Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Earthly Treasures

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
–Mt 6:19-21

People ought not to love the world or the things of the world.  If we love the world the love of the Father is not with us.  For all that’s in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions aren’t from the Father, but is of the world.  The world is passing away along with its desires, but doing the will of God we abide forever (1 Jn 2:15-17).  Dada Vaswani (b. 1918), an Indian spiritual leader said, “Happiness, true happiness is an inner quality.  It is a state of mind.  If your mind is at peace, you are happy.  If your mind is at peace and you have nothing else, you can be happy.  If you have everything the world can give – pleasure, possessions, power – but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy.”  1 Timothy 6:10 states that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil and further explains through this craving people have wandered away from the faith, piercing themselves with many pangs.

Service & Joy

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), an Indian Independence leader wrote, “Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served.  But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in the spirit of joy.”  It’s wise therefore to lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely to us, to run with endurance the race set before us (Heb 12:1).  As John Locke (1632–1704), an English philosopher noted, “All mankind … being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”

The Dalai Lama (b. 1935), the 14th Dalai Lama observed, “Physical comforts cannot subdue mental suffering, and if we look closely, we can see that those who have many possessions are not necessarily happy.  In fact, being wealthy often brings even more anxiety.”  The Dalai Lama beliefs were echoed by John Wooden (1910–2010), basketball player and head coach, who stated, “Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.”

People are therefore given this admonition to seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  They must set their minds on these and not on those of this earth.  In baptism we’ve all died and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.  In due time, he who is our Lord will appear, and we shall appear with him in glory (Col 3:1-4).  This is our Christian faith.          

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fruits of Labor

God bless them and said to them.  “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
–Gen 1:28

Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Mt 9:37).  There’s a great abundance in our world. An Austrian-American economist Ludwig Von Mises (1881–1973) wrote, “The law-abiding citizen serves both himself and his fellow man and thereby integrates himself peacefully into the social order.  The robber, on the other hand, is intent, not on honest toil, but on the forcible appropriation of the fruits of others’ labor.”  Although there’s plenty to go around, still in our society there’s greed, mismanagement, and dishonesty.

Colossians 1:10 tells us to walk in the manner worthy of the Lord, please him in all respects, bear fruit in every good work, and increase in his knowledge.  We therefore have to curb our negative traits and persevere in doing good deeds.  It’s stated if we do these things we shall eat the fruit of the labor of our hands, we’ll be blessed, and it’ll be well with us (Ps 128:2).

Right to Life

With a right to life we have to give back liberally to our creator.  We do so, by offering up our gifts to him.  He’s the one who has blessed us, so give to the poor and needy.  We shouldn’t have hearts that bear grudges.  It’s the Lord who blesses our work and all that we do (Deut 15:10).  We have to be steadfast in our work, knowing that in focusing on God we won’t labor in vain (1 Cor 15:58).    
Ron Paul (b. 1935), an U.S. representative from Texas, put his own spin on rights:  “Rights mean you have a right to your life.  You have a right to your liberty, and you should have a right to keep the fruits of your labor…I, in a way, don’t like to use those terms: gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights, religious rights.  There’s only one type of right.  It’s the right of your liberty.”

How should we work?

Whatever we do, we should do heartily to the Lord and not for men or women (Col 3:23).  We should work hard to help the weak and remember the words of the Lord who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).  We’re reminded that no one is able to serve two masters.  He’ll either hate one, love the other, or devoted to one, and despise the other.  We can’t serve God and money (Mt 6:24)      

Suzanne Morrison (b. 1990), an author wrote: “The idea is to be detached from the fruits of our labors, which means that we do things simply for the act of doing them.”  Maybe what Morrison really meant was that whatever we do, we must do unto the Lord.  It’s he who has blessed us with our gifts (Eph 2:10).  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Beauty Surrounds Us

Peace is the beauty of life.  It is sunshine.  It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family.  It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth.

–Menachem Begin (1913–1992), Prime Minister of Israel

 Men and women are expressions of God’s beauty.  He created male and female in his own image (Gen 1:27).  Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), a leader of the Indian Independence Movement, wrote, “When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.”  God’s good.  His beauty is revealed in people and nature.  David Allan Coe (b. 1939), a songwriter and guitarist pointed out, “It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”  For this attribute we must praise God.  We’re wonderfully made and marvelous are his works (Ps 139:14).

Philippians 4:8 reveals, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  That was why Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), the first lady of the United States, remarked, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993), a British actress and humanitarian concluded, “The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway of her heart, the place where love resides.”

Love of Beauty

With love we would enjoy the rejoicing of the heavens, the earth would be glad, the fields jubilant, and see the trees of the forest singing for joy (Ps 96:11-12).  Elisabeth KĊ­bler-Ross (1926–2004), a Swiss-American psychiatrist explained, “People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”  Moreover, Our Lord loves righteousness and justice and we should be full of his unfailing love (Ps 33:5).

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), an essayist and poet reminded us: “Never lose the opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”  Daily we should pay attention to God’s designs which surround us and learn from them.  Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), an Indian artist wrote, “Beauty is truth’s smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.”  While Emerson was sure: “Love of beauty is taste.  The creation of beauty is art.”

Ultimately, when it comes to mankind God is concerned with our hearts.  For the Lord instructed the prophet Samuel when he saw Eliab, saying: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  But upon David’s arrival the Lord said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one” (1 Sam 16:7,12).            

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Holy Spirit

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
––Rom 8:5-6

The Holy Spirit is derived from the Hebrew word ru’ach and the Greek word pneu’ma.  According to the Bible, Spirit has different meanings:

• An Active Nature
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
–-Gen 1:2

• The Breath of Life
The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak ….
––Rev 13:15

• The Wind on Being Born of the Spirit
“The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
––Jn 3:8

• Animating Force
If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dusk.
––Job 34:14-15

• An Individual's Attitude
But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
––Num 14:24

From these insights of the Holy Spirit we can conclude how people pray is important.  Joyce Meyer (b. 1943), a Christian author explained, “Many people feel so pressured by the expectations of others that it causes them to be frustrated, miserable and confused about what they should do.  But there is a way to live a simple, joy-filled, peaceful life, and the key is learning how to be led by the Holy Spirit, not the traditions or expectations of man.”  Meyer’s thoughts were echoed differently by a Trappist monk and priest, Thomas Keating (b. 1923), who stated, “If you accept the belief that baptism incorporates us in the mystical body of Christ, into the divine DNA, then you might say that the Holy Spirit is present in each of us, and thus we have the capacity for the fullness of redemption, of transformation.”

So in praying we would say like Saint Augustine (353–430 AD), a Christian theologian and philosopher: “O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.”  Let us be receptive of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.      


Friday, December 1, 2017

Our Worthiness

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed as you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
–Mt  5: 10-12

The Lord is great.  He’s highly to be praised and his greatness is unsearchable (Ps 145:3).  Many more Scriptural passages in the Bible speak of God’s worthiness to be praised (Ps 18:3; 48:1; 96:4; 1 Chr 16:25).  Russel M. Nelson (b. 1924), a surgeon and religious leader wrote, “The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity for generations to come.  A desire to serve is a natural outcome of one’s conversion, worthiness, and preparation.”  Nelson realized the importance of God’s work in the missionary field – his glory, honor, for service.

People are credited with worthiness like righteousness by God (2 Thess 1:11; Lk 20:35; Rom 2:29; 2 Cor 10:18).  Brene Brown (b. 1965), an author and research professor explained, “It’s hard to practice compassion when we’re struggling with our authenticity or when our own worthiness is off-balance.”  That’s why it’s necessary to be right in God’s eyes.  For only him can provide us through his grace with the necessary balance to move forward in our lives. 

Being Worthy 

Christians may find us worthy in their eyes if we walk in a manner of the Lord, trying to please him in all respects, bearing good fruit, an increasing in his knowledge (Col 1:10).  That’s how some men and women make decisions to be religious.   David A. Bednar (b. 1952), a religious leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “Ordinary men are given the authority of the priesthood.  Worthiness and willingness – not experience, expertise, or education – are the qualification for priesthood ordination.”

The way people is able to gravitate towards us is based on our behavior.  If it’s positive we tend to draw those who are good.  If it’s negative we attract the bad.  Samantha Power (b. 1970), an Irish-American academic and diplomat warned, “Don’t take for granted the worthiness of your cause will win you allies; bring it down to a scale that people can relate to.”  It isn’t just having people relate to you, but your goal is to reach the right individuals.

Universal Needs

Worthiness calls for a walk worthy of the vocation to which you have been called.  We should do so in all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love (Eph 4:1-2).  Moran Atias (b. 1981), an Israeli-American actress described the needs this way: “There’s always a common attraction to universal needs of love and a feeling of worthiness.”  These concepts begin from childhood.  For it was Polly Berrien Berends (b. 1939), an author who said, “A sense of worthiness is a child’s most important need.”   

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Bridges of Love

In life it’s necessary to build bridges of love vertically and horizontally.  A vertical bridge is to God, Our Heavenly Father.  A horizontal bridge is by loving our neighbors, friends, and strangers.  Jesus Christ who is love died on a cross at Calvary for us.  Let his love flow from above for it unites, and sustains us.  Its flames are indestructible as if sweeps across our nation transforming cultures.  It’s inspiring to love and be loved.  Blessed are those that love their enemies, for they are a courageous and compassionate lot. 

Elisabeth Elliot (b. 1926), a Christian author and speaker wrote, “To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross.  And the cross always entails loss.  The great symbol of Christianity means sacrifice and no one who calls himself a Christian can evade this stark fact.”  True love is the cross, a bridge to spiritual maturity, because Jesus showed where there’s loss, there’s gain.

Inspiring Hope

A bridge inspires hope.  It requires lifting people up while proclaiming the risen Christ.  As a fundamental principle Christians are strengthened by the Holy Spirit.  Hope like love is joy, and a shining light.  It means justice for those who are marginalized in society.  Believers find inspiration through the Word that speaks directly to their hearts.  Brad Henry (b. 1963), the 26th Governor of Oklahoma, said, “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.”  Learning the foundation of progress builds bridges of hope.

The Church’s Pastor

The church is a missionary body.  Through their ministries pastors build bridges to communities and reach out to the world.  This is accomplished through motivating their flocks.  Parishioners are literally on fire for Christ as they serve their brothers and sisters.  They teach the Word of truth to those hungering for justice.  These men and women who are prudent in discernment embrace pastoral challenges with enthusiasm.  Known for their charitable works their presence extends to the slums in cities.  Robert C. Shannon (b. 1930), a retired preacher said, “Never pity missionaries; envy them.  They are where the real action is - - where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge.”


St. Teresa (1910–1997), a Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary in India, commented, “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”  Christians must work amidst the poor and dialogue with people to change their ways.  They should attend inter-religious meetings of believers from different faiths. 

No longer must God appear, not to be part of the whole.  Having access to the sacraments has been a sticking point among some Christian denominations. Why must this be?  Since we’re one being in the body of Christ.  In some congregations the definition of marriage has led to breakaway denominations.  Christians are concerned about values, although some are more traditional than others.  Why must we judge?  Only God knows of our hearts.  With such controversies building bridges aren’t necessarily easy, but it’s the right thing to do.     

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Our Gifts Shape Us

The Psalmist remembers how short life is.  “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Ps. 144:3).  The Lord says that his spirit shall not always strive with us.  God gives riches and wealth, “hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19).

A Pakistani novelist Moshin Hamid (b. 1971) said, “I take six or seven years to write really small books.  There is a kind of aesthetic of leanness, of brevity.”  Some might think that something is wrong with brevity and look for expanded versions of publications.  They could be right when it comes to writing, but with life it’s different.  The gifts of some short lives are filled with glorious moments, while those of longer souls might not.  It has to do with the God-given talents with which we are blessed.  Many saints have died quite young.

Amazing Gifts

Amazing gifts come from the hands of the Lord.  St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), a Spanish knight and priest wrote, “Realize that illness and other temporal setbacks often come to us from the hand of God our Lord, and are sent to help us know ourselves better, to free ourselves of the love of created things, and to reflect on the brevity of this life and, thus, to prepare ourselves for the life which is without end.”  In spite of suffering this is the preparation which leads to victory.

It’s often better to come to the point than to beat around the bush.  Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC–43 BC), a Roman philosopher and political theorist agreed, “Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.”  Hosea Ballou (1771–1852), an Universalist clergyman and theological writer supported this concept, but added, “Brevity and conciseness are the parents of correction.”  That’s why the minutes of meetings are focused on essentials and summarized for easy comprehension. 

People & Simplicity

It’s clear that many people appreciate simplicity in life.  Confucius (551 BC– 497 BC), a Chinese teacher and philosopher remarked, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  Do you view life this way?  Are you willing to take it as it is?  Do you ask questions about it?  Some feel living by the Golden Rule is good enough, while others believe it’s better to live according to the Ten Commandments.

But why do we follow rules?  We dwell on the past and wonder about the future.  Buddha (563 or 480 BC– 483 or 400 BC), an Indian sage and founder of Buddhism, advised, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”  Buddha preferred living in the present.  But can we?  Many prefer reflecting on past experiences and wondering about the future.  An Italian poet, novelist, and literary critic Cesare Pavese (1908–1950) was sure: “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”  Does such a statement say something about what matters most?  Often, we often recall good and bad moments in our lives.  These gifts shape us, but living in the present evades us.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Our Daily Bread

God intends that our daily bread sustain us.  In being nurtured and filled we find joy.  Feasting on the fruits of the earth are amazing gifts.  It comes with toil, but the soil has to be prepared the right way to bear fruit.  It’s thrilling when we see this abundance used for the common good.  This in itself is an exceptional blessing.  Our bread is more than a meal, but every Word which proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.  An Indian spiritual master Sai Baba (1838–1918) taught, “Life is a song – sing it.  Life is a game – play it.  Life is a challenge – meet it.  Life is a dream – realize it.  Life is a sacrifice – offer it.  Life is love – enjoy it.”  Such descriptions fully describe the nature and scope of our daily bread.

Pureness of Living

A French sculptor and graphic artist Camille Claude (1864–1943) explained, “I am in no mood to be deceived any longer by the crafty devil and false character whose greatest pleasure is to take advantage of everyone.”  Why don’t we become lights of life?  Such gifts will fill our hearts with love.  By so doing we’ll head down the road with faithful souls as we traverse the earth.  These people know peace, and love by living in the security of Christ.  They are blessed saints not ensnared by the pleasures of the world.  They grow in glory, and don’t worry about superfluous things, but walk in the spirit as witnesses in our world.

Moving Forward

By being fed the right food we grow healthy.  In our daily walk we find beauty in our hearts.  We delight in provide for souls.  By witnessing, visiting the lonely and those locked away in nursing, and convalescing homes, we share our stories.  In these ministries we help the weak and feeble-heart, by bringing love into their lives.  As disciples we’re never concerned if some view our efforts as failures.  They know they are doing God’s work, laboring in the fields, for the welfare of the poor.  These people water the earth, plant seeds, and await the harvest.  With their efforts inseparable bonds are formed and nurtured with the less fortunate.  As architects of change they are able to form deep and lasting friendships.

Making Choices

In embracing people we face challenges, by being protectors of God’s creation.  Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), a leader of India’s independence movement in British-ruled India, observed, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  I hold that the more helpless a creature the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of humankind.”  These are the souls who are the indigent that needs our help.

For food we ought to climb every mountain to make life livable for God’s children.  When we do, he sustains us with protection, and comfort.  We must therefore restrain from being tempted by worldly desires.  In our dreams we must trust God by living the best possible way.  And thank him for his blessings he provides us.

About everything we must give praise with thanksgiving to our Almighty God.  It’s he in his infinite wisdom that cares for us.  Glorify him, for his wonderful works.  In nature’s diversification he has given us choices, so imagine the faith, and trust he has in us.  

Monday, November 6, 2017

Blessing in Disguise

What does it mean to have glorious opportunities?  Yes, you did attend one of the best universities in America and gained an outstanding education.  Having landed a top job at a prestigious law firm you're moving up in your career.  What have you achieved?  You married the woman of your dreams and have three wonderful children.  But you like taking chances, so you bought a raffle ticket and hit the jackpot.  What else has enhanced your life of dreams?  You’ve become a well-known motivational speaker.  And having success in life, you conclude you’ve been blessed with special gifts.

Turned Upside Down

Sometimes a misfortune has a strange way of changing one’s life.  You never expected to be diagnosed with dementia.  You were now like British retired medical professional Dr. Jennifer Bute, who was diagnosed with this disease.  In “Dementia – A Glorious Opportunity” by Kreativity on Vimeo April 26, 2011, Dr. Bute told the public of her remarkable years as a General Practitioner, and all the wonderful things she did for her patients.  Talking about her disability she viewed her affliction as a glorious opportunity from God to do more good for people.  Will Joe be like her?

Joe’s dreams, plans, and fortunes were turned upside down.  His life’s landscape was re-arranged and transformed.  What a dilemma has his situation become? His life has been blunted and everything appears as though it has changed for the worse.  Some friends misunderstood his misfortune, but, “Is his affliction necessarily bad?”  But loving friends and neighbors rallied around him as a superb role model.

A Filipino band SIX Cycle Mind sings about Joe’s phenomenon because his world was turned “Upside Down.”  It released two albums - Shine (2003) and Panorama (2005).  His situation could be likened to a person who now has to do metaphorical handstands, headstands, and somersaults to get through life.  For Joe, it was contemplating life changes like those of Dr. Bute, in coping with the new person he has become. 

Missed Chance?

Some might feel that Joe missed the chance of a life time.  They might experience emptiness while afflicted with a debilitating disease.  But is it right to see when one door closes another opens?  An essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) observed, “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”  In viewing your situation as gain, and not a loss, brings untold benefits to life.  Why not be like Dr. Bute?

Just view your life as having a new meaning when imagining different ways of thinking and coping.  It’s like starting over from scratch and being assured everything works out for the better.  Strange as it may seem, your dementia may well be a blessing in disguise.  It’s right to accept that you’re bearing this cross for the long haul.  It’s good to reflect on the newness of life, for God still sees you as a complete being.  Afterwards, consider yourself as a valuable member of society.  You’ve to be confident in the face of trials.

Quality of Life

It’s wise to promote a sense of well-being while living with dementia.  Just try to become more physical.  Let your friends accompany you for walks and live in a life-affirming community.  Challenge yourself in new ways.  Keep reading - and if you can’t, find someone who will read to you.  Remember to try to gear your activities to the development of your health.  As the disease progresses, make sure that your finances are in order.  An author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar (1926–2012) pointed out, “Fact: If standard of living is your number one objective, quality of life almost never improves.  But if quality of life is your number one objective, standard of living invariably improves.”  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Live Triumphantly

It’s good to live in a state of blessedness and glory.  This is achieved by living in dignity.  With joy believers proclaim the victory won by the risen Christ.  These individuals are traversing the paths of holiness because their hopes and dreams are fulfilled.

Charles Stanley (b. 1932), a senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Northern Atlanta, Georgia, said, “To have God speak to the heart is a majestic experience, an experience that people may miss if they monopolize the conversation and never pause to hear God’s responses.”  While in a state of blessedness means we are prepared to listen to the plights to the least among us - the poor, hungry, suffering, and homeless.

Holy Cheerfulness

Holy people are filled with an admiration of Christ and know his love.  They accomplish these divine attributes through their works and praise him.  In blessedness they express majestic sounds, and sweet melodies praising God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  For them mourning, and suffering aren’t impediments because they have won the battle.

C.S. Lewis (1898–1963), a theologian reminded us: “We all want progress, but if you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”  Simply put, if we find ourselves careening down a wrong path we must not give up.  The lesson learned from our mistake is be sure go down the road which leads to victory.

The Highest Praise

People praise God by raising their voices to the heavens.  Some rejoice with chords of stringed-instruments accompanied by choirs at churches.  From their hymns flow fountains of joy celebrating joyfulness that are blessed by Christ.   

Ayn  Rand (1905–1982), a Russian-born American philosopher wrote, “I could die for you.  But I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, live for you.” This is what Jesus did for us.  People must live accordingly, make choices, and if doing wrong, return to do what’s right.

Flame of Love

Blessed spirits are love with shining lights.  Its right to know such goodness never ceases.  Its infinite brightness enlightens the darkness which lies in the inner recesses of our souls.  Love never fails, for it drives out sins that tarnish our hearts.  By Christ’s grace comes empowerment which leads to salvation.

Joseph Barber Lightfoot (1828–1889), an English theologian and bishop wrote, “Eternal truth, eternal righteousness, eternal love; these only can triumph, for these only can endure.”   The paths of blessed lives are triumphant ones.  All that’s necessary is to grow in the faith.          

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sublime Joy

Seek a blessed joy, and illuminate your paths with happiness.  Essential though is to cultivate contrite hearts and clean minds.  This is when you’re blessed with gifts of the Almighty.  You become true lights and are ideal for doing Christ’s work. Barack Obama (b. 1961), the first African American President of the United States declared, “If you're walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you will make progress.”  Our walk of faith leads to enlightened hearts.

Joys of the World

The joys of this world are fleeting.  True peace is like a weapon defeating evil.  In this world there’s degradation, sin, and fear.  But in the eyes of Christians their future is bright.  By living according to the promises of God they become faithful, kind men, and women.  They face hardships which are like pin pricks compared to the happiness awaiting them in heaven.

This world is buffeted by the winds of change.  If it isn’t war, murder, or crime, it’s found in the sensual excesses of life.  Some people hold their heads high, walk with their chests up, and are puffed up.  At best this is a way to display of vanity.  Some face struggles with broken hearts, but continue to pretend that all is well.  We can’t depend on the temptations of the flesh to build us up.  We often witness empty praise and double talk.  As if bound by fetters worldly types live in the shackles of fickleness.  A poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) observed, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  Being true to oneself should be the aim of every Christian.

Spreading Joy

It’s beneficial to spread joy and hope in the world.  To be true to ourselves we have to live joyfully.  Being sustained by the Holy Spirit it’s for us to evangelize, and minister to others.  As lights in the world we ought to walk confidently in the midst of wolves.   As we journey through life be filled with the riches of God’s Heavenly Kingdom.  Robert H. Schuller (1926–2015), a Christian televangelist testified, “God flourished my ministry and my career of creative thinking, communicating and writing back 50 years.”  It was Schuller’s belief that Christ blessed his mission.

Comforting Joy

To find comforting joy it’s best to review the teachings of Jesus and his disciples.  Their testimonies mirror the lights of Christian living.  So in faith be steadfast in your understanding of the Word.  For on judgment day we’ll have to give an account about how we lived our lives.  We therefore look forward to his heavenly consolation when our sins are washed away.  We should embrace these spiritual beliefs and be comforted by his blessings.  

Ann Landers (1918–2002), a Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist reminded us: “Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and repeat to yourself; the most comforting words of all; this, too, shall pass.”  With this realization we know the victory was won, and supreme blessings await us.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Be the Best

How can you refine your personality?  Some people believe you can do so by taking care of your personal needs.  They feel that they must dress well.  The religiously inclined may wear necklaces with crosses dangling on their chests.  Some pay attention if their hair.  Is it black, brown, or blond?  Making sure they are well-groomed they wear the latest styled shoes.  Undoubtedly such dress is beautiful and appealing to admirers.  However, there’s a lot more than dress if you’re to be the best.

Invest in having a well-rounded education.  This leads to emotional, intellectual, and physical development.  In being kind and courteous are good qualities to have.  You may view your personality as having masks of different colors.  Ezra Pound’s Personnae (1909) literally means “masks of actor,” because we’re actors on the world’s stage.  Others may consider it a blessing to have intelligence and to be happy. 

Imperfections as Gifts

Nevertheless we are imperfect.   As we work on improving ourselves we find we’re dogged by weaknesses.  Reconsider your attitudes about these defects and view them as gifts.  Don’t be overly worried but just accept them for what they are.  Maybe you are an alcoholic.  What should you do?  Recognize your affliction by taking responsibility for it.  Seek treatment.  Join Alcoholic Anonymous, and have the courage to speak about your disease.  Share your story as blessings in disguise, and see the stigma melt away.  Your negative gift that was once regarded in a hateful way may well be the catalyst for helping others.

Through afflictions Christians have been known to develop a deeper love and understanding of God.  By this inspiration his saints are able to mature in their faith.  Some cancer patients minister to suffering patients at hospitals.  They view their newly found afflictions as stepping stones to unique vocations.  Their outlook is more than just coping with an ailment.  These afflictions that are gloomy and hopeless to some have caused them to discover what they are doing as valuable.  It’s right to praise such patients for their dedication to the sick.  Their services bring hope, encouragement, and strengthen the vulnerable. 

There are some who view having imperfections as a bad thing.  A comedian and actor Carrie Snow observed, “Technology … is a queer thing.  It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”  Was Carrie referring to the conflicting faces of media?  Through the mass media we learn of opinion leaders’ contributions. But after a while their names may be dragged through dirt by some of the same commentators who had praised them.  Like in life we’re presented with the good, bad, and ugly, but the wise learn from these situations.  Technology - whether radio, TV, cable, or, the Internet has its imperfections, but ought to be viewed as gifts.  God-faring people benefit from what’s best in the media.

Care & Respectability

At birth we’re blessed with a myriad of gifts.  Even brain-damaged children have them to share with us.  Our tramps that are belittled have gifts and are also God’s caretakers.  Law abiding citizens dislike criminals running rampantly in their cities and will do anything to stop them.  Why don’t we bury anxieties we nurture about the afflicted?  Why be upset about situations you’re unable to control?  However, God is always in control.  In life there are struggles, but we’re blessed with grace and goodness to see them through.  Many situations aren’t as menacing as they seem. We need prayers and understanding to handle them.  It’s for us to promote good values and morals in our world.

It’s best to refine your personality also by being good-humored.  With persistence we’re able to touch what’s authentic in life.  Be good Samaritans, help the less fortunate, and focus on our good Shepherd, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Allow him to refine your personality and you’ll know what it means to be the best.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Be Well Again

Are you a damaged human being?  What are your ailments?  Constant headaches, low energy, aches, pains, tense muscles, or are you nervous with cold and sweaty palms?  Are you walking around with clenched jaws?  Do you grind your teeth?  Are you suffering from heart palpitations, anxiety attacks, ulcers, and having violent outbursts of anger?  Do you have a mental health problem, eating disorders, or, are you losing weight?  Then, you may be worn out by the demands of the world.

You may have a lack of appetite, hooked on alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes.  Maybe, you are pacing the floor, fidgeting at home and work.  But, you can’t seem to settle down.  Because of your behavior, you are unable to marshal your thoughts and focus at work.  You may be afflicted with chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic renal failure, or, congested heart failure.  These may well be signs that you are burnout, bored, emotionally spent, and unappreciated. 

Other symptoms showing that you are worn out are when you aren’t sleeping well at night, have no sexual desire, and have fears going to work.  These afflictions may well be because of the rat race you are caught up in.  Constantly popping pills, and suffering from infections you’re unable to keep away from the doctors because of stress.

Do you have a competitive spirit?  That’s what the world taught you from childhood.  “Be the best you can.  The sky is the limit.”  That was how you were coerced in joining the bandwagon of competitors.  Now you’re in overdrive, working 16 hours per day, hooked on technological devices, and you can’t find time to read a book. Being overweight, and having bad eating habits, physical activities aren’t a part of your daily routine.  You fail to take the warning from a quotation anthologist Terri Guillemets (b. 1973), who said, “If your teeth are clenched and your fists are clenched, your lifespan is probably clenched.”  Now, you are paying the price.

Bringing About Change

A British philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) observed, “One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”  You’ve always felt this way.  Yet, you didn’t realize there was a price to pay with keeping up with the Joneses.  Your life is in disarray.  It’s time for you to slow down and smell the roses.

The first step is seeing your doctor for treatment.  Take your medications as prescribed, and follow his instructions.  Maybe, you should have counseling, but remember not to keep God out of the picture.  Pray.  God will provide for your every need.  Then, you’ll find knowing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ brings peace, love, joy, and hope.  It isn’t that you will no longer have problems, but with this spiritual grounding he’ll help you from having bad experiences.

It isn’t that you won’t become ill, but through the Lord’s grace you’ll put sickness in its proper perspective.  Christians suffer.   Some saints suffer willingly for redemptive purposes.  But some have prayed for healing and were healed.  It’s important in your Christian walk to bring all things, good and bad before the Lord.  Then, your life will be blessed, for we were never meant to be competitive.  In the Lord’s eyes all gifts are equal.  There are numerous talents in Christ’s body.  An eye can’t say to a foot, “I’m more important than you.”  We’re all talented in our own ways.  So heed this advice for your well-being.               

Friday, October 13, 2017

Wondrous Love

Acts of love bring joy to precious hearts.  While performing these acts people look at the fruits of God’s grace.  These are accomplished by believers when showing Christ’s love to all people.  His grace which flows from heaven sustains souls, and causes the unification with the Holy Spirit.  This is the good news of the Gospel. 

With faith we find security in Christ.  Tullian Tchividjian (b. 1972), a professor of Theology and pastor remarked, “Believe it or not, Christianity is not about good people getting better.  If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good.”  What great news is this for those who have fallen short of his gracious love!  It’s through Christ’s redemption that we’re able to succeed in life.

Sow Love

We must love our neighbors as ourselves, by sharing warmth and tenderness in relationships.  It’s Christ’s love that makes hope blossom like new petals after a rainstorm.  But this revelation has to be nurtured. Through trustworthy deeds we’ll come to know his beauty.  Such a wondrous love is beyond comparison because it’s sowed deeply within our hearts.  It’s found at the cross that shows Christ’s promises.

An author and aviator Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906–2001) wrote, “For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.”  How wonderful is God’s security in believers’ lives!  Billy Graham (b. 1918), an evangelical preacher wrote, “God proved His love on the Cross.  When Christ hung, and bled, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’”

Love & Serve

We must always put love into practice while serving it to all mankind.  This calls for humble hearts and a positive outlook.  Such loving has to mean the love of God, and has to be authentic.  This is vividly demonstrated in the Eucharistic celebration – the Supper of the Lamb, when Christ is lifted high in adoration.  The poor, needy, and neglected are all welcomed at his feast.  In participating we put into practice his promises, and supreme love that comes alive. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), a Baptist minister and leader of the African American civil rights movement, observed, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”  People’s failure to sow love and making their voices heard are surely the sort of tragedy to which King was alluding.

Recreated Love

Desmond Tutu (b. 1931), a South African retired Anglican bishop stated, “You don’t choose your family.  They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”  Their love is universal.  At the sublime level it’s one of connectedness.  People promote this truth when they step forward to do their part in the communities where they live.  This goodness is created, recreated, nurtured, and blossoms into amazing realities.  It’s holy and expresses the eternal blessings of our Creator. 

Recreated love is a true gift for all living souls.  Albert Camus (1913–1960), a French author and philosopher captured this best when he noted: “Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle.  This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.”  Cycles of creative forces keep pushing us forward to tap into the dawning of a newer and better world.  This comes through the recognition and acceptance of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit working in our midst.  

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Boundless Love

In this world the beauty of love is all around us.  With nature for sure, when we’re graced by the golden rays of the sun and lush foliage in parks.  For months strolling along the beach we see the crushing waves on sunlit days.  In winter just looking at ice-covered mountains gracing the skyline is delightful. 

But in our daily lives there are other loves that are more personal.  We all face them on our journey through life.  These are the people we love - our fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, and friends.  We’re attracted by their smiles, laughter, dress, education, and intellectual prowess. These abundant blessings reveal themselves in unexpected ways.  Wayne Dyer (1940–2015), a self-help author and motivational speaker observed, “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”  Much of this beauty that surrounds us is within our reach to enjoy.  One of America’s founding fathers and principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) realized, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”   This truth is captured in beauty, wisdom, and honesty of our daily lives.  We can access these gifts by doing good deeds. 

Faithful Love

It takes dedication to be in love.  When we reach out for such joy we come to a place where there’s God.  His blessings are found in the kindness we show others.  It’s wondrous love at its best that may be evasive, but through persistence we’re able to capture it.  This love is all around us.  Keep on professing your faith which points to eternity.  You’ll then become secured in your walk as you encounter God’s deep and lasting love.  Such an undertaking brings joy to your souls.  A cosmetic surgeon and author Maxwell Maltz (1889–1975) wrote, “Man maintains his balance, poise, and sense of security only as he is moving forward.”  We do so by displaying this sort of love.  It’s always on the move and embraces everything in its path.

Love of Christ

A screenwriter Monica Johnson (1946–2010) captured the essence of faith when she testified: “God is so unique in giving His people ways of fellowship, witness, and remember what a mighty and merciful God He is.”  Christ’s love is surely through his Word of Truth. It reveals itself by loving the poor, hungry, and homeless.  The Holy Spirit deepens this love and reveals these great blessings.  All we have to do is look to the cross, the symbol of hope, life, resurrection, and salvation.  Walk therefore like saints growing in humility.  You’ll be having hearts of flesh formed through the Spirit of Truth that comes from the Good Shepherd himself.

Love of Creation

Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), a Bengali author and artist believed, “Love is the only reality and it is not mere sentiment.  It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.”  Tagore has cleverly touched on the pulse of love’s nature.  Christians encounter these through the symbols of God surrounding us.  Such liberty involves beauty that cleanses our hearts and minds.  New hearts are formed and nurtured.

With community love we care for people in villages, cities and towns.  It honors the Lord’s commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.  By this commandment we sow love in all places through the fruits of the Spirit.  Love creates and recreates - and as it does, blesses everything else in its path.  It’s the ultimate beauty of life that can be best described as boundless.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

By Special Authority

You’re a leader, and by a special God-given authority you’ve to energize your organization.  This means finding ways to deal with assignments that appear as though they don’t have a chance of succeeding.  It’s for you to diagnose these problems.  Your responsibilities must not be seen as a power play, for you’re working for the welfare of the church.  You aren’t carrying out a private agenda but are doing your job for the goodwill of all concerned.  Vince Lombardi (1913–1970), a football player, best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, wrote, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”  Thus, you have to realize like in football, every church member is gifted, and through their gifts there will be success.

Maximize Potentialities

People ought to be treated as adults.  Listen carefully to them, and hear what they are saying.  All things don’t necessarily work out as planned, but there’s always another point of view.  It’s for you to motivate your workers to be happy about what they’re doing, and urge them to higher and higher levels of performance.  That’s why it’s essential to keep tabs on the heartbeat of the group.  In this way you’ll know more about each parishioner.  By so doing you’ll be best able to promote the church’s growth, and parishioners’ competence. Take things a step at a time and build on each success.

Margaret Mead (1901–1978), a cultural anthropologist observed, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Committed leaders move their followers forward as they work at implementing what’s best for their congregations, and the world at large.

Lack of Control

Leaders must be people-oriented.  In the church there’s no room for tyrants, bullies, or autocrats.  With dictators organizations die.  It’s the kiss of death even with benevolent leaders who lead by whim.  Let leaders move away from being ego-centric, but democratic, and work in the interest of their flocks.  Dr. Seuss (1904–1991), a writer and cartoonist warned, “Only you can control your future.”  Spirit-filled leaders always lead in the best interests of their congregations.

Be Inspirational

Leaders’ role is to help people.  To do so effectively they must take ample note of relationships within their churches.  They should lead by example by changing outmoded methods that no longer works.  They ought to stimulate growth by expressing their sincere beliefs in humanity.  Let parishioners be energized by their apostolic zeal. By the Holy Spirit they would move away from the narrowness of self-absorption.  In so doing, they will motivate others for the general good.

Lee Haney (b. 1959), a former professional bodybuilder said, “Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate.  The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we.  Set small goals and build upon them.”  Haney’s message is encouraging.  Some may look for giant steps to be successful, but it’s always wise to remember good results may often come in small doses.  Your goals as leaders are to build on little achievements until projects are successful.  Remember, “Strive and persevere when the going is rough, because at the end of every dark cloud there may well be a silver lining.”


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

God's Glorious Attributes

God has extraordinary glorious attributes and with his saints and angels there’s extreme joy.  It’s so, because they strive for perfection.  Happiness from God is like a flame of fire enlightening our lives.  This ideal is found in the workings of the Holy Spirit.  This is a great gift, symbolic of his transcendent glory.  God’s image is beyond all created wisdom, as the Creator and Father of Lights.  He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

God’s attributes were noted by Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), a founding father of the United States, who explained, “A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”  It’s the Holy Spirit who provides this fire and food to believers.

Perfect Bliss

With God there’s perfect bliss.  Christians expect eternal rest after leaving their earthly domain.  We’ll praise him without ceasing.  Hunger and thirst will be no more, for we’ll be recipients of his precious gifts.  Believers walking in the spirit are fearless.  We’ll eventually discover the full nature of our amazing lives.  Christians demonstrate this willingness by the things they do.

Believers are known for having steadfast spirits.  Our experiences continue to deepen when we walk as spirit-filled evangelists.  A mythologist and lecturer in Comparative Religions, Joseph Campbell (1904–1987) observed, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were walls.”  Campbell captured the essence of Christians’ earthly journey where nothing is impossible with God.

Sight of Excellency

God’s wisdom is indescribable and he’s known for infinite grace.  Believers walking in his footsteps often demonstrate an apostolic spirit.  It’s one of harmony revealed as fire at Pentecost where there was a religious awakening.  Christians create trails like those envisioned by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), an essayist and poet, who advised, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

God’s Goodness

Contemplating God is remarkable, for we’re able to experience his goodness, and mercy.  This power is found in his boundless love.  He’s the fountain of goodness that tends the wounded, before we’re able to recognize them.  As Christians it’s good to witness about his character, for this is a weapon believers’ use when they confront unbelievers.  Our Lord’s resurrected power was for all to see in the Risen Christ.

In our pastoral outreach let us show love for other souls.  Be industrious, for that’s what God expects of us.  With the anointment of the Holy Spirit we’re enlightened to walk in his ways.  Our approach to Christianity has to be Christ-o-centric.  His followers have to be obedient as true disciples.  Booker T. Washington (1856–1915), an African American educator wrote, “Character is power.”  Inevitably, faith-filled lives would best exemplify the character Christians must have.  God’s goodness and mercy shine through them in amazing ways.             

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Our American Culture

What a joy it is to hold a culture in high esteem.  American popular culture though has some deficiencies.  Carl Bernstein (b. 1944), an investigative journalist of the Washington Post, wrote, “The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism.”  People find these shortcomings in the sensationalism, tabloids, pop music, and erroneous displays in some forms of artistic culture.

All however isn’t lost.  But it takes acceptance of the Christian faith, for cultural peddlers to live according to what’s right, in pursuing stories that uplift us.  Strange as it may seem, people in our media’s audience buy into what is presented to them.  Even Christians fall victims to ubiquitous displays of cultural distortions.  Some say, “Everyone is watching salacious material, so why can’t I?  It gives me pleasure.”  Little do they realize they are falling victims to this sinful fare. 

Music in Our Lives

Cultural appreciation goes way back to the Egyptians, Greeks, Italian Renaissance, and Reformation.  In the West Europeans are loved for their classical tradition.  Masters like Beethoven, Handel, and Mozart are held in high esteem.  We delight in fast automobiles, highways, airplanes, airports, nuclear power, and weapon systems.  In the pop music Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Billy Joel, the Beatles, and Supremes captured our consciousness.  Music of different genres, e.g., rock ‘n’ roll, country & western, Christian, and jazz are alive and well. 

Billy Joel (b. 1949), a pianist and singer-songwriter said, “I think music itself is healing.  It’s an explosive expression of humanity.  It’s something we are all touched by.  No matter what culture we are from, everyone loves music.”  Music appeals to people in unique ways.  We may disagree with the quality of some genres.  What’s known is that with hymns, and songs praise God is exalted.  Some have been converted through hymns like “Amazing Grace,” “Bread of Life, Hope of the World,” “Holy God, You Raise Up Prophets,” “Song of the Body of Christ,” and “We Shall Overcome.”

The American Dream

Most immigrants land on our shores with hopes of achieving the American dream.  When we reflect on this dream we think of worldly and material benefits.  This may mean acquiring our own home, finding a good job, having a loving family, a station wagon, or, sports car, and being able to live in the suburbs.  This dream looks somewhat differently to every immigrant.

Some might see living a life in Jesus Christ not as a top priority.  If this is it will surely be a blessing for them.  Walt Disney (1901–1966), an entrepreneur and film producer thought, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”  Undoubtedly, since a Christian’s life means living, loving, and serving their fellowmen, it’s wise to embrace such values.  These attributes are essential in shaping uniquely and a precious American dream.

Conduct in America

To improve American popular culture people have to live up to higher moral standards.  H. L. Mencken (1880–1956), a journalist and satirist wrote, “I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie.  I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave.  And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.”  Let us consider Mencken’s perspective as a way of life, for his tenets are empowering.  It’s always wise to know the reasons for doing what we do, rather than be ignorant.  American immigrants, and non-immigrants alike, ought to pursue a good education, for education a liberating force.  Knowledge has amazing benefits in building up our American culture - not any sort of knowledge, but one based on Christian values.           

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Be Pure in Christ

Dan Quayle (b. 1947), vice president of the United States declared, “I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior, for whose Kingdom it stands, one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty for all who believe.”  Quayle certainly made his pledge against sin, fallacies, idolatrous pride, and fear.  Like Christians he can now approach God and seek his friendship, for he knows that obeying his laws are of paramount importance.  He accepts God’s freedom and privileges.  Christians like Quayle are continuing to do good deeds.  They are spreading good seeds even after the storms of life. 

Unwise Self-Evaluation

Mankind is born with the proclivity to sin.  Our lives have marks of evil, pride, display of personal power, and we aren’t humble.  But it’s right to change our behavior to a childlike trust in the supreme being of Jesus Christ.  It’s beneficial to participate in communal prayer and listen to the tick-tock of our consciences.  In word and action we must be contemplatives.  Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), a Baptist minister and leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement, believed, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.  He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.  There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.  When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”  By prayer and the working of the Holy Spirit, believers should pursue higher goals in their lives.

Transformation of Hearts

William Gaddis, Jr. (1922–1998), a novelist remarked, “Power doesn’t corrupt people, people corrupt power.”  That’s why leaders and followers alike ought to turn away from the corrupting nature of their hearts that are evil. It was sin which led to the first humans’ fall when their actions betrayed their trust of God.  Let us reform our hearts by daily prayer and not be blind to the truth of the Word.  Further, accept Christ’s expiation of our sins and feed on his teachings.  On our journey toward heaven it’s inevitably we’ll face tests.  You should embrace setbacks boldly and let your faith grow.  Do away with the desire to live sensually and be steadfast in your Christian walk.

Spiritual Infection

The Bible says our hearts are filled with lustful desires.  These conditions eat away at the good in us.  In reading Scripture we’re distracted by fallen angels, transgressions, and evil that doesn’t enthrone God.  To counter these defects let us be athletes of the living God.  Let us dedicate ourselves to the faith and persevere in the race.  Be Christian models in our churches.  It’s wise to remember that almost everything we’re bound to make errors in judgment.  Jacob Bronowski (1908–1974), a Polish-Jewish and British author revealed, “No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.”  Bronowski held a different perspective of power than Gaddis.  But an important way of thinking about power is that, leaders who wield it, have to be wise about how it’s used.            

Goals in Life

Our goals in life must be what Quayle has said earlier.  It’s about allegiance to Jesus Christ – not just any allegiance, but a holy one.  This hope for our life can only be found through the Cross of Calvary.  With such beliefs lie redemption from sin and salvation. It’s therefore right to rid ourselves of our sinful natures and put on righteousness.  For with God, we’ve to be pure, and free from sin, to enter his Heavenly Kingdom.    

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Addiction to Alcohol

It’s often said that those who don’t drink shouldn’t start.  For those that do, they should drink in moderation.  Some may tell you how easy it is to become hooked on booze.  Alcoholism is addictive and may cause lives to end tragically.  TV viewers have witnessed the demise of some celebrities, politicians, rock stars, actors, and actresses to addiction.  Even if someone survives, alcoholism can still lead to impairment of the senses, violence, suicides, and criminal activities.  Stonewall Jackson (1824–1863), a Confederate General during the American Civil War, declared, “I am more afraid of alcohol than of all the bullets of the enemy.”  Jackson was convinced that alcohol was deadly to the mind, body and spirit.

Coverage of Alcoholism

The coverage of alcoholism in media spanned a wide range of concerns:

            •  Debates about alcohol advertisements
            •  The presence of a number of liquor advertisements’ billboards in poor neighborhoods
            •  Reports focusing on the positive and negative attributes of life expectancy
            •  Comments on drinking by military servicemen in U.S. clubs
            •  Debates on the legal drinking age
            •  Results on the relative success of self-regulation by the alcohol industry

Bill Gates (b. 1955), a business magnate and philanthropist observed, “I'm a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”  Mass media is such a tool with that power.  For Christians they continue to believe their bodies are holy temples protected by God.  It’s always the goal of keeping their physical temples pure, clean, and undefiled from alcohol and drugs.  Samuel Johnson (1709–1784), an English writer and lexicographer declared, “Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.”  This calls for discerning minds to embrace those ads which build up the body of Christ.  It therefore becomes the responsibilities of Christians to select what’s best and uplifting from the advertising world, and persuading others to do the same.          

The Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol has caused numerous problems in the lives of individuals.  Some however were able to have their addiction treated, while others were unable to do so.  Writers have described the impact of alcohol abuse on the American economy.  A brand of liquor was even named after the renowned Indian chief Oglala Sioux but several states banned this drink.

Until it was prohibited, liquor advertisement had become a hot topic on TV.  Driving while drunk became an issue, and in 1998 The New York Times reported the Senate’s resistance to allow the liquor industry, and restaurants to establish a uniform national standard for driving.

There was a time when colleges played down the use of alcohol in the lives of students.  This resulted in a number of alcohol-related deaths on campuses.  To help this situation, first year college students were encouraged to live in alcohol-free housing, participate in booze-free events, and there was a ban on liquor at rush events in fraternities and sororities.  Afterwards several liquor marketers were willing to put statements on bottles attesting to the potential benefits of drinking in moderation that met with the approval of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

Tom Scholz (b. 1947), a rock musician and engineer explained, “Higher Power was the result of a personal experience: a friend of mine who went through the process of addiction and recovery.  It’s a very tough thing - very easy to become addicted and very, very hard to become a recovering addict.”  Scholz remarks shone a light on how serious addiction could be, and how difficult it was to beat this depressing habit.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Harvest of Blessings

Jesus told the Jews to believe in the works he did and they would know who he was.  These gifts were from the Father, for he was the Son of God.  In Isaiah 35:5 God promised the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.   Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego were bound and thrown into a burning furnace, but they were seen walking in the midst of flames that didn’t harm them.  Hezekiah was sick, and about to die, when Isaiah the prophet was told by God to let him know he has heard his prayers.  God decided to add some fifteen more years to his life.  Living abundantly in the Lord leads to a harvest of blessings.

Joel Osteen (b. 1963), a televangelist and senior pastor of Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas, remarked: “When you focus on being a blessing, God makes sure that you are always blessed in abundance.”  By not being self-centered and reaching out to others, Christians freely share these blessings.  The more they honor people, the more they are blessed by God. 

When offering blessings we mustn’t distinguish between the rich and poor.  We’re all God’s children.  A president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) felt, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”  Roosevelt was cognizant that the poor has a special place in the eyes of God.

God’s Gifts

Abundance might not come only with material satisfaction.  Some may have these comforts and be miserable.  The founder of Simple Abundance Charitable Fund, Sarah Breathnach (b. 1947) explained, “Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”  No doubt, we have to be in the right frame of mind to accept these gifts.  Are your hearts open to God’s gifts?

People may make distinctions about what they are praying for.  Often, we pray when faced with set-backs and challenges.  Khalil Gibran (1883–1931), a Lebanese-born artist and writer captured this phenomenon by saying, “You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.”   By being blessed with the gifts from God’s bounty we must thank him.  Christians who do so will receive more blessings.

Love What You Do

You ought to love what you do.  In loving what you do you’ll be enthused when you spread your happiness to others.  A self-help author and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer (1940–2015) advised, “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”  You don’t have to wonder about those things about which you have no interest.  Gravitate to the tasks that bring you joy, happiness, and peace of mind.  We’re all blessed with at least one gift that gives us satisfaction.

In our society there are some who have material gifts.  A Spanish priest and theologian Saint Ignatius (1491–1556) wrote, “If God has given you the world’s goods in abundance, it is to help you gain those of Heaven and be a good example of sound teaching to your sons, servants, and relatives.”  In short, it depends on how you use our treasure.  For Saint Ignatius, these gifts have to be instruments for blessing people.  This is the right way to live with wealth.                 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Devotional - A Weekly Encounter

This devotional grew out of my desire to “live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). My main concern was to focus on the hope promised us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Hence the title: A Weekly Encounter: Fifty-Two Meditations of Hope. It’s hopeful, for there’s the message of Jesus Christ’s resurrection and salvation throughout its pages.  Like other devotional books, this one not only quotes over many biblical passages, but also focuses on quotations drawn from BrainyQuotes, Goodreads, and the Dictionary of Quotations, to enhance the essays on these meditations.

Many of quotes used were used by famous and world-renowned personalities, such as Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), William Shakespeare (1564–1616), John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), Pope Francis (b. 1936), Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968), Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997), Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), Billy Graham (b. 1918), Desmond Tutu (b. 1931), Aristotle (384 BC–322  BC), Voltaire (1694–1778), Confucius (551 BC–479 BC), and many more. These individuals are from diverse cultures, national origins, and creeds and have spanned the ages.

It was interesting to find that some secular and non-secular leaders often meditated on the magnanimity of the Creator. My objective, therefore, was to work their sayings into the basic teachings of Scripture and provide a “Thought of the Week” in Bible verses.
It’s hoped that a reader may focus each week on one of these fifty-two entries or spend much more time on the same meditation throughout the week. Each week’s meditation is generally broken down into smaller ones that are relevant to the main meditation discussed.
In pondering these Fifty-Two Meditations of Hope, a reader may find comfort in the following three helpful questions:

1)         What is your overall reaction to the meditation?
2)         Did the quotes in the meditation shed light on its contents?
3)         Did you find the meditation helpful?

At the conclusion of all fifty-two weekly entries, a reader may now answer a fourth question: “Finally, in the author’s message, was it clear that there was overall hope for redemption and salvation?”

Although the meditations are organized into various chapters, it isn’t necessary to read each in its proper sequence. A reader, if he or she likes, may choose to skip around and read what appeals to him or her on any particular week. Some may want to concentrate on a chapter at a time, while the more ambitious may read through the entire book of meditations in one sitting. What’s important is that you do what’s best and most convenient for you. You may even consider having a writing pad and pen handy to make notes as you explore and critique this book.

For more reading, I’ve carefully chosen books to include in the “Selected Readings” section for the further edification of readers. These are some of the more important Christian and non-Christian books I’ve read that have helped shape these devotions.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Gifts of God: Reflections & Affirmations

Gifts of God is an inspirational book on devotions about Christian living is available in Kindle Unlimited $0.99 @  It focuses on the abundance of gifts that are showered on us daily by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  In the last of this three-part series, each chapter pays homage to a loving God who blesses, guides, and loves us abundantly. International personalities exult his holy name, adore his divinity, and are forever grateful.

Readers of this devotional will come to experience God's warmth, care, and praise his beautiful works.  People will honor and glorify his extraordinary attributes and discover his greatest gift is love. With his promises they live in hope of rejoicing forever in salvation with his saving grace.

God is willing to forgive our sins, walk with us, and comfort us in our troubles.  After we shall declare like Isaiah 7:9: "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." He is omnipotent and omniscient, and his ways are above our ways.  We are therefore blessed with his authentic and precious gifts in our lives.