Haggai 1:9 - “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.”
It’s easy to forget what our greater purpose is sometimes when we place ourselves at the center of our lives. When we place ourselves on a pedestal in our hearts, we stray away from living according to God’s will. We become consumed with what we like to do, what we are good at, how we can further our personal success, and what makes us happy materially. The ends to our goals become ourselves.
But what happens when we do that? Ultimately, we will realize how unfulfilled we feel as individuals and see that something is missing. No matter how much work we may put into something, the return is never enough. There is never enough money, never enough success - we are never enough. Why? Because it is impossible to be perfect with the human skills and abilities we have.
God says He can blow away the things we sow. He does not even have to place as much as a finger on our harvest; He need only blow for it to all fly away. And somehow, we still continue to try to build our own houses without God in our minds.
When we choose to follow God and the path He has laid out for us and live for Him, then He will push us forward and bless us endlessly. When we work to build His house instead of our own, then He will give us whatever talent or skill needed to further His kingdom. Live for Him not because of the blessings you will receive, but because you are choosing to love Him with undying passion. It is then that you will realize that trying to build your own house will never compare to His almighty kingdom.
A quick thought:
I take the term ‘Christian’ with a grain of salt. Somehow, a third of the world
identifies with being Christian, but such a small percentage of those people live out the gospel in their daily lives. Having met so many lukewarm and even straight up cold Christians is really discouraging but I pray that people will realize what it truly means to be a follower of Christ and place Him at the center of our lives.
A lot of people have asked me many questions abut how I manage to go to the gym 6 days a week and eat so healthily. To be honest, I’m shocked myself and don’t even know how I’ve kept it up for this long, but here are a few tips:
1. Don’t think of it as losing weight - For me, exercising and eating right isn’t so much about losing weight necessarily; it’s more of a change in lifestyle. If you aim to just lose weight, the temptation to stray away from being healthy is much higher once you become discouraged by a lack of results. Think more about the benefits of being healthy in general - better health means more discipline, happier days, and less stress!
2. Learn to love what God created - God made all these colorful fruits and vegetables for a reason, so enjoy it! While processed foods may seem to taste better, it is possible to learn to change what foods appeal to you so long as you are willing to. God gave you legs not to drive everywhere and sit all day long, but to use them to walk and run! Use what you and the world has been gifted with wisely so you can truly enjoy your life :).
3. Discipline yourself - Self-discipline is extremely crucial not just to healthy living, but in all aspects of life. In the end, what you put in your mouth and how often you go to the gym is your choice. Don’t tell yourself that it’s impossible or that it’s too hard, because it’s not. Learn to say ‘no’ to what is unhealthy even when others pressure or tempt you. You won’t be able to control your actions without being able to first control your mind.
4. Learn to endure - It will be difficult at first because you will be changing your lifestyle, maybe even drastically. However, getting used to a routine or habit only takes three weeks - after that, you will be so used to it that it won’t seem like a burden anymore. Most of the time when we think our bodies can’t handle the lack of refined sugar or the intensity of a workout, it is an excuse our mind uses to give up. You’d be surprised how much your body can take! Just climb that steep mountain and after that, the grass will be much greener on the other side :)
There is so much going on at any given point in the day; so many priorities, so many chores, so many things to know. There are these points of time where I am absolutely overwhelmed, restless, and discouraged. I can be sitting somewhere and not actually feel like I’m there. Sometimes being productive does not mean getting this or that done - sometimes productivity can also be a result of times of rest, when one can let go of everything and regenerate the energy to move on. Although I may feel guilty to have to pass up a few opportunities to rest, it is also essential to my motivation in giving my all to what I do. Rest and time alone is a priority among all things and should never be ignored.
Hebrews 4:11 - “ Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
It is not uncommon to hear one decline an invitation due to a prior commitment. A weekly schedule can fill up with the blink of an eye. Being busy is a norm in which anyone can relate to. A prevalent complaint in society is that there is just never enough time to do anything - not even time to think.
Though perhaps this complaint is simply an avoidance of the real issue at fault here, that being faulty prioritization. There is enough time. It is up to you how to spend each minute of the day. Thus, busyness can perhaps be seen as an apathetic excuse to evade adding to a laundry list of priorities.
The next time you cite being busy as a reason to decline an opportunity, reconsider whether a shift in priorities may allow you to allocate the time to participate in new arrangements. Perhaps you may find yourself having the time to call your parents, catch up with an old friend, or stop to think about your goals as an individual. The opportunities are endless, so long as you give these things a chance to be a priority.
Food for Thought
I love food as much as the next person does, and when it comes to eating, I always strive to have my taste buds satisfied and engaged. I live to eat, rather than eat to live. Food is what brings people together, what makes life a little more interesting, and allows one’s individuality and preferences to be exercised. Though, there is something that often lingers in the back of my mind when I either indulge in or neglect food.
What about the hungry man on the street? The child suffering from malnutrition? Those who live off of less than a dollar a day?
Then all of the sudden, I am guilt-ridden. Over 963 million people in the world go to bed hungry at night, and not by choice. That’s like saying three times the population of the United States suffers from hunger. Can you even begin to imagine what it would be like if everyone you knew was desperate for money for food? Then all of the sudden, I ask myself whether satisfying my food cravings is a greater priority than contributing to the fight against poverty and hunger.
Do I really need to be consuming a fifty dollar gourmet fillet mignon, or spending my whole paycheck exploring the finest delicacies in New York City? How many people could I potentially feed with that money? Where could my money be better put to use?
Luke 3:11 - ”Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
Analyzing the consequences of your own individual actions begins with these thought-provoking questions. Although you may believe that what you choose to have for dinner has nothing to do with the local homeless shelter, there are many ways in which they are linked. Perhaps you could cook enough for your family and the homeless woman by the bridge; or refrain from reserving a table at a fancy French restaurant, instead using that money to eat a modest home-cooked meal and donating the rest. Something that I have been encouraging myself to start doing is starting a day buying various baked goods or individually wrapped granola bars, and giving them out to the homeless I may see around the city. While you cannot control what they do with money you may give to them, you can at least know that the food you contribute will at least make them a little less hungry.
Ultimately, the money in your bank account is yours, and it is your choice how to use it. Use it wisely.
I picked up this book during my lunch break today, having heard about it on various occasions. Within the two and a half hours I spent reading it, I became so immersed that I completely was oblivious to the busy office I was in the midst of. It was this story of a little boy with such powerful childlike faith that made me realize how unfaithful I can be. Just the sheer amazement and awe I was left in after finishing this book made me aware of how caught up I am in this world, forgetting that life on this earth is nothing but a stepping stone to what is to come after death. Not only was I comforted by the reminder of the eternal happiness that floods heaven, but I also realized that so many of my loved ones may not be there to enjoy heaven with me. It is a harsh reality which motivates me to stop pursuing worldly material luxuries and instead work towards spreading the gospel and its good news.
Matthew 6:19-20 - “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
If there is one thing about this world, it is that it is ever-changing. Your past is undoubtedly dramatically different from your present, while the future carries unexpected surprises. The only thing you can really trust in is the moment you are in right now. If you told me two years ago that I would be in this position now, I would definitely not have believed it. Everything has changed - so much so that I still have a hard time accepting it. It is not that change is a terrible thing, as it is quite the contrary. The negative connotations that change carries comes from the sacrifices one must undergo to achieve these changes. They create hesitation and unwillingness, resentment and nostalgia. It is these losses that cloud the reality of what you gain, despite the fact that most often the gains outweigh the losses. However, a person can only possess a finite number of things. In the present, you must leave behind the unnecessary to make room for the better in the future. Take the opportunity now to let change happen and let go of what prevents you from bettering yourself.
You are only as free as you allow yourself to be. Just keep running forward - away from the chains of the past.
Today I met a girl that shared her story with me. She told me that anorexia consumed her life for three years as she battled to gain control over her life and appearance, only to have the disease control her in return. She allowed the world to engulf her personality, livelihood, and will to live. Through prayer and love, she was able to gain the courage to overcome her struggle.
Why do people let this scary and corrupt world control their lives? Why do people care so much about appearances? You are you. You were made the way you are. Although I can’t say that I don’t have moments of weakness, I want to try my best to love myself. Don’t let others bring you down. Keep your head up and always be thankful for who you are. In God’s eyes, you are a masterpiece.