Monday, March 30, 2015

Thinking About What We Focus On

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is the above verse.  It is an important thing to consider, even if you are not religious.  What we think about affects who we are and how we feel.

Think about it:  If you think bad thoughts or destructive and negative thoughts, do you feel good or do you feel bad?  Most people will say that they feel bad when they focus on things that are negative or "not good".  I do, too. 

There are many things in the world that make a person feel bad.  However, there are many things that make a person feel good.  The question is, what makes you feel good?  Think about those things, and focus on those things.

Thinking About What We Are Thankful For

Sometimes we lament (feel bad or focus on in a negative way) the bad things that have happened to us.  Sometimes we focus on the bad things that may happen to us.  And sometimes we are not happy about a circumstance in our life (circumstance means a condition).  We may wish we had more money, more friends, more power, or something else.  It is important to, instead of wishing we had something else, to be thankful and glad for the things that we do have.  Everyone is blessed with something great in their life.  Think of some examples of the good things you have.

Some things that we may have in common include:
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Healthy enough to be able to come to Friday Night Club
  • A good enough skill in English to be able to understand at least some of what is said here
  • Warmer weather to look forward to
  • The nature that is around us
  • Fond memories of good events that have happened in the past
  • We also have a loving God that looks out for us and who cares for us.  

You can add more to that list.  Think of some other things that you are glad for.  Think of your life circumstance, but only of the good things, the things that you are very happy to have.  They may not last forever, but you have been blessed with them now, and other good things that you do not have now will come to you as well.

The Things We Focus On

The above verse does not only talk about what we have, but what we should think about or focus on.  There are many things in the world that exist which do not make us feel good.  Some television shows and movies may make us feel upset.  Some music may not make us feel good.  There are certain websites that make a person feel negative thoughts.  Focusing your mind on these things is destructive.

There are many beautiful things in the world.  Much of this is in nature.  For example, the forest, the mountains, the water, and the sky.  There are flowers and animals in nature that are wonderful to look at.  There are the babies and the children.  There are beautiful poems and friends and good foods.  The ability to create is in itself a beautiful thing.  We should try to focus on these things, and not things such as disease, death, murder, hate, hurtful comments, and the things that are known as sin in the Bible.

When You Feel Sad

We all become depressed and sad.  Many times this is due to inactivity which brings the chance to think negative and sad thoughts.  When we sit alone, bored, we often think of bad things.  Instead, think of some ways that you can focus on good things when you are sad or upset.

Some things that I like to do when I feel sad that are helpful include:
  • Go for a walk in nature
  • Spend time with my family
  • Write or make something
  • Read a book such as the Bible
  • Exercise
  • Take a bath
  • Make a nice dinner
Going out in nature makes many of us feel good.
Focusing on the parts of life that we are glad about and focusing our time on things that make us feel good are ways in which we can have a better life.  We choose to either think of things that make us feel sad or make us feel happy.  What we focus our time on right now affects how we feel for a long time.  Focus your time on that which makes you feel happy and good.  Do not dwell on the bad things in life.

Do not focus on tomorrow or what may happen to you in the future.  Focus on today and the good things that are a part of your life.  The Bible says:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof Matthew 6:3.

In other words, focus on today.  There is enough to deal with at the present time without having to worry about things that may never happen.  There is much "evil" in the world, enough for one day.  Focusing on everything bad that may happen in the future makes a person feel much worse.  

Try it:  If you do something that makes you feel bad, go a few days without doing it.  Ask yourself how you feel without focusing on that thing.  You will probably find that you feel much better without partaking in that activity.
If you are keeping an "English Journal," write about the following: 
1.  What you like to do when you feel sad.
2.  What do you like to focus on that makes you feel better.
3.  What things should you focus on in life?
4.  What are you thankful for? 
Extra ideas for writing:  Write three things that you are thankful for each day.  This can be done in the morning or at night.  Think about those things and write them down as you go through each day.


Destructive means "to destroy."  Destructive thoughts are the kinds of thoughts that hurt us.
Religious means to spend a lot of time thinking about your religion or God.
Depressed is another way of saying sad.
Disease is another word for sickness.
Blessed means having something that is good.  Usually refers to a gift from God.
Dwell means to think about something a lot (it can also mean the place where someone lives).
Partake is another way to say "to do."  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Friday Night Club Preview: The Rich Young Ruler (March 27, 2015)

What is important in your life?  Do you live your life accordingly to that which is truly important to you?

Let me give you a question to think about:  Many people say that their children or health is important to them, but their lives may not reflect that.  How much time do you spend with your children?  How much time do you spend exercising?

How we spend our time should reflect what is important to us.

Last week we talked about health.  This week we are talking about things that are important to us.   We will start with the story of the Rich Young Ruler, which is taken from the Bible.

[Watch an english video on The Rich Young Ruler here]

"In Matthew, a rich young man asks Jesus what actions bring eternal life. First Jesus advises the man to obey the commandments. When the man responds that he already observes them, and asks what else he can do, Jesus adds: 
If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. 
Luke has a similar episode and states that:
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 
The disciples then ask Jesus who then can be saved, and Jesus replies: "What is impossible with men is possible with God." (source: Wikipedia)
Some of us may state that our faith and closeness to God is important to us.  The rich young ruler wanted to enter Heaven, which is important to many people, but he could not give up certain things that were getting in the way of that.

Perhaps something is getting in the way of what you find important.  For example:
  • Do you want to be healthy but find that you are eating a lot of unhealthy foods, smoking, or drinking?  
  • Do you want to be closer to your children but do not spend much time with them?
  • Do you want to be a better Christian but do not spend time studying the Bible or praying?
  • Do you want to have more money but spend what you do have on things you do not need?
These are just examples.  Everyone has dreams and goals but many do not achieve those because something that is less important gets in the way.  The rich young ruler felt sadness when he found out what he had to do.  He could have given up his wealth and followed Jesus and became a disciple, but the things that he had on Earth were more important to him than being in Heaven with Jesus.

Is this true of your life?  What would you give up to be a better parent, to be healthier, to be more intelligent, to be a better person, to go to Heaven?

In our next Friday Night Club we will discuss this idea.  We look forward to seeing you then.



If you are keeping an English Journal (which I recommend that you do), here are some things that you can write about and share with the class.
  • What is the most important thing or things in your life?
  • What can you do each day to put more focus on those things?
  • What do you spend time on that is not as important in your life?  Do you think that you could spend this time on something more important to you?
  • What would you like to focus your time on in the future?
  • What are some ways that you can focus on the important thing each day?


---The Story of the Rich Young Ruler---

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words [a]he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
23 And Jesus, looking around, *said to His disciples, How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus *answered again and *said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “[b]Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:17-27

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Keeping an English Journal

A great way to learn and improve your skills in English is to keep an English journal.  This can be any notebook.  In it, you should try to only write in English.  Write a little bit about your day every day and about your thoughts on your skills in English.  Create goals for yourself.  Writing your thoughts in the language you are learning is a wonderful way in which you can improve your skills.

Examples of things that you can write about in your English Journal include:

  • What did you do today?
  • What new words have you learned? (use those words in your writing).
  • What are you thinking about?
  • What is the best thing that happened today?
  • What are you some places you would like to go?
  • What are your goals and dreams?
  • What do you want to improve in life?
We will be using the idea of the English Journal in our Friday Night Club.  We will give you ideas on things that you can write about.  This is an optional activity, but it is one that you may find helps you a lot.

To improve your language skills, try to write at least a small entry once a day in your journal.  It can be anything from a couple of sentences to as much as you want to say.  The more you do this, the more you will see your skills getting better.  Writing is a very important skill to have and it is a valuable skill as well.

So, if you get a chance, find a journal, or even staple together a few pieces of paper, and begin writing your thoughts in English.

We will be posting information about the topics that we talk about at Friday Night Club before each class.  We will have some things that you can write about on the website here.  Feel free to write your ideas down and share them in class. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Notes from Friday Night Club: Health and Wellness

Welcome to ELC Friday Night Club.  My wife and I currently lead Friday Night Club in Kiev and teach English at the English Language Center.

We created this website to cover some of the topics that we speak about during our Friday Night Clubs.  If you are interested in improving your English language skills, then Friday Night Club is a good place to speak with others and learn about a variety of topics.

Our most recent topic is about Health and Wellness.  Below are the class notes for this topic.


Health and Wellness (March 20, 2015)

The act of being healthy has become very popular in the United States.  Many people are interested in improving their diet and exercising more.  The internet is part of the reason for this.  For example, there are many cooking websites on the internet as well as blogs about being healthy.  Yoga has also become very popular in the United States.  People want to take control of their own health so that they rely less on doctors and medicine.

Discussion Topics:

Have you noticed that people here in Ukraine are trying to be healthier as well?
What are some ways that you try to improve your health and stay healthy?

New Start: A Way To Improve Health

One type of health message in the United States is called “New Start” and it is an acronym for various ways of maintaining good health and improving one’s quality of life.  

Nutrition - Nutrition is about food and drink.  The things that we consume (put in our bodies).  For good health, we should take the time to think about what we eat.  Fruits and vegetables are the most beneficial things that we can eat.  Whole grains and legumes are also important.  Foods such as dairy (cheese and other milk products) and meat should be limited and can even be omitted completely for maximum health benefits.

Exercise - Exercising and using your body is very important.  It is good to walk, run, lift weights, and practice stretching and even yoga.  Those who exercise are far more healthy than those who live a sedentary lifestyle.  (Sedentary means sitting or not moving).

Water - Water is by far the best thing we can drink.  We should aim to drink 8 glasses of water a day.  This is around 2 liters.  

Sunlight - Spending time outside and getting sunlight is a good way to get vitamin D and stay healthy.  Sunlight is shown to improve mood and increase a person's happiness.  It is good to be outside and in nature.

Temperance - This means not eating and drinking things that are bad for you.  Things like sweet foods, cakes, and sugary drinks are best limited.  For the best health possible, alcohol should be avoided.  This is hard for many people, but has amazing results for those who follow it.

Air - Air should be clean and natural.  Getting fresh air is a great way to stay healthy.  Spending time outdoors and in parks and in the forest, or on a beach, is a very good way to get fresh air.

Rest - It is important to get around 8 hours a night, but not too little and not too much.  We take one day a week to rest, which we call the Sabbath, which is based on the teaching of the Bible.  During this day we do not take part in everyday life but enjoy nature and fellowship with friends and worship.  If you would like to read more about the Sabbath, visit

Trust in God - Having a solid faith is important about life.  This helps alleviate stress and rids the mind of needless worry.  Prayer has been proven to help with healing and decreasing stress.  Even the act of reading the Bible has helped people take their mind off of life’s problems. 


If you liked the topic of our study, please click the below links.  The second link shows a good video about living longer and groups of people around the world who live the longest.  The first link is about New Start and shows some videos about the topics that we discussed tonight.

New Start (with videos in English about the various topics)
Living Longer - National Geographic video on Longevity