Running the Race

In 1 Corinthian 9:24, Paul said, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”  Basically, what Paul is saying is that we should never give up doing what God has called us to do.  Sometimes it seems like we are never going to complete the goals that we set out to accomplish.   We might believe that the process will take too long to complete or that the work in front of us will be too hard.  However, whenever there’s an enormous goal in front of us to complete, we should focus more on the steps toward completing that goal than on the goal itself.

Paul elaborated further on his race analogy by saying, “So I run with purpose in every step.”  In order to walk or run, you have to focus on your steps until the task at hand becomes second nature.  Likewise, you have to focus on the process, the steps that you have to go through, in order to complete your goals.  You can’t rush through or skip some steps; you have to completely focus on the steps or else you will stumble in the process.

I believe that if we follow Paul’s advice about discipline, training, and focus; we will have all the motivation we need to fulfill our God given purpose.  The next time you feel like giving up, like what you’re doing will not amount to anything, just remember Paul’s advice and know that an eternal prize (heaven) awaits you.

Christianity and Prosperity

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There are people that say that linking Christianity with prosperity is blasphemous. In a way, I can understand why some people feel this way. You have televangelist that preach prosperity, but they mostly do this by twisting the scriptures to get their congregation to give them as much money as possible. Then they use this money to live a luxurious lifestyle. They are proud of it too, often labeling what they preach the “prosperity gospel.”

I, however, do not label it as such. I simply see it as the Gospel. But, in my opinion, I do not see anything wrong with using the scripture to teach prosperity. I am not contradicting myself; what I’m saying is that the Bible do have many teachings about prosperity. However, they’re not about just giving away money for a “blessing.” In Mark 10:29-30, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, and lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”

I’ve witnessed preachers that only preached about just suffering for the Lord’s sake until you die, then you can receive eternal life in heaven. But, in the above scripture, Jesus clearly said that, “but he (or she) shall receive an hundredfold now in this time…”

However, he did say, “with persecutions.” Prosperity will not just be handed to you. You have to work hard to receive the things that will sustain you and your loved ones. You will be slandered and despised by people that are envious of you. Some people may even scheme against you to take away what you’ve worked so hard for.

If those people desire what you rightfully deserve, all they have to do is a few things. Believe that Christ is the Son of God and that he died for our sins, and study and practice the teachings of the Bible, especially the Ten Commandments. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” You can live abundantly in many aspects of your life. There is no twisting of scripture here; this is a direct quote from Jesus.

There are too many scriptures to quote about prosperity for this article, but I hope that you get the point. You can find scriptures about this subject in Genesis all the way to Revelations. I have everything I need on this Earthly plane, and it’s largely due to learning the scriptures of the Bible and applying them in my life. So, if you don’t believe what I’m saying about the Bible teaching prosperity, I implore you to open it up and see for yourself.

Truly Rich

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I want to reflect on the Bible verse Proverbs 10:22. It states that, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” The scripture makes me realize what God has blessed me with. He has blessed me with life, family, a home, transportation, and good health, among other things. I’m quite sure that you can think of something the Lord has blessed you with too.

The scripture says that God’s blessing will make you rich. All of the blessings I’ve stated above could and in a way have made me rich, either financially or spiritually. God has given each and every one of us the ability to become rich.

The scripture ends by stating that, “He addeth no sorrow with it.” The Amplified Bible ends the verse by saying, “and He adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it]. You do not have to kill yourself or rip people off to become rich or financially stable. All you have to do is use the available resources at your disposal and the abilities that God has blessed you with (like reading, communicating, and creating) to make a difference in other peoples’ lives. That is how you become truly rich.

Life is Still Good

Image having everything you ever wanted.  Let’s say that what you had was a big house, a spouse with kids, nice cars, perfect health, and friends and family that cared about you.  You would have probably said to yourself, “Life is good.  I am living the good life and things can only get better.”

However, things do not get better for you.  Your health has taken the turn for the worse, you are behind on your bills and the collectors are threatening to take the things you worked so hard for away, and the person you thought loved you and would always be with you is now leaving you.  Now, you think that life is not so good after all.

I am here to tell you that life is still good, and just because we have some setbacks, it does not mean that it’s not.  In fact, that is a part of life.  We have our high points, and we have our low points.  The reason that you have to know that life is still good is because you don’t want the way you think about a negative situation cause you to make it worse.

What I mean is that we can easily think that things don’t matter anymore because of the bad things that happen to us.  We could become alcoholics, drug addicts, and lash out at the people around us because of our situation.  Those actions can make the bad situations we are already going through even worse, and we must not let that happen.

For every sunny day, there’s a rainy day.  And after the rain is gone, we get the sunny days again.  So, we have to be patient while we are going through the bad times and know in our hearts that things will get better.  You do not want to end your life badly knowing that you had the power to make things better.  It all results in how we think.  So, just know that whatever you are going through, know that live is still good.

Spread the Love

I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of negativity in the air. You may have noticed it too, whether at the workplace, on the road, or at the stores you shop at. And if you follow the news, you’ve probably noticed it in politics too. Just to be clear, there’s always been negativity from some of the people around us. However, currently it appears like there is a lot more of it.

I have even noticed it among my fellow Christians, and I believe that this current negativity exist for two reasons. The first reason is that it seems like it’s not as many people living by Christian principles than it use to be. The second reason is because for the ones that are Christians, they are not as focused on the number one aspect of Christianity, and that is love. As a result, we are currently seeing a lack of love in the world.

In order to get people to be more loving, love has to be preached, taught, and practiced more in the churches and in our institutions. In the Bible, John said, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). If we are to become better people, we have to love others as much as we say we love God.

Furthermore, Jesus said to follow the commandment “love your neighbor,” but he also said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who prosecute you” (Matthew 5:44). However, it seems like people today still desire to get back at the people that did them wrong. The Old Testament law “an eye for an eye” in this day and age will only cause more hate and death if we decide to follow it. “An eye for an eye” can apply to something as simple as you talking bad about someone because they talked bad about you first. And even that can escalate into something violent. Only by “loving your enemies” can you de-escalate a situation and create an loving environment.

So as Christians, when we interact with people, we should have love on our minds as well as on our hearts. We should find reasons to say something nice to people and find opportunities to help someone in need. We should also forgive the people that did us wrong in the past. Only by following the Christian principle of love can we pave the way for a better future.

False Prophets

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?

Matthew 7:15-16

We have all seen them. They wear expensive, designer clothes, drive around in luxury cars, and walks around with the biggest smile on their face that you would ever see on a person.

They fool many, however they sometimes give you clues regarding their true nature. You might catch them being too friendly or loving with a person of the opposite sex. Every Sunday, you notice that they’re preaching a sermon about paying the tithes or what you have to “sacrifice” to receive a blessing from God. You may notice the arrogance in their demeanor and how they negatively conduct themselves away from church. For them, it seems like having the title of reverend or pastor makes them superior than the average person.

No, your senses are not deceiving you. You may be looking at a false prophet, whose only purpose in life is to obtain profit and status.

Now does that mean that every preacher that wears nice clothes and have nice things are false prophets? Absolutely not, but you should question their behavior if they are living like millionaires and their congregation can barely pay their bills.

My point is this: the preacher cannot help you live your life, however they can give you the tools (their knowledge of the Bible) to help you survive and get the resources that they have access to. So if your pastor is telling you “Jesus will provide for you if you pay your ten percent” and you are constantly struggling to pay your bills and put food on your table, you should consider finding another church.

Losing Focus

It was a Thursday night when I got off from work. I was thinking about how much I was going to get done and how much I was going to enjoy my three days off from work.

That Friday, instead of getting anything significant done, I played my Playstation 2 (yeah, I’m too cheap to get a new one) from sunrise to sunset. Saturday, I did the same thing, however I did manage to write a few words for a book that I was working on.

That Sunday, I laid around all day and when I did get up, I played the video game again. Later that afternoon, I did motivate myself to prepare my supplies for work the following Monday morning.

That night, however, I felt extremely bad about not doing anything productive on my three-day weekend. I realized that I completely lost focus on what I wanted to do. Instead of being productive and doing things to improve myself, I chose comfort and pleasure.

Looking back on it, this is what I believe I should have done. First, I should have exercised on at least two of the three days I had off. The adrenaline from the workouts would have given me the energy and motivation to accomplish other things.

Secondly, I could have did a lot more writing for the two books I was working on. One of the books, which is a novel, was almost finished. I was so close to finishing it that I could have done it on one of my three days off.

Finally, I could have done some work to my house and my yard. I could have worked on my bumpy driveway. I could have cut my grass. I could have worked on my kitchen floor. The list goes on and on.

In the future, I will stay focused on what really matters when I have some free time. I believe that when we find ourselves wasting our time, we should say to ourselves, “Snap out of it! There’s so much I could be doing right now.” Even if we use that time to connect with other people, it would still be better than wasting hours of our day doing absolutely nothing.

If All Your Friends Jumped Off a Bridge…

I’m not in this world to live up to your expectation and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.

-Bruce Lee

“If all of your friends jumped off of a bridge, would you do it too?”  For the ones on the receiving end of this question, they would shrug their shoulders and answer with the obvious “no.”  Depending on the situation, they might say that the question did not pertain to the situation regarding their friends.

But, no matter how you try to justify it, the situation might be similar to jumping off a bridge with your friends.  Maybe not as drastic as that, but how many times have we been in a bad situation with our friends that deep down, we didn’t agree with?  How many times did we follow them in the name of friendship?  Most of us probably did this at one point in time.

In the long run, however, we would only hurt ourselves if we kept blindly following our friends in a bad situation.  Don’t misunderstand me, it’s great to have friends and associates that you can talk to and hang out with.  But if they try to get you to follow them into a bad situation like committing a crime or slandering someone that you didn’t know, do not be afraid to tell them “No, I’m not doing that.”  One of two things will happen; either they’ll respect your decision and continue to be your friend or you will find out that they weren’t really your friends in the first place.