No Greater Love

Originally Posted February 12 2016

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

I often struggled with this verse, after all, there aren’t many opportunities for me to lay down my life for my friends anymore, does that mean I can never show the ultimate form of love to others? But recently I’ve realized something.

The same way that “giving your life for God” means so much more than dying a martyr, I think laying down your life for your friends can also mean more.

I see a lot of posts, especially around this time of year, about what it means to be in love, or what love looks like, be it obsessively thinking about them, finding even the weirdest parts of them attractive, or longing for every little touch from them, but I don’t think that is enough. If you REALLY want to experience true love… A love that passes all understanding, and forever changes people, die to yourself….

Don’t get angry when they don’t do what you want them to. Give up any expectations of what you deserve and what you need to get for them to truly love you. Make your focus entirely on what you can give to them, not what you’re getting out of it. Be it friendships or relationships, live your life to build others up, not to strengthen your pride.

To die to oneself is by far the more difficult choice than to let oneself die, because you then have to deal with the consequences afterwards. But to die to oneself is the first step on impacting the lives of many, including your own!

You Are What Frustrates You

Originally Posted February 10 2016

One of the most frustrating pieces of advice I’ve ever been told (because it’s unfortunately very true) was that if you look at the people in this world who REALLY urk you… I don’t mean make you angry or upset because they’re killing children or drowning puppies, but the people who you just can’t stand being around because their very existence offends your being… Majority of the time the thing that urks you most about them is usually a large problem YOU also have but are blind to. And it’s horrible because I catch myself on it so many times! It may be a different subject matter (Jehovah’s witness vs Christian, sports vs video games and arts, working vs studying, etc) but the actions or feelings we are dealing with are the same.

It’s a horrible thing to realize but important for 2 reasons. First off is so you learn to humble yourself and be less harsh on those around you. But equally or possibly even more importantly is so that you learn to get over yourself and work on those problems you didn’t realize you had so you yourself can be a better person! Others, you can’t control, but you? With God’s help you’ve got a chance!

Life Goals vs World Perspective

Originally Posted February 5 2016

If there is one thing that I don’t think it is possible to overestimate, it is the effect your life focus has on your perception of reality. I watch people fight tooth and nail over issues every day which are impossible to win because each side sees a completely different world than the other.

Is your main goal in life to keep safe? Then who cares about what you do to others? What’s it matter if you put others in harm’s way? If someone’s continued existence threatens your own for any period, get rid of them! After all, why should others have control over YOUR life?

If your main goal is achieving freedom, then who cares if you do it at the expense of others’ freedom? Who cares if someone is risking their or others’ safety? They have the right to do and experience what they want to experience! And how dare you try to impose your self righteous, moralistic, conservative views on them under the excuse of keeping them safe! What horrid person worries about others’ safety anyways?!?

If your main goal is financial growth, then who cares how you get it? Who cares if you lie and cheat to get things cheaper? Who cares if you ruin businesses with lawsuits? You have money now! Well… Not enough but you can still get more! After all, they would probably do the same to you if they were as smart as you!

If your main goal is fame, then who cares who you step on to get there? Who cares if what people see of you and who you are are completely different people? Who cares what things you do behind the scenes to get people to support and advertise you? The world NEEDS to see you! Well… Not YOU, but the you you’re showing!

If your goal is to NOT be like someone, then who cares if there are things they did that worked? Who cares if there are parts of their beliefs and life style that you probably would agree with if you listened to them? You’re not going to listen to them! They remind you of that person who you don’t want to be like! They and everyone like them are jerks!

There are two things which I find people don’t like to think of that are greatly impact our perspectives. First off is the fact that no matter what we think, there is an honest to goodness reality out their that we don’t see. We can’t read minds, we can’t be everywhere at every time, yeesh, in almost 7000 years we still don’t even know half of what’s on our own planet! Our perspectives are so absolutely fragmented and reality is so much bigger. Always remember you don’t see the whole picture, but there IS a whole picture which is outside your control.

Secondly realize, not everyone is like you. Not everyone thinks the way you do or values the things you do. Whether they SHOULD value these things or not is an entirely separate issue, but realize that people come to their decisions through various means which seem logical to them. Not that we are all right, in fact it is usually more likely that we are all wrong… But people notice different things and blind themselves to different things

Put deep thought into what you are living for because it honestly controls more than you think. Faith in itself is not a bad thing, we all have it as we have no choice BUT to have it with how little we know. Faith in the WRONG things however can be absolutely terrifying. Don’t underestimate how easy it is to convince yourself that human life is worthless, nor how doomed we all are if we go down that route

It’s not WHAT but WHY

Originally Posted February 3 2016

List 10 things your parents did for you that really impacted your life……………………..

Now if I copied those 10 things, would I have the same relationship with you as you did with your parents? Not likely… If I did 100 things? …. Probably not. The main difference is that a relationship is not about WHAT is done as much as it is about WHY it is done, and unfortunately we do the same thing with following God.

I am all for learning from the wisdom and experience of Christians who came before me, but if you were to do everything Paul did, you wouldn’t be Paul!

We focus so much on the little things “they gave up the internet, so I need to! He sold his belongings, so I need to! She avoided thinking about marriage till she was 50 so I need to! They stood out on the streets shouting so we all need to!”

The thing is that focusing so much on WHAT they did, we miss the most important part! “They asked God to use them for His glory, and gave up fighting Him for control.”

In the end, THIS is what matters. Because the thing is, God has a different plan for each of us. He wants to lead us down different paths, use us in ways only we can be used. If we all walked the same path in life, we would lose the support from each other we can only get from our differences, as well as miss out on helping half the lives we need us.

The lives that came before us shed great wisdom, and can help us avoid a ton of pitfalls. But if your plan for getting closer to God involves a list of ten things you need to do to live your life like your hero, you’re doing it wrong. This is a relationship with God, not an Ikea shelving unit with God. Get your priorities straight, get communication open, and live each day with an ambition to look for where God’s leading you. You’d be surprised how far He’ll take you

One Year Studying Japanese

Originally Posted February 1 2016

いま、いちねんぼくはにほんごをべんきょうしています。にほんごはむずかしです、でもぼくにほんはだいすき。

It’s been a long year of studying, and there are many days that I am reminded of the teachers who told me I had no head for language… Because they were right! Learning Japanese is HARD!… But I don’t regret it. Learning a new language is more than just learning words you didn’t know before. You learn a culture, meet people you couldn’t have before, hear things you never could have in English. Deciding to learn Japanese was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while, and it has changed so much for me.

It feels depressing some times to see how much is left that I still don’t know even after a year. Kanji is still near impossible for me. Hypothetical sentences are still beyond me, but then I look back and realize all the things I can do now that I never could have before.

We focus so much in our culture about perfecting our knowledge, getting high grades, or even passing grades that we can scare ourselves away from attempting to understand difficult subjects. But learning isn’t about being perfect…. It’s about constantly moving forward in spite of how little you know. If you finish a test with only 5 out of 100 questions right, that is 5 things you didn’t know before that you now do! The only way to fail at learning is to not attempt it!

So to anyone who wants to study a new language, or any subject that seems too complicated for you, I encourage you to give it a try! Even if you move too slowly to keep up with a class, or use it the way you want to, keep trying at it! Because one day you’ll look back and ask yourself… “How did I get this far?”

がんばてね!

Runners in the Race of Life

Originally Posted January 29 2016

I’ve noticed three main types when it comes to people who want to help others. The first would of course be those who focus on destroying the problem vs helping the victims and I have ranted about them more than enough in life, but I thought I’d focus on the other two.

If life were like jogging, these two would be like two types of runners. The first lives for the adventure and seeing what lies ahead. They’re driven and athletic and nothing can seem to hold them back. As they run about in their merry journey they may come across less fortunate runners who either are running the wrong way, have fallen down and hurt themselves, or are just too scared to even consider starting to run.

When this first group sees such people they feel it is their mission to pick these people up, set them on the right path, and inspire them to run far. Once they’ve done this they quickly run on ahead looking for what life brings them next and if there’s anyone else they can do a good deed for.

The only problem is that they are far too focused on what’s ahead to look back. They don’t see the people they’ve just helped, struggling to keep up with them, scared to be left alone again, and desperately wanting to stay with that person who took the time to care about them. When they finally realize they can’t catch up, or that if they did, that runner has already moved onto the next person, they fall back down again feeling yet again abandoned and meaningless.

Then there’s the second group I’ve noticed. Those who run a little slower than the first. Yes they want to see what lies ahead and to keep moving forward, but that’s not their only priority. When they see the same fallen people they tend to walk along side of them, keeping pace and watching them build confidence. They put a lot of time into those people, months, years, and more making sure they understand the importance of their journey and have confidence they can take it. Then when the people they’re helping become self sufficient runners they let them go off and live their lives as they want, be it continuing to run with them, or with someone else they’ve met. All the while though they keep them within their sight so they can make sure they’re there for them if they need help.

Am I saying the first group are horrible people? No. There is merit in being motivated, and if we don’t keep moving ahead we’ll never be able to help those who need us… But be wary. If you focus on what’s ahead, pay attention to what’s left behind. Lives are not like passing ships. We impact each other in ways we don’t even realize. Take your relationships old and new seriously, because at the end of this race, it’s about how many finish, not who finished first