Harvest of Blessings

Jesus told the Jews to believe in the works which he did and they will know who he is.  These gifts were from the Father, for he was the Son of God.  In Isaiah 35:5 God promised the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.   Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego were bound and thrown into a burning furnace, but they were seen walking in the midst of flames that didn’t harm them.  Hezekiah was sick, and about to die, when Isaiah the prophet was told by God to let him know he has heard his prayers.  God added some fifteen more years to his life.  Living abundantly in the Lord, leads to a harvest of blessings.

Joel Osteen (b. 1963), a televangelist and senior pastor of Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas, said: “When you focus on being a blessing, God makes sure that you are always blessed in abundance.”  By not being self-centered and reaching out to others Christians freely share these blessings.  The more they honor people the more they are blessed by God.

When offering blessings we mustn’t distinguish between the rich and poor.  We’re all God’s children.  President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”  Roosevelt was cognizant that the poor has a special place in the eyes of God.

God’s Gifts

Abundance might not come only with material wealth.  Some might have these comforts and be miserable.  The founder of Simple Abundance Charitable Fund, Sarah Breathnach (b. 1947) wrote, “Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”  No doubt, we have to be in the right frame of mind to accept such gifts.  Are your hearts open to God?

People might make distinctions concerning their prayers.  Often we pray when faced with setbacks and challenges.  Khalil Gibran (1883–1931), a Lebanese-born artist and writer captured this phenomenon by saying, “You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.”   In being blessed with the gifts from God’s bounty we ought to thank him.  Christians doing so will surely receive more blessings.

Love What You Do

You must love what you do.  By so doing you’ll be happy when you spread your blessings with others.  A self-help author and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer (1940–2015) wrote, “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.”  You don’t have to wonder about those things about which you have no interest.  Do the tasks that bring you joy, happiness, and peace of mind.  All believers are blessed with at least one gift.

In our society there are some who are blessed with material gifts.  A Spanish priest and theologian Saint Ignatius (1491–1556) said, “If God has given you the world’s goods in abundance, it is to help you gain those of Heaven and be a good example of sound teaching to your sons, servants, and relatives.”  In short, it depends on how you use your treasure.  For Saint Ignatius these gifts have to be instruments for blessing people.  This is the way to live with wealth.

A Christian Allegiance

Dan Quayle (b. 1947), vice president of the United States declared, “I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag, and to the Savior, for whose Kingdom it stands, one Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty for all who believe.”  Quayle certainly made his pledge against sin, fallacies, idolatrous pride, and fear.  Like Christians he could now approach God and seek his friendship, for he knows that obeying his laws are of paramount importance.  He accepts God’s freedom and privileges.  Christians like Quayle are continuing to do good deeds.  They are spreading good seeds even after the storms of life.

Mankind is born with the proclivity to sin.  Our lives have marks of evil, pride, display of personal power, and we aren’t humble.  But it’s right to change our behavior to a childlike trust in the supreme being of Jesus Christ.  It’s beneficial to participate in communal prayer and listen to the tick-tack of our consciences.  In word and action we must be contemplatives.  Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968), a Baptist minister and Civil Rights leader said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.  He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.  There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.  When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”  By prayer and the working of the Holy Spirit, believers should pursue higher goals in their lives.

Transformation of Hearts

William Gaddis, Jr. (1922–1998), a novelist remarked, “Power doesn’t corrupt people, people corrupt power.”  That’s why leaders and followers alike ought to turn away from the corrupting nature of their hearts that are evil. It was sin which led to the first humans’ downfall when their actions betrayed their trust of God.  Let us reform our hearts by daily prayer and not be blind to the truth of the Word.  Further, accept Christ’s expiation of our sins and feed on his teachings.  On our journey toward heaven it’s inevitable we’ll face tests.  You should embrace setbacks boldly and let your faith grow.  Do away with the desire to live sensually and be steadfast in your Christian walk.

The Bible says our hearts are filled with lustful desires.  These conditions eat away at the good in us.  In reading Scripture we’re distracted by fallen angels, transgressions, and evil that doesn’t enthrone God.  To counter these defects let us be athletes of the living God.  Let us dedicate ourselves to the faith and persevere in the race.  Be Christian models in our churches.  It’s wise to remember that almost everything we’re bound to make errors in judgment.  Jacob Bronowski (1908–1974), a Polish-Jewish and British author wrote, “No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.”  Bronowski held a different perspective of power than Gaddis.  But an important way of thinking about power is that, leaders who wield it, have to be wise about how it’s used.

Our goals in life must be what Quayle said earlier.  It’s about allegiance to Jesus Christ – not just any allegiance, but a holy one.  This hope for our life could only be found through the Cross of Calvary.  With such beliefs lie redemption from sin and salvation. It’s therefore right to rid ourselves of our sinful natures and put on righteousness.  For with God, we’ve to be pure, and free from sin, to enter his Heavenly Kingdom.

Religions in Africa

According to all the major surveys, Christianity and Islam each represent approximately 40 percent of the African population. Christianity is more dominant in the south, while Islam is more dominant in the north. Indigenous African practices tend to be strongest in the central states of Africa, but some form of their practices and beliefs can be found almost anywhere in Africa.

African diaspora — mostly due to the slave trade starting in the 15th century — indigenous African religions have spread and taken root all over the world, including in the United States and Europe. Some of these African diaspora religions include Cuban Regla de Ocha, Haitian Vodou, and Brazilian Candomble.

The pluralistic nature of African-tradition religion is one of the reasons for its success in the diaspora. African spirituality has always been able to adapt to change and allow itself to absorb the wisdom and views of other religions, much more than, for example, Christianity and Islam. While Islam and Christianity tend to be overtly resistant to adopting traditional African religious ideas or practices, indigenous African religions have always accommodated other beliefs.

One of the basic reasons is that indigenous African spiritual beliefs are not bound by a written text, like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Indigenous African religion is primarily an oral tradition and has never been fully codified; thus, it allows itself to more easily be amended and influenced by other religious ideas, religious wisdom, and by modern development. Holding or maintaining to a uniform doctrine is not the essence of indigenous African religions.

In lieu of these traditional African ways of defining oneself, Christianity and Islam are gradually creating a social identity in Africa that cuts across these indigenous African religious and social identities. They do this by having Africans increasingly identify themselves as either Muslim or Christian, thus denying their unique African worldview that has always viewed — as evidenced in their creation myths — everything as unified and connected to the land, the place were one’s clan, lineage, and people were cosmically birthed. Foreign religions simply don’t have that same connection to the African continent.

Jacob Olupona, professor of indigenous African religions at Harvard Divinity School and professor of African and African-American studies in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, recently sat down for an interview with Anthony Chiorazzi about his lifelong research on indigenous African religions.

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/10/the-spirituality-of-africa/

 

 

Images of Women

Historically women were depicted in the American society as individuals who were docile, bound solely for the purpose of taking care of the home, and raising children.  They washed dishes, clothes, clean house, raise the kids, and did chores as their responsibilities.  The mass media latched on to these roles and elaborated on them, portraying women as having happy family lives.  But Ed Koch (1924–2013), a lawyer and politician thought differently when he said, “Stereotypes lose their power when the world is found to be more complex than the stereotype would suggest and we learn that individuals do not fit the group stereotype, then it begins to fall apart.”  For years women saddled with domestic responsibilities showed they had diverse talents.

With stereotypes males grew up believing females were sexual objects.  Even today in popular media there continues to be much focus on feminine beauty, and sex appeal.  Presently, it’s more than being blonde and blue-eyed.  Beautiful women are in every ethnic group, and shades of complexion.  Kat Graham (b. 1989), Swiss-born American actress, model, singer and dancer wrote, “There was a time when men thought it was sexy to have a house wife waiting for him to come home from work in her slippers, but in modern society, I think an independent woman is even more sexy.”  Today’s women are more independent because for the most part they have broken through the glass ceiling of this world that held them back from progressing in society.  Presently American society still lacks meritorious promotions, and equal pay for equal work.

Faith-Filled Women

Faith-filled women are a special breed.  Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, and Queen of the Universe is an ideal role model for Christian women.  She witnessed the crucifixion of her Son – Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), a politician, diplomat, and the longest serving First Lady of the United States said, “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”  This was very much like Mary, Mother of God.  Christian women continue to emulate her devotion and purity.

Regardless of how intelligent and spirit-filled women are some men still view them as beings to manipulate.  Some films and TV programs depict women as flaky and unstable.  A few news clips portray female reporters as being emotional when reporting tragic stories, and some male journalists have criticized them for becoming too personally involved, rather than being detached, and objective.

Women’s Role

Why must women be stuck in a world that’s mainly shaped by men?  Anaїs Nin (1903–1977), an author born to Cuban parents in France, but living in the United States wrote, “How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than create it herself.”  For Nin, a woman must shoulder her responsibilities, and not just rely solely on men.  Women have done so in their religious lives with personalities like St. Joan of Arc, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux, some faithful Christians to emulate.  In the secular world there are also prominent women in the military, sports, arts, politics, medicine, engineering, science, technology, and executives in the corporate world.  These outstanding women are visionaries, mothers, proven creators, and renowned image builders.

Witnessing

The Lord appointed seventy-two persons and sent them out two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.  He told them to ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest field to win souls (Lk 10:1-2).  It is for us to lift up Jesus to draw men and women to him (Jn 12:32).   God will make our efforts grow fruits when we do the planting and watering (1 Cor 3:8-9), because the fields are ripe for harvest (Jn 4:35).  Jesus himself is praying for future believers (Jn 17:20).  The day will come when soul-winning will not be necessary (Jer 31:34).  The harvest will be passed, summer ended, after people will not be saved (Jer 8:20).  The Lord warns us that the righteous will pay a penalty for failing to witness to evil persons (Ezek 3:18-19).  On our foreheads of those who have repented there will be identification marks (Ezek 9:3-11).

Uniqueness of God

Screenwriter Monica Johnson (1946–2010) wrote, “God is unique in giving His people ways to fellowship, witness, and remember what a mighty and merciful God He is.”  This is the reason why believers must witness to others.  It’s one way of empowering them in obtaining the blessings, and gifts of Almighty God.

Ezra Benson (1899–1994), a farmer, government official, and religious leader said, “I am a witness to nations and people deprived of their freedom.  I was there.  I watched that great Iron Curtain drop around nations which formerly had prized their freedom – good people.  I was aghast at these were written off by the stroke of a pen.”  Freedom came to these nations within the Iron Curtain by witnessing about God’s great works.

Human Rights

In our world there are battles that are fought for human rights.  A British artist Ralph Steadman (b. 1936) wrote, “It makes me so desperately sad to witness just how unforgivably wretched our world has become.”  It’s something to see a wretched world, but another thing to do nothing about it.  This calls for the commitment of believers to take action.  David Suzuki (b. 1936), a Canadian academic and environmental activist said, “Too often, governments are quick to use excessive force and even pervert the course of justice to keep oil and gas flowing, forests logged, wild rivers dammed and minerals extracted.  As the Global Witness study reveals, citizens are often killed, too – especially if they are poor and indigenous.”  However Christian believers are constantly doing their part to bring about positive change in the world.  They often confront governments that aren’t working in the interests of the people.

The eleventh general president of the Young Women’s Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, Margaret D. Nadauld (b. 1944) said, “Standing as a witness in all things means being kind in all things, being first to say hello, being the first to smile, being the first to make the stranger feel a part of things, being helpful, thinking of others’ feelings, being inclusive.”  Witnessing therefore could be done simply.  It’s about communicating God’s love in a broken world.

God’s Wisdom

Lao Tzu (571–531 BC), an ancient Chinese philosopher and poet wrote, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  That’s how we should comprehend the wisdom of God that’s beyond our understanding.  With prayers people must come to God.  In him they will gain access to heavenly heights in the supernatural realm.  To do so they must testify about God’s goodness.  Let the whole world view believers as the embodiment of his grace as they proclaim his Word.

Beyond Miracles

Most of us will grow into the prime of our lives.  People ought not to forget the comatose state of their lives in the past.  They were clinically dead on life support, but surprised the specialists when they came alive again.  It was faith giving birth to new life.  The electrocardiograms picked up their heartbeats.  Their heartbeats became stronger, vital signs were normal again, and now they are off the ventilators.  Physicians were skeptical about their recovery, couldn’t believe their eyes because they have beaten the odds.  Their survival was beyond the miracles of modern medicine.  They have been resuscitated by Christ himself who conquered disease and death.  Jean de la Bruyere (1645–1696), a French philosopher and moralist said, “Out of difficulties grow miracles.”  Who could have imagined that while people were so critically ill, how they could come alive again?  It’s through the infinite wisdom of a loving God.

God’s Word

Every day people die and rise.  Daily after reading the Bible they rise with the fullness of joy, for they would have journeyed from the Jordan River to heavenly places.  This happens also by meditation on God’s Word.  God’s Word heals, soothes, and Christians aren’t afraid to die, for they know they will be in heavenly paradise.  That’s why they feel a strong call to proclaim the Gospel to the world.  Although Christian living might be filled with pain, trials, and tribulations, they accept these adversities as blessings.

Hubert Humphrey (1911–1978), a vice president of the United States wrote, “The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.”  The Bible is filled with spiritual friends and after reading it, anyone – Christian and non-Christian alike, is sure to reach out to others.

Journey to Heaven

In God’s infinite wisdom he sees to it how, when, why, and where believers begin their journey toward heaven.  People attend memorial services meant for the living.  Worshipers express their beliefs about their loved ones.  It doesn’t matter if the deceased were critically ill before death, or if their dreams were shattered by some dreadful disease.  One thing is certain – they endured unspeakable heartaches and won the battle of life.  Their victory came through knowing God.

William Shakespeare (1564–1616), an English poet and playwright said, “Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”  Believers by knowing the promises of God persevered in the faith, and lived hopeful lives.  God’s messages was liberating to their souls.  But it’s also essential to know of Satan’s activities on earth.  For as Sun Tzu (544–496 BC) wrote, “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”  Although Tzu was referring to battles with mortals the same is true in spiritual warfare.

 

Witnessing

The Lord appointed seventy-two persons and sent them out two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.  He told them to ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers into his harvest field to win souls (Lk 10:1-2).  It is for us to lift up Jesus to draw men and women to him (Jn 12:32).   God will make our efforts grow fruits when we do the planting and watering (1 Cor 3:8-9), because the fields are ripe for harvest (Jn 4:35).  Jesus himself is praying for future believers (Jn 17:20).  The day will come when soul-winning will not be necessary (Jer 31:34).  The harvest will be passed, summer ended, after people will not be saved (Jer 8:20).  The Lord warns us that the righteous will pay a penalty for failing to witness to evil persons (Ezek 3:18-19).  On our foreheads of those who have repented there will be identification marks (Ezek 9:3-11).

Uniqueness of God

Screenwriter Monica Johnson (1946–2010) wrote, “God is unique in giving His people ways to fellowship, witness, and remember what a mighty and merciful God He is.”  This is the reason why believers must witness to others.  It’s one way of empowering them in obtaining the blessings and gifts of Almighty God.

Ezra Benson (1899–1994), a farmer, government official, and religious leader said, “I am a witness to nations and people deprived of their freedom.  I was there.  I watched that great Iron Curtain drop around nations which formerly had prized their freedom – good people.  I was aghast at these were written off by the stroke of a pen.”  Freedom came to these nations of the Iron Curtain by witnessing about God’s great works.

Battle for Human Rights

In our world there are battles that are fought for human rights.  A British artist Ralph Steadman (b. 1936) wrote, “It makes me so desperately sad to witness just how unforgivably wretched our world has become.”  It is something to see a wretched world, but it’s another thing to do nothing about it.  This calls for the commitment of all believers to take action.  David Suzuki (b. 1936), a Canadian academic and environmental activist said, “Too often, governments are quick to use excessive force and even pervert the course of justice to keep oil and gas flowing, forests logged, wild rivers dammed and minerals extracted.  As the Global Witness study reveals, citizens are often killed, too – especially if they are poor and indigenous.”  But Christian believers are constantly doing their part to bring about positive change in the world.  They often confront governments that are not working in the interest of the people.  These problems exist in some countries around the world.

The eleventh general president of the Young Women Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, Margaret D. Nadauld (b. 1944) said, “Standing as a witness in all things means being kind in all things, being first to say hello, being the first to smile, being the first to make the stranger feel a part of things, being helpful, thinking of others’ feelings, being inclusive.”  Witnessing could be done simply.  It’s about communicating God’s love in a broken world.  The lives of believers shape society in positive ways.

Religions & Beliefs

What Is Religion?

Religion means different things to believers.

To some it may be a church, temple, or mosque, but to others it can be any group worshiping their god or gods in unique ways.

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

Dalai Lama (b. 1935), the current Dalai Lama

How do believers view their religion?

Believers generally have definite ideas of what they think their religion offers.  Whether they know it as a baptismal rite, belief in a savior or saviors, and salvation of their souls – from religion to religion these beliefs vary.

Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that’s important. Self-discipline with awareness of consequences.

Dalai Lama (b. 1935), the current Dalai Lama

I have an everyday religion that works for me. Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line.

Lucille Ball (1911–1989), an actress and comedian

It is my goal to love everyone. I hate no one. Regardless of their race, religion, their proclivities, the desire of their heart and how they want to live their life and the decisions that they make. I can even respect people’s decisions and lifestyle choices just as I hope they have the courtesy to respect my decisions and my choices.

Kirk Cameron (b. 1970), an actor

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.

Khalil Gibran (1883–1931), a Lebanese-American writer

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.

Buddha (563 or 480 BC–483 or 400 BC), an Indian religious leader

We must seek the loving-kindness of God in all the breadth and open-air of common life.

George A. Smith (1817–1875), a leader of the Latter Day Saint movement

What are some beliefs of religions?

Teachings vary among religions.  Beliefs refer to attitudes towards mythological, supernatural, and/or spiritual matters. But regardless how believers regard them there lies at the heart of religion some universal truths.

I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.

R. Ambedkar (1891–1956), an Indian jurist

Human rights is a universal standard. It is a component of every religion and every civilization.

Shirin Ebadi (b. 1947), an Iranian lawyer

To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.

Martin Luther (1483–1546), a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation

Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.

Muhammad Ali (1942–2016), a professional boxer

The truth is that killing innocent people is always wrong – and no argument or excuse, no matter how deeply believed, can ever make it right. No religion on earth condones the killing of innocent people; no faith tradition tolerates the random killing of our brothers and sisters on this earth.

Feisal Abdul Rauf (b. 1948), an Egyptian American Sufi imam

All religions and all communities have the same rights, and it is my responsibility to ensure their complete and total protection. My government will not tolerate or accept any discrimination based on caste, creed and religion.

Narendra Modi (b. 1950), a Prime Minister of India

What part does music play in religions?

All religions have music of some sort.  This ranges from the secular to sacred.  By chanting, and singing to the accompaniment of instruments, believers praise God or gods.

Music is one of the most powerful things the world has to offer. No matter what race or religion or nationality or sexual orientation or gender that you are, it has the power to unite us.

Lady Gaga (b. 1986), a singer

Can a religion change beliefs?

Throughout the ages there have been wars fanned by religions.  In contemporary times there were atrocities spurned by intolerance – like against present-day Sri Lanka with 7% Christian.  Yet all religions teach people to love, and live in harmony.

Religious wars are not caused by the fact that there is more than one religion, but by the spirit of intolerance… the spread of which can only be regarded as the total eclipse of human reason.

Montesquieu (1689–1755), a French political philosopher

In the long term we can hope that religion will change the nature of man and reduce conflict. But history is not encouraging in this respect. The bloodiest wars in history have been religious wars.

Richard M. Nixon (1913–1994), a president of the United States

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Karl Marx (1818–1883), a German philosopher

Why do unknown questions arise with religions?

Some passages in sacred texts contradict each other.  At times statements about natural phenomena aren’t scientifically supported.  Often mythical stories are used to explain spiritual events, and questions arise.  These leave religious leaders and followers unsure of the meaning of Scripture.  Theologians, scientists, and philosophers interpret these doctrines giving diverse explanations, but there are often problems with their interpretations.

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that.

Joseph Campbell (1904–1987), a professor of literature

Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.

Pope John Paul II (1920–2005), a head of the Catholic Church

If one has the answer to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble.

Pope Francis (b. 1936), a head of the Catholic Church

Reflections on Living

Is Heaven For Real?

People are on an earthly journey.  They hope that eventually they will be in paradise.  There they will discover immortality, perfect beauty, and the truth about life.  Many believers see this place as heaven.  In anticipation of this reality they talk about experiencing heaven on earth.  Some refer to this place as the original Garden of Eden that once existed in the Middle East.  This garden described in the Book of Genesis was destroyed by the Fall of Man.

Earthly Paradise is a four-volume collection of narrative poems written by William Morris (1868–1870).  Its prologue described the flight of a band of Norse sailors in the Middle Ages from the Black Death, and their search for this glorious place.  But heaven is more than an earthly paradise. Whatever it truly is our limited minds can’t begin to comprehend.

Right Comforts in Perspective

When people talk about having right comfort do they mean being in Comfort Inns, improved home efficiency, using a hybrid bike shopper, and having the right service?  Or do they wish to retire financially comfortable, having at their convenience an adjustable chair, and a water furnace geo-thermal unit?  These might be part of your plan of the good life, and you’re able to watch multiple-TV channels both via satellite and cable.  But are you really satisfied with these comforts?  You might say add my heart’s desire of favorite drinks, wine, beer, and liquor.  Aren’t you sure though that you might still be lacking what’s essential for a healthy lifestyle?  Your friends could advise you to do an exercise program to be in good shape, and try developing physically.  It’s essential though that you take a good look at how you’re growing spiritually.  For behind all your earthly comforts, much care should be taken in selecting what you do in your spiritual life.  You should always remember that our heavenly Creator is the provider of all comforts, so be wise about them.

Descent to the Underworld

The descent to the underworld is a motif in many myths.  Readers find these in Greek, Jewish, Slavic, Hindu, Chinese, and Japanese mythology.  These stories are in folklore of all peoples.  The descent is usually made to rescue someone, who is either abducted, or rightfully dead.  It’s all done to find the answer to a question, discover a secret from the ruler of the underworld, or to seize some treasure.  The rallying cry that believers should heed is don’t wait for a hero or heroine to recapture you.  Be safe, live wisely, and do what’s right in the sight of God.  Waiting until you’re in a dark and bottomless pit, then realizing you’re in trouble, isn’t the best thing to do.  It’s better to stay away altogether from such a dark and gloomy place.

Enjoy Life!

Be a success in life! Don’t let disillusion get you down.  Some people act bizarrely at bad stages in their life because they are discontented.  It’s better and more fulfilling to work at being happy.  Take time to reflect on the good things that life has to offer.  Discover the richness in the arts.  Listen to uplifting music, and enjoy reading good poetry.  Remember to see the good-hearted gifts in people, and celebrate the joys of life.  Why don’t you fill your dreams with these pleasant reminiscences, and see the joys of the world unfold before your eyes?  Katori Hall (b. 1981), a playwright and journalist wrote, “Follow your intuition, listening to your dreams, and your inner voice to guide you.”

Be Happy

Carp Diem is a Latin aphorism that calls for people to live to the fullest right now.  “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” declared the Roman poet Horace.  But does life only consist of pleasurable pursuits?  There’s an essential goal that’s necessary to make people happy.  On a fall’s day people can take a stroll in the woods.  They could watch a powerful and life-affirming film.  Take a trip to some exquisite destination, or read a good book that warms their receptive hearts.  Still these joys might not satisfy their desire to be happy.  They could even breathe in the fresh air of the seaside.  Swim in the Atlantic Ocean, or go biking on the beach when the sun is shining brightly in the sky.  Still real happiness could escape them.  Why is this so?  It’s because they are only satisfying some emotional, physical, or intellectual needs.  But have they ever stopped to think what is lacking?  It could be that with all they are doing, there’s no balance in their life.  They could be neglecting their spirituality that’s because their souls are hungering for higher fulfillment.  This satisfaction only comes when they love knowing God.  Their happiness then becomes truly enlightened only after they have attained a perfect equilibrium.

Lost Saints

A poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1812–1861), who was more successful than her husband Robert Browning, wrote in Sonnet 43 about love without limits.  She addressed the “lost saints” this way, “With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! – and if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.”  These were saints Browning didn’t know.  It was an acknowledgement that some of these wonderful individuals as important as they were, people didn’t know.  They lived humbly doing good works, suffering patiently, and kept the faith.  Only God in heaven knows, who these men and women really are.  These are the incredible ones Browning loved so deeply.  Yes, we hear a lot about the saints, who are canonized in the Catholic Church, and are blessed to know them.  But what about those that are under the radar?  Are you listed among these?  Maybe you are, and don’t even know it.  You could be humble, self-effacing, but abundantly blessed.  Yes! You’re listed among those that Browning hopes to love better in death.

 Changed Lives

Unlike poet and novelist Thomas Hardy (1840–1928), the world isn’t just governed by “chance.”  And natural laws aren’t always hostile.  These aren’t necessarily indifferent to human lives.  Do people get what they deserve?  Some persons think so.  They might say it’s all about karma.  And what goes around comes around.  Others could be simply indifferent concerning the needs of their neighbors.  They find explanations of events with coincidences, view these incidents as the bleakness of nature, and are pessimistic.  But it’s always better to be positive.  When people look on the bright side of life, and serve their community they are able to find peace.  It’s through this special kind of love that lives are changed for the better.

 

 

 

God’s Time

Carl Sanburg (1878–1967), a poet, and writer said, “Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”  People should therefore use time wisely.  Time in one’s life could be tricky.  Most treat it like a commodity.  They tend to agree, “Time is money.” But it’s a lot more than that.  For another perspective look at the saying, “To God a thousand years are like one day.”  Isn’t this awesome?  Therefore the life span of a human could be likened to a grain of sand on the seashore.

Time is necessary for growth, development, and the production of commodities.  Plants like all other living organisms have to have nutrients to grow, but this process takes time.  Their growth and development take a short or long period.  After much dedication to be educated humans have to be nurtured to learn vital lessons about life.  And people have to be fed with spiritual food to develop virtues of hope, faith, and love.  But becoming virtuous also takes time.  It might take over a life-time for believers to become spiritually attuned.

Dreams & Aspirations

For growth and development to occur mean having dreams and aspirations fulfilled.  Students have to imagine doing particular jobs.  They ask, “Do they have what it takes to do a particular task? Is their ability suitable for a certain career choice?  How could they do such a job?  Is their personality right for a career choice?  This is a time when honesty is necessary to know one’s aptitude.

With challenges there has to be breaks for rejuvenation and relaxation.  That’s the reason why most Americans take vacations.  They have to aim for a good balance in their lives.  They quickly learn that life might not only be for fun, but for making the best of well-deserved breaks.  Some decide that instead of lying on a beach, it would be better to help build houses for the homeless.

Stephen R. Covey (1932–2012), in his book entitled: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that Time Magazine listed as one of the 25 most influential in business management, explained how to have a “sustained, long-term, effective lifestyle.”  Covey encouraged his readers to “learn, commit, do,” and argued that they would find “personal freedom, security, wisdom and power.”  Such realities could only be achieved by living true lives in God’s time.