Tag Archives: friendship

Ostracism and bullying

ostracismThe whole town turned against Hester Prynne. She got caught — by the out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

The Puritans forced her to wear a scarlet A on her dress always as a continual stigma of shame. She was violently flung from human friendship and affection. The hardened ladies looked at her with eyes of condemnation. Preachers wanting to exhort congregations or crowds about the dangers of sins pointed out Hester. Newcomers to the town gazed curiously at the letter, wondering what it meant. Kids, unaware of the concept of sin, treated her as an outcast following behind at a distance and making fun of her.

No one should be subjected to ostracism and bullying — no matter what the cause.

Such mistreatment can make a person turn into a sociopath.

Scarlet Letter teaches loveHolding up under psychological pressure for years and years, Hester doesn’t become a monster. The hero of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter becomes a saint, giving to the poor and helping the sick. But she is the exception.

Maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons we see so many massacres, so much mental illness, is because of the way we reject people. And the absolute last place where rejection should be pervasive is Christ’s church.

The importance of schmoozing

fellowship Being the American that I am, I believed fervently in work-aholism. If you want to get things done, work 17 hours a day.

The lackluster church growth prompted heart searching and method revision. I discovered the power of not working (and praying). I also discovered the incomparable value of socializing. The latter upended my idea that useless chatter was a waste of time.

imagesIt turns out that socializing inspires people. If you want people to do things for you, then show them how important they are by talking to them. Here’s how it works: two or three people can always get more done than one. So if I’m the leader, I multiply my impact by delegating to followers. And I motivate followers to work by just taking the time out of my busy schedule to talk to them.

It wasn’t a sermon full of conviction that brought Zacheus to repentance. It was sharing a meal. Jesus took time out of his busy schedule to schmooze. That human connection made friends into followers, socialites into servants — for entire lifetimes.

socializing

from google images

Learn the importance of social activities.

*All the images are from Google. I don’t own the rights to any of them, and I’m not making any money on them. I applaud the photographers’ genius.

Teachers who inspire

inspiring friendsIn 2007, Marcelino de Leon saw kids in the his neighborhood who didn’t sign up for first grade. Illiteracy is high in Guatemala, where people struggle to survive and have a hard time supporting their kids in education.

So Marcelino decided to teach them himself. Every Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 he taught nine kids first grade materials. When the next year came around four of those kids tested into second grade.

Nobody paid him for this. No one applauded. Marcelino didn’t get any awards. A professional teacher, Marcelino just wanted to help where he could. He lost track of those kids when he moved, but we expect them to find him one day and report on their success at college.

Marcelino helped us at the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta. As always, it was voluntary, since we were/are strapped for money. We charge most students a minimal fee, and it doesn’t cover expenses.

I was so impressed by his willingness to pitch that I offered to teach him English. Extraordinarily, after I left Guatemala, he continued helping our school.

It’s people like Marcelino who inspire me.  Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds — Heb. 10:24. He came to visit me today. I’m wanting to do more for God.

Old friends, new works

Guatemala churchFor years, these guys were among my closest associates in the pioneer church of Guatemala. They preached in the streets, did dramas, tithed, attended services and became pastors.

Sometimes life slams us. Can we survive?

I’m in Guatemala again seeing the church my wife and I started 20 years ago. At its height, it had a K-12 school and oversaw four start-up churches. Then gunmen convinced me my time was over in Guatemala, and I returned to the States. We’ve passed some difficult trials. Will we grow bitter or inactive?

Or will we rise from the ashes to do fresh works for God?

Make a new friend this new year

friendshipFriendship enriches much more than riches. Friendship brings health where money can’t buy it. There are people with riches who have many “friends.” Parasites, I’d call them.

If you have a friend, realize fully the blessing in your life. If you don’t, don’t give up in the search for friendship.

Original image from Beautiful pictures on Google+

Wrong ways to heal hurts

cutting

I have healed my hurts in Jesus. Please don’t try something else.

I don’t own the rights to this image, and I’m not making any money on it. I DO hope to help people with it.

If you’re facing criticism

facing criticismdon’t despair. You’re probably doing something right.

Consider Joseph. For having a call of God on his life, he was reviled by his brothers and rebuked by his parents. Eventually the brothers sold him into slavery, after very nearly killing him.

And in the end, God raised up Joseph to great leadership in Egypt. He was the catalyst for enlarging Israel in the incubator of Egypt. He was the man for the plan, but the plan was unrecognizably from God. How did Joseph not spiral in depression from such rejection from his loved ones?

The importance of WE

the importance of weYou can’t just wall humans out of your life. It is unhealthy. It should amaze you what love and acceptance to bring to your heart. It will bless your mental and even physical health.

With the world at his feet but friendless

alexanderIn Oliver Stone’s biopic Alexander, the Great Greek conqueror rules the world but despairs when his only friend dies and then willingly imbibes poisoned wine.

His mother’s boast that he would rule the world due to her conniving (she arranges the murder of her husband when he gets a second wife — which threatens Alexander’s chances at the throne). But having the world proves hollow for the successful general. He can trust no one.

It’s lonely at the top.

Friends are better than riches and accomplishments, which all remain here on Earth and convert into dust when our immortal souls pass into eternity. Friendships alone remain.

Friendship is the bomb!

friendsThis side of eternity, the greatest thing is having friends.

Come sit with me: fellowship

fellowship

Photo: David Tomek

The bench beckons, moss-grown with lack of use. We weary ourselves with ambition. We are missing out on each other. Can we sit and talk? My faith will be strengthened, maybe your too. Coffee was meant to be shared. Sadly at the coffee shop, the majority are alone, on their phones.

Actually, fellowship is an important but neglected pillar to the Christian faith. We think it’s optional, that we can do without easy enough. Not so in the early church.

Being liked

being likedCall me insecure, but I’m the type who wants to be liked by everybody. The reality is: not everybody is going to like me.

In fact, sometimes lots of people are disgusted with me. After all, I’m just a human being.

Jesus asks us to love those who hate us. Sometimes the people who are supposed to love us, pour rejection out. This is hard to handle. It requires maturity — more than I have. But it’s something I can shoot for. Christianity is not about being perfect but aiming for improvement.

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Your bad attitude is NOT cute

bad attitude

I’m going to keep reaching out

BR2

Even though I face rejection on all sides.

Cutting myself off from people would save me the hurt. But it would deprive me of human warmth, affirmation.

Too bad so many people see others through competitive eyes. They can’t just be friends. They have to put others down, downplay others’ giftings. Life must be miserable when you can’t enjoy friendship.

319896379751152422_LZUTRNrd_bI’m going to keep reaching out to find friends. To find people who can accept me for what I am. My strengths and weaknesses. My quirks. People who don’t try to re-make me according to what they think I should be. God made me sensitive. If you don’t like that, too bad for you!

I’m going to keep reaching out because that’s what Jesus did. Spurned, he still gave love. I’m going to keep reaching out because the alternative to rejection is loneliness — which is worse.

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Rejected?

rejection

How to overcome low self-esteem

self esteem lessons

By rigorously defending the key, we forced abler opponents to take outside shots, where they weren’t as strong.

No critic was severer of me than me.

Virtually friendless in high school, I lacked confidence and avoided the risks that would lead me to success. But through the years, I have fundamentally changed (though not totally). Here’s how:

becoming a winner

Zach was the beast on the court. I did what I could to help win.

1. Discover your unique giftings. Eventually I discovered that I did have strengths and gifts, though these were not appreciated by anyone or registered by any test designed to show strengths. This is a Biblical truth: God has NOT made person void of some talent.

Just like parts of a car, you can’t do without even one of them. The car will break down. Each part is critical to proper functioning. Through the years, I saw that I was no exception to this rule. I was valuable and realized God made me with special giftings for my special calling.

Critics may focus your deficiencies. They are blind to your abilities. Too much attention paid to other people can deflate your self-esteem.

loser winner2. Turn around the toxic environment wisely, as best you can. It’s downright discouraging being surrounded by people who drag you down. What can you do? Appeal to your family members to look at positives more than negatives.

I turned around the nay-saying non-family by repeating back to them what they were saying to me. When someone criticized me, I criticized me in the same way. And they were horrorized to hear my self-criticism. It was as if I raised up a mirror to their faces, and they saw how ugly it was what they were doing. They stopped.

3. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Accept yourself for who you are. If people don’t like the fact that I’m sensitive, that’s fine. I’m not going to pretend to be something different. If they don’t like it, then I’ll look for friend elsewhere. Find friends who appreciate you for what you are.

These lessons of life came to the surface with my recent participation in a basketball tournament at the school where I teach. Basketball is not my game, so I tried to get out of it. But my friend, Zach, really wanted me — because he’s a true friend, not because he wanted to win.

Would you believe we wound up winning the tournament. I didn’t believe I had talents for basketball but I used what I had, and Zach did the rest. I’m learning to be less of a self-critic.

Partnerships

Saved gang member

Mario and Alex at the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta today.

When it was his turn to kill in a dark alley, Mario demurred and concocted some excuse. Still, he was a hardcore gang leader.

Meanwhile, Alex got his kicks throwing curve balls that baffled batters in the big leagues of Guatemala. With his young Nicaraguan partner, together they were forming a life with not much direction.

On separate days, both got radically saved by Jesus Christ. They processed through discipleship and became leaders of the Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta. They worked tirelessly, giving their all, everyday. Mario still teaches art in our school. Alex still is assistant pastor and coordinator for the school.

Missionary school Guatemala

With the big smile, teacher Banner with 5th and 6th graders. His life too was touched by God. He too has become a key partner in the ministry.

If you want to achieve great things, you’ll need to partner up with other, similarly-minded human beings. Partnership, in the world, maybe conjures the ideas of corporation profits. On the team, it speaks to supporters who help the stars win.

But in the kingdom it means much more: exponential impact and sweet friendship.

Now that I was forced to abandon Guatemala, they carry on the work. I left, Jesus did not.

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

The lighting was bad, the smile good. My joy is to see kids in a safe harbor school growing up free from pressures to “grow up” too quickly. There is an innocence on these kids.

Partnership in the gospel is one of the greatest blessings in life. Don’t believe the myth of Rambo, one man single-handedly decimating entire armies. With God, it doesn’t work that way. God describes the church as the symbiosis of differently-gifted individuals who benefit each other and achieve vastly more together than any would alone.

Peace for a suffering friend

peaceThink about Job’s friends. They wanted to console Job. But their theology was too black-and-white. Through some 20 chapters, they degenerated from help to hurt, from wanting to encourage to discouraging. Eventually, they just argued.

Don’t be like Job’s friends. They started on the right foot. The Bible says that when calamity slammed Job, they sat with him in silence for seven days, grieving with him. They showed strong moral support.

But then they searched for words. They sought reasons to explain the unexplainable. They spoke eloquently and gradually became enamored with their fine speeches and forgot about the purpose of uplifting the victim. Instead of infusing solace, they spiked Job. Dogmatism doomed them.

Their lack of words spoke more powerfully than the florid poetry they poured out trying to convince Job he was wrong. In the end, they did more harm than good. Eventually, the dragged Job into the fray and provoked him to some unwise statements. At the end, God rebuked them.

If only they would have finished like they started, friends showing mute affirmation.

Hello to my friends

I and my family (don't you hate grammarians?) at Universal Studios at night.

I and my family (don’t you hate grammarians?) at Universal Studios at night.

I am guilty of working my blog less, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love and appreciate you all. It literally gives me joy to see all the people still liking my blogs (which I have been fewer lately)! Thanks everyone! May God bless you all.

I have been busy, teaching at our high school, doing internet promotion, coaching soccer, and the like. I have been writing on the santamonica.patch.com about our school. So even though I have dropped off with mustardseedbudget.wordpress.com, don’t worry. I’m still doing the Lord’s work, and that always brings joy.

So here’s a word to faithful friends, friends who have encouraged me now for two years on the blogosphere: Thanks and flag not in your service for the Lord. Nothing you do is in vain.

Wreck-It Ralph fixes

imagesPassing through the power cables at an old school video arcade from one game to another, a hulking, 9-foot tall wrecker named Ralph strikes up a friendship with feisty, pint-sized girl racer named Vanellope. Because she’s a images-2“glitch,” they won’t allow her to race with the other girls in Candyland.

This charming movie has won my heart because it’s about relationships. No one hardly is aware of others’ experiences images-1with rejection. In one scene, Fix-It Felix Jr. whines to his villain counterpart Ralph about suffering unrequited love. “You wouldn’t know anything about it,” he complains.

“Yes, I do,” Ralph responds. “It’s the story of my life everyday.”

02WRECKIT1_SPAN-articleLargeFelix’s countenance softens. He finally understands that the “bad guy” in his game feels left out by the others. The heart-warming takes place on various levels of conflict and misunderstanding.

images-3The story is highly imaginative and the interaction between video game characters, both known and unknown to gamers, is delightful. The movie is a gem amidst the piles of rubbish churned out by Hollywood. The plot never images-4bores. (Most movies make my eyes glaze, and I usually just walk out of the room from boredom.)

Wreck-It Ralph is more than just a great children’s movie. It is absolutely a contribution to humanity. Wreck-It Ralph wrecks buildings but fixes friendships.

 

Look to learn from anyone

praycoupleNino slept during my class. If not asleep, he was combing his hair. He didn’t turn in homework. Needless to say, this did not ingratiate him with me.

Then, he taught me a valuable lesson. He was talking about racism. Our school embraces people from all backgrounds. He was attacking inappropriate jokes.

prayAsiantoddlerHe explained how African Americans “empower” themselves by using the N-word. Previously, I didn’t understand why the oppressed used the word of oppression. Nino explained that by employing the evil word in jest, they are stepping on it and affirming their triumph over it.

4530272-business-team--smiling-people-standing-in-line

I rejoice to see that my kids make friends with kids of all races without even apparently noticing. Yet racism remains a problem for our nation. If you google “attractive people” on images, you’ll see a disproportionate amount of whites. Nino says this is because they’re the “de facto” definition of beauty. Strides must be taken to continue to correct the evils of racism.

Everyone has something to teach, no matter how they comb their hair or what irksome habits they have. Every single human being on the planet has a valuable insight, if we will only take the time to listen.