relationships

OF TIME AND VALUES

I took some time to reflect on the passing of time and its effect on our lifestyle. I thought about the impact time has had on our values and how we have changed our preferences over the years. I realized that what was hype to my generation a couple of years ago is now old fashioned. And what we were crazy over a decade ago now has a distaste in our mouths today. What we built our lives around before has suddenly become an unwanted relic in our space.Pebbles

Material possessions come and go and even an insurance policy cannot keep them longer than their determined lifespan. At best, you would get a replacement. Take a look at your parent’s house and look through the things you find in the house. Now imagine you want to build a new house for your parents and equip it for them making it as comfortable as you would for them. I bet a lot of the stuff they had in the old house would be given out, sold or destroyed. Those stuff would have no place in the new house. You might consider such things an intrusion in the new ambience you are trying to create for your parents. Now, some of those things which are now unwanted were da bomb in the years past. It appeared there could be nothing better than those items. We held unto them dearly and acquired more and more. Remember the TV in a box with shutters in front that now has a broken tube or the lovely 1980’s suitcase we were eager to take on a trip because we thought it just showed class. What about the trending fashion styles of the 90’s you had in different colours? Now you probably would be ashamed of wearing them today. Of course, there might be similar styles because of the fashion cycle we are sucked into, but it would not be that exact item, if you get what I am saying.

Time also has its impact on values. Time can appear to strengthen values and it can also erode them. Over time, we have redefined the values of beauty, confidence, devotion, faith, individuality, love, truth, … the list goes on. But I have learnt (and I am still learning) to reinforce the fundamental essence of certain values, placing value on the things that matter most – my relationship with God, my marriage, my family and the relationships I have built with people around me. The wind of time would blow over the things we hold on to, to twist and redefine our values in varying ways. We need to hold on to the things that matter most – things that bring real benefits, the things that money cannot buy. Know that material possessions are temporal and we can always get better ones. But getting a messed up value system can wreak a future. So never have a heartbreak over the loss of a material item. God is bigger than it.

Focus on nurturing the values that define your life. For example, nurture the habit of giving and generosity. Let giving be a very convenient virtue and not an act of compulsion. There are things you really can do without. There are some things you really would not need in future, contrary to what you think now. Bless someone else with those items. They would bless you from the heart. Remember, what you give out has not left your life, it has just become a sown seed in your ground. Luke 6:38 in the Message translation says, Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

Be generous with words of appreciation. Find good things to say about people around you. When you condemn, criticize negatively and put others down, you have not improved your own life and you have not blessed another either. But when you appreciate others and speak kind and positive words, you attract goodwill, you speak into your future and you bring a smile to the face of another – which is never a bad thing to do. Proverbs 16:24 says, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Everyone has the capacity to appreciate others and to do so generously. If you can have a conversation with anyone, then you can appreciate someone. You only have to make up your mind to be more appreciative than critical.

You would also want to place value on your relationship with God. You could determine not to let anything interfere with that relationship. This is one relationship, like the one with your spouse and family, which must improve with time. You should be able to look back and say you have become more intimate with God over the weeks, months, years… Are we reading more of His Word, are we spending more or less time in prayer and communion? Has there been a change in attitude and character? Or are we explaining away our shortcomings, taking our acquisitions as a sign of God’s approval? Dear friend, time must have a positive effect on our relationship with Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

These are just some values that time must strengthen. You can keep getting better if you focus on what matters most in your life. These would always be relevant to your world and would never go out of fashion.

Thought check: What are my core values? How important were they to me five years ago and how important do I think they would be five years from now?

 

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2011 AND FOUR THINGS

I love success and I believe you do too. I also believe that succeeding this year would require paying some more attention to the major and minor details of our daily living because they all add up. Having the right focus for the year and starting the right way would go a long way in determining how the year eventually turns out. We may like to try out new things, kick a habit or learn a new skill. There are so many things we could focus on this year but I’ll mention four things worth considering, which I believe would be highly beneficial to everyone.

Firstly, this year endeavor to strengthen and nurture your relationships, particularly family relationships. At the end of the year you should be able to look back and see that you have built stronger relationships. This would involve developing and respecting principles that would protect your relationships this year, especially marital relationships. Set goals concerning your expectations about your relationships at the end of the year and work at it. You might want to see an improvement in trust and commitment or crisis management or even romance in marriage. Yes, I agree that sometimes the most difficult things to accomplish are those things money cannot buy, but focus, determination and discipline are very important here. The state of your most valued relationships would always impact your daily affairs. This means your major and minor decisions would be affected, and ultimately your results at the end of the year would have the colour of those decisions. Don’t be too proud to recommit yourself to that bruised relationship which God led you into and make it work again. But if you are in a relationship that does not have the blessing of God, please get out.

Another thing to focus on this year is evangelism. The World Christian database put the growth rate of Christianity as at 2007 at 1.38%. My research shows that there are other religions with faster growth rates. This could mean more are entering the kingdom of darkness than are coming out. Evidently, there is work to be done. You only need to look around and realize that several folks need the good news you have heard. Please don’t keep it from them this year. ‘Rescued a soul from hell’, ‘won a soul for Christ’, ‘led someone to Christ’, ‘snatched someone from the kingdom of darkness’…however you say it, make sure it is part of your story at the end of the year. If everyone who professed Christianity today led somebody to the Lord in the year, we should have the whole world saved in 3 years or less. Selah.

The third thing is that this year we should show more love and truly live a giving life. Be a channel of blessing rather than a tank that just keeps everything it gets. Everybody has got something to give. Never miss an opportunity to be an extension of God’s kindness to others. The world’s mentality is to think of itself first and only itself but this is contrary to the mindset of the spirit-transformed life. Seek out opportunities to reach out in love. Support a worthy cause that is in line with God’s word. This might require you stepping out of your comfort zone. You never know, your comfort zone might just be limiting your potentials. In actual fact, your comfort zone limits your potentials. Take advantage of the grace He has given you to abound unto every good work. Your giving might stretch you, really, it will stretch you if you actually want to give of your resources, time or energy but God’s blessing is in it.

Lastly, one of the pillars of a strong Christian faith is a sound Word base. Pay attention to more study of God’s Word this year. It is not enough hear great sermons on Sunday and use daily devotionals. Study the bible yourself. I encourage you to take up the noble assignment of reading the Bible from cover to cover. You don’t have to wait for January 1st before you begin. Start now by reading a few chapters every day. You may not finish it this year but if you are committed to it, you would finish reading the Bible from cover to cover earlier than you thought. Memorize some verses as you read. Note that your Word content would give you an edge in life this year. Read more of the Bible, study more of the Bible and meditate more on the Word of God this year.

Working on these things would do us more good than we can imagine. It is bound to produce a domino effect on other areas of our lives. We would feel fulfilled at the end of the year knowing we began well and are finishing strong.

Think about this: What if God gave your spouse an opportunity to review your thoughts over one week, would your marriage be better off or worse off afterwards?