For Ty, Reagan, Hunter, Hannah, Ty, Mason, Hunter, and Dusty
Begin each day by remembering that everything is a gift.
The home you live in, the food you eat, and the air you breathe are all a gift from God. Every good thing you experience in life is from God (James 1:17). No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, you are blessed. There will always be something in your life for which to be thankful. It is important when life gets difficult, and it will, to reflect on all the things you have been given.
Understanding that everything is a gift will have a tremendous impact on your life. It is the decisive factor in whether or not you will be a thankful person or a person that is unsatisfied. Thinking you do not have enough can lead to bitterness or jealousy. This is not a pleasant way to live. You cannot enjoy life if you are bitter or jealous. A much better way to live is to embody a spirit of thankfulness. You do this by rightly identifying the source of all things.
“Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth…” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)
Moses warns of seeing the world with a sense of pride as if human beings are responsible for all the good that happens in life. In reality, it is God who is the giver of all good things.
Never stop learning.
Never stop growing as a Christian, spouse, parent, or employee. There is always room to grow no matter your age or experience. Aspire to be a life-long learner. This will lead to a happier and more fulfilled life. You will find more success in your career. You will be a better parent and spouse. Most importantly, this is how God wants you to live your life. He wants Christians who are always maturing in their faith.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity…” (Hebrews 6:1)
God does not want you to become a Christian and stay as you are. He wants you to grow into a person who reflects the image of Jesus. This takes work. It takes commitment. People who refuse to grow stagnate. They stagnate in their careers, in their marriage, and in their faith. A person who is committed to being a life-long learner leads others as they continue to grow themselves.
Make space in your life to work on building and fostering community.
Community does not happen on its own. You must work to build it, and then you must work to maintain it. God is very interested in community. He instituted the family. God was the first to say it is not good for man to be alone. He formed the nation of Israel by asking Abraham to leave his homeland and follow him. Later he created the church. A person cannot be a Christian all by oneself. Being a Christian means belonging to a church, a community of people dedicated to following Jesus. Living in community is sometimes difficult, but God uses these challenges to shape his people.
When striking out on your own for the first time, find a church in which to belong. Don’t sit in the back and leave right after the last prayer. Become an active member. Invest in the church. Make friends in the church. Eat with the church and do life with the church. You will form relationships that will last a lifetime. You will create memories you will remember for years to come. Again, this does not happen on its own. You must choose to build and foster community in your life.
Your family is your responsibility.
The strength of a nation is dependent on family. Strong families are essential to society. Caring for one’s family is serious business.
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Tim. 5:8)
To not care for your family is to deny the Christian faith. This language should be a wake-up call to how important family is. Family does not come second to work or hobbies. It is as significant as one’s faith.
To care for a family goes beyond the physical things of life. A family needs food, clothing, and a roof over their heads, but they also require much more. They need wisdom and guidance. They will need you to be present even when you are tired or busy. Most of all, a family needs love. This is the glue that holds a family together. Love allows the relationship between a husband and a wife to flourish. It is the foundation a child needs to grow into a mature adult. A family is a great responsibility, but it is also a great blessing and you never truly understand how great this blessing is until you have a family of your own.
A life void of sacrifice is not worth living.
A meaningful life is demanding. Be ready to make sacrifices for yourself, for your family, and for your faith. Anything worth doing is going to cost you something. The culture in which you live often tries to avoid suffering. This is not how one should live their life. Suffering is not something to be enjoyed, but it is necessary. Muscles tear in order to grow. You must endure a level of pain if you want to become stronger. The same is true when it comes to being a better human being or a stronger Christian. Sacrifice is required.
A person who refuses to make sacrifices is not a person you want in your life. They will make a terrible spouse or friend. Relationships require sacrifice because no two people see everything eye to eye. Love is when we sacrifice for someone else. If a person is unwilling to sacrifice, then they don’t know what love is.
You have to make sacrifices to climb to the top of a mountain. Life is like a journey to the top of a grand mountain. If you don’t make any sacrifices, then you never begin the journey. Scripture is full of sacrifices Christians must make. This is not because God wants his people to suffer. It is because he wants his people to grow. He wants his people to love and think of others. Sacrifice is part of living life.
Faithfulness will set you apart from others.
Faithfulness sets God apart from everyone else. He is faithful even when he does not have to be. This is one reason why God can be trusted. He is someone in which you can always depend. He is trustworthy. The qualities of God are to be imitated by his followers. This means that Christians are to strive to live faithfully.
Being a faithful friend or spouse is not always easy. Faithfulness requires staying true during difficult times. Being a loyal friend when everything is going well is not a virtue. It is what everyone does. What is unique is when you stick by someone’s side while they are struggling or hurting. Faithfulness is remembering your commitment to be a spouse or friend when you have been wronged, or you feel like walking away. Sticking it out may not be what you want to do in the moment, but it will bless you and the people in your life.
Faithfulness to God is easier because God will never wrong you or let you down. However, life is not easy, and there will be times you feel like giving up. You may experience periods where you do not feel like worshiping, praying, or being around other Christians. This is normal. Understand it is a phase and remain true to God. Keep worshiping and praying knowing that things will get better and God is always by your side.
Allow your faithfulness to God and others to guide your life rather than the feelings you have at any given moment. Your feelings will change, and you will be glad you honored your commitments even when you did not feel like doing so.
Choose your words wisely.
Words are important. They are precise. They are better than any gif or emoji. The words you choose to use can bring healing or comfort, but they can also be used to wound or hurt. Once words have been spoken, they cannot be taken back. Learning how to use words properly is one of the most challenging lessons to learn. It takes a lifetime.
Saying nothing is always better than saying the wrong thing. Although this is excellent advice, everyone will say the wrong thing at some point. When you do, apologize and try your best to make it right. Once you have done this, know that you have done all you can. Don’t beat yourself up because you said something stupid. Everyone does it.
Being slow to speak is always a great practice. It will help you guard against saying things you will later regret. Think before speaking. Consider your words especially at times when they matter most. Always strive to use your words for good. Use them to encourage, build up, comfort, instruct, correct, etc. Be a voice for voiceless. Never be afraid to speak up for the oppressed, vulnerable, or those in need. Words are powerful and can accomplish much good if you use them wisely.
Lead by serving.
A community of givers is a beautiful thing. They will bless one another in many different ways. A community of takers is a literal hell. They will bite and devour one another until everything is destroyed. Serving is good for your spirit. Jesus says it is more blessed to give than to receive. You will feel better about yourself if you are looking for ways to serve. If you think others should serve you, then you will often be disappointed. You will experience discontentment because you believe you are deserved something that you are not.
The most respected leaders are the ones who lead by serving. Never think that any job is beneath you. Be ready and willing to get your hands dirty. Jesus cleaned the disciples’ feet to show them what they were to do. They were to be leaders who serve. Seek after trust, loyalty, and friendship rather than power. A leader does not always have faithful followers who trust him or her, but a leader who has earned the trust, loyalty, and friendship of his followers by serving alongside them has greater power than the leader that is merely given power. A leader who serves puts his or her actions on display. People know what they are all about because they can see it.
The church is what it is today because people who came before you chose to serve. The same is true of this country and the community in which you live. Don’t take these things for granted. The best way you can honor the men and women who came before you is to find ways to serve.
Humility is the foundation for wisdom and maturity. One cannot be truly wise without first being humble, nor can one attain the goal of maturity without first acknowledging he or she has much to learn. If you want to develop into a wiser, smarter, more mature human being, then you must begin by humbling yourself.
Humility prevents against pride and arrogance. It will make you more pleasant and cause you to have more friends. Humility will help you have a proper understanding of your place in the world. You are a human being. You are not God. All human beings are created equal and bear God’s image. This means no human being is better than another. There is something of God in every person, and therefore each person has value. They have something to teach you if only you are humble enough to receive what they have to offer.
No matter how far you go or how much you achieve, always stay humble. Remember that God once left heaven to come to earth. He was born in a stable, spent his first night on earth with farm animals, and lived a modest life. The King of kings did not live like royalty. He humbled himself, and all Christians should do the same.
Love is the most important thing.
God is love. The two greatest commands are to love God and love others. The world is obsessed with love, but love is often misunderstood by the world. It is not an emotion or feeling. It is not about getting what you want or fulfilling some desire you have. Love is thinking of others rather than yourself. It is the opposite of selfishness.
Jesus is the greatest example of love. He laid down his life for others. Love is self-sacrificial. It will always cost you something. If you want to know the definition of love, then study Jesus.
Life is best when you are living for others. Deny yourself and follow Jesus. Put to death your ego. Turning inward will destroy your soul. If you want to live, look outside yourself. Live for your family and friends. Live for strangers. Most importantly, live for God. The greatest lie a person can tell themselves is that they are the center of the Universe. This will cause a person to selfishly live for themselves. This will not produce the abundant life God wants his children to have.
Love God and love others, this is how to live life well. Practice this each day of your life. Some days you will do it well. Others you will not. Keep loving. As you do this, you will draw closer to God, and you will discover the life that God wants you to have.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”