Lost in Details

Life gets complicated sometimes. 

Exams here and there, occasionally getting into fights with your friends and having all that drama with people around you. I have to admit that I am a person who gets caught up with these types of things. I am a person that gets lost in the details of my life. I love to make every single thing that I do to be as close to perfect as it can be. Especially in ministry, I usually end up doing things myself because I want them to be as close as they can be to my definition of ‘perfect’. Because of this, I quickly get irritated, feel like everything is wrong, and lose motivation. 

Being lost in details is like going to a shopping centre. You go there to buy one thing only, but as soon as you step into the shop, you start looking around and buy more stuff than what you came there for. When you finally get home, you realize that you did not actually buy the thing that you were meant to buy in the first place. You lost track of what you were doing. 

It’s the same as being lost in details; you lose track of your main and sole goal. So how do we keep our eye on the goal in this busy life? How do we not lose track of what we are doing?

1. Discern what is important

Discernment is one of those skills that are important for life. Without discernment, we lose sight of what the top priority is, and we put the not-so-important things to become the most important thing in life. When we look back on our lives, we will laugh at ourselves, as we remember the things that we put in our top priority list turning out to be not important in the present. Like when I was in year 7, I used to overwork myself to get the best marks, but now I look back and laugh at myself because I found that marks are not everything and that failing year 7 wasn’t the end of the world. 

There are many more significant problems now, and we must know which ones are our top priorities. Losing a friendship is not the end of the world, and failing a test also is not the end of the world. This doesn’t mean you go around and cut off all your friendships or fail all your classes. However, it means that if you have tried your best and still fail your class, it’s okay; keep going and keep working hard. If you’ve lost your best friend, it’s not the end of the world; friendship comes and goes. 

We learn from our mistakes, and thinking it is the end of the world if you make those mistakes won’t get you anywhere. My friend once said that if there is a problem, we have to move forwards, not move on. Moving forward means that we do something about it, learning from the mistake and handling the situation, while moving on is just trying to forget what happened but never learning anything from it. When faced with a problem, we have to move forward and remember that it is not the end of the world; we must learn from it and keep our eyes upon the goal.

2. See the bigger picture

In everything you do in your life, remember that your main and only goal is to glorify God and enjoy Him. It says in 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV): “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. 

So remember that when you are doing things, like studying for an exam, even if you don’t like it, remember that the end goal is not to pass the exam or to get a good mark. Rather, in the end, you do all those things for the glory of God. This especially applies to those doing the final exams in their last year of schooling, like the HSC. Even though it’s tough and lots of things are going on in your life right now, remember that you are doing it not only to get a good ATAR, but your main goal is to glorify God. No matter what you are studying at uni, or even your job in the future, the main goal is not to make money and get rich but to glorify God. We need to see the bigger picture, which is our sole goal – to glorify God and enjoy Him.

3. Turn your eyes upon Jesus

When life is complicated and challenging, we will have a hard time keeping our eyes on the goal with so many earthly things happening around us. We have to turn our eyes upon Jesus so we can focus on the sole main goal and not get caught up in these worldly things. It’s like the hymn by Helen Lemmel,

Verse 1: O soul, are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior,

And life more abundant and free!

Reff: Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

Verse 2: Thro’ death into life everlasting,

He passed, and we follow Him there;

O’er us sin no more hath dominion–

For more than conqu’rors we are! 

Verse 3: His Word shall not fail you–He promised;

Believe Him, and all will be well:

Then go to a world that is dying,

His perfect salvation to tell!

This hymn was inspired by the life of Lilias Trotter, who was a missionary. Its lyrics are based on the poem she wrote. This reminds us to see Christ when life is dark, and it feels like there is no way out. We so easily get lost in the details that we forget the bigger picture. To remember the bigger picture, we must always turn our eyes upon Jesus, read the Bible, and keep growing in a relationship with Him. As things in our lives are changing, people around us are changing, and the situation is constantly changing, remember that God is never changing.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). 

He will never change and therefore, we should seek safety in Him. For people change, but He never changes. That is why our goal is not to make someone happy,  to get closer to someone, or anything related of this world, because this world keeps changing, while God never changes.

Remember that this life is hard; it is tough. We won’t have the strength to keep our eyes on the goal; we will get caught up in details if we use our strength. That is why we have to ask God to help us and have mercy on us, so that in the end, we will fulfil that sole goal, and we can go through this life by turning our eyes upon Jesus. Always remember the sole goal and ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding’, (Proverbs 3:5-6) so that in the end we may glorify God in whatever we do.

Ivana Santoso (17) is a writer in RE Generation-Z. She hopes that through her writings she may learn more about the truth while bringing more teens to Christ. You will often find her playing with her guinea pigs or sleeping in her room.

Are We The Chosen Ones?

Have we ever wondered whether we are the chosen ones? 

We Christians, are so used to coming to church every Sunday and serving God in ministry, that sometimes we forget about our spiritual health. We prioritise the things on the outside, but we forget the most important thing is our relationship with God. 

Okay, going back to the question, I definitely have wondered that many times during my journey as a Christian, and I’m sure you have too. But really, let’s take a step back and dissect this question together. 

What are we chosen for?

This is a critical part of this question; without actually knowing, how can we properly understand and answer the question? 

It says in 1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness unto his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people, once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

We are a ‘chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession’. What does this mean? We are separated and set apart from the world. We are set apart to dedicate our lives to serve God, set apart to be loved by God, set apart to serve God, set apart to be owned by God. We are set apart for God.

We are chosen to dedicate our life to God and God only. Not for this world, and not for our own self-enjoyment, but only for God.

Do we know God on a personal level?

This question might seem like it does not relate to the main question, but this is a crucial question. We now know that we are chosen by God to dedicate our lives to Him, and Him only. But how can we dedicate our lives to God if we do not know Him?

When I say ‘relationship with God’ or ‘knowing God’, it does not mean only knowing God by knowledge (in your head), but also experiencing God in our daily lives –  to walk with Him. Many of us Christians think we know God just because we go to church every week, but in reality, we do not know Him – we have not gained that personal level with Him, so we do not really know Him. 

Now let me ask you a question, using an easy example. If you are going to marry someone and be with them until the end of your life, wouldn’t you want and even need to know them first to spend your life with them? That’s why we have dating; for knowing that person first before marrying them. If we spend time to know about a person just for marriage, shouldn’t we put more time and effort into knowing God? Because we are not just going to know God, but DEDICATE our life to God. Dedication is far more serious than marriage, because we will LIVE for that individual, and our whole life is FOR that individual. Without knowing the individual that we are dedicating our life to, of course we wouldn’t be sure if we are the chosen ones.

So where do we go from here?

  1. Pray to God for His Mercy

We need to pray to God to give us His mercy, for without God revealing Himself to us, we would not know Him.

  1. Build a relationship with God

We need to know God -what other ways can we build a relationship with God other than reading the Bible and praying to Him? We need to listen to His Word and meditate on it in our daily lives and not only that, but we need to include God in our everyday life, not just during Saturday and Sunday.

These first two steps are already hard enough, but with God given strength and His mercy, we will be able to go through this process. Something I want you to realise from this article, is that the question ‘Am I chosen or not’ is not as important compared to our relationship with God. We first need to worry about our relationship with God since, without a relationship with God, we cannot be the ‘chosen ones’. And without prayer and the Bible, we cannot have a relationship with God. 

So pray and read the Bible with all your heart, because we, as humans, have been made to dedicate our lives to God.

Ivana Santoso (17) is a writer in RE Generation-Z. She hopes that through her writings she may learn more about the truth while bringing more teens to Christ. You will often find her playing with her guinea pigs or sleeping in her room.

Moving Forwards

We may not feel it, but it is nearly the end of the first month of 2022. It is exactly ONE week until the end of the month… Time really goes fast. 

Without us knowing, it will soon be February, March, and then December, and hooray another year… or not hooray? I don’t know about you guys, but 2019, 2020, and 2021 went by really fast, and it felt like a blur. But the transition between 2021 and 2022 makes my heart feel really unsettled. One question keeps bugging me every single day, ringing endlessly.“What have you done this past year, and what have you even done today?”. If you know me personally, these past few weeks, I have been studying day and night, catching up with the work for year 12, but still, it feels like I’ve done nothing, nothing at all. 

Since the first month of 2022 is already over, I want to ask a few questions that will hopefully make you and I realise how little time we have in this year and even in this life. So going forward to the 11 months left that we have in this year, we should continue to use our short time wisely.

  1. Are you prepared?

This may seem like such a silly question thinking about it, but what I mean is, are you prepared for everything? Okay, it might not make any sense right now but bear with me. Have you ever heard the quote by Alexander Graham Bell which goes like “Preparation is the key to success”? This quote is pretty much true because without preparation, we are preparing ourselves to fail. 

In this generation, many people think that being prepared is not important. I had this one friend, who loved to do everything last minute. She would do her homework right before she handed it in or start the assignment the night before, but the most ‘last-minute’ thing she ever did was doing an English assignment the morning it was due. She came to school having done nothing on the assignment that was due in a couple of hours and in the end, she ended up asking for help from the people around her. The worst thing was that she did not even feel bad for not preparing the work, and actually felt proud for having done it at the very last minute. 

Maybe you know a person like her or maybe you are one like her. This is a very bad habit because it is the lack of discipline and laziness combined and will become a big problem in the future if you do not get rid of it soon. We might think that being last minute is okay as long as we get it done. I also used to think like that, but in reality, it does not only affect if you get it done or not but it also affects the quality of the work and more importantly, your character. We, teenagers, are in the stage between being children and adults. We will soon become adults in a couple of years in the future, and having this bad habit will take a big toll on you now and in the future.

Being prepared does not only mean being prepared for the big assignments, but it also means being prepared for the small things like getting your uniform ready on Sunday night instead of Monday morning or packing your school bag with the things you need the night before instead of the morning… These small things might not look like they matter, but these are what will build the habit of being prepared.

Okay, now let’s put this preparation stuff into context. We are heading towards a ‘new’ year, school is starting again soon, and things will start to resume soon. We can look back and see if in January we were prepared for the small things, and if not we can change our habits now so that in this new year we can become a more prepared person and our time can be used more wisely.

Honestly, being prepared is not easy and I still struggle with it too (like right now, I’m writing this article a bit last minute) but it is easier to change our habits now than later. Something that might help is using a planner can help you set out your week and work out which task needs to be done. But really, we need to ask for God’s help to give us the heart to be diligent so that we can use our small time on earth wisely.

2.  What have we done last year?

Did I use my time wisely last year? Have I used my time wisely in this month that is coming to an end? What have I done to serve God in the last year? Have I preached the gospel to other people in the past year? Did my relationship with God blossom in the past year or did it die? These questions are important to think about as we transition from one year to another. Even though we may have achieved other things in life (like good grades, etc), if we do not have a personal relationship with God, all the other things we have achieved are useless. This world and the things in it are all temporary. We have to value what is important in this life – not our grades or friends but it is our relationship with God that is the most valuable.

Without God’s help, this next year will also go to waste and Satan will use the time that we have wasted for evil. So we need to ask God to give us wisdom so that we can use our time wisely. Pray to Him, and depend on Him in this next year because this world is getting more evil, now that we are given many opportunities to waste our time on social media and other things. We cannot fall into the trap of wasting time so ask God for help. We have little time on this earth left, so use it wisely, and ask God to give you wisdom to use your time wisely (Psalm 90:12).

As we enter a new month and things start to get busy, we can lose track of these things. So before going back to the busy schedule, it is good to have a private retreat with your family or by yourself to think about the past year and plan what you will do in this year, giving yourself goals to look back on over the year. We must not waste our time, but use this year to glorify God in everything we do.

Ivana Santoso (17) is a writer in RE Generation-Z. She hopes that through her writings she may learn more about the truth while bringing more teens to Christ. You will often find her playing with her guinea pigs or sleeping in her room.

The People Around Us

Who are you closest to? Your family? Or maybe it’s your friend? Or it can be your significant other? Or is it God?

Relationships are a huge part of our life, and since it is the end of the year (well, we are nearly there), it’s a good time to reflect on the past year and our relationships. For the next four weeks (including this one), we will talk about relationships that we experience and reflect on these relationships. Since today is the first week, this will be an introduction to the four significant relationships.

  1. Family 

‘My parents don’t love me; they love my siblings more than me’. Have these words ever come up in your heads? Sometimes, these thoughts haunt me when my parents scold me more than my siblings, and I’m sure that most of you guys experienced this before. But, even if you don’t have any siblings, maybe you also have these thoughts. 

Funnily enough, everyone thinks this way, which means that your siblings probably thinks that you are loved more than them. But think about it seriously, think about what your parents have done for you — education, a roof over your head and food to eat. Yes, some parents are maybe not that great, but for most parents out there, their scolding or angriness does not mean that they don’t love you. On the contrary, it is the opposite, and they do love you. 

Now it’s our turn. When was the last time you did something for your parents? Last week my teacher said to my class ‘It is the end of the year, what are you giving to your parents? How can you show your gratitude towards them? To show gratitude for sending you to good education and supporting you in school? They always think about you. You are the first thing on their mind.’ This talk opened a lot of my classmates’ eyes, including mine. We need to respect and love our parents; sometimes, we forget that our parents are also humans. They need reassurance and love. 

This also applies to our siblings (for those who have siblings). Even though they are sometimes annoying (Yes, I admit, they are annoying at times), but they do love you. At times, we first need to show our love to them. Do something for them, make them food, play with them, then you can see how much they love you back. Sometimes we are the ones that need to reach out to our siblings.

So, it is time to reflect on our relationship with our family this past year. Have we respected, loved and showed our gratitude to our parents or not? Have we shown our love to our siblings? If not, it is not too late to do something now, don’t wait until it is too late.

  1. Friendship 

I’ve always wondered what friends are for? I mean, yes, to socialise but really, what else? All the drama and energy drain, sometimes I don’t think it’s worth it. But, as time went on, I realised that maybe friendship is also crucial since we are made as social beings (Genesis 2:18), as Vivienne wrote in her article ‘You Won’t Make It Alone.’

“Since the beginning of time, humans have been created with the longing for true friendship. And we can’t live life to the fullest without it.’

One of the main reasons I did not understand what friends are for is that many people are fake friends, not true friends. But I prayed to God to give me a friend that I can grow in faith with and share with, and God has answered my prayer. 

There is a lot more to cover for friendship which is already covered in Vivienne’s article and our animation videos but for application, think about what you can do to show your love and gratitude to your friends at this time of the year. Maybe you can buy them a present or spend time with them. Something that we all need to remember is that we should not think that we will always have these relationships or friendships forever. One day they will be gone, so make the most out of it. 

  1. Significant others

This is the only relationship that I have not experienced, but there are many things to know before going into this relationship. Unfortunately, in this generation, we do not take this relationship seriously, and we play around as if it is some game. 

There are two types (plus a neutral type) of people in this relationship (or before going into this relationship).

The first type of person in this kind of relationship has a ‘crush’ on someone. This type of person has an eye set of one and only one person. A wise person once said, ‘before marriage, open your eyes as wide as you can and after marriage, close your eyes as tightly as you can’. This saying is true. Before marriage, there is no use in just focusing on one person. This is because usually, teenagers, when they have a ‘crush’ on someone, are blinded by love and cannot see the fault in that person. But after marriage, we start to see their faults and all, that’s when we have to close our eyes as tightly as possible.

The second type of person is someone that is dating in general. At our current age (around 12-16), we do not need a significant other yet. I mean, what are you dating for? Is it for fun? A saying goes, ‘if you are not dating for marriage, you are dating for heartbreak’. Maybe you have heard of this saying before, but what are we dating for if we are dating at this age? We are not ready to get married yet, are we? 

So really, at this age, we don’t need dating yet. But yes, in the future, we do need dating. We are called to have a relationship with significant others and be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). Men and Women will leave their family and marriage in holiness (Genesis 2:24). We should not follow these two types of people, rather we should be the ‘neutral’ one.

Yes, as I said before, dating at this age is still too young and that we are still growing up in maturity. We need to wait for the right time, wait for God’s plan. Jim Elliot once wrote ‘No one warns young people to follow Adam’s example. He waited till God saw his need. Then God made Adam asleep, prepared for his mate, and brought her to him. We need more of this ‘being asleep’ in the will of God. Then we can receive what He brings us in His own time, if at all.’ Just like how Jim Elliot waited for the right time, we must learn to wait for God’s time for us, and He knows the best for us.

So rather than searching for the ‘one’ in this time of our life, we should wait for God’s plan and pray to Him about our future significant other.

  1. God and me 

This, personally, is the most challenging kind of relationship. It is not based on usual everyday things, but it is based on faith, the faith we have in God. 

One of the ways we can build our relationship with God is to get to know Him by reading the Bible. I know, I know, it is not easy to read the Bible constantly in your everyday life, and it is still hard for me. Still, we know there is nothing more important than your relationship with God in this life. Not just a relationship but your PERSONAL relationship with Him. Reflect on this past year, your relationship with God and your daily devotions. Start to include a plea for mercy in your prayers so that God will reveal Himself to you and so we can grow to know Him more. Without God revealing Himself, we will never know who He is.

That was a brief introduction of the four main relationships that we can reflect on in the last months of the year. This will be further discussed in the next three weeks as it will be reflected on from different perspectives from different people. So keep in tune, and see you next time!!!

Ivana Santoso (17) is a writer in RE Generation-Z. She hopes that through her writings she may learn more about the truth while bringing more teens to Christ. You will often find her playing with her guinea pigs or sleeping in her room.

The Shortest Article

Today’s article is very short; it’s only about one small paragraph. It’s a reminder that your strength comes from God and having a relationship with Him. Always draw close to Him in whatever you do and depend on Him. Well, that’s it for today, until next time!

um…

Wow, you’re still here?

There’s nothing down here.

Honestly, why are you still here???

Incredible, you’re still going strong, scrolling down the page.

Congratulations, you have arrived.

I can’t believe you are still here. No, this is not the shortest article, and no, it is not only one paragraph long. Funny how you’re still reading this article (and this exact sentence!).

You’re probably asking where I’m getting at. But the whole point of this is that you are still reading this because you are curious, and you want to know more about it, not because it is entertaining (well, maybe) but because it just simply caught your attention.

But think about this: Do you have this same sort of curiosity when you read the Bible?

If the title of this article was ‘reading the Bible’, would you have kept going? What if the first sentence of this article was ‘reading the Bible is important’? Would you still be here reading this article? Most likely not, I would probably have lost you in the first sentence or even the first word. Are you losing your attention right now? Why is that? It is a big mystery, isn’t it? It’s just like how we lose focus when reading the Bible. 

I mean, the Bible is the most important book in the world’s history, yet we never feel like reading it. It talks about the purpose of life we search for everywhere our whole lives, yet we are still reluctant to read it. It is right in our hands, in front of us, even on our devices that are right in our grasp, yet we find reasons to avoid reading it. We throw the Bible around as if it’s worthless but out there somewhere in China, Pakistan, or North Korea, people are risking their lives to get ONE Bible verse in their hands. They are risking EVERY SINGLE THING they have in their life, for it’s worth more than anything they have. They consider the words of the Bible as something PRICELESS. But how much do WE value the Bible?

So, back to the question: Why is it so hard for us to read the Bible? Let’s talk about the basics.

Sin 

The first reason is sin. All humans have sinned (Romans 3:23), including you and me. This one seems like an obvious reason why it is so hard for us to read the Bible. But it goes a little deeper than just sin. It looks into one specific sin; pride.

As we have seen from last week’s article, pride is hard to spot — like in this case. So you might be questioning what pride has got anything to do with not wanting to read the Bible. But what if I tell you it is because we are prideful human beings, have too much self-confidence,  feel that reading the Bible is not important, and  think we don’t need God in our life at all?

Wow, shocking, right? Outside we might say and act like we need God, but inside it is the total opposite. When I first heard about this truth, I would not accept it. I said to myself, “of course, I need God in my everyday life.I can’t do anything by myself”. However, after some time of thinking, I realised that I was a prideful person that wouldn’t accept the truth, and even worse, I had excuses to cover up this truth. 

If we do really, truly think that we need God (and of course, we need God!), we wouldn’t skip devotions. We would be like a deer that yearns for water. We would yearn for God’s word. We would yearn to be in His presence, like the song ‘As a deer’ by Martin J. Nystrom taken from Psalm 42.

“As the deer panteth for the water

So my soul longeth after Thee

You are all that my heart desire

And I long to worship You

You alone my strength my shield 

To you alone that my spirit yield

You alone that my heart desire

And I long to worship You”

We need to depend on Him like in this song. We already know that we are limited human beings that cannot achieve anything in our own strength. Whether we have experienced it or not, we know that one day we will break down and burn out. Who then will we turn to? Who do we find strength in? I know changing your habits of not reading the Bible is hard and I’m also experiencing it too. But we need to walk the path of humility just as the article last week describes it “we must fight against our sins, against our pride that (if left undealt with) will lead us to a sickly death… Treasure Him and keep His word deep in your heart.” 

In order to do all this, we must pray and ask God for help. It is not an easy task and there are no ‘shortcuts’ to it. Of course, it will take time and there will be ups and downs but this is a very important matter in your life. It doesn’t only affect you now, but it will be there forever in your life and even after life. We need to grow in a relationship with Him in order to depend on Him and for Him to guide us.

‘There is no time’

I’m sure that many of you guys use this excuse to not read the Bible. ‘Oh there’s no time at all, I go to school in the morning and then blah blah blah…”. One thing we all need to realise is that it’s not that we do not have time but we do not MAKE the time for it. I mean, look at your screen time on your phone.

This is the average media use by tweens (a child who’s between the stages of childhood and adolescence) and teens in 2019. We spend more than a quarter of our day looking at our phones and we say that we don’t have time to read the Bible? 

If you are really busy from morning till night then wake up earlier, train your body to wake up earlier. If this is a really important matter to you and you know how big it will affect your life, you would be willing to wake up earlier, work twice as hard because you know that we do not have the strength to go through the day without God, so reading the Bible in the morning is essential to give us strength throughout the day. 

Reading the Bible everyday, consistently, and having that yearning in our hearts to read it is not easy. Truthfully, this article is me talking to myself. Even from very young we know that reading the Bible and depending on God is very important. But sometimes, it is hard and sometimes laziness settles in our hearts. There are many more reasons  why reading the Bible isn’t our most favourite thing, but these are the points that hits me the most and hopefully you guys can realise that when we are in our daily normal life, we do not have the strength to carry on without God’s help. So pray, and keep His word deep in your hearts. Ask for His help in your daily life and grow a relationship with Him in hard or good times. Take one step at the time, and that first step is to get to know Him; Read the Bible.

Ivana Santoso (17) is a writer in RE Generation-Z. She hopes that through her writings she may learn more about the truth while bringing more teens to Christ. You will often find her playing with her guinea pigs or sleeping in her room.

Losing Motivation

Motivation. It’s something we all have lost somewhere in lockdown. Whether it’s because of the never-ending list of things to do, or maybe, the total opposite, you are bored, with nothing to do. 

The motivation to study, to exercise, to do anything at all has gone out of us and down the drain. At the start of lockdown, I found myself having goals to achieve and do things as best as I can. I studied from day to night, and I even made a whole timetable of things to do each week. But now, I don’t even have the willingness to work. I force myself every day to do all the work that is given to me. Every day feels like a cycle, just things repeating themselves, nothing new or exciting to motivate me. I started to think, why do I have to do all these things? Why can’t I just stop doing everything? What is the purpose of me doing all this work?

Now, let’s think together about this simple question: why are we losing motivation? I’ve personally never thought about this question until now. I’ve always focused on how I could keep going with my work even if I didn’t have the will to do it or how I could fix this problem of losing motivation. But now, I realise that we can fix the problem if we know what is causing it. So right now, it’s not the matter of where can we find the motivation or how can we fix the problem, but the important question is, why are we losing motivation?

Laziness

This reason seems obvious. We lose motivation because we are lazy. We find ourselves scrolling through Tiktok and Instagram or watching our favourite movies and TV shows on Netflix. We all know that infamous excuse, “just a couple more minutes” or “just one more episode”, but we still end up sitting there looking at our device for hours —no wonder we lose motivation. We all know that we would rather sit down and watch things rather than do our work, and when we are forced to study or do other things, we don’t have the motivation to do those things. All we want to do is just sit down and relax.

It’s very much like a cycle. We feel tired from doing our work, then we look at our devices for breaks, we grow more tired, and then we have no motivation. We need to stop this endless cycle. My parents always say that when we want to take breaks from studying, it’s much better to do other things rather than look at our phones because it will drain our energy more than before. At first, I didn’t listen to my parents, thinking that it’s not actually real. But two weeks ago, I put that statement to the test. I banned myself from using social media such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and basically my whole phone (I put my phone in aeroplane mode). I felt more refreshed and more motivated to do work than when I constantly look at my phone for ‘rest’. 

We need to get rid of this laziness. It is the reason why you don’t have the motivation to do anything. the lazier you get, the more motivation you lose. “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9). Let’s work together to break this cycle.

Purpose 

Another reason why we don’t have motivation is that we have lost the purpose to do things.

You might be sitting there thinking, what does motivation have to do with my purpose? I mean, what is the relationship between purpose and motivation?

When we lose our purpose to do things, we have no more motivation to do these things that are meant to be done. We lose the path where we are heading, making us have no more motivation to do these things. I mean, think about it, if someone is studying for a big exam like the HSC, they keep studying day and night. But then, if there was an announcement that HSC was cancelled, you would see those people that had been studying day and night for this exam all stop studying. Why? Well, it’s simple, because they won’t have a purpose to study anymore. It’s the same with us. We lose our motivation to do things because our purpose to do those things is gone or the purpose is not clear anymore.

So, what is our purpose? What is the purpose of us doing our everyday things in lockdown? It might seem pointless or just plain meaningless but remember, we do not do these things for ourselves, we do these things for the glory of God. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) and “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23-24). This life is not just for you to waste. We must always remember that our life is short. We do not know when we will die. It might be tomorrow, next week, or even today. So, we need to use our time wisely.

There is much more to discuss about purpose. But in summary, we need to remember our purpose, that way we know where we’re heading, we can see a clear path. Even then, we will still have trouble getting our motivation. But without a purpose, we will be lost and we will slowly but surely lose our motivation to do everything.

Do not give up

It’s very easy to give up and just stop doing these things in lockdown. Especially, it is very easy to lose your motivation in these times because you are just staying home and doing all your work from home.

Remember this, do not give up. Keep pushing and keep doing your work to your best capacity. Do not give up, even if you are drowning with work. Do your best in everything, try not to excuse yourself from your commitments. Do your best, even if that means you take time off your social media. I had this one friend and she said something that I will never forget. She said that we all have 24 hours a day, what we choose to do in that time will determine our future. 

One thing is for sure, you cannot do this by yourself. You will not have the strength to figure everything out by yourself. That’s why in these times, it is very important to have a relationship with God. You need a connection to God everyday, which is personal devotion and prayer. If you don’t do these things it’s just as if you are in a war without contact with your commander. You will have no idea what’s going on and you will be lost. 

Honestly, in these lockdown times, I’ve been struggling with my daily devotion and my spirituality has been going downhill. So, I’m not writing this article because I have been through this or mastered this struggle. But, I write because I know we are all going through this and these are the things I have found in my struggles. You are not alone, we are all in this together.

One step at a time

We need to take one step at a time, these steps should not be too slow or too fast. Make small goals each week, put it on a small paper and stick it to your wall. It can be from catching up on school work, or cleaning your room to finishing a book in one month or finishing a math chapter this week. I encourage all of us to try to do this, so that we can get rid of our laziness and we can build our motivation back up, so that we can glorify God even in lockdown times.

Ivana Santoso (16) is a writer in Regeneration-Z. She hopes that through her writings she may learn more about the truth while bringing more teens to Christ. You will often find her playing with her guinea pigs or sleeping in her room.

Out of Our Hands

Have you ever wondered how many opportunities you’ve missed in your lifetime? Or how many God-given graces you have wasted?

We are given so many graces and opportunities in this short life that we have. But at the same time, we have wasted many of them, and most of the time we don’t realise how precious these little things are until we lose them.

Opportunity and grace, what is the difference?

Opportunity means the big things that are rare in our life, such as going to a prestigious university or getting your dream job. Grace is those small things that we have in our everyday life such as talking to our friends, reading the Bible, and even walking.

But something important that we need to remember is that both of these are given by God, and it is not always in our grasp. It’s really easy to overlook the small graces that God gives us and even the big opportunities that only come once or twice in our lifetime.

But before we get into that, there are two terms that the Greeks use to different events occurring in our life. In our life, there are important moments (Kairos à e.g. getting into a prestigious university or getting your first job) and when time just flows without the important events in our life (Chronos à e.g. eating, waking up, showering and etc). Looking back at your life you won’t write all the Chronos things, it’s just everyday things. However, when Kairos happens, we tend to remember them for the rest of our lives because they are important moments. These important moments don’t come often, and they will pass quickly.

In Greek mythology, Kairos is a god with only one lock of hair at the front. He is bald at the back. This symbolises how if you are not fast enough catching what’s in front of you, you will miss and barely touch his bald head. He also has two pairs of wings (you can search him up); one pair on his back and the other pair on his feet (one on each foot). This is because he moves very fast, possibly flying past you. The only way to catch him is by grabbing his hair when he is directly Infront of you – It cannot be a second too late or a second too early. It needs to be at the exact right time at the exact right place or not, you will miss him.

Moments move fast and you can only catch them when you get it only if you get it at the right time. Or else, it will move past you and you will miss it. Moments can come and go in the blink of an eye, even if you are eager to get it. In this life, there are many moments that come and go. It is easy to miss the important moments that can change your life. That’s why we must be ready to seize every moment that comes ahead of us.

Don’t take it for granted

Now going back to opportunity and grace. As I said before, opportunities are very important and we can easily miss them. But you also need to remember that the grace of God is also important. Even though it is there, it can disappear anytime. The easiest example is what we face right now, in times of COVID. Currently, in Sydney, we are in lockdown. The things that used to be normal and easy to do (such as walking freely without a mask and hanging out with friends) now cannot be done anymore.

Honestly, I have never thought twice about going out with friends or serving in the orchestra. Because it happens every week, I take these graces for granted. It never occurred to me that one day I cannot meet my friends or go to orchestra rehearsals like usual. One thing that I learned from this lockdown is that the ‘irrelevant’ graces that we are accustomed to can also be taken away – they are not in our hands. They are in God’s hands. Now that we know this, let us not take the grace that God has given us for granted. Let us not wait until grace is taken away to realise how precious these are. Let us use the opportunity God has given us wisely, as it says in Ephesians 5:16, “Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil”. We need to make use of every opportunity and give thanks for every grace God has given us.

YOLO

YOLO stands for ‘You Only Live Once’, That we cannot turn back time and that we only live once.  Most of you guys have probably heard this term before and it’s familiar. However, the world’s concept of YOLO is different from that of the Bible’s.

The world’s concept of YOLO is that you only live once, so you should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future. It also means that you should do things that are enjoyable or exciting, even if they are silly or even slightly dangerous. They also use YOLO to say that you’re only a teenager once, so you should live your life to the fullest and have fun endlessly.

The Bible’s concept of YOLO is the same, but at the same time, it’s the complete opposite. The Bible’s concept is that you do only live once, but this doesn’t mean that you do silly things and only focus on the now. You live life to the fullest by GLORIFYING God, especially in our teen years where we are in our prime time. We have lots of time and we are full of energy so God can use us greatly, even in our teenage years. 

Now that we know YOLO, opportunity, and grace. Let us not waste, but instead, give thanks for the opportunities and graces that God has given in this short, one life. 

There are three things that you need to remember: 

  1. Grace and opportunity are God given, it is not in our hands. 
  2. Grace and opportunity are not always in our grasp; we can suddenly lose them if that is what God wills.
  3. We cannot take things for granted – give thanks to God, and do everything to the best of your capability. This way, you won’t need something tragic to remind you that we only have this one life and that we are not in control of everything. So give thanks to God what He has given us and do not take things for granted.

Truth or Feelings?

“So, what’s more important; the truth or feelings?” my homeroom teacher asked as a news report came up on the big screen titled: “I’ve gone back to being a child”: Husband and father-of-seven, 52, leaves his wife and kids to live as a transgender six-year-old girl named Stefonknee. Going around the room, I heard a lot of different answers. Some said that the truth was more important; this man is biologically a 52-year-old male. But, others questioned this view saying, “it’s his right for him to define what he is”. Others said that his feelings were more important. There were many different variations of answers from different people. 

But the answer that stood out the most was one from a boy that said it was right for him to change his gender but not his age. And the interesting thing was that most of the people in my class agreed with his answer. I started to question this answer. What’s the difference between him changing his age and changing his gender?. If feelings are more important, there wouldn’t be a reason why he would not be allowed to change his age, right? But if the truth is more important, then he is a 52-year-old male

So, what is the truth? In this corrupted world, there is no longer such a thing as absolute truth. In this world, each person has their own definition of what is right. The ‘truth’ in this world is now based on opinions and feelings. 

But in fact, there is such a thing as absolute truth. People in this world choose to ignore it. There is only one absolute truth – Jesus and His words. It says in John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the truth, and everyone that decides to ignore Him is making up their own truth.

What do I mean by people ‘making up their own truth’? Every opinion will have a base truth. People’s views are always based on something, whether it be religion or their own understanding. But there is always one and only one absolute truth. 

Just like math, there are so many different ways to solve one equation or one problem. However, there is always a set answer in the end – there is no answer in between. Your answer will be either right or wrong. Five plus five will always be ten. It cannot be a three or a seven. 

Just imagine how chaotic a math class would be if we took a relative view of truth. Everyone would get different answers, and even if it were wrong, people would just say, “this is my opinion and you are not allowed to judge it”. That way, everyone would get 100% on their tests. 

Yes, it does seem like heaven to get everything right. But, imagine what would happen in the future if we did maths with relative truth. The planes would not be able to fly because of the wrong calculations. Buildings would not be able to stand because of all the wrong calculations, and things would crumble into chaos, and nothing would ever work anymore. That is what happens if we ignore the truth – things will start to fall apart. There would no longer be any set rules, only chaos. 

There is this one example that I really like. God designed our body so that our head represents logic, our heart represents our emotions, and our stomach represents our desires. Our logic must control our emotions, and our emotions must control our desires. But most importantly, who controls our logic? We cannot depend on our own limited understanding; we need to depend on God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.

So, in your life, what is more important, feelings or the truth? If you prioritise feelings over the truth, you will never understand what it means to have a grounded life where everything is in place and where things are not so confusing. To be honest, I never really understood my own feelings, and so I used to follow my feelings around. When I was upset, I would be really upset, and when I was happy, I would be really happy. Sometimes,  I still get confused about my feelings. So really, I can say that feelings are just an unstable thing for myself and most of the people out there. We really can’t depend on them.

We all need to learn to make the truth the priority in our lives. Don’t believe in just any made-up truth (those really are not truth), but trust in the absolute truth, which is Jesus Christ. Sometimes, the truth can be hard and tough, and it seems like following our feelings is the easier path to take. But in reality, our feelings will lead to chaos if we do not learn to control them properly. In the end, even if it hurts, the truth will always be the truth.

Pit of Lies

“You will never be good enough. Compared to everyone you are nothing. You are talentless. You are worthless. You are dumb, stupid and an idiot. You are just a waste of space, no one needs you here and no one will be sad or even notice if you go missing.”

I know these words are harsh, but surprisingly, these words circle my brain day by day. There isn’t a day where I don’t say these words to myself. No, I didn’t always have these thoughts my entire life. But the weirdest thing is that I don’t voluntarily say these thoughts repeatedly because I want to (I’m sure no one does), but instead, it keeps circling in my head. Even when I don’t want to think of these things, it won’t get out of my head.

Maybe you are like me, a person that has fallen into these lies or perhaps you have never uttered these words to yourself. Wherever you are in the process, remember that these words are lies – lies made up by others; Satan and most importantly yourself. 

Image of God

Imagine that you created a robot. You love that robot very much. You watch out for it, clean it and charge it back up. You give everything that you own for the good and well-being of that robot. But then, it starts saying, “I’m useless, I’m dumb, I have no reason to live.” Let me ask you, who is the robot insulting? You, the creator? Or the robot, the creation? The answer is both the robot and you. 

If we look at the context of our own lives, in this analogy, we are the robot, and God is our creator. So, when we say, “I am useless, I’m not good enough, I am stupid and dumb”, We are not only hurting ourselves, but we are also hurting God, our Creator. Not just because He is our Creator, but we are created in the image of God. Just as it is written down in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.” 

We often tend to forget this point. I mean, I don’t go around the house saying “I am created in the image of God” over and over again. As a child, I memorised this Bible verse for Sunday School, and I always thought to myself, what is the use of this verse in my everyday life? I mean, yes, I know that I am created in the image of God and that He is my Creator. But what is the use of knowing this Bible verse? Now in this critical time of my life, I realise that this Bible verse reminds me that I have a purpose in my life, I am not useless, and that God made me with a plan in His mind. 

Knowing the truth

There was a man who worked at a jewellery shop. The boss of that jewellery shop came up to this man and said, “From today onwards, you are the manager of this shop”. The man was excited, so he asked, “What’s the first task that I have to do as a manager?”. The boss answered with a smile, “You will go to the back of the store and polish the jewellery”. This man got up and did what he was told. The next day the man came to work and asked, “What’s the next task?” The boss answered, “You will go to the back of the store and clean jewellery”. The man got up and went to work. This scene kept happening for a couple of weeks and even months. 

After a couple of months, the man had the urge to quit his job as he did not like cleaning jewellery for a whole day, while his co-workers got to work a regular job. He went to his job determined to quit that day. When he arrived at his career, his boss repeated the same thing, to clean jewellery at the shop’s back. The man walked with a frown stuck on his face. He sat down unwillingly and started to clean the jewellery, but then he noticed a slight change in the jewellery – a very slight change. He looked at it closely and examined it. He slowly went up to his boss and said, “Boss, this is fake”. The boss smiled and said, “Now you can sit at the front and trade jewellery, well done.” 

The point of the story is that when we know (when I say ‘know’, that means knowing it inside and out) the truth, we will discern truth and a lie. The best way of finding a lie is to know the truth

This applies in our life as we live in a world full of lies, and most of us cannot tell the difference between lies and the truth. The only way we know that the things we are hearing are a lie or is the truth is by knowing the truth well. This means that we have to grow closer to God, and you can do that by reading His Word, the Bible. 

I know sometimes it’s hard to read the Bible, and sometimes you just read it, and it doesn’t go in your head; I experience those things too. But reading the Bible is very important because it’s the truth, and it’s the only way you can discern between lies and truth in this world full of lies.

Knowing your worth

This life is a race. Some parts of it are meaningless, such as the race for approval from others. Let me tell you, do not run this race. This is a never-ending race, a meaningless race, a race that will end up in vain and a race that has no reward at the end. We, humans, tend to compare and seek the approval of others. This is very wrong; we were not made to please others. Our purpose in life is much more than comparing and pleasing other people.

I understand that it is hard not to compare yourself to other people. Truthfully, I compare myself a lot to the people around me, and it is not only bad, but it’s self-destructive. It is toxic for you and the people around you. Comparing yourself to others will make you jealous of people around you, and it will also hurt you deeply. We all need to stop comparing. We are all made with different talents, different strengths and weaknesses.

Proving yourself is also another thing that is hard not to do. This world is competitive. I’ve had a hard time keeping up with the new ways to prove myself. Let me tell you; it is really, really toxic for you. The only approval you need is from God, not from other people. In my experience, I tried many times to prove myself in front of people and even in the church ministry. I failed every time I tried, and eventually, I gave up. Not only did I give up on proving myself, but I also had a thought to give up on the ministry. 

I told one of my friends my problem. I told him that I felt like I was not good enough and that maybe I should stop doing that ministry. I was waiting for him to say that I was right but what he said next surprised me. He said, “Ivana, you need to stop living in these lies. Think it this way, yes, many people are better than you and I. But God has given us a chance to glorify Him, not those people that are better than us. We all should be grateful that he has given us a chance to serve him. It is an honourable and big task”. We are not made to please people in this world. The most important thing is that God is pleased with our life.

If you think that you are talentless, you need to stop. Having someone do better than you in something you are good at does not mean you are talentless. We all have talent. God has given us all talents. Even though some are more gifted than others, we still need to keep going and let our talents bloom. I know that this is hard, I mean, I’ve fallen into this lie many times, and I still do. I’ve often compared myself to everyone around me, and I tried to prove myself that I am worthy of being there so that I can fit in. Trust me; you do not want to fall into this lie. When you have fallen into this pit of lies, it will be very hard for you to come out of that pit. Now I have realised that the way to cut these lies is to take them from the root of the problem, comparing yourself, and proving yourself.

Let me summarise this whole article in two sentences. This world is full of lies, lies that would crumble you down and lies that can hurt you and other people. The only way to get rid of this lie is to stay close with God, have a close relationship with him. That way, you can discern between the lie and the truth.

Trust me when I say you are not struggling alone. There are many people out there, like me, who are also struggling with this. I am not writing this because I have already gone past this struggle, but because I am in it. I’m here to warn you and be there for you. 

There is one more most important thing you need to know:

Depend on God. He is the only one that can help you through this phase of life, no one else. Not even your parents, friends or even teachers. Surrender your whole life to Him, and He will guide you.

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