The Benefit of Friends: Lessons from a hiking trip.

Some experiences in life teach us valuable lessons. How we perceives the experiences determine what we get out from them.

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Recently,  our koinonia group went for a hike up the Trias Ridge outside the Antipolo city. It was an exciting, yet a challenging hike for most of the members in the group. The slippery and muddy trail caused everyone to slip and fall several times except the tour guides (Ted and Arthur) and me. Our past experiences of hiking on bush trails helped us to walk with less struggle on the slippery mud without falling. Our shoes, clothes, arms and legs were painted with mud. Yet the joy of hiking as a group and the beauty of the vegetation made us took the challenge of climbing the hills with so much fun.
As I reflected on the experience, I am reminded of how challenging life can be.
Today, there are many lonely hikers in the world navigating their way in an attempt to accomplish something. Life can be stressful on a lonely journey. If you travel alone, you might succeed, or you could also give up on the way.
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Being a lonely traveler, often  life is not the same as walking with a group of supportive friends and families. There are many circumstances in life that we do not have any control over. The road can be slippery, muddy and cause us to fall.
The sad thing about walking alone is that, when you fall, there may not be someone there to offer a helping hand to pick you up or support you in some ways. But with good friends and families, we can be supported. There are others in the group that may have experienced something similar that can come to your aid.
Despite the challenges everyone faces, being part of a company of good friends can change our perspective of life. It shifts the focus from thinking too much about “ourselves” to being concerned about the well-being of “others.”
Sometimes it is hard to smile, laugh or even have a sense of humor when you are exhausted from brokenness, strife, stress, and failures in life caused by the slippery and muddy journey. However, walking with a group of positive friends can shift our perspective from focusing on your weariness to something joyful and exciting that can be enjoyed together at the present moment. Thus, it boosts our energy to strive and persist on towards the finishing line.

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Have you ever tried sharing one of your difficult life experiences to someone who does not understand what you are talking about? You might become frustrated when the person does not show any interest or emotion towards your story. The person may hear and understand you but may not feel what you feel because he or she had never experienced the same thing. Nonetheless, it is easy for us to share our joys and struggles with those that we’ve journeyed together with since they understand the experience.
In a fast paced modern culture, life is busy. There is always so much to do in a day that often we do not realize that we do not have time to spend with friends and families. We may focus on our work, school and other priorities. But let us not forget to find time after hours to spend with others. If you set a fixed schedule to meet with friends for a meeting or a social activity, soon you might become bored from the routine. But if you cultivate a habit of spending at least a few moments with your friends during the week or over the weekend, you will soon benefit from it. It is not a schedule that would bother you with preparations for the meeting. Rather it becomes a voluntary lifestyle that does not need any preparation except your presence. You will be able to share what you have in mind to others and also listen and learn from others. In that way, your friends and you are able to journey together in life.
Psychologists remind us that a person who is kept in isolation for a longer period of time is likely to develop psychological, emotional and physical problems. God has given us neighbors as well as friends at school, work and other places. Do you find time to talk to them or are you a busy bee? Relationship is an important part of human life that cannot be avoided. Do not let your introvert personality or your busy schedule deter you from spending a few moments with friends. Spending time with good friends is good for you, your friends and the kingdom of God.

 

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How my participation in worship deteriorated by relying on technology

Few years ago, I was fascinated in learning about how technology can assist to improve one’s worship experience. And in fact it did and is doing. Thank God for technology!

However, after some years now I look back and realize there were a few good habits I had in the past in worship without the help of technology. Unfortunately, I have lost them. I thought maybe I am the only one doing it, but whenever I enter a church with modern facilities, I see something familiar. I look across the room full of worshippers and realize that a good number of them are also doing what I am doing.

I don’t know how each of person feels in a worship service. But here are three things I have noticed about myself because I either depended on technology or the way technology is used discouraged me from doing what I am used to doing.

I have become a spectator

garfield_115402I enter a worship room and sit down on an empty seat. Soon our favorite game, “Simon says,” begins – So I sit and stand and sit and stand until the service is over. The musicians sing a song and I try to sing along but my voice is drowned by the loud sound of music coming from the speakers. So I thought, “What’s the use of singing when I can’t even hear myself singing.” But I needed to show those beside me that I am singing so I just open and close my mouth pretending to sing without a sound coming out from it. Not only that, I cannot sing along with the worship leader because I do not know the songs that are being sung. It seems like in every worship service there are new songs to sing and I do not have time to learn all these songs. In the past we used to have a certain number of songs that we sing until the congregation is familiar with. Then we would introduce a few new songs to add to the old ones. Today, with the help of internet and youtube, it is different. In every worship service, there are new set of songs to sing. I look across the room and there are many who are not singing. I wonder why they are not singing?

I don’t need to bring my Bible to church anymore

I no longer cared whether I brought my Bible to church or not because it won’t be needed. The powerpoint does everything for me. All I need to do is bring myself. I do have a couple Bible apps on my phone but I don’t need to use it. It’s up there on the big screen.

I no longer take notes

PENCLPADI sit down listening to the preacher while watching the slides on the big screen. I pay so much attention that I forget to take notes. I no longer need to bring at least a notebook and a pen to take notes of what I am hearing from the sermon. Again the powerpoint does everything. It outlines everything that the preacher wants me to hear. I keep on listening until the preacher stops and the powerpoint is gone. I end up with nothing to take back home except the theme of the sermon or a phrase from the pp that stuck on my mind. During the week I try to reflect back on what I have learnt so far and realize I have forgotten what was said. I liked the message but I cannot remember it anymore.

I am left to wonder whether the church is becoming a place full of people who are physically present and mentally absent or is it only me that is going through this?

[For additional reading, click http://www.renewingworshipnc.org/2014/06/11/nine-reasons-people-arent-singing-in-worship/ to find out why people are not singing in church].

6 Ignorant statements Christians Use to Comfort a Hurting Person

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Quotation from Quote Addicts

A glimpse of the Book of Job reminds me of the comfort and encouragements given by his three closest friends. They were probably honest and sincere. But why was Job not comforted by their words? There may be several reasons why their opinions were not acceptable. And there’s no doubt that God did rebuke them for that. However, from a human point of view, the three friends were probably not arrogant but were somehow ignorant of the fact that Job was going through a terrible suffering and needed comfort rather than false opinionated accusations and ignorant encouragements.

Job isn’t the only one who has experienced suffering. His story is an example of what happens in life. Every human being alive had experienced some form of suffering. In almost every suffering, there are friends that come to show their concern and support. Often the words they use to express their sympathy or to simply encourage the grieving person can cause more hurt and anger in the broken person instead of comfort.

We’ve all made unintentional mistakes in our loving attempts to comfort grieving people. I didn’t really think much about how grieving people feel about the statements I make to encourage them in times of sadness until I was hurt and grieving. I began to analyse the common phrases people use to comfort me and realized there are many ignorant phrases we should not be using when attempting to comfort others in their times of sorrow.

Like many other people, I also had my share of crises in life. My early life was shattered by a volcanic eruption. I had over the years had several car accidents. One of them was four years ago that nearly took the life of a child and put me in prison. I went to court. Two years ago, I lost my baby. These are some of the moments I was broken and needed comforting words. I am grateful that God provided many friends that comforted me during that period of grief. There were friends that cried and prayed with me, held my hands and assisted me in different things. There were friends who ministered to me with their presence without talking a lot. Interestingly, among all those friends, I discovered that there were those who added more salt on my wound by their ignorant encouragements. While I do not hold them accountable for the ignorant comforting and encouraging phrases used, I cannot forget the lessons I learnt from these ignorant phrases. Here are few of them.

1. Don’t worry, It’s OK
This is a complete ignorant phrase one could use to comfort a grieving person. It shows that the friend does not see and feel the reality of what is happening to the person he/she is trying to comfort. How can we expect the grieving person not to worry when he/she is hurting? It may be OK with the encourager but it is not OK with the grieving person. It is simply not the right time to say, “it is OK.”

2. Cheer Up
I have heard many Christians tell me, “Cheer up brother, Christians should not worry. We should rejoice at all times.” When I hear this I doubt whether the person understands me or not. Whether you are a Christian or not, people have emotions. And emotions do fluctuate and moods change. There are seasons in life that cause circumstances that affect people’s moods and emotions. Christians should learn to use the right scriptural quotations and make appropriate theological statements at the right time in a better way. Your theological statements towards a grieving person may be true, but if said at the wrong time, you could inform but not able to comfort. We also should learn to accept the realities of life and not live in an imaginary or fantasy Christian world.

3. If only you had done this/ or You should do this…
In my traditional PNG culture, there is a common phrase used when dealing with loss, “Don’t build a bridge after someone has been carried away by the flood.” When people are hurt, let’s assume that they probably know something about the cause of their problem. It is not the right time to tell them what they should have done. It is time to comfort the hurting person. We may think we know what they should have done or should do now but in fact we do not know everything about their problem. It is better to save your opinion and advice for a later time when the grieving person is emotionally and mentally prepared to accept them. Your advice may be good but can only be appreciated when the hurting person is ready to listen. The grieving person will appreciate if you can give your ears and hold back your tongue.

4. Thank God, you are lucky
I remember many times ignorantly singing the hymn penned by Horatio Spafford, “It is well with my soul.” By singing this hymn we attempt to comfort and encourage the grieving person to compare his/her situation with Spafford’s loss. Some people would want to compare the situation of the hurting person to another person. It can sound good trying to compare and reflect on the level of one’s suffering with another. Yet it does not help the hurting person at the moment of suffering. It is not well with the person’s soul at the moment. Each person is unique and experiences different circumstances in life in unique ways. Whether big or small the situation is, people need comfort and not comparison in suffering.

5. Don’t even talk about it
Some hurting people are advised as, “Don’t even think or talk about it. It will cause you more pain.” Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. When people are grieving, it is better to allow them time to talk. They need someone to share their pain with. The best thing you could do for a hurting person is to listen to him or her. By listening you can understand something about the person you are trying to comfort.

6. I know exactly how you feel
Really? Do you know how the other person is feeling? We are often tempted to quickly boast of our experiences and opinions about situations that other people are facing. Just because you have had a similar experience does not mean you understand that person or how they are feeling. Everyone’s different. Your experience and the feelings of a similar situation may be relatively similar but your response may not be exactly the same as the other person. And do not expect him/her to respond the way you did because every person has a different temperament. Besides, it is better to focus your attention on the hurting person. If the hurting person wants you to share your experience, you may do so. Otherwise keep it to yourself. Sharing it without his/her interest or request will make him/her feel that you are undermining their moment of grief. Grieving people don’t care how much you know or how much you’ve experienced life until they know how much you care.

I hope this might be helpful to someone who is trying to comfort a grieving family or friend at this moment.

Please leave your comments below and let me know what you think.

Keyboard Shortcuts to Help You Save Time on Facebook

Facebook is now a widely used social network. A lot of people spend a lot of their time on Facebook. Sometimes it is time consuming when you sit in front of your computer using your mouse to click here and there reading messages, reading comments from friends and posting your comments.

It’s just one or two clicks using your computer mouse. But when you have a list of things to complete and feel like you do not have enough time, you can still cut down some of your time on face book. I don’t mean you should stop spending time on face book. I mean, there’s a way you can save some time and that is to use the keyboard shortcuts instead of using the mouse. That can save you a few moments of your time.

Once you learn these keyboard shortcuts, it becomes easy to use. Someone showed me these shortcuts that are now very helpful me, so I want to share with you too so you can use them.

Here are the shortcuts

  • L – Like or unlike a comment or post.
  • J, K – Scroll (up or down) between news feed stories
  • C – Comment on the selected story
  • S – Share the selected story
  • O – Open attachment of the selected story
  • Enter – see more of the selected story
  • / – Search
  • Q – Search chat content
  • ? – Show this help dialogue

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  • Ctrl + Alt + 0 – Help
  • Ctrl + Alt + 1 – Home
  • Ctrl + Alt + 2– Timeline
  • Ctrl + Alt + 3 – Friends
  • Ctrl + Alt + 4 – Inbox
  • Ctrl + Alt + 5 – Notification
  • Ctrl + Alt + 6 – Settings
  • Ctrl + Alt + 7 – Activity Log
  • Ctrl + Alt + 8 – About
  • Ctrl + Alt + 9 – Terms
  • Ctrl + Alt + m – New Message

You can copy these shortcuts onto a notepad and pin or paste it near your computer so you can use them. I hope this information is helpful to you.

Why You Should Be Conscious of Other People’s opinion of You!

Magnifying glassHave you heard people tell you that you shouldn’t mind what others think of you? Yes, of course, we’ve heard people say that. We’ve read some quotes on that. I think the point of those statements is that sometimes when you believe what others think and say about you, their words can discourage and cripple your potential to progress in life.

I have also heard a lot of people tell me all kinds of negative statements like, “You don’t have the ability to do this, or you will not succeed in doing that.” I’ve heard people’s gossips about me that crushed my spirit. Yes, we all in different ways may have gone through some of these experiences in life. That is why words of encouragements  that offer hope and motivation are needed to lift up our thoughts and emotions.

Yet it is more helpful for us to not totally ignore all the negative comments others say about us. If we do that we may not see some things that are true about us that we do not even realize are there. Thus it is better to listen to what people have to say about us and consider if their opinions are true or not. Then we can decide what to do about it.

For the past few years, I have always took a repulsive stand and a very critical approach to challenge whoever said something bad about me. I always felt good when people said positive things about my life and what I did.  But I didn’t like the bad comments people said about me. In fact, I always thought of myself as a better person than some others and never really saw the faults in my motives and character.

When I first got married, I thought I was the better person and wanted to change my wife. Yet, I did not realize that there were many things in my life that I needed to change in order to cultivate a good family relationship. For the first few months, things didn’t work out the way I thought it should be.

As time passed we spent time together discussing how we could improve our relationship with one another. It was then that my wife started pointing out some of my weaknesses. At first I didn’t want to accept what she said. I always had reasons to justify my niches while I pointed out her faults and weakness in life. This went on for some time until one night as we sat down talking to each other, my wife became so upset about my arrogance that she left me in the middle of our conversation and went to bed. I thought she was arrogant and not submissive, so I went and spent some time in prayer asking the Lord to change her. However, in the middle of my prayer, I somehow asked the Lord, “Maybe if it is me that is arrogant and stubborn then Lord, please help me see my mistakes.”

A few days later, we were having another conversation,
and as I was listening to my wife talking, it suddenly dawned on me that she was right. I needed to change some of my ways. It was not easy to let my wife tell me what I needed to hear in order to change. But as I listened, I began to realize that if I do not change, my negative impulses and character will affect my life, my family, work and the people around me.

Character and reputation are two different things. Character is what you produce. Reputation is the reflection you get from what others think of you. Your reputation is as important as your character. If your character is good then your reputation will also be good. Unless you change your character, you can never force people to change your reputation.

What others think of us is important because we do not live on our own. We live among other people. There are many things that can affect our lives based on how others think of us. Whether in business, school, church, games, or anything, if you have a good reputation, you pay your own ticket. In that I do not mean that we live to please people. The principle is whatever you sow, you reap. Whatever you throw up into the air, comes down. Whatever character you display, your reap the reputation.

We are all not perfect. Each of us have strengths and weaknesses. Yet most people do not like to admit their weakness or even listen to what others have to say in order to help them improve their lives. Often I see love quotes that say, “I need someone to love me just as I am.” We’ll people can love you despite the fact that you may be ugly, short, skinny or have some physical  disabilities. Yet, if you have a bad character or habit that affects people, do not think they can easily put up with you. Like a rotten apple that tastes bad so is your bad character. People love you but your character is what affects them, and you are responsible to change it. If you change now, you will not regret in the future.

The next time you hear something negative mentioned about you, do not ignore it. Take it into consideration and see if what others are saying is true or not. If it is not true, ignore it and move on with your life. But if it is true, you need to find a way to change it.

What is something negative about you that is causing some people to talk about you?

What is the common approach you’ve taken most of the time when you hear something negative mentioned about you?

Here are few suggestions:

  1. Find an accountability partner. You can look for someone whom you trust and feel more close and comfortable with to share your stories. Ask them if they can evaluate your behavior and give honest feedback to help you.
  2. Spend time with a company of friends that will help you nurture the good character in you.
  3. Read books: There are many books that have been written on any topics that you may need. You can ask your friends to lend you theirs if they have any. There are also many websites on the internet that offer free advice and tips on how to help yourself in different areas in life.
  4. Attend seminars that will help you improve your life.
  5. Watch educational videos: It’s better to spend your time watching a good educational video that benefits you rather than watching a movie that entertain you but does not give you any benefit in return for the time you spend watching it.
  6. Get involved in something that will add value to your life and other people’s lives as well. That will contribute a positive outcome to your reputation in your family, your neighborhood, in school, or at work.

These are few of the many things I have been doing and have seen a lot of improvements in the way I think, act and relate to others. To be honest with you, it will take time for the negative emotions to heal. As that happens, you go through a process of reconditioning your mind and emotions to adjust and adapt to a new life. I have seen changes happen to me and my family because I was able to change.

I believe that regardless of who you are right now or what people say about you, you can change and become a better person because people do not control your reality. They are like mirrors that only reflect the image you present to them about your reality. You control your reality and it’s up to you to change it. If you change, your reputation will also change.