Thursday, February 21, 2019

Believers' Gifts




Believers discover their gifts as they travel down the road of life.  One such gift is helping others.  But its purpose isn’t only to enrich people - the poor and well-to-do alike, but to enlighten them.  To accomplish these blessings it’s necessary to have an active spiritual life.  A French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire (16941778) wrote, “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”  Here’s a focus on some of our wonderful gifts e.g., Nature, Knowledge, Peace, and the Holy Spirit. 

Nature

A liberal politician, philanthropist and scientist John Lubbock (18341913) said, “Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountains and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”  With ecologically consciousness minds there’s much talk and action about caring as God’s stewards of nature.  Each day people should care for the trees, rivers, lakes, mountains and valleys.  They ought to experience the surge in the life of birds, fishes, and the abundance of wildlife in our parks, forests, and jungles.  Unlike information in books Lubbock saw nature as teaching many things.  It provides us with joy, comfort, food, clothing, and medicine.

Knowledge

A Classical Greek philosopher Socrates (470/469 BC399 BC) wrote, “To know, is to know that you know nothing.  That is the meaning of true knowledge.”  Socrates was referring to our senses that are deceptive.  Even with science in empirical studies there are often unintentional observational errors.  Most people do experience the throes of life with hardships, difficulties, and illnesses that teach them lessons.  As they endeavor to decipher life’s questions their thought-processes are at times polluted by their undeveloped senses.  In some studies they are left wondering what has happened to the knowledge they once thought was true.  With such changes they might conclude like the preeminent English poet and playwright William Shakespeare (15641616): “Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”  True knowledge could only be found through the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Peace

An Indian politician and attorney Mahatma Gandhi (18691948) said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”  That’s why forgiving our fellowmen and women are important.  That’s why with life’s possibilities as channels of peace people continue doing missionary work.  It’s a good thing to practice purity, and view it as a goal to perpetuate.  As the German born physicist Albert Einstein (18791955) wrote, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” In order to find common ground problems arising between nations have to be candidly discussed in order to find lasting solutions.

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a free gift from God.  He’s the greatest outpouring any believer can have.  Undoubtedly he’s a life-giving force and the light of life.  By him believers enjoy a supreme quality of life - one that’s enlightening, new, and full of everlasting love.  His presence is sustained by a lifestyle of caring, and compassion toward others.  By living piously believers partake of the abiding truth of the Spirit. A senior pastor of the First Baptist Church Charles Stanley (b. 1932) said, “Earthly wisdom is doing what comes naturally.  Godly wisdom is doing what the Holy Spirit compels us to do.”

   

            

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Media Can Play a Role in Healing Society



Media sometimes presents itself as a guardian of healing.  However, healing is always occurring in society.  Ubiquitous media though never stops in playing its part with far-reaching implications.  As objects of attention media has profound influences on our perceptions, and the healing of mind, body, and spirit.  This is because the mass media is the central nervous system of the world.  It lives up to the description of Henri Nouwen (1932–1996), a Dutch-born Catholic priest, and professor who asked, “Did I offer peace today?  Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?  Did I say words of healing?  Did I forgive?  Did I love?  These are some 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.”  Nouwen’s assessment of our social responsibility can be likened to the role of the media in society.  If it succeeds, or fails is for us to decide.  We know the media has been able to bring about healing of some social issues e.g., wars, natural disasters, and racial conflicts.

Media’s Message

The media covers stories of diverse religious faith traditions, cultures, and ethnic groups, via newspapers, magazines, books, radio, cable, TV, and the Internet.  Although limited in some cultures, it’s sobering that we’re able to find some commonalities in these media.  It’s clear that with many faith traditions adherents worship the same God called by different names.  People are able to attribute some degree of healing, peace, prosperity, and personal well-being because of the work of some media professionals.

A message that comes through loud and clear is best captured by Joseph Addision (1672–1719), an English essayist, and playwright who said, “If you want to succeed in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.”  This statement means putting one’s trust in the belief that media should attempt to be fair.  Undoubtedly, these beliefs permeate some media outlets, and faith traditions, although their editorial approaches may be different.  Nevertheless, it’s media that should take the lead of being a healer, and purveyor of this reality.

Secular & Non-secular Media

It’s unwise to think that readers and viewers will respond similarly to media’s role in healing.  Some argue the media does nothing more than promote sensational stories.  It’s commonly believed by media critics, “If it bleeds it leads.”  But people may tend to forget the discussions and analyses in contemporary media.  Experts weigh in on the important stories which their audiences are free to accept, or refute.

Taking shape though is the edification of the public, thus bringing wholeness to the viewers’ perceptions of stories that may be difficult to comprehend.  With this process media can do a lot to allay fears.  Whether news come from the secular or non-secular media there’s often some good results.  People become aware of suffering, and other vital changes in society.

Healing may not necessarily be physical, but can bring emotional stability to communities torn apart by strive.  Radio and TV may also serve as instruments in promoting charitable works in the midst of natural disasters, raising aid for those affected by drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and forest fires.  So the next time you read a magazine, or flip through the pages of a newspaper, laugh during a situation comedy on TV, find yourself volunteering for causes you have heard, remember that the mass media does, and can play a role in the healing process of our society.                   

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Wars & Innocent Ones




The Lord said that we must not go up to fight against our kindred (2 Chr 11:4).  “Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.  I am for peace; but when I speak they are for war” (Ps 120:6-7).  He however silenced the roaring of the seas and waves, also the tumult of peoples (Ps 65:7).  A president of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969) said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” 

Control in Nature

Gary Zukav (b. 1942), a spiritual teacher and author wrote, “We are becoming able to see the pursuit of external power for what it is and the futility of trying to escape the pain of powerlessness by changing the world.  When we look inward, not outward, we can dismantle the parts of our personalities that have controlled us for so long – such as anger, jealousy, vindictiveness, superiority, inferiority.”  Finding answers to war should start with our self-examination.  We’ve to know our strengths and weaknesses to have a balanced life.  This is true not only for common people, but for presidents and prime ministers, who govern nations.

People’s conflicts show the presence of our sinful nature.  A founder and teacher of desiringgod.org and Chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, John Piper (b. 1946) said, “God created a good world that was subjected to futility because of the sinful, treasonous choice of the first human beings.”  This legacy that was passed down through the ages has shaped people’s behavior.  We should therefore embrace the teachings of the scriptural narratives to change our attitudes for the betterment of society.

War & Words

Some people hope words are enough to subdue, and enlighten those opposed to the light.  A Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher Sun Tzu (544 BC – 496 BC) wrote, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”  Tzu must have been thinking about winning wars by words, and not by physical force.  Yet wars of words can be as devastating like weapons.  Some believe that psychological warfare does damage for generations to come.

A Russian writer Leo Tolstoy (18281910) said, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”  These two gifts form the basic framework in pursuing peace.  Such an alliance must not be rushed into, and forged without understanding.  President John F. Kennedy (19171963) wrote, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”  People know what a confrontation between the superpowers will mean in an age of nuclear weapons.

Today nations wage war against nations.  Herbert Hoover (18741964), a president of the United States said, “Older men declare war.  But it is the youth that must fight and die.”  This lesson is known for those leaders who are belligerent. So the question should be asked, “Who will die for their nation’s causes?”  And the answer is always, “Our sons and daughters, who are the innocent ones.”