I saw a documentary film many years ago about a group of colleagues working in a fish market called Pykes Peak in Seattle. They get up every morning at some really unearthly hour like 3.00am and they work for long hours in a freezing cold, smelly environment. The guys on the film talked about the choice they have to make every day…they could complain about their lot and be miserable all day or they can come to work and enjoy it, so they decide every day to enjoy it.

In Scroll 6 of the Greatest Salesman in the world Og Mandino tells us how not just to make that choice but to make it happen.

He says if I feel depressed I sing (I have been doing that for years, seems to come naturally)

If I feel sad I laugh.

If I feel ill I double my labour. If I feel fear I plunge ahead.

If I feel inferior I wear new garments. (I find a new haircut and a smart pair of shoes does it for me.)

If I feel uncertain I speak with a stronger voice.

If I feel poverty I think of wealth to come.

If I feel incompetent I remember past successes.

If I feel insignificant I remember my goals.

After all isn’t that what goals are for…it doesn’t matter about the size of the problem, my God is bigger and the goal…my Definite Major Purpose is the reason he put me here.

Thats why, “Today I am master of my emotions.”

These are all choices…you don’t have to sing…sometimes you are almost choking on the words and it would be easier to cry…but choose to sing.

The Fish Guys make similar choices every day and their philosophy affects literally thousands of people. Crowds come to stand and watch them work just to cheer themselves up, it’s amazing. Can you imagine a person coming to watch you at work because he is feeling depressed and going back to his own job happy. Man that’s a ministry…the Ministry of Fish.

They talk about just 4 things that make their workplace such a joyful place to be every day and the end result is they sell lots and lots of fish, more than they ever would if they all had long faces.

Point 1. PLAY…just have fun, with each other, with the customers, they literally hurl great big fishes and crabs and all sorts of sea creatures across the store and they are pretty good catchers too and as I recall they even get customers in to try and catch a fish sometimes.

2  MAKE THEIR DAY…if you can make someone else happy, if they can go home that night thinking the highlight of the day was meeting you, having some fun with you, laughing with you, wouldn’t that make you day too.

3 BE THERE…it means love the one you are with, give that person 100% attention in the moments you are with them, listen to them and let them go away feeling they were the only person in the world that mattered to you at that moment.  We could all do that in our daily conversations but how often are we thinking ahead to what we will say while we should just be listening… and worse how often do we think about where else we would rather be when someone needs our total attention. How many conversations take place through the background distraction of the television or some other third party interrupter. Isn’t the ultimate KINDNESS just to be there until the person talking to us feels heard and understood.

4 CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE.  Hopefully this is self explanatory. If you don’t think you are in charge of the way you feel, think, talk and act then who is? And you can always use Og’s tools from above to help you reinforce the choice.

Mark Januszewski on the MKMMA commencement webinar said something in one short sentence that speaks of exactly the same attitude, he said, as close as I can remember it.

“I talk to everybody that makes eye contact with me. I treat him as if it is his last moment on earth and I want his last moment to be a great moment, I want to be present in his life.

If the six months or so that we have invested in each other during this course if could be condensed into one sentence that would be it.

If we can live that way for other people just as much as possible how can we not enjoy our own life and know we have lived it to the full. Man, that is the abundant life Jesus was talking about, it’s not about accumulating more stuff. (Nothing wrong with having some nice stuff mind, it’s just not the main thing.)

To be there, and touch people at a heart level, to make their day thinking what if this were their last day is a reflection of what Og Mandino said in the fifth scroll.

“I will live this day as if it is MY last.”

What do you want your last day to look like?


We have almost reached the end of the Master Key and already I am drawn back to the beginning. I have printed the early weeks and am again spending time on each section before moving on to the next. I don’t feel the need to give each section a week this time because the language is no longer difficult and my understanding is greater.

What I have learned more than anything else is how much I don’t know.  It has come to my attention how much I have quoted from great authors past and present and most of all from the Bible which I hold as the benchmark above all other books.  I had thought I understood what I have quoted… (we all nod knowingly to each other as if we are alone are in possession of some secret information to which ‘the outsiders’ have no access.) but now even though I understand it in new, deeper ways: still I realise that there is much more that I have not yet understood. I could give half a dozen examples but I shall write about just one taken from Zechariah 4 later in this article.

This example has been so helpful to me I have made it the conclusion of my last two sermons which can be heard by visiting the website at www.hgfchurch.org or on the podcasts from Hindley Green Family Church where I am the minister.

In starting the Master Key again. I have printed the original on one side of a page and on the opposite side I and am writing my own translation in the more modern language I would use hoping to get the meaning across to a 14 year old.

I have taken the liberty of comparing it with my benchmark (the Bible) and am glad of the times when it has given me new light. There have been other times when I find it contradicts or doesn’t go as far as it should and in these times I allow Mr Haanel his opinion but find it disproved either in the course of time or that it was just wrong in the light of the Bible. I know that may be off putting to some but we either have a benchmark or we don’t, until something else disproves and displaces it I will stand on it even if I die doing so. Many will tell you it is not true but none can offer a fragment of real proof.

Haanel allows no room for the fall of man. He seems not to acknowledge sin and therefore negates the need for a saviour. But Christ said he came to seek and to save that which was lost.  If He is not who He claimed to be  then what right would He have to expect us to believe even a word of His teaching. Yet if every man would only live by His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount there would be only peace and prosperity in this world.

Haanel quotes the Bible and particularly the Words of Christ as often as it suits him and so if I were able to converse with him I should say, “if any of it is the truth then it is all the truth but if it contains even a single lie then we Christians are deceived above all men.”

You might think then that would apply to any book…if anything Haanel or any other serious author or philosopher says is true then everything they say is true and if one thing is wrong then the whole work is of no value…This cannot be so…I believe every sincere human effort is of value and I allow for areas of honest ignorance in an equally honest attempt to find truth. After all it is only the truth that will set us free. (You will notice repeated use of the ideas of honesty and sincerity, this is not accidental, I would like the reader to know that there are those who speak and those who write lies with a definite intention to deceive.) I make no claim to be perfect, I have been wrong many times but not intentionally and I am always hoping to gain new understanding.

William Ellery Channing (no relation)  said back in 1829,   “I call that mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which calls no man master, which does not content itself with a passive or hereditary faith, which opens itself to light whencesoever it may come, which receives new truth as an angel from Heaven.”

So let’s return to the promised example where Haanel has helped me to get more light on Zechariah chapter 4: verse 6 which says…

Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. 

As I said, I have come to understand that verse differently recently… perhaps I didn’t really understand it at all before.

Its one of those verses we quote ourselves and often hear others quote, and it sounds good but we are never quite sure what it really means. This is what came to me as I was meditating on it having earlier been thinking through some points in the Master Key.

Haanel says we are not a body with a spirit but a spirit with a body and we are almost in agreement on that one although I see it slightly differently.

First we must think of ourselves not as a body with a spirit…but as a Spirit with a soul and we LIVE in a body for the duration of our time on earth.

The body is wonderfully made, it is powerful in it’s own right and it has demands of it’s own, in the right place they are good and keep us alive…take one example…hunger…it can be very good…because it encourages us to eat which in the right amounts and the right quality of food keeps us alive and well.

But when it gets out of control, it can be very bad…if it becomes gluttony or some other eating disorder it will make us unwell, bring about diseases and even cause us to die before we should.

There are other lusts of the flesh too as we all probably are aware…so we understand as wonderful a creation as it is… the body has power…physical power. We must not let the flesh… or the body rule us. Ruling is the spirits job.

Then we HAVE a soul…it’s primarily our conscious mind…our emotions…our will, our memories and it too has power and it would seek to rule over the spirit.

Every living person has a spirit…when we die the spirit leaves…or to put it the right way round…when the spirit leaves there is no longer life in the body.

Haanel and I agree so far but here is where we appear to differ, and please understand, differing is not a problem and certainly no reason to fall out.

The human spirit is separated from God because of sin. The Bible calls that spiritual death…

Ephesians 2:1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.

But when he was crucified Jesus paid the price of every persons sin and so all sin is paid for…all debt is cancelled provided…and this is a huge point…provided they acknowledge their need of a Saviour…repent of their sins and receive God’s forgiveness.  They must believe in their heart, (for heart read spirit) and confess that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Colossians 2:13 says You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

So Jesus paid the price for all our sins…so that means that everybody can be reconciled to God and enjoy what Haanel refers to as the “Universal Mind.” For me there can be no mind without personality and so I cannot think of God, Father, Son or Holy Spirit as anything but 3 persons, one God.

So we were dead…and then when we believe on Christ we are made alive.

Some say we are ‘born again’, and actually it was Jesus that coined the phrase but it is over used today; it really only can have one meaning.

So the dead spirit is now a live spirit because it is reconciled to God’s Holy Spirit…it lives in the same body which it now recognises as temple of the Holy Spirit. And the soul is now being brought into subjection to the spirit. This does not happen instantly…it is a lifetime process and we do have to make conscious effort to co-operate with God and let Him transform us into a new creature by changing the way we think. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

OK so lets go back to Zechariah 4  Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

Not by physical might…the body…its strength… it’s skills can all be used to get it’s own way….many men together can use their combined might…the might of an army can take a city captive or even a country…but God says not by military might…

Nor by Power…the soul has its power…will power…even a strong mind can overcome many week minds…coercion…manipulation…intimidation…God says not this kind of power….

Not by might…nor by power…but by MY Spirit…So the universal acts through the individual, regenerated, born again spirit, which is now alive to God, in touch with God’s Holy Spirit…who is the All Knowing, All Powerful, Everywhere Present God.

If you ask anything according to His will…her hears you…and if you ask i His name, nothing shall be impossible to you.

It is not me that does the works but my Father that dwells in me. and to quote Jesus again,   “The works that I do you shall do also and greater works than these because I go to my Father.”


Let me start with a quote lifted from my last post.

“I did a random act of kindness that was bigger than anything I had ever previously done, to a relative stranger, in fact I was surprised myself that my new character would do such a thing… and the person closest of all to me is upset, no, mad at me for having done it, and yet that person is such a generous person, perhaps the act was more fitting for their character than mine and thats where the shock waves came from. Nevertheless I am glad I did it and I am sure it will work out well in the end.”

Thank God it wasn’t really ‘The Last Post’. I mean to say we lived through it, I thought it was going to be a disaster but it wasn’t, in fact everyone concerned prospered in it. It worked out better than even I could have expected it would. Isn’t it true that most of the things we worry about never actually happen. I can’t go into the details now, maybe I will at a later date, but I started a river flowing that has come flooding back to bless me in ways I didn’t even know existed.

And my previously uncharacteristic random act of kindness has moved me toward everything written in my DMP.

Some of the stumbling blocks are still there. Not everyone who needs to be is on board at the moment but I am giving thanks in everything and I am convinced the late adaptors are just God’s timing device for everyone’s benefit. Because of what has happened over the last week I have realised there will be other things I need to know before everything can fall into place. We just don’t know what we don’t know do we.

I confess: I have not been patient. I am sometimes like a dog with a bone. Once I see a clear picture in my mind I can wake up thinking it is already done.  This has sometimes caused momentary confusion, for a brief moment on waking from a dream; believing it has happened already I have struggled to grasp the current reality. I think that is a positive thing because it shows me the belief I have in the eventual victory is really strong and I have no doubt whatsoever that it will come to pass… in fact it has already come to pass for ‘the future me’.

Lately though, having stepped back and tried to be the observer I understand success requires steady but incremental progress and there has to be a process. The daily disciplines we have in place have meant I can practice what might be called “line upon line, precept upon precept thinking.” knowing these small, incremental actions will turn into measurable steps toward my eventual success.

Actually, I am successful even now as I enjoy the journey, I am just not at the final destination yet. I affirm I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving harmonious and happy and I know it is true.

But how can I be perfect if I have not yet achieved the goal?

I can be perfect, and here is the proof. I have a tree in my garden and in the springtime, at the centre of each blossom there is a tiny green ball, they look like little beads but they are actually perfect plums, perfect for the stage in their development but a long way from ready. It will be many months before we can eat them but they are perfect now and will be at every step of their growth until they are perfectly ripe and ready to eat.

So I was perhaps a little disappointed in the reactions of others, maybe even a bit annoyed…though not angry. Nevertheless my emotions were not entirely positive and then along came Og Mandino with the scroll marked six. He asks or rather he has me asking, “How will I master these emotions so that each day will be productive? to paraphrase he says “I see the battle and I have a plan to win it.”

Here is the plan. If I feel depressed I will sing. If I feel sadness I will laugh. If I feel ill I will work doubly hard. If I feel fear I will do that which I fear. I will dress UP, I will speak UP, I will direct my thoughts to see the victory which is certainly coming.

Today I will be master of my emotions.

I like to sing and I have quite a repertoire of songs old and new…

Not long ago I was whistling a particular old favourite in a supermarket and Steppy, my wife was also in there unknown to me. She heard the whistling and said to herself ‘only my husband would be whistling that tune in Sainsbury’s’. So she followed the sound and found me and we had an inpromptu lunch together…The words of the song go…

I have a mansion just over the hilltop,                                                                      In that bright land where we’ll never grow old                                                       And someday yonder we will never more wander                                               But walk on streets that are purest gold.

Heaven is the ultimate goal, of that I have never doubted but I also know that I have a definite purpose here and I won’t be going anywhere until I have fulfilled it.

So everything will slot nicely into place in His time even if there is pain or suffering on the way… the promise is the promise…”only believe and do not doubt and if you have anything against anyone, forgive them so your heavenly Father can forgive you. Then if you command this mountain to be removed and cast into the sea it will be done.”