Category Archives: Life Skills

How to Give the ‘Perfect Christmas Gift’

In Developing Countries;

  • it is easier to come up with gift ideas,
    • (if you have the funds for it),
  • there are many things that people need
    • but do not have; indeed
    • cooked food was the gift that
      • my mother dispatched
        • (through us children)
        • to neighbors, extended family, and friends
        • as a sign of good will at Christmas time;
    • watches, shoes, garments, jewelry, dishes, sheets,
    • pens, books, personal music player, TV, computers, toys, etc.
      • are all also great gift ideas.

In affluent societies like in the Western World

  • coming up with the perfect gift at Christmas
    • can be a challenge;
      • because most people use
        • their regular incomes or
        • credit cards to buy what they
          • need or use regularly.
  • One option is to buy
    • high-end gifts or
    • exotic and rare versions
      • (which can be very pricey)
      • of things people use on a regular basis.
  • Regular folks therefore have to work harder to give the perfect gift;
    • here are a few suggestions of how to give the perfect gift.

The perfect gift takes time

  • Start early, as early as September;
    • listen to everyday conversations,
    • listen to expressed desires and aspirations
    • and make a note for gift ideas from those conversations.

The perfect gift may be an ‘experience’

  • Gift ideas do not have to be ‘things
    • they can be
      • a vacation, cruises, concert, a trip to a destination
      • museum/zoo visits or theme park rides, air fare, special trips;
      • time off work, housekeeping, or baby sitting;
      • an offer of cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping;
      • scholarship, tuition contribution, tutoring,
      • a special radio station/you-tube, blog post announcement, etc.

The perfect gift should be personalized, customized or handmade;

  • an autographed book/ticket/music/fan wear,
    • (from the author or composer, or admired person)
  • monogrammed items:
    • a person’s name, initials or special message,
      • can be inscribed on
        • silverware,  bathroom set, plaque, musical instrument;

The perfect gift must fit the personality of the receiver 

  • Some people want big
    • (the amount spent is impressive)
    • others look for small details
      • (how rare, how much effort, how much thoughtfulness!)
  • Some people are visual
    • others are action oriented, still
    • others are moved by sound, etc.
  • Some people like things, others like ‘experiences.’
  • Some people want to keep up with their peers
    • (they get gifts that are popular)
    • others want to know that ‘they’ are unique
      • (they get gifts just for them);
  • How do you know what is the perfect gift?
    • People usually give the type of gift
      • that THEY like to receive;
      • use that to guide your gift giving
        • TO THEM!
        • not the other way around
        • do not give what you cherish
          • (I once gifted a hat to my wife
            • that she has never used;
            • it was something I fancied for myself!)

The perfect gift may be what someone tells you they want

  • They tell you directly or respond if/when you ask.
  • Some apps make it easy to create a registry for gift requests.

 

 

Thanksgiving (An Attitude of the heart!!)

This should have been posted before Thanksgiving Day.  All the same,

“Better Late than never,” and on thanksgiving week,

I heard one radio announcer say:

“Thanksgiving is not a day, it is an attitude of the heart.”

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  • T – THANK and PRAISE God

    • for all things BIG and SMALL!
      • And do not forget
        • the precious people in your life!
  • H – HEALTH AND LIFE

    • are things we can all be thankful for
      • even if we are ill at a hospital
        • or in bed!
  • A – APPRECIATE and ADMIRE

    • the beauty of God’s creation around you.
  • N – NAME and NUMBER

    • your blessings,
      • its a rewarding experience,
      • including the precious people in your life.
  • K – KINDNESS and THANKSGIVING

    • in the heart
      • are twin siblings in the same home.
  • S – A SMILE and a CHEER;

    • want to see it on the face of the deserving?
      • Just say, “Thank You!”
        • from the heart
        • and with a warm smile!
  • G – GIVING and RECEIVING:

    • The one exists not without the other
      • every time you say,
        • “Thank You!”
  • I – ICTUS;

    • Five Greek letters for ‘fish‘:
    • Jesus, Christ, God, Son, Savior:
      • at least one reason to “give thanks!”
  • V – VISION and VALUE:

    • Nothing says:
      • I see and I value what you have done” like when you say
        • “Thank you very much,”
          • from the heart.
  • I – INSIDE and OUTSIDE:

    • A thankful heart, expressed outwardly in sincere words
      • belong together.
  • N – NICE and NEW: 

    • Thanksgiving is always that
      • and much more.
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  • G – GOOD to GREAT: 

    • ‘Good Gifts’ become ‘GREAT GIFTS,’
      • when it is received with a heartfelt:
        • “Thank you.”

 

 

 

 

Of the ‘Devil’ and the Evil in All of US!

Where does Satan and our Sinful Nature fit

  • in explaining the evil that is in the World Today?

As a Christian

  • I learn about the existence of ‘Satan‘ and of the ‘Sinful Nature,’ but
  • I have not fully resolved
    • how those two (sinful nature and Satan) interact to bring evil in the world.
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Regarding Satan (the devil, serpent, tempter, accuser, destroyer, etc.)

  • Is he present everywhere at the same time?
    • everyone appears to be constantly being affected or
      • tempted by him;
  • How is he able to tempt each person individually?
    • How come he knows what we are thinking?
    • How come he knows so much
      • about our individual histories, personalities and weaknesses?
  • If Satan, ‘the devil’
    • can tempt, deceive, dissuade, discourage, destroy individuals
      • even as the human population on the earth
        • continues to grow and
        • has reached over 4 billion; and if he
    • can work his evil from generation to generation for thousands of years;
      • the way some people say he does,
      • does not that make him a very powerful person
        • with some attributes like God(!)?
        • But he is NOT GOD!

This brings us to another source of evil in the world:

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  • The Sinful/Evil Nature in all of us.

A ‘celebrity’ (in the early church)  once said this about himself:

  • (in the first century)
  • “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me,
    • that is, in my sinful nature. 
    • For I have the desire to do what is good,
      • but I cannot carry it out.   
    • For I do not do the good I want to do,
      • but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
        • (Paul: Romans 7.18-19)
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This is what that sinful nature looks like:

  • He(She) is lazy, slow, and a procrastinator.
  • He(She) lies, exaggerates, and deceives
  • He(She) is incredibly selfish;
  • He(She) is greedy, proud, boastful, and self-promoting
  • He(She) can be lewd, nasty, and insensitive
  • He(She) is utterly against God
    • He(she) does not want to submit to God’s rule or to worship him;
    • He(She) does not like to humble himself before God;
    • He(She) does not like to pray;
    • He(She) does not want to read sacred scriptures;
  • He(She) does not like limits
    • if the speed limit is 40 mph, he(she) wants to go at 45 mph or
    • if the speed limit is 55 mph, 65 mph seems attractive to him/her
  • He(She) lacks self control, prefers excesses,
    • he(she) does not want to wait or to accept limit on him/herself
      • whether it’s with regard to food and drink, or
      • in relation to social interactions,
        • including sex, and marital fidelity;
    • he(she) does not want to go to bed or to wake up early;
    • with regards to words and conversations,
      • he(she) can be mean, insensitive, inconsiderate, gossipy, and crass.
    • He(She) is never satisfied, always wants more.
  • He(She) works against the interest of the person in whom he dwells;
    • the excesses of the sinful nature may cause
      • disease, physical harm, crime and punishment;
      • auto accidents, fire, financial ruin,
      • ruined relationships and broken families,
      • loss of face and status, loss of power, etc.;
    • but this does not stop him or cause him to change direction .
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I believe that

  • this sinful/evil nature is in every human being;
    • it can be conditioned/tempered by
      • parental discipline and personal experiences;
      • Christian (religious) conversion and education, and by
      • custom, and the laws of society;
  • this sinful nature is a “he/she” because
    • it is a part of but
      • not the totality of who we are as individuals
    • because he(she) appears to operate by ‘reason’ and ‘persuasion’
      • to our minds and/or to our will
      • (See Paul above in Romans 7.15-25);
    • as individuals we have still have the ability
      • TO MAKE A CHOICE between what
        • the persuasion of what the sinful nature wants and what
        • commons sense, conscience, laws of society, and the dictates of our faith, tell us.
  • (Personally, I refer to this sinful nature as “THE BEAST”).
  • Bring a community of people together
    • with this sinful nature and its tendencies,
    • we then have endless possibilities for evil,
      • in our world!

NEXT POST:  BRINGING THE TWO TOGETHER:

  • SATAN, OUR SINFUL NATURE, AND THE PREVALENCE OF EVIL IN OUR WORLD!!

Questions: Pain, Suffering, Evil, and God!

I ADMIT IT!!!

  • I have had a lot of questions that have plagued me for a long time

    • about pain, suffering, evil, and God!

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  • I have seen (first person) or heard and read about

    • Christian men and women (young and old)
      • faithful to Jesus Christ,
        • active witnesses for Christ,
        • righteous in their lifestyle choices,
        • selfless in service to others,
        • regular and authentic worshipers,
      • loved by all, and then
        • fall ill and die,
        • drown at a Church outing or swimming in a home pool, or 
        • killed in gruesome road accidents, sometimes
          • while out or soon after evangelizing, or
          • while going about their normal business;
          • leaving behind grieving
            • (sometimes young) families,
            • congregations and the church at large,
          • while their ‘less worthy’ and sometimes criminal compatriots
            • live on!
  • I have read about 

    • how about five million Jews (‘God’s people’)
      • were killed in the second World War;
    • how over two hundred thousand people
      • were killed during the Tsunami in Asia in 2004,
    • how hundreds of thousands (including many innocents) were killed during
      • World War I, World War II,
      • Genghis Khan Wars, Alexandra the Great wars, Roman Empire Wars,
      • wars of Independence in US, India, Nigeria, Pakistan,
        • in South America, Africa, Asia, East Asia, Europe,
        • in civil wars and terrorist plots all over the world, etc. etc.
  • I/We have seen TV/Video clips of infants and babies 

  • struggling with cancer and other horrible diseases
  • that adults find it difficult to cope with, much less little children
  • born with birth defects
    • (blind, deaf, without limbs, joined with other children etc.)
  • I/We have seen the crooked and the unrighteous

    • get rich and powerful
      • by engaging in ruthless, unethical, and evil schemes,
      • swindling their customers, investors, and society as a whole,
    • beat the system instead of paying for their crimes,
    • appear to continue on with their lives
      • after destroying the lives of others
        • including family, trusting friends, and associates.
  • I/we have also seen

    • the poor remaining poor
    • the sick remaining sick
    • the rebellious child remaining rebellious
    • the marriage not becoming healed
      • even after a lot of prayers!

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 PAIN, SUFFERING, AND EVIL, GOD! QUESTIONS?!!

I CAN NOW SAY THAT I HAVE ANSWERS THAT SATISFY ME AND I WANT TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.

NEXT POST!!!

I believe in Miracles and …!

I believe in a reality

  • that is governed by observable and verifiable laws
    • of science operating within God’s creation.
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I believe that scientific laws and discoveries are valid

  • for ALL human existence
    • including those of the children of God(!), that is, the laws of
      • gravitation, motion, thermodynamics, relativity, atomic energy,
      • mathematics, statistics, chemistry, physics, electromagnetism, etc.
      • I do not accept evolution BY CHANCE but
        • I cannot rule out evolution by divine design.
  • Denying the laws and verifiable discoveries of science
    • on the basis of so-called ‘faith’
    • is a futile endeavor because
      • GOD PUT THEM THERE!!!
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I believe and accept the scientific advances behind modern technology

  • that have revolutionized human existence in the fields of
    • agriculture and food production,
    • medicine and fighting disease and illnesses,
    • manufacturing,
    • communication and transportation,
    • entertainment,
    • astronomy and even (sadly and unfortunately)
    • warfare, because
  • GOD PUT THEM THERE (!!!)
    • to be discovered for human use!

I also believe and accept verifiable theories and observations of the social sciences

  • concerning human nature and human interactions:
    • the quest for power,
      • how and why people attain, keep and exercise
        • dominance over others,
      • organizational behavior,
      • group dynamics;
    • the quest for possessions including
      • the universal principle of scarcity,
        • (human desires and wants are unlimited but resources are),
      • the economics laws of demand and supply,
    • the quest for pleasure,
    • Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, etc.
    •  are valid because GOD PUT THEM THERE!!!!

I  believe that God is therefore the greatest scientist;

  • the greatest, physicist, mathematician, astronomer,
  • molecular biologist, surgeon, sociologist, etc.!
  • God is above, over, and beyond all of his creation.

I also believe in the writings of the Bible

  • It is a revelation of an otherwise UNKNOWABLE God.
    • How else can we know the God
      • who is the origin, and is over, above,  and beyond the cosmos?
    • This revelation gives meaning and purpose to life.
    • It is ultimately the only viable answer
      • to the question:
        • “What is the meaning and purpose of life?”
    • Think of God as the Unlimited Energy that birthed everything
      • (energy appears to be one of the main constants in the entire cosmos)
      • but which/who is also a PERSONAL being!
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I believe God wants men to live within the natural order of creation

  • FOR THE MOST PART(!!),
    • that miracles of the dramatic kind
      • are rare occurrences and
        • designed by God to be so(!),
        • because he wants us to live by faith(!!)
        • and because he wants us to live
          • within the scientific (natural) laws of his creation!
    • GOD PUT THEM THERE!!!!
  • Neither Abraham, nor Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, Peter, or James
    • discovered the aerodynamics in order to build an airplane, nor did they
    • discover penicillin, the microscope, electricity, the Periodic Table, DNA, X-rays, Quantum Theory, or the connection between smoking and cancer;
    • gun powder was discovered by the Chinese, and
    • Archimedes had to discover the buoyancy principle because,
    • THAT’S HOW GOD INTENDED IT!!!

So child of God

  • don’t give up on dramatic miracles, but
  • don’t wait for them either.
  • It is God’s will that you live your life in obedience to him
    • with or without miracles.
  • The ONE MIRACLE that you can be sure of is this:
  • LEARN, UNDERSTAND, AND USE
    • the laws and principles
      • that God has put into his creation,
    • and seek his favor, and
  • YOU WILL MEET YOUR GOD GIVEN GOALS.
  • THAT’S HOW GOD INTENDED IT!!!!

LET’S DO THIS!  YOU CAN DO THIS!!

(Next post: how the perspective above helps us deal with the problem of evil and suffering!!)

 

 

How Do You Know He/She is the One!

Seriously,

  • How do you know he/she is the One

  • with whom you can have
    • a long lasting, mutually fulfilling, and happy relationship?

Physical Attraction:  What you ‘see’ in the other person says

  • ‘Go ahead, he/she is the one!’
  • This means that their
    • looks, fashion sense,
    • body type, posture and manner of walking
      • showing self- confidence, humility, focus, …;
    • attitude and presence,
    • voice and manner of speaking, etc.,
      • will meet your individual threshold/preference
        • for physical attraction,
        • throughout the relationship.
  • Ignoring this is why I believe that
    • (the TV show)
    • ‘Married at First Sight’ does not appear to work well
      • especially without the necessary cultural history and
      • without a network of supportive and influential family dynamics
        • to support it.
  • Western Culture emphasize/glamorize this far too much
    • when there other equally
      • or more important factors
        • to consider.

Shared Core Values and Approach to Life

  • You observe that you share similar views about
  • the most basic things you believe about life:
    • God, faith, and prayers,
    • money, life and death, family,
    • friends, science, the law, culture,
  • all say ‘Go ahead, he/she is the one!’

BEHIND THE SCENES‘ Real Life Experience(s) say,

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com
  • ‘Yes, Go ahead, he/she is the one!’
  • ‘Behind the scenes’ experience concerning
    • earning and spending money,
    • interactions with siblings, parents, relatives,
    • co-workers, bosses, detractors and opponents,
      • (how he/she treats them is how he/she will treat you eventually);
    • leisure and entertainment activities,
    • loss, illness, heartaches, and outstanding joys,
      • all say ‘Go ahead’, he/she is the one!
  • However remember
    • people can and do change.

Sound Logic and Reasoning Confirms it!

  • Please see my last post
  • Use Your head to guard your heart
  • Your heart can guide you
    • but not against objective facts and logic.
  • Remember, you are committing yourself to
    • seek that person’s happiness without precondition
      • in the hope that they will do the same for you.
  • Warren Buffet: 
    • “Buy a stock the way you would buy a house. Understand and like it such that you’d be content to own it in the absence of any market.”
    • Me :  “Enter a long term relationship the way you would buy a house. Understand and like it such that you’d be content to own it in the absence of making any profit off it.”
  • Why have a brain if you do not use it to make important decisions in life?
  • If sound logic and reasoning say “Go ahead, he/she is the one” then
    • do it, He/She is the one.

What about ‘chemistry,’ ‘instinct,’ ‘live in the moment’ or ‘take a risk’?

  • Chemistry‘ is mutual physical attraction and a shared approach to life,
    • (see above), unfortunately,
    • will not be enough for the long haul.
  • ‘Instinct’?
    • You would not invest in the stock market solely by instinct;
      • you need additional information to inform your ‘instinct’;
      • why then would you invest your life based solely on instinct?
  • ‘Live in the moment’?
    • Only if you have only one moment to live.
  • Take a risk?’
    • Would you jump out of an airplane
      • without a parachute and/or
      • without being reasonably sure it works?

We can do this; Let’s do this!!

Note:  I apologies for the gap between the last post and this, Apologies for the gap between the last  post and this.  My excuse? Life Happened (Work, car crashes in the family, etc.).  Email me your questions at reach4himwdray@gmail.com

What Makes Long Term Relationships Work? Really!

Fulfilling, loving, mutually satisfying, meaningful, and long lasting relationships boils down to one thing:

  • both partners in the relationship, without pre-conditions and with 100% sincerity commit themselves to make the other person feel
    • safe, loved, happy, accepted,  appreciated, understood, and
    • cared for.

Be “…like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  [Apostle Paul]

To do this requires

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  • maturity,

    • (from both sides),
    • (psychological, social, and emotional);
    • children are innocent and beautiful to behold
      • but they can also be incredibly selfish, foolish, insensitive and unstable;
    • ‘man-child’ partners, and ‘baby-girl’ ‘diva’ personalities
      • find it hard to focus selflessly on others, and
      • often ruin the chances for long term happy relationships;
  • trust, and vulnerability, because

    • to love without pre-conditions is risky, and
    • to open up to real love means to open up to deep hurt;
      • those who hurt us the most and
      • those we hurt the most,
        • are the ones that are closest to us;
          • they give the most happiness and/or cause
            • the deepest pain;
  • open and effective communication meaning

    • willingness to speak
      • about your fears, wants, and feelings
      • in a way that your partner can understand
        • without being pushed away(!), and
    • willingness to ‘listen’, and
    • willingness to learn(!)
      • from the other person;
  • the ability to forgive and overlook your partner’s fault(s):

    • (a generous spirit/heart);
    • ‘The teeth and tongue will get in each other’s way sometimes,’ and
      • it’s not pleasant when they do, but
      • they must find a way to work together
        • for the greater good of the body(!)
          • (in this case the relationship);
    • An ever growing record of hurts in a relationship
      • will crush it.
      • Let your relationship be like a room,
        • a pleasant place  where you both like to relax
          • and savor each other’s company; one
        • that is swept clean daily,
          • of the dust/dirt
            • (hurts of past days, weeks, and months),
        • whose windows and doors are constantly open
          • to allow sunlight and
            • fresh breeze through.

“When Somebody Loves You Back”
(Teddy Pendergrass [1979])

It’s so good lovin’ somebody;
When somebody loves you back

To be loved and be loved in return
It’s the only thing that my heart desires
Just appreciate the little things I do
Oh, you’re the one who’s got me inspired
Keep on liftin’, liftin’ me higher

We can build a world of love, a life of joy
Make our goal each other’s happiness
I will do for you anything that I can
Oh, everyday I wanna do a little more
Do a little more, just a little bit more

Said now 70-30
Now 60-40
Talkin’ ’bout a 50-50 love, yeah

More tomorrow!  You Can Do This, Let’s Do This!

Note:  I have been married 36 years, with 4 grown children, and have spent 30 years in ministry including counselling many couples, at all stages of their relationships. You can say I have been ‘around the block’ a few times. 

Email me your questions on relationships and I will answer them as best as I can.