Monthly Archives: February 2012

You are Better Than Me

self-esteem

One of the hardest things for me to do is to not put myself first. We are taught from an early age to look after number one, and don’t trust anyone but yourself. Well,  over the years I got really good at that.I have found that is really easy to love myself and put myself before others. Even when I want to put others first I will do good for about a day or two just to fall back into my self first habits. How do we overcome this self-centered, self first attitude?

A few examples of how I fail at this is I remember  having conversations with co-workers on a Friday afternoon with them giving me  full details of what their weekend plans were. Only to have me ask them on Monday morning what they did that weekend. I forget about there plans and activities because during the weekend I was focused my own things,and satisfied my own desires. I forgot everything they told me because they were not as important to me as I was to myself. I have sat in my living room talking with my wife at night while she was describing her events for the following day only to have me  text her the next morning asking her what she is doing today. I forgot because I was preoccupied more on what I was doing and events I was involved with.  I also have forgotten dates and times of activities my kids were involved in because what I was doing was more important to me at that time then what they are doing. I have friends who are going through struggles who I forget to call and follow up with because I get wrapped up in my own problems. Now, it’s not that I don’t love my wife and children because I do. It is not that I  am not really interested in what my friends and  coworkers are up to, because I am, it is just that I obviously love myself more. But isn’t this what we are taught to do and to believe? It certainly comes natural, doesn’t it? I want people to know what is affecting me, what I am doing, what problems I am  going through and want them to care, because it is all about me. I am sure I am the only one who thinks this way though, right?

What we have learned growing up and what seems to come so naturally  even though it runs conversely to what is taught in the Bible. The Bible says to  “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others”.( Php 2:3-4) WHAT? Count others more significant than myself, and look after their interests over my own? This is not something that  comes naturally. Is this even achievable? As I studied  this, I see this a common theme found in the Bible; it also says in 1Co 10:24, “ Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor”, and, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  This is very hard for me to do and find extremely difficult to even comprehend. But then I stumbled upon a verse in Romans 12:10,  “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Wait a minute, it says here to  outdo one another. This sounds like a competition to me. I am a very competitive person, and this now seems like something I can relate to. I have to outdo others in showing honor by loving them.

Even though I know what to do it is still not natural, it will not come easy and I will have to learn to die to my self needs, and wants first in order to achieve it. I also cannot achieve this in my own ability either. The preceding verse to “love your neighbor as yourself” is found in Mat 22:37.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” You see we need to have our relationship with God right first before we can love others as ourselves. This is because the love  the Father has for us needs to come through us to others. This is because we are lovers of self naturally, therefore we are only  lovers of others supernaturally. In order for me to love others more and to put their needs over my needs I need to work on putting God in His right place in my life. I know I will fail at this, and it will take time as I learn to love God and others, so be patient with me. But I am a competitive person so I want to take the lead on this so let me tell you, you are better than me, you are more interesting than me, and I care more about you than I do myself.

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Facebook Made Me Do It

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It’s so easy to get caught in the sticky web of deceit, gossip, fantasy, revenge, and temptations that Facebook entangles us with. We have at our fingertips the ability to reach out to hundreds of so called “friends” and create havoc in an instant.  Although Facebook is a great tool to keep in touch with old friends, new friends, coworkers, and family members, it is also a doorway to much pain and consternation.

One problem I have with Facebook as a social media tool, is how people use it as a weapon. How someone can publicly humiliate and bash on someone they barely know and reveal it to hundreds of people instantaneously. This brings rise to a new sociological term called cyber-bullying. Social media is actually changing our society and creating new dilemmas that probably wouldn’t have existed without such a platform as Facebook . It is so easy for kids to spread rumors or embarrassing photos of others to 500 people in a click of the mouse. There was a case recently where a teenage girl  committed suicide by walking out in front of a bus to end her life, because she couldn’t take the torment of this cyber bullying on Facebook. Even after her death, kids still continued to post on her Facebook page riddled with insults and words of vitriol.

Another dilemma is the ease, availability , and temptation  to cheat on your spouse. It is becoming increasingly popular to look up your old high school sweetheart and rekindle that old flame. Where this was not so easily done years ago and would take research and time to find someone, with Facebook you can look up someone in a instant. It also gives an easy format for 2 people that barely know each other to create an avenue in which to get intimate without leaving the comforts of leaving their home. This was not possible 15-20 years ago, and Facebook has brought this to an increasingly easy level. I have friends who, on a daily basis, gets hit on and is given indecent proposals. They’re  all married.  Therefore, when people are in marriages going through a rough time, this makes it very enticing to jump ship, rather than work out their problems. To the point where, my one friend says everyone she knows, is cheating on their spouses due to people they meet on Facebook.

A third danger associated with Facebook is “too much information” (TMI) or the gossip quandary. How many times has someone said mean things about their parents,  bash their friends, spill secrets, say bad things about an ex, talk poorly of their children, ridicule something their spouse said, etc.? Why do we feel compelled to tell our quasi friends intimate details of our life that we would otherwise not tell our family members or our close “real” friends? A recent example of this is someone, “a friend of a friend” died recently, and they felt it necessary to post it on Facebook. When the parents of the person who died went on Facebook to check out there newsfeed they first learned of their child’s death. Can you imagine finding out our son or daughter died by a post on Facebook? This enrages me and should enrage you. People are so craving attention, and they need to be liked and fill the unhappiness in their real lives so they feel the need to be the first person to post this. I am reminded of Proverbs 13: 3 “Whoever guards his mouth preserves life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin”

It is easy to say that Facebook is the root of all this evil, or that “Facebook made me do it” when it comes to cheating on our spouses. But what is really the heart behind the matter? The problem is us, our motives, desires, needs, and pride. The  problem is that our hearts are basically evil by nature. Many of us don’t want to believe this about ourselves but that’s just your heart deceiving you Winking smile It says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  You see it is not Facebook that is evil, it just gives us a platform for our hatred, pride, covetousness, gossip, and anger to be displayed. We need to be mindful of the things we post. This reminds me of Proverbs 14 where it says, “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” Let us not be the fool when it comes to our Facebook posting but let us be cautious in what we put up for the world to see. We should ask ourselves are we causing anyone harm, Are we gossiping, are we acting and speaking inappropriately with someone who is not our spouse?  Are we speaking ill of our children, spouse, or parents? This is what we should ask ourselves  before we hit “post”.

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Contentment

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What is contentment?  Do we ever reach the point in life where we don’t need any more things or are satisfied with life just as we are, whether we have a lot or a little? Why is it that we always have a desire for a little bit more?

I am a cyclist and I own a road bike and 2 mountain bikes. When I got my first mountain bike, it was good for about 2-3 years, but it only had front suspension and I wanted to upgrade to a full suspension bike. After a couple of years with this bike, I started to race and  I needed a better, lighter, full suspension bike. So I purchased an expensive trail bike that could take on any terrain. I had this bike for 3 years and it served me well. As I continued to race, I needed to get a racing bike which was even lighter and faster than my previous bike. I also needed to get a road bike so I could train more during the week. This is just the bikes, also during these years my equipment continued to change along with it. I needed new shoes, new helmets, upgraded parts on the bike, and the best nutritional products I could find. I suppose if I continue down this path I will have a new bike in another 3 years and a new trainer of some sort. But when is enough ever enough? When will the desire to have more ever stop?

This is just one example out of my life, but I bet if you were honest with yourself you do the same thing. It may not be biking, but it may be getting a new car every 3 years just because you want a new one. It could be clothes shopping, getting a new pair of shoes, shirts, sneakers, purses, or kitchen appliances. It could be buying new furniture, knick-knacks for the house, or a new T.V every couple of years, even though the one you have works perfectly fine. Why do we feel the need to continue to buy new things even though the things we have is all we need and then some?

I spent the last 9 days in Granada, Nicaragua on a short term mission trip. Nicaragua is the 2nd poorest country in the western hemisphere, next to Haiti. The average worker there makes approximately 5 U.S. dollars a day. To this we would assume the people there would want more. More money to have a house  with a floor, a car, a refrigerator, a stove, or maybe a T.V., then there life would be better, or would it? While I was there I learned that you can be content with less, and their needs- or should I say desires- differ than ours. Every morning we would hold a bible study with our group and a couple of local Nicas. We were studying in the book of Proverbs and one of the locals shared what he learned from it. In Proverbs 30:8b,9 … give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,  lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. After reading this verse, he said he hopes never to be poor or rich.  He went on to say that he is content when he has enough beans and rice to feed himself and his family. BEANS and RICE…this floored me and immediately humbled me to what I perceive as meeting my so called ‘needs’. I think many of us in North America suffer from the latter, we are so full ,“rich,” we say, “who is the Lord?” We don’t need anyone to help us in life because we can handle our own problems on our own, so we think anyway. We can just shop away our emptiness, we can drink away our hurts, and we fill voids with things and not the “One” who could fill it. Here is someone who in our perspective is dirt poor, yet he is rich and many of us are rich yet; we are dirt poor. Paul in the bible said it this way in Phil. 4:11-13, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

To Paul, it didn’t matter if he had plenty or little, whether he had health or sickness, because he learned the secret. He concludes that he can do all things through the strength of Jesus. This is because he wasn’t looking for answers and solutions that the world gives, because it will always leaves you wanting. You will never be satisfied in what the world can offer. The only contentment or satisfaction can be found in Christ. If you don’t believe me, just keep trying to satisfy yourself with material things, or alcohol or drugs, or even another person and see if you ever find contentment. Or can you ever say, “all I need is some beans and rice to feed me and my family, because I am already content with knowing my Maker?”

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