My Life’s Journey: Dreams Shattered and Redefined

It’s amazing how God brought me to where I am today. What I thought my current life was going to be in the past is nothing like where it is today. Though much of my past dreams and goals have been shattered, I have never been happier and more fulfilled. This is the journey God has brought me on and I believe He continues to do amazing things in my life, despite the obstacles and pain I have felt in my life. Here’s what I thought in the past, and how God and life’s circumstances have redefined these thoughts:

  1. When I was younger, I thought to be successful career-wise and making a lot of money was important, especially the former part. –So, during my childhood and teenage years, I wanted to be everything from an astronaut to a microbiologist.  So, I wanted to go to a prestigious college to make that happen. Obviously, none of that came to fruition.  I did go to college and have some jobs, but nothing even close to my childhood “dream jobs.” I’m not that successful (at least in my mind) career- wise and still have a long way to go, but what I have realized is that it doesn’t matter that much anymore. Sure, I still want very much to be successful and excel in my current job, but I will never be a doctor or a microbiologist.  However, God has been using me for a greater purpose than my own selfish desires.  And in that, I feel fulfilled and happy.
  2. When I was younger, I longed to be loved and accepted by my peers and others around me. —When I was growing up, I didn’t have a lot of close friends.  I often felt alone and excluded. I was often the last (or one of the last) to be picked for team activities at school.  In addition, I was often bullied and teased by my peers and manipulated by several people for their own selfish pleasures.  I felt worthless and unappreciated.  However, when I became a follower of Christ, that started, albeit slowly, to change for me.  I became a new creation!  (2 Corinthians 5:17) I have only realized (sadly enough) in the past month or so, that I didn’t have to worry about what other people thought of me. I don’t have to strive to be loved and accepted by others anymore because even if everyone I knew left and/or rejected me, I will always be loved and cared about by God. Sure, I still struggle with this concept sometimes, even today, but I feel more loved today than I did even ten years ago! Also, my past experiences of being bullied, teased, and rejected by my peers and others, have helped me to be more compassionate and caring of others around me who have gone through or are going through similar situations.  It has also helped me to persevere through relationships and never give up on people.
  3. When I was younger, I lived primarily for myself and my own desires.–If you met me when I was younger than a teenager, you would have not liked me very much because I was very selfish.  I wanted things done in my time and in my way. I drove people away because I took up so much emotional energy. God redefined my younger-me mindset in a big way because when I met Jesus and even more now, I have realized that life is not about me.  Of course, I still struggle with reverting back to my younger, self-centered mindset sometimes, but then God pricks my conscience and enables me to think of others again.  Now, I want to serve others wholeheartedly and show as many people as possible the love that God gave to me because it is not about me, it’s about Him!  Yes, I often fail at this, but God’s love urges me to try again and then this time succeed in what he has called me. With God’s help, I have made great strides in this area. I am more open to other people’s plans and desires than I was when I was younger, and it’s all to God’s glory and majesty working in my life.

This is just a sampling of my life’s journey. Though many of my past dreams have been shattered, I could not imagine what my life would be like right now. It’s so much more fulfilling than I could have ever dreamed or imagined, and I could have never guessed that God would be such a big part of my life like He is now, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Advertisements

When I Say “I Love You”

This post is based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (KJV), where charity=love:

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

DISCLAIMER: This post can be for everyone, but is dedicated to all those who have made a positive impact in my life, especially my family and friends. Thank you!

 

When I say, “I love you,” I strive to love you with all my heart, soul, and strength.

When I say, “I love you,” I will always wish the very best for you and your future.

When I say,  “I love you,” I will always strive to treat you kindly and with respect. That means I will never think I’m better than you or better off without you. I will always do my best to respect your boundaries. This includes when you don’t want to be hugged, I won’t hug you. When you don’t want to talk about something, I won’t force the issue. When you can’t do this right away, I will try to be patient and wait for you.

When I say, “I love you,” I will do my very best never to think evil thoughts about you, never to slander you or talk behind your back.

When I say, “I love you,” and you wrong me and I get upset at you, I will a.) Get the issue between us resolved quickly  b.) Not allow bitterness to take root in my heart. c.) Have my anger at you subside as soon as possible.

When I say, “I love you,” and I wrong you, I will quickly ask for your forgiveness, repent, and try to make things right between us.

When I say, “I love you,” and you accomplish something special and good, I will always be there to support you in it. I will be happy for you and not be jealous and scheming against you.

When I say, “I love you,” it means that I will always encourage the best in you and try to bring that out.

When I say, “I love you,” I will always appreciate everything that you do for me and others.

When I say, “I love you,” I will do my best to always show my authentic self. Since there are no pretenses in true love, I won’t hide who I really am either. And I expect that you will not be afraid to show your authentic self to me either.

When I say, ” I love you,” it means that I will sometimes call you out on things that bother me about you that need to be changed. However, I will also strive to do this gently and in love.  This is not to put you down, but this is to bring out the best you possible.

When I say, “I love you,” I do my best to sacrifice myself and my desires if I think it will help lift you up in any way.

When I say, “I love you,” it does not mean I will never fail you or fail in my love, but it does mean that I will never give up on you or on our relationship.

When I say, ” I love you,” I will always strive to show how much God loves you through my words and actions to you.

What I Learned From the Movie, Miracles From Heaven

DISCLAIMER: Contains movie spoilers!, sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_from_Heaven_(film)

Last Sunday night, my mom offered to watch a movie with me that she thought I’d like. It was called “Miracles From Heaven.” Wanting to spend a little quality time with her, I agreed. It turned out to be one of the best movie decisions I’ve ever made in my life! I learned so much from this movie about how to live life, and here are some of the main lessons I learned from that movie:

  1. Sometimes you have to go through the storms (i.e: pain) in order to see the sunshine (i.e the miracle or blessing). –10 year old Annabel (Anna) Beam started experiencing vomiting, intense stomach pains, and almost died, before being miraculously cured of her illness after falling into a hollow tree hole.  In the movie, Anna is depicted at one point as wanting to die because her pain is so intense. She no longer cared about life and became very depressed. However, after she was saved, life had a new purpose. However, if Anna had never gotten sick, she wouldn’t have seen God’s grace intervening in her desperate situation.
  2. Live life as if everything is a miracle.–Near the end of the movie, Christy Beam (played by Jennifer Garner), Anna’s mother, begins before telling about Anna’s miraculous recovery by saying, “Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, ‘You have two choices as to how to live your life. Live as if nothing is a miracle, OR live as if everything is a miracle.’ ” Because Christy’s daughter’s life was saved, Christy began to see everything as a miracle and as precious, because she almost lost her beloved daughter and almost lost her faith in the process!  I can relate to this too, as I almost lost my life three years ago when the doctors found out that I had an enlarged gallbladder (She said it was twice the normal size! ) and that I had gallstones. If that gallbladder had burst, and I had waited longer to go to the ER, I would have most likely not be here writing in this blog today! More on this story, go here.  God suddenly reminded me of this event after I watched this movie and remembered the quote about living as if everything were a miracle.  Today, I remembered that quote as I was going about my work at my job and felt really joyful because I had remembered and realized just how blessed I am to be here and to be able to meet all the wonderful people at my job. Truly, everyone I have met, especially those that I have known for less than three years or had helped me through my illness is a testament to my miraculous life!
  3. Be grateful for all those people in your life that helped you succeed or get you through life .—In the movie, Christy pays tribute to all those who helped her and her daughter Anna through her (Anna’s) illness. She thanks Angela, the waitress who befriends Christy and Anna and walks them through the ordeal so they would not have to suffer alone. She thanks Dr. Nurko who treats Anna, and the receptionist who barters for a last-minute opening for her (Anna) despite her mother not having an appointment for her.  She thanks a guy friend at Anna’s school who temporarily abandons his other friends to befriend Anna so she does not feel alone in her illness.  She thanks the guy at the ticket counter who lets Anna’s father and her siblings go on the plane free, so they can see her at the hospital.  Christy does this not to gain attention, and not because she is some holy-roller, but because she realizes that she and Anna couldn’t have made it alone.  I can certainly relate too. For instance, if it had not been for the many doctors, nurses, and the surgeon who operated on me in 2014, I would not be here today. Also, I want to give a shout out to my parents, sibling, and my friend K who came to see me a few days after surgery so I wouldn’t feel alone.  Without all these people and more in my life, I wouldn’t be where or who I am today. So, thank you everyone. And I especially want to thank God, who I firmly believe made this all possible!

This is just some of what I learned in the movie, “Miracles From Heaven.” It’s a great movie; I highly recommend it.  (If you would like to purchase this movie, please go to the links in my “recommendations” section. ) It may be slow in parts, and it may not be for everyone, but if you want to live your life with more passion or purpose, this movie is a great supplement to get you thinking about life more deeply.

3 Gifts I Want to Give the World

When people think of getting gifts, people usually think of things that can be bought in stores. While they can be nice and/or very exciting to get (I know I get excited for just this reason on either my birthday or Christmas!), their novelty usually doesn’t last long and sometimes you even get tired of the gift, and it either gets donated or (sadly) gets thrown away.  However, these 3 gifts that I want to give the world cannot be bought in stores anywhere! In fact, if anyone tried to buy these things with money for me, I would be highly offended!  Also, unlike gifts that can be bought in stores, if given in a genuine way, these gifts’ novelties never get old! Here they are:

1.) God’s love—There are so many people in this world that are so hungry for love, any kind at all. I see love-starved children begging for any type of love from their parents, even causing trouble to get it, and some of them only get abuse and insults in return.  I see love-starved adults either acting out or trying to do “good works” just so that someone will notice and care for them. What I strive to do everyday, even though at times I stumble and fail, is to show and thus, give God’s love to everyone I encounter.

In 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, it says, ” Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)  

God’s love is how it is described in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, and I want to mirror His love to others so they will feel the same joy and love I felt when God gave me His love (and still does every single day!). I’m still working on the “patient” part, as I admit I am not a patient person, but I do strive to be kind to others every day. I never ever want to reject someone who wants my love, because I know all too well how rejection feels like. I always want to be able to believe in people, unless they show me they are not to be believed or trusted so that they know that not only I but also God feels the same way about them. I have found that when someone loves me SO much that no matter what I do or say to them, they have the general attitude of “I will never give up on you,” I am more motivated to give my very best to them. That is how I want to be to others.  I also want to rejoice with those who have found God’s love in me and others and help cultivate the same love in themselves, so they, in turn, can love others in that way and “pay it forward,” so to speak.

2.) Affirmation–Many people in this world are so invalidated, they feel like they have nothing left to give to this world. To invalidate someone basically means to render what one has to say or do as “unimportant” or even “worthless.” I have experienced invalidation one too many times. Even when I was at my darkest, instead of affirming and comforting me, some people in my life invalidated me. I now know that many of them didn’t do this on purpose, and I forgive them, but we as a society need to do a better job of affirming people.  One way you can affirm people is by starting to notice what they do well, and telling them that. Be specific in your praise. Another way to affirm someone is when they are going through something tough to tell them that they are already doing the best they can (if they are, which is often the case) and to encourage them to not only persevere through it, but promise that you will be there for them. Never make that an empty promise, but actually commit to invest in them, especially in their time of need.  I never want to make someone feel worthless or unloved by the words I say. Oh, yes, sometimes I do fail miserably at this, but when I remember the affirmations that I have received from God and other people around me, I pick myself back up and aim to better affirm them next time.

3.) Hope–Some people in my life, either online or in real life, have been so bogged down by problems and issues in their personal life, that they often feel hopeless or despondent. Sometimes, I admit I feel the same way, not because I don’t know God or His great love, but because I forget about Him because I only can see my problems, not what He’s doing through them.  I want to help others to always know that there is still hope for them, as long as they are alive! By giving the first two gifts to all those around me, I hope they will release the third gift–hope. I hope (no pun intended) that I can give people the hope that there is still good left in this world, and not just people out to stab each other in the back, so to speak, or not just those who hurt others on purpose.  I hope I can give people the resolve and the courage they need to continue persevering in their lives, but this time with purpose and joy.

These are the three gifts that I want to give the world. As you can see, you can’t buy it in stores like JcPenney or Walmart, or in any other stores. You must manufacture these in your own hearts. Which three gifts do you want to give to the world? Why? Please feel free to discuss this in the comments.

From Ignorance To Faith: My testimony

Disclaimer: This is my personal testimony of how I became a Christian. Please no judgmental or disparaging comments about me or anyone else I write about here, or your comment will be deleted. Thank you. Also, I have written and re-written my testimony over many years, to make it more current and add things God has been teaching in my life. The most recent revisions I made was yesterday (April 5, 2017), with a few tweaks here and there today. Enjoy!

Before Christ : Life had no meaning. I was bored, and because of that and other reasons I wanted to end it all. Schoolwork was piling up, and I felt like no one really cared about me, except maybe my family. In one of my diary entries that I wrote when I was still in high school, I had written: “ I wish I could be more […] effervescent (lively). I feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that greatness life is supposed to hold. But where is it, at least in me?”
God didn’t really have a place in my life. My schoolwork and my grades were my idols with what I was trying to fill up that God shaped hole.. I never went to CCD or any other religious class, so I also held the commonly-believed notion that I was a good person and that because of this, I would automatically go to heaven if I died. My family and I rarely went to church, although I wanted to go more, but generally I felt I was okay spiritually. But in Jr. high school till my sophomore year at high school, I felt more and more depressed. After that, I felt a little happier and found solace in music, but after awhile I just knew that wasn’t going to really satisfy me for long.
Bible Study: When a friend invited me to a bible study, I decided to attend just to see what would happen and to make her happy. When I went into the Bible Study at school, I felt stupid for not knowing what the others had already known. I knew then I had to know more about Christianity and if I wanted to really know Jesus Christ.
“Legalism” Problems: While I started to listen to Christian music, I began to have a legalistic attitude towards things. I began to judge those who listened to explicit music and ‘nsync as “bad” and “against God and all things good.” I became very hypocritical online and started cursing and swearing to those online (especially the ‘’NSYNC fans and those that made fun of Christianity and Christian music. NOTE: I don’t do that anymore, nor do I care one way or another about other people’s music tastes). Worse yet, one of the bad messages I wrote at the site became a featured message on that site. I don’t really think I was a Christian at the time, or I was still very young and uninformed in my faith.
The Happening-This, by far, had the biggest influence on me when I was still young in the faith. I learned how to really love and show compassion to others. I learned that the type of music a person listens to is not reasonable grounds for judgment or condemnation. I learned it’s the personality and the godliness of a person that really matters. God led me to be actively involved in Happening activities, and later, at school, with aiding for a teacher and disabled students. It was during these times that I felt I really accepted God’s gift, Jesus Christ into my life, accepted His forgiveness for my wrongdoings, and grew in my faith.
The fall: My first semester at my college was almost a disaster. I felt like I had no friends and that I should maybe drop out of school.. People who were friends with me before (I felt) were slowly distancing themselves from me. They got tired of me because I was always depressed and sick. I threw up the cafeteria food, but I wasn’t bulimic. I felt sick and utterly hopeless except that God was with me. I thought I had not really accepted Christ. I felt alone.
The rise: When I went to Praise and Worship the next semester, I felt a renewal in my faith and in Christ. Again, I started to realize I needed God and to take him more seriously, instead of going to self-pity or self-centeredness. I gained interest in knowing about Catholicism. I enjoyed talking about my faith with others.
Dave Burchett: I accidentally went across his book “When Bad Christians Happen To Good People” one day when I was looking in the SWAN catalog (An online search catalog that enables one to borrow things from other libraries in a certain area), but, as it turned out, it was the best book I had ever read, aside from the Bible. God has taught me a lot through this book. His book taught me what genuine Christianity really was, and why forcing faith on or ridiculing non-Christians never works.
While I was growing in my faith outside of a formal church service, I felt I wasn’t really growing in the church I went to. Also, I felt I really didn’t know as much as the others at church. I felt bored and cynical towards the church because of this. I felt most people (including me) were only going to go through the motions there. Despite my friends’ urges that I stay in the Catholic Church (and I respect their beliefs), I didn’t feel like it really fit me.
Evangelical Church– I went to an e-free church for about three years. At first, I really liked it. But as time went on, it was apparent to me that this church wasn’t a good fit for me. Also, I didn’t feel the sermons challenged me enough anymore.
New Song Church-Then I went to NewSong. I think they emphasize the need for salvation from our sins, and the cross which in my previous two churches was not emphasized as much. Pastor Marty and his wife Stephnie left New Song to pursue church planting and other ministries in 2008. We had THE BEST interim pastor the church could have had at the time- Pastor Marty Voltz. He and his wife Shari really helped New Song through a particularly trying time and imparted his wisdom to the pastor at the church at the time, Pastor Frank Taylor. At first I didn’t trust Pastor Frank, but as time grew, he and his wife Stephanie proved to be not only very trustworthy, but also one of the most humble and genuine Christians I had ever met in my whole life! However, he left after being called to be a pastor in Maryland…and New Song became absorbed by my previous church I attended, and many people (and I) felt it was time to leave. I left after about 10 years being there. It was very painful and trying for me, as I had to leave a lot of people, but I felt that God had other plans for me.

Epiphany of grace -Though I have been a Christian for awhile, it has only been recently that I finally understood some part of what grace was. I knew intellectually that it was unmerited favor given by God to save us from Hell via His sacrificing Jesus on the cross. However, I didn’t know how it was supposed to impact one’s life very well, that is until I watched the movie “The other man” which showed me the consequences of idolatry, and especially when I read the book “Jesus +Nothing=Everything” by Tullian Tchvidijian. I realized I needed to forgive people that I felt hurt me in the past. More than that, I realized I was free. Free of the worry about what other people thought of me because His is the only opinion that matters above all else. Free of the worry about my future because I know God will take care of me. Free of bitterness and unforgiveness because I know God will make things right in His perfect timing and that He will heal all my hurts.
Tullian Tchividjian says in his book Jesus +Nothing=Everything- “Because of the gospel we have nothing to prove or protect. We can stop pretending. The gospel frees us from trying to impress people, to prove ourselves to people, to make people think we are something that we are not.” This is because I have security in that God still loves me even when I miss the mark (ie.. sin) and even though I know I don’t deserve to enter heaven or even His presence. God doesn’t love me more or less depending on how “good” I am to Him because He doesn’t see my imperfections, but Jesus’ perfection! I am free to be me without reservation! I don’t need to worry about earthly things so obssesively anymore because I have an even greater better life waiting for me on the other side with Him and because even here He is still with me. That is the gospel!

Independent Baptist Church– Now, I go to Independent Baptist Church. It’s very different from New Song was, but still good. I have met some very good people here, and Pastor David Shoaf’s (as well as the other pastors and speakers) sermons and bible studies are very good and biblical. His son (also a pastor at the church) helped me to have a more fulfilling devotional time with my God. God is also using people at my current church and my time with Him (God) to help serve people at my job as a sales associate.

However, I’m still not perfect, of course-just forgiven. I still battle pride and occasional thoughts of revenge-particularly against those I hear on the news that abuse children. However, I also learned that the world is not my real home and how to be more caring and compassionate to those who feel lost, alone, rejected, ridiculed, and abused as well as to everyone else.

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.

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.*)

My life anthem song (for today)

If you read my “about” page, you will know in general what my passions and dreams are.  Today, I would like to share what my life anthem song is and why this song is my anthem. This may or may not change as time goes on, but the song, “Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets is currently my “life anthem” song.

Source of lyrics: (https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tgqljpuwkwghhy5g75pb2bior24?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics)

Lyrics written by: Ben Glover, Ben Mcdonald, David Frey, David Douglas Frey

Was I love when no one else would show up? Was I Jesus to the least of us? 

 

This song is written in the perspective of a person reminiscing over how they lived their life, wanting to live life to the fullest, and how they want to be remembered after they die.  Similarly, I want to be remembered as someone who loved Jesus and loved others. Because I hate, absolutely hate when people take advantage of or purposefully hurt the broken and /or forgotten, I never ever  want to be that type of person myself! Instead, I want to be the type of person, at the very least, who is there for the “least of us,” just as Jesus was there for me in my times of need.

 

Was my worship more than just a song?

 

I don’t only want to worship God in my singing, but in everything I say and do. Sure, there are times when I will inevitably fail at doing so, but in general I want to worship, really worship Him!  I want to worship Him when I wake up in the morning, when I eat, brush my teeth, do my personal devotions (i.e..spend time with Him), go to church, go to work, talk to others, etc. I also strive to not be fake in my worship. Sometimes, I fall into this trap, but I really want to strive to be genuine and all-consuming in my worship of God.  Worship can be defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” (source: google) So, I want my worship to be true and honoring to God.

 

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

 

With particular emphasis in the second line in that stanza, I want to be able to “give it all I  have.” My parents, especially my dad, have always taught me to “do my very best” in everything.  This advice I want to be able to heartily apply to all aspects of my life, but especially spiritually.  I have seen great rewards when I have given it my all, and great judgments against me when I start to back-slide or become lazy in the work or works I’m supposed to be doing.  I not only want to do my best in everything, but also make sure that what I’m doing is not pointing to myself, but to my Heavenly Father. It’s really difficult to do that oftentimes, but being vigilant about my motives and attitudes is the only way I personally have found to accomplish “pointing everything to Him and not myself.”

If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

never want to hold back or abandon my relationship or my love for Jesus! He’s the one that saved me from the pit of despair, and for that I owe all my devotion to Him.  I want everyone to know who I am and what I stand for. With no shame what so ever!  I want people to have a clear idea of who my Savior really is, not anything distorted by my sins and misgivings.

People pass
And even if they don’t know my name
Is there evidence that I’ve been changed
When they see me, do they see You
This stanza is especially pertinent to me, as I work in sales, and people pass by me all the time, and if they don’t look at my name tag, they often don’t have any idea who I am! However, I want to be able to evoke the sense of when people pass by me even if they  have no other previous contact with me, that they see that I have been changed, as per 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I also don’t want them to see my selfish, sinful self, but God working in and through me. Admittedly, I am not quite there yet, but my prayer and hope is that I will get better and better at this as time passes.
I want to show the world the love You gave for me
I’m longing for the world to know the glory of the King
This is my ultimate goal in life. God has given me so much love, even in the midst of pain and suffering, for me. How can I not share this love with others? I know that I can never “pay” God back for all He has done for me, not even the half of what He has done! However, I can show my love and appreciation for Him (and you can too), by loving others.  I want people to know God’s love because I have found that that is the only enduring thing that really satisfies our deepest longings in life.  Many, but not all, people (even myself sometimes) have so many distorted and negative ideas of who God is because of either their earthly father or another prominent male figure in their lives, that has hurt them in some way. I want to show people that these ideas are flawed and that God is ultimately and totally good. However, I won’t be able to do that if I reflect a distorted image of God myself, through my thoughts, words, and actions.  So, may I reflect a clear and accurate image of God to others, to you, so that many people I encounter will be able to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8-ESV)

How to get out of the dump: Triumphing in and after suffering

*triggers: Mentions suicide*

A cursory look at the Facebook posts in my news feed today shows me that there are at least two phases that my Facebook friends find themselves in today: 1.) Going through a trial or trials and 2) Going through times of joy and jubilation. People don’t normally post the ordinary things that they are doing. For example, I would not post that I’m going to work later on today. It just won’t get people’s interest, but that’s commentary for another time.

However, I would like to focus today on how people can triumph over suffering and not lose hope in trials. I admit, for the author of this blog, this is still something I am working on, but these things I have found to be true not only for me, but also for others who I have seen and heard overcome their trials.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and talk things through.-Often in trials, we want to be alone and be able to get out of the dump ourselves. Though a few times I have been able to get out of the dump myself, I have found that asking for help and talking things through with another person, whether it be virtual or real-life, helps me gain perspective on my trial and be encouraged by another person either a.)going through the same thing I have or b.) already went through the same thing I have and has gotten out alive and well.  Also, when we ask for help, we can often find new solutions to our trials we ourselves never thought of before or at least remind us that we are not alone in our trials.  DISCLAIMER: If you feel that when you have asked for help, that no one was there or made things worse, I do apologize. In an ideal world, someone helping you would always make things better, but because of sin (moral wrongdoing) this happens. But I would recommend not giving up on all people, because I believe at least one of them will be able to give you the right kind of help.
  2. Try to persevere through the trial, even if you don’t want to-Often in trials we want to give up on working through it. This is because often we as people want comfort. God has been telling me time and time again that if I idolize anything other than Him, it’s comfort, and that I need to repent of that. Comfort, according to the Oxford Dictionary,  can be defined as,”A state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.” (source:https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/comfort). We don’t want pain, but if we tell ourselves in no uncertain terms that this pain will not last forever, we will be able to better endure it. Give up trying to be comfortable.
  3. Try to learn from the trial. -This is often more difficult when you are in the midst of it. However, there is often something to learn, something to be gained, even and often after going through a trial. For instance, since I work in sales, sales are slower during this time of year (i.e.. after Christmas), and hours get cut. Because I thought my hours had been cut more drastically than they were, I thought for sure no one really appreciated me. I began to spiral down a depressive cycle. I was a sobbing mess…until God made me realize that I counted the total hours wrong. I was actually given more hours than the previous week! And then the next day, because I needed a correction on my schedule, I was incidentally given even more hours! So, what I learned in the trial, was to focus on the positives and that God can make even the bad scenarios into blessings for me.  Sometimes, when you go through a trial and you don’t understand why you are going through it, it can be tough to persevere through it and find any hope of ever getting out of the perpetual cycle of pain and suffering that goes with going through a trial. However, know that there is always something to be learned from the trial even when you don’t know what it is yet. This is beneficial to us, because it will help us not only learn from our mistakes or help us to know God or ourselves better, it will often help us be stronger and more compassionate and caring people. For instance, I shared in another post that I was often bullied by classmates and even a few teachers in school. Though I sometimes wished that I weren’t alive in those moments, I am glad that I survived this because I am better equipped to be able to relate to and help those who are being bullied and/or abused by others or have experienced similar or worse things than I have.

 

If you are going through a trial right now, I encourage you to not be afraid to ask for help, to not give up on life in the midst of the trials, and learn from the trial. If you are going through extended suffering and feel like giving up in life completely and are having thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-SUICIDE or some other crisis line. Know that whatever season of life you are going through, you are never alone and that there are people who care for you.

Forgiveness

What it isn’t: Before we understand what forgiveness is, we must first understand what it isn’t, since there are many misconceptions about what it actually is:

Forgiveness is NOT excusing: -It is not saying what the offender did to you (or someone you care about) is OK. The very act of forgiveness necessitates that a wrong was done and has to be “paid for” by someone. But it does not require reconciliation or trusting the offender again. These things, at least in my estimation, must be earned.

Forgiveness is NOT forgetting: We can forgive someone, but not forget what they did to us. In fact, if a deep wrong has been committed against you or someone you care about, how can you not forget?

Forgiveness is NOT a feeling:  We don’t have to wait till we feel like forgiving to forgive. It is an act of the will, and cannot be forced upon by anyone. That is, you cannot force someone else to forgive!  It has to be initiated by the one being offended him/her self. But if we wait until we completely feel like forgiving, we will probably never reach the point where we will truly forgive, and be more likely angrier and more bitter than ever! I also believe that forgiveness is an act of obedience to God, and it’s something you do both for you and for God.

What forgiveness is:

It is letting go: You can’t forgive someone and be bitter and angry at them at the same time.

It is choosing not to hold hurt and anger against the offender anymore: It is choosing to let God mete out justice against the offender, and not you.You are willing to pray for them and/or wish good things for them and their life. It is an act of trust on your part to God. You are trusting God to help the offender repent and make amends for the wrong done to you in whatever way or manner He deems right and necessary, not a mite more or less.

It is choosing to not hold yourself prisoner to the hatred and anger that you are entitled to for a wrong committed against you: Often when we refuse to forgive someone it is because we want to punish the offender for what they did to us and not let them off easily. However, when we don’t forgive, we let anger, hatred, and bitterness reside in our hearts, negatively affecting us and our relationships, not theirs.

It is an act of grace: When we choose to forgive, we are most like God. I believe this is so because it says in Romans 5:8: When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God gave up His son (I believe) for those who don’t even acknowledge Him or who hate(d) Him! If you are a Christian today, and God did that for you, who are we not to extend that same grace to someone else?

 

Story behind this post:

I had anger and bitterness in my heart for someone recently, and these feelings weren’t doing anyone any good, especially for my relationships with God and others who didn’t really offend me. I wanted to spend time with God, but was not able to spend much quality time because of this sin (i.e…moral wrongdoing) in my heart. So, I asked a friend of mine for advice. She helped me understand what forgiveness is better and reminded me of how much Jesus forgave me for my sins. Then, I went to church and learned more about forgiveness and worship there. It is then that I decided, with the help of many praying friends (you know who you are), to forgive this person.  I started praying for this person blessings upon their life. I sent them an encouraging note. And I realized that when I did these things that a.) The person wasn’t as bad as I had made them out to be. b.) That I was so much happier and freer to love others, because this weight of bitterness and anger was lifted off me. So, if this person ever reads this (you know who you are), I forgive you and I hope you will forgive me too for holding anger and bitterness in my heart towards you.