God in Nature

What causes lightning to strike?

What brings thunderstorms?

Lightning flashes when positively

And negatively charged particles interact

Grow large enough to form a giant spark

But thunderstorms form from an unstable air mass

When warm and usually cold air collide

 

Yet some sacred texts show this is how God speaks

God might explodes, brings judgment, and condemn

But how did the ancients believe these were acts of God?

Scientists, prophets, theologians tend to agree

That there must be “cause and effect”

So they determine God possesses this power

Because the Eternal Spirit exists in nature

 

Other phenomena are just as revealing –

Tsunamis are sudden movement of the ocean because of earthquakes,

Volcanoes are formed from the buoyancy of the magma,

And pressure from absolved gases,

Hurricanes are due to intense low pressure areas

That forms in the summer or fall over warm waters

“God, help us to be cognizant of nature’s phenomena.  Why these manifestations often cause devastations are based on mysteries of your omniscience.  Protect us from the storms of life.”

Amen

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True Liberty

It is freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

—Gal. 5:1

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

—Rom. 6:22

An English philosopher and physician John Locke (1632–1704) said, “All mankind… being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”  Locke’s views were echoed by Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), a founding father and president of the United States who wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This is the essence of freedom.

Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), a social reformer and women’s rights activist said, “It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.  And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people – women as well as men.”  Anthony’s beliefs were supported by W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963), a sociologist and civil rights activist who wrote, “I believe in Liberty for all men: the space to stretch their arms and their souls, the right to breathe and the right to vote, the freedom to choose their friends, enjoy the sunshine, and ride on the railroads, uncursed by color; thinking, dreaming, working as they will in a kingdom of beauty and love.”  Anthony’s concern was with having equal rights of women, while Du Bois’ focus was on African Americans.

Freedom & Equality

B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956), an Indian jurist and politician said, “My social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: liberty, equality and fraternity. Let no one, however, say that I have borrowed my philosophy from the French Revolution. I have not.  My philosophy has roots in religion and not in political science.  I have derived them from the teachings of my Master, the Buddha.”  Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), a founding father of the United States elaborated on this dimension of freedom when he wrote, “Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom – and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.”  But John F. Kennedy (1917–1963), president of the United States uttered a warning about the survival of freedom when he said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”   That was the will of Kennedy for Americans.

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God of Possibilities

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

—Mt. 19:26

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

—Jn. 3:16

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

—Mt. 16:18

Gloria Steinem (b. 1934), a social political activist said, “Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities.  Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”  People have to see themselves as reaching out for something better in order to obtain God’s promises.  One way of doing so is through divine inspiration.  Bernie Siegel (b. 1932), a retired pediatric surgeon wrote, “Inspiration is the greatest gift because it opens your life to many new possibilities.  Each day becomes more meaningful, and your life is enhanced when your actions are guided by what inspires you.”

It’s therefore for us to build on our notion of knowing and loving God.  This calls for the ability of Christians to pursue these goals by studying the Scriptures, the word of God.  Jean Piaget (1896–1980), a Swiss psychologist said, “The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing great things.”  But this approach calls for determined effort.  Ralph Marston (1907–1967), a professional football player wrote, “You’ve done it before and you can do it now.  See the positive possibilities.  Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.”

Create Possibilities

Mario Testino (b. 1954), a Peruvian photographer said, “My favourite words are possibilities, opportunities and curiosity.  I think if you are curious, you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities.”  That’s why perseverance is essential for walking in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. People have to do so by preparing themselves.  Zig Ziglar (1926–2012), an author and motivational speaker said, “The person who dumps garbage into your mind will do you considerable harm that the person who dumps garbage on the floor, because each load of mind garbage negatively impacts your possibilities and lower your expectations.”  It’s therefore up to us to prepare ourselves properly for the possibilities of God.  Things could go in a million directions, so it’s wise to think about the good possibilities.  Turn to God, relieve your stress, and rest assure he’ll guide you in the best way of knowing, and walking with him.

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God’s Mercy

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’  For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

—Mt. 9:13

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

—1 Jn. 1:9

Saint Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), a Roman Catholic Carmelite nun and Spanish mystic wrote, “I had many friends to help me to fall; but as to rising again, I was so much left to myself, that I wonder now I was not always on the ground.  I praise God for His mercy; for it was He only Who stretched out His hand to me.  May He be blessed forever! Amen.”  And Winston Churchill (1874–1965), prime minister of the United Kingdom said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”  Luke 6:36 reminded us to be merciful, even as your heavenly Father is merciful.

A president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) wrote, “I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”  Joyce Myer (b. 1943), a Christian author and speaker said, “God’s mercy is fresh and new every morning.”  While Pope Francis (b. 1936), of the Catholic Church wrote, “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”  People could therefore say like 1 Peter 1:3, blessed the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has surely caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who rose from the dead.

Thanks-living

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), an English Baptist preacher said, “I think that is a better thing than thanksgiving: thanks-living.  How is this to be done?  By a general cheerfulness of manner, by an obedience to the command of Him by whose mercy we live, by a perpetual, constant delighting of ourselves in the Lord, and by a submission of our desires to His will.”  Still as people live in this world they should be aware of the role nature plays.  Neil deGrasse Tyson (b. 1958), an astrophysicist and author wrote, “Even with all our technology and the inventions that make modern life so much easier than it once was, it takes just one big disaster to wipe all that away and remind us that, here on Earth, we’re still at the mercy of nature.”  These circumstances in the world are unpredictable, so people have to put their faith in a loving God, who provides for us and keep us safe.

But how could people be recipients of God’s grace and mercy?  Why do we often turn to the things of this world to solve our problems?  Often we’re misguided when we find they aren’t the answer.  Christians though ought to submit their lives to Christ.  This act brings grace, mercy, peace, and love – the foundation of true fulfillment.

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The Supreme Light

Light is a pure reality.

It has no distractions,

And is the ultimate in fulfillment

It symbolizes the Eternal Essence of the Universe,

And refers to the Oneness of God, Allah, Brahma, and Dao

 

The teachings of faiths show

Believers ascending towards this Supreme Light

The sacred texts, saints, gurus, priests, rabbis, and imams

Teach about love to embrace this reality.

These themes are prominent in the Holy Scriptures, Hebrew Bible,

Talmud, Old and New Testaments, Koran,

Vedas, Upanishads, and other canonical books

 

But these scriptures all refer to the Supreme Light

In uniquely different ways

The monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islamic beliefs

Teach how believers could achieve eternal life in Heaven.

Eastern faith traditions explain the role of karma –

What believers sow they will reap in the afterlife

Their reality comes in the form of various stages of rebirth

In achieving the Oneness of Hinduism’s Brahma,

Or nirvana in Buddhism

 

“Ultimate Reality, help us to be guided by this all-encompassing light.  Let your light enlighten our hearts and minds.”

Amen

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Hopeful Lives

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

—Jer. 29:11

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  “Where O death is your victory?  Where O death is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

—1 Cor. 15: 54-57

Bradley Whitford (b. 1959), an actor and political activist wrote, “Infuse your life with action.  Don’t wait for it to happen.  Make it happen.  Make your own future.  Make your own hope.  Make your own love.  And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen…yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”  Helen Keller (1880–1968), an author and political activist expressed this hope differently than Withford when she said, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

Positive & Happy

Tena Desae (b. 1987), an Indian actress and model said, “Stay positive and happy.  Work hard and don’t give up hope.  Be open to criticism and keep learning.  Surround yourself with happy, warm and genuine people.”  However Robert Fulghum (b. 1937), a Utilitarian Universalist was positive about his views when he wrote, “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.  That myth is more potent than history.  That dreams are more powerful than facts.  That hope always triumphs over experience.  That laughter is the only cure for grief.  And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

Michael Morpurgo (b. 1943), an English author was rather upbeat about his life.  He said, “Wherever my story takes me, however dark and difficult the theme, there is always some hope and redemption, not because readers like happy endings, but because I am an optimist at heart.  I know the sun will rise in the morning, and there is light at the end of every tunnel.” Robert Kennedy (1925–1968), a politician and lawyer wrote, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”  Marie Curie (1867–1934), a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist echoed Kennedy’s feelings when she said, “You cannot build a better world without improving the individuals.  To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”  The lesson is that people ought to pull together for the good of others.

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Independence Day (U.S.A)

It’s July 4th

Let’s celebrate this special day

For it’s the day of America’s Independence

So let us be mindful

To thank God for these blessings

 

Sadly our beloved nation

Is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

There’s civil unrest

As Black Lives Matter takes to the streets

Protests have arisen over Confederate monuments

But with all these problems

Let Americans reach out compassionately

To heal these afflictions in our land

 

America’s Independence was first proposed

By Richard Henry Lee of Virginia

That led to the declaration of Independence from Great Britain

From that time on there were celebrations

But now with social problems in our land

People are wearing masks, practicing social distancing

And there will be limited fireworks, and gun-salutes

To commemorate this special day

But the spirit of the nation lives on

 

“God, continue to guide America.  Let’s glorify her achievements.  And let the nation’s universal goals embrace freedom for all – young, old, male, female, black, white, religious, and non-religious with equanimity for all people including LGBTQ+.  Regardless, let American creed, color, national origin, and beliefs help us to be beacons of hope in the world.”

Amen

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Persevere with Inspiration

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Rom. 8:38-39

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

—Heb. 12:1-2

An Italian Roman Catholic preacher Francis of Assisi (1181/1182–1226) said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”  Kevyn Aucoin (b. 1962), a make-up artist followed this up when he wrote, “Today I choose life.  Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain…To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today.  I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”  That’s why people will turn to the Bible when they look for inspiration, motivation, and reassurance.

A political activist Helen Keller (1880–1968) said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”  An essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) agreed with Keller when he wrote, “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”  We’re assured that God cold work miracles when we believe his promises.  Christians yearn for this ultimate blessing in Psalm 27:4 when they heard, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

Steve Jobs (1955–2011), an entrepreneur and inventor said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be fully satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.  Don’t settle.  As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”  Maya Angelou (1928–2014), a poet and civil rights activist wrote, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”  According to Psalm 34:8 that’s when people “taste and see the Lord is good; blessed the one who takes refuge in him.”   Believers ought to do what’s right in the sight of God.

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Use Your Gifts

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.  If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

—Rom. 12:6-8

“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

—Mt. 5:14-16

Leo Buscaglia (1924–1998), an author and motivational speaker said, “Your talent is God’s gift to you.  What you do with it is your gift back to God.”  John Wooden (1910–2010), a basketball player and head coach agreed with Buscaglia, and wrote, “Talent is God given.  Be humble.  Fame is man-given.  Be grateful.  Conceit is self-given.  Be careful.”  Undoubtedly people must use their gifts wisely and not be conceited.

Erma Bombeck (1927–1996), a humorist cast further light on talent when she said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”  In order to accomplish such a feat people should live their lives to the fullest.

Persistence

A president of the United States Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) wrote, “Noting in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”  Stephen King (b. 1947), an author echoing Coolidge’s sentiments said, “Talent is cheaper than table salt.  What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”  And Will Smith (b. 1968), an actor agreed with them when he wrote, “I have always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.”

A Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thích Nhăt Hanh (b. 1926) said, “When we recognize the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection: love is born.”  So people ought to share their talent with love.

A former vice president of the United States Joe Biden (b. 1942) wrote, “Corruption is a cancer: a cancer that eats away at a citizen’s faith in democracy, diminishes the instinct for innovation and creativity: already – tight national budgets, crowding out important investments.  It wastes the talent of entire generations.  It scares away investments and jobs.”  Therefore, for nations to benefit from the contributions having its citizenry with ethical standards are imperative.

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Flame for Living

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

—Jas. 3:5-6

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

—Isa. 6:6-7

A Hong Kong–American actor Bruce Lee (1940–1973) wrote, “Love is like a friendship caught on fire.  In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering.  As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep burning and unquenchable.”  Who among us live with a consuming fire?  Who could live with such burning? (Isa. 33:14).  This is a gift from God.

Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965), a French-German theologian said, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  These won’t be like worthless people who dig up evil that scorches the ground (Prov. 16:27).  They are unlike the light of the wicked that goes out (Job 18:5).

A Brilliant Flame

How should people live?  Boris Yeltsin (1931–2007), president of the Russian Federation wrote, “A man must live like a great brilliant flame and burn as brightly as he can.  In the ends he burns out.  But this is far better than a mean little flame.”  While Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), a Serbian-American inventor who amplified Yeltsin’s view said, “The spread of civilization may be likened to a fire; first, a feeble spark, then a mighty blaze, ever increasing in speed and power.”  Undoubtedly a simple spark could have far-reaching effects.  Johan Lehrer (b. 1981), an author wrote, “Creativity is a spark.  It can be excruciating when we’re rubbing two rocks together and getting nothing.  And it can be intensely satisfying when the flame catches and a new idea sweeps around the world.”

The Lord assures us that when we pass through waters he will be with us.  Rivers won’t overflow. When we walk through fire we won’t be scorched, nor do the flames burn us (Isa. 43:2).  That’s how we will be successful in life.  Walter Peter (1839–1894), an English essayist said, “To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.”  And Bernard Williams (1929–2003), an English philosopher wrote, “Talent is a flame.  Genius is a fire.”

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