Friday, August 24, 2018

God's Love





Our understanding shows differences in the way we love.  Some religious personalities have committed themselves to missionary love.  Their actions embody God’s mercy, and bring healing into a broken world.  This is how they showcase the good news taught in the Gospels of Christ.  Margaret D. Nadauld (b. 1944), the eleventh general president of the Young Women Organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrote, “Our outward appearance is a reflection of what are on the inside.  Our lives reflect that which we seek.  And if with all our hearts we truly seek to know the savior and to be more like Him, we shall be, for He is our divine, eternal Brother.”  In seeking to know Christ, and by accepting his love causes us to embrace his teachings.

But there’s much more to the story according to Ellen G. White (18271915), a prolific author and  Christian pioneer of The Seventh-day Adventist Church, who wrote: “In the consequences our limited ideas of the sufferings of Christ, we place a low estimate upon the great work of the atonement.  The glorious plan of man’s salvation was brought about through the infinite love of God the Father.  In this divine plan is seen the most marvelous manifestation of the love of God to the fallen race.”  It’s enlightening to know God’s love doesn’t discriminate, and reaches out to all men, women, and children.  We live under his protection by loving him, and our neighbors.

Real Joy

Some individuals may ask how could people be happy?  Thomas S. Monson (b. 1927), a religious leader and sixteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, “Finding the real joy of Christians come not in the hurrying and scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts.  We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season.”  This type of happiness is found at all times - not only at Christmas, but whenever we worship and praise God.

Our love for him is revealed when we do volunteer work for the poor and destitute.  As God’s co-creators on earth we must bless, uplift those in need, while doing homage to the risen Christ.  Noam Chromsky (b. 1928), a linguist and social political activist wrote, “Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above.  They come out of struggles from below.”  A lot depends on how people view struggles.  It’s best to offer them up to God as gifts.  Soon Christ’s wonderful love occurs and opportunities present themselves.  Hard work is essential, but Christians ought to put their dependence on God, who makes all things possible.  It’s a mistake to underestimate what God can do.

God’s Gift

God’s precious gift of love is marvelous and free.  All we’ve to do is to seek his blessings, while pursuing his will.  Much of what we end up receiving comes through his grace.  Our approach must be one of persistence in our beliefs, and faith in our heavenly Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He’s the Almighty One, who knows all things, and blesses us.  That’s surely is his divine love.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

America & Cultures




There are certain bits of information missionaries to other cultures should know.  These tips are essential for they will prepare them to experience and proclaim the Word of God in faraway places.  This list is also meant for Americans adopting children from foreign countries:

1)                  Do your research and learn about your country’s native background - their husbands, wives, friends, and neighbors.  Find out about their origin, customs, and languages.
2)                  Be sure to visit your subjects of interest.  Interact with them at festivals, bazaars, fairs, and in community groups.
3)                  Engage them in conversation - remembering that communication is essential, by being sensitive to their verbal and nonverbal language.  
4)                  It’s necessary to treat people of other cultures with respect, and try not to denigrate them.  You’ve to learn more about their country.
5)                  By exposing yourself to their educational system, meet with support groups, pay attention to similarities, and differences in their societies.
6)                  Be sensitive to religious differences. Try to be open-minded about their faith traditions, e.g., Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, etc.
7)                  Avoid condescending and derogatory remarks.  Focus on your mission by emphasizing what’s important.  Take the high road.
8)                  Be accepting of the ways natives view themselves, and don’t make judgments based on your own background.
9)                  Respect their ceremonies, and rights of passages in seeing their strengths, but not being hung up on weaknesses.
10)              Be aware of their foods and dress.  Understand how they are part of the mainstream of their cultures, e.g., the Italian pasta and Mexican sombrero.
11)              Through the images of native peoples portrayed in American media, endeavor to know more about their countries or regions of interest.  Try separating sensationalism from reality. 
12)              As opportunities arise, travel, and learn firsthand what other cultures are like.  It’s best to experience a culture in its own environment.
    
The Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 (Hart-Cellar Act) abolished the system of national origin quotas that were in place in the United States since the Immigration Act of 1924.  This act of non-differentiation goes a long way towards the promotion of equity of basic human standards, and in helping foster multiculturalism in the United States.

One in Christ

Missionaries and parents must bear in mind we’re one in Christ.  While abroad it’s important to bring this good news to people.  Recognition of these rights can only come to fruition if a countries proclaim this truth.  Bhumibol Adulyadej (b. 1927), a King of Thailand known as Rama 1X, ninth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty wrote, “A good person can make another person good; it means that goodness will elicit goodness in the society; other persons will also be good.”  Goodness transcends cultures.  It sees Americans reaching out to help others wherever they may be.  But it often goes further than that.  Ken Robinson (b. 1950), an English author and international adviser said, “The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.”   This is just what we should do while experiencing foreign cultures.  Such proposals promote the development of justice and peace for all.  There’s still a great deal we can learn from other cultures, although America already sees itself as a society which is diversified. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Helping the Disabled




Having disabilities are gifts that impact us socially, emotionally, physiologically, and psychologically.  What’s important to know is people aren’t spiritually disabled.  Stephen Hawking (19422018), an English theoretical physicist explained, “My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things that your disability doesn’t prevent you from doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with.  Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”  Hawkins’ comments ought to be taken seriously by the disabled and those concerned with their welfare.

Christian Perspectives

In Jewish laws lepers were considered unclean.  They lived in segregated communities and were seen as outcasts.  Jesus broke this stereotype when he socialized with them.  His relationship with them angered the religious leaders of his day.  And he healed people with these maladies.

Paul, one of the leading apostles grappled with his own affliction.  He was truly grieved by a thorn in his flesh, and was never relieved of this suffering, although he prayed for relief.  He learned that God’s grace was enough for him to bear such an affliction.  This only goes to show how we must view affliction when it befalls us.  Christian theologians know about the redemptive nature of suffering.  Believers walking in the light should offer up their suffering to God.

Images of the Disabled

In some films and on TV we often see emotionally and the physically disabled portrayed negatively.  Scenes show them involved in criminal activities, sexual abuse, violence, theft, and murders.  We view depictions of those with deformities portrayed as freaks.  However socially responsible programs dealing with these issues show caregivers, mental health workers, drugs and alcohol addiction specialists handling these problems wisely.  At times the disabled are often referred to as victims although they don’t necessarily see themselves this way.

Eva Mendes (b. 1974), an actress and singer said, “People are incapable of stereotyping you; you stereotype yourself because you’re the one who accepts roles that put you in the rut of this stereotype.”  Mendes was referring to her acting roles.  But what about the disabled who have no say about the negative images presented about them in the media?  It’s hoped that producers and directors become more sensitive to their plight.

Understanding the Disabled

From time to time there’s a ray of hope concerning the welfare of disabled people.  Telethons take the lead in raising money for their causes.  Some public-service programs focus on finding cures for diseases, e.g., cancer, HIV-AIDS, Parkinson’s, and sickle cell anemia.  Edmund Burke (17291797), an Anglo-Irish statesman and political theorist wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  Burke was referring to the situations where some professionals take the low road in exploiting the disabled, rather than building them up.  Mass media has a social responsibility to its audience, and ought to reach out to every segment of the population.  Their programming should provide healing for the afflicted.   

    

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Guyana's Seawall Girl




Guyana's Seawall Girl
A Biographical Novel - Coming Soon @ amazon.com

It’s exhilarating to remember some of the lyrics of Neil Diamond’s song – America.

Far
We’ve been traveling far
Without a home
But not without a star
Free
Only want to be free
We huddle close
Hang on to a dream
On the boats and on the planes
They’re coming to America
Never looking back again
They’re coming to America

Guyana’s seawall was built by the Dutch.  It stretches hundreds of miles along the coastline of the Republic of Guyana to prevent the low lands from flooding by the Atlantic Ocean.  To many Guyanese this wall has come to represent hope.  Lives are shaped on the beach it encircles.  That’s where lovers have dates to pledge their love, build dreams, and make promises.  Truthfully, not all the dreams come true, but there’s a realization that some of them will bear good fruit and have prosperous lives.  These are those relationships that succeed.  The title of this book, Guyana’s Seawall Girl attests to these phenomena.    

This story has a moral lesson which runs through it.  On closer examination we must conclude that the main characters – Kevin, Gwen, and Billy weren’t bad people.  In the beginning we’re given insights about their upbringing.  The families portrayed were raised with Christian values and moral beliefs.  In their faith they prayed to Almighty God for guidance in their daily lives.  Yet, one is struck by the political and social revolution in Guyana, and how coming to America played a part in influencing their future lives.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Be Diligent




We must be wise like an ant that without a ruler prepares its food in the summer, and gathers its sustenance in harvest (Prov 6:6-8; 30:25).  Work hard and “do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Rom 12:11).  Hard work brings results for those skillful in their jobs (Prov 22:29).  Be diligent therefore and do the will of God from the heart by obeying your earthly masters, rendering service with enthusiasm to the Lord (Eph 6:5-8).  For, the diligent finds satisfaction for the appetite the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied (Prov 13:4).  You must strive therefore to be a blessing to the ostracized and depressed. 

Being diligent is a God-given gift which is like a fortress in our homes.  Joseph B. Wirthlin (19172008), a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, “Building our homes as fortresses of righteousness for protection from the world takes constant labor and diligence.”  That’s why we find in David’s Psalm 23 it’s written, “I shall not want” for he knows that God prepares an ideal banquet for our every need.  He leads us to enjoy “still waters.”

Learning

Abigail Adams (17441818), a former first lady of the United States wrote, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence.”  God’s divine diligence is evident when he restores our souls, for he comforts, gives us rest, and leads us in “paths of righteousness.”   This is like Adams’s feelings, for God leads us with assurance as people “walk through the valley.” 

Gordon B. Hinckley (19102008), a religious leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints wrote, “We magnify our priesthood and enlarge our calling when we serve with diligence and enthusiasm in those responsibilities to which we are called by the proper authority.”  In our calling people need to be guided by our Lord.  That’s why his “rod and his staff” do the job in bringing us back into the fold when we go astray.  People are comforted by our caring and loving Savior.  God prepares a table for our heavenly banquet, for “goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives.”

Patience

William Penn (16441718), an English founder of Pennsylvania wrote, “Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains.”  Undoubtedly God’s protective gifts are for all believers, and they can say with certainty that they will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  What a climax to this joyful 23rd Psalm.

In hardships and suffering people must give praise and thanks to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  David A. Bednar (b. 1952), a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, “Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the under girding base of testimony.  It’s the result of the revelation of God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience, and diligence.”  Psalm 23 is definitely reassuring to the brokenhearted.  For it provides us with gifts of everlasting rest, relief from sorrows, and pains.  It gives joy, hope, and everlasting contentment. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Joneses


Live wisely and with dignity.  In the right way keep up with the Joneses.  Seek riches that are the best.   Look for excellent people to model your life after; pay attention to what you’re being fed, especially news and information from the media.  Media may be a blessing, or a curse, so select wisely.

In wrong ways people may keep up with the Joneses.  Our lifestyle is a matter of choice, so be careful what you choose to do.  Give some attention to the Joneses, but don’t be influenced by their earthly possessions.  Consider how they live and recognize the good they do.  Are they respectable people?  Are they sincere in their Christian walk?  In time of need, can you depend on them to lend a helping hand?  Do they flaunt their wealth?  What do their neighbors think about them?  Make it your goal to emulate their good works.  An Irish playwright and founder of the London School of Economics, George Bernard Shaw (18561950) wrote, “Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”  By modeling what’s best, that’s the way you begin creating a lifestyle of integrity.

Alluring Desires

Around every corner there are alluring desires.  People only have to switch on their TV sets to be bombarded with multiple images.  Whether it’s TV, computers, Smartphones, or some other social media, greeting us are a myriad of good and bad pictures.  Some visuals are ads that seduce Americans by telling them how better they will be if they use certain products.  Sex, riches, beauty, speed, and money are frequent themes in these images.  It’s therefore wise for us to remember that money and power portrayed so blatantly are nothing more than false idols.  Withdraw from bad choices which do you harm and be aware of products promoting a self-centered lifestyle.  Life is about helping others, not selling them alcohol, and stimulants to drown their sorrows.

A Danish philosopher and theologian Sӧren Kierkegaard (18131855) observed, “Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.”  The impressions we ingest become how we will come to value society.  So a proliferation of crime, disaster, betrayals, embezzlement, social revolutions, and wars may tend to dominate our imagination and beliefs.  Worldly power is centered in atrocities as these.  An English Catholic historian and politician Lord Acton (18341902) noted, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  It’s therefore wise to avoid images which corrupt our minds.

Defeat & Failures

Entanglements with earthly deceptions will eventually lead to a run in with the law.  Some good citizens entrapped in such a vicious cycle are dishonored and their names dragged through dirt.  We frequently witness news reports about crashes, bankruptcies, crime and violence.  In the tourism industry, prostitution, and other vices lead to an exacerbation of values.  Poor nutrition and lack of exercise contribute to health problems.  People lose hope because they are crushed by life’s troubles of pits and bogs.  In living wisely we’re able to avoid trouble. 

Climb Mountains

While in valleys set your eyes to mountain tops.  A good way to do so is by embracing Christian principles and accepting our Lord Jesus Christ.  Let him be the model in bearing your cross and transforming you.  He’s the abundant one.  With this perspective you’ll view life differently.  A publisher and author William Feather (18891981) wrote, “One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”  In this journey you’re sure to live compassionately, and after departing this world you’ll enjoy eternal bliss.  This is because you've been living a purpose-filled life.