Sunday, September 30, 2018

Faith



It’s for Christians to persevere in faithfulness.  With the free flow of information capturing our minds we mustn’t be swayed by the enticements of the world.  Instead, we ought to insist on learning the truth and communicating it to others.  Neither must we allow authentic evangelism to take a back seat in our lives.  Take the initiate by stepping up to the plate as spiritual leaders to lift people up.  This calls for embracing scriptural guidelines and treating them accordingly.  It’s necessary to have one’s finger on the pulse of a group we wish to persuade by doing what’s right.  John Quincy Adams (17671848), president of the United States stated, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  Such leaders are prominent in organizations and the ones recognized as guiding their flocks.

Being Set Free

People seeking freedom promote joy.  Our greatest evangelist is Jesus Christ.  He’s our Evangelist-in-Chief, who we imitate when campaigning against spiritual worldliness.  In doing God’s will we become “fishers of men” while we pursue our goals.  We rally others in persuading them to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Inevitably we have to be careful not to be enticed by the desires of the world.  Virgil (70 BC19 BC), an ancient Roman poet exhorted, “Come what may, all bad fortune is to be conquered by endurance.”  Christians are warned to prepare themselves to face setbacks.  Life isn’t necessary going to be easy, but we should persevere.

Louis Farrakhan (b. 1933), a leader of the Nation of Islam said, “We are all gifted, but we have to discover the gift, uncover the gift, nurture and develop the gift and use it for the Glory of God and for the liberation struggle of our people.”  It’s uncertain what Farrakhan really means by “our people,” but it can well be all ordinary and unassuming individuals.  This is how we should free ourselves from the pulls and tugs of earthly desires, in discovering, and using our gifts the right way. 

Generate Hope

Buddha (563/480 BC 483/400 BC), the founder of Buddhism explained, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”  Spreading joy takes pure hearts to discover liberty.  We’ll surely find comfort in evangelizing when simplicity becomes the mantra.  This concept transforms, and generates hope in others.

Christians won’t have any hope weren’t it for the resurrection of Christ.  His after-life is self-generating and divine.  As we journey let’s do so in faith.  Let our walk become expressions of joy, for we’re blessed with remembrances of how great our Lord really is.  He has modeled for us the highest ethical standards.  Such blessings we must embrace because it’s only through his gifts we’re able to  motivate others.  Martin Luther (14831546), a German priest and professor of theology said, “Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”  In mysterious ways our future is inextricably linked to the resurrection which is found in God’s creation.  

                     

Friday, September 21, 2018

Practice Forgiveness



To be emancipated from evil is a great blessing.  This is when people are pardoned for their sins.  Amazingly this happens for those sins which are great or small, and with Christ that’s the end of the matter.  It’s however known that some who lack faith hold on to their guilt disbelieving our Lord has really forgiven them.  But God loves us even as sinners.  There’s no prejudice with him, and with repentance our guilt is washed away.

William Pollard (1828–1893), an English Quaker observed, “Learning and innovation go hand in hand.  The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”  Forgiveness for one’s sins is like that.  Although yesterday sins are forgiven people must repent today regardless how good they think they are. We continually sin and have to ask for forgiveness again and again.

Being Afflicted

In some way we all suffer.  This is natural since we live by the flesh.  Christians therefore always have to seek God’s mercy.  Their motivation for doing so is to receive forgiveness and Christ’s divine love.  With these gifts they are blessed by a living and forgiving God.  When relief comes we’re spiritually enriched. 

Emma Goldman (1869–1940), a Lithuanian-born anarchist wrote, “On rare occasions one does hear of a miraculous case of a married couple falling in love after marriage, but on close examination, it will be found that it is a mere adjustment to the inevitable.”  Is such love found after marriage? Imagine couples marrying in spite of knowing each other’s shortcomings.  Such individuals eventually find love which at first is elusive.

Not Worthy

We shouldn’t consider ourselves unworthy of pardon.  Why put on blinders and not receive this precious gift from Christ?  Our sins don’t matter, for regardless how desperate is our case we can still call on the Lord.  Even if we believe we’re utterly unworthy. We may even feel we’re the greatest sinners, and he’ll welcome us back.  Isn’t that amazing? 

George Herbert (1593–1633), a Welsh-born Anglican priest prayed, “Throw away thy rod, throw away thy wrath; O my God, take the gentle path.”  This was Herbert’s plea to God our Savior, and should be ours.  Christians are happier after receiving God’s forgiveness.

God’s Gifts

At points in our lives we may wallow in the dust.  However we must still be optimistic about our lives.  Being forgiven by God sustains our joy found only in Christ.  We ought to accept the gifts of God’s Kingdom through reconciliation.  It’s for people wishing to be emancipated from evil, finding grace, and being blessed with eternal bliss.

Jack Layton (19502011), a Canadian politician said, “My friends, love is better than anger.  Hope is better than fear.  Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.  And well change the world.”  That’s how believers ought to see forgiveness - its power, love, hope, and optimism.      

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Blessed with Ecstatic Joy



Experiencing ecstatic joy is an extraordinary blessing.  This is when Christians ascend to the mountaintop of life.  Filled with happiness such individuals are on top of the world looking down at the beautiful valleys below.  They are gladdened by this glorious overview of the world.  Some saints in attaining this state are known for their humility.  These are heavenly and the endowed lights that have been honored by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Believers are assured that eventually they will experience this exalted state for eternity. 

De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum, Antitheta no. 9 (1623) translated by Gilbert Watts 1640 stated: “The voice of the people hath some divineness in it, else how should so many men agree to be of one mind?”  This mindset Christians gain in exalted states.  There are hills and valleys, but rest assured theres also ecstatic joy.

Joy of Freshness

People ought to do their best to be blessed by this kind of joy.  At best its also sacrificial as demonstrated by our greatest teacher Jesus Christ.  Saints have suffered martyrdom, but are greatly honored in their lives.  They have been awarded heavenly crowns of everlasting life for embracing lifes hardships in precious ways.  Through their actions people are healed and brought to see the light.   Throughout the ages these saints’ love has formed a bridge to mankind.  Thats why we enjoy reading about their great deeds. 

Living our lives in the footsteps of Jesus is a delightful testimony.  Its best to do so like his disciples by the way they lived in the world.  Our divine goals therefore must be to transform lives.  For theres supreme joy in heaven when one soul is won for the Lord.  A credo engraved in Rockefeller Center Plaza, New York stated, “The rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind, and … only the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.”  What an inspiration for souls that are yearning to be set free!

Mother of Joy

Ecstasy is the Mother of Joy.  It brings gladness to hearts, minds, and souls by reaching out to others.  In these paths are abiding truths that endow our spirits in living to the fullest.  Its this epitome of goodness found in loving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  His teachings compel us to embrace the everlasting way.

In a 1609 Sonnet 33, William Shakespeare (15641616), Englands greatest playwright wrote:

Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green.

With these beautiful lines Shakespeare captured the mountain-top experiences of nature.  These symbols are superb, full of light, and refreshing to our souls.  This Sonnet could be the way Christian missionaries view their earthly paradise.  Love is expressed in the protection of the environment which was graciously created by God.  This happiness is shown by how we live and relate to nature.  People often find this encouragement in the words of the Holy Bible.  Within its pages were able to taste these divine realities. 


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Worship the Light




People who love darkness rather than light are evil.  They see wickedness as sweet, but some however worship idols through ignorance.  The apostle Paul who was a blasphemer was at first antagonistic to Christians, but received the gift of mercy from God.  An influential French theologian John Calvin (15091564), a pastor during the Protestant revolution wrote, “Mans mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much that if man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.”  Inevitably Calvin didnt think much about people’s thoughts.  They are deceptive and can lead us to live ungodly lives. 

A Meaningful Relationship

Whats important is for us to have a meaningful conversation with God.  Emraan Hashmi (b. 1979), an Indian film actor said, “My hectic work schedule does not often permit me time to visit temples, but my conversations with God dont depend on idol worship.  Inside my heart, I have developed and sustained a direct communication with Him.”  Hashmi was certain idol worship wasnt for him.  Still some people are caught up with idols of this world.  They are unaware their lives are ruled by earthly and dark desires.

Idols may become quite prominent in our lives. A Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés (14851547) wrote, “Thus they have an idol that they petition for victory in war; another for success in their labors, and for everything in which they seek or desire prosperity, they have their idols, which they honor and serve.”  Its bad enough when people dont realize they live and serve idols, but doing so consciously is rather harmful.  Being caught up in idolatry is no way to find one’s way back to God.

Idols as Gifts

Yet some idols may be gifts with social redeeming values.  Shakira (b. 1977), a Colombian singer and record producer explained, “My dad is a writer, and to see him always in front of a typewriter give me the aspiration to write.  He was my idol, my hero.  I wanted to be just like him.”  The personal traits of Shakiras father are worth emulating.  As a writer he motivated her.  Children dream of having parents who are an inspiration to them.

What you worship you become.  People may not all be blessed with good gifts, but some can be negative.  Leading British New Testament scholar N.T. Wright (b. 1948), an Anglican bishop was certain: “I’m not a Universalist, and the way I talk about final lost is this: People worship idols – money, whatever.  Their humaneness gets reshaped around the idol – you become like what you worship which is one of the basic spiritual laws.”  Often people are warned to be careful about money.  But still we cant do without it.  Some want more and more money, living for it, dying for it, and selling their souls for it.  Still we have the gift of money for food, shelter, and health reasons.  It may however become an idol if we arent careful.  When people fail to help the poor, sick, and indigent it becomes a problem.  Those who are money-lovers dont know when having enough is enough.  They keep hording and hording this treasure hoping it’ll bring them happiness.  But it doesn't.        

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Mother Earth




Daily God’s creation is under assault, but remember our earth has rights.  People are increasingly cognizant of the increasing harm inflicted on her.  Because of these afflictions persons suffer and die.  There are storms, pollutants, toxic waste, and ultraviolet rays.  Humans are exposed to thousands of man-made chemicals in the air and waterways.  These concerns are prevalent in the following ways:

              The greenhouse effects of gas emissions
              Global warming
              More infectious diseases
              The depletion of the earth’s gaseous shield
              Ultraviolet radiation
              Flooding, forest fires, drought and malnutrition
              The effects of breathing contaminated air
              Diseases from animal waste
              Proliferation of housing developments in forested areas
              Dam constructions that damage the environment
              Contamination of air
              Pollutants in water systems

Wernher Von Braun (19121977), a German aerospace engineer observed, “Finite man cannot begin to comprehend an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and infinite God … I find it best to accept God through faith, as an intelligent will, perfect in goodness and wisdom, revealing Himself through His creation.”  It’s clear from the way we are treating God’s creation it appears as though not much thought is given to the wisdom of protecting our earthly home.

What are we doing to our earth?

There have been calls from prominent environmentalists for mandatory cuts in air pollution, but these warnings haven’t worked too well.  The Bering glaciers in Alaska are being ruined.  Airplanes’ exhaust emissions although improved continue to cause global warming.  Dianne Feinstein (b. 1933), a senator  of California and member of the Democratic Party, remarked, “Global warming is real.  It is happening today.  It is being charted by our satellites.  It is being charted by our scientists.  It is being charted by those of us in this body [senate], and I think the real key is if we are ready to admit that fact and take the action to make the necessary conversion.”  Yet there are some who deny there’s such a problem.  But since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970 attempts were made for Americans to purchase efficient housing, cars and appliances.

Jane Goodall (b. 1934), an English primatologist and anthropologist wrote, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”  If according to Goodall everyone impacts our environment it’s therefore be necessary for all of us to be responsible in making the earth more habitable.

Still the air in some cities worldwide, are filled with pollutants that cause a decrease in lung function, and make breathing difficult.  People attempting to exercise in these conditions are doing so at their own risk, for air pollutants can lead to cardiovascular disease, and eventual death.

We also face problems with pollutants in our waters.  These waters are contaminated with organic materials, suspended solids, bacteria, and toxic substances.  Not long ago in Mexico City untreated waste waters were used to irrigate croplands.  In the past fleets from the cruise industries dumped oily waste at sea.  There were beaches which had to be closed because of hospital waste washed up on shores.  Disposal of toxic waste in our waterways from livestock operations have even made residents sick.

Eva Morales (b. 1959), a Bolivian politician said, “Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution.  What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”  It’s mandatory that we treat the earth – God’s great gift to us, respectfully, so it can be well again.

  Call to Action

Pope Francis's Encyclical Laudato Si' is a stirring work that focuses on caring for the earth and upholding the rights of the marginalized. This lengthy reflection by the Holy Father is worth reading for it captures our troubles and offers solutions.