Saturday, October 23, 2021
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Sheldon Stephenson

Trading selfishness for selflessness

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Selfishness comes in many different forms, and sometimes we do not even recognise it when it rears it’s head.

We often think of a selfish person as one that may not want to share – like a child that does not want to share their toys or sweets with another child. But I have come to realise that selfishness is not only about not sharing with others; it is also about people’s own self-absorption. Selfishness is about what you can get and in today’s society, everything is about “me”. You can disagree if you want, but I am sure you can see it just as clearly as I do.

The dictionary defines selfishness as follows (I especially love the synonyms!):

adjective: self-ish: (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s ow personal profit or pleasure.

synonyms: egocentric, egotistic, egotistical, egomaniacal, self-centred, self-regarding, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-seeking, self-serving, wrapped up in oneself, inward-looking, introverted, self-loving; inconsiderate, thoughtless, unthinking, uncaring, heedless, unmindful, regardless, insensitive, tactless, uncharitable, unkind;

I have had to teach my children selflessness, not vice versa. Selfishness comes naturally. We are all selfish, and sometimes it is alright to care for yourself and your needs, but it is never alright to be selfish if it means you lack consideration for all others around you, thinking you are superior and treating others like they do not matter as much as you. This is one of the worst forms of selfishness around – lack of consideration for other people.

The other day, while in a big traffic jam, one driver decided that he was more important than the rest of us who had also been stuck in the jam for over 30 minutes and so he decided that it was his right to go driving in the oncoming traffic lane to get to the front and cut in ahead of everyone else. The best thing about it was that he did not see the traffic officer’s car parked down the side street a little way up the road. Another example can be seen watching people catching a train. My word, I tell you, when that train arrives at the platform, it is like that is the last train on earth. The people storm those doors and push and shove and go totally mental and once inside they fight for a seat.

I have even seen women attending a Christian women’s event act like no self-respecting people ever should act (especially Christian people!). It was appalling to say the least and it made me realise that they really needed to be there.

My point though is not to belittle anyone but rather to show you that we have all been those people, and we need to start considering others instead of using or destroying others because of what we can get from them.

Jealousy, greed, lack of respect for discipline, and ungratefulness – these are all dangerous forms of selfishness and have caused the most tragic and terrible occurrences ever to happen in the history of our world.

As I watch the news and check social media I notice that the world is getting more self-absorbed with each passing hour, and the more self-absorbed everyone becomes, the more I am reminded of this verse:

But realize this, in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! – 2 Timothy 3: 1-9

All of the things mentioned in the above verse are a form of selfishness. But there is a hope that lies in Jesus, and His message and ministry was all about selflessness.

You see, when Jesus was asked: “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” he replied: “The most important commandment is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

Imagine if the world lived by these words of Jesus. Things would not look as ugly as they do in this beautiful world. Let’s trade selfishness for selflessness.

If you feel stirred to seek God and to live a life of selfless service, please click on the pop up or banner below.

Free as a bird

While walking the other day two tiny birds flew down and landed really close to me. I stopped to watch them as they pecked at the ground for food. They moved closer to me as I stood there like a statue but the second I moved they flew off at high speed.

I thought about how carefree they seemed, and in that moment I wished I was a bird – to fly free and be free from all the responsibilities of this life as a human. Birds don’t have to worry about money or work or school, after all… But with a little more thought on my part I realised that they actually don’t have such a carefree life. They have dangers to worry about – predators that will swoop down and eat them if they let down their guard for a moment. They possibly have other bird issues too – I mean, I’m not sure as I have never been a bird before, but I’m sure they do have other issues to worry about!

The weekend before this whole bird encounter, I had spent a couple of days in hospital with my wife and our daughter who had been admitted because a virus had left her very dehydrated and unable to take in liquids without the aid of a drip. Before this weekend I had also been working extremely hard on getting my finances in order. My finances were starting to move into the green light area of a very tight budget. A savings account of some sort was starting to peek out like a silver lining in the clouds – but now with our daughter in hospital and with her not yet being on our family medical aid, I found myself with a depleted bank account once again and three quarters of a month still to go before our next payday. This, for any man who has a house, a wife and three kids to look after, can be a very scary situation to be faced with. I know without a doubt that I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious and every kind of negative thought rushed through my brain. How was I going to get fuel for my car, and feed my family?

Those two little birds that day brought to mind some comforting words I had heard from a very wise man:

“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”  – Luke 12:24

So with these words ringing in my ear I thought of three things you can remember:

  1. I am more precious to God than the birds

God loves all his creation, I am sure, but humans were the pinnacle of his creation. We are the apple of his eye and what we can know for sure is that, if the needs of animals are taken care of on a daily basis, then we can rest assured that God will see to it that our needs are met also. I know it’s not always easy to stand with your faith and trust firmly intact but I believe that that is one of the keys to seeing the miraculous happen in your situation.

  1. There’s no point in worrying

Another key to seeing the miraculous happen is to stop worrying. After all, what does worry accomplish? Will worrying change the situation? No it won’t, so instead of worrying, present your request to God with thanksgiving and praise and just have faith that as you do what you can, God will add the miraculous. Sometimes when we worry we can get so flustered and so anxious that we end up making stupid decisions that can end up making our situation even worse than before.

  1. Seek God first

This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned recently. Just seek God first before anything else and He will take care of the rest. In Luke 12:29-30 we are told that God already knows all our needs and that if we seek the Kingdom of God (that is to say if we are in a relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ, and we live a life led by His teachings and the leading of the Holy Spirit), all of our needs will be fully met. Of course there’s a difference between needs and wants:

  • Needs: These are our basic necessities, like food and water and shelter in the form of clothing and warmth from the cold or rain. So basically needs would be the one thing you would give up all of your wants for if wants were all you had and nothing else.
  • Wants: These are luxuries; the things we do not need to survive in life, like cell phones and flat-screen televisions. So basically, wants are all those material things we have that would ultimately mean very little to us if we were starving to death or were without a drink of water for a few days.

I hope this has helped you get some perspective in whatever situation you find yourself today. It’s not always easy to stay calm, but if you seek the Kingdom of God above all else I know he will give you everything you need. If you would like to stop struggling through this life alone then click the link below or click on the pop-up menu. We’d love to chat and help you find peace.

What fatherhood taught me about God

Are you a parent? If so, you have most probably had your fair share of ups and down.

You know those moments of which I am speaking: those moments where your child causes you to think thoughts that no self-respecting, sane person should be thinking!

Insanity aside, becoming a father has been the most wonderful thing that ever happened in my life. It has taught me a lot about myself, about others, and about God.

I always saw God as this tyrannical slave driver who only wanted to be a killjoy, but becoming a father changed that, and it gave me some real insight into the way God deals with us.

Here are some comparisons I see:

1. God’s love is unconditional

I have found that I choose to love my children no matter what they do or don’t do.

If my children do something naughty or just down-right stupid (which happens daily) it does not and never will change the fact that I love them deeply. I do not love them more when they are being good and making clever choices. I do not love them any less when they scream “I hate you!” and act like ungrateful little monsters. No, my love for them is unconditional.

2. God says no for a reason

Like I mentioned earlier, children often do stupid things. That is not exactly a bad thing because they are actually learning life skills – but there are times when you cannot allow them to do something stupid out of sheer love for them.

Like the time when my son wanted to put his hand on the oven plate while I was cooking, or the time I found him licking the exhaust pipe of my car; or the time he decided to try breathing under water just because he wanted to double check the facts we had taught him (alas, humans cannot breathe under water). I am very sure that there are going to be many more times in the future where I will say no to my children, and it will always be for their good.

3. God disciplines those He loves

When my children are naughty, I discipline them, and each child is disciplined differently, because one form of discipline does not work for all my children. Some people do not discipline their children at all. I am sure you know those children of whom I speak.

Parents these days don’t want their children to hate them, so instead of being a parent, they  try to become their child’s BFF. This is dangerous because the lack of discipline does nothing but turn children into disrespectful and irresponsible people who are oblivious about the concept that their actions carry consequences.

4. God blesses those He loves

I love to bless my children. I try my best to give them the things they want or love. I go out of my way to help them when they need help or to get them that thing they have been eyeing in the toy store. I love seeing them happy. I am also teaching them the value of appreciating what they have because just as quickly as I can bless them, I can also take away that gift.

These are just a few lessons about God I have learnt from being a father. I feel very happy that I have finally been able to make sense of some of God’s actions towards me. There are some I will never understand, but with these four above, I know I can trust Him in all areas of my life.

What death taught me

Death. Many of us have experienced it in some form or another in our lives. Whether it was a beloved family member or friend, I’m sure you’ll agree death is devastating. Nonetheless, it’s something that each one of us will have to deal with at some point in our lives – and that includes our own death. This truth is echoed in the immortal words of Jim Morrison: “No-one here gets out alive”.

As a child, did you ever have a pet that you loved and cared for? I actually think it’s a very important part of childhood – having your own pet. You have to feed it, make sure it has water, and clean up after it. Basically, you have the life of some creature in your hands and that brings with it great responsibility.

The flip-side of that coin though is this: When you give your heart to something or someone, there is always the chance that you will one day face the heartache of losing them. Anyone who has ever lost a pet will know that no matter whether it’s a pet mouse or a pedigree dog or a teeny tiny silk worm – losing them is hard on your heart.

A while ago my seven-year-old son’s pet rat (Her name was Buttons) got really sick. She  began to lose her balance and her eyes were bulging. For a few days we tried to feed her and give her some medicine. My son was distraught and he kept praying for Buttons to be healed. Finally, after a few days, I sat him down and told him we would have to take Buttons to the vet to see what’s wrong. Long story short: Buttons had a brain tumour and would have to be put down.

I remember as a child, when my dog (that I loved) was hit by a car and we had to have him put down. I remember it all from a child’s perspective, but only now while standing here with my son did I get it from a parent’s perspective. It was so hard for me to have to tell my boy what was going to happen – even though it was the kindest thing we could do for poor Buttons. So I sat him down and very lovingly explained what was wrong with his pet, and also what the vet was going to do. Buttons would feel no pain and just fall asleep. When she awoke she would be in heaven.

When we got to the vet, my son went up to her and asked her loads of questions. She was terrific. She was very gentle and cared about his feelings. She mentioned to my son that she would know when Buttons had gone to heaven by listening to her heartbeat and that when her heartbeat stopped, that would show that she was gone.

Then my son surprised me: He asked the vet if he could be the one to listen to her last few heartbeats. He wanted to be the one to send her on her journey and he wanted to be the one to tell us all when his beloved Buttons drew her final breath.

He took the stethoscope and plugged the ear pieces into each of his ears. He then started tapping his fingers to the rhythm of her heartbeat. When his fingers stopped tapping, he took off the stethoscope and told the vet that he would like to take her home to bury her. He walked out with tears streaming down his face and all I could do was hold him tightly and reassure him that she was better off. No more pain – Buttons was free.

When we got home, we went straight out to the garden. He chose a spot in the flowerbed, and found some pretty pebbles and flowers. He then picked up a cross that decorated our garden. This became her headstone. I got the spade. We buried her, placed the pebbles around her in a circle, and placed the cross on top and sprinkled the flowers over the grave site. My son asked if we could pray. He did so, and we all said a little prayer after that.

A few minutes passed by and we had retreated back inside. From outside, I heard the echoes of a hauntingly beautiful, melancholy melody. I knew it was my son playing piano in the garage. Without him seeing me, I stood at the door listening. To my amazement i heard him singing his own little worship song to God. On a day when his little heart was broken, after unanswered prayers to save his beloved rat had left his faith a little bruised, there he was, singing praises and thanking God for all his family and all that he owns.

It’s funny how the death of something or someone you love can make you view your life in a whole different light. You begin to appreciate things a little more, and you begin to understand life a little better, too. Even more impressive for me was watching my son praise God through this tough time of confusion and heartache. He gave me a new understanding of a well-known verse in the Bible:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

I learned a great lesson from my son that day: No matter what happens, we can always turn to God to give us comfort in times of pain. We will all go through tough times. We will feel heartache and pain, but it’s how we deal with these storms that shows us a lot about what kind of character we have.

My son made me look at myself in a new way. I was happy that I had left a profound lesson for my boys to learn from. By being an example to them – through my own storms – I taught them what strong faith really is.  Man, I felt so grateful and so emotional.

That night I had a great chat with my boys about life and death and about God and heaven. Death really can bring a fresh perspective, and my boys learned that death often brings a new respect for life.

Are you a Negative Nancy?

I often hear people speaking the most negative things over themselves and their lives. It’s incredible just how much of a “norm” it has become to be negative. There are even those out there who have become so good at being negative that they speak negatively even about positive things that may be happening.

People are constantly saying how they don’t know if they will be able to do this or that. They talk about how terrible life is and how terrible the economy is. The list could go on forever.

In all honesty, it’s hard not to get negative when you look at world news, the local newspapers, or just listen to people on the streets in your hometown. Society is crumbling; moral decay has never been more prevalent than in today’s world. But the way I see it is that there are enough negative things happening in the world and all around us – so why add fuel to the fire if you do not have to?

Quite a few years ago, before I became a Christian, I was into new age beliefs. I followed the teachings of The Law of Attraction (you may have heard of The Secret). I remember reading about the concept of thoughts becoming things – the idea that what you focus on can manifest in reality. What a deeply profound concept, hey. It’s a pity that it wasn’t an original concept, though. Just take a look at what was written between AD61 and AD63 by the Apostle Paul when he wrote these words in the Bible, in Philippians 4:8:

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.

I’m not sure about you, but these words seem pretty similar to the teaching of The Secret, don’t they? Paul had this revelation way before it ever became a “secret”.

So what can we get from this? Here are some nuggets.

1. You can’t be negative while being positive: If you work on the principle of only focusing on the positives in your life, you won’t be able to be negative. It’s that simple. So in every situation, look for the positives and then focus on them. While driving to work, I get stuck in some really crazy traffic. I could get all stressed out and negative, but I decided to start thanking God for my car in which I was travelling and for the job that I was travelling to. You cannot smile and frown at the same time.

2. Positivity leads to more positivity: The more you start searching for the positives in everyday situations, the better you will become at finding the positives. Eventually it will become a habit.

3. Positivity breeds positivity: No-one likes negative people. They are draining. Even negative people don’t like negative people. When you are positive, you will draw more positive reactions out of people around you, changing situations and calming tense situations down. Some may see your positive attitude as you being condescending, but hey… so what?

4. A positive attitude lowers stress: When all you focus on is negative, you will eventually have some serious stress build up in your system. Stress can kill you and it can cause you to do things you may regret. Just breathe, assess the situation, and be positive… Trust me, you will feel way better and will probably live longer too.

I have made it my goal in life to stop entertaining the negatives and to instead focus on the positives. I am getting there. It’s not always easy, and I do not always get it right, but each time I find myself losing the plot, I just ask God for his peace. If you have never felt peace wash over you in a stressful moment, I encourage you to click the link below to find out more about God and His word. I am sure that you won’t regret it.

It’s what you do, dad

You have probably heard the saying: “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.”

Well, I have come to learn a few things about my children and this proverb seems to sum it up perfectly. It’s frustrating and stressful when you give advice to your children and they simply don’t listen. Sometimes, you feel like you want to grab them and shake some sense into them… Well I do, anyway.

I feel that I am qualified enough in this game called life to dish out advice to my children. Advice to help them make better choices; to help them think more positively about how blessed their lives actually are; advice on how to make it through this crazy messed up world with minimal war scars and baggage. I feel entitled because after all, I am 30 years their senior and I have been through enough in my life to be able to help them. But do you think they listen? No. It goes in one ear and out the other.

I suppose many of us were like this as children. We always believed we knew better than our silly old parents. I know I was!

But now this job of raising children has made me question whether I am actually qualified. Am I really entitled to dish out advice when I still do not take my own advice? It’s taken me 30 years to pull my life together, and I am still growing in many areas. I wonder what kind of an example my children are seeing in me, a man broken from his past, struggling through many of the effects that that broken past has had on me as an individual.

To be honest, I can still throw tantrums with the best of them. I still lose my cool and get angry and say stupid things I don’t mean. I still shout and scream and I still act a fool when I don’t get my own way. Yet these bad behaviours are what I am now trying to guide in my own children. How can I expect to teach lessons I may never have really learned myself?

I feel like I have learned a ton of great lessons in life; I have street smarts and have lived a hard knock life – but does my advice count for anything if my example does not reflect the words coming out of my mouth?

In Luke 6:39-40, Jesus said: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.”

Have I myself not been fully trained? Am I leading my children in the right way? Here are a few things to consider as you think about leading your children as a parent:

  1. Fix yourself first: I realise that I need to be more focused on working on my own actions and behaviours, because if I am still broken I cannot effectively lead my family. I must continue to seek advice and learn from my mistakes in order for my example to become greater.
  2. You cannot make anyone do anything: The more I struggle to get my advice through to my kids, the more I realise that I cannot force them to take my advice. Sometimes the best lessons are learned through one’s own mistakes.
  3. If you want to see change, be change: I am realising more and more that my words mean nothing to my children. Children do what they see. Your actions and behaviours are picked up more by your children than anything you ever say to them.
  4. You will mess up: Don’t expect to always get it right. That will cause unnecessary guilt each time you do mess up (which you will). When you do mess up just remember this – an apology goes further than anything else at this time. A father or mother apologising to their child for being wrong is one of the greatest lessons a child can ever witness.
  5. Never give up: When you seem to be at the end of your tether, remember the wise words of Dory from Finding Nemo – Just keep swimming! Do not give up trying. Keep returning to point one on this list.

I would like you to know that although I have grown a lot and I have seen more improvement in myself than I ever believed possible, I did not do it alone. In trying my best to be the best version of me that I can be and to teach my children to be the best version of themselves that they can be, I found that at the end of the day I am just human, and my children are just human, and we humans are not perfect. We fail, we choke, we live and learn and try again – but none of these changes would’ve ever been possible without the help of God. His wisdom has been an ever-present help to me when I have felt overwhelmed.

I rely on Him to help me grow and become better, because I know that I am just a flawed man who has no way of ever really getting it all right – but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Do you need help? Why don’t you give things over to God?

How to become uniquely you

Music, like any form of art, is unique to the artist.

There are a few basic rules one can follow, but some of the best art has come out of breaking the rules. There is no wrong or right when it comes to art, and that is because wrong and right is subjective (at least when it comes to art).

Give the same chords to a hundred different artists and you’ll get a hundred very different songs and none will be more correct than the next. Some people may enjoy some songs more than others, but at the end of the day every one of those 100 songs will be liked by somebody and disliked by others. That’s the nature of art.

We each have our unique tastes and we are each unique, right down to the fundamental building blocks that make up our entire beings – our DNA. Even identical twins who share the same DNA can have very unique personalities. Similarly, every human on earth has a unique finger print, and the pattern of blood vessels inside the eyes of each human is unique – that is why the human eye can and has been used for security identification. These unique traits are what make us special; one of a kind. So why then do we try so hard to fit in when we were born to stand out?

We’re all trying so hard to be noticed, while also trying so hard to fit in. Now that seems like a paradox of epic proportions! Grasp these truths, however, and you’ll become uniquely you:

  1. You will never stand out by fitting in: The truth is that just like music or art we are all beautifully unique in our own way and until we start embracing our uniqueness we will always be just another lost soul in the crowd. You cannot stand out when you are trying to fit in.
  1. You need to be true to you: Until you start being true to yourself you will always struggle with self-esteem issues, acceptance issues, and the likes. This is a dangerous place to be because when you start allowing the opinions of others to dictate how you live and act, you will always be a perfect “push over” candidate, and you will probably end up doing things you know are wrong or things you do not actually agree with on a moral level, just in order to be liked. Don’t fall for the lie that you must fit in to be cool. That is rubbish. Just be who God made you. Then you will find true friendships and will not have to strive for the attention and acceptance of others. Wouldn’t you prefer to have real friends who actually like you for who you are, rather than fake people in your life who criticise you unless you become more like them?
  1. You won’t find peace while trying to impress: The more you try impress others, the more it will steal your peace. Peace is defined in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “a state of tranquility or quiet; a state of security; freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions and harmony in personal relations.” This kind of tranquility comes naturally when you are not trying to be something you’re not. Your thoughts and emotions will be saved from all the negative effects that come from trying to fit in, from trying to be something you’re not. If you have read this and have seen yourself in my words, please do yourself a favour and get out of the downward spiral, get free of this disease and be yourself! The peace and freedom you will experience will overwhelm you and you’ll wonder why you have lived for so long trying to be something you are not. Why wait 30 years? Do it now – the captain is drunk and the ship is sinking.
  1. Stand up to stand out: No-one who fitted in with the crowds ever did anything special. The people who fit into crowds are “followers” and they just go with the flow regardless of whether their inner being is screaming out in pain; the pain of having to be so fake, so plastic… so dead. People stand out when they stand up against the flow of things. These people are the ones who stand against injustice. They stand for what they believe in and they do not give in to the lies of shallow people or this crazy, selfish world. They are the people who persevere against all odds and through trial and error, and change the world when they succeed. They are the ones who allow their true selves to burst forth into the world and cause change. They are the ones that history remembers.

I have suffered from being a follower. I have done it for far too long, and the frustrations that resided in me then are now the same frustrations that are causing me to be bitter with regret – regret for not following my heart; for not being myself and doing what I was born to do. Fake friends last a season but regret lasts a lifetime.

Luckily I have found meaning in my life through my faith in God. It is something I wish I had found sooner as I would have saved myself 20 years of heartache and madness. Today I am free from striving to be anything other than who God has made me to be, and the peace is great. My regret, on the other hand, is more for my own sake – I keep just enough regret so as to remind myself of all those wasted years. If you want to know who you really are, then the only real answers lie in the word of God. Click the link below to find out more.

Don’t drink the poison

Some people like to say revenge is sweet, and I have no doubt that that is true when you are comfort-eating your way through a tub of ice cream the size of a small dog because of a lost lover or, even worse, an unrequited love.

Yes, you will stew in your bitterness for years, because revenge is also a dish best eaten cold. You will wrench your face together in hateful contemplation as you envision all the evil things you will one day do to that monster that hurt you and broke your heart and shattered your trust forever and a millennium.

Okay, okay, now snap out of it. Back to reality.

Tell me, have you ever heard the saying that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies?

Woah! You weren’t expecting that, were you? Well, sometimes people need to hear the truth, and even though the truth may hurt, its better to be straight up and honest than to allow someone you care about to make a stupid mistake – or worse yet, to allow them to be stuck in unforgiveness and bitterness.

Lately, I have noticed many people who struggle with unforgiveness, and it got me wondering why. Yes, I understand that people get hurt and that they have to deal with that hurt and go through a process of healing – but why do some people allow that bitterness to haunt them for the rest of their lives?

It might be the selfishness of human nature. Every one of us has a selfish tendency – we were born with it (just look at every child under six) – and when we are wronged, we feel we have the right to avenge ourselves. There are even those of us who continue to expect others to forgive us for all our wrongdoings, all the while being unforgiving of others who wronged us.

Yes, forgiveness is hard; it is meant to be hard. That is because it goes against the very essence of our sinful nature. There is also a lesson of growth and strength of self in the act of forgiveness.

Now as a Christian, I always live from a place where I am searching for a biblical example of what I should do in certain situations. And these two verses speak volumes on the subject of forgiveness:

Ephesians 4:31-32

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. 

Matthew 6:14-15

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Yes, forgiveness is not easy, trust me – I know. But I know forgiveness comes much easier to those of us who have found the ultimate forgiveness in this life. I know that without these examples, I may never have been able to forgive some people for things they have done to me, but now I can forgive confidently knowing that I am in essence setting myself free so I can continue to flourish instead of allowing myself to wither away in bitterness.

Would you like this kind of freedom?  Click below to find out more about how to get this kind of freedom in your life. You won’t regret it.

Looking for ‘the one’? Forget it.

Many people believe in fate. Many believe in finding the one.

The one that will complete them. The one that will make them whole.

Is this idea realistic? Well, I hate to be the one to burst your little bubble, but the truth is that the notion of fate and finding “the one” is not only stupid but also very dangerous!

In fact, this belief has caused a lot more happily never-afters than happily ever-afters.

Would you like to know why?

Firstly, fate doesn’t exist. We are thinking and feeling human beings – not a bunch of robots. We as humans make choices every second of every minute of every day. How can “fate” play a role if we have the ability to choose?

The simple definition of fate, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the following: “A power that is believed to control what happens in the future.”

This definition is perfect in its explanation of what people believe fate is, but it leaves out a vital truth in the equation, and that truth is that we all have free will to choose our destinies.

Do you agree?

This leads to my second point, which is the idea of finding “the one”. This idea is also flawed because of the fact that we have free will to choose. On this planet we call home, there are over seven billion people. Just think about that for a second. That leaves you with a rather big dilemma when it comes to finding “the one”, don’t you think? I mean, you might waste your whole life searching for the illusive “one” and never be satisfied with who you find, all because of this silly idea.

Let’s think about the facts: Scientists say that when you become attracted to someone, the main culprits behind your love-struck behaviour are dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Dopamine shoots through the roof, creating those euphoric feelings you get. Adrenaline and norepinephrine are responsible for the racing heart, sweaty palms, and the preoccupation with your new love interest. Serotonin levels drop to new lows – these low serotonin levels are also commonly found in people with OCD. These physical responses can usually last for the first two years and they can actually work to our disadvantage – which leads me to my main point.

The reason why so many couples end up breaking up after the first two years is because once all of those chemicals stop messing around with your mind, reality sets in. You begin to notice all the flaws in your partner – those same flaws you thought were so cute before, now become an irritation.

Then the fights begin and become more frequent. This leads to some people believing that maybe this person isn’t actually “the one” – and then they are off to find the correct one. Here is a little titbit for you: there is no correct one.

You could find a million different, attractive people who could be compatible with you, whom you could love and cherish for life, but at the end of the day it all comes down to choice, and not feelings. You cannot trust yourself or your feelings when your brain has been hijacked by the above-mentioned chemicals. Those are just mechanisms to help the process begin, but they will never be what keep your relationship going.

Loving someone through their worst times is what builds a strong and healthy relationship. Another key aspect is communication and trust. Yes, you will fight, but that is a good sign. A good argument means you are not holding things in, which is vitally important to a healthy relationship. My wife and I often have arguments. Afterwards, we laugh and she says: “That was a good one, but at least now it’s sorted out.”

Relationships are about growing together, learning each other, and building a life together through all the madness. I have been married for nearly nine years and trust me; I know that relationships are hard work. Jumping from partner to partner every time things get tough, in the hope of finding the right one, is like trying to catch the wind in a butterfly net.

You will be forever chasing the perfect relationship, when in reality the perfect relationship is merely two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.

I know of another relationship like that. This one’s found in the Bible. It’s the story of God’s love for us. He has never given up on His creation, even though we are flawed, messed up, and broken. His love is constant and His covenant is unbreakable.

This verse in Jeremiah 31:3 describes it so perfectly:

Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”

If you would like to find out more about how to have a relationship that will last for a lifetime and beyond, please click the banner below or the popup.

Lessons from the rain

It’s funny where you find inspiration sometimes.

I mean, you could be sitting anywhere doing anything and suddenly – bam! – it hits you.

Inspiration is like the wind. It can be there one minute and gone the next. It can come out of nowhere and blow you off your feet, and the most frustrating thing about it is that you really have no control over it at all. You cannot force yourself to be inspired. Inspiration comes to us in fractured moments, and those moments can be life-changing if you catch them.

Today I was sitting waiting for a train. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, there were a lot of wonderfully white fluffy clouds floating way up high. I sat down on the platform and took out my book to write down some thoughts, and all of a sudden I felt a raindrop hit my face. Another one hit the page on which I was writing, turning the clear words into puddles of ink. With each unexpected drop, the once clear letters on the page began to melt into the next and – bam! – it hit me, a profound thought: isn’t this just so typical of life. The rain can come unexpectedly at any time, regardless of how much sun may be shining.

I am constantly reminded of how quickly life can change, and there are millions of people around the world finding out this very truth in the hardest of ways. Sometimes the rain can be a consequence of a bad choice, but most of the time, the rain just comes out of the blue.

Here are some lessons you can learn from those rainy seasons:

  1. It helps you appreciate the sun

I make an effort every morning and every evening to tell my loved ones that I love them. No matter what happens between dusk and dawn – it is irrelevant.

Never leave home without telling your wife, husband, children, mom, dad, brother, or sister that you love them, and never go to bed with unfinished business left on the table. You see, you never know what the day or the night holds and tomorrow might never come for either you or your loved one. Let the thought of rain leave you in a perpetual state of gratitude.

  1. It makes you look for cover

Sometimes in life, when the rain comes, people act like they don’t need an umbrella.

People prefer to keep their problems a secret. They don’t want others to know that their ink is melting. They lie, not only to others, but to themselves. They want to be seen as strong and together, but that stress alone can cause even more of a rainstorm. The truth is, no one wants to be drenched and wet, yet so many of us run around without an umbrella. The most important thing to do when it begins to rain is to find cover. That cover can be the support of a good friend or your loved ones or anyone you trust. Just do not try to deal with your issues alone, or the rain will leave you soaked and feeling cold (which is never a great feeling).

  1. It can wash away dirt

I remember the day my wife and I lost our baby. Before that rainstorm, there were some major problems plaguing myself and my family as a unit. There were issues between other family members and us also and things just seemed hopeless. After the rain, I found a new person inside of myself. I found a strength in myself that made others take note. The rain brought not only a peace in me, but also between me, my wife, and my children. I also noticed a revival in our external family relationships. All these issues were put aside and replaced by love and understanding and a newfound appreciation of life and family.

I believe that the rain can wash away dirt and give you a good slap to wake you up to what is important and to help you see all that you have to be grateful for.

  1. It gives you the opportunity to learn and grow

Often it takes a major rainstorm to wake us up. It’s unfortunately true. You see, we get so caught up in life that we end up taking everything for granted. We forget what’s important and we just keep going with the flow until we lose perspective of what we are, who we are, and what we are doing.

Luckily for us, these rainstorms are the opportunity we often need to re-evaluate ourselves, our lives, and our priorities; to gather our thoughts, and make the necessary changes. This growth that happens after a rainstorm is usually a deep-rooted growth. The one or two life-changing moments that each of us gets in this existence. Don’t waste it.

The rain will come whether you like it or not but the good news is that the rain will stop and the water will dry up eventually.

For me as a Christian, I often wonder how people get through the tough things that this life throws at them without belief in a God who has everything under control. I know I would not have survived most of my experiences without my faith. If you want to know more about faith, please click below. We would love to help you on your journey.

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