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.