Tag Archives: culture

Up Down

up-down-arrowsAs one chapter ends, another begins.

Life’s perpetual motion is cyclical, spinning and twisting oneself up and down, left and right, from valley to mountain, to mountain to valley.  Put it simply, life is seasonal.  Good seasons are great.  Bad seasons are of course bad.  But guess what?    It’s a pretty difficult task of embracing such negative seasons or down points in your life, but why not?  Why don’t we use these valleys in a more productive manner?  Instead of simply rolling over and asking, “why, why did this happen to me,” we need to pick ourselves up and know, this is only temporary.  This hard time, this stressing moment, this jobless, bankrupt period is only-short lived.  I need to endure, I must endure!

You may ask yourself, well about the times where people are going through permanent difficulties, such as divorce, cancer, disability, etc, etc?  Granted, from a human perspective, these are enduring concerns, but what will an individual do with such a difficulty?  We’re all familiar with the saying, “it happened for a reason,” I’ll give you one better, it happens for God’s reason.  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”-Romans 8:28.  What may look or seem like a downfall or weakness to some can be used to encourage and motivate people for God’s kingdom, it’s as simple as that.  The tools God has gifted us with, the hardships He takes us through have been orchestrated for a reason.   Where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you are going is exactly apart of His plan.

God didn’t create us to dwell and fall short when we’re in trouble.  We aren’t suppose to dig ourselves a hole and stick our heads into the ground.  We were all created for a purpose, even through the hard times.  We must embrace the fun and happy times, but we also must embrace and endure the hard times, and cling to His trust, that God and only Him will see you through.  No matter the sorrow, no matter the predicament, God is there for you, He’s just waiting for you to call out to Him, “I need you Father, I’m lost without you, I need you now in my life.”

In and out of season, we must turn to God.  If life is up or down, the season will end, and another will begin.  Look to Jesus next time your season goes down.

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Consistent Inconsistency

SINCON_375_1I’m sure you know the answer to this question even before I pose it to you, but have you ever found yourself being inconsistent?  It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s not exercising 4 to 5 times a week OR diving into the cookies/potato chips OR watching too much television OR answering significant others in a few words rather than having a deep, intimate conversation.  Do you simply find yourself saying, “I should be doing this,” but continue to find yourself doing the opposite; the same exact unhealthy behavior day in and day out, repeating the same thing over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again?

Looking back on my posts (can’t believe it’s almost been a year blogging!), I’ve alluded to this topic several times, primarily in the last post Destroy What Destroys YouThe impending proposition is a play on words, thinking critically about the title, understanding what occurs when we have consistent inconsistency in our life.  And most importantly, how do we manage such a dilemma. 

First of all, it takes a lot to recognize your own inconsistency.  It takes an attentive discernment of one’s character to say, “wait a second, this isn’t good, this isn’t bettering me as a person.”  It not only takes a lot to be cognizant of ones’ flaws, but most importantly, takes an abundance of tempered attitude to refine and adjust private weaknesses.  It’s imperative to note, we’re all fundamentally exhausted.  We’re all quintessentially afflicted.  We have our own secluded predicaments and complications.  We’re all simply imperfect.

With imperfection comes inconsistency.  With inconsistency comes commitment dominance (and not all imperfection leads to inconsistency; that’s not the extent of the following, but rather an analysis of the adverse/unfavorable influences on our lives).  In other words, habit forming.  And in this case, negative habits; dominating negative habits, fulfilling the majority of ones’ thoughts and actions.  To understand habits, we must appreciate the science behind habit forming.  Essentially, habits are developed through frequent repetition and reinforcement, links between stimuli and responses.  Most habits we have today were shaped during our early years as well as being passed down from our parents.  Also, we’ve learned through observation and modeling, being most often consistent with our personality.  Therefore, frequently repeated thoughts or actions create neural pathways in the brain and the more frequent the repetition, the stronger the connection and the wider the pathway will become.  The constant recurrence decreases the biochemical resistance to that certain thought or action.  That is why we can perform certain thoughts and actions almost unconsciously.

Ultimately, as we begin to realize and recognize a negative habit forming, we should quickly do all things possible to extinguish its damaging wrath.  Because it’s oh so often, we relinquish control to the repugnant behavior.  Sometimes, we get so lost, so deep we become uninterested, unwilling to change because we begin to disparately believe, “well, I’m too far gone to be saved, I’ve already gained 50 pounds, why stop now, I’m comfortable and “happy” with what I’m doing.”  Once friends, family, or even yourself recognize the denial or resistive posture to change, then you must cut it out of your life, Destroy What Destroys You, seriously.

It’s so easy to float through life, staying up late, sleeping late, sitting and watching television all day, eating junk food, with not a responsibility or care in the world to change.  Granted, I know there are a plethora of circumstances well beyond one’s control that may limit one’s alteration, but why not change, why not take a risk, why not take a leap of faith?  There is one guarantee, if you DO take that risk, you won’t be alone, I promise.  You won’t have to suffer, feel alone, or turn to risky behavior anymore because Jesus Christ will always be at your side.

“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”-Ephesians 4:22-24

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”-Hebrews 13:5

If your day-to-day schedule is filled with inconsistency, develop a new one and start by getting rid of the things in your life causing or leading to so much anguish, so much anger, or so much regret.  If it’s the television, get rid of it.  If it’s your smart phone, get a “dumb phone.”  If it’s friends pulling you down, cut them off.  It may seem foolish to others, it may seem like it’s over the top, but if you’re going to overcome inconsistency, you must remove yourself completely or remove IT completely, whatever that IT may be. Once you remove these things that have been destroying your character, destroying your relationships, you can begin to mold and mend a new life; a holy life God has always designed for you to live, and only if you allow Him, turn to Him in these troubling times you can be completely and thoroughly refreshed, renewed, and revitalized.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”-1 Corinthians 10:13

Post Script-an ensuing post MAY follow because…1) some of you like post series and 2) we must learn what to do after removing a bad habit from our lives.


Destroy What Destroys You

6175770250_5f3805cdbb_zI want to sincerely apologize for my hiatus.  It’s been a very long two months, with end of semester papers and projects, bachelor party organizing, graduating from grad school (with highest honors-all credit goes to the Lord!), moving, applying for career jobs (any leads in sports, fitness, recreation, please send my way!) and my brothers wedding.  The aforementioned should not be used as an excuse not to spread His gospel because no matter what we’re doing, as busy or as unbusy our lives may be, we must always be willing to be a beacon, to reach out to those in trouble as 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  Moreover, this comes to the topic at hand, and as you read the title, Destroy What Destroys You, we must embrace this idea as instrumental in growing and evolving as a believer.

Think about this for a second, if we all had the control, all had the patience and determination to stop sin in its tracks, we wouldn’t be sinners, right?  If we were able to recognize and realize our actions and behavior were turning detrimental, then we would be living in a perfect world, right?  Well, there’s our problem, as humans and especially as believers.  (If you haven’t read my previous post, Jesus Loves Pornstars, I implore you to stop reading this now, and read it; it’s highly conducive to the idea at hand.)  In other words, self-control is either absent or becomes subject to failure.  Furthermore, what sets us apart from other creatures of God’s creation is our consciousness.  Most often, we think in terms of an angel on one shoulder, and a demon on the other, so at least that’s the depiction of society.  This conscious behavior, thoughts, and actions precede a choice; a choice to choose what is right or wrong, a choice of yes or no, a choice that aligns with His or not.

For non-believers, this right/wrong dichotomy is parallel to their upbringing, societal norms, or even religion.  It’s in a sense their personal standard of living, able to clearly define what’s right or wrong, even with the Jesus Christ not in the picture.  As believers, our one and only way of living is through His Word, through living each day as Christ Jesus wants us to, not based upon society or other standards.  Innumerous studies have been done to investigate how and why people act the way they do, interestingly studying mentally unstable and felonious individuals.  Researchers Cima, Tonnaer, and Hauser (2010) examined how psychopaths process and control their decisions.  Specifically, they found that psychopaths and criminals alike have a “normal understanding of right and wrong, but an abnormal regulation of morally appropriate behavior.”  Even though the vast majority of us aren’t psychopaths or criminals, this study and many alike positively demonstrate we all have an innate moral compass.  So as criminals are beginning their sinful thoughts and actions, there’s always an escape route, there’s always an angel telling them they can be saved, there’s a definitive way out.  But all too often, the devil overcomes these Holy voices to say, “no one likes you, this will show them, it feels good, you’ll be happy, etc, etc, etc.”

Oh so often, after such sinful behavior, we’re fall back to square one, we come back to the dichotomized thoughts of regret and excuses “gosh, I shouldn’t have done that, it felt good, so it was ok, I’m in a tough situation right now, so give me some slack.”  It’s not until we’ve fully committed our lives to serving the Lord, praising His name, that all worldly things don’t mean anything, don’t have value to us, including sinful behavior; lust, selfishness, wicked hearts are lost at the waist side.

So you’re asking, how can I stay consistent with my faithful, devoted, loving lifestyle, being bigger and stronger than temptations?  Well, it may seem easy, but you must take up the Cross daily.  Whatever this may be, reading a daily devotional, studying/memorizing a few scriptures of the Bible, conversing with other Christians, or going to church, we must be involved one way or another with His Holiness.  Establishing these Holy habits is a must for change to occur.  If it’s reading your Bible before you head to work, do it every day, no matter the circumstance.  Once you do it for about two weeks (when the action begins to be neurologically imprinted), it’ll become commonplace in your life.

As you begin this process of seeking out new and healthy behaviors (e.g. by inserting God into your life), you can begin to see/recognize how your sinful thoughts were devastating to relationships, friendships, productivity, and true feelings of love and closeness.   Think about this; is it easier to give into temptation or fight it?  What does it say about your character and faith in God?  The more change that occurs in your life, the more you’ll realize that if He’s taken you to a tough situation, He will get you through it.  No sin, no mistake is bigger than Jesus Christ and His forgiveness.

So when you come to a crossroads of sinning or not sinning, recognize the underlying problem and purge it from your life.  Whether that means getting rid of a television, computer, iPhone application, friendship, or whatever is spawning sinful behavior, sever ties!  You cannot expect to grow in Christ if you’re not willing to let it go completely.  You cannot have one foot in and one foot out.  To have a complete transformation, you must let go of ALL things.  Because Matthew 6:33 says, “but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

I challenge you today, destroy what destroys you!

Resources

Cima, M., Tonnaer, F., & Hauser, M. D. (2010). Psychopaths know right from wrong but don’t care. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 5(1), 59-67.


Driving With Eggs in the Trunk

Yesterday, after grocery shopping, I was half way home when I realized my 18-flawless, all-natural eggs were accommodating my trunk space, intermingled amongst other seemingly impenetrable items of importance.  Quickly recognizing the apparent predicament, speed was decreased, turns were slow and meticulous, and gentle stops plagued my journey home.  As methodical as the trip became, the more cognizant I became of my surroundings, specifically other drivers.   Some may have been infuriated, some may have been annoyed, and some may haven’t even thought differently; or they may have been simply indifferent and unmoved.

Instantly, I realized it was no longer about the eggs; it was no longer about the principle to get the eggs home safely.  Instead, just as God continues to show perspective through a new lens each and every day; today, the catalyst was a measly package of eggs.

Now you have this elementary, yet necessary picture in your head; what’s the importance?  What’s the significance?

As mentioned above, I became conscious not only of the drivers around me being frustrated and confused by my highly conservative driving, but also recognized their unfamiliarity and distant perspective they had on my predicament.  They didn’t know me.  There’s no position to hold that would recognize something as little, yet profoundly important and fragile my baggage was.

These infirm, easily hurt, particular constituents were personal, they were unknown, they were in fact unique to my car and life only.  These eggs resemble our personal life.  We all travel through rough times.  We ALL experience hardships, whether that’s a loss of a friend, family, or relationship, we cannot go about the world, being disciples of the Lord to the rest of the world if we aren’t considerate and accommodating to others.  Some people may be going through the toughest season of their life and even though we aren’t aware of their eggs in the trunk, we can transform and alter their day by simply holding the door open, helping them with their groceries, or just saying ‘God Bless You.’

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’-Acts 20:35

Believers go through tough times too.  Even though we may be exhausted or unsettled, we still must serve others as the Lord designed us, with respect, love, kindness, and courtesy.  Just remember, we’re all imperfect.  We will mess up.  We will have those moments of inferior treatment towards others or regrets, but the next person God brings along, it’s your time to shine for them and most importantly, Jesus Christ.

We weren’t meant to let these eggs break, but instead, encourage, empower, support, and confirm their existence.  We ALWAYS want them to safely navigate their burdensome climate with their eggs unscathed and unbroken.  


A Busted Heart

Isn’t it funny how we get into these “comfortable” stages and moments of our lives, where everything is going as planned, everything seems to be seamlessly happening in the exact order, the exact timing of our plans are all coming to fruition?  Whether it was for our own life ambitions, relationship, careers, family, or what, we think we have it all figured out, there are no doubts, everything is perfect.  But is it?

Are we sure we’re on the right path?  Do we keep on chasing the wind, from one selfish ambition to the next, as if we were all hummingbirds; expeditiously traversing God’s creation only to stall for a brief moment at the expansive medley of colorful, sweet, nectar-filled flowers, simply stopping for one mere gratifying accomplishment after the next, seemingly enough only to wet our palates?  In other words, sooner or later, we realize the emptiness these flowers, these accomplishments, the road traveled, has merely been the road to nowhere.  All of the wandering, all of the self-explorations for personal achievement have been all in vain, if one aspect isn’t straight, if one facet of your life is missing or suffering, and that is your relationship with the Lord.

Whether we’ve gotten ourselves into sinful relationships, made wrong career choices, or simply living our lives to buy the latest and greatest gadget, God can turn it all around.  Even though we may be lost, even though we may feel inadquate, even though one season may be ending, He will always meet us right where we are.  It doesn’t matter the hardship, whether it’s a major relationship disappointment or a broken heart, we must admit we’re in desperate need of Jesus Christ.  Because He is the only One who can mend us, to renew us, to reawaken our spirit.  First, we must realize all of these sinful components have torn us away from His Love.  He loves us so so much that He allows us to stray.  He allows us freedom.  He allows us to do all the aforementioned without Him being in our lives because He loves us THAT much.  Think about that again.  He lets us sin, He lets us go our own ways because He loves us so much.

“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.  Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22 (NIV)  

Doesn’t matter your history of straying, doesn’t matter your inconsistencies, doesn’t matter if we have selfishly fallen on our faces, or lost our way innumerous times; only Jesus Christ, His unfailing love, the one who loves all, the one who IS love, will always meet you where you’re at and will never let you lose your way again.

Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”


Zombie Commuters

Recently, I moved to the windy city, Chicago, Illinois.  And as quickly as the weather changes, I realize how people are zombies.  I don’t say this because of the latest infatuation with zombies, but honestly, people are easily programmed.

A zombie is a person who acts automatically, an automation, a drudge, mechanical, robot.  You’re probably wondering, where is he taking this???

The next time you find yourself in a crowded area, whether that’s walking downtown, commuting, or at a local mall, watch how people act.

From my already numerous CTA (public transit) trips, this fact is evident, there are zombies living among us.

The unemotional, humanly contact between people is superficial, irresponsible social behavior.  Giving up your seat to a woman on the bus should be a given,  but to not do anything or speak up when someone cannot get the door open because people are simply “plugged in,” is simply insensitive behavior.  When people care more about playing games on their phones and contaminating their characters with unGodly music, this lifestyle is the perfect storm to a ‘zombie apocalypse.’  Sad to say, but it’s already happened.  People are stuck in their daily routines; wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, etc, etc, etc, repeat, all systematically formulated over days, months, years of automated rituals.  Granted, there are so many exceptions, but as a conglomerate, we’ve lost the touch of intimiate social interaction.  We’ve lost sight of holding doors open, we’ve forgot to thank people for a nice gesture.  So why has this happened?

We’ve become comfortable and satisfied.  We don’t like change.  We like consistency.  We like regularity.  Any alteration, any detour, or stepping out of our comfort zones, we become disoriented because it’s not our norm.

Maybe it’s our employer, maybe it’s the bus schedule, maybe it’s the culture we live in.  Yes, those could be explinations, but they shouldn’t define our lives.  We shouldn’t be products of our daily conformity we’ve established.  In other words, we have gotten so caught up with pleasing our bosses, pleasing ourselves, or pleasing others, we’ve forgotten to please the one and only who needs our attention.

For am I now seeking the approval of man or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not  be a servant of Christ.-Galatians 1:10

Don’t be distracted by others.  Don’t find yourself trying to please others when you should only be focused on Him.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ.

Wake up, don’t be a zombie!


Do It Like The Amish!

When I was traveling back to school today, I took a detour through Amish country.  And all the while I was traveling through, I thought about their culture.  Could you imagine not having the conveniences of modern technology?  Could you imagine denying such changes?  Could you imagine riding in a horse and buggy everywhere you go?

This Christian culture doesn’t know any different.  Yes, we couldn’t imagine living in such a lifestyle, but could they imagine living like we do today?

They’ve accepted their roles in family structures.  Compliance of rules and regulations of each region or family is very important.  Integrity and respect comes with their family name.  Could you imagine living a week or two in their shoes?  Life would be simpler.

Yes, it may be more laborious and tiresome, but physical exhaustion can be overcome.  No computers, no televisions.  No distractions.  Sometimes in our lives, I honestly think we should just eliminate things from our lives or “unplug” to realize how good we have it.

The ease of our luxuries are distracting us what’s truly important.  Our relationships with God, family, and friends.  Life is complicated.  And technology, including email, texting, and so on aren’t making things easier, it’s just complicating our lives even more.  Everything we do, everything we say may be taken in the wrong context that may be read differently in person.  We’ve lost sight of the importance of the personal, intimate, physical relationships we have with people.  Yes, I understand, “well I have to rely on technology to do my school work, stay in contact with people; I just can’t go a day without my computer or phone.”  I realize this.

Instead of texting a friend, why don’t you go visit them in person.  I truly think if we get back to the Amish way of thinking of honoring and respecting God and the family structure, we can help solve a lot of problems we have as a country.