feelings truly have an illusionary factor that can be destructively deceptive if we are not careful. This is not to say our feelings are always wrong; nevertheless, our feelings are not always correct in interpreting reality. Mind you, the feelings themselves are very real, but the thoughts that lead to our feelings are not always truthful. Thus, our feelings can project an illusionary reality that is not real or correlating with the truth.

Consider whenever someone stubs his toes on furniture, the pain he feels corresponds to reality. This is no illusion, as anyone can attest who has ever stubbed a toe! Or whenever someone loses a person or pet she loves very much, the loss and accompanying emotional pain is connected to the reality of loss and grief; therefore, the pain is related to a legitimate loss. But what about when a person feels alone, unloved, hopeless, anxious, or worthless? While the feelings are quite real, do they (and the thoughts that fuel them) necessarily correlate appropriately with reality? Mind you, this is not to say that one’s illusionary reality does not contain any truth. However, our minds and emotions can work together like a biased news team, focusing on certain aspects, while jettisoning a lot of facts.

Our minds and emotions are incredibly powerful entities. This is strange, considering both are entirely non-material—seemingly non-existent; after all, neither can be handled, seen, or smelled. Neither are made up of molecules; nevertheless, these seemingly non-existent entities have the potential of erecting and enslaving persons within self-made prisons and hells. Beginning with a thought (often triggered from a hurt within actual reality: for example, an unkind word, rejection, ridicule, abuse, etc), this thought then becomes like a board. This (negative) thought is followed by another, and another—until a structure is formed. Eventually “walls” are built, with the intention of protecting; however, they actually end up becoming one’s imprisonment. While our intention is to protect ourselves, too often we isolate ourselves. In doing so, we tend to condemn ourselves, others, life, and even God Himself. The projected illusion then swallows everything that makes life meaningful—including any purposes for the legitimate pain and disappointments in life.

By nature, I have a melancholy temperament. I am introverted, analytical, conscientious, moody, and introspective. To say the least, I am not the life of a party. At a large gathering I tend to feel awkward, restless, and bored. Awkward, because I desire to fit in. Restless, because I feel as if I do not fit in. Bored, because I am too afraid to “let my hair down” and force myself to interact with those around me (for fear of rejection or appearing foolish). So my mind and emotions conspire against me. Negative thoughts (for example, “I do not fit in” or “no one wants to talk to me”) trigger negative feelings of rejection and isolation. The projected illusion is that I am isolated, rejected, and unwanted. But is this actual reality? My mind and emotions say it is, but the true reality is I am surrounded by people, in many cases persons who are friends and family who love and care about me very much.

Several years ago I resigned from a pastoral position. My family and I were betrayed and deeply wounded by some individuals. Within a month of my resignation my dad died, then several months later my mother-in-law passed. Within the next couple of years my wife and I had several family members and friends pass. Our family had to put one of our dogs down prematurely. This broke my heart in a way I had never quite experienced before. I earned my Master’s degree, but doors were not opening. During this time I felt like a failure as a minister, husband, father, friend—as a person. I felt abandoned by God. I felt as if I was a total disappointment to Him. My thoughts condemned and criticized me ruthlessly, and my feelings projected an illusion as though my mind was presenting truth. My mind and feelings equated my worth and identity with my sense of failure and abandonment.

The illusionary reality was that I was unloved by my family, friends, and God; that I was not needed, and this world would not be missing anything if I was dead. I felt extremely alone, disconnected, and trapped inside a deep, dark pit. This was the illusionary reality. But what was the actual reality? The actual reality was that I was depressed, hurting, and grieving. Although my wife and son were upset and hurt by my angry outbursts, they still loved me. While there were certain persons who, I believe, did forsake me, my family and true friends never did. Furthermore, when the light finally pierced my darkness, I realized God had not gone anywhere, but had been with me and lovingly watching over me the whole time. I did not stand condemned, but my salvation in Jesus Christ remained secure by what had secured it from the beginning—His grace and shed blood. The actual reality is faith, hope, and love had never evaporated, but continued to remain. I felt like I hated life, but in actuality it was the feelings of loneliness and inner turmoil that I hated.

But what about the projection of the world not needing me (or you, if your mind and emotions ever project this)? Most of us will not ever be called “world changers” or be remembered hundreds of years from now in history books. Yet, God places us where we are. The love (or hate) we share, and the choices we make affect those around us. We will have some who like us and others who hate us. We will be rejected by some, while others will admire us. While we will not see it, and might not be remembered for it, we never know how God will use our words and actions to influence another, who will then influence another, etc. With all this said, regardless of the illusionary reality my mind and emotions project, the actual reality is I am needed. I am not here by accident (and neither are you). God was personally involved even during my conception (see Psalm 139:13-16). The world and its communities need the philosophical melancholy to help remind them of the deeper things in life. Just as it needs the animated sanguine to remind them of the joys of life and hope; the dynamic choleric to give them a swift kick in the pants, and to remind them there is still work to be done; and the mediating phlegmatic, who reminds them to keep calm, and who reminds them of the need for peace.

Perhaps the most devastating effect of the projected illusionary reality is that it tends to hide God, seemingly taking Him out of the equations altogether. Even if the world was to hate me, my Creator loves me—so much, in fact, He gave His Son to die for me! My calling is not to be a world shaker. My calling is simply to honor God day by day, striving to love Him with all my heart, and to love others as myself. Whether this ever makes the history books does not matter. For when the time does come for me to die, I will not be giving an account to those of Hollywood, Washington, or even the United Nations, but only to God. As long as my life is honoring to Him in this life, I can be certain that my life matters and is making a difference, whether or not I can see it or feel it. This is actual reality!

Why, “Geno Pyse & the Proclamation”?

There might be some who have wondered about the name of this site. “Proclamation of what?” you might ask. I have wanted to explain within the “About” page, but an explanation always seemed out of place, strangely enough. However, the name was not originally intended for a blog site.

A couple of years ago I worked on a music project and came out with a four song cd. I would have liked to have had a couple more songs added, but recording is quite expensive. What spurred the project was my frustration with many praise and worship songs today. While Christ, who He is and what He has done, is to be the central focus of worship, so many songs somehow manage to shift the emphasis for what His love for us and how He makes us feel. So I wrote some songs that emphasized exalting Christ, and not about how He or His love makes me feel.

Some musicians were hired or volunteered for the project, but there was not a “band” in any sense of the word. I did not know what to call the project. I did not want to simply go by Geno Pyse, because I only sing on one track. Other than that, I played the drums. I thought about The Geno Pyse Project, but that was too close to The Alan Parsons Project. I wrestled with this for a couple of weeks, until I asked my friend / producer, “What about Geno Pyse & the Proclamation?” By proclamation, I mean of Jesus Christ, His redemptive work, and His exaltation. My friend thought that was fitting.

The cd was done before I plummeted into depression. This was a dark season lasting over a year before the Lord lifted me from it. When I started this site, I initially wrote on topics I feel are often neglected in churches. Later, it seemed more fitting to write about depression and encouragement for those battling with it. There are many who battle with depression and anxiety, but feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. Either way, proclamation is still fitting, as it is the joy and hope in Jesus Christ I proclaim.

I hope you will continue to visit this site for encouragement, and that you will share blogs with others who might be struggling.

If you are curious about the songs, they are available through CDBaby. There are samples to each. You can check them out by going to the following:

Blessings to you!

Weak, Mighty Warrior

We people are a paradox: we are quite fragile, as mere words can cut us to the core; yet, we can be strong and resilient, rising up from circumstances that can otherwise be crushing.

This day, my friend, your night might be long, but know that morning will come and the sun will again shine upon you. Your winter might seem eternally cold, but your spring will again come with its warmth and beauty.

You might feel weak, as though you cannot go on—but you can, you must! Allow your storm to soften the ground so you can grow deeper roots. Sway along with the winds, yet allow them to strengthen your branches.

All pain hurts (physical, emotional, etc.), but none define. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ, even while you hurt, and He will not waste your pain, tears, or even your failures. As you are wounded, you will be strengthened. As you heal, you will be as healing to others. As you forgive, you will find freedom. As you recognize you are weak, you will also find that, in Christ, you are strong.

But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)

Be encouraged, Warrior, you are weak, but you are incredibly strong!

Hope In the Midst of Tribulation

“In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus tells us with brutal honesty (see John 16:33). Mind you, He is speaking to His disciples in one of the most intimate discourses. This is quite different than what we often get from pulpits and popular books, is it not?

We are told that if we follow Christ, we will be blessed (which we will). However, we tend to take this to mean, sometimes even taught, that our lives will be filled with flowers and sunshine; fullness of healing; a lap of luxury; a spiritual fairytale of “happy ever after.” So, when we suffer, lose our job, our heart is broken, are diagnosed with a terminal illness, are betrayed by a friend, a dream is shattered, etc., we are angry with God. We accuse Him of lying to us. But did He? Does He? Jesus tells us we will experience tribulation—troubles and suffering. It is people who give the impression our lives will be free from these. It is by our own twisting of Scripture we delude ourselves into thinking heaven is a place on earth. So, who has lied to us? Who have we believed? Experience teaches us that we hurt at times, and that life is difficult. Thus, Jesus’ words are shown to be truthful and quite consistent with what we experience. So why do we get upset with Him? He has not lied to us. Rather, it is people—even our own selves—who lie to us!

The difficulty, then, is trusting the rest of what He says: “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Note, He is saying this the very night He is to be betrayed, tortured, and before being crucified. Even as He is speaking these words Judas was on his way, perhaps already bargaining with, the religious leaders.  Yet, Jesus was already declaring His victory.

Jesus tells us that the sun will shine on both the evil and the good, and that the storms and floods will come to both the wise and the foolish (see Matt. 5:45; 7:24-27). Storms, sometimes severe ones, are a part of life. Do our lives have the roots to keep us grounded (see Ps. 1)? Do our lives have a solid foundation to withstand?

Maybe you are experiencing a major storm in your life even as you read this. Do not be surprised, as though you are the only one to experience something like this (see 1 Pet. 4:12). Contrary to popular belief and “christianized idolatries,” followers of Christ still experience tribulation of various kinds. If this was not the case, then what relevance would there be in having faith, hope, joy and inner peace? These are experienced in the midst of storms.

The temptation that often accompanies our trials, our tribulations, our broken hearts and dreams, is to doubt God’s love. We must always keep His cross and passion in view. That night Jesus experienced to the full our brokenness—betrayal, loneliness, shame, heartache, etc.—all this, as a demonstration of His great love for us.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:31-39

I wrote a song when I was going through a very dark and difficult time. I hope it may give you some encouragement and perspective.

He Is Still Worthy of Praise

Even when storms rob us of sunshine, And our laughter turns to cries;
Even when our nights are the darkest, And there are no stars in our skies…

We look to Christ,
The Holy One who cares;
In brokenness,
We worship Him through tears…

Chorus 1:
(For) He is still worthy of praise;
He is still worthy of honor;
He is still worthy of worship;
He is still worthy of all!

Even when our minds are afflicted, And questions scream with rage;
And our hearts are so deeply wounded, Feeling forsaken in some cage…

We look to Christ,
And bend our knees in dust.
In spite of pain,
We sing to Him with trust…

(Chorus 1)

Through loneliness and friendlessness,
Through deep darkness and through sickness;
Through failure and tears, through raging fears;
Through broken dreams, and angry screams …

Through temptations, and frustrations;
Through broken-hearts, and worlds torn apart;
Through death of loved ones, when grief overcomes –
Through all the loss, we remember His Cross!

Even when we face disappointments, When dreams are smashed on rocks,
And we watch them sink under waters, As our hearts are crushed on the docks.

We bow our souls,
And cannot even speak.
We want to run,
We want to die,
Yet to our God we cry … and we seek …

(Chorus 1)

Chorus 2:

God You are worthy of praise;
You are still worthy of honor;
You are still worthy of worship;
Jesus, You’re worthy of all!
You are still worthy of praise;
You are still worthy of honor;
You are still worthy of worship;
Jesus, You’re worthy of all!
… Through all the loss, we remember Your Cross …

Jesus, You’re worthy of praise.

~ G.P

Be encouraged. Blessings!

Ingratitude and the Accompanying Unhappiness

Entitlement (the sense of) and ingratitude are so prevalent today. Connected to these is discontentment—never satisfied with what one has, the continuous of always wanting more. Such selfish thinking and attitudes come with a costly price, however. 

First, these erode one’s happiness. How can a person be happy if he is always upset about what he does not have, but not truly appreciative of what he does have? How can he be happy if he is always cuddling a grudge because someone has what he wants but does not, or cannot, have?

Second, peace is eroded. Like a person with OCD, one cannot enjoy the beauty of a painting because there are scratches on the frame. One cannot enjoy a delicious meal because a family member’s hair is found on his plate. 

Third, one’s perception of others—and even life itself—is distorted. Seeing the specks in others’ eyes, a person fails to see the big oak tree in their own eye. Those who “have” are viewed as selfish and bad, all the while an individual is oblivious to their own selfishness and the toxicity of their covetousness.

I have had the opportunity to go to Uganda, Africa twice for mission trips. On my first trip our team visited a refugee camp. It was heartbreaking as we saw all these people who were malnourished. Many of them, like the young boy we met, had family who were killed by “rebel soldiers” from Sudan. This boy witnessed some horrible things, traveled by himself day and night, and was now in a “safe” place, but did not have a home, food, education, video games, phone, etc. Nevertheless, he did not have an angry or bitter spirit.

On both trips we met people who did not have much. In fact, we met some who only had beans and rice to eat—and that was on a good day! Many did not have the luxury of having a house (many still live in huts), variety of nice clothes, or glasses to see better. There is not a Target or Walmart where they can buy food and supplies, nor do they have a sterile hospital to go in case of an emergency. Yes, these people would like to have some of these; nevertheless, they are a delightful and hospitable people. 

It is strange to see the unhappiness and anger in so many people in America who have so much. One might have a roof over their head in a safe neighborhood, but it is not one of the “nice” ones on the other side of town. One has a good variety of food to eat each day, but it is not Red Lobster. One has nice clothes from a department store, but they are not designer brands. And on and on it goes. Instead of gratitude there is griping. Instead of appreciation, there is anger. Instead of being content there is contempt. Thus, those who have are viewed as “bad” because they have, regardless of the work or sacrifices they made to get to where they are and what they have.

Gratitude is a choice, and it will play a huge part in one’s happiness and peace. No, it will not cure every ill or fulfill every need; however, it will help one’s perception, and it will help establish a foundation for contentment and hope. Is life fair? No. But it is not as bad as many make it out to be. For sure, there are people who have far more than many of us; yet, many of us still have far more than others. 

Jesus asks, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” ~ Matthew 16:26 (ESV)

Paul writes to Timothy, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:7-9

Elsewhere we are told, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” ~ Hebrews 13:5

If one’s focus is on everything that he does not have or what is bad, he will miss out on what he has and what is good. If one feels entitled to things, he is going to be upset when others tell him they do not owe him anything. 

What about you? No, life will not always go your way, and you will experience bumps and bruises along the journey. But do you have friends and family who love you? Do you have clean water and food to eat? Do you have a home where you are safe and warm? Can you read and write? Are you in good health and in your right mind? If you can say yes to these, you have more than you realize, and still much more than many. Be grateful. Be content. Do not allow ingratitude and discontentment to suck the joy, peace, and happiness from your life.