We are all given gifts, they differ from person to person, it is what we do with them that counts. If we waste them or don’t use them for a good purpose, things never seem to fall into place. We all know what is good for us, we don’t need someone to take charge, nobody can do it better than we can for ourselves. Step up and take responsibility for our own lives.
When we are constantly racing towards a destination, what happens to the moments we are living right now? Fast does not always mean better, many times we are in such a hurry we fail to do the necessary work it takes to build a strong base. In life details matter.
We are all guilty of telling our friends and family about the things we hope to do one day, and then doing nothing towards achieving those goals.
Inaction costs us our desires. Think about the inventions, art, music, literature and financial gains that are lost because we never take the necessary steps.
Could it be that we are all lazy? Or do we just derive enough pleasure from picturing our perfect scenario without having to do any of the work it will take to get there?
The problem with this is that one day we will begin to have feelings of regret and disappointment.
I see it all the time in the gym. People come in to get into shape. They know they need to do something and yet they just cannot persevere or push through mental/physical obstacles. Sometimes they blame it on “not having time,” which simply means it is not a priority. We all have time for the things that matter to us.
Then, a year passes, and inevitably they are worse off.
I have seen it in Jiu Jitsu so many times. People come in and want to learn, but they just are not willing to put the time into learning. I can tell you this observation I have made. Those that have become black belts in Jiu Jitsu that I have trained with are not the loud, weight-lifting braggart types. They are those that showed up day after day and put in the work and the time to learn.
I also observed it in my writing career. People often talked about their projects, took classes, seminars and did everything they could, except actually putting pen to paper day after day.
The problem comes from the inside. Each of us must ask ourselves if we are content maintaining our current life without making any changes. If the answer is no, then we must make changes.
Dreams, goals and destinations will never happen without first taking solid steps that will build the momentum to reach them. Each of us holds the power to change, no matter what our situation is at this moment. We cannot blame anyone else for our failure to accomplish our goals. The decision is up to us, we alone must take action.
Becoming an expert in anything is never quite as simple as taking a weekend course to get certified by an organization. The journey for knowledge is never-ending. Many people expect to go to school, take a class or two and become a master at something. In reality, a true master never stops their quest for knowledge.
With martial arts, in particular, I’ve learned that when you teach others you quickly realize how much you still do not know. You realize what faults you have, and if you take the right steps to remedy your faults, it helps you grow.
No matter what you do well, there is always someone who does it better. If we become so conceited that we believe our own hype, we will never continue to grow.
Even if you receive the highest award in your field, you cannot relax and quit working on your craft. If you do not consistently grow, you will soon be outdated.
There is a documentary I have watched a few times called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It is about a man who found something he loves to do, make sushi, and he works tirelessly to perfect it. He is never content and is constantly looking for ways to make better sushi. That is why his small restaurant is rated the best sushi restaurant in the world.
In life, we must constantly keep learning in order to stay relevant. If we want to stand out in any endeavor we must keep learning and it must be quality knowledge that we gain.
We must change our mindset. Instead of doing something to win, we instead will choose to do something to gain knowledge and grow. It can be humbling to work at things we are not good at, but in the end, it is a valuable lesson. To grow, we must let go of our fear of failure, humble ourselves and often it means forgetting about what the rest of the pack is doing.
I encourage you to pick something you are not good at, and start learning, growing and developing new skills. Each of us has at our fingertips a vast amount of knowledge, why not use it?
When it comes to our faith, the same thing is true. We can never just sit back or coast on our faith. We must constantly strive toward growth. As a Christian, it is up to me to put in the work to continuously grow and become more like Jesus. None of us is without faults. I need to realize what my faults are, and work on them.
An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
I have taken many trips in my life but none have affected me as much as my recent trip to Israel. During my ten day pilgrimage to the Holy Land I packed in a lot of sites.
I have visited other Holy sites around Europe in the past, including the Vatican, but they never made me think of anything beyond the beauty of the craftsmanship. Israel is a different place entirely. It is the living history of our Living God.
It is a land dripping in history and bloodshed. It has been conquered and reconquered for many centuries. The land is not rich in terms of resources. They have to irrigate the land and desalinate the soil to make it fertile. It varies greatly around the region, but overall it is very rocky with little water. One plant seems to thrive there naturally, and that is the Olive tree. Olive trees grow all over. The olive is a hearty tree that lives for many centuries, so if you plant them today your great-great grandchildren can enjoy their fruit.
The modern State of Israel has turned a once barren land into rich fields of crops. They have planted countless trees and made many improvements, despite being surrounded by enemies on all sides.
“Israel cannot bring you to God, but experiencing Israel can bring you closer to God.”
I heard these words shortly after landing in Israel. This phrase went through my head a number of times as I explored the country.
People travel to Israel for many reasons. My main reason for the trip was my love of the history. I wanted to walk where Jesus and the disciples walked. I wanted to see the land they knew, worked and loved.
I saw first hand the small desert village where a child, fully man and fully God, was born. He would go on to impact people’s lives around the world for over two thousand years.
I could feel the tug of history when I visited Caesarea and its great theatre. I knew Paul had been on trial and yet here I was sitting in the same arena where it took place. It was there that the Pilate Stone was discovered by archaeologists. The stone was a dedication stone from Pontius Pilate to the emperor Tiberius.
Capernaum is a small fishing village on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. It is written about in all four of the Gospels and it is at the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus taught. The house of the disciple Peter is located a couple of blocks from the synagogue. When you walk the streets of Capernaum you can begin to appreciate what the early Christians went through.
Traveling the country by bus is easy with modern highways and roads. A trip from the shores of Galilee to Caesarea Philippi takes under two hours. Jesus and his disciples walked it, and it took weeks!
The Dead Sea looks amazing when you first set eyes upon it. It is only when you wade in and feel the water that you fully realize why it is called the Dead Sea. The high saline content of the water feels more like a syrup. You cannot sink and there is absolutely no life in it.
I was highly anticipating my trip to the old city of Jerusalem and when I first saw it up on the hill it took my breath away. It was when I arrived at the Western Wall of the first temple that I felt my trip was complete. It was a huge victory for me, not because it is a holier place than any other place, but because of my former life. I had only ever expected to see the wall in pictures.
I saw people crying all along the wall. I saw others who were clearly praying and had been for hours. In other places on my pilgrimage I saw worshipers falling on their knees crying, brought to tears by the act of touching a rock Jesus may have touched.
The best sign I saw was inside the Garden Tomb, which was most likely the Tomb of Jesus. It reads “He is not here, for He is risen” That pretty much sums it up if you are a Christian. There is no place, no rock, no statue, no clothing and no ritual that will bring you closer to God.
God is accessible whether you make it to Israel or not. He wants to have a personal relationship with you regardless of your location, background or station in life. If you do get a chance to visit Israel, I urge you to go. It was a life-changing trip for me.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
When change comes into our lives it is rarely welcomed. It can turn our lives upside down and take us outside of our comfort zone. It is usually only looked at favorably in hindsight.
So when is the best time to make changes to our lives? Most of us only change when we are forced into it by a circumstance of life. There are seldom times when we decide that the way things are now is no longer acceptable so we truly commit to change. I’m not talking about a three day cleanse or a week without sugar, I’m talking about a permanent lifestyle change.
I’m here to encourage you to stop waiting until you have hit rock bottom or you have a crisis to change.
There will never be a perfect time in our lives for voluntary change, so right now is as good a time as any. The world around us is changing every day and there is nothing we can do to slow it down or stop it.
Even if life is going along perfectly and we are content, there is always room for self-improvement. There is nothing wrong with wanting something better in life. Goals are a great part of living. We should never stop learning or moving forward.
Changing because of what others think is not the answer. Forget about other people’s opinions. You are given one chance at your life, and you should stop letting others dictate your life, just like you should stop blaming others for the things in your life that have gone wrong.
Take responsibility, step up and make positive changes. If you take ownership of your life and take steps toward your goals, you will arrive where you set out.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.