Saturday, February 11, 2017

Every Life Is a Movie with Many Scenes




Life is like a movie and every person we meet is a character in the film. We go through different seasons with each person, and how we relate to them varies from romance to friendship to being mentored to having fun. We are rejected by some, accepted by some, hurt by some, and helped by some.They are all a piece of our story.


And some scenes are scary, while others are exciting. Some parts of our movie make us laugh hysterically and other parts cause us to weep bitterly. Sometimes switching jobs or moving or no longer communicating with certain characters in the movie is forced upon us through circumstance and loss, while other times great changes and the unexpected lead to a more fruitful and enjoyable existence. Sometimes the scenes in our movie become rocky and dramatic and other times it is smooth sailing. Why? Our choices. Every decision we make leads us down one of two paths: further refinement and wholeness or further destruction, wasted time, and turmoil.


If only we saw all of life as a movie with several scenes and realized that while we can't control what happens around us, we can control how we respond to it, we would have a greater capacity to see life through the lens of hope instead of desperation and pain.


"I want to encourage you to not look at single events as the movie of your life. Each day, each event is just a single scene." Henry Cloud


It is to our peril if we keep replaying some scene from the past and get stuck on those characters. It is to our benefit if we are vigilant as to what can be learned from our movie up until this point.


Characters, places, and events come and go. We can't control when, how, or why. But our story doesn't have to end tragically. No one can change the past, but everyone (through the right means) can have a better future despite the obstacles that arise. It is a matter of perspective, good company, humility, a willingness to grow and seek help where need be, stopping intake of anything destructive (including people) and starting healthy habits, learning time and life management skills, and only surrounding ourselves with people, places, and things that will enable us to become healthy and whole.


Regardless of the genre your life has been up until now (possibly fluctuating from one to the next), your story can become completely different if you carefully consider every step forward. We all must take personal responsibility for our own lives, own where we have failed, and continuously seek to better ourselves and the people around us. It is only when people get super serious about life and are willing to address and deal with every one of their issues head on that anything positive can result.


So what are you waiting for? What is holding you back?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How Any Dad Can Hurt His Children Without Even Knowing


Originally posted on CovenantEyes.com






It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. –Frederick Douglass


Countless lives testify to this reality. Every child grows up in an environment that either fosters health and wholeness or takes away from the potential of a noteworthy existence. Most often, the influence and teaching of a father drives one of these two options.


As the following points substantiate, fathers make a lasting impression on their kids. What they do, and do not do, will stay with them for years to come. Such a role must be taken seriously and given the utmost attention. Fathers who want to positively impact their children should avoid the following:


Communicating Inconsistently

One of the essential tenets of a good relationship is consistent and honest communication. Intimacy forms the closer you connect with someone, and connecting with someone involves sharing your heart with him or her and taking the time daily to grow in your knowledge of him or her as well. Growing up in a household filled with healthy communication gives children a safety net of sorts and an example to follow. It teaches kids that it is good and right to share openly, ask questions, and seek help.


However, a lack of regular communication stifles a healthy mindset regarding problems in life and even goals and desires. It hinders the development of maturity, a readiness to admit fault, and a willingness to apologize. It causes children to keep their feelings to themselves and can propel them to looking for acceptance and a listening ear in possibly dangerous places since they aren’t receiving teaching and admonition in the home.


Read the rest of my guest post for the Covenant Eyes blog here

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Life Well-Lived Is the Result of Days Wisely Invested In






By John C. Maxwell


Just for Today . . .
Just for today . . . I will choose and display the right attitudes.
Just for today . . . I will determine and act on important priorities.
Just for today . . . I will know and follow healthy guidelines.
Just for today . . . I will communicate with and care for my family.
Just for today . . . I will practice and develop good thinking.
Just for today . . . I will make and keep proper commitments.
Just for today . . . I will earn and properly manage finances.
Just for today . . . I will deepen and live out my faith.
Just for today . . . I will initiate and invest in solid relationships.
Just for today . . . I will plan for and model generosity.
Just for today . . . I will embrace and practice good values.
Just for today . . . I will seek and experience improvements.
Just for today . . . I will act on these decisions and practice these disciplines, and
Then one day . . . I will see the compounding results of a day lived well.




By Dale Witherington



Today is the most important day of my life.
Yesterday with its successes and victories, struggles and failures
is gone forever.
The past is past.
Done.
Finished.
I cannot relive it. I cannot go back and change it.
But I will learn from it and improve my Today.
Today. This moment. NOW.
It is God's gift to me and it is all that I have.
Tomorrow with all its joys and sorrows, triumphs and troubles isn't here yet.
Indeed, tomorrow may never come.
Therefore, I will not worry about tomorrow.
Today is what God has entrusted to me.
It is all that I have. I will do my best in it.
I will demonstrate the best of me in it--
my character, giftedness, and abilities--
to my family and friends, clients and associates.
I will identify those things that are most important to do Today,
and those things I will do until they are done.
And when this day is done
I will look back with satisfaction at that
which I have accomplished.
Then, and only then, will I plan my tomorrow,
Looking to improve upon Today, with God's help.
Then I shall go to sleep in peace . . . content.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What I Would Tell My Teenage Self





As a teenager, I went through different phases of attitudes, interests, and attire. I experienced periods of isolation and being a loner, and at other times spent time with friends or boyfriends every day for hours without fail. I did not attend church at all during my adolescence, other than sporadically.


My guidebook for living, sadly, was the culture, a corrupted and godless mindset, and lust. As you can imagine, my teen years were wasted on selfish indulgence, sinful entertainment, and poor company. Much time was spent and wasted on what brought me pleasure, what brought me comfort, and even what brought me pain.


I chose to disregard heeding my mother's counsel that in dating, I should choose to be with a Christian guy. If I were honest, I think I saw her as outdated or too innocent and naive to have any fun. I feel regretful as I ponder the years of my youth and wonder who I would be today and where I would be today had I lived fully for Christ during such formative years of my life.



Here is a bullet point list of what I would tell my teenage self:



  • "It is better to be alone than in the presence of bad company."
  • Associate with people of high caliber. It will bring you further in life and character than an excess of acquaintances ever could
  • Titillating music lyrics, television shows, movies, websites, and conversation will feed the monster of lust in your life to the degree you will be bound by sexual pleasure and it will lead to consequences that will last for years to come (repent now!)
  • Christ-like character, a Biblical worldview, an unwavering commitment to Christ, the application of God's word to everything, and leadership/servanthood qualities are what you should look for in a guy (even if it means waiting for years before dating or losing your virginity)
  • Starting or basing a relationship on mutual attraction and fun is no guarantee it will last
  • Pride and perversity exhibited by guys is not as intriguing as you may think and will be total turn-offs as you mature and realize such qualities are destructive to a person
  • Life has many pleasures and its enjoyment is not limited to just sex
  • Pop culture is not worth patterning your life after
  • The models you so wish you were are most likely not women of value and have little more to offer than their bodies
  • Being popular says nothing about a person's inner worth
  • Following the crowd or following your heart, indulging in random hook-ups, being dishonest, and wasting time will bring nothing but negative repercussions and truly wound those who engage in them (smiling now in these pursuits isn't worth the tears it will later bring)
  • Being mature for your age, serious, having a deep-thinking mind, and speaking eloquently is a precious rarity and should be prized (don't listen to people who mock you as if such qualities shouldn't be true of an adolescent)
  • Being smart is attractive. Girls who lack intelligence will often have relationships that are based on something other than thought-provoking conversation, which wouldn't be worth the time invested. Likewise, date a smart guy. Intelligent conversations are riveting
  • Study Apologetics (it will be what increases your faith and intellectually satisfies you)
  • Spend quality time with your family and learn from them
  • Eating disorders, weight loss supplements, or profuse exercise is not the solution for obtaining a nice figure. Only a consistent plant-based, healthy diet and walking/running a few miles per day will do that (and maintain it)
  • Go to sleep by ten pm every night, including weekends. It isn't cool or attractive to miss out on sleep
  • Get good grades and study diligently (laziness, fun, and apathy isn't worth failing and dropping out)
  • Your mom really does care about you. She's right when she says that Jesus is the meaning of life and obeying/living for Him is our best option. She's also right when she says to not stay up late on the internet or stay out late at night
  • Be content with living a simple, God-honoring life (this world is full of luring and dangerous opportunities to sin and it will only destroy you)
  • Money isn't the key to lasting happiness and one day you will be thankful you didn't grow up rich
  • Save 20% of every form of income you receive, do not buy everything name-brand, be thoughtful with gift ideas instead of breaking bank to impress others, and learn to live without (a lack of sufficient funds later in life will bring more stress than you now realize)
  • Comparison is futile. You have no idea what goes on or has gone on or will go on in the lives of the people you envy
  • Finding your security, identity, and purpose in Christ alone is the only way to be liberated from the demands and unrealistic standards of the culture
  • Knowing your worth in Christ and seeing Him for who He is will be the key to overcoming insecurities
  • The Bible really is THE handbook for living and Jesus is the way to healing, freedom, peace, restoration, and life indeed
  • Being aware of the reality that choices have consequences will help you to weigh your decisions by the outcome and not immediate gratification
  • Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder (there isn't a one-size-fits-all for what is considered attractive)
  • Just because you feel ugly or dirty or rejected at this point in your life doesn't mean it will last
  • You will learn as you get older that looks matter little but what is most important that you will take pride in one day and actually like about yourself is having a deep-thinking mind, intelligence, being goal-oriented, family-oriented, and devoted fully to God, learning lessons and investing in the lives of others
  • It is actually a blessing to not be called "hot" because this shows guys see you as a body, not a person, and being flirtatious actually takes away from a guy respecting you and makes you appear easy (which will not attract the right sort of attention)
  • A day is coming years down the line when the very way you dye your hair and the weird ways you dress will actually be popular among people of various ages and will be seen as hip (not viewed as "screaming for attention" like a boy at school said about you)
  • Everything influences worldview, attractions, and desires so seek wisdom as to the best path to take regarding what you read, watch, listen to, and pursue
  • Trying drugs and alcohol may give you something to talk about with people at school but you will only look back woefully in sorrow
  • Do not meet anyone online and do not trust strangers with personal info
  • Contrary to what the culture is teaching or what most entertainment portrays, not all men are perverted and not all teenage guys watch porn
  • If you don't live with God's glory in mind and obey Him in all things, you are sure to make choices that will bring you to certain ruin
  • Your thought life matters. Without filtering your thoughts through the grid of Philippians 4: 8, your mind will be the hotbed from which choices of self-destruction, hurting others, planning your suicide, self-loathing, making excuses for poor behavior, and constantly putting yourself down will result that could take years to undo
  • Just because you go through seasons of loss and the people around you seem to be living in ease does not mean your circumstances will never improve or guarantee that the lives of others who appear to lack nothing will only be filled with good things. Hardship touches every life. No one is exempt from loss and suffering
  • The priorities, interests, and mindset of many adolescents really is strictly confined to that stage of their lives. What is important to teenagers most definitely will not be important when they hit their twenties and beyond, so do not be overly concerned about what is popular. It really is no big deal to stand out from the crowd (and with God, will actually prove to be the wisest choice you make as a teenager)



              As you can see, there is much I wish I would have known during my adolescence. I can only imagine the pain I would have been spared and the blessings I would have reaped had I walked faithfully with the Lord from a young age! Please learn from my mistakes and pursue Christ wholeheartedly. Nothing should take His place in our hearts and the teenage years are no exception. We are safest when clinging to Him, and His word contains the ingredients for a life well-lived. A life, in fact, that when resembling Christ and keeping Him first on the throne of our hearts, will result in a winsome gracefulness and protection that the masses wish they had.


              I would love to continue the conversation on such an important topic. Please write to me at EmmaJoyBlog@gmail.com or leave a comment with what you would tell your teenage self or any advice you'd give to the adolescents of today's culture.

              Tuesday, November 29, 2016

              Comparison Blinds People




              Comparison blinds us to the very real problems others have. We focus only on what we can see and forget that people are really good at hiding the not-so-glamorous parts of their lives.
              But have you considered...


              *The beautiful coat that girl is wearing may have been given to her after she lost everything in a fire?


              *The nice outfit that guy is wearing may be the only attractive attire he owns which was purchased strictly for special occasions?


              *The family ahead of you in line at the grocery store with all that delicious food might actually be homeless and living in a motel but after receiving gift cards from someone who was generous, they were able to buy delicious food...finally?


              *The successful businessman you envy may have endured ill treatment throughout his entire childhood by strict parents whose demands and neglect drove him to stop at nothing with pursuing success so that hopefully, he could gain their approval one day?


              *The new car that couple has may have been given to them as a gift from their church or a dear friend after their previous car got totaled and two of their kids died in that accident?


              *The girl whose makeup always looks nice may have learned to perfect her look in order to hide the bruises or scars on her face that have resulted from an abusive relationship or birthmarks?


              *The man or woman who materially lacks for nothing might be battling addiction?


              *The marriage that has endured for twenty years, husband and wife may rarely communicate and have slept in different rooms and led separate lives for more than half of it?


              *Popularity might be the downfall of an otherwise innocent teen who will overdose on heroin in a matter of months or contract a fatal STD because they hate the label of still being a virgin?


              *The good-looking guy who has no problem getting women might have nightmares every night from the trauma he experienced as a child?


              *The seemingly happy family has many skeletons in their closet?


              *Celebrities with countless fans may cry themselves to sleep often because they don't trust people and lack genuine friends?


              *The outgoing and confident girl may be haunted by the choices she made a year ago and desperately wishes she could undo her past?


              What we see of people is usually only a tip of the iceberg. Humans are secretive by nature due to the shame and guilt we all experience, so save yourself the pain of comparison by not wishing you were someone else or thinking others have it better than you.

              Friday, November 18, 2016

              The Sanity Which Results from Structure and Routine





              The absence of calmness and serenity in our lives can also be defined as the presence of turmoil, strife, and stress. In such times of uncertainty and confusion, anger and disillusionment, we are faced with the choice to either:


              - Immediately seek God
              - Pursue the counsel and wisdom of godly mentors and counselors
              - Commit all to the Lord in prayer
              - Take the time to make a plan to better structure our lives


              OR


              - Panic
              - Yell
              - Worry
              - Give up
              - Mask issues through unhealthy and destructive means that just leave the problem(s) unaddressed



              Due to stress in my family and life in recent weeks, I thought I would make a list of what brings order to my life that each of you can learn from as well so that your individual lives and relationships may become more orderly and bring a sense of sanity and well-being instead of frustration and rage:


              • Leave your keys in the same place everyday
              • Have a specific spot for your wallet, stamps, safety pins, and other items that people usually scramble to find last minute
              • Charge your cell phone before going to sleep or leave it on the charger overnight so you don't wake up to a full day ahead of you with a phone on only 5%
              • Pay all bills on the first of the month
              • Put 20% of every source of income (including birthday and Christmas money) in a savings account, if possible
              • Pay tithe consistently
              • Avoid intake of sugar, dairy products, and processed foods
              • Meal-plan
              • Don't waste food and only purchase what you need
              • Drink a tall glass of water upon waking, one before and with every meal, and one before bed
              • Learn to cook homemade meals and coffee/tea at home instead of wasting money elsewhere
              • Attend church weekly
              • Keep open lines of communication with accountability partners, trusted friends, and mentors
              • Learn how to communicate effectively and efficiently
              • Get some form of exercise every day
              • Go to sleep at the same time every night (even on weekends)
              • Get to bed by 9:30 pm (it's been proven that people get the best sleep between the hours of ten pm and two am)
              • Take naps if need be (even ten minutes of lying down in silence can work wonders)
              • Wait a day or two before making a purchase so you have time to ponder if it is worth the money or is actually worth investing in
              • Borrow books, movies, and CDs from the library for free instead of renting or buying them
              • Become a life-long learner and see it as a privilege and joy
              • Don't just be on time wherever you go; arrive fifteen minutes early
              • Get everything ready the night before and put it near the front door so you don't forget anything
              • Keep up with laundry so the clothes you need or want to wear are always clean
              • Keep the house in order (it really brings a sense of sanity)
              • Read at least once chapter a day in an edifying book (if you lack sufficient time, read a few sentences or paragraphs)
              • Watch one sermon or lecture a day
              • Watch a documentary twice a week instead of TV or a movie
              • Buy grocery store giftcards at the start of the month or with each new paycheck so you only spend the set amount and don't impulse buy (do the same for stores like Wal-Mart and even the gas station)
              • Make the bed every morning
              • After using something, immediately put it back in its place
              • Keep up with dishes and be sure to clean counters and stove before going to bed
              • Vacuum and dust every few days
              • Wash rugs and all bedding once a week
              • Keep post-it notes in car or on bathroom mirror listing what needs to be done that day or week
              • Unsubscribe from all unread emails
              • Sign up for paperless billing and pay all bills online
              • Make a budget and be rigid about it
              • Use a planner and mark/highlight important dates, events, appointments, etc.
              • Get an oil change for your car every three thousand miles
              • Get Direct Deposit from your job
              • Respond to emails within three to five days
              • Give honest and sincere compliments to others; be sure to thank them for their help
              • Set an alarm for everything if it will help you remain focused and not waste time


              I would love to hear your suggestions for what adds to an orderly life. There is always room for growth and it is a sweet blessing and luxury that we can all learn from one another. You may leave a comment or write to me directly at EmmaJoyBlog@gmail.com

              Friday, November 11, 2016

              Becoming a Determined Man




              By Darrin Patrick


              ...unyielding determination [is] indispensable for genuine change.


              ... At the heart of determination is a resolute decision to do something and to not stop until it is done. But our energy and effort are spoiled unless we do the right thing. To determine is simply to say no to one thing and yes to something else. In developing determination, we must face the past and discern both the right path forward and those obstacles that will hinder us as we walk down that path. The choices may not be easy, nor may they be safe, but we cannot escape them.


              ... Determined men refuse the nostalgia of the past or the speculation of the future. Instead, they embrace the present because they know that every choice right now determines how the future will look. They don't shrink from reality but courageously confront it. They stare down the temptation to escape into the past or daydream about the days ahead, while fighting to embrace the world around them even as they seek to change it for the better.


              ...


              Determined men realize that they have twenty-four hours in a day, and if they waste time it is because they intend to do so. Determined men take time seriously and are very intentional about how they use it. This does not mean we never rest--far from it! But it does mean we should be intentional about when and how we rest.


              For most of us, redeeming time probably does not mean spending hours each night watching television, surfing YouTube, or dinking around in the garage. Such activities may feel relaxing in the moment, but they are often a drain on our energy and ability to uphold our many responsibilities. For most of us, redeeming time will mean that we work hard to eliminate unnecessary time suckers in our week, design systems for answering e-mails efficiently, think through our weekly schedules and priorities beforehand, and live by predetermined goals.


              Your life is before you. ... The meaning and the purpose you have been made for will not be discovered on the couch. Life is pursuing you, and it will find you out. You can try to avoid the curveballs, drowning out the challenges and obstacles of life with hobbies and TV. But at some point a crisis will arise, and you will be faced with a decision to press on or check out. What will you choose to do the moment it arrives? Will you lead your life, or will you let it lead you?

              Monday, October 31, 2016

              Run the Race in Such a Way That You May Win





              By Jim George


              The Christian life and spiritual growth are not sprints. They are long-distance races that require lifelong perseverance. You grow in spiritual maturity as you run the race moment by moment, day after day, and year after year.


              In many ways, running the spiritual race is a lot like physical running. If you stop exercising physically, your body may not show the results of inactivity for a while. But in time you will wake up and find that you can't run to the end of the block, and it's a short one at that!


              In the same way, you may think you can get by without exercising spiritually, by not reading your Bible, or praying, or going to church. One day, however, you will wake up and find yourself spiritually flabby, out of shape, and wide open to sin...all because you didn't make a focused effort to keep growing day by day.


              And remember, you can't rest on yesterday's growth. You must be dedicated to growing today...and every day.


              ... It's true that growth doesn't just happen. Spiritual growth requires motivation and action on your part. But the benefits of such growth are phenomenal and well worth your effort.

              Wednesday, October 19, 2016

              Necessity of Fathers and Peril of the Lack Thereof




              By Dr. James Dobson


              Chief among the threats to this generation of boys is the breakdown of the family. Every other difficulty we will consider has been caused by or is related to that fundamental tragedy. It can hardly be overstated. We have been emphasizing for years that stable, lifelong marriages provide the foundation for social order. Everything of value rests on those underpinnings. Historically, when the family begins to unravel in a given culture, everything from the effectiveness of government to the general welfare of the people is adversely impacted. This is precisely what is happening to us today. The family is being buffeted and undermined by the forces operating around it. Alcoholism, pornography, gambling, infidelity, and other virulent infections have seeped into its bloodstream. "No-fault divorce" is still the law of the land in most states, resulting in thousands of unnecessary family breakups. Clearly, there is trouble on the home front. And as we all know, it is the children who are suffering most from it. In cultures where divorce becomes commonplace or large numbers of men and women choose to live together or copulate without bothering to marry, untold millions of kids are caught in the chaos.


              If I may be permitted to offer what will sound like a hyperbole, I believe the future of Western civilization depends on how we handle this present crisis. Why? Because we as parents are raising the next generation of men who will either lead with honor and integrity or abandon every good thing they have inherited. They are the bridges to the future. Nations that are populated largely by immature, immoral, weak-willed, cowardly, and self-indulgent men cannot and will not long endure. These types of men include those who sire and abandon their children; who cheat on their wives; who lie, steal, and covet; who hate their countrymen; and who serve no god but money. That is the direction culture is taking today's boys. We must make the necessary investment to counter these influences and to build within our boys lasting qualities of character, self-discipline, respect for authority, commitment to the truth, a belief in the work ethic, and an unshakable love for Jesus Christ. The pursuit of those objectives led me to undertake the writing of this book [Bringing Up Boys: Practical advice and encouragement for those shaping the next generation of men].

              Wednesday, October 5, 2016

              There Is Wisdom in Taking Personal Inventory of Our Lives



              Monthly Personal Inventory:


              • What good habits have I built?
              • What bad habits have I taken steps to break?
              • Am I prioritizing accountability relationships and being honest in our correspondence?
              • Have I been attending church every week?
              • How much of the Bible do I read each day?
              • Where am I currently reading in the Bible?
              • Do I find studying the Bible thrilling or rather drab?
              • Am I investing in the lives of those around me and looking for opportunities to make a difference in this world?
              • Am I being selfish in my dealings with others or growing in servanthood?
              • Am I being a good steward of my time, talents, resources, and health?
              • What character flaws need attention?
              • Am I growing in humility or exhibiting pride?
              • What fruit of the Spirit am I lacking?
              • What fruit of the Spirit am I growing in?
              • What lessons have I learned?
              • What idols am I clinging to? What idols am I allowing God to eradicate from my life?
              • Have I become slack in my responsibilities or am I giving adequate time to fulfill these duties?
              • Who have I been spending time with? How are these persons influencing my choices?
              • What would the people around me say are my greatest faults? Strengths?
              • Do I have healthy relationships with the people in my life?
              • Do I treat others with respect (no matter their status in society)?
              • Have I been harboring bitterness and resentment toward anyone?
              • Do I practice forgiveness toward those who wrong me or hold grudges and mistreat them in response?
              • Am I willing to be corrected or can I not handle confrontation and constructive criticism?
              • Have I been keeping short accounts with others or do I let time pass before considering making amends?
              • Am I quick to find fault in others or am I growing to realize that it takes time to change and therefore I must be patient with them in regards to their flaws?
              • Am I willing to work on my own issues without making excuses or justifying my behavior?
              • Do I often complain, compare, and envy?
              • Am I growing in contentment?
              • Have I been meditating on Scripture's prescription for a healthy thought life (Philippians 4: 8)?
              • What sin am I battling? Do I easily allow compromise or am I ruthlessly fighting my sin?
              • What sin have I found greater deliverance from this month? What steps have I implemented to gain such freedom?
              • What book(s) or articles am I reading?
              • What entertainment am I viewing?
              • What music am I listening to?
              • What websites am I visiting?
              • Are such things time-wasters and sin-enablers or am I actively guarding my heart?


              For further reading, check out Relational Assessment

              Thursday, September 29, 2016

              Pursuing Relationships with Wisdom and Discernment




              Relationships are difficult work because they are made up of individuals who have competing wills, selfish hearts, different wants, set beliefs for how things are supposed to be, the desire to get their own way, bouts of stubbornness, and at times, an adamant refusal to compromise for the benefit of the other.


              We hurt ourselves and the relationship when we are unwilling to communicate, apologize, be corrected and confronted, seek counsel if need be, see the situation from someone else's perspective, and display gentleness and humility in our dealings with others.


              This is why setting boundaries early on in the relationship is so crucial. They are guidelines and fences, if you will, of what you expect and won't allow in a relationship. Every person should have more than a general idea of what they are looking for in a friend or a significant other because if you don't know the specifics of what to look for and the specifics of what to avoid, you are bound to choose the wrong sort of people to have close relationships with.


              Please keep in mind that it is better to be alone than in the presence of bad company.


              Something the Lord has been teaching me lately is to commit any desire I have to be friends with or get to know certain individuals to Him and ask (and trust!) for His will to be done in whether I get to know them or not. After all, God knows every person better than they even know themselves, so it is fully in our best interest to trust Him with the results of our every prayer because if we push to get our own way without willing surrender and a joyful submission to His perfect will (for our protection), we will either waste our time or end up hurt.


              By all means, for the rest of your life and over every issue that arises, always have a willingness and eagerness to seek counsel, remain accountable, treasure God's word as the ultimate authority for your decision-making, and consult the wisdom of godly individuals who are mature and further along in their spiritual walk than you are. Doing all of this is sure to spare you much pain! Don't be lifted up in pride, coddle stubbornness or selfishness, let impatience get the best of you, run with your emotions, follow your heart, walk away from God, assume what the world has to offer is better than humbly serving the Lord and applying His word to your day-to-day life, ever think you are above making foolish choices, or compromise your standards out of loneliness.


              We must take preventative measures to ensure we don't bring relational pain on ourselves by choosing people from the start who are no good for us. We must diligently read the word of God, study resources which expound it, and get outside intervention if need be regarding people in our lives and how we can deal with any relational troubles that occur.


              I've learned that so much of the pain we experience in life is either by the hands of other people or because of our own poor choices. And while this does not take away the scars we've obtained through such terrible experiences, it is a reminder that we must make God our top priority so we are better equipped to make choices (in friendships and beyond) that will prevent pain instead of causing it.


              Every person needs accountability and to be constant in their relationship with God. If Christians are to thrive in life and represent their King and Savior well, we must be extremely careful with our choices. And whom we choose to befriend, date, or marry is no exception.


              "We make our choices and then our choices make us." Unknown


              We are not promised a happy life and unfortunately other people can and do leave us in (or cause us to experience) terrible situations and circumstances (either by their own hands or because of their neglect which leaves us broken, abandoned, hurting, and in need). We must be willing to take responsibility for who we spend time with. Being wise with the company we keep will in many ways determine the course our lives take and sadly, some of the consequences we experience in life through poor relationship choices will leave us with no one to blame but ourselves. Never ignore the wise counsel and admonition of others who have your best interest at heart!


              Let's not bring unnecessary pain on ourselves by ignoring Scriptural truth and guidelines for relationships or by pursuing people who are not healthy or will lead us astray. Momentary enjoyment is never worth the consequences it may bring. Never choose company for the sake of pacifying loneliness or to pass the time. Weigh your choices well. Have a plan and stick to it. Ask yourself what it is you are looking for in a friend and don't compromise for anyone (even if they are initially very nice). Trust God to provide the right friends for you. Cover this aspect of your life in prayer.


              Quality relationships are hard to find and may be a precious rarity, yet there is nothing like the right company!

              Monday, September 19, 2016

              From Camaraderie to Abandonment




              It's so heartbreaking how you can be close with someone, feel a great sense of camaraderie and belonging, grow to care about them, love them as a true friend, form an emotional connection and close bond, then over time they can walk out of your life and become a distant memory.


              With that said, please be careful with people's hearts. Don't toy with them, falsely lead them on, use them for your own benefit, or invest in the relationship short-term if you aren't willing to stick around long-term.


              I understand some people are only in our lives for a season and we must have great discernment before starting a relationship or friendship. I also understand God can and will remove people from our lives if need be as He sees fit, but I am simply referring to the choices we make in regards to giving time to others. May it never be that we are the cause of broken hearts or abandoning those that count on and trust us.


              Heartache hurts. People are precious. Let's treat them accordingly and not act as though it doesn't matter if we leave with little to no explanation.


              Oh, and if you are planning to get married or have kids, for the sake of common courtesy and common sense, you better be willing to be in it for the long haul and not view such great privileges and responsibilities as optional depending on your stress level, personal preferences, or pride and selfishness.


              Whomever the Lord has placed into our care have hearts that can be broken, feelings that can be hurt, and wounds that can occur at our hands. Unless you're in it for the long haul, don't waste people's time and thus leave a trail of brokenness.

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