Friday, July 9, 2010

Way to Go!

Samantha wasn’t athletic or pretty. She couldn’t sing, play an instrument, or create art. But Samantha was very popular. Why? She loved others, and she showed it by encouraging people. She cheered hard at the baseball games. She attended her classmates’ concerts and complimented them on their band and vocal solos. She noticed when people looked sad and did her best to cheer them up. She didn’t do it to be popular, but people loved having her around.

How can you be an encourager? Notice when someone tries hard to accomplish something. Say, “Great job!” or “Way to go!” Also, find someone going through a hard experience that you have been through yourself. If your parents were divorced a few years ago, and a classmate is now coping with it, you can offer encouragement. Let her know that things will get better. You could also tell her about the comfort you received from God, who is the best encourager of all: “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 TNIV) Make it your goal to encourage someone in your family or at school every day. One surprising benefit will be that your own joy will greatly increase.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Who? Me?

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve could eat the fruit from any tree they liked—except one. But Eve disobeyed God’s command and ate the forbidden fruit. Adam also ate it. When God confronted them, Adam blamed both God and the woman for his own sin. (“It was the woman that you gave me who brought me the fruit.”) Eve had her own excuse, and she blamed the serpent. (“He tricked me.”)

You might find yourself making excuses for your problems too. Maybe you’re naturally shy, and your goal is to blend in and not be noticed. However, you’re very lonely this way. “Everyone’s so unfriendly,” you tell her mom. “They stare right past me!” Only after an honest discussion about your behavior at school can you see your part in the problem. You admit that you don’t look at or talk to people. You avoid groups and disappear by herself. Finally you decide to take responsibility and change. After a few weeks of forcing yourself to talk to your classmates, things changed. Your unfriendly classmates magically transform into fun friends!

The game of “poor me” and “it’s your fault” got started in the Garden of Eden. To this day, people blame their problems on others. They blame their parents, their teachers, and the world in order to shift the responsibility. Some people prefer to believe that something else is controlling the outcome of their lives. However, we must stop blaming others and study our own behavior instead. Take personal responsibility for change. Then you can turn around and head in the direction of God’s good plan for your life.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Are You Calm in a Storm?

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!--Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

You're playing softball in the vacant lot next to your house one hot Saturday afternoon. You bat the ball hard, sending the softball in a straight line to your best friend. The ball slips between her hands and hits her in the eye, knocking her flat. Dizzy and head pounding, she lies there as you and your sister lean over her. Your wide-eyed sister Lily screams for your mom. Your best friend starts to cry. You can see she is getting worried, so you take a deep breath, pray for God's healing and strength, and pat her arm.

You calmly tell your sister to go get your dad. After Lily runs off, you tell your friend, "I'm sorry. Just relax and close your eyes. My dad will be here in a minute." Your peaceful attitude helps your friend calm down. You spread peace to your friend, staying calm in the middle of this "storm." Focusing on God's strength and care will keep us calm. And when we're calm, we think and feel better. So do the people around us. Let God's peace fill you at all times.