Friday, March 30, 2018

Love Offerings

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there will be food in my house.  Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I may not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
–Mal 3:10

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
–2 Cor 9:10

Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), a government official and religious leader wrote, “Our parents deserve our honor and respect for giving us life itself.  Beyond this they almost made countless sacrifices as they cared for and nurtured us through our infancy and childhood, provided us with the necessities of life, and nursed us through physical illnesses and the emotional stresses of growing up.”  As Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”  

Henri Nouwen (1932–1996), a Dutch Catholic priest explained, “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”  This is what we can expect from loving families and friends.

Acts of Kindness

Matthew 6:2 reminds us: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.  Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”  But how should we view acts of kindness?  Paul Bloom (b. 1963), a Canadian American psychologist said, “We are constituted so that simple acts of kindness, such as giving to charity or expressing gratitude, have a positive effect on long-term moods.  The key to the happy life, it seems, is the good life: a life with sustained relationships, challenging work, and connections to community.”

A lot of this goodness can come from simple acts.  Rosa Parks (1913–2005) did just that.  She recalled, “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true.  I was not tired physically… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”  Parks’ actions came to have unbelievable social consequences.

Giving Back

A philanthropist Ron Conway (b. 1951) wrote, “I believe we all have a responsibility to give back.  No one becomes successful without lots of hard work, support from others, and a little luck.  Giving back creates a virtuous cycle that makes everyone more successful.”  Was this the best in us that Colonel Sanders (1890–1980), a businessman was speaking about?  Sanders was referring to his gifts when he stated, “No hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me.”

Simon Sinek (b. 1973), an author saw that friendship as important in this equation.  He wrote, “The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares.  Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when.”

Friday, March 23, 2018

Love in Families

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
–Deut 5:16

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Cor 13:4-7

Earl Nightingale (1921–1989), a radio personality and author wrote, “Learn to enjoy every minute of your life.  Be happy now.  Don’t wait for someone outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.  Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family.  Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.”  1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.”  Kim Kardashian (b. 1980), a TV personality and actress echoed this same reality: “At the end of the day, life is about being happy being who you are, and I feel that we are so blessed to have the support system and the best family to really just support each other no matter what we’re going through.”

Peace in Life

How do we find peace?  In Acts 10:2 reminds us that our family should be devout and God-fearing.  We ought to give generously to those in need and pray to God regularly.  Menachem Begin (1913–1992), former prime minister of Israel looked at peace a bit differently: “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.”  These gifts are undoubtedly the essence of peace.  But this begins with us.  

Buddha (563/480 BC–483/400 BC), an Indian ascetic and sage observed, “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.  If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”

Forgiveness & Family

Colossians 3:13 tells us to bear with each other and forgive one another.  If any of you have a grievance against someone, forgive as the Lord forgives you.  This forgiveness begins in one’s family.  George Santayana (1863–1952), a philosopher wrote, “The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”  So why wreck it with grudges?  Lex Luger (b. 1958), a professional wrestler wrote, “Many times, the decisions we make affect and hurt your closet friends and family the most.  I have a lot of regrets in that regard.  But God has forgiven me, which I am thankful for.  It has enabled me to forgive myself and move forward one day at a time.”  It isn’t only family and friends we have to forgive, it also starts with oneself.   

Friday, March 16, 2018

Love & Healing

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we consider him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
–Isa 53:4-5

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.”  And his servant was healed at that moment.  When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.  He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
–Mt 8:13-15

A vice-president of the United States, Hubert H. Humphrey (1911–1978) stated, “The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.”  Henri Nouwen (1932–1996), a Dutch Catholic priest said, we should ask: “Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?  Did I say words of healing?  Did I let go of my anger and resentment?  Did I forgive?  Did I love?  These are the real questions.  I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”  Humphrey and Nouwen’s sayings remind us of Proverbs 4:20-22: “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.”

Joy of Working Together

David Hume (1711–1776), a Scottish philosopher wrote, “It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place…it’s when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood.”  In this process we need to find comfort through Christ.  This might mean according to Max de Pree (b. 1924), a businessman and writer: “We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity.  We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”

People must therefore learn from their friends.  As Nouwen described, “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.”
That’s why when we think about healing we have to share our love.  Sai Baba (1835–1918), an Indian spiritual master reminded us: “Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love.  Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.”  Psalm 107:19-21 says that we must cry out to the Lord in our troubles and distress.  For through his word we’re healed and rescued from the grave.  Always thank God for his unfailing love and wonderful deeds.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Peace of Mind

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
–Ps 91:1-3

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
–Phil 4:6-7

An author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar (1926–2012) said, “People are basically the same the world over.  Everybody wants the same things – to be happy, to be healthy, to be at least reasonably prosperous, and to be secure.  They want friends, peace of mind, good family relationships, and hope that tomorrow is going to be even better than today.”  Romans 15:13 says  may the God of hope fill us with peace in believing, so that with the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope.  Such peace is found in Christ.  This was why Hannah Arendt (1906–1975), a German-born American political theorist wrote, “Dedicate yourself to the good you deserve and desire for yourself.  Give yourself peace of mind.  You deserve to be happy.  You deserve delight.”

Age Gracefully

Cherie Lunghi (b. 1952), an English actress stated, “I think it’s nice to age gracefully.  OK, you lose the youth, a certain stamina and dewy glow, but what you gain on the inside as a human being is wonderful: the wisdom, the acceptance and peace of mind.  It’s a fair exchange.”  The 14th Dalai Lama (b. 1935), a monk of the Gelug School, observed, “Appearance is something absolute, but reality is not the way – everything is interdependent, not absolute.  So that view is very helpful to maintain a peace of mind because the main destroyer of a peaceful mind is anger.”  So, why should we become disheartened about aging?

Do Your Best

John 16:33 tells us that with Christ we’ll have peace.  In the world there will be tribulation, but we must take heart, because our Lord has overcome the world.  James E. Faust (1920–2007), a religious leader explained, “We are bombarded on all sides by a vast number of messages we don’t want or need.  More information is generated in a single day than we can absorb in a lifetime.  To fully enjoy life, all of us must find our own breathing space and peace of mind.”  John Wooden (1910–2010), a basketball player summed up what ought to be our best approach to a successful life when he remarked, “Success is peace of mind which is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”