Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Little Things

Great accomplishments in life start with the little things.  Paying attention to the smallest of details lays a foundation for astonishing feats.  Be wary of small thoughts, they are like seeds.  Jesus teaches us that if our faith can be the size of a mustard seed, perhaps the smallest of seeds, then we can move mountains.

If you want the harvest of your life to be bountiful, plant seeds today.  Nurture these seedlings.  These "little things" will reward you as they grow.  My favorite seeds are faith, hope, and love.  They are nurtured by studying the Bible and reaching out to others.  Take time to share your seeds with others, especially those who may be hurting.  The little things you do for those who are suffering do not go unnoticed in God's eyes.  A daily commitment to do this will lead to a bumper crop that will feed many.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Your EQ

While waiting for one of my teenagers to come home from a football game, I tuned in to a panel of brain specialists on Larry King Live.  They discussed research on a broad range of areas related to our brains.  Near the end, Larry asked, "what is it that makes one brain smarter than another?"  Each had a specific answer, however, I liked what one of the panelists said about the importance of taking care of our brains.  The choices we make lead to positive or negative consequences for our brains.

"The smartest brains are the ones that figure out unique ways to build stronger relationships with others", one of the scientists said.  "Your EQ (emotional quotient) determines just how effective you are at getting along with others.  It is even more important than your IQ.  What you choose to feed your brain impacts this."

I am going to study this in greater detail.  It fits in with what Jesus one another as you love yourself.  In order to do this well, we need to understand our own brains, how trauma can cause the brain to function below it's potential.  We need to learn the importance of taking care of our brains and the bodies they are attached to.  What is your EQ?  Are you ready to reach your brain's potential?  It starts with the desire to understand what your brain needs to be your best...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Treasure Box President and CEO Visits Ramona

The president and CEO of the Treasure, Craig Shugert,  offered to help deliver Treasure boxes to our community using his own SUV.  He is pictured here helping Kristina LaRosa load her pickup with forty treasure boxes that she and her friends are donating to our senior citizens.  

After just three months, our community is now delivering almost two hundred food boxes per month to families in our town.  The folks at Treasure Box will deliver directly to Ramona starting in October due to the overwhelming demand.  The forecast is one thousand food boxes per month to be distributed in our small town.  Word of mouth is spreading quickly.

The success of this food ministry comes from the willingness of volunteers to come together and share their time and talent. Many purchase boxes to be given away to needy families.  One such individual purchased forty boxes this month that she will donate to senior citizens.  Her generosity will bring hope to a community suffering from reductions in senior care programs due to the poor economy.

Craig wanted to visit our delivery site to offer support and thank our volunteers for helping out every month.  We are very excited to be offering special Holiday food boxes for the months of November and December.

If you would like to donate a box to a needy family, click the link and enter zip code 92065.  Select our site, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and we will make sure a needy family gets the food.  You can also order great quality food for yourself.  Click here for more information.  Thanks, Craig, for firing up the troops.  It was great to meet you.  Here is a photo of our volunteers, pictured with Craig on the right.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Casting Out Demons

11 along with the persecutions and sufferings  that came to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from them all. 12 In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted ~ 2 Timothy 3:11-12

I give praise to the Holy Spirit for casting out my demons and for allowing me to live a life that is centered on my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It was the Holy Spirit who, through the Bible, revealed a life consumed by dark spirits who blinded me from the light of Jesus.

Jesus spent a great deal of His ministry casting out demons.  His followers also learned to do it, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, a gift given by Jesus.  Let's look at Matthew 10:1 "And when He called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of disease."  They were told not to get a big head because of this power.  Instead, they were to give thanks and praise to God.

You will not gain the ability to cast out demons, or even recognize them, unless you first invite Jesus to live in your heart.  Do not attempt to fight the forces of evil alone.  Jesus tells us, "When two or three are gathered in my name, I am there."  We must know our authority in Christ Jesus.  Both feet need to be planted in the Word of God. 

Place boundaries on your life and avoid places where evil lurks.  If you are ready to become a warrior for Christ (this is not for the luke-warm or the feint of heart), then click on the Christian site below.  Do not click the link unless you are willing to enter the battlefield.  You will pay a high price but your reward will be great.  I already know what lies ahead for me because I have chosen to join the warrior spirits on this earth and fight alongside them.  For every loss I suffer, and for the future battle scars that I am about to receive, I SING at the top of my voice, proclaiming God's glory.  I give my life to Jesus and I praise Him, no matter what attack I am asked to endure.  To Him goes all the honor and glory.  AMEN!  Are you ready to join me on the battlefield for Christ?  His army is waiting for you.  Remember this, no matter how intense the fight becomes, GOD WINS...

How to cast out demons

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Understanding the Bible

Recently, I met an old friend for lunch.  She contacted me because she received a Bible as a gift and did not know how to use it.  It reminded me of the first time I actually opened one while vacationing at Forest Home in the San Bernadino Mountains, a non-demoninational Christian camp for families.  "Open your Bibles to Proverbs, chapter xx, verse xx" the leader announced.  With the precision of a group of marines, vacationers arrived at the appropriate location while I looked like a deer in the headlights.  "Is that Old or New Testament?" I asked my wife who was hiding behind me.  By the time I found the right verse, the crowd had already moved on to Hebrews.  The only time I kept up was at the point where our speaker referred to Revelations.  At least I knew how to find one chapter.  I was definitely flunking when it came to understanding the Bible.

The best advice I ever heard about the Bible is that it is written just for you.  The characters were placed there for your benefit so that you can look in a mirror while reading stories and see yourself.  It is a way of getting to know God on a very personal level.

Some people are naturals at understanding the Bible.  I have found that study Bibles give great background information to help you understand what is going on.  If you get a chance, join a Bible study group.  Learning in a group will help you to understand just how much God loves you.

The Bible is full of misfits, people who were lost and fallen.  Somehow, God reached these people and formed a special relationship with them.  If you are feeling lost while reading the Bible, do not worry.  The Holy Spirit will be there to guide you.  Stick with it.  Make reading the Bible a part of your daily life.  It will bring you closer to your Creator.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


God Bless our military.  I have been fortunate in my travels to meet the people who serve to protect our country and the helpless around the world.  The other day, I got to witness something very special.  The team captain from my daughter's tennis team huddled everyone together before the matches started.  She was praying for God to give them strength to do their best for His glory.

As I watched these young ladies come together, I was in awe.  God may not be allowed in our schools, however, He was invited to be a part of the extra-curricular activities.  This is what freedom is all about, having the opportunity to connect with our Creator without the fear of being killed.

One of the writers in my critique group recounted his visit to Europe over the summer.  There were some Muslim young men who stopped by to see what was up.  One of the boys volunteered to be a part of the play that was Christian-centered.  At the end of the program, he asked to follow Jesus.  There is a very high price to pay for a decision like this.  Once you accept Christ, your family has the option of murdering you for turning away from their faith.  There are places where Bibles are not allowed.  There are places in my country where God is not allowed.  My prayer today is for those who do not have freedom.  It is also for those who pay such a high price to follow Jesus.  May all who seek Him, find Him and may they be protected.  May those who have freedom be reminded what a gift that is.  Don't forget to thank those fine men and women who risk their lives so that you can have freedom...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jesus Freaks

In high school, I used to think that people who shared their faith with passion were a bunch of wackos.  They were just one more group that I despised.  Kind of like those Raider fans that invade my city once a year, with all that black and silver paint on their faces.  They keep coming back, year after year, even though I had black hair the last time they won.  Are they ever going to just give up, already?

Now, I have become one of those Jesus freaks that I could not stand to be around in my youthful days.  As I look back, I can see how the dark spirits had this grip on me that made red-hot believers look more like bank robbers, people who were going to make you feel guilty and trapped into some kind superficial life without any fun in it.

Jesus warns us not to be lukewarm in life.  I can honestly say to you, from the bottom of my heart, that I am looking forward to my day of judgment, not because I am some sort of saint (there is a long list of people who will be glad to list all my sins to confirm this) but because I really am a sinner who believes Jesus loves me in spite of my sins.  I am going to give Him a big hug and THANK HIM for dying for me so that I can have new life in Him.  I am going to ask Him to open the gates of Heaven  and be escorted in.  It may come as a surprise to some of you, but I know there will be a bunch of people there that many of you believe are supposed to be somewhere else.

Heaven is FULL of sinners.  Rejoice!  That means there is hope for you and me.  All we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  If we do this correctly, people around us should see a noticeable change in our behavior.  It is the Holy Spirit who can keep us from sinning.  We must make a choice.  As for me, I am very comfortable being a Jesus freak.  It is the greatest joy and freedom I have ever experienced in this world.

Someone from my past is having lunch with me today.  The reason for our meeting is to discuss questions about God.  When people want to know who Jesus is, the best people to talk with are those who are on fire.  All of us are seeking answers.  Jesus is the Ultimate Solution.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Great Coaches

Coach Doug Failla with members of the girls varsity tennis team
No matter what level we attain in our athletic endeavors or anything else in life, we will always need coaches and mentors to guide us.  Behind the teams that win consistently are coaches who analyze our strengths and weaknesses and then compare  them with the opportunities and threats that we face.  When a group is involved, a great coach will place each individual in the appropriate spot to maximize the team's performance.

My community has been Blessed to have great coaches and mentors.  The photo above shows the girls high school varsity tennis coach, Doug Failla, firing up his team.  They owe their 4-0 start to his coaching skills.  Every day, he motivates these young ladies to be the best they can be.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate coach and role model for our world.  I marvel at what He was able to do with a bunch of unqualified and unskilled men.  He shaped them and molded them into leaders who forever changed our world.  They were "unqualified" for the job until He "qualified" them with the help of the Holy Spirit.  For the ultimate in instruction, we need to go back to the basics.  Everything we need to learn from the best is there.  Read the Bible daily, you will learn life lessons that are out of this world...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Lost Sheep

 12"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost ~ Matthew 18:12-14

It is difficult to comprehend just how much God loves us.  We turn our backs on him, we stray far away and we do things that do not please Him, however, He never stops loving us.  As a parent, I cannot stand to see any of my children fall.  I get anxious when they are away.  It hurts me when they are not obedient.  When they return home, my heart rejoices.

If I feel this way as a parent who is full of weaknesses and imperfections, I wonder just how God feels when we stray.  The Bible quote above is one of my favorites.  It shows us the pure joy that God has when He finds the one lost sheep, no matter how black the sheep has become.

Since my father's death, I have been dwelling on the topic of black sheep.  He could not have been more lost or further away from his family when he began to hear the voice of his shepherd calling him home.  Now the children of this black sheep, the black sheep squadron, are following in our father's footsteps.  The way my siblings and I interact with each other and with other black sheep from all over the world is all part of God's plan.  The truth is that everyone of us is a black sheep...lost and disconnected from the Great Shepherd.  He calls us but many of us do not hear Him.

There is a big party in Heaven each time that a lost sheep is found.  How about you?  Do you hear Him calling you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Jewel in the Palm of my Hands

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

Faith, hope and love, like members of a family, are connected to each other, forever.  It is nearly impossible to have two of these while missing the the third "sister".  In my own life, I have been Blessed with three sisters.  Together, we have survived some very challenging times.  I cannot imagine my life without any one of them.  They have helped me to understand what faith, hope and love is.

My wife, Helen, is the jewel that God has placed in the palm of my hands.  Like my three sisters, she has encouraged me.  Her love has helped me to know the meaning of God's love for us.  "Remember who brought you into a deeper relationship with God", she told me the other day.  "Remember which one of us went to church when we first met".  I will never forget seeing God's light inside of her, a light that shines brighter with each passing day. 

This "jewel" I am married to is the wind beneath my wings.  Without her example of faith, hope and love, my life would be incomplete.  If someone has been placed in your life that has helped you on your journey, take a moment and let them know how special they are.  May your life be Blessed with all three sisters, Faith, Hope and Love...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Touched by the Spirit

Conscience...the Soul's Ethernet connection to the Creator ~ Mike Mulligan

The new face-lift you see on this blog comes from the Holy Spirit...the One who has been guiding me on this book writing journey.  As more and more pieces of the puzzle come together, I rejoice.  There have been so many times when I did not feel the winds blowing...I felt "stuck" or stalled.  These are the times that I learned patience, the times I could hear my inner voice or conscience without distractions.

The winds are blowing now.  There are days when I am writing until midnight, only to rise again as early as 5:00 AM to search for another piece of the puzzle, just like going on a scavenger hunt.  I get goose bumps each time I discover one more piece of the puzzle.  Some of you reading the blog are a part of this amazing conundrum.  There is a steady stream of people that encourage me and help me to discern the next step.

Learn to trust the Holy Spirit.  Plug into Him.  Be patient.  Even when you cannot feel the wind blowing, He is active.  Enjoy the times when there is stillness in the are being prepared for the Santa Ana winds that will usher in a new era in your life...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

212 Degrees

 I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!  -Revelation 3:15

Just as water boils at 212 degrees under standard conditions, the passion inside of us can ignite when our soul reaches a certain spiritual temperature.  Jesus tells us that lukewarm does not cut it, we must be on fire in order for others to "feel the heat".  How can we reach that critical temperature?

The Holy Spirit provides all the fire we need.  Ask Him to light you up.  When you go from lukewarm to hot, your heat makes a difference.  The world is full of people who are lukewarm.  They go through life under the radar.  It is the people who are on fire that really make a difference.  Sometimes, all it takes is one more degree of heat.  Are you ready for the heat?  Just ask for it...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Facing an Ugly Past

Some of you reading these posts have been asking what drove me to the "caves".  I really don't like facing some of the bad memories from my past.  It has taken over a year to finally write this ugly post.   Moving to a small town and living in quiet peace was my way of not dealing with certain things and people in the place where I grew up.  Sharing these memories with you is probably the most difficult thing I have ever done.  I thank the Holy Spirit for giving me the courage to share this particular dark memory...

'Please help my son,' Mr. Thomas had said to me.  'You two were the number one doubles tennis team in high school.  My son looks up to you and he is struggling.   Will you help him?' 

I thought about the plea for help as I knocked on the door to the condo his parents had purchased for him just off campus at Arizona State University.  Thoughts raced through my mind.  How can this kid who has was given everything be struggling?  They spent thousands of dollars on tennis lessons and now he has his own condo.  He doesn't have to worry about working while going to school. 

Scott's room-mate answered the door and invited me in.  "Where's Scott"? I asked.  "He's probably out partying again.  Most nights he does not come home until late," he told me.  "His dad asked me to check up on him.  I heard he's having trouble with his grades.   Do you know what the problem is?" Scott's room-mate answered with a look on his face that frightened me, the kind of look a person gets when he takes a bite out of a rotten apple.  His room-mate responded,  "He disgusts me.  He is out every night having sex with strangers...with other men".

I froze.  No words came from my mouth.  All through high school, others accused Scott of being gay and I was his number one defender.  We talked about girls we liked, we even went on double dates.  How could this be?  My blood was boiling.  Scott had once asked me what I thought of homosexuality.  I went beyond church teachings, telling him that I hated gays and they should all be killed.  The truth is, I hated everybody that was not exactly like me, but gays were at the top of my list, just ahead of communists.  How could this be?

I walked out the door, exhaling strongly, symbolizing one more person ex'ed out of my life, forever.  Scott became non-existent.  I chose not to report back to his parents even though they had treated me like their own son.  Mr. Thomas was a splitting image of the Wendy's founder, Dave Thomas.  Scott's mother had a sense of humor that made me laugh when laughter was much needed in my life.  Once I discovered what was really up, he and his entire family became locked out of my life.  I ignored phone calls, letters and birthday cards from Scott.  He was a non-person.

When I got my big tennis job after college, Scott's mother called to congratulate me.  I thanked her but never asked about her son.  One day, the phone rang.  My brother asked, "did you know that your friend's name is in the paper?  Scott...Scott Thomas, your buddy from high school.  He died...Aids."  Silence.  "Are you there?  Did you hear me?"  I could not speak.  In fact, I never spoke about him again until many years later, after my confession and conversion experience.  I even had trouble walking onto a tennis court, especially to play doubles.  I would think about how I turned my back on him and his family.  I would think about the loneliness he must have endured while suffering from Aids.  I was his closest friend from high school and I was nowhere to be found when he needed a friend.  I hated myself for being so cold and callous.  My guilt deepened when I tried to contact his parents after learning of Scott's death.  Mr. Thomas had a heart attack and died shortly after his son passed away, probably from all the pain and stress he endured.  Mrs. Thomas moved away with no forwarding address or active phone number.  Like me, she escaped to the caves. I never got the opportunity to speak to Mr. Thomas.

Over the years since Scott's death, I have spent a great deal of time looking in the mirror.  I have judged myself for my shortcomings just as I judged so many others.  Since inviting Jesus into my heart, these past prejudices have completely disappeared.  I have finally learned that it is not my place to judge others.  Jesus tells us to love others.  There are no limits to this command.  Even our enemies or people who are different from us need to be loved.

To all of you from my past that I judged, condemned, or hated just because we were different, especially my first doubles partner, Scott, and his family...please forgive me.  You were all created by God and it is not my place to judge you.  Forgive me for turning my back on you, for not being there when you needed a friend the most.  I am deeply sorry.  God has already forgiven me.  Do you have it in your heart to do the same?

Heaven's Gate
(dedicated to Scotty)
by Mike Mulligan
SHS ~ class of '78

At SHS we played doubles,
we talked about girls,
we had few troubles,

When it came to tennis,
you were number one,
I looked up to you,
you always won,

Later, you moved on to ASU
your parents asked me to look out for you,

When a friend told me that you were gay,
I turned my back and walked away,

The years passed and I stayed out of touch,
although your family had helped me so much,

One day my brother called to say,
your name had made the paper the other day,

Please tell me it's good news I cried,
then something inside me suddenly died,

As soon as I heard the distressing news,
my heart and my soul were filled with the blues,

When you got Aids, you turned to Heaven above,
but your sickness had won, 6-luv, 6-luv,

So now we are left here to face our fear,
maybe it's us who will be gone next year,

To Scotty, this message I write,
please forgive me for staying from sight,

I hope and I pray that before it's too late,
you will wait for us all at Heaven's Gate.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's a Wonder-FULL Life

"No man is a failure who has friends"- Clarence..."It's a Wonderful Life"

In less than 100 days, we will be celebrating Christmas.  High unemployment, job losses, and the burdens of a slow economy haunt us, weakening the Holiday Spirit and causing us to forget the real reason for the season, Jesus.  Maybe we question our very existence on this planet, like George, from "It's a Wonderful Life"?

The Evil One has been hard at work, breaking up marriages, destroying families, and convincing the world that there is no hope.  I can see myself in George, maybe now more than ever.  I deeply appreciate my friends who have stood by me, they see me fall and they extend their arms, helping me to get back on my feet each time I am knocked down by the enemy.  Each day, while writing, I think of the possibilities for others who are feeling despair.  I pray that Jesus will keep showing me the way and that my contributions will make a difference.

All of us can use an angel like Clarence.  Maybe you are that person who can help someone in your life to feel like they belong, that they are special... that the world is better because they are in it.  I am Blessed to have my own set of angels in the outfield who are supporting "God's Black Sheep Squadron".  Reach out and touch someone.  Encourage one another.  Remember, as one of my angels on earth recently told me, "it is a wonder-FULL life" (thank you, angel #12, for sharing your words of encouragement, you have earned your wings)...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Second Trimester

Like preparing for a baby to be born, writers go through stages of pregnancy.  If I were having a baby, this would be the beginning of my second trimester.  Many families withhold announcements until they have made it safely through the first three months, a time when complications arise.

As a first-time author, I am experiencing an excitement that touches every fiber of my being.  Twice a month, I check in with my writer's critique group just like moms-to-be go to lamaze classes to learn how to breathe properly and reduce anxiety.

Yes, my little baby is now just six months away from being delivered.  I embrace what lies ahead as I see the joy on the faces of the other writers in the group talking about their "babies".  I feel like I should be passing out cigars or green bagels like the ones my dad served at "Mulligans" on St. Patrick's Day.   My head is spinning.  I must practice the breathing techniques and remain calm.  There is so much to do.  Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts as I continue with the preparations and thank you for your prayers.  Stay tuned.  Six months to go!...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


It is done.  Public prayer and praise in our community park has set off a round of aftershocks that will forever change lives.  As I watched my daughter and niece play their doubles match together, one of the other dads told me what he witnessed during the evening of prayer.

"While I was walking around the park, I could see people being drawn in.  The looks on their faces told me that they were dealing with very deep emotions.  The songs and the prayers, they were touching these people who appeared to be hurting", this spectator told me.  "What happened in our community will forever change many lives.  I am sure some people came to Christ that night."  I told my friend that I felt an awesome presence on that special evening.  At first, I felt awkward, because I was in a circle praying with pastors from all the churches in Ramona.  I have no theology degrees or special credentials.  In God's eyes, that did not matter.  As these leaders prayed out loud with hands joined, I could not hear their individual prayers.  It was as if each was tuning up his instrument with random words that somehow joined with the others in a way that resembled some sort of new language.  It was the Holy Spirit who was directing this choir and I knew I was part of something very, very special.

The aftershocks continue.  God has been invited back into our community.  People are talking about how special that evening was.  My prayer today is for these aftershocks to be felt around the world.  May the light of Christ touch the lives of people in lands far off.  May our youth come to know Him in a special way and share their light with others...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Heart of a Writer

  12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. - Colossians 3:12-14

I was an angry young man.  There was a "great sadness" inside of me that I attempted to cover up with a facade.  Any attempts to get past the mask that held my fragile emotions were met with coldness.  I would close my lips leaving a small opening to blow out a quick breath, like blowing out a candle.  This act meant someone was getting too near the barricade surrounding my heart and they needed to be expunged from my life lest the levy would be breached like what happened when Katrina hit New Orleans.  I guarded my heart at all costs and NEVER let anyone in (that is, until I met Helen Marie...those chapters were still in the future, just beyond the "great sadness" that consumed my early adulthood).

As a  youth, I was the biggest anti-marriage person to walk the planet.  The sting of my parents divorce and bankruptcy bruised my inner soul and I put walls up to make sure I would not get hurt.  When one of my closest buddies asked me to be his best man, I challenged him to leave this path of destruction.  He wanted to punch me but I was relentless with my words and my anger spewed like Mt. Vesuvius.  At the end of the conversation, he convinced me that his marriage would last forever and I agreed to stand with him as his best man.

In my early twenties, one of my tennis students introduced me to her daughter.  She had a magical way of seeing through me while at the same time keeping her own guard up.  She was the first person to see my soul.  She was involved in a rocky relationship during the time I knew her so our friendship never crossed over into anything serious.  She left me with one gift, hope.  Her acts of kindness paved the way for me to eventually come out of my fortress and live my life with passion.

During the time that I knew this young lady, I wrote my first poem.  That was over twenty five years ago.  I gave her the only copy and forgot about it.  This morning, the words returned to me.  Perhaps it has to do with reliving experiences in my mind as I release my life's chapters into my first book...

The Key
by Mike Mulligan

Yesterday, I looked into my heart,
I could not see past the high walls that surrounded it,
My heart was a fortress, 
it's gate was locked shut,
Your kindness was the key that unlocked the gate
and freed the spirit that lives inside,

Today, I look into my heart,
the high walls that once surrounded it are gone,
A troubled spirit is all that remains,
it searches for the key to your gate,
to free the spirit that lives inside you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Barbara McBride Publishes First Book at 73 Years Young

Click here to order
Barbara McBride, a member of the Ramona Christian Writers Critique Group, published her first book, Inspirations, with the help of publisher Byron Mettler, another member of the group.  Barbara exuded a special glow that comes from using her God-given talents to help others.  Congratulations, Barbara, you are an inspiration!

It is never too late to put your talents to work.  The following newspaper clip is being sent to our oldest son, Ryan, who is now living in Alaska.  The author is unknown and there is no title, however, the contents are rich with life lessons, no matter the age of the reader...

You will receive a body.  You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for as long as you live.  How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.

You will learn life lessons.  You are enrolled in a full-time school called Life.  Each day  you will be presented with opportunities to learn what you need to know.  The lessons presented are often completely different from those you think you need.

There are no mistakes- only lessons.  Growth is a process of trial and error and experimentation.  You can learn as much from failure as you can from success.

A lesson is repeated until it is learned.  A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it.  When you have learned it (as evidenced by a change in your attitude and behavior), then you can go on to the next lesson.

Learning lessons does not end.  There is no stage of life that does not contain some lessons.  As long as you live, there will be something more to learn.

"There" is no better than "here".  When your "there" has become a "here", you will obtain another "there" that will again look better than your "here".  Don't be fooled by believing that the unattainable is better than what you have.

Others are merely mirrors of you.  You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.  When tempted to criticize others, ask yourself why you feel so strongly.

What you make of your life is up to you.  You have all the tools and resources you need.  Remember that through desire, goal setting and unflagging efforts you can have anything you want.  Persistence is the key to success.

The answers lie within you.  The solutions to all of life's problems lie within your grasp.  All you have to do is ask, look, listen and trust.

You will forget all this.  Unless you consistently stay focused on the goals you have set for yourself, everything you've just read won't mean a thing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Out of the Cave

 1After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him ~ Luke 8:1

Out of the Cave
by Mike Mulligan ~  9/10/10

Broken and fallen, I cower deep inside my cave,
from a distance, you approach with your followers behind,
your white robe illuminates the rocky path to my hide-out,

I study your face,
your eyes are the doorway to your soul,
they fix their stare upon me,
without speaking a word,

I hear your voice; Jesus,
I crawl from my tomb,
clothes tattered and face unkempt,
I long to be near you,
but cannot speak with my own voice,
The dark spirits silence me,
Your words come forth like bolts of lightning,
they pierce my demons,
casting them out from me,

You extend your arms,
my body goes limp,
you hold me up,
my soul awakens,
I am new again,
no longer to dwell in caves,
My new home is with the liberator of my soul.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pray Boldly

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. - 1 Chronicles 4:10

God loves it when His people come to Him in bold prayer.  Praying "big" leads to stunning responses from our Creator.  He wants us to be confident, to be in a deep relationship with Him.  It all starts with prayer.

How many of us would be willing to ask God to "expand our territory"?  This is gutsy...we are asking God to expand our sphere of influence, that is to gain the ability to make a difference in the world.  It requires being fearless.  The more contact we have with people, the greater the risk of harm or rejection.  Jezbel anticipated this and included a prayer of protection with his request to enlarge his territory.

When you ask God to give you something that will benefit others, He will give it to you.  Be bold.  Have courage.  Dream big.  Don't hold anything back in your prayers.  Expect big things to happen.  God is seeking a deeper relationship with you.  He is waiting for you right now...Go ahead, bring Him your bold prayers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Peeling the Onion

Each of us have "layers" on the outsides of our souls, just like onions.  We feel safe as long as the layers remain.  As I ponder this, I recall one of my dad's favorite quotes.  "It's a two-way street", he would say as he sipped his cerveza.  When it comes to relationships, you must allow your layers to be peeled away if you are ever going to have any kind of meaningful interaction.  Both onions need to be uncovered.

I never really had deep relationships because my guard was always up.  Perhaps I feared that if anyone ever saw what was inside my onion, they would not like what was revealed.  When the Holy Spirit entered my core, this fear disappeared.  He has also inspired me to get to know others at a deeper level, to peel away the layers that have stifled their spirits.

The truth is that we are all flawed.  Do not be afraid to become vulnerable.  Yes, you will be rejected.  Yes, you will be hurt.  You may see things in people that you do not like.  Accept them with all their strengths and weaknesses and encourage them to open up.  A true friend is the one who sees past all the layers and still accepts you for who you are.  Focus on quality relationships rather than quantity.  For those people in my life who have been willing to stand by me, I thank you and I dedicate today's message to you.  You already know who you are.  It may be a short list but I thank God that you are on it...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Happy 50th Birthday to a Special Cousin

This birthday wish goes to a cousin who has impacted my life in a very special way.  I will keep his name anonymous because he does not really like a lot of fanfare, however, this message is dedicated to him. In the years prior to "the great sadness" that entered my life, I enjoyed countless hours hanging out with JM.  We attended grade school together through the eighth grade and spent entire summers on the tennis courts or camping.  We even competed against each other in high school.

Today, my younger cousin is fifty years old.  We dream of one day partnering up to play in doubles tournaments.  He was the first Mulligan to escape Alcatraz island and then inspired me to do the same.  One day in grade school, he brought a bunch of rubber bands that had been tied together to class.  He asked me to help him stretch them out to see just how big the chain really was.  We slowly stepped backwards while holding on to the rubber bands until we were at opposite ends of the field.  Suddenly, a strange noise filled the air as the rubber bands raced at me with lightning speed.  My body was covered in red welts, the result of one more "incident".  There have been many more memories created since that fateful day on the playground.  Yes, this cousin has had a ripple effect on my life that will continue for generations and I am thankful that he has been such a positive influence on my life.

Happy 50th birthday, cousin.  I will see you on the courts.  Thanks for being a bright light in my life and for giving me my favorite quote..."acknowledge...move on."  It comes in handy on days when you are covered in red welts from difficult circumstances.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the Ripple Effect

Have you ever wondered about the impact your actions make in the world around you?  As I marvel at the ocean waves crashing on the shores, I imagine that small breeze in the middle of the ocean that started the process.  As the intensity of the wind increases, the waves become like giants that pound the beaches without ceasing.

Choose your words and your actions carefully.  Like ocean waves, your deeds can have a ripple effect on the lives of many others.  Your contributions can travel thousands of miles and become magnified into something spectacular.  You are significant and what you choose to do today will touch lives, even if you do not see the results right away.  Go ahead.  Take action.  The world is waiting for the ripple effect that will come from living your life well.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Choose Your Thoughts

Observe the beauty of the universe that is all around you.  See how the morning sun touches the clouds announcing a glorious day that is about to unfold before you.  Now, peek into the mirror and gaze upon a creation that was first conceived in His mind billions of years ago before the stars and planets were made.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?  Those thoughts that are zipping through your brain have the power to enhance or distort the image you see.  Positive thoughts will bring you new energy and strength while negative ones will cause you to focus on your flaws.

Choose your thoughts carefully.  A well-balanced meal of positive thoughts will inspire you to move mountains today.  Are you ready?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Deposits to Your Bank Account

My wife forwarded this email to me and it made my day.  Here it is for your enjoyment...

This is AWESOME ... something we should all remember.
A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.
His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.
As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.
I love it,' he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait..'
'That doesn't have anything to do with it,' he replied.
Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.
Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is  arranged .. it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it.
'It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice;
I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful  for the ones that do.
Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away.. Just for this time in my life..
Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in.
So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories!
Thank you for your part in filling my Memory Bank.
I am still depositing.
'Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Spirit Warriors of Ramona

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. -Ephesians 6:10-18

Over Labor Day weekend, my friend and writing mentor, Pete Zindler, sponsored an Evening of Prayer in Ramona.  He gathered pastors and church leaders from all the denominations to pray for our youth, our families, and our military.

It was such a joy to be asked to lead a segment dedicated to our high school and college youth.  The praise band was out of this world.

Pete talked about "wrestling" with Satan.  A high school wrestling coach for Ramona high school, Pete has inspired many youth to pin the opponent, no matter what the odds.  While we were driving to the beach on the morning of the event, my youngest son, Shane, told me that he wants to join the high school wrestling team as soon as his football season is over.  We are blessed to have leaders like Pete that are willing to sacrifice so much for others so that they too may become warriors.

The video below reflects the "warrior spirit" that Pete brings to our remote town.  Last night, we lit candles representing the light of Christ.  All who attended last night are being asked to share that light with others, to become warriors for God's army.  It will change the landscape of our community for generations to come.  Thanks,  coach Pete!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Evening of Prayer, Praise and Worship

Tonight, in my hometown, there will be an evening of prayer, praise and worship.  My good friend, Peter Zindler, has asked me to lead prayers for our high school and college youth.  Others will be praying for elementary and junior high students, teachers, mentors, coaches, troops and family life.  There will be prayer for revival against drugs and alcohol and for youth ministries, churches and pastors.

If you are able to come to Ramona for this very special evening, see the brochure below.  If you are too far away to attend, I ask that you set aside some quiet time with your family and join us in silent prayer.  The future of our world is in the next generation.  Thank you for taking the time to join us in prayer.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Beyond Religion

As I prepare to initiate "point-counter point" with my atheist friend, Olivier, on this blog, I am pondering his very deep questions he has been asking on the tennis courts.  "Most people are closed minded and know very little about the facts behind their positions", he stated.  "You are not afraid to debate me in the open in front of your blog readers.  You are willing to listen to my point of view and not judge me."  I answered, "You are well educated and you have many questions.  Our journey together goes beyond my own specific denomination or even religion itself.  It is not my desire to force my own beliefs on anybody, only to share all the good that Jesus has done and  is doing in my life, just like telling a friend about a good restaurant or recommending a book or movie."

There are many people on this planet much more qualified to tell you all about religion.  I spent many years learning all about God.  It was not until I began to know Him that my life changed dramatically.  The details will be shared in my first book.  Thank you for visiting and for your emails about this blog.  I look forward to spending more time with you daily...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Resurrection

As the conversations continue with my tennis buddy, Olivier, we are approaching the point where he will be a special guest blogger representing a view opposite those who believe in God.  After our mixed doubles tennis match this last weekend, he asked me if I was afraid that he may lead me or others away from our belief in God.  He also asked me if I have any doubt whatsoever in the existence of God.

"No", I replied.  "You are nuts", he retorted.  "How can you believe in something that you cannot see?"  Hmmm, that's two people in the last month, both polar opposites, that have told me I am a nut.  "That is why God sent His Son, so that we could see God in the flesh."  I asked him, "do you believe that there was a historical figure named Jesus?"  "Yes, I do, His name is everywhere in history."  I answered, "good, we have some common ground...we both believe that there was a Jesus who was here about 2,000 years ago.  Do you believe He was nailed to a Cross and killed?"  He was quick with his reply.  "There is no doubt that He was killed and placed in a tomb."

We began do discuss the events that unfolded after He was placed in the tomb.  I said, "Olivier, everything in my faith is about the Resurrection.  It is the single event in human history that changed everything.  There are different accounts about what happened.  Roman soldiers were bribed to make up a story about the body being stolen from the tomb.  If the Resurrection did not happen, then there is no hope for a great after-life."

We talked about being created in His image.  I believe that He created us to live forever, with Him or without is our choice.  "If there is a God, why did He choose to reveal Himself to only a small group of people?  Why didn't Jesus heal everybody if He had the power of God?" he asked.

"Free will, we have free will.  We were not created to be robots that are forced to serve our Creator.  That is how much He loves us.  Jesus could not heal everyone because many did not believe He was God.  In his own town, people only saw Him as a carpenter's son and miracles did not happen."

I ended the conversation by assuring Olivier that I am not afraid to debate him.  I do not believe it is a mere coincidence that we play tennis together weekly and that we are sharing our views about these very deep topics.  When Olivier posts here, he will be my invited guest.  Please treat him with dignity and respect.  I will not allow personal attacks and welcome a healthy discussion.  You will be invited to ask questions and interact, however, I reserve the right to delete any comments that are hurtful or derogatory.  All of us are searching for the truth and this blog is evolving.  Let's see how it unfolds as guest bloggers post their messages.  I am really looking forward to point-counterpoint and to addressing your questions from around the world...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hope 4 Eternity

“We judge of man's wisdom by his hope.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson ties hope and wisdom together in the quote above.  I believe there is no greater hope for humanity than the hope for eternity.  It may be difficult for some to venture beyond what can be seen in black and white and experience what is outside our five senses.

If I had not been such a hard-headed, stubborn individual, perhaps I could have gained this wisdom Emerson writes about decades ago.  I prayed every day for wisdom just to survive the challenges that seemed to knock me down every day.  There was a higher source that wanted to grant me answers to these prayers but I was too immature to trust what I could not see.

Looking for some wisdom?  Ask and it shall be given to you.  It starts with hope, just add a prayer and see what happens.  Are you ready?