How I Plan to Implement Rachel’s 5 Challenges In My Life

Before I can talk about how I will implement Rachel’s 5 challenges in my life, I need to explain what the 5 challenges are and where they came. Rachel Joy Scott was a devout Christian believer who was murdered on April 20, 1999 in Columbine High School by two of her classmates mainly because of her faith, along with about a dozen other souls.  She inspires me because of her commitment to her beliefs and her devotion and desire to help hurting people know God’s love.  These 5 Challenges, called Rachel’s Challenge(s), are 5 tenets that characterized how Rachel lived according to those who knew her best—her family— and are inspiring people all over the world, including me, to live like Rachel did. I want to share how I personally want to implement these 5 challenges not because I want to brag or be all holy-moley or something, but because I want you the reader to hold me accountable and because I want to see more and more people know the magnitude of Christ’s love not only through me, but through other people as well.  I probably won’t be perfect at this (CORRECTION: I know I won’t be perfect at this, but I strive to do the best I can at living these 5 tenets every day for the rest of my life.)

These are the 5 Challenges and below each one is how I plan to implement them in my life:

1.) Look for the Best in Others

I plan to use one of my personal credos (from the last post I did) in order to help me live this tenet—Never throw out anyone.  I will strive to never give up on someone, unless my safety is in danger or the other person gives up on me.  I will always strive to help someone in need, and to look for the good in everyone, even those who sometimes (or oftentimes) give me a difficult time.  This may mean getting to know them better by asking them how they view life, how I can be praying for them,  and what I can do to relate to them better. I will strive to thank anyone that does anything good for me or for another person. I will let more people in my life know that they are appreciated and loved by me.

2.) Continue to Dream

I will strive to be the best I can every day, and think of new ways to glorify Christ in my work and at home.  I will try my best at everything even if it costs me, and even if at first I feel like giving up and giving in.  I will set goals for myself and reward myself when I accomplish them. I will live each day with a purposeful attitude.  I will continue to dream of better days when things get difficult and when things are good. I will continue to hope.

3.) Be a Positive Influence

I plan to strive to be a positive influence in others’ lives. I will continue praying everyday that I would show the light of Christ at home and at work and not be my selfish, sinful self. I will commit myself to show more  humility when I am corrected or when I do something sinful, and quickly repent of that sinful action or attitude.   I will try to be an encouragement to at least one person everyday, whether at home, work or elsewhere.  I will strive to work hard in everything I do, not doing anything with a half-hearted attitude. I will pray and work to be more like Christ everyday.

4. ) Speak and Act with Kindness

I will strive to be more conscious to make sure my words and actions are, in fact, kind.  I will continue to write encouraging notes to people at work when I see they need it.  I will share encouragement, whether it be song lyrics,  a kind word, or doing something tangibly kind for others, not to only feel good about myself, but to let them know about God’s love for them and that they are valued and loved by me. I will apologize if I speak or act in ways that are unkind and/or unChristlike, and strive to make amends to the person or the persons I offended.

5.) Start your own Chain Reaction

By doing these four other things, I hope to start a chain reaction, where others will be happy to follow my lead and create what I call, ” A Generation of Kindness,” where ultimately (maybe also in eternity) everyone around me will feel loved and valued not only by God and me, but by all those around them.  I will encourage others to “pay it forward” when I do something nice that they appreciate, so that others in their life that I may  not know will be able to experience the same blessing from them that I gave them.

 

source: http://rachelschallenge.org/programs/corporate

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My Personal Credos

Everyone has beliefs, or credos, for how they live, whether they are verbalized or not. These don’t have to be just religious beliefs, but they can be too. Credos are underlying purposes and/or principles that a person uses, whether consciously or unconsciously, to guide their attitudes, words, and actions. They also may guide other type of beliefs, and one’s allegiances and dislikes too.  Since the title of this blog is called “God’s Whisperings,” you can rightly expect that my Credos are all based on my understanding of who God is and who I am as a person.

Here are some of them:

1.) In Audrey Hepburn’s words: People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.-bold emphasis mine.
(Source: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/audreyhepb388908.html)

In my dealings with people, I strive never ever to reject anyone and to accept everyone as they are, especially with superficial things like looks, ethnicity, race, gender, class, social status, disability or lack thereof, etc. Of course, certain people MAY need to be rejected if they are a threat to our safety or to our mental or emotional health. For instance, if a person has been repeatedly abusive to you or someone you love and are unrepentant of their bad actions, one may need to reject them for a while and until they make amends. However, this does not mean I would reject someone who is hurting. On the contrary, as Jesus did, I would try my best to help them and /or make sure I could find someone that could help them in the way they needed it. This credo also stems from the fact that I used to be an outsider—a reject, and I know how  lonely and how depressing that feels to have no one by your side, no allies.  I don’t want anyone to go through the same stuff I did before.

2.) This is related somewhat to #1: Everyone has value; make sure to let everyone know that they are loved and have a purpose in life.

I love to encourage people because I see so many people devoid of feeling like someone cares and being loved. Even though I now know that I am cared about and loved by some people, I know there was a time in my life that I was unaware of hardly anyone that did, except perhaps my family. I also did not have a personal relationship with Christ at the time, and I felt like my life was pure drudgery. I never want someone I know to have to go through what I did or want to end it all because I could have been the one person to show them God’s love and I failed to show it to them.  On the contrary, I want to show God’s love to them, so they will know Him and know not only how much I love and/or care for them, but more importantly, how much God loves and cares for them. Of course, I will love imperfectly, but I want to be able to point them to God’s love for them.

3) Work hard and never give up.

I admit that sometimes I want to give up, but I know that God and this credo that I live by, will never let me! For instance, when I want something in my life (I mean, really really want something!) and I try one way that doesn’t work, I often look for another way until I find a way that does work for me. I also live by the credo, “Sometimes if you want something done, do it yourself.” For instance, at work, if I want my department to look neat and I see something on the floor, I don’t wait until someone else picks it up. I do it myself. I also try to persevere in my relationships with others, and try to be the best person I can be, even if it means admitting where I was wrong and making amends.

So here are just 3 of my credos. I don’t always live by them perfectly, but I strive to everyday. What are yours? What credos drive your life? Why? If you want, please comment on your credos in the comments. We all have different credos that shape the way we live and shape who we are as people. Make sure you strive to be the person who you would like to be remembered as, and live well today.

 

Why I am a Christian *Religious content*

“Be ready to always give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” -1 Peter 3:15 b (KJV)

DISCLAIMER: Please respect my beliefs, especially if you do not agree with them. Please keep comments and emails family friendly and respectful of all people. Do not bash other religions or mine, or your comment(s) will not only be deleted, but you will be banned from this site. Thank you, and happy reading. 🙂

So why do I personally worship Christ? Why do I think it is so important to know God’s love? Well, here are some of the reasons I profess Christ as Lord and Savior.

1)In worshiping Christ, there is a great hope.

When you worship Christ, you don’t have to wonder if a Christian loved one is in a better place when they die. Also, you yourself don’t have to fear dying or even what others think of you, because I believe He is eternal and the only One that will ultimately matter above all. Also, after you leave this earth, you have great joy and things to look forward to that will surpass anything you could ever dream or see! Just the promises that Jesus gives us of a blessed eternity gives me much hope and much in which to  look forward in the future. So, I know that this earthly life, with all its burdens and trials, will only be temporary and will not last forever, even when it seems like it does.

2.) In worshiping (and living for) Christ, there is great purpose given to our lives. 

One of my friends had aptly stated that when you live for God, ” everything you do matters.” Nothing you do for God is ever wasted. You may not get rewarded right away on earth when you do something for God, but you WILL get rewarded. You are living for a greater good other than yourself, and, that to me, is most satisfying. Even in the most mundane or banal tasks, a worshiper of Christ can find joy because he or she knows that there is always great satisfaction in knowing you are ultimately working for God.

3.) For a Christian, there is great mercy given by God.

Everyone is a sinner, whether they are a Christian, Muslim, or atheist, and whether they will admit it or not. If you say you are not, then you are probably lying because to say one is sinless is to say one is morally perfect, and no one is or has ever been, except Jesus.  However, when you are a Christian, unlike what some people may have you believe, you do not have to constantly beat yourself up over every sin you commit. Yes, you do have to confess and repent, but you don’t have to still feel guilty or like you lost your salvation after you have confess and repented.  Great mercy is given by God then. He also gives mercy to those who are not Christians, not only by letting them live their lives, but also by occasionally blessing them as well, as He does for us who are Christians.  For us Christians, we don’t worship a mean-hearted god who smites those who sin and/or who don’t believe, but we do worship a God that doesn’t wish ” for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9-NASB). You also don’t have to do certain things to appease God, or to “earn” your salvation. In fact, God’s mercy is revealed in that you can’t earn your salvation, it is freely given through faith in Jesus Christ.

4.) Worshiping Christ changes you for the better– No, we don’t necessarily “become” better than non-Christians, and we still do sin. However, one of the things that distinguishes Christians from those that are not, generally, is that we are able to see our flaws more readily and are more motivated to change them. As I have grown in the faith, I actually see more and more things about myself that God needs to help me to change, and the realization that I cannot do this life on my own becomes more apparent! No, we aren’t  necessarily “worse” people, either, just that we are more sensitive to our moral failings (sins) and are more willing (usually) to change because that is what God requires of us. You also “see” more things you can do where God has placed you, so you can make a difference for Christ, which inevitably gives you more joy.

What God Has Been Teaching Me

DISCLAIMER: This has religious content. If you are uncomfortable with that, please don’t read. Otherwise, happy reading! As always keep comments family friendly and respectful to me and to others.

Over the past few weeks, God has been teaching me so much that I could hardly take the instruction all in. I do believe He is amazing and awesome in all He teaches and is. Here are some of the life lessons He’s been teaching me (and warning: they are DIFFICULT lessons!)

1.) Love your enemies, for the consequences of vengeance are more than treating them with love and kindness.

God has been teaching me through interactions with difficult people (or i.e…current or former “enemies”) a concept that I will call “heaping burning coals on one’s head.” This is from Romans 12:19-21 (ESV-bold emphasis mine), where it says: Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

For example, in the movie Hacksaw Ridge, about a man who enlists in the army as a medic because of his conviction never to carry a weapon to kill others, the aforementioned guy was often ridiculed and berated by his fellow army colleagues and even the supervisor of his unit. However, instead of berating and ridiculing them in kind, he just stays silent, as Jesus did when He was crucified on the cross by His enemies.  Also, this army man, named Desmond Doss, saves even a few of his enemies’ (read: the Japanese that he was fighting against) lives when they were injured in the war too, as well as many of his colleagues who ridiculed him before. Doss ended up being more respected and loved than any of his colleagues because of his conviction to save lives rather than destroy them.

In my own life, unlike Doss, I initially sought vengeance against people that hurt me in my words and actions. However, God quickly changed my heart and I repented of that. I admit that I still have trouble with that sometimes, but God is working in and through me to help me continue to show repentance on my part. One person at work I had a particularly difficult time showing any semblance of godly love and respect because of all the flaws I perceived in this person and the fact that this person (I thought) never tried to change and repent of this. However, when this person told me what they had had to go through on a daily basis, God began to change my heart and have compassion and even love for this person. The Holy Spirit prodded my heart to share this person a song that had also spoken to me as encouragement for them. He (The Spirit) also told me to help this person more in their work because I realized they were feeling too overwhelmed with stuff. So, I am working on that.

2.) Don’t judge others by your first few impressions of them. Actually get to know them very well (i.e.. for years) before you even have one inkling of a judgment against them.

Rachel Joy Scott, who I consider to be one of my “heroes of the faith,” aptly summed this lesson that God has recently taught me well, in these words:

It wasn’t until recently that I learned that the first and the second and the third impressions can be deceitful of what kind of person someone is. For example, imagine you had just met someone, and you speak with them three times on brief everyday conversations. They come off as a harsh, cruel, stubborn, and ignorant person. You reach your judgment based on just these three encounters. Let me ask you something…did you ever ask them what their goal in life is, what kind of past they came from, did they experience love, did they experience hurt, did you look into their soul and not just at their appearance? Until you know them and not just their “type,” you have no right to shun them. You have not looked for their beauty, their good. You have not seen the light in their eyes. Look hard enough and you will always find a light, and you can even help it grow, if you don’t walk away from those three impressions first.

(Taken from “My ethics, My Codes of Life,” written by Rachel Scott, source: http://rachelschallenge.org/media/media_press_kit/Code_of_ethics.pdf)

I have often been guilty as charged for judging someone just by several encounters of them or even maybe several months of brief encounters with them without really knowing them well or how much they may hurt inside. For example, the first time I met one of my managers, to me she came across as cruel, uncaring, and very strict. I did not like her at all, and did not even think about being Christlike to her, to my detriment. After complaining to another higher-up supervisor about this person and after she understood where I was coming from better, we became good friends.  Imagine how it would have been like for us if either or both of us didn’t make the effort to be kinder to and understand one another better! How awful! How miserable it would have been for both of us!  We both realized how wrong our first impressions of each other had been, and we even found out that we have a lot of similarities and similar tastes!

Also, in the movie Hacksaw Ridge, Desmond Doss the soldier who was a conscientious objector to using weapons in defense was initially judged by his superiors as being weak, self-righteous and cowardly for his beliefs. However, when Doss continually held firm to them, even risking jail time and not going to his own wedding, and when he continually served his comrades (and later saved their very lives) despite their initial ridicule and dislike of him, one of his superiors eventually gained much respect for him and even asked for forgiveness of his (the superior’s) earlier erroneous judgment of Doss.

3.) Die to self. Continually be willing to sacrifice for others, for this reaps great rewards not only for the other person you’re serving but for yourself as well. (However, don’t sacrifice to play the “martyr;” do it for God’s glory!)

Recently, I visited a family member who no longer lives with me. I was amazed and awed at how much he had sacrificed during my stay with him to accommodate me and make me feel at home! He didn’t even allow me to wash the dishes! He was constantly willing to sacrifice his own comfort and often sleep to make sure all us guests in his home felt comfortable and happy. He never played the “martyr” or had a “poor-me” attitude about any of this! This is how I want to be too and how God is teaching me to be—being more willing to sacrifice for others and essentially continually dying to self.

I also realized when one is willing to die to self, everyone around them has a much easier and more comfortable time being with them. This is because these people know that this person who has died to self can be counted upon when things get messy or difficult because they are willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the other person or other people. In contrast, a completely selfish and self-centered person, has the attitude that they come first and they are “entitled” to be catered to at their every whim, or else no one is happy. This is very stressful and inconvenient for other people, especially when the selfish person’s needs are different than or inconveniencing these other people’s needs.

 

These are all difficult lessons that I am still learning, and that we all need to review daily in order to live more Christlike. I admit I am not perfect in any of these lessons, but God constantly prods and pushes me into greater depths with Him as a result of me constantly learning these lessons. May we all take in something from these lessons God has been teaching me, and apply it to our own lives, in order to make a positive experience in other people’s lives.

My heroes of the faith-Explanation

This is one of the most joyful posts I am probably ever going to publish. The following five people (see “heroes of the faith” tab on my blog) have embodied all of the five characteristics that I discuss in this post. They come from all walks of life, and some of them though already passed, have made a huge impact in this world and/or personally in my life. Some of them, though we never even met, through what others who have known them personally have written or spoke about them, have left an indelible mark on my life and how I live it.

Heroes

  1. Jesus Christ-He is more than just a person to me; He is my God! He embodies perfectly how I want to live and I want to devote my all to Him.  If I were to list absolutely everything He has done for me and my life,  I would probably exhaust the megabits of this blog server! He has never given up on me, even if I have given up on myself.  He is the most trustworthy, loyal, kind, generous, faithful and merciful being I have ever known! Though He didn’t have worldly education, was poor, was not in our terms, “handsome,” and almost everyone He knew rejected Him, He made an indelible mark on this world just for the fact that He lived–and died, for each one of us.
  2. Rachel Joy Scott-Rachel was a faithful warrior of Christ, who died on April 20, 1999 in the Columbine shooting massacre.  She was martyred (read: shot) by two troubled young boys.  However, it was her life that shined for Christ before others.  According to the book her parents Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott made in honor of her called “Rachel’s Tears,” though she had doubts and struggles with her faith, she was always committed to doing her best every day to make a positive impact in her world. Her love for people and her commitment to Christ are things I want to model my own life after. Like her, I want to not only love others, but be committed to help combat against injustice in this world and do my part to make a positive difference in others’ lives, in love and obedience to my God.
  3. Frank and Stephanie Taylor-These people embody well what it means to be a believer in Christ. Pastor Frank was my pastor at my (former) church. At first, I didn’t trust him or his wife Stephanie, but slowly they gained my trust and love through their devotion and love of God and others.  They also don’t let the power and responsibility of being a pastor or in the case of Stephanie, pastor’s wife, go to their heads.  I remember when Pastor Frank accidentally offended some people in our church, and instead of defending himself or being arrogant about it, he actually took the time to publicly apologize for his actions and asked for forgiveness. I will always remember his humility in that. Also, I will always remember Stephanie’s patience and grace with me when I was having a difficult time in life and she would always come alongside me and gently prod me to focus on God and not myself.
  4. Mother Teresa-I believe her service to the poor and vulnerable, as well as her honesty about the struggles of her faith, are what inspire me about her. She was always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need, and she inspired me to not ever forget about the downtrodden or oppressed. She was a champion in fighting injustice and poverty in India through what she did to try to help them.

 

 

What matters (and what doesn’t) in eternity

DISCLAIMER: The following post is based heavily upon my Christian values and beliefs. If you disagree with this, please do so respectfully and graciously, or your comment will be deleted! Also, just because I say something “doesn’t matter” in eternity, doesn’t mean I don’t care about it at all, or that it doesn’t have its place in our lives.

This is a kind of Part 2 on my last post about cultivating an eternal perspective on life. This post is to help people cultivate that eternal perspective and by doing so enjoy and treasure life more.  I will also be adding WHY something matters or doesn’t in eternity.

What matters in Eternity:

1) How you treated God: The number one thing that will matter in eternity is how you treated God. Was He just a genie in the bottle that had to grant your every wish for you, or was He the omnipotent, amazing, loving, worthy-of-worship God to you?  This is a question every human being must answer, not only with their words, but in how they live their lives.  Your relationship (or  lack thereof) will determine (I believe) where you will spend the rest of eternity. If you feel you need to make things right with God today, please do so! I would not only pray the “sinner’s prayer,” but resolve in your heart that you are really going to follow Him wholeheartedly and without abandon. Yes, there are times when we all are going to fail at that, but if you are sincere and repentant of that, God will forgive you and love you all the way through it.  You will find that God is worthy of everything you are and have that is good!

2) How you treated others: The other big thing that will matter in eternity is how you treated others.  Did you treat other people with sacrificial kindness and care, or did you ignore or abuse them? After you die, God and other people will not just remember how you treated your loved ones or ones that were your friends, but also your enemies, people that were difficult to get along with, and the hurting and downtrodden that couldn’t really pay you back for all the kindness (or lack thereof) you bestowed upon them. It says in Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV):

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

So, do good to others, even when they won’t  or can’t “pay” you back. You will reap great rewards in heaven if you do, because whatsoever you do to who Jesus calls, “the least of these,” you are doing to Him too. Don’t weary of doing good.

Things that won’t matter in eternity

  1. How you look like–No, your physical appearance will not matter at all in eternity. Have you ever been to a funeral where people have said to you, “Oh, your Aunt Etna (apologies to anyone who actually does have an aunt by that name; I don’t mean her) was so fat. How much did she eat? ” Of course not! Things people will more  likely say: “Oh, your Aunt Etna was such a kind, generous person! I wish I could be more like her.” OR “Poor Etna. She was so sad and didn’t have any friends. I wish I could have been there for her more.” It won’t matter the color of your skin, whether you were fat or thin, how beautiful or ugly you looked like to other people, or even if you had any deformities or scars (unless someone hurt you, and the police are investigating them).  So, in light of this, I fail to understand why some people spend so much money on their physical appearance! Yes, you should take care of your physical body God gave to you (It says in the Bible that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.), but you shouldn’t obsess  over it!
  2. How much money you have—I understand that we need money now to live and to enjoy things. I get that. However, if one is constantly worrying about money or how to obtain it, or is stealing money from others just in an attempt to get more, this is really a fruitless way to live because I believe there will be no need of money in the afterlife. Also, you can’t take your earthly money with you as an “investment” in the afterlife.  It’s impossible.  Better to be generous with the money God gave you than to steal or swindle it. Better to be at peace with what income God has given you, than to be constantly worried about it. It’s understandable though if you are worried about money because you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. However, try to trust God with that too, because He will provide somehow.
  3. How many things you have—-Connected to that, getting more things will not guarantee eternal life! It won’t matter how many or how few things you have, because you are going to lose it all after you die anyway because you will have to leave all of it behind.  No, you really don’t have to keep up with the Joneses! And just like everyone else, the Joneses also will have to leave their material things behind when they die, so will their children when they (the children) die. So, how can you make your “stuff” matter in eternity? Simple. Be willing to share and give away (I admit that I am working on that still, but it’s a process for me). What will be remembered is not the stuff you shared or gave away, but the impact that you had on people when you gave it away or shared the stuff.
  4. How smart you are—Unfortunately, intellect will not matter in eternity either. For instance, if  you have a lot of knowledge and still choose to sin and/or reject God’s love for you, you still would have to live with the consequences of that no matter how “smart” you were or claimed to be!  That is not to say we shouldn’t keep learning and gain knowledge, but gaining knowledge and intellect shouldn’t be an end to itself either! Gaining knowledge and intellect should be a way to glorify God and to minister to others’ needs.

So, equipped with the knowledge of what matters and what doesn’t in eternity, you (and I, too) will hopefully find this helpful to focus on eternity more and less on the temporal stuff and “cares of this world” that don’t matter as much in the light of eternity. Let’s make a difference for eternity today!

 

How to Make an Eternal Impact

DISCLAIMER: This post is primarily directed for Christians.

If you have been a reader of any of these humble ramblings for any length of time, you know that many of my posts have been written out of what God has been teaching me about myself and about life, and I’ve wanted to share them with you in order that you can (hopefully) apply them to your lives as well.

This is probably one of the most significant posts I will ever make about what God has been teaching me, and probably one of the most challenging for me. Though I struggle with not being able to make an eternal impact for God sometimes, God has been constantly chipping away at my sinful Self to make sure it stays Dead and He stays alive in me.

Here’s what I have learned from God about how to make an eternal impact:

  1.  In order to make an eternal impact, you must have an eternal perspective on life. Whether or not you have an eternal impact on people depends primarily on your attitude and perspective on life, and how you carry that out in your words and actions.  For instance, a guest speaker at our church relayed to us a story about a guy on his campus (The guest speaker is the president of a school.) that was so entrenched in his video game that when asked by this guest speaker how he (the guy) was doing, the guy said, “I’m on level five.” This guest speaker aptly questioned this guy’s motives, saying something like,  “Is the fact that the guy was on level five going to be remembered by people after he dies? Will the fact that the guy is on level five going to bring people to Christ? Is it going to encourage people?” The obvious answer to those questions is a firm “No.”  The guest speaker* also warned us not to be distracted by minutia like that-Minutia being the stuff, while it can be good, distract us from a more eternal perspective on life. The guest speaker (and I, too) am not saying that we can’t ever discuss the temporal minutia stuff or that it doesn’t sometimes have its place in life. However, don’t make the temporal an idol or so important that you become obsessed with it!   So, how do you focus on the eternal? God taught this to me in my most depressed, down-in-the-dumps moments of life. Think about how you  want to be remembered after you die more. This is not to say, think about suicide! This is to say, however, to think about your legacy more, how   you want to leave this world and how you want to impact this world. Also, think about God and heaven more, especially in times of distress  or suffering. Don’t only think of God and heaven as a reprieve for suffering, but also for refocusing yourself on God and His current (good) plan   for your life, even if you can’t see the good.
  2.  Be willing to die to self and sacrifice for others. This is what God has been working through me for literally years, and probably will continue to   do so until the day I die. I have found out that when you live completely for yourself that it is isolating and it starves your soul of connection and  love. This is because the completely selfish person does not care or take into consideration the needs of others, and so cannot give love to others freely and beautifully as the person who cares about others. This is not to say that there are never times when you have to take care of yourself,    but if you are completely enamored with caring for you alone, it will be isolating not only because you can’t (and won’t) give love to others, but  also  others are much less willing to give love to you. So, to combat that, be willing to die to self and practice being sacrificial even when it may    not be  “comfortable” for you. One way to do that is to dedicate your life to serving others without expecting others to repay you for what you   have done  for them. Another way is to love and serve your enemies. Do you have a difficult boss or co-worker (if you have a job), or do you have a   family  member that’s hard to get along with? Love and serve them. Write an encouraging note to them thanking them for any good qualities you   see in them. Help them put away groceries. Serve a meal to them. Work hard for your boss.  It’ s true that you may not get the recognition you   want  from  them immediately (or ever), but Jesus says in Luke 6:35 (ESV-bold type mine) that, ” But love your enemies, and do good, and lend,  expecting  nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and   the evil.”
  3.  Be willing to learn new things everyday, including from your mistakes and moral failures (i.e sins).  Have a teachable attitude (as I discussed in    the last post about being humble. Read books on diverse topics; be willing to listen and to learn from other people other than yourself.  Be willing  to look at another’s perspective and find out why they think that way, not to refute them, but to understand from where they are coming. Invest   in and learn about social justice issues like abortion, poverty, injustice (how to combat it of course), sex trafficking (and how to stop it of course),  and the environment.  If you have knowledge about diverse topics (I admit that I’m working on this still!), then you will be able to relate to more   people and can integrate better Christ’s love for you and for them. Learning more about others and what they are interested in also shows that you  care about what they like and about them as a person.

Hopefully, by some of these things will make your eternal impact more significant. Don’t be like Esau, who sold his birthright (eternal impact) for a single meal (temporal impact)! Make sure you are doing things that matter not only in this life, but also the next!

 

(*Guest speaker was Marty Marriott, president of Marantha Baptist University.*)

The Importance of Being Humble

Humility. The Merriam-Webster dictionary aptly defines it as, ” freedom from pride or arrogance.” (source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humility). We all probably know someone with a lack of it, but what does it mean to be  full of humility  and why is being humble so important? Here are just three reasons why being humble is so important:

  1. It shows genuineness-When we are honest about ourselves and our shortcomings,  it shows that we are real. When we hide our faults and give others (and sometimes, ourselves) the perception that we can do no wrong, people will either a.) put you up on pedestal and think you’re some kind of god or something. or b.) Despise you and call you out on your lies and hiding, because perfection is  something that no one (but the real God) can attain to anyway. When you are prideful, and not humble, you will inevitably fall. As it says in Proverbs 16:18 (ESV) , “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” However, when we are willing to admit to others that a.) yes, we were wrong on that particular issue and b.) No, we don’t know everything, it shows our human-ness, something that others can relate to. This is why humility is so attractive. It also shows that we are honest and can be trusted to be not only true to ourselves, but true to others as well.  That is why, in another blog post I wrote, I shared that humility (i.e..being humble) is the Number One quality I look for in a person I admire!
  2. It shows consideration for others-Along with this, being humble shows that we are willing to consider and defer to others. We are not spotlight hoggers, so to speak.  People who are truly humble don’t necessarily think less of themselves, but don’t think of themselves much at all! They are other-centered and other-focused.  True humility shows itself up in many ways. For example, when someone wants to go ahead of you in line, if you are a humble person you would let them, not to let them to “take advantage” of you, but because you are purposefully putting their needs ahead of yours.  Also, when someone tells you that you have hurt them, you don’t make excuses or explanations why you are “justified” in hurting them, but simply and contritely say, “I’m sorry for hurting you,” and resolve not to hurt them the next time.  For another example, when someone gets a promotion at work and you don’t, instead of getting jealous or angry at them, you congratulate them and are happy for them.
  3. It shows that you are teachable- Being humble opens us up to learn new things about ourselves and others, and it allows us to learn from our mistakes and grow as a person. One of the ways, one of my managers is helping me cultivate this quality for myself is after I straighten the aisles in the store where I work, she always points out things that I can do better. This is not to make me feel “less than” or “inferior” to her, but to help me to do the straightening even better than last time. I know this because she also points out things that I do well. If I weren’t open to being teachable, I wouldn’t ever learn how to straighten the aisles better and I would ruin my work relationship not only with her, but with many others as well. And I am, by no means, a humble person, but striving to be sometimes is all we can do. One way we can do that is by being teachable and learn from our mistakes. This will allow you to gain knowledge in many different areas of life, especially areas where we are weakest. As they say, knowledge is power.

This is why humility is so important. It shows honesty, consideration for others, and it shows that you are teachable and willing to learn new things. Even if you still struggle with being prideful (like me) at times, humility is still something you can strive to cultivate. However, once you are aware of your “humility,” you are no longer being humble. So, it is also something that you should not be too aware of in yourself, but always strive for being.

How to Set Boundaries

May trigger *Speaks of/refers to abuse or abusive behaviors*

Some people will test your boundaries. I was talking with someone about that a few days ago, and she made me realize I have two choices when someone violates my boundaries: a.) Allow people to walk all over me and take advantage of me.  OR  b.) Set clear and firm boundaries. Here’s how (By the way, some of the advice is extrapolated via Captain Awkward, so some credit goes to her as well. She offers some good advice for everyday or abusive situations.) :

1.)When someone touches you without your permission and does so in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable: let out a small yelp! Don’t be afraid to make a scene, even if it is someone in authority over you, but with them, do so respectfully. Remember no one has a right to touch you without your consent!  You can alternately say, “Please don’t touch me like that (or without my permission). ” OR ” I don’t like that. Please stop.” OR  “That makes me uncomfortable. Please stop that.”  If he or she makes a big fuss over it or touches you more, tell someone in authority or higher-up than them if they ARE authority, or the police if things get really bad (i.e.. if you are getting assaulted ), but only as a last resort!

2.) When someone asks you to do something you are uncomfortable with or don’t feel morally right doing, you are allowed to say “No” to them sometimes. For instance, if a boss wants you to fudge data and you don’t feel morally right doing so, instead of a.) Getting upset and cursing him or her out.  b.) Letting him or her violate your conscience, do  C.) Tell your boss firmly, but politely, “I don’t feel comfortable doing this for you. It violates my personal convictions. I am sorry.” See also: “I can’t do that for you, or I will get in trouble from [higher-up managers, law enforcement, etc.]. Sorry.” If he or she insists, keep telling them the same thing like a broken record, but don’t raise your voice.

3.) When someone yells at you or treats you rudely for no good reason, you can also set boundaries to help them stop their behavior too. When I got upset(legitimately), instead of setting boundaries with that person, I yelled at that person and got very angry. (Don’t do what I did!) The person then told me very sternly, “Don’t talk to me like that!” Though that made me more upset, what the person said to me was spot on and made me treat that person better in the long run.

When someone–a friend, a parent, a co-worker, a customer or client, a boss at work, or anyone else, yells at you for no good reason, you can use these words: “Don’t talk to me like that.” in a calm, but firm tone. This says to them two things: 1) Their behavior is unacceptable and needs to stop now. It won’t be tolerated. and 2.) that you deserve their respect. And it’s true. Though much of respect is earned, no one has the right to yell rudely for no reason or verbally abuse you in any way. Just because something doesn’t involve physical violence, does not mean it’s not abuse! If the person(offender) escalates their abuse after telling them “Don’t talk to me like that!”, walk away and/or tell them, “I’m not talking to you until you can talk to me nicely!” This will tell them in  no uncertain terms, that you will not accept their abusive behavior.

Setting boundaries not only ensures you will not tolerate abuse or being taken advantage of by others, but also will help the offender or offenders realize the impact their behavior is having on you and others, and help them (hopefully) change or face the consequences of their abusive behavior.