Learning is the key

I have been learning to be a better blogger. My search has been fruitful. I have got new insights in blogging which will benefit me and my readers.

Today, I discovered how to increase traffic to my site. I learned some of the errors I must avoid to increase the ranking of my blog posts on search engines. I wish I had known what I now know much earlier. However, it is not too late.

Someone had already told me learning was the key to success in blogging, but I did not take it serious at the time. That was unfortunate. Now, I do.

Each time I learn how to do something, my performance will jump. But when I don’t, firstly, I will find difficulties to do it, and secondly, I will end up not doing it well.

I have just had a good time learning about weak words that can hurt someone’s writing. The lesson rewarding.

One of such words is ‘thing’. Before now, I would have already used this word many times in this post; and that would have stood out like hollowness in my vocabulary. I have learned how this word can be avoided. There are many other words one can use in its place. Let me give an example. Instead of saying “Here are five things you can learn…” you can say, “Here are five lessons you can learn…”

I will make sure I apply this knowledge to enhance the quality of my writing.

Another word is ‘stuff’. I have avoided this word in this post because I read about it today as a weak word that writers should not use frequently. Before now I would have written “I just avoided…”. You can see I have left out the word ‘just’ because I have learned it is a weak word that lowers the quality of writing.

In all, I got eight words that are considered weak and which we should watch out when we write.

I had known about the word ‘very’ as one we should be careful how we use it, but not the word ‘amazing’. I thought amazing was such a smart word to use and, indeed, I used it pretty often. Now, I know better.

I am delighted I took time to follow today’s lesson. In addition to it, I learned about the length of a good blog post. I have always loved short posts because they are easy to write and to read. Hardly did I know they do not rank high on search engines.

A good post with a chance to rank well on Google search engines should be at least 300 words. This is no easy task. It requires good planning and sufficient research to have enough information. Also, it goes without saying, that you will need to sharpen your writing skills to write in a way that your readers will not be bored reading.

This is where learning becomes paramount. There are experts who can help you master writing skills that will enable you to write captivating blog posts.

What I have learned is it is much better not to write at all than to write what nobody will read. Wouldn’t that be a waste of time? No one can afford to waste their time when it has become one of humanity’s most precious commodities.

Let me reiterate for emphasis that learning is indispensable capital for success. Spend a lot of time learning how to enhance your performance in your chosen field. If you are a blogger, learn what it takes to write, thrilling, captivating, magnetic, rewarding blog posts. That is the secret.

Now, I have no doubt in my mind that learning a the key. It will unlock your door to success and achievement. When you learn, you know and can do. And when you do it well, you will get excellent results. In other words,you reap an abundant harvest.

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Learn something amazing

You can learn something amazing today if you want to.

That is what you should actually do.

Ask me why and how?

You need to grow in knowledge and opportunities for this to happen abound.

Did I tell you I had returned to the classroom?

If I didn’t, I do so now. Age is no handicap to me. Sure, it is a setback, but I won’t let it stop me.

I definitely cannot compete with the younger, sharper minds in my class; but I stay much longer after class, while they relax, or kill time, to catch up.

There is an adage in my village which says there are many ways of catching a rat without first cutting it’s tail. Do you know what this means? That there are different ways of getting to the other side of the mountain.

In my class today, I learned something amazing.

It was simple, but transformative, indeed.

After this class, I don’t foresee life being the same for me.

I am convinced we can all do amazing things if only we have someone to teach us the skills we need; and if we have the interest, humility and patience to learn.

Wisdom demands that we take time to learn how to do what we want to do if we want to excel in it.

It is not by magic that excellence is attained. Far from it.

It is by learning how to do what we want to do and working hard to do it that we become excellent in it.

I don’t think it is wrong to say learning is the key to success. It’s an axiom.

It may not be the only key, but it is an important one; an indispensable one, indeed.

Once you learn and know how to do something, you are in a better position to do it, and do it faster, with more confidence and better; because you are sure of yourself.

When it comes to learning, you may either do it on your own or you learn from a teacher.

I enjoy self tuition. Much of our knowledge is acquired through self tuition. But although it is good, my experience is that it is still better when a teacher or coach teaches you. This makes you grow better in confidence and performance.

I do not spare any opportunity to learn and acquire new knowledge and new skills from a teacher.

And we must take note that, as many great minds have articulated so aptly, everybody we meet can teach us something. The personality who comes most to my mind each time these words jump to my eyes is Mahatma Gandhi, the universally revered non violent resistance Indian leader.

The world is advancing terrifically; and technology is growing at neck breaking speed. You have to be smart and fast to keep pace; otherwise you are tossed ashore by the roaring waves of the ocean of knowledge afloat.

Sadly, many of us are actually swept off our feet because we cannot cope. That is where courage, willpower and determination come aboard.

What is the long and short of what I have been saying? What am I driving at? That we should never stop learning. That is the bottom line of my discourse.

Learning is a life long process. And teaching even goes beyond life. Your life should continue to teach beyond your human existence.

The teacher in you should outlive you. This means, let your life be a series of lessons that will continue to nourish hearts and minds beyond your earthly existence.

Send in the Doves

I took a reprieve from yard manicuring and sipped on a glass of tea. Without warning, three doves flew down to join me and fed on the seed my love scattered about the ground the previous day. They were only a few feet from my chair. Amazed and with exuberance, I surmised there must be a message in their trusting action. Am I being watched, I wondered? Is my every move being noted and written down for judgment day?

In scriptures, the dove is often used to represent aspects of God’s spirit, instructing our lives. It is a symbol of peace, but it held much more significance, for it affirmed Jesus as the Messiah. As John baptized Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form like a dove – the anointing of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, other heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; Matthew 3:16

Also, Noah experienced a connection with these birds. Following the Flood, he sent out a dove. It flew out over the sea but then returned to the ark. Noah waited a week before he left it go again. This time…

“…the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.” Genesis 8:11

The third time Noah sent out a dove, it did not return, revealing the dove had found a new home on the land of the earth. The message here? God had made peace with the earth and mankind.

Image courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org

The Lord held doves in greatness. One biblical event describes Jesus angrily driving out all the merchants from the Temple, including “those who sold doves” to worshipers (John 2:16). The happiest of birds, it identifies and represents divinity and purity, as Jesus acknowledged by His anger.

So, do you think God sends in the doves to confirm our faithfulness or as a subliminal sign He is near? It’s easy to comprehend because, after all,  signs from God are clear as the day is long.

I want to share a personal event in my life. I married my wife on a beach in Destin, Florida. Standing on a platform next to the tall grasses and sand dunes, we recited our sacred vows. At the exact moment the Justice of Peace declared us man and wife, three doves flew out of the grass and over our heads. We will never forget it!

At first, we believed it was our deceased parents showing their approval, but now we view it differently – it was the Lord! To this day, His abundant blessings affect our life.

So, Lord, send in the doves! I built my sanctuary in honor of You. It gives me the strength for all things of which I can do to serve You better. I keep one eye on my blessings and the other on Your arrival. Standing like a soldier, I shall remain in prayer and feeding the doves You sent to watch over me this morning.

I love the days I can share Christ with all my readers. So many seeks the Lord, but He joins me in my daily thoughts. Call on our Lord, and He will send doves your way if you just have faith and pray.  What a merciful Father, don’t you agree?

Send in the doves, Lord, and baptize us with powerful wings and life ever after.

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Was It a Good Friday?

A quote was written about 539 B.C.,  just before King Solomon’s death and after God brought the Jews back from exile. Life was not always fair… it wasn’t then, and it isn’t now:

“I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11

As far back as time prevails, religious and political persecution were prevalent. But today, we mark the holiest of days in biblical history. Jesus died for us on a Friday, and He forgave our sins so we may live as pure as possible.

In the present day’s turmoil of political unrest, the Book of Ecclesiastes remains a mirror image. Jesus’ message was to proclaim the kingdom of God, a political offense in biblical days. He spoke of what it will be like when God is the ruler of the world, and this created a conflict with Roman authorities. Does this sound familiar? Much of social media has limited or shutdown religious postings. Our missionaries and religious leaders are murdered around the world for proclaiming the kingdom of God.

But Jesus’ issue with the Roman Empire was the sacrilegious offenses occurring within the temple of Jerusalem. It had become the NY Stock Exchange of its day, and worse yet, the high priests were getting a cut of all the money. These priests became wealthy from international trade. Jesus was appalled because the temple was to be a house of prayer – not corruption. To avoid a massive upheaval, the people arrested Him at night. And yes, it was the Jewish citizen’s decision to murder Jesus, not the government. If they killed Him and His true identity truly was the Messiah, the government would reap serious consequences. It was better to let the people decide our Lord’s fate.

Copyright by LUMO Project (Big Book Media)/ FreeBibleImages.org

As the crowds in Jerusalem shuffled to and fro, Jesus quietly displayed his condemnation against the ungodly government power and corrupt system. He rode a donkey into their town. Believers who knew of Him waved palms at His entrance. Others gasped in disbelief at “the king of Jew’s” entrance. He was sadly aware of His fate.

Jesus’ crucifixion was not just hanging on a cross, it was torture – a violent death. They whipped Him beyond sight with an iron ring that had six or seven leather straps. It had bone or metal attached to the ends to rip the flesh away, and then He was made to carry His own heavy cross.

Copyright by LUMO Project (Big Book Media)/ FreeBibleImages.org

Under normal circumstances, hanging upside-down was a quick death, but that was too easy for the punishment of Jesus. The thick nails piercing the palms of His hands and feet were excruciating and led to the dropping of His body pressure. Yet, He stayed alive for six hours on the cross, suffering for you and me. Jesus Christ died for our sins so we could live as pure a life as possible on earth.

Oh, the political Jews and pagans thought they won the war!

On Sunday morning, let us sing His praises and commemorate the reign of this holy man who sacrificed His life for us. With corruption running rampant in biblical days, there was only one way God could prove his identity – allow His Son to mingle with disbelievers three days later. They would surely understand our Father, God, not mankind, rules this world! So, for the next forty days after Jesus’ resurrection, He preached the mighty awesome power of His Father in heaven.

Image attribution Brooklyn Museum/FreeBibleImages.org

I would like you to test your faith by looking in the mirror on this day. Was it a Good Friday? What have you learned? Would you surrender your life, as Jesus did for you, by hanging on a cross? Are you able to discuss with others what Christianity means to you? Can you evangelize, or do you fear for your life? Do you study the Bible regularly? If you responded “yes” to all of these questions, your deep faith will be honored on earth and in heaven. As for those wavering on a “yes” answer, it is time to analyze your faith and love for Jesus Christ. He will wait for you….

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“40” Days

God opened a door this morning and sent me this simple message: “40 days.”  So, I explored the Bible for hardships endured based on the number forty. It astonished me to discover that in biblical history, forty is found 159 times across both the Old and New Testaments. It appears to be a set time for testing and trials in times of vulnerability and trouble.

Here are just a few of the examples where the number “40” played out in the Bible:

The ultimate test of faith occurred with Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. They fasted for forty days and gained new insight into God’s plans. Moses received the Ten Commandments, Elijah was told how to lead the people of Israel, and Jesus denied Satan’s temptations in the desert.

Three Hebrew kings – Saul, David, and Solomon each ruled for forty years, of which twenty of those years were prosperous. The other twenty years their lives were in ruin because the kings took more from their people than they ever returned – a test of dedication and prosperity.

Remember the story of David and Goliath? Goliath and the Philistines humiliated and fought the Israelites for forty days. Then God sent the shepherd, David, to defeat them and solidify Israel. This was a test of the Philistine’s humility.

Noah built an ark under God’s instruction. Because man’s sins were too great, He flooded the earth for forty days and nights, destroying every living thing on earth. It was a test of Noah’s faithfulness.

Image attributed to John Paul Stanley/YoPlace.com. Courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org

Days before they crucified Jesus, He prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem. Forty years later, the Roman Empire burned the city to the ground.

Jesus spent forty days on earth after His resurrection

Today, as you are reading this message, we are in Lent, the “40 days” before Easter. The Lenten season is a time to reflect on Jesus Christ and the meaning of His life – the most significant sacrificial event in the world for Christians. It also includes self-examination and fasting.

Though the Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in a few scriptures:

“So I turned to the LORD God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.”  Daniel 9:3

“Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.”  2 Samuel 13:19

The Lord does not call us to search for secret meanings in the Bible, but interestingly, this figure plays a huge part in scriptures. Pagans trust numerology, but I have great faith that God used “40” for specific reasons. One such cause is that the word month was unknown, so “40 days” was just a general time period of about a month in biblical times.

So, I ponder this question: Are our prayers answered in about 40 days of a trial and testing? It’s a refreshing thought the Holy Spirit could replenish our spirits and faith every forty days. What an inspiring idea of hope! Our God is awesome!

To those who believe He does not answer prayers, begin practicing your faith on a deeper level. It just might take you “40 days,” but rest assured – God is waiting!


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Entitlement

Today’s society is bombarded with many slogans that portray us to be “deserving” of something. Such self-focused messages are:

            “You deserve a break today…” used by McDonald’s

            “You owe it to yourself…” used by cruise lines

            “Treat yourself to take the break you deserve” used by Hilton HHonors

In the dynamics of families and relationships, how many times have you graciously gave a gift and never received a “thank you” of any kind? How often have you heard the stories of parents passing away, and the children fought over the estate and money? If a sibling or parent is near their deathbed, do they deserve to be treated with respect if they never reciprocated love to family members in a state of healthiness? What if a husband and wife purchase a home with their hard-earned money – should their children feel entitled to the parent’s assets?

Within the business world, employees arrive late and perform their duties with little ambition. They demand pay raises and better benefits. Are they really deserving of it? Or, a parent scrapes and works hard to grow a business, and their grown children now believe they’re entitled to run it when the parent is deceased.

Churches also run into the same dilemmas when the congregation feels entitled to receive answers from their pastors or to hold positions within the house of worship. And, while I walk down the path of religious connotations, many believers feel deserving of God’s blessings. Speaking of this, do you know why much of humanity walks away from God and stops believing in Him? They prayed for an answer they wanted to hear and didn’t receive it. He was a means to get what they felt entitled to in life! Ironically, I believe our church leaders are responsible for this incorrect train of thought. They stand on the pulpit and preach God will meet all our needs and give them their desires if they pledge their soul to Jesus. The fact is our sin separates us from the Lord.

Entitlement is a dangerous walk in life – it’s Godlessness. Let me be frank here – God, parents, and employers owe us nothing. God blesses us with things because He wants to – an unconditional love of grace. A selfish demand for His generosity will reap no benefits. It’s that simple!

Jesus’ ministry spoke of loving others with a grateful heart. This includes treating each other with respect, even amidst our differences. The well-being of gratitude promotes healthy relationships, both in our walk with the Lord and relationships with others.

In the subject of parenting, fewer children today respect their elders. They ignore the recognition parents deserve for years of hard work and dedication to their families because they live in the “gimme, gimme” world. These generations are gifted with their heart’s desires, and they expect it from the parents. Thus, the slogans I mentioned at the beginning of the message above, come into play. As the children grow older, they feel entitled to life. Little do we know, it promotes laziness, ungratefulness, and the subject of this blog – entitlement. What are we teaching our children and others?

So, how can we live a life feeling less entitled to things and people?

•          Humbly give thanks to God for all we receive. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

•          Remember the grace of God, for Jesus died on the cross for our sins. We do not deserve to be treated with graciousness for our sinful attitudes, but the Lord’s love and grace reaches out to us, anyway. “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:3-5

•          Set your mind on eternity with the Lord and not on this world. Money and physical possessions mean nothing, for they cannot be taken with you to heaven. “But, as it is written, what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him…” 1 Corinthians 2:9

•          Continuously pray for discernment of entitlement. Why do I feel entitled, and how can I change this train of thought?

In summary of today’s message, expect little, receive with a grateful heart, and always give thanks. Give God the glory for your unexpected blessings!

Written by Anne Bicks, Editor and Marketing of Bicks Books LLC


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HAPPY GREGORIAN NEW YEAR!

With the changing of the calendar there are disagreements about if it is really a new decade.

What a silly disagreement.

Humans feel they control time. They can catagozie and contain it. However, as diverse as Humanity is, there are as many ways to contain time as there are civilazations.

I Celebrate three New Year’s. My actually new year is aligned with my pagan beliefs with the start of the year on Samhein, Halloween.

Then I recognize the Gregorian New Year, which most of the world, particularly the Western World, follow. Then, finally, I celebrate Chinese New Year. This is out of appreciation for Asian culture.

I once owned a Tibetan Buddhist Calendar. It being based on the moon as opposed to the sun. It was definitely different.

My friend in South Korea has two ages. One which is “western,” one which is based on her culture.

Not only are there calendar and time controls within different cultures, there are different views of time in various religions.

Growing up in the United Methodist Church we followed the Christian calendar (hint we are still in the Christmas Season until Epiphany). There are specific traditions and practices associated with certain times of the year in every religious practice.

And don’t even get me started on the different political calendars across the globe.

Sometimes this societal agree on the meaning of time is to our detriment. More and more people are having sleep problems and health issues because they are no longer in tune with their own physical, internal clock, their circadian rhythm.

It is worth remembering for all of the different views and beliefs on time, it is all fabricated by our brains. It is simply a way for our brains to catagozie and barely begin to understand our place in the Universe.

This Gregorian Year of 2020 I suggest we all take a step back and allow the Universe to speak to us, to reset our clocks to its time, instead of the chaos of societal time.

Goodbye 2019

Last night I told my mom. when she said she was grateful 2019 was almost over, there were good things which happened in 2019.

Be grateful for the good things in 2019 and leave behind the rest.

I say again: BE GRATEFUL FOR THE GOOD THINGS IN 2019 AND LEAVE THE REST BEHIND.

Going further, be grateful for the lessons learned from the bad things that happened in 2019.

Overall, move in 2020 with a grateful heart. Forgive the events, people, and perhaps most importantly, yourself. Gratitude for the what was and gratitude for what will be. This is the best way to progress into the next decade.

I end with my favorite Scripture. Philippians 4:4-9:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

New ways

There is no end to education;
Hence, no end to learning;
Learning will only end,
If the world ends;
Which may be billions
Of years away;
Leaning is like a river
That flows nonstop;
The more you learn,
The more you know;
The more you need to learn.
It is by learning
That we acquire new knowledge;
Which means knowing new things;
New ways of living,
New ways of acting;
New ways of cultivation;
New ways of planting;
New ways of harvesting;
New ways of preserving
What we have harvested.
New ways of enjoying
The fruits of our labour.