Category Archives: Thoughts

Anchor

Self-Control and Avoiding Temptation—Part 2

From the Roadmap series

free-bible-studies-online-anchorSome people are strongly affected by their emotions. That’s not altogether bad, unless the emotions are negative. If you have a tendency to get angry and blow off steam, speed when driving because you’re frustrated or upset, binge-drink when you’re sad or lonely, or other such actions, it’s important to learn to control your emotions. Managing your emotions doesn’t mean you stop feeling or expressing yourself.

 
 
Managing your emotions means:

You don’t overreact to situations.
You take a moment to put things in perspective.
You remain firmly in control, so that your emotions enhance your life, rather than ruin it.
You make your emotions work for you. Not against you.
—Burke Hedges, You, Inc.

Consider this true story.

When the athlete was only a boy, it was obvious to everybody that he was blessed with special physical gifts. He loved all sports, and excelled at every one he ever tried.

When he was nine years old, his father handed him a warped wooden tennis racquet. From the first swing of the racquet, the boy was hooked! It wasn’t long before he was beating all the kids his age throughout the country.

By the time he was 12 he was regularly beating the best adult players in his country, and he could give tennis pros a run for their money. Everyone predicted he would be a world champion one day; that is, if he could only learn how to control his temper.

You see, when something went wrong, like when he missed an easy shot or if an umpire made a bad call, the boy had a fit. His temper got so out of control that he began losing matches he should have won.

One day his father came out to watch him in the finals of a big tournament. Sure enough, the boy started losing his temper, shouting, cursing, throwing his racquet. After 10 minutes of witnessing this obnoxious behavior, the father walked onto the court, and announced to everyone present, “This match is over. My son defaults.” And with that he walked over to his son and said in a stern voice, “Come with me.”

When they got home the father placed the racquet in a closet and said, “You are not to touch this racquet or any other racquet for six months, end of discussion.”

At the end of the six months, his father handed the racquet to his son with these words: “If I hear so much as one curse word, or see so much as one toss of your racquet in anger, I’ll take it from you for good. Either you control your temper or I will control it for you.”

The boy was so overjoyed to be able to play that he took to the sport with more passion than ever before. By the time he was 16, he was winning professional tournaments all over Europe.

With each tournament, the young man was getting better and better, and the press started calling him “teen angel”! You see, after his father’s suspension, the boy learned to manage his emotions even under the most stressful conditions.

Whether it was the first point of an easy match or the last nerve-racking point of a hard-fought final, his expression and demeanor remained the same. He was in complete control of his emotions.

He went on to become what many experts consider the greatest player ever. He won 14 major championships in all, including six French Open titles, the first when he was only 18 years old, and five straight Wimbledon titles. The one-time tennis brat, later known as “Teen-Angel,” was Bjorn Borg.

Borg would be the first to admit that learning to manage his emotions was the turning point in his tennis career,if not his life.Whether you are five years old or 55 years old, managing your emotions means understanding that you can’t always control what happens to you. But as Bjorn Borg learned, you CAN control your emotional response.

—Burke Hedges, You, Inc. (adapted)

Bjorn Borg learned to control his emotions as a teenager, and the results were tremendous success and excellent character. Borg’s father stepped in and brought the lessons home for him. Our heavenly Father may, in some cases, do the same, if necessary, in order to teach us self-restraint and self-control. At other times, however, He may allow us to continue in the wrong direction we’ve chosen until eventually we see for ourselves where our lack of self-restraint has taken us, which is usually not where we had originally intended to go. If we want to be “quick studies,” we won’t wait for the Lord to intervene, or expect that He always will. Sometimes—often, in fact—the Lord is willing to let us learn the hard way. So it’s important that we learn to be responsible for our actions and emotions, personally.

Acting on runaway emotions will have consequences. To not think things through can have life-altering repercussions. And unfortunately, often those consequences can never be undone, nor those repercussions reversed.

Today’s society offers more freedom and more choices. We also face more temptations, more distractions, and more permissiveness. Therefore, it’s crucial that we fully understand and respect the power of our emotions, and that we learn to take responsibility for them and manage them well.

It’s never too late to learn to control your temper or manage your emotions. There are many practical tips on this, which can be effective, but the most effective way to grow in this area is through communion with the Lord, in prayer, reading God’s Word, and committing our lives and emotions to Him.

 
Live without regrets

Another part of self-control is related to discipline. For example, do you have enough self-control to walk away from something appealing or “fun” when it’s not the right thing to do? Or to resist doing something crazy, like accepting a dangerous dare from a friend? Do you have enough self-control to keep from overdrinking so as to avoid making a fool of yourself, or worse yet, causing some serious damage? Maybe your drunken antics hurt your relationship with your significant other. Or maybe you wrecked your car, hurt someone, or lost your job. Perhaps you flunked out of school or caused people to question your character.

Taking charge of your life requires discipline. Yes, tons of it. But discipline is neither readily attained nor easily maintained. It demands the mental stamina to overcome empty passions and faulty habits. It also requires the fortitude to resist the pull of so many temptations that otherwise might lure us toward meaningless sideshows. But more than anything, it demands a relentless focus on what matters most.
—Stephen Covey

Researchers have found twenty things that people do when they are young that they will likely regret when they are forty. Some of the things noted include smoking, posting risqué photos on the Internet, unwise social networking, getting tattoos in visible places, body piercings and plugs, overspending and getting into debt, random unprotected sex, dropping out of school, and being too busy or disinterested to spend time with the people they love.

There is a wide range of opinions on the validity of these actions, and some people might not agree with these points being a risk or something to avoid. But the point is this: You will not always have the mindsets, attitudes, or approach to life that you have today, and one day you might look back on what you’re doing now, on certain actions that you can’t take back or undo, and say, “What in the world was I thinking?!”

Leaders ought not to worry greatly about occasional mistakes, but they must vigilantly guard against those things that will make them feel ashamed.
—Jon Huntsman

We are making choices now that will affect the course of the rest of our life. Undoubtedly, we want that course to be a good one. That is why it’s important that we first of all know what the Lord wants, as well as where we’re headed and why, in order to then develop the right habits and the proper disciplines needed to help us follow that path. We each hold our future in our hands; we determine what it will be by our daily choices.

God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. But what I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it! When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it. I want it to be gain, and not loss; good, and not evil; success, and not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price that I have paid for it.
—Attributed to W. Heartsill Wilson

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Anchor

Self-Control and Avoiding Temptation—Part 1

From the Roadmap series

free-bible-studies-online-anchorHave you heard that expression, “All that glitters is not gold”? Well, that can certainly be true of many of the temptations that come into our lives. Some things look good or attractive at first glance, but the immediate situation can be misleading. For example, when the desire to have a good time is coupled with a careless, “anything goes” attitude, the combination can be dangerous and have weighty consequences.

There are all kinds of ways the Devil tries to trip us up so that we lose perspective, make rash decisions, get out of balance, and then fall prey to excesses or binges, or to emotional outbursts that can have negative repercussions. But as we know from the Word of God, and from history, and our own life experiences, self-control and moderation is important if we’re going to maintain a happy, well-balanced, and centered, productive life.

The Bible tells us to “let our moderation be known.” Temperance is also one of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians. Temperance is synonymous with self-control. (See Galatians 5:22–23)

Self-control is the ability to control your behavior, especially in terms of reactions and impulses. Temperance is self-restraint in the face of temptation or desire. Temperance also has to do with having moderation in all things.—Peter Amsterdam

As Christians, we need to be on guard against things that can damage our testimony, hurt our witness, and hinder us from fulfilling the mission, by tarnishing our personal example and reputation. Sometimes little overindulgences or lacks of moderation that aren’t in line with the Bible don’t seem like a big deal. We can think it’s just a little thing. But even small actions can have significant repercussions, so it’s important to measure our actions by the standard of the Christian values we’re committed to living by. The goal is to strive to do the Lord’s will to the best of our ability and to make the right choices—to live right, and to align our actions and choices with our core values.

If we as Christians have an active relationship with God, we can count on the fact that His Spirit will faithfully speak to our conscience when we’re tempted to overreact or overindulge. But if we consistently resist the conviction of the Holy Spirit, pretty soon we won’t hear the Lord’s voice clearly.

The more someone disregards the leadings of the Lord’s Spirit, the easier it becomes to go further down that slippery path of disobedience. Hence the seriousness of failing to exercise restraint when needed, even in small ways.

There are numerous common temptations in the world today, which, when not resisted, lead to sin, including:

  • failure to control negative emotions towards others, angry outbursts, jealous rages
  • overdrinking or binge drinking
  • substance abuse
  • crossing the boundaries for appropriate sexual conduct
  • gossiping, lying, or cheating
  • driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • pornography

That’s just to name a few of the obvious ones.

It is, of course, much easier and safer to avoid getting into trouble with these temptations by avoiding taking steps in that direction in the first place. The Enemy wants to wreak havoc in our lives, so it’s best to take it seriously and protect ourselves from the steep downward grade that wrong decisions can lead to. It’s like the well-known saying: “It’s better to build a fence at the top of the cliff rather than a hospital at the bottom.” That “fence” is self-control, and each of us decides how strong or weak it is by the choices we make.

We can strengthen our self-control by:

  • taking more responsibility for our lives.
  • understanding the dynamics of choice—its repercussions and consequences; counting the cost of our decisions.
  • not just living for the moment or today, but thinking about tomorrow and the future.
  • being true to our convictions, and keeping our spiritual life and connection with the Lord and His Spirit strong.
  • seeking professional help or counsel, if needed.

Of course, no one is above temptation. The Bible says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

One of the ways we can avail ourselves of that “way of escape” is through maintaining a strong connection with the Lord, which will give us a healthy fear of stepping outside of the circle of His protection through disobedience. Also, as a result of our relationship with the Lord, we will have the personal conviction to measure our actions against our values and Christian ethics.

We each decide what we will or will not do, and we’re the ones who live with the consequences of those decisions. Some people are naturally more reckless or prone to taking risks. If those risks are within reason, and we exercise reasonable restraint and ask the Lord to guide us and give us wisdom, then we’ll be able to stay on a safe path and learn as we go. Even if we make mistakes here and there, if we are walking in the fear of the Lord and praying about our decisions, we can trust that whatever He allows or brings into our lives will somehow work for our good, whether in this life or the next.

Here are some of the overall principles of self-control that come into play for leading a balanced, safe, productive life, that will help us to make good, safe decisions.

Spiritually speaking:

  • Study God’s Word to know the Lord’s counsel on issues.
  • Stay close to the Lord and strive to follow what He tells you in His Word, through prophecy, and via His still small voice.
  • Avoid making impulsive or rash decisions.
  • Base your decisions on the principles in His Word.
  • Ask the Lord to speak to you about your decisions, personal standards, and life choices.
  • Recognize when you’ve made a mistake and ask the Lord—and others, if necessary—for forgiveness and safeguarding, and then strive to not let it happen again.
  • Work to develop good character. Then be true to your personal convictions and moral ethics. This is closely tied to integrity, taking responsibility for your life, and not allowing yourself to be influenced negatively by others.

Practically speaking, here are some tips:

  • Choose your friends wisely. It’s an indication that you’re in good company if you “like who you are” (related to your Christian example) when you’re with someone.
  • Avoid placing yourself in situations where you know you’ll be tempted to sin. For example, if you have a tendency to overdrink, avoid partying with heavy drinkers.
  • Think about what you’re doing. Count the cost. Ask yourself if you might regret a decision you are making or action down the line.
  • Be aware that anyone can develop addictions. Don’t think it could never happen to you.

Regarding resisting temptations, it might not be as easy as one would assume, without the Lord’s help. Research conducted by the Kellogg School of Management and the University of Amsterdam concluded that “individuals believe they have more restraint than they actually possess, which ultimately leads to poor decision-making. … The research found [those tested] … miscalculated the amount of temptation they could truly handle, in turn leading to a greater likelihood of indulging impulsive or addictive behavior. … The key is simply to avoid any situations where vices and other weaknesses thrive and, most importantly, for individuals to keep a humble view of their willpower.”

You might argue that the temptations in life are too difficult to avoid. Here is some food for thought on that topic:

Someone [once] said that the temptations in life [are] just too great! Well, too great for whom? Of course they are too great for you!—But not for the God who wants to strengthen you in your time of need. It’s only by His help that anyone can resist temptation. You were never supposed to resist it alone. That’s why you need to get in touch with God! Because you can’t have the victory in yourself!
—Virginia Brandt Berg

 
Temptation is the feeling we get when encountered by an opportunity to do what we innately know we shouldn’t.
―Steve Maraboli

 
Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.
—Billy Sunday

 
Too often we think of being tempted as being enticed to do big things like stealing, murdering or committing adultery. But most often we’re tempted to be impatient, stingy, jealous, greedy, or any number of other things that we consider lesser sins.
—Joyce Meyer

 
When Christians find themselves exposed to temptation they should pray to God to uphold them, and when they are tempted they should not be discouraged. It is not a sin to be tempted; the sin is to fall into temptation.
—D. L. Moody

 
Every conquering of temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.
—William Butler Yeats

 
Temptation may even be a blessing to a man when it reveals to him his weakness and drives him to the almighty Savior. Do not be surprised, then, dear child of God, if you are tempted at every step of your earthly journey, and almost beyond endurance; but you will not be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, and with every temptation there will be a way of escape.
—F. B. Meyer

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.

Activated

The Wise and Unwise Leader

By David Brandt Berg, adapted

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A good executive is not a boss—he is a servant! Jesus wasn’t just trying to teach His disciples humility when He said, “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26) A good executive simply is not a dictator. He listens to his employees. When the top people don’t communicate with those under them, then of course they don’t understand them or their problems. When that happens, they’re headed for trouble!

Leaders at any level should listen to those they lead. Leaders are responsible to make the final decision, but being a leader does not mean that you have all the ideas and do all the thinking and all the consulting just within yourself. A good executive will listen to others.

When it comes to plans, goals, motivation, and other overall aspects of the work, the leaders are supposed to be skilled or they shouldn’t be the leaders. But when it comes to practical matters, leaders ought to listen to others who may know more about it than they do. A good leader will listen to his workers’ suggestions, discuss, agree with them on a course of action, and then leave them alone to carry out the work, just monitoring the progress. The executive’s job is really mostly to keep things moving, while others recommend, initiate, and by all means carry out the various actions.

Nearly every CEO or president is surrounded by counselors that advise him on what to do. Did you know that even God works that way? He calls in His chief counselors and angels and asks them, “What do you think we should do about this?” He listens to their suggestions and then has the wisdom to know who is right. (See 1 Kings 22:19–22; Job 1:6–12) And God not only listens to His heavenly counselors and angels, but don’t forget, He even listens to us when we pray.

If God Himself won’t do all the thinking for us, then who are we to try to make all the decisions, do all the thinking, give all the instructions, and carry them all out besides? A leader just can’t operate alone!

Only a novice, only a brand-new, not-yet-dry-behind-the-ears junior executive tries to run everything and tell everybody what to do. Any smart executive is going to pump people power. He is not going to try to be the pump, or the pump handle, or the water, or the bucket. Instead, he’s going to be the guiding hand that takes hold of the handle and pumps to create a lively discussion so he and all concerned can benefit from others’ ideas and experience.

A wise leader will try to keep others happy, because people do a better job when they are happy and doing work they like to do and want to do. If you’re going to have an effective team, the members need to work together, listen to each other, counsel together, decide together, and then follow through together.

As in the human body, you can’t say that you have no need of even one little member. You need every fingernail, every cell, as well as every organ and every limb. (See 1 Corinthians 12:14–17) Everybody is important, from the most insignificant to the seemingly most important. Everyone has their job, everyone is needed, and all must work together in harmony and cooperation.

Talk together, discuss together, counsel together, agree together, decide together, do together, care together, grow together, work together, and enjoy the fruits of your labors together. Then you’ll be a wise leader and a good executive.

* * *

The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.
—John Stott (1921–2011)

*

Jesus said several times, “Come, follow me.” His was a program of “do what I do,” rather than “do what I say.” His innate brilliance would have permitted him to put on a dazzling display, but that would have left his followers far behind. He walked and worked with those he was to serve.
—Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985)

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

10 Tips for Excelling at Work

By Tina Kapp

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We build our work with our attitudes and actions day by day. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind if we want to excel in our jobs.

 
1. Volunteer. In the old folk tale of the Little Red Hen, she wanted to bake a loaf of bread, so she asked the animals in the barnyard to help her gather the wheat, but everyone was suddenly too busy and unavailable, so she did it herself. Later, she asked who would help her grind the wheat into flour, but everyone was too busy. Then she asked who could help her sift the flour and mix the ingredients; again, everyone was too busy to help. After requesting help several times, she ended up doing all the work herself. As a result, though, the animals missed out on the reward of enjoying the loaf.

Let’s not be like them. If your boss and coworkers know you can be counted on to take the extra step when the need arises, they’ll come to depend on your reliability and willingness to get things done. Showing initiative leads to increased trust, rewards, and responsibility.

In the Bible, David volunteered to fight the giant Goliath, which saved the day and gained him favor with King Saul. Another example is Isaiah volunteering to be a messenger for God by saying, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

 
2. Get the details right. Attention to detail says a lot about a person. If you can’t be bothered to spell a word (or a name) correctly or get your facts right, those around you will assume you can’t be bothered to get other things right either. Jesus said: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” (Luke 16:10 NIV)

If you go into a bathroom in a restaurant and it’s dirty, it might make you worry that the kitchen is also dirty, and you may decide to eat somewhere else instead. Even if it just happened to be a sloppy job that one day, it can still have a bad effect on the business’ reputation.

Regardless of the task, personal attention to detail shows that people can rely on you to get things done correctly and that you’ll go the extra mile to do it right.

The book of Proverbs says, “Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich.” (Proverbs 10:4 NLT)

 
3. Avoid gossip. Paul warned the Ephesians, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)

Gossiping may seem innocent, but words have a way of coming back to bite you. If you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, it’s probably not a good idea to say it to others. The classical Greek philosopher Socrates, credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, reportedly said: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.”

 
4. Be reliable. Your boss is counting on you, and unless you’re actually sick, playing hooky to skip out on work will let him and your coworkers down. You might get away with pretending to be sick to get off work, but people will come to see you as someone who often drops the ball, leaving them to pick up the pieces.

Paul said to the Thessalonians, “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge … to settle down and earn the food they eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:11–12 NIV) According to one reference, the original Greek translation of “disruptive” meant playing hooky.

 
5. Never do nothing. Rather than wasting time when you’ve finished your task, take a look around at what else needs to be done.

Jeroboam in the Bible was a shining example of this. When King Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the house of Joseph. (See 1 Kings 11:28) You can bet that didn’t come from him sitting around and slacking off every chance he got.

 
6. Be nice. This is a huge topic, and some aspects may seem obvious, but it covers everything from having good manners to being polite to the janitor or that slightly annoying coworker. The way you treat others will affect the way people see you. People who are polite and easy to work with end up with more references, contacts, and friends.

It also majorly impacts your ability to do business. Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People explains how kindness and showing genuine interest in others have often been the keys to business success. His book has a great collection of stories about successful people who were interested in others and used kindness in business.

One of my favorites is about a businessman named Mr. Duvernoy, who wanted to be the bread supplier to a certain New York hotel. He tried to get an appointment to present his products to the manager every week for years, but was unsuccessful even with that.

After learning about positive human relations, he decided to put them to the test. He found out that the manager was part of the Hotel Greeters of America Society and was so passionate about it that he attended every convention and event and even ran for its presidency.

The next time Mr. Duvernoy met the hotel manager, he brought up this society. The manager, who obviously loved the subject, spent half an hour talking about it. “In the meantime, I had said nothing about bread,” recalled Mr. Duvernoy. “But a few days later, the steward of his hotel phoned me to come over with samples and prices. ‘I don’t know what you did to the old boy,’ the steward greeted me, ‘but he sure is sold on you!’”

Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

 
7. Ask for feedback. In an article I read, there was a suggestion to check in with your boss or team every so often about how you’re doing and ask how you could improve. This shows you’re focused and take your work seriously.

If the apostle Paul were writing today, he would probably say something like, “Employees, obey your earthly bosses with respect and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5, paraphrased) The way you conduct yourself, your interactions with coworkers and your boss, says a lot about you as a person and affects your example as a Christian.

King David of the Bible was always praying about ways he could improve. In Psalms he says, “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me.” (Psalm 25:4–5 NIV)

Moses also checked in with God regularly: “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.” (Exodus 33:13 NIV)

 
8. Don’t rush into office romances. This is not a hard-and-fast rule—although different companies have their own policies, so it’s important to know and follow them—but experts often recommend keeping romance away from the workplace.

Relationships and friendships are wonderful, but always keep your goals in mind, and don’t let other things distract you.

 
9. Look professional. How you look and dress reflects either well or poorly on the company you work for or the service you perform. Some jobs have a dress code; if yours doesn’t, take cues from respected individuals at your work. Imagine getting stuck in the elevator with the company’s CEO, and dress for that possibility every single day. This is even more important when at a job interview, as first impressions are so important.

While the Bible is clear that God is more interested in what is in our hearts, it also cautions us that “people judge others by what they look like.” (1 Samuel 16:7 CEV) Make sure your appearance serves you well and shows respect for the position you have or want.

 
10. Show appreciation. If someone does their job well, say so. If someone helps you out, thank them. Saying nice things about others behind their back is also a wonderful thing to do, because if it gets back to the person, it often means more than the nice things you could say directly to them.

With the fast pace of today’s world, it’s easy to forget the value of a few simple words. Just taking a few minutes to acknowledge those you work with and their contributions will go a long way in making them feel appreciated.

Dale Carnegie wrote: “You don’t have to wait … before you use this philosophy of appreciation. You can work magic with it almost every day.”

Making your colleagues feel appreciated and important is the key to success and everyone working together happily. It may seem to be a small thing, but it gets big results.

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Activated

Yolo or Carpe Diem?

By Tina Kapp

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Most people have heard the acronym “YOLO” thrown around for the past couple of years. It stands for “you only live once.” Pop stars and celebrities have made it a catchphrase to promote doing crazy things or taking risks because, hey, “You only live once!”

It’s an attractive thought. Why worry about the future? Why subscribe to having to answer for decisions we make when we can pretend it all doesn’t matter anyway? Why can’t we only be concerned about what makes us happy right now?

Well, when you get older, you realize that life doesn’t work like that, and you start having to pay for the decisions you made earlier. In most cases, those who live life with that motto begin wishing they had thought about the long term a bit sooner.

I remember struggling with my weight as a teenager. I hated feeling overweight. I didn’t get chosen for local school dance teams and often felt insecure. I thought about it constantly. Did that stop me from overeating unhealthy food when I had the opportunity? Not a chance! At that moment, all I cared about was that it tasted good and I wanted it! When confronted with some delectable delight, all thoughts of being healthy magically disappeared … until later when I’d get depressed that I couldn’t lose weight. That was me living strictly in the moment with no thought for the long term.

Now that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t enjoy life. God doesn’t want us to be miserable. “Happy are the people who are in such a state;” the Bible says, “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15) “Do not sorrow,” it tells us, “for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) Jesus wants us to experience God’s love and the many blessings that He gives us every day.

Since we only have one life, what do we want to do with it? What do we want to be remembered for? What would be a life that we can look back at and be proud of? The well-known saying “Carpe Diem” (Latin for “seize the day”) has a positive feel to it. It’s the same rationale that you only live once, but rather than taking it as a reason to do crazy things, ignore consequences, and live for the now, it means to go further, to do more, and to not waste time.

Life is made up of lots of days. Some will be fun and chilled, while others will be hard work. Think of Olympic gold medalists. The day that they compete and win will go down in history, and I bet it will remain as one of the best days of their lives. But to get there, it takes years of training, hard work, and focus. Think of your favorite musician playing to a massive audience. Again, they only got there through countless days of faithful practice, rehearsals, and playing for anyone who would listen until they got their big break.

All our favorite Bible characters experienced something similar. Think of Noah building the ark or Joseph saving Egypt from starvation. The good days didn’t come from them sitting around only doing what they felt like and enjoying the YOLO days. It took hard work and planning so that when the time came, their single life would save many more and leave its mark on the world.

The prodigal son believed you only live once. (See Luke 15:11–32) He didn’t want to wait for his inheritance. He wanted to party and have fun now. He pestered his father for his share of his inheritance and then immediately “set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” (Luke 15:13 NIV) I’m sure he had a fabulous time … until the money ran out, and with it, all his so-called “friends.” They left him in rags, begging for food, when he had nothing left.

Ecclesiastes warns us, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

All of the choices we make have consequences—from little things like eating vegetables, to studying and working hard toward a goal, to living a godly life. Understanding that now can help you make wise decisions and have something wonderful to show for it at the end of your days.

Don’t let life pass you by. Make the most of it so that you can look back and be encouraged by what you’ve accomplished.

 
 

Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.

Secrets of a Happy Marriage!

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Marriage is the most satisfying, most strengthening and most lasting human relationship on this Earth, an illustration of God’s relationship with Man! Marriage ought to be more than just sex or friendship and certainly more than a mere business partnership!–It is intended by the Lord to be the most intimate, humbling, loving and self-sacrificial relationship between human beings!

Marriages, it has been said, are made in Heaven, but the maintenance is done down here! More important than how much two people love each other or how happy they are BEFORE their wedding, is how well they talk and share and work out their problems AFTERWARDS!–And how much time and effort and self-sacrifice they’re prepared to put into their marriage to make it work!

Here we’d like to share some tried and proven tips, some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of marriage that we pray will help you and your mate avoid some of the common pitfalls, so you can grow together in love!

THE “DO’S” (of a Happy Marriage)!

  • INVEST TIME, attention and love in making your relationship work, or you may lose it!
  • Treat all disasters as incidents, and none of the incidents as disasters!
  • When you feel there’s something bothering your mate, lovingly probe and get them to talk it over with you.
  • Share your innermost feelings with each other, but temper your honesty with wisdom to avoid hurting each other’s feelings!
  • Be sensitive to each other’s needs and try to fulfill them if you can!
  • Say “I love you!” 100 times a day!
  • Spend time with your children TOGETHER!
  • Pray and discuss together about your children’s needs, and be united about their discipline!
  • Kiss each other hello and goodbye!
  • Always say “please” and “thank you” to each other!
  • Make yourself beautiful/handsome for each other!
  • Wear perfume/cologne or aftershave all the time!
  • Husbands, compliment her! Tell her she’s beautiful and she’ll BE beautiful! Tell her she’s wonderful and she’ll BE wonderful!
  • Husbands, don’t forget to say, “I love you!” Words can sometimes do more for a woman than anything else!–Especially when they’re spoken with love, tenderness, meaning and sincerity!
  • Start the day with a kiss and cuddle!
  • Make love regularly! If you need sex, ASK for it!–Sexily! Wives, dress up in something sexy for him before lovemaking! Dress excitingly for exciting times!
  • Be expressive in lovemaking! Set the scene with soft lights and music!
  • Massaging is marvellous, a touch of Heaven from your Heavenly touch!
  • Husbands, if you want her to be dynamite in bed, you’ll have to light the fuse!
  • Wives, dress in what HE likes, not only what YOU like!
  • Be affectionate in public and private!
  • Compliment each other. Constantly tell your mate how thankful you are for them and how wonderful they are!
  • Call each other sweet names!
  • Write each other little love notes of appreciation!
  • Surprise each other with little love gifts and treats, like flowers etc.!
  • Do little favours for each other to make one another’s life and work easier!
  • Husbands, tidy up after yourself and try to make her job easier!
  • Husbands, volunteer for odd jobs, don’t expect her to do everything in the house all the time!
  • Tell him/her that they’re beautiful/handsome often and what things you especially like about them!
  • Make a point to say nice things about your mate to others in front of your mate, and also when he or she is not present!
  • Listen to each other’s suggestions and advice!
  • Remind yourself of all the GOOD qualities of your mate and try not to think about the bad ones. Pray to see the good in each other!
  • Have faith that the Lord can change your mate’s faults and weaknesses. Commit them to the Lord!
  • Remember to avoid doing things you know annoy each other!
  • If you want to have the last word, apologise!
  • Make up quickly after arguments. Pray together for the victory, especially in the middle of a disagreement.
  • Say “I love you, you rascal”, when you’ve had a fight or argument. It helps break the ice!
  • During times of marriage problems, make it a point to be alone with just each other–no problems to tend to, no work and no kids. Have a special meal together at home, just the two of you!
  • Go out together sometimes for the extra romance and the time alone with each other and the Lord!
  • Show interest in one another’s projects and work!
  • Show love and affection even if you don’t feel like it!
  • Learn to be aware of his/her “signals”–insinuations, hints, needs!
  • ASK what your mate likes and dislikes or what bothers him/her!
  • Be sure to respond to and return affection!
  • Pray and read the Bible together.
  • Put God’s will and His work first!

THE “DON’TS” (of a Happy Marriage)!

  • Don’t judge your wife too harshly for her weaknesses! If she didn’t have them, chances are she wouldn’t have married YOU!
  • Don’t think about all the things your partner is or isn’t doing for the relationship. Focus on what YOU can do to make it better!
  • Don’t dwell on the past or any past failures or mistakes or offenses by your partner or in your relationship.
  • Never say, “You ALWAYS do this or that wrong” or “You’ll NEVER change!”
  • Don’t hold grudges!
  • Don’t hide your feelings or trials from each other.–For example, if you are offended or have misunderstood something the other one has said or done. Bringing things out in the open will help resolve them!
  • Don’t nag–watch your tone of voice. Write “reminder” love notes instead.
  • Don’t raise your voice unnecessarily!
  • Don’t answer back hastily!–Think and pray before you answer!
  • Don’t take out your frustrations on each other!
  • Don’t try to make your mate “conform” to your “image” of what he or she should be!
  • Don’t be persistent in asking questions when the other is busy or not in a good mood!
  • Don’t talk about problems right before going to sleep!
  • Don’t stop talking to each other!
  • Don’t take each other for granted!
  • Don’t let lovemaking become routine!
  • Don’t embarrass your mate in public about private matters!
  • Don’t correct each other in front of others!
  • Don’t make fun of or belittle each other, especially in front of others!
  • Don’t be too proud to listen to each other’s suggestions and try them, even if they’re not an expert in that subject.
  • Never argue, dispute or complain in the presence of children–the damaging effects can last forever!
  • Don’t show disunity or argue in front of others.
  • Don’t interrupt each other when talking!
  • Don’t be too proud to say, “I’m sorry!”
  • “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath”–Ephesians 4:26. Always resolve your differences as soon as they occur, and especially before sleeping!
  • Don’t go to sleep without kissing good night, praying together, and saying, “I love you!”
  • FINALLY…Don’t forget that without good communication with JESUS, there cannot be much good communication between YOU! The most important thing in a marriage is for both of you to have faith in Jesus! With faith, everything is possible!–Including a HAPPY MARRIAGE! God bless you!

 
 

Treasures. Copyright (c) The Family International

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The Unchangeable Nature of God

By Peter Amsterdam

free-bible-studies-online-anchorThe immutability of God—or His unchangeableness or constancy—is part of His divine nature. It means that God doesn’t change in His being, His perfections, His purposes, and promises. He doesn’t change in His nature or character.

The universe and all that is in it changes. There is transition, movement from one state to the next. People, for example, age; and as they do, they change. They grow or diminish in size, as well as intellectually and emotionally. Someone can also change morally, going from being a bad person to being a good one, or vice versa. Someone can study and practice a skill, and in the course of doing so, learn and eventually become proficient in what they have studied. These are all examples of change, which is part of life within creation.

However, God transcends creation. He doesn’t change. If He did, He would become either better or worse. He’d either grow in His intelligence and knowledge or diminish in it. He’d become more loving or less loving, more holy or less holy. But as God, He is infinite in all of these things. He therefore doesn’t improve or deteriorate in them. If He did, He wouldn’t be God.

All of creation is “becoming”—it’s becoming something different than what it presently is. God, in contrast to this, is “being.” He is. Always. He doesn’t change. (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17)

God’s character, His attributes or perfections, don’t change. He is always good, loving, just, righteous, holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, etc. There is never any varying in these things. He is constant.

If God’s character varied, then we couldn’t be certain that the God we know to be good and loving would remain that way. If God was subject to change, then at some point He could start thinking that sin isn’t so bad after all; He could eventually degenerate to the point where He would begin to do evil things Himself, and even eventually become an all-powerful evil being. But His character and attributes do not and cannot change. They are constant; there is no variation.

God doesn’t change in His purpose, His will, and His plan. Once He has decided that He will bring something about, He does it. His plan of salvation is something that He determined before the foundations of the world, and He carried out His plan as promised. Prophecies, predictions, and judgments throughout the Old Testament were fulfilled. His purposes of saving people through Jesus, of Jesus’ return, of eternal life for believers, of judgment, of heaven, don’t change; they remain firm. (Ephesians 1:11 ESV)

God doesn’t change in regard to His Word and His promises. If He stopped honoring His promises, if He acted contrary to His Word, then He couldn’t be trusted. The promise of salvation, of eternal life, and His willingness to answer prayer, would all be in question. If God could change, then these bedrock foundations of our faith could change. But His promises and Word remain forever. “Your Word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89 NIV)

 
Does God change His mind?

When God’s unchangeableness is presented, the question often arises about the times God seems to have changed His mind, such as when God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to announce that in forty days the city would be destroyed. (See Jonah 3:3–10) Another example was when He gave the ailing king Hezekiah fifteen more years of life, after having told him he was going to die. (Isaiah 38:1–5)

When considering these examples where it looks as if God changed His mind, we must remember that God is a personal being who interacts with humanity. Within this interaction, God responds to man’s choices and decisions. When someone is doing evil, God is displeased with that person’s actions, but if the person repents and changes, then God’s relationship with that person changes. His overall love for the person never changes, but there is a response from God depending on the choices made by the person or people. In the case of Nineveh, because they were wicked, God’s response was that He rightly was going to destroy them. He told Jonah to tell them so. When Jonah did, the people repented, and God’s response to their repentance was mercy.

With Hezekiah, God declared he was going to die, yet when Hezekiah prayed and wept, God responded to his prayer and healed him.

In these cases, God was responding in mercy and love to changes made and prayers prayed by the people involved. In neither example did God change His character or nature, nor His overall purpose and plan. God didn’t change, but the people changed, and God responded in accordance with His divine nature.

Author and theologian Wayne Grudem explains it this way:

These instances should all be understood as true expressions of God’s present attitude or intention with respect to the situation as it exists at that moment. If the situation changes, then of course God’s attitude or expression of intention will also change. This is just saying that God responds differently to different situations. The example of Jonah preaching to Nineveh is helpful here. God sees the wickedness of Nineveh and sends Jonah to proclaim, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” The possibility that God would withhold judgment if the people repented is not explicitly mentioned in Jonah’s proclamation as recorded in Scripture, but it is of course implicit in that warning: the purpose for proclaiming a warning is to bring about repentance. Once the people repented, the situation was different, and God responded differently to that changed situation. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 165)

Another factor to keep in mind regarding the scenarios above is that the Bible uses anthropomorphic descriptions of God, such as the mention of God having “relented” in the story of Jonah. These are best understood as descriptive language within human comprehension.

On this matter of anthropomorphic language, William Lane Craig says:

It’s vital that we understand the literary genre, or type, of most of these biblical stories. The Bible is in the form of narratives—they’re stories about God told from the human point of view. So a good storyteller will tell his story with all of the vivacity and color that he wants, to enhance his narratives. And so you’ll find stories in the Bible about God told from a human perspective, where God not only lacks knowledge of the future, but even lacks knowledge of what is going on presently. God comes down to Abraham and says, “I’ve heard the outcry in Sodom and Gomorrah. I’m going to go see if what I’ve heard is really happening there.” (Genesis 18:20–33) Well, that would deny not only God’s foreknowledge but His knowledge of the present. And there are other passages where God is spoken of in other anthropomorphic terms as having nostrils and eyes, arms and other sorts of bodily parts, wings, and if you take all these literally, God would be a fire-breathing monster. These are anthropomorphisms. They are literary devices that are part of the storyteller’s art and shouldn’t be read like a philosophy of religion or systematic theology textbook. (Video transcript excerpts from interview “Can God Change?” PBS “Closer to Truth” show)

In each of these situations, God didn’t change in His nature, character, purpose, or promises. In fact, He was constant in all of these by being just, loving, righteous, and personal, and acting within His overall purpose.

God’s immutability—His constancy and unchangeableness—is central to our faith in Him. If He was inconsistent, if His nature or character was regularly changing, if He improved or deteriorated, then we couldn’t trust Him. We couldn’t trust His Word or His promises.

But God doesn’t change in His Being, nature, character, purposes, promises or plan. He can be counted on, for He is faithful and true. He is the rock that we can build on, the one we can trust in this ever-changing world, because He is the unchangeable God.

 
 

Copyright © 2017 The Family International.