Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Main Character

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Maybe you got the right grades in high school and attended a good college.  You came out ready to set the world on fire, but settled instead for a steady paycheck. Or, maybe like me, you went against the norm and caused some trouble earlier in life.  The unconventional life is what I lived. I always felt that there was so much more to life than playing it safe.

What makes you tick? If you were writing down your story, how would you describe your character?  Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and jot down a few things.  It’s not what we do for a living that defines us, it’s who we are as a person and what we live for.

Why does your character make the choices they do?

How does their life affect those closest to them?

What has your character learned that they can pass on to others?

How would others describe your character?

These are just answers for you to think about, not for anyone else to see, so answer them truthfully.  Now that you have a description of your character,  let it sit for a bit.  Come back to it later and read it again.

Do you like the character that you see forming on the page?  If yes – great!

If you are not happy in anyway, get busy.

All of us benefit by thinking about the people we look up to, and qualities they possess.  By working to incorporate those qualities into our day-to-day life, they can become part of our character too.

As long as you are still living, the story isn’t over.  The character is not written in stone.

No matter who you are or what you are doing now, you have within yourself the ability to change your story, improve your character.

Investing time in improving your character is time well spent. We all have time.  How we spend it comes down to what is most important to us.

Part of the character building process is realizing we can not go at it alone.  Ask for advice, ask for help, and when you do you may be surprised at the outcome.

Looking back at the main character of my story, there were a lot of qualities I’m not proud of in the younger me.  The good news is, I wasn’t doomed to stay that way forever.  With commitment, time, hard work, help from others and a lot of help from God, I’ve changed.  I’m still a work in progress, and my story isn’t over, but I’m here to let you know, you can change too if your character isn’t what you want it to be.

If you had a hard time coming up with a list of qualities that you have, the Bible is a great place to look.  It has a whole lot to say about character traits.  For every good character quality, there is a bad counterpart.  Take a few minutes to glance through the list below.  Pick a quality listed and see which side of the coin your character currently sits on.

CHARACTER TRAITS

Alertness vs.  Unawareness

Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I  can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

Attentiveness vs.  Unconcern

Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided  attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

Availability vs.  Self-centeredness

Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the  wishes of those I am serving (Philippians 2:20–21

Contentment vs.  Covetousness

Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my  present happiness (I Timothy 6:8)

Creativity vs.  Underachievement

Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective  (Romans 12:2)

Decisiveness vs.  Double-mindedness

The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the  will and ways of God (James 1:5)

Deference vs.  Rudeness

Limiting my freedom in order not offend the tastes of  those whom God has called me to serve (Romans 14:21)

Dependability vs.  Inconsistency

Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means  unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

Determination vs.  Faintheartedness

Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time  regardless of the opposition (II Timothy 4:7–8)

Diligence vs.  Slothfulness

Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the  Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it (Colossians 3:23)

Discretion vs.  Simplemindedness

The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which  could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)

Endurance vs.  Giving up

The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish  God’s best (Galatians 6:9)

Flexibility vs.  Resistance

Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be  changed by God or others (Colossians 3:2)

Forgiveness vs.  Rejection

Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and  allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)

Generosity vs.  Stinginess

Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for  His purposes (II Corinthians 9:6)

Gentleness vs.  Harshness

Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of  others (I Thessalonians 2:7)

Gratefulness vs.  Unthankfulness

Making known to God and others in what ways they have  benefited my life (I Corinthians 4:7)

Hospitality vs.  Loneliness

Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual  refreshment with those whom God brings into my life (Hebrews 13:2)

Humility vs.  Pride

Recognizing that it is actually God who is responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

Initiative vs.  Unresponsiveness

Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it (Romans 12:21)

Joyfulness vs.  Self-pity

The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in  fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

Love vs.  Selfishness

Giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive  personal reward (I Corinthians 13:3)

Loyalty vs.  Unfaithfulness

Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God  and to those whom He has called me to serve (John 15:13)

Meekness vs.  Anger

Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5)

Orderliness vs.  Disorganization

Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the  greatest efficiency (I Corinthians 14:40)

Patience vs.  Restlessness

Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving  Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3–4)

Punctuality vs. Tardiness

Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Resourcefulness vs.  Wastefulness

Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or  discard (Luke 16:10)

Responsibility vs.  Unreliability

Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting  from me (Romans 14:12)

Security vs.  Anxiety

Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27)

Self-Control vs.  Self-indulgence

Obedience to the promptings of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:24–25)

Sensitivity vs.  Callousness

Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and  emotions of those around me (Romans 12:15)

Sincerity vs.  Hypocrisy

Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives (I Peter 1:22)

Thoroughness vs.  Incompleteness

Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my  work or words if neglected (Proverbs 18:15)

Thriftiness vs.  Extravagance

Not letting myself or others spend that which is not  necessary (Luke 16:11)

Tolerance vs.  Prejudice

Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity (Philippians 2:2)

Truthfulness vs.  Deception

Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

Virtue vs.  Impurity

The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate  from my life as I obey God’s Word (II Peter 1:3)

 

List taken and edited from the one found at: http://graceonlinelibrary.org/home-family/christian-parenting/49-godly-character-qualities

 

No Excuses

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When I was growing up, I watched the people around me and learned from what I observed.  I wanted to be a part of a certain criminal lifestyle, and everyone in that circle was older than me.  The only way that I could be a part of that world was to do everything better than those around me.  

I took all the advice that came my way from the older, more successful criminals around me. The mafia life is one of oral history and apprenticeship, there is no “school” to graduate from, so being able to listen was a huge part of it.

An older guy once told me, “Listen, nobody cares about your personal problems. Just get done what you’re asked to do.” That stuck with me my whole life.  The rules were clear. Do what you are told, and never come back empty handed or with any excuse.You always show up when called for, and on time. If there might be traffic, leave early.  If there might be bad traffic, leave earlier.  Being late was a sign of disrespect.

Those lessons became part of my life and I was able to see the consequences when people did not follow them.

Take some time to sit and listen to people talking around you in different places.  Observe conversations on social media.  You will hear a lot of blame and a lot of excuses.  It takes more courage to step up and take responsibility for your own actions instead of making excuses.

“But Kenji… Life isn’t fair! ________ happened to me!”

Life is unfair.  No amount of wishing, or talking, or blaming will ever change that.  What we can do is be as fair as possible in our own lives and accept that worrying about things that are beyond our control will do more harm than good.

You will be surprised at how much inner peace a simple act of stepping up and taking responsibility for your life will bring you.  If you made a mistake, you can analyze your actions  and learn what to do different in the future.  Worrying about what someone else did will get you nowhere since you can’t control their future or past actions.

Approaching life in this way and makes it easier to love others, even when they may have wronged you.

What would you lose by taking responsibility for your life?  Try it out for awhile and see what happens.  Like any new endeavor, it may take a bit of time to change your reaction in circumstances.  Learn to fill your mind by thinking about positive things instead of focusing on the negative events of life.  The other choice is to keep living life like so many who spend their days blaming others for their situation.

2 Corinthians 5:10

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Galatians 6:5

For each will have to bear his own load.

Philippians 4:8

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Ignite Change

 

 

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Change

Some of us are leaders, some of us want to be leaders, and for some, the idea of leading is scary. The truth is, we lead every day with our actions. Leading is not about telling people what to do, it is about people watching and learning the way you process and respond to life, and then deciding to follow suite.

A writer friend of mine once told me to “show not tell,” in my stories. That applies not only to writing but life. What he was saying is don’t just tell the reader about a situation, show them through the character’s actions.

I have been thinking about this a lot in the last few days as I’ve been bombarded by negative news in the media.  It would seem the world has gone mad and everyone has a grievance.  On a large scale things seem so far from where they should be, and it’s easy to get discouraged.  While we may never be able to fix the world or even the city/town we live in, we can each set an example in how we live our life.  You can’t give up – you have to keep improving, starting with yourself.

Think about your life, do you talk one way around some people and live another? Start matching your actions with those words.  This is why so many people act out, we are told one thing, but what they see being done is something completely different.

Change comes from the those who lead the way. I will share a little bit of what I have learned through my journey of change.

I decided that I need to change my life in 1996. I did not know at that time where the changes ahead would take me, and it’s a journey I’m still on today.  It was a daunting task because I had so many areas of my life that I needed to work on. I knew how to see things through on a smaller scale, and I decided to apply that to my life.  The first thing I had to do was change my environment.

I started devoting time bettering myself through knowledge and exercise. I made these two things priorities and made pursuing them a habit.  I pinned down aspects of my life that I knew were wrong, and I began to work on them one at a time.   As soon as I conquered one, I would learn that I had two more to work on.

I learned over time that being strong is not the same thing as being confrontational or aggressive.  I had to learn to humble myself and open my mind up to things outside of myself. Finally, I began to treat others the way I wanted to be treated.  The biggest moment of change and humility for me was when I realized I was living my life for myself when I should live it for God.

 Then one day, for the first time in my life, people started thanking me for being a positive and inspirational person.  This had never happened to me before because in the past I was known only for my negativity and the negative things I was capable of doing.

All this time, I’ve been working on change within, and the lessons I’ve learned and lived have had an effect on those around me.  I got a text yesterday from a friend and it read, “Dude thank you for inspiring me without being preachy.”

I have a long way to go, and I know I’ll never be perfect.  But while I’m on my journey I’m going to shine my light to anyone who is looking encouragement or a push in the direction of positive change.

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Philippians 2:1-3

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 

Inner Strength

G0010193.JPGThe strength to overcome what you know is not right.  The strength to face powerful opposition without giving up.  This is not physical strength, it is inner strength.

Like physical strength, we must exercise our inner strength it if we want to improve it.  We use our inner strength in both good and bad experiences throughout our lives. Most of our victories in life are the result of putting our inner strength to work, and it is tested in tragedies and turmoils that are never far from those times of triumph.  There is no escape from pain, so we must use the hard times to grow our inner strength.

When it comes time to develop our inner strength, it is easier to be more like water than steel.  We find the path of least resistance and head that way. I’m here to encourage you to take the difficult path instead.

It is often said that life is what we make it. I have come to learn that there is a lot of truth in that statement.  If we wake up and believe that this day will be bad, it very likely will be.  On the other hand, if you think of all the positive that will happen during your day, even a bad day can turn out pretty good.

Your inner strength has the possibility to change both your circumstances and your attitude.

Can you fight on after being dropped flat on your back? Can you not only stand back up, but finish strong? Can you decide to change and then follow through with it?  If you can, you have great inner strength.

If you feel your inner strength needs work, start by realizing and admitting your weaknesses.  Own your weaknesses, and work on them.  With dedication, you can turn them around into strengths.

I thought I had great inner strength, but it turns out I was fooling myself.  I realized just how weak I was in many ways once I surrendered my will to God’s.  I had viewed religion as a waste of time, and I had viewed myself as “in charge.”  Today I look forward to the quiet time when I can pray and connect with God.  My relationship with God gives me the inner strength to make the right choices, because he provides strength when I am weak. The best part of this? His strength is available to anyone who believes.

John 1:1-51

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

2 Peter 1:5-8

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Titus 2:12

Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,