Cherished Lives

Christians enjoy cherished lives. They are sure that their walks are blessed and guided by an ever-loving Creator. Often, many congregate in fellowship with other believers. There, they find deep joys in the Gospel readings. The oil of gladness is reflected on their faces because they are anointed by the Holy Spirit. Their commitments in doing good works are crowned with their services to mankind.

Robert Pirsig (b. 1928), writer, states, “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’s believes are never fanatical. They are based on sound biblical teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Model Christians are not members of cults and don’t embrace their calling solely through whim, nor by the urgings of charismatic personalities. They are sober, humble, and meek at heart.

A Proud Christian

Christians are blessed with contrite hearts. Their love is profound and reaches out to everyone they meet. For them, love knows no discrimination, for it’s balanced, and fair-minded. We see this when they do volunteer work for charitable organizations. They are strong and courageous. Their support is built on rock, so when the storms of life come, they are able to withstand the onslaught of mighty winds. In manifesting and cultivating care and tenderness of souls, they will be authentic models in their communities. Through mere strength and calmness, they know what it is to dance with Mary, Mother of God. From their spirits, great streams of happiness flow into this world. In times of trial and tribulation, they become barometers of stability, goodness, and peace.

Christians are like good seed planted in fertile soil. St. Matthew 13:22 (NRVS) was 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.” Good believers are never unfruitful. They keep growing and bearing abundantly, for they know that their heavenly gardener will keep pruning their dead branches, to ensure that there will be harvests.

Christians of the Light

Like Christ, Christians are blessed with merciful hearts, and their patience is modeled in his image. They display remarkable understanding and are slow to anger. They exude care with faithful spirits that are infectious. As brides of Christ’s church they find comfort in evangelizing. Their ministries are filled with constant joy, for even when they suffer setbacks, they know that Christ is present, and will strengthen them. William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), renowned English poet, playwright and actor expressed it 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 be patient. For, it’s the prize of the race which counts. Sometimes, the going might be slow and difficult, but they must persevere. Never be of doubtful minds, for through God’s grace there will be miracles on the horizon.

Christian Witnessing

Margaret Mitchell (1900 – 1949), writer, who worked as a journalist with the Atlanta Constitution had Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1936) remarked: “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 in the process they won’t sin nor threaten. Their witnessing is by demeanor of sacredness. With the Holy Spirit, they have symbols of joy and talk freely about Christ’s resurrection, and his promises, for mankind. Their effusive kindnesses adapt and change to every situation, 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 sits at the right hand of God, the Father.” Still, Christians testimonies are new every morning, for the Scripture by which they live, is spirit and life. These are always their revelations, for they are blessed with knowing, the truths about eternal life.

Bridges Of Love

In life it’s necessary to build bridges of love vertically and horizontally. A vertical bridge must be to God above – Our Heavenly Father. A horizontal one is by loving our families, neighbors, friends and strangers. Jesus who is love died on a cross at Calvary for us. Let such love begin flowing from above and around us, for it unites and sustains us. At its summit, it’s creative, and brings out the best in this broken and divided world. Its flames are indestructible, sweeping across nations, and transforming cultures. It’s also inspirational to love and be loved. Blessed are those who love even their enemies. They are a courageous and merciful lot. Love never discriminates and Christians know how to reach out passionately, with love.

Elisabeth Elliot (b. 1926),Christian author and speaker, observes, “To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss. The great symbol of Christianity means sacrifice and no one who calls himself a Christian can evade this stark fact.” True love is the cross, an ideal bridge to spiritual maturity, because Jesus showed us where there’s loss, there’s truly gain.

Inspire Hope

A bridge is love for it transports and inspires hope. It calls us to do so to all persons, while proclaiming the risen Christ. By doing so, Christians are strengthened by the Holy Spirit, a fundamental principle of hope. It, like love, has to be fervent and a lamp to light. It awakens justice for all, and especially those who are marginalized in society. Christians are able to find their inspiration through the Bible which speaks directly to their hearts. Brad Henry (b. 1963), member of Democratic Party and 26th Governor of Oklahoma feels, “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” Learning is the foundation for progress in a country which serves as unique ways of building bridges of hope.

Father – Church’s Pastor

The church is a missionary body. Through its ministries, a pastor constantly builds bridges to his parishioners and community. They reach out to villages and towns around the world. Much of this is done through the religious awakening of the flock. Parishioners and community workers become literally on fire for Christ, when serving their fellowmen and women. In believers’ minds a biblical spirit lingers. Such folks are humble that live according to the teachings of Scripture. They proclaim the Word of Truth to those who hunger for justice. When witnessing they acquire spiritual depth. These men and women are prudent in discernment, embracing pastoral challenges, with vigor and enthusiasm. Known for their charitable works, their presence extends to overpopulated slum areas, of major cities. Robert C. Shannon (b. 1930), retired preacher living in North Carolina, expresses his gratitude for missionary work when he says, “Never pity missionaries; envy them. They are where the real action is – – where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge.”

Obstacles & Misunderstandings

Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997), Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary in India, commented, “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.” Christians must work with and anoint the poor and dialogue with people of different cultures, when seeking ways of bettering their circumstances. There should be more inter-religious meetings with believers of different faiths.

No longer must the center seems as though it isn’t a part of the whole. Osmosis between the center and the periphery must be promoted for everyone to become involved. Access to the sacraments have been a sticking point among some Christian denominations. Why must this be? Since we’re one, in the body of Christ. There are disagreements too, over family rights issues. In some conservative congregations, the definition of marriage has led to splits, and break away denominations. These Christians must realize that they are all concerned about Christian values, although some may be more traditional than others. Isn’t it true that we shouldn’t judge, for only God knows the contents of our hearts? With these controversies, building bridges might not be, as simple as it appears. Our journeys are laden with impediments which continue to divide us. It’s imperative Christians make a greater effort to reach out in their murky landscapes of doubt. Let the Holy Spirit show us the way.

Abundant Blessings

Through character building we ought to share God’s transforming love with others. In providing these blessings to the unloved, let them see that our hearts are filled with goodness. When doing so, we are declaring to the world our love of lives. This is one of the faces of love which is glorious to live by.

Dennis Prager (b. 1948), political conservative, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and author explains, “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 old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” We have to love people to treat them right. This must be one of our foremost goals in loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968), Baptist minister and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement was certain when he declared, “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.” To our nation, King’s challenge to us is to form benevolent characteristics concerning race relations. People matter regardless of their race, religion, or national origin.

True love inevitably faces challenges – some good and bad. Walter Anderson (1903 – 1965), painter, writer, and naturalist, foresaw, “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 as we journey through life, consideration has to be given to the ways we respond to adversities. Some have experienced these difficulties and concluded, it was truly those difficult times which motivated them to higher levels of understanding in their lives. These were defining moments which helped shape their attitudes towards others.

These realizations were supported by Helen Keller (1880 – 1968), author, political activist, and lecturer, who observed, “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 realistic about challenges in our lives. We are essentially pots in our Maker’s hands to be shaped in the ways he wishes.

To love deeply is to be faithful in love. That’s why love and friendship go together. Signs of God’s love are often expressed in our families. Billy Graham (b. 1918), evangelical Christian evangelist and Southern Baptist minister was of the opinion, “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.” In truth, character is treating others the way you want to be treated. When children and grandchildren see these in our actions, their visions about life become clearer in their relationships with family members, friends, and strangers.

In addition to living and doing for others, try to be loved for your good works. Let people see love in your lives when you reach out in our broken world. Let us celebrate love in action and rejoice in the Lord. John Wooden (1910 – 2010), 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.” Your major goal in life is to build a fine character, of service to others. We are here on earth to help each other build up the body of Christ. These are some of the amazing gifts which come with living in obedience to Christ’s teachings. We must be open to giving and receiving love. These my friends are our abundant blessings.

Brevity of Life

The Psalmist remembers how short is his life. “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Ps. 144:3). The Lord said that his spirit shall not always strive with man. God gives riches and wealth, “hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19).

Pakistani novelist Moshin Hamid (b. 1971) says, “I take six or seven years to write really small books. There is a kind of aesthetic of leanness, of brevity.” Some may assume that something is wrong with brevity and look for expanded versions of publications. They might have a case when it comes to writing, but in life it could be a different matter. Gifts of some short lives are filled with glorious moments, while those of longer souls might not. It has to do with individuals with these God-given talents. Blessings could be found in some saints who died young.

Gifts come to us from the hands of the Lord. St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491 -1556), Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, and priest noticed this, when he said, “Realize that illness and other temporal setbacks often come to us from the hand of God our Lord, and are sent to help us know ourselves better, to free ourselves of the love of created things, and to reflect on the brevity of this life and, thus, to prepare ourselves for the life which is without end.” Despite suffering, it’s this preparation during affliction which gives us the victory.

With speech, it’s better to come to the point than to beat around the bush. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 – 43 BC), Roman philosopher and political theorist, felt, “Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.” Hosea Ballou (1771 -1852), Universalist clergyman and theological writer supported Cicero, but added, “Brevity and conciseness are the parents of correction.” Ironically, there’s much information to be gained from brevity. Minutes of meetings are summarized, for easy comprehension and focus on essentials.

It’s clear that persons might appreciate simplicity in life. This is equated with brevity. Confucius (551 – 497 BC), Chinese teacher, politician, and philosopher, remarked, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Do you view life this way? Are you willing to take life as it is? Do you have to ask the many questions about life as you do? Some believe living by the Golden Rule is enough. Others say, just living according to the Ten Commandments, is all it takes.

But why do we do these things? We dwell on the past and wonder about the future. Buddha (563 or 480 – 483 or 400 BC), Indian ascetic, sage, and founder of Buddhism, advised, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” It is clear that Buddha chooses to live in the present. How many of us could really embrace the events which are happening now? It is certain, that for most, they prefer reflecting on past experiences, and wondering, what the future is like, if things were different.

Italian poet, novelist, and literary critic, Cesare Pavese (1908 – 1950) was certain, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Does this statement say something about us – concerning what matters most? Coming to think of it, we often recall the good and bad moments in our lives. These gifts continue to shape us, but living in the present might escape us.