On Sacrifice

According to Merriam-Webster’s website, sacrifice is, “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else.” (Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sacrifice).  Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about sacrificing, not only for Him (though that to me is the most important) but for others around me as well. Dying to self and sacrificing for others is not a popular concept in this current society. Many advertisements and social media posts even discourage us from doing these things. Yes, we must be careful not to sacrifice to the wrong things or people, or else we may not only lose everything but gain next to nothing in the process.  However, that does not mean it is wise to only live for oneself. Only living for yourself will ultimately lead to destruction and death of your spirit.  Your heart will most likely become so hardened that you will really have little or nothing to give or share with others, or you won’t want to.  This is why sacrifice is so important.

What God has taught me about sacrifice in my own life: 

The three major changes that I have had to go through last year were these: A) Getting a new job  B) Having my sibling move away. C) Going to a new church.  God has taught me through these three events that I have had to let go of certain people and things to get to where He wanted me to be in life.  For instance, if I stayed at the job in the thrift store and not listen to the inner promptings (I believe, of God) to look elsewhere, I would have never been blessed with some of the things that I enjoy today. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the job there or that the people in there were mean to me, but that God put in me the feeling that my time was up there and I needed to embrace a new challenge in my life.  In essence, God wanted me to sacrifice the security that I felt at the thrift store to trust Him with something bigger. Luckily, I did, with great results!  When my sibling moved away, it was very difficult for me at first. I felt a bit alone and empty inside where my sibling’s presence used to be. However, I realized I needed to sacrifice for that sibling so that they could accomplish what they needed to do get a better job without pressure or me (or my parents) hovering over that sibling.  I needed to allow them to grow.  Going to a new church was also very difficult for me. I remember God had asked and said to me a few years back, “What if [old church name] no longer existed? Wouldn’t I still be there for you? What if you had to go back to [another old church]? What if I have greater plans for [old church name]? What if you could just enjoy now and trust Me?” This was kind of prophetic, in retrospect, because now the old church doesn’t really exist (at least as that named church) and God has been doing something different through that church.  However, I felt God’ s nudging that I should look for a different church so that He could grow me better. Almost a year later, I have been going to my current church and grown so much there!  But I had to sacrifice the presence of my church family I had grown with for about ten years (and still miss them), in order to make room for something different that God wanted to do with my life.

Now, I sense God may be nudging me to give up some of my co-workers and managers at work, in a way, in order that I depend on Him more, and not on them and their approval so much. I am not saying that I no longer value them or that their approval doesn’t matter to me. What I am saying, through future events, is that I may need to give up having to be with some of them constantly (or for my own happiness) so that they may feel more joyful or less stressed in their lives.  It’s not that I was a burden to them or something either, but that change was needed in their lives so that they could have a deeper sense of purpose and positively impact the lives of others. (And, no  I’m not planning to quit my job either, in case you’re wondering…)

How to Sacrifice For Others (without sacrificing your identity):

  1. Allow them the option of leaving or rejecting you, if you really love or care about the other person.–This is why stalking is so wrong. It does not give the person the space they need to breathe apart from you. Even though I know most of you would never stalk someone, when we don’t allow a person close to you (i.e.. a family member, spouse or a close friend) adequate space apart from you, they may feel suffocated and trapped, and they will not be able to really love you fully from their heart(s), or their own free will.  This may be painful and upsetting for you. Trust me; I have experienced this many, many times in my life, more times than I care to count. However, if we don’t allow this option, not only will that person grow in their love for you but you won’t grow either! If this other person or persons really love you, they will at least visit you. If they don’t care to even acknowledge you anymore, then the relationship was not meant to be, and you have to move on for their sake and yours!
  2. Be willing to give up your selfish dreams and desires for that other person or persons.–For instance, if you and your friend are in the same car and he or she is driving, let them choose the music they listen to for their pleasure, even if you dislike it, especially if it is only a matter of taste.  Also, parents, never ever live vicariously through your child or children and impose your dreams and wants on them! Let them have their own dreams and goals. Yes, raise them with a set of rules and morals you believe will help them be successful in life, but never force your child into a profession or activity they don’t want just because you didn’t get to do it yourself.
  3. Be willing to give up something valuable for that other person or persons, if the situation calls for that.–This may be sacrificing financially for the sake of the poor, or it may be something as simple as sacrificing your time to help another person or friend in need.  For instance, if someone you know at work or at school often goes hungry and does not bring a lunch or dinner with them when they are feeling hungry, you could sacrifice for them by fasting that meal and giving your meal to them. Or you could still eat your meal, but offer to buy the person a meal from a restaurant or store.  This is not to cultivate a “poor-me” mentality, but to serve the other person in need.

As one can see, even if in some circles, sacrificing for others is highly discouraged or even rejected, sacrifice is an important part for both parties in a healthy relationship.  Though it may not be wise to sacrifice for someone who is constantly trying to take advantage of you, you should find someone for whom it is a wise and viable idea to sacrifice to, whether it be God or another person. Who has sacrificed a lot for you? And who have you sacrificed for? Please discuss in the comments.

How To Be a Coffee Bean (or Change Your World)

This analogy/story is inspired by one of my managers at work who told us this following story (origin–unknown) to motivate us during a meeting we had:

One day, a mother wanted to teach her daughter a lesson, and so she told her daughter to buy these three ingredients: carrots, eggs and coffee beans. After the daughter bought these items, her mother told her to boil them and to tell her what happened.  So, after boiling these three items, this is what she told her mother: The carrots that were hard before they got boiled became soft after they were boiled. The eggs, which were previously soft, became hard, but the coffee beans stayed the same and permeated everything around them. 

Our manager told us not to be like the carrot which became soft under pressure (boiled). She told us not to be like the eggs, which hardened (became calloused) under pressure, but to be like the coffee beans that stayed the same under pressure and then permeated everything around them.  This concept, in Christian circles, is called “Being a Light,”  but can be applied to most anyone, regardless of belief. Here’s what I found are just three characteristics of people who positively change the world (i.e. “became a coffee bean”).

  1.  They invested in people.–These coffee bean-like people invested in others, not just themselves, or not just them and a few close family members and friends. This means they intentionally strove to positively interact with everyone around them.  This does not mean they succeed every time, but it also means they strive to make a positive impact on the majority they meet, not just a few people.  When I think of people like that, I think of all five of my faith heroes (for more on my faith heroes, see this post.), who inspired others to live their best life possible.  I think of my pastor, Pastor David Shoaf, who has served in the same church for over 40 years and has touched almost everyone he met there. I think of Chris* (NOT his real name) who makes sure people have time off work sometimes because he cares that people have families and lives outside the job and my manager Tom* (NOT his real name) who helps his workers succeed and strive for excellence every day.
  2. Be genuine.–What my faith heroes and coffee beans have in common are their genuineness. They both don’t change who they are because they are pressured to “fit in,” or because they “feel like it.” For instance, one of my faith heroes, Jesus Christ, did not change His purpose, mission, or personality just so that the Pharisees would like him. He always stayed true to His character. Also, another of my faith heroes, Rachel Scott, had lost all her friends due to her newfound faith in Christ. Even so, she was adamant about staying true to her belief and who she was, and not some tamed-down image of who her friends thought she should be. Never change who you are due to circumstances or people wanting to mold you into their own image of how you “should” be. Be true to yourself, while still willing to be open and teachable to change for the better, but change for your own reasons, not just another person’s.
  3. Stand Out.-Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in order to be a true world-changer or coffee bean, you have to stand out. Rachel Scott has been quoted in multiple sources as saying, ” I won’t be labeled as average.” In order to be a true coffee bean, you have to want to be better than average in your mentality and attitude towards life. That is, you can’t just blend in, be like everyone else, and/or do the minimum.  For instance, at work, one way I am trying to be a coffee bean is to work hard every day, and sometimes even volunteer to do extra work when I have the time and when needed, to help others. Moreover, I strive for excellence in my work, and not simply to get things done. Rachel Scott stood out by being kind to everyone around her, not just the people she looked up to or with who she got along well.  She even was kind to those boys who would later murder her, and also to those who were shunned, looked down upon, or made fun of by everyone else in her school or by society.

These are the three things everybody who is like a coffee bean have and examples of how one can imitate them. Coffee-bean like people always have a positive impact in this world, and sometimes it is very great! Resolve to be your best–Be a coffee bean today!

How To Die to Self

Dying to self is not an attractive or a popular concept in today’s culture. Even our advertisements cater against dying to self! Think about it. When was the last time an advertisement encouraged you to benefit someone else, without expectation of benefiting yourself also?  Obviously, in this context, dying to self does not mean commit suicide, which often has more to do with suffering from a mental illness or wanting to get out of misery or pain, rather than what I am speaking of here.

Dying to self is often a difficult and painful process, and can take years or even a lifetime to develop maturely.  The apostle Paul, a devout Christian, says in Philippians 3:7-8 (ESV), “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” So, the concept of dying to self, at the minimum, involves counting everything as a loss, for the sake of another or others. 

“Why would anyone want to die to self?” you may be thinking.  Well, when you find out that thinking of yourself all or even most of the time is impeding your relationships with others and is making you not as joyful and free as you could be, then you realize that at least part of the problem may lie within.

While there is certainly time for self-care, dying to self involves self-sacrifice and devotion to helping others. Here’s what I learned (and am still learning) is involved with dying to self:

  1. Be intentionally kind to another person for their sake, not yours.–While you will probably feel good after doing something kind for someone else (We can’t really get away from that, nor should we.), don’t let that be the primary motivator in doing the kind thing. Let the kind action be done because we want to improve their lives, and make them happy and loved.
  2. Prefer another before yourself–This means thinking about how the other person feels and what they want, instead of just what you feel or want.  This is called empathy. Some people (like me) may have some trouble doing this, but with practice, everyone can get better. Another example of preferring another before yourself is letting someone go ahead of you in line, especially if they are in a hurry because you don’t want them to be late to wherever they have to go next.
  3. Lose Entitlement–A big barrier to dying to self for a lot of people, including me, is the sense of entitlement or “rights” we think we should get. This is a big thing, especially in the country where I live. I’m not saying having rights is a “bad” thing, but it can be idolatrous if we are not careful.  For example, at work, some people think that if they are full-time, they should always get 40 hours, no more, no less and that they have a right to not do more than they should.  If their rights are violated or intruded upon, they naturally get upset and complain. However, dying to self means, in a way, “losing our rights.” So, if I were in that example for work, I would not complain if they had to cut me to less than 40 hours if I am full-time, and if they want me to do extra work, I will do it, not just for my sake, but for the sake of the whole team at work.
  4. Lose pride.–Another huge barrier to dying to self is pride.  Pride, in this context, means arrogance. Arrogance means thinking that you are better than others. Losing pride means, for instance, not looking down upon people that are poorer than you, or who, for whatever reason, can’t or don’t work, just because you work. It also means being willing to give and receive help when needed, and not worrying about “saving face.”
  5. Be grateful and trust what you have is already and will always be enough.–Jealousy and ingratitude are also barriers to dying to self. In order to truly be able to die to self, you need to come to a place where you realize what you have is enough for that moment. Being thankful for what I have and realizing how many people have made a positive impact in my life, helps me in this area and ultimately leads me to die to self a little bit more.  Being thankful helps me realize how much I have and how privileged I am, and that fact compels me to share what I have with others, whether it is material things, my abilities, or my time. I also learned though there will always be people who have more than I do materially, or who are better people than me, that God made me unique for His purposes, and that I don’t need to compare myself to others.  I just need to serve them the best I can and be thankful for them being in my life so I can have the opportunity to make a positive impact in their lives.
  6. Be willing to sacrifice for others.–This means forgoing something for the good of another. For example, if a friend enjoys a movie you don’t really like, but he or she really doesn’t want to go alone, dying to self would involve offering to come with that friend to see that movie.  You would forgo your time and your preference, for that of your friend. NOTE: Going to the movie, but complaining through the whole thing or otherwise having a bad attitude, is not dying to self, but “playing the martyr,” which is the opposite of dying to self. Another theoretical example would be if your friend forgot to bring their lunch and has no money to buy one for themselves, either giving your lunch to them and fasting that meal, or sacrificing part of your earnings, and buying lunch for them so they won’t go hungry is dying to self.

As you can see, dying to self is very difficult and involves a new way of thinking.  Often times, I fail too. However, dying to self is a process and takes a long time to do well.  It is often when selfishness starts ruining our relationships and communities, that we really wake up and start thinking that dying to self might not be a bad idea.
As I said, dying to self is very difficult to do and takes time, but I believe we must strive to at least try to do this if we want to improve our relationships with others and be truly fulfilled in this life.

Most Important Things In My Life (Top 4)

Some people have said, “You make time for the people and the things that you care for the most,” and there is a lot of truth in that.  If you don’t fall on this list, please don’t think that I don’t consider you important or loved, because you are. Sometimes, I fall and get these things mixed up with other things that are not-so urgent, but I strive not to again.  For me, I choose to live my life with these top 4 priorities in mind. These are my four most important priorities in my life and why:

1.) God–Since I was sixteen years old, God took a hold of my heart and saved me from myself and my selfish lifestyle. Yes, there were several years where I really didn’t grow much in the faith, but the last several years God has shown me so much.  However, even through the rough periods of my life, God was always there for me and didn’t let me give up completely on myself or others.  He is the most important in my life simply because He deserves first place and quite literally saved my life. I believe if God were not in my life right now, I would probably be either dead or in a mental institution. I would not have a job or be blogging today. I wouldn’t have all the wonderful people in my life that I have encountered now. Quite simply, it is mainly because of God (I believe) that I am here and where I am today!

2.) Family–My parents and brother have also been there for me since day one. Yes, sometimes they have had to tell me difficult truths about myself, but because of that I have become a better person.  We have been through so much together in my years of living.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world! They have never given up once on me, and they have always been there for me when I needed them the most. I want to be there for them and care for them when they need me. I will never turn my back on them when they need my help and love the most.  Like God, they have also helped me or at least supported me throughout my life so I could serve God better.

3.) My friends--This includes my friends at church, many of my co-workers, online friends, and other friends.  Last Friday, I had dinner with some of them, and I had a meaningful and fun time with them. Most, if not all of them, I knew from my previous church or a young adult event connected with other churches in the community.  The love and unity at that dinner was amazing! I never want to lose these, or any of my other friends. Sure, a lot of them may either move away or even eventually pass on, but I want to treasure the time I have with them and love them as Christ has loved me. All my friends have taught me so much about life and even about the power of God’s love and grace in my life.

4.) My job–The job that I have as a sales associate is very important to me too, because I believe it is the catalyst that God is using for me to show His love to the world around me. Of course, He is also providing income through my job and giving me the purpose of how I can serve Him and love others. I have learned so much in the past year that I have had my job. It’s been an amazing journey! After so many stops and trials on getting just the right job for my abilities and my joys, I believe God wants me at the place that I’m at right now.  Even if someday I have to have another job,  or move somewhere else, I will always bring what I have learned in this job and carry them with me throughout my life and to other work.  However, I really, really do want to stay in the job that I have now. For a long, long time, hopefully. However, my job pales in priority to my other top 3 priorities.

These are my top 4 important priorities in my life, in order from most important to least important. We all need to think about what is most important to us in this life, and prioritize accordingly. What are YOUR  top four priorities? Why? Please feel free to share them in the comments section.

Developing a Caring Attitude

My pastor said in his sermon this past week, “[The I-don’t-care attitude] is a scary, scary attitude.” He also said, “The I-don’t-care attitude is the scariest attitude in our culture today.” And I agree with him. However, I’m not saying that you personally don’t care, because it’s obvious that if you read my blog, you do. However, this nonchalant attitude towards life and other people may be prevalent in some people around you. By developing an even more caring attitude in yourself, you may be able to help influence positive change. Here are some ways that I found effective in developing a more caring attitude in ourselves:

1.) Find and live life with purpose.–If you or someone you know needs help in that, please see this post. If you have a bigger goal in mind when you live life, you can more easily direct everything you do, say, and think to that one big goal.  For instance, for me, my purpose in life is to glorify Him in everything I do and say, and to enjoy Him forever. So, when I go to work, it’s not just to earn a paycheck, but also to make a positive difference to those around me and to share God’s love with everyone.  When I am at home with my family, it’s not just to get something from them, but to share God’s love with them. This goal, for me, has eliminated a lot of my previous “I -don’t-care” attitude towards life when I felt like I didn’t have any purpose or plan to my life at all.

2.) Make an investment in other people, other than just your family and yourself.–Yes, please please make sure you are investing in your family at home, and there is a time for self-care to make sure your emotional and physical energies are replenished. However, what I am saying is that those are not the only people in which you should invest. If you have a job, make sure you are striving to invest in those people as well. You don’t have to invest wholeheartedly in everyone. Actually, you probably won’t have time! However,  make sure you make a good investment in at least 1-2 people there. I’m investing in this way with several people at work. How do I do that?  If you are a religious or spiritual person, I recommend praying for them. Every. single. day.  Whether you are or not, I would also recommend going out of your way to encourage them, whether by giving them a note saying (sincerely) what a great job they are doing at x project, or by giving your praise verbally. Be specific in your praise if possible. Also, if they do something nice for or to you, make sure you thank them. (This goes for everyone at your job, not just for the one or two in which you are invested. ) If the one or two people you invested are going through a rough time, make sure you comfort them and try to help them in any way you can.

If you don’t work (and even if you do), I would make sure you invest in one or two friends that you spend time with, and/or your neighbors that live with you.  Do the same things. If they are going through a rough time, comfort them, help them by maybe making a meal for them or by driving them to doctor’s appointments (if they need one).  If you don’t have the resources to do that, I would still encourage them in their abilities and their good parts of their personality. I would be sure to spend some time with them, getting to know them and to care for them.

I want to be honest, and I am sorry if I sound a little harsh, but if you say you don’t have time to invest in people, then you are being infected with an “I-don’t-care” attitude. We make time for things we care about. Caring for a few people is a good way to start.

3.) Get to know people better.—This goes with #2. Spend time with people, both offline or online if possible. I know people can hurt us, but it is important to try not to stay isolated. I’ve found that when we isolate ourselves, that we  lose purpose and meaning to our lives, and thus become depressed. We can do this by asking other people questions about themselves and their lives, and thereby build relationships with them. We also need to care about the answers they give to us, as strategic ways not only to know them better, but also to better understand and care for them. Yes, there are times that, me included, need some time alone, but don’t make that time too extensive or prolonged.

4.) Listen to what other people are saying to you.– This does not just mean saying, “Uh-huh, Uh-huh,” and nodding your head, when your mind is somewhere else. It means really focusing and paying attention to what is being said. This means trying to emphasize with what is being said by asking questions related to what they are saying. For example, let’s say that a person is confiding in you about a problem they are having with another person. You may ask, ” X Person [insert name of offending person here] did [offending action] to you and you felt hurt, angry and sad, am I getting at this correctly? ” This question shows that you are both paying attention to what they are saying and feeling, and care enough to make sure you are perceiving them correctly. The person who confided in you may say something like, “Correct.” and then expand on the situation, or they may say you are wrong and correct you. Try not to take the correction personally. It does not mean you are a rude or ignorant person if you perceive something wrongly; it just makes you human.

5.) When you do something, do it with all your heart and soul.–This can apply not only at a job, but also doing household chores or making the sacrifice to serve others before yourself. I try to do this at my job. For instance, if my manager wants me to straighten the clearance section at our store, I don’t just do it to do it. I try to do it very neatly and set little goals for myself to do it better than I did before. Why make the time and effort to do such a boring and maybe “menial” task, you may be thinking? I would answer you, “It’s because I care about doing a good job, and I want other people to care too.” Have you ever noticed when you consistently care about doing a good job, whether at work or with household chores, that other people around you take notice and may start to care too? Every time you sacrifice for others to serve them, they and others may be watching you and wanting to see if you will be faithful and consistent in doing that. If you are, you will make a great, positive impact in this world.

We all need to care for and about others to make a positive impact on the world around us. We can do this by living our live with purpose, investing in other people’s lives, getting to know them better, listening to them, and by doing everything with passion and drive. Try this, and see if you can change the society around you by caring about others even better than you did before today.

Things I Want to Do Before I Die (and why)

It can be a sad fact of life—we have a limited amount of time here on earth. However, I believe that we should make the most of it. To me, this is by setting goals and by working as diligently as possible to accomplish them. Here are just some of my lifetime goals:

  1. Lead at least one person to Christ.—I want to be able to do this, not just for the sake of “converting” people, which I can’t do anyway.–Why?-That is for a discussion in another post at another time. However, I just want to be able to see someone experience the fullness of God’s love and forgiveness in their lives, like I have experienced.
  2. Glorify God with everything I have.–I want to do this so that God will be pleased with me when I die, and also to share God’s love with others. Instead of hearing, ” Depart from me, you evildoer.” from God after I die, I want to hear, ” Well done, good and faithful one.” I don’t want to just be average, but I want to excel. I expect a lot out of myself to accomplish for God.
  3. Move up in the job where I am right now— Right now I am just a sales associate, but would like to move up someday not only so that I get a bigger paycheck, but also so I can minister to more people and have more of an impact. I would also like to be able to find a job more easily should the company I’m in right now lay me off or go bankrupt, which I hope won’t happen any time soon!
  4. Be a better person– I would like to strive to be a more relatable, less angry person so that I could maximize my impact in this world for the positive. I also strive to be a better person through glorifying God and growing in my faith as a Christian believer.
  5. Become a published author– Whether it will be through this blog or through my poetry or other writings I may create, I hope to be able to publish something that people will actually read and enjoy someday. One of my favorite authors is Dave Burchett whose blog can be found here.
  6. Learn more about different topics-Whether it be social justice issues, feminism, my faith in Christ, or creation, I would like to learn as much as possible about the world around me, so that I can understand and serve it better. I also believe the phrase, “Knowledge is power,” and would like to be able to use that Knowledge power for good to those around me.
  7. Become a better writer– I want to constantly perfect my craft (i.e. writing) and write things that will not only interest other people, but will also get people to think about their  lives and why and how they are living it. I also want to tidy up my grammatical and spelling errors, so that I don’t make them the next time.  I would like to be able to say things in such a way that it is not only concise, but says exactly what I want to say and what I want readers to hear.
  8. Impact as much people as possible. This is what one of my faith heroes, Rachel Joy Scott, would call a “chain reaction.” I would like to not only impact one person ,but as many souls as possible, for the good. I would like people to feel loved and appreciated by me, and if they are not and I have a bad day, then I would like to be humble enough to sincerely apologize and repent.
  9. Tell people about my beliefs, and listen to others’ beliefs- This means not only my religious beliefs, but all beliefs. Yes, there are some people who probably would not want to hear them, and that’s OK. I will not share them with those people, and I respect them. However, for those who want to hear, I will share them, but at the same time try to understand their beliefs and how they are similar and different with mine and come to an understanding.
  10.  Cultivate more joy in my life– I would like to cultivate not just happiness, which is fleeting, but true, lasting joy! I would like to enjoy things as much as possible. I will strive to do this by being passionate about my interests and goals, and by trying to enjoy each moment God has given me to live on this earth. I will try to at least list three things (either in a personal journal or in my head) of things I’m grateful for each day .

Why I Work

Disclaimer: There will be religious/Christian content. Please no disparaging or snarky comments on this post, or it will be deleted. Thank you, and happy reading….

Types of workThere are three primary types of work that I may refer to, these are:

  1. Paid Work- This is typically what most people consider a “job,” whether it is part time, full time, or by contract.  It is usually, but not always, outside the home, and usually provides one’s income.
  2. Household Chores-This is what people do to maintain the home they live in. These can include, but are not limited to, such things as taking out the trash, dish washing, cleaning the house, laundry, and cooking.
  3. Emotional work-This is the work it takes to interact with another person. It may involve such things as taking care of an elderly person or child, interacting with a boss or a client, or even one’s family and friends.

Why I work:

I am blessed to have a paid job, but I will also refer to the other two types of work, where applicable, as well.  However, my primary focus will be on my paid job.

1.) To glorify God-–For all three types of work I do, I do them (hopefully) to glorify God. I believe that since God sacrificed and was and is willing to go the distance for me, I should be willing to do the same for Him.  This is why I aim to do everything I can do to work heartily and with all my heart. When I do my paid work, I want to be sure to do the very best I can. When I do household chores, I want to do the best I can not only because I want where I live to look neat and livable, but also because doing my best glorifies God. I am willing to put in the effort in my relationships not just so people will like and respect me, but because that is how Jesus lived as well, and I want to glorify God in my relationships with others too.

2.) To serve others– I don’t just want to work at my paid job to earn money, although that is important too, but also to make a positive difference in others’ lives as well.  When I help a customer, I don’t want to do it just to get some promotion, but also to make the customer feel cared for and happy.  When I do what a manager tells me to, it’s not just to impress them, but also to help serve them so that they can get everything done they need to without me being a distraction or hindrance to their goals.  When I do a favor for a fellow associate, it’s not just to get brownie points from them, but to help make their job easier and more satisfying. I don’t just want to live for myself, because that is unfulfilling to me. When I take the time to invest in my relationships with others, it’s not just so people will love me, although that may be a nice “side-effect,” but so others may know God’s love and also to help them feel loved and appreciated. Also, when I die, I want to leave a legacy for others to want to follow, not one that they will frown at in disgust.

3.) To be able to provide for my family and myself, and to give some to others– This is the reason most people want to have or have a paid job.  Yes, God does provide for me through my job and I am so grateful for that. However, if my family needs something, I also want to be able to help them out. I also want to be able to give to the church and others who may need some help, so that they won’t lack what they need. This is also to glorify God.

 

These are the three main reasons why I work. Though I do work my paid job for a paycheck, that is not the only or even primary reason why I work. Personally, I think God has put me in the places where I frequent: Work, church, home, other places, not by accident, but to give me ample opportunities to share His love there.

Jesus’ Love for Mankind (and how to cultivate it)

Disclaimer: Will have religious/Christian content. So, please note that and NO disparaging comments or they will be deleted. Thank you. This post is also made in honor of Rachel Joy Scott, who died 18 years ago today, because she lived with so much love and grace even in the face of suffering.

Almost all of us have heard the song/phrase, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” but this phrase can get so trite that it almost loses its meaning and depth.  When people quote that song lyric or phrase to me, I want to say, ” Well, do you know how much Jesus loves you?” From professing Christians, I would probably hear, “Sure, He died for my sins!” From others, it would probably be, “Yes, He loves everyone!” Both responses would lack the depth and the height and the width of His love! In fact, anything I say cannot compare to how much He loves us!

I was doing my devotions yesterday, and am doing New Testament on weekdays, and Psalms (eventually Proverbs) on weekends. I was on John 13 yesterday, and was struck by HOW MUCH Jesus loved His disciples, and by implication, us too!  Jesus loved His disciples SO much that He was willing to wash His disciples’ feet. Usually, this service was reserved for Non-Jewish slaves, not a Jewish rabbi, as His disciples revered Him as! And certainly, it was not the picture of God they had in mind!  He even washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, who would so callously betray Him just hours later. And Jesus knew this too! He also washed Peter’s feet, who would deny even knowing Him hours later. Of course, Jesus also knew this, as well as the other disciples, who would desert Him in His time of need. (John 18:25-27, Mark 14:50) Jesus also did this humble act of love, just before He was to die a most brutal death for our (and their) sins, and He knew that too!  Not only did Jesus wash His disciples’ feet, but He also served them a meal (i.e.. The Last Supper). This is why we should strive not only to life for (or be responsible for) ourselves, but also for others, even our enemies, as well.

While there are times when we need what I call “self-care” to be re-energized and recharged so we can better serve others, living completely for only oneself is not good either, as this following anecdote I posted on Facebook will illustrate.

In September of 2009, Majorie Orbin was convicted of murdering her husband Jay Orbin in a most brutal fashion. During her marriage, she had had several affairs..and already been married 6 other times. Her credo that drove this lifestyle was this, in her own words: At 18, I was told that I could not have children. So I made a conscious decision at that point in my life I would only be responsible for myself. I danced, I traveled. I worked hard, played hard, went through a few marriages.

But this is how it is when Jesus takes hold of your heart and you make a conscious decision to live for others (also from my Facebook-bold emphasis mine):

 In about the year 1999, I was suffering from depression and lived a very selfish lifestyle. I wasn’t what people would call a “bad person,” but I WAS to an extent only responsible for myself—being successful in school was an idol. Like Majorie, I was looking for people to love and accept me for who I was and not really finding true joy in that search.

Then, sometime in the year 2000, Jesus Christ took a hold of my heart and life. Today I am in my 30s, and like Majorie I can’t have children either (namely because I haven’t been able to find a significant other yet). Because of Christ, I have made a conscious decision to serve God and others the best way I can, even if sometimes this is exhausting, not because I’m some saint (trust me, I’m NOT), but because Jesus is my Lord and Savior and He deserves nothing less! Praise Jesus,and thank you all, my life overall has been nothing short of AMAZING!

So, like Jesus, we should strive to live for and serve God and others, through our attitudes, words and actions by willing to help others out even in the times we don’t feel like it or we feel we have nothing left to give by drawing upon God’s strength to help you.  This is especially true when we have to serve people whom we don’t like or are hard to love, because when we show them our love, it shows that a.) We won’t give up on them  b.) We are “heaping burning coals on their head” (i.e….they will start to feel bad or pronounce judgment on themselves for treating us badly–because why would you treat someone badly who treats you so well?!)  c.) Who we belong to (Jesus) not our own sinful selves.  I admit that I don’t always succeed at doing this, but God is teaching me slowly how to love everyone–even those who give me a difficult time. May you do the same, and find your life so rewarding and fulfilling in the process!

How To Be Joyful

When someone is smiling and joyful most of the time (because no one I know is genuinely happy all of the time), we may wonder why they are that way. We may be a little envious of their joy, but there is no need to be. We can have joy too, even in the midst of our pain and struggles. Here are 7 things I have noticed about how people I have known or even me personally have been able to successfully cultivate joy. Note: These may be difficult to implement sometimes, but the more one practices, the easier it will be in the long run. And, no, I have by no means been perfect at any of these 7 ways of cultivating joy, but I am working on them.

1.) Realize everything you have and/or get is a gift, and is not really anything one earns or deserves.- When you realize that each thing you get or are entrusted with is a gift, without having an “entitlement” attitude (an attitude marked by the “I deserve it; give it to me or else no one is happy attitude” ) about everything, I learned that you are able to appreciate each blessing you are given more, because that is what the grace of God does–gives abundantly to those undeserving. You would also value each person, thing and situation as a blessing because you understand that God is in them, and you would understand how much He sacrificed (i.e. His Son) in order for you to have that blessing or even a breath of life and a heartbeat!

2.) When dealing with a difficult person, always try to find something good about him or her.-– This is what I dub the “Rachel Scott principle,” in honor of one of my heroes of the faith I had blogged about a while ago. She had said something like that we should always find the Light in someone. This may be very difficult if this person is especially difficult, but persist anyway. You will always find at least 1 thing that’s redeemable about him or her. When you do find that good thing, try to encourage them through this quality and cultivate that redeemable thing.

3.) In a difficult situation, always try to see if you can learn something from it.-For instance, if you are dealing with losing a loved one, you may find that you learn to treasure the moments you have with the people who are still in your life more. Also, if you are dealing with abuse or rejection, you may learn to have more compassion for others going through the same things you are and to value people more in contrast to the person or persons abusing you. I’m not saying that these situations are good or even desirable, but that there is always something good to learn from a situation, even a really bad one.

4.) Help others in need-The more one is able to invest in others’ lives, the more joyful I find these people are. Even if for some reason you are not able to invest a lot, one still can pray for or encourage another human being. Don’t forget about people who are hurting or suffering, but help them find joy in their lives, and cheer them on as the joyful moments in their lives show up.

5.) Do what you enjoy– Always find some time to do what you enjoy, what you like to do, what your passion is. This is not to say you may not have times where you can’t do these things right that second, or that you won’t have to do some things you don’t like.  However, do find some time to do what you enjoy so you can recuperate after a stressful situation and find  joy in other situations as well.

6.) Do everything wholeheartedly-This means when (and if) you work, do it diligently and with passion (i.e. with everything you have!) , setting goals and rewarding yourself when you meet them. This also works for doing household chores, schoolwork, and other things one does to either maintain oneself or serve others. Also, when you help others, always try to do it with a smile and the attitude to match. Don’ t do things half-heartedly or “just because you have to.”

7.) Live with a purpose.- When you live with a particular aim or purpose in mind, everything you say and do ultimately matters. For instance, personally, I live to glorify God, and all these things I do hopefully meets that purpose. When you live to have a good, positive influence on the people around you, all your goals and priorities will be to that end.  If you feel aimless in your life, I would ask yourself what you are passionate about. Are you passionate about God? Family? Combating injustices? art? science? Cultivate your life to that purpose.

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