Choosing the nicer one – for me

I searched for a T-shirt to wear. “This one is a nice one. I’ll save it for later, for another time when I go someplace.” I have a tendency to keep old, worn out shirts so I can wear them at home or for my morning walks. But this time I caught myself. Why can’t I wear the nicer one for myself? Maybe It’s time to reconsider my perspective.

I began thinking in such “minimalist ways after I began reading Leo Babauta’s writings. Although I don’t consider myself to be a minimalist, my thinking has begun to shift. I’ve begun to let go of old, useless items that I thought I might need some day.

But what about the T-shirt? I wore the nicer one. And I continue to choose the nicer ones to wear. But I haven’t found a better, more comfortable substitute for old, worn out blue jeans.

Some of you who read this may relate with this struggle. Our self-image truly does impact our confidence and work.

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Does God cause evil in our lives?

It’s an unimaginable thought. The word “evil” mentioned in Job 2:10 can be translated as disaster or calamity. But it’s difficult to think of God causing trouble or disaster in our lives.

But God in his sovereignty knows what it takes to build us and mold us. His aim is to transform us into his own likeness. Sometimes it takes problems and even disaster to break off unwanted things in us so that God can build what is required for us to become more like him everyday.

When everything fell apart in his life, his wife asked a question that is a common thought for many: “Why don’t you just commit suicide?” She knew that God was his only hope, but even God wasn’t responding. Now the only option for her was death.

God is not the author of evil. But God was there in the disaster. Nothing makes sense in life, but as long as God is present he will make sense of all things. He has a plan for our lives. Trust him till the end.

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Renew, Circumcise, Crucify

Renew your mind and be transformed so that you won’t conform to this world. But the world is like a strong suction/force that can easily suck us into its realm. Once you are sucked in, you become part of the system.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

Circumcise your heart. It’s a deep rooted step to establish a covenant with God from your heart. This is where your heart’s desire is only toward him. No other desire can take its place.

“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn” (Deut 10:16).

Crucify the flesh. It has an insatiable desire to pull us away from our Lord. All other forces are external, and we can do battle with those. But how do you fight something within?

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24).

The “flesh” is the old nature of sin that constantly pulls us away from God and his ways. Don’t fight it. Crucify it.

Renew, Circumcise, and crucify. There is no better way to deal with the world and the leanings of the heart.

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Your first response to tragedy

Fear, anger, guilt, frustration, and numerous other responses follow tragic events in our lives. Our response truly reveals who we are and what we value.

The turmoil you face within you and the struggles of daily life may seem to be strangling you. It’s too much to bear. What are you to make of your life when you face tragedy from every direction? How should you respond?

There was a man whose first response will amaze us. Here’s what he did: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped (Job 1:20).

First, there was decisive action: “Then Job arose.” Don’t fall back in fear, and don’t give up on life. Get up. Move forward. Take action.

Second, Job acknowledged his loss. He “Tore his robe and shaved his head.” A healthy amount of grieving needs to be a part of our response to extreme tragedy. We need not grieve permanently. It needs to be only a season of grieving.

Third, he acknowledged God. Job “Fell on the ground and worshiped. He understood that God was his only hope.

Yes, our first response truly says a lot.

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Two types of education

One creates brilliant people who work hard and work smart. These are people who benefit themselves and their families. The other system creates leaders who create jobs and opportunities for many.

So, are leadership traits developed or inborn? Both. Some people portray a strong tenacity and confidence that is conducive to leadership. These people grow quickly in their leadership abilities and are recognized as leaders.

How are leaders created? Develop in young people the skill to think freely. It’s not good enough to memorize lots of data. Learn to figure out how and where that data can be used.

Another major key to leadership is the ability to accept people as they are and to help them to excel. They should be taught to never ignore the weak. Every person has a contribution to make. Focus on the strengths of every person and help them to develop in the areas of their weaknesses.

While a smart, hard working person will do well for themselves, leaders also benefit the people around them, and ultimately the society.

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Have you reached your breaking point?

There is no doubt you love God with all your heart. But your breaking point is where you suffer loss, pain, persecution, or some form of severe trauma where you’re ready to forsake God. Oh, but you would never reject God. You wouldn’t even think of it. But you never know until you reach the breaking point.

Throughout history, prisoners of war suffered some of the most severe torture done to humans. Many held on to uphold the honor of their nation, but there were those who could stand it no longer. Some just gave up hope and died in captivity and torture. These are realities that we would wish on no one, not even our enemies.

At one time, God was “boasting” to Satan about Job saying that “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8). But Satan responded that Job might turn away when taken to the breaking point (Job 1:11).

What might be the breaking point in your life? Would it be the loss of your income, loss of important friends, loss of health, inability to get the education or job you wanted? Or will never ending pain and suffering till death bring you to the breaking point?

You never know where your breaking point is. So examine each of the above areas with your heart and make a complete submission to God in each of the important areas. Then, cry out to God for the grace that kept Job faithful throughout all his sufferings.

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Emotions and the tongue

Both are directly connected. Well, for many people. Others just keep their words to themselves.

So when you hear an emotionally charged person speak, listen and filter their words carefully. Some statements are just part of the “steam” and need to be released. Don’t give much weight to those.

When the steam is completely released, then words of value will flow. Learn the art of watching the steam. Then you’ll be able to identify words of importance.

The emotions and the tongue are connected for most people. Listen carefully and know what to value.

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Lead well, Live well

Everyone leads someone. Leadership isn’t about titles and position. It’s about taking a step forward as others follow.

In your family, there are people who look to you for direction and companionship. They look to you to set an example in the daily struggles of life. Step up and lead – in your family.

You may not be the boss where you work, but you can lead. John Maxwell wrote the book The 360 Degree Leader where he suggests that you can lead from any position in the organization. Set the example for others. You set the pace for excellence and for integrity.

You may be asking “But, what is leadership?” Jesus set the example for the world as a servant leader. Wherever you find yourself, serve. Help others excel in what they do. Be the enabler, encourager, and friend.

When you take this perspective, your life is well lived. The most fulfilled people are those who impact the lives of those around them. Because they Lead well and live well.

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Emotions and the ear

“But that’s not what I meant.”

“That’s not what I said.”

“You’ve changed my words around completely.”

These are common responses from people as they speak to someone who is emotionally stirred.

Words may be spoken clearly, but the decoding is muddled with emotions. The speaker’s intentions are misunderstood, and the focus of the message skewed. The bottom line is, be careful when you speak to someone whose emotions are stirred.

The better option is to just listen. Allow the person to speak what’s in their heart. Don’t give too much value to the words you hear. Much of it is simply “venting” their emotions. Just listen.

A few simple questions are good. But not too many. Make them simple questions. Most of all, allow their emotions to settle. Let them listen to their own words. This way, they’ll better understand what’s within them.

The emotions and the ears are connected in quite a unique and challenging way. Work with it.

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Is it time to give up?

Be faithful, learn, and keep doing what you’re called to do. It’s common to copy successful people and hope to get the results they got. How many times have you tried that? How many people have you copied in the past?

Don’t expect success at the rate others have attained it. There may have been factors in their life and career that you don’t know about. You are unique and your experiences are different from everyone else.

Be faithful to your task. Don’t cut corners. Continue to focus on quality even if the returns are less than you’d like. Faithfulness will keep you “in the game” even in difficult times.

Keep learning even if you are a seasoned veteran. Maybe you’ve heard the term: “A carpenter never wastes time sharpening his tools.” Sharpening tools is never a waste of time. It is an investment. Seek out opportunities to learn and to be mentored by others in your field.

Keep doing your task on a consistent basis. Don’t give up. You’ve got to keep on, month after month, year after year.

The rewards will come. Delay is not failure. It’s just another route to success.

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