Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Christianity is All-Encompassing

Christianity is a marvelous religion.  Five truths are worth remembering:

1)                  It’s known for its timelessness of ideas
2)                  It’s eternal concepts greet believers
3)                  God shows his all-encompassing nature
4)                  God reveals his interconnectedness with creation
5)                  Human beings have natural limitations 

Timelessness of Ideas

Throughout the millennium such notions have evolved that are traditionally and culturally bound.  From age to age these ideas have been passed down and have become a part of people’s consciousness.  Of our timelessness Paul Rand (19141996), an art director and graphic designer wrote, “The principal role of a logo is to identify, and simplicity is its means … Its effectiveness depends on distinctiveness, visibility, adaptability, memorability, universality, and timelessness.”  Although Rand was referring to graphics he was talking about Christianity throughout the ages.

Eternal Concepts

In cultures there’s a belief in an eternal existence.  From the beginning people of different faith traditions debated and expressed confidence in this reality.  Christianity stands prominently as one of these faiths where our Creator is worshiped, and adored, and the promise of an afterlife is central.  In Jesus Christ who died on the Cross at Calvary rests our eternal hope.  Henry Adams (18381918), a historian reminded us: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”  Jesus was the premiere teacher, his life’s history, and teachings are recorded in the Gospels.

God’s Nature

Many religious leaders focus on the omnipresence of God.  Christ is part of the Trinity and a monotheistic God.  Albert Pike (18091891), an attorney, writer, and Freemason wrote, “One man is equivalent to all Creation.  One man is the World in miniature.”  It was sin which came into the world with Adam and Eve when they ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  To this day people are affected by their defiance.  It was Jesus - the new Adam, who later became the pioneer of our salvation.

Interconnectedness of Creation

Linkages clearly show our interconnectedness to living and non-living entities.  These appear rather simple but are complex. Just imagine the existence of energy fields, the air we breathe, water we drink, and our relationship with other animals, creatures, insects, and plants.  The solar systems and galaxies are vital to life.  How great is our God who brought into existence elements, landscapes of mountains, valleys, seas, oceans, and rivers.

Human Beings with Limitations

Unlike our Creator who’s in every way infinite, humans are finite.  People who depend on their logical minds in making decisions are considered foolish.  Nikola Tesla (18561943), a Serbian American inventor and futurist wrote, “It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations.  Precisely one of the more gratifying results of the intellectual revolution is the continuous opening up of new and greater prospects.”  Many men and women stress their minds as the primarily seats of knowledge and learning, but God looks at our hearts.  This is how it’s revealed God bases his knowledge of us.             

Monday, May 21, 2018

Children of God

“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.  Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18: 16-17.  By heeding Jesus Christ’s admonition, we can clearly see that children are featured prominently in God’s plan of redemption.  The key therefore for raising children should be on their upbringing in spiritual ways.

Their parents teach them rules at home that are good and necessary for society.  Kids are taught in simple ways that are easily understood.  Most children of average intelligence have no problems knowing the do’s and don’ts taught them.  An Italian author Pieto Aretino (14921556), who wielded much influence on contemporary arts and politics wrote, “I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.”  This saying not only goes for the children’s love, but for the relationships of their dads and moms.

Team Spirit

As our children grow older greater goals are set.  In kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school, they are learning about growing up - important steps for cultivating well-rounded personalities.  Parents and teachers enhance their development not only through reading, writing, and arithmetic, but by attending church, and participating in physical exercise.  Teachers take time to explain the merits and demerits of these activities.  They explain why exercise is necessary and how it helps in developing team spirit.  In programs children develop skills for playing, working, and understanding why sharing is essential for building community spirit.

Babe Ruth (18951948), a baseball player explained, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success.  You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together the club won’t be worth a dime.”  Ruth like parents realizes that although individual performance is desirable, it’s for the kids to understand that success lies with the team. 

Nutrition and Tests

While growing up as children we are often told, “Drink your milk.  It’s perfect food with protein and vitamins.”  We hear, “To be strong, you’ve to eat your vegetables.”  With other advice it’s said, “Don’t eat so much candy.  It isn’t good for you.  Watch fruit juices, soda, and be careful about additives.”  Children are warned these ingredients could harm them.  Parents tell them, “You have to get enough sleep and exercise.” These are essential attributes beneficial for their growth and development.

But throughout the children’s lives there will be tests.  Testing at school makes kids anxious about if they will pass or fail exams.  In team sports they wonder if they will be good enough players.  And in visiting their doctors parents are concerned if they are healthy.  

A Life with God

Yet, parents and teachers will be amiss if they raise children not knowing about a loving God.  There are many Christian denominations from which a family may choose a faith tradition.  As they attend church with their children they are teaching them some vital lessons about life.  They are showing them what’s important.  In life it’s good to teach children that living without God is meaningless.  It’s for parents to love their neighbors and be of service to them.  

Thomas Paine (17371809), an English-American political activist and revolutionary reminded us: “Those who want to recap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting it.”  By living in a Christian nation we must carry our weight as we journey through life.  We ought to work in the interest of all people - especially the poor, sick, and destitute.               

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Truth of Everlasting Life

Christians enjoy cherished lives.  They are sure that their walk is blessed and guided by an ever-loving Creator.  Often they congregate in fellowship with other believers, and find joy in the Gospels.  The oil of gladness is reflected from them because of the Holy Spirit.  They commit themselves in doing good in service to people.

Robert Pirsig (b. 1928), a writer wrote, “When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any kind of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”  True Christian believers aren’t fanatical.  Their ideas are based on biblical teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Model Christians aren’t members of cults.  They don’t embrace their calling through whim, nor by persuasion of charismatic personalities.  Many are sober, humble, and meek at heart.

Authentic Christian

Authentic Christians are blessed with contrite hearts.  Their love touches everyone and knows no discrimination.  It’s balanced and fair-minded.  Their gift comes to light in doing volunteer work with charitable organizations.  This support is built on a rock, so when the storms of life come they can withstand the onslaught of mighty winds.  By caring and tenderness they are models in their communities.  In calmness they know what it’s like to dance with angels.  Through them great streams of happiness flow, and in trials and tribulations they discover stability.

True Christians are like good seeds planted in fertile soil.  St. Matthew 13:22 is clear:  “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.”  But God’s believers are fruitful.  They grow and bear abundantly, for they know the heavenly gardener prunes their dead branches to ensure a good harvest.

Christians of Light

Being like Christ, Christians are blessed with merciful hearts, and are modeled in his image.  They will develop a good understanding and are slow to anger.  As brides of Christ’s church they find comfort while in fellowship with the flock.  Their ministries are filled with joy, so that even if they suffer setbacks their faith in Christ keeps steady.  William Shakespeare (1564–1616), renowned English poet, playwright and actor expressed this best through Iago to Roderigo in Othello:

How poor are they that ha’ not patience!
What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

Christians should always be patient.  It’s the prize of the race that counts.  At times the going is slow and difficult, but they must persevere.  Never must they succumb to doubtful minds, for through God’s grace they will triumph.

Christian Witnessing

Margaret Mitchell (1900–1949), a journalist with the Atlanta Constitution had Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1936) say, “I’m going to live through this, and when it’s over, I’m never going to be hungry again.  No, nor any of my folks.  If I have to steal or kill – as God is my witness, I’m never going to be hungry again.”  Unlike Mitchell’s depiction of witnessing, Christians’ approach must be guided spiritually, and they won’t sin, nor threaten.     

Being filled with the Holy Spirit Christians are symbols of joy speaking freely about Christ’s resurrection and promises.  They adapt to situations but their message is the same:  “Give your life to Christ, for he died for you on the cross at Calvary.  He resurrected, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father.”  But their testimonies are new every day for the Scriptures by which they live are spirit and life.  They are forever blessed with knowing the truth about eternal life

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Building Character

Through character building we ought to share God’s transforming love with others.  When providing these blessings to the unloved, let them see that our hearts are filled with goodness.  By doing so, we’ll be declaring to the world our love.  Such a deed is glorious to live by.

Dennis Prager (b. 1948), a political conservative, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, and author explained, “That goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like.  More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”  As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.”  We must love people and treat them right.  This must be one of our foremost goals in loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Faces of Love

Martin Luther King, Jr. (19291968), a Baptist minister and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”  While addressing our nation, King’s challenge was for us to have a good attitude of race relations.  People matter, regardless of their race, religion, or national origin.

Inevitably love faces good and bad challenges.  Walter Anderson (19031965), a painter, writer, and naturalist wrote, “Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life.  I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.”  As our characters continue to take shape consideration must be given about how we respond to adversities.  Some faced with such problems saw such times as motivators of higher levels of understanding.  Such defining moments have helped shape their attitudes towards people.

Development of Character

Helen Keller (18801968), an author, political activist, and lecturer said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”  Keller was certain challenges played a part in our lives.  People are essentially a pot in their Maker’s hands to be shaped the way he pleases.

In true love people have to be faithful.  That’s why love and friendship complement each other.  These signs of godliness are often expressed in families.  Billy Graham (b. 1918), an evangelical Christian evangelist and Southern Baptist minister wrote, “The greatest legacy one person can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”  Character is treating others the way we want to be treated.  When our children see these signs in us their ideas concerning life become clearer in their relationships with their friends.

By helping others let people see goodness in your lives as you reach out to a broken world.  You must celebrate love in action and rejoice in the Lord.  John Wooden (19102010), a basketball player and coach reminded us: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”  Let your major goal in life be to build a fine character and serve others.  People are here on earth to build up the body of Christ.  These are gifts that come with living in obedience to him.  Be always open to giving and sharing love.