Investing Talents

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”
~ Leo Buscaglia

“Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful.” ~ Harvey Mackay

“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.’” ~Erma Bombeck

“No one respects a talent that is concealed.” ~Desiderius Erasmus

“Talent is always conscious of its own abundance, and does not object to sharing.”
~ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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A note: while the parable speaks about a Master and His three slaves, I will refer to the slaves as “servants” throughout the post (except where citing specific scriptures). Slavery during our time in history is viewed (and I would say rightly so) with extreme negativity and assumes the exploitation of those individuals who are slaves; whereas, slavery was a more common and accepted practice during Jesus’ time. There were some Masters, however, that exhibited great humanity and kindness to their slaves. I believe that the word slave is an accurate term when used in the context Jesus most likely intends. We are property of our Lord—He is our Creator. He can do whatever He wishes with us, for we are His. Fortunately for us, our Master is good and loves us. But for those who would have trouble reconciling its common context from this message, I have substituted words accordingly.

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INTRODUCTION
Jesus’ parables from the Gospel of Matthew emphasize two narratives that are strongly related. His parables clarify the differences between our world and the kingdom of heaven, and encourage believers to be prepared for His return. This post will focus on the Parable of the Talents to answer the following question:

Q: What does it mean to be ready for the return of Christ?

Continue reading

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A Healing Faith

“The ultimate purpose of reason is to bring us to the place where we see that there is a limit to reason.”
~ Blaise Pascal

“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.”
~ Hubert H. Humphrey

“Righteousness and faith certainly are instrumental in healing the sick, deaf, or lame – if such healing accomplishes God’s purposes and is in accordance with His will. Thus, even with strong faith, many mountains will not be moved. And not all of the sick and infirm will be healed.”
~ David A. Bednar

“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.”
~ Marianne Williamson.

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Disclaimer: This post is written for a Christian audience, and may be challenging for those adhering to a different worldview.

INTRODUCTION
Ever been hurt? Consider the following questions:

  1. How many of us are broken and need healing in some aspect of our lives at one time or another?
  2. How many of us struggle to heal without success?
  3. How many of us abandon any hope for our healing, and accept a permanent reality of brokenness?

In response to the first question, addressing it from the perspective of a professed Christian, I would suggest that we are all broken to some degree—the circumstances of living in a world of sin. Moreover, I would assert that at some point in most of our lives we have suffered through immense pain and utter brokenness. When considering the second question, I would have to believe that most of us try—at least initially—to find means of healing when we view ourselves as being damaged or broken. And if we are individuals who respond to the third question in the affirmative, then we are probably resting in a self-perceived, inescapable despair…

For any of us who are currently residing in such a state of despair, the following scripture should come as a comfort and provide impetus for restoring hope: Continue reading

An Elderly Woman Whistling

One of my various roles is that of an instructor at a state university. I teach a social aspects course. My class is taught in a building that primarily functions as a recreation center. The building has an academic wing that holds labs and classrooms for the university’s Kinesiology Department. One of these labs serves as a physical therapy center for some of the elderly and disabled in the community. Continue reading

Kindness: Pay It Forward

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
~Lao Tzu

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love”
~Saint Basil

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you”
~Princess Diana

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see”
~Mark Twain

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For the past few months, the young professionals group at my church has been conducting a scriptural study on fruits of the Spirit. Recently, we investigated kindness as a fruit of the Spirit. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul provides a list of these fruits:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23, NASB).

As has been emphasized in other posts that I have recently written on fruits of the Spirit, certain characteristics are present among them all. A few core commonalities among fruits of the Spirit; they are: Continue reading

the voice unheard

“A riot is the language of the unheard” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

“He who comes to a conclusion when the other side is unheard, may have been just in his conclusion, but yet has not been just in his conduct” ~Seneca

“Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune” ~Carl Jung

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” ~Jesus Christ

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in the noise of silence is the voice unheard,
not spoken from mouth, nor evoking word,
hidden behind high gates within the depths of the heart,
emoting anguish and despair; tearing the soul apart, Continue reading

in finding hope

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.” ~Samuel Smiles

“At the end of the day, we must go forward with hope and not backward by fear and division.”    ~ Jesse Jackson

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness” ~ Desmond Tutu

“Hope is patient with the lamp lit.” ~ Turtullian

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hope is future’s chance—indeed, a belief,
that more is not the same as before,
rather than pain and suffering appears relief,
fervent faith the means to restore,

Continue reading

eternal eyes

“The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.” ~David Thoreau

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.” ~Paramahansa Yogananda

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” ~Audrey Hepburn

“Living in the light of eternity changes your priorities.” ~Rick Warren

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Wisdom’s words walk silently with each elegant step,
Her gait smooth—her stride secure,
Ignoring a future where deceptions have crept,
Not with arrogance, but rather demure, Continue reading

Joy: Following An Eternal Perspective

“I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand. You see, when you let go and learn to trust God, it releases joy in your life. And when you trust God, you’re able to be more patient. Patience is not just about waiting for something…it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.” ~Joyce Meyer

“We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone—but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” ~Walter Anderson

God’s plan for enlarging His kingdom is so simple—one person telling another about the Savior. Yet we’re busy and full of excuses. Just remember, someone’s eternal destiny is at stake. The joy you’ll have when you meet that person in heaven will far exceed any discomfort you felt in sharing the gospel.” ~Charles Stanley

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The purpose of this post is to examine the scriptural meaning of joy. More specifically, it will attempt to address the following three questions:

  1. What is joy?
  2. Are their types of joy?
  3. How can we experience more joy?

Continue reading

Peace through Love and Forgiveness

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”                    ~ Mother Teresa

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”                    ~ Francis of Assisi

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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UNDERSTANDING PEACE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS
At Sunday school a few weeks ago, our young professionals group examined the biblical meaning of the word “peace.” After reviewing definitions from a number of sources, and considering these definitions against scripture, we arrived at a succinct definition:

Unity absent conflict

While not typically included within a secular definition, unity is an essential component of biblical peace. When realizing that unity is necessary for biblical peace, we should become aware that how we pursue such peace differs from the traditional, secular definition of the word. While some people may seek “peace and quiet” by avoiding others and finding environments absent noise and disturbance, biblical peace cannot be achieved in this manner. For Christians, biblical peace is about establishing healthy relationship with God and others. Moreover, it requires believers to be at peace with all people (including non-believers) as much as it depends on them (Romans 12:18).

The Christian understanding of God’s being is emblematic of biblical peace. Christians believe in a Trinitarian God—three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in one God—existing in perfect harmony. God is never at conflict with Himself. As sinners, the same cannot be said of our relationship with Him. Continue reading

angel

“The angels are so enamored of the language that is spoken in heaven that they will not distort their lips with the hissing and unmusical dialects of men, but speak their own, whether their be any who understand it or not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“All God’s angels come to us disguised.” ~ James Russell Lowell

“The guardian angels of life fly so high as to beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us” ~ Jean Paul Richter

“Angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love.” ~ Fanny J. Crosby

“If trouble hearing angels’ song with thine ears, try listening with thy heart.” ~ Terri Guillemets
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oh my angel! with thy voice ethereal sweet,
i beseech you, dare entreat,
this lowly man, firmly held to ground,
permit my ears to hear thy sound, Continue reading

twilight

“You cannot, in human experience, rush into the light. You have to go through the twilight into the broadening day before the noon comes and the full sun is upon the landscape” ~ Woodrow Wilson, U.S. President

“Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object” ~ Albert Camus, Author and Philosopher

“The past is the beginning of the beginning and all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn” ~ H.G. Wells, Author

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situated within the twilight,
between night and day, the dawn and dusk,
walking with partial sight,
regarding what next to do, in “Whom” to trust, Continue reading

Discernment: The Black, White, & Gray

“Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments.”                     ~ Psalms 119:66, NASB

“Discernment is God’s call to intercession, never to faultfinding.” ~ Corrie ten Boom, author

“Some people think they have discernment when actually they are just suspicious…Suspicion comes from an unrenewed mind; discernment comes out of the renewed spirit.” ~ Joyce Meyer, Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land.”     ~ Jeremiah 23:5, NASB 
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INTRODUCTION
One of the most difficult aspects of life is to be able to discern right from wrong; making fruitful decisions from wise discernment. Theologian John MacArthur defines discernment as “the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides a similar definition, defining discernment as “the ability to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently.” And Christians are called to be discerning: Continue reading

Identity (In Christ)

“In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity” ~ Erik Erickson, Psychologist

“[Socialization] is an interactive process through which we make decisions about our relationships, our interpretation of information that comes to us through interaction, and what we will say and do. It is through these decisions that we influence our own lives and the social worlds in which we participate.” ~ Jay Coakley, Professor

“Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God.” ~ Henri Nouwen, Clergyman

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Introduction
As a Christian, I find myself frustrated with the world at times—the frequency of which seems to increase as I get older. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’d like to believe that the increasing frequency of my frustration is a sign of a growing spiritual maturity—questionable, I know. Often, that frustration revolves around hypocritical action, though it’s not isolated to secular society. Regularly, my observation of such behavior also includes those professing religious affiliations; including Christians. Sometimes, however, I find myself to be one of those hypocritical Christians who frustrate me… Continue reading

Sentimental

“The difference between sentiment and being sentimental is the following: Sentiment is when a driver swerves out of the way to avoid hitting a rabbit on the road. Being sentimental is when the same driver, when swerving away from the rabbit, hits a pedestrian.”                                           ~ Frank Herbert, science-fiction writer

 “I am not a sentimental person.” ~ Jack Kevorkian, “Dr. Death”

 “High culture is paranoid about sentiment. But human beings are intensely sentimental.               ~ Thomas Kinkade, artist
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INTRODUCTION
Humans are sentimental. However, I believe that how one defines being sentimental—and exhibits sentimentality in deed—determines whether one views being sentimental as a destructive or constructive emotional response. My intentions within this writing are to:

  • Examine how being sentimental is capable of being both destructive and constructive
  • Elaborate on how I view and apply sentimentality in my life (focusing on the constructive)
  • Consider how aspects of sentimentality may function in the process of Christian sanctification

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same coin

“Every side of a coin has another side” ~ Myron Scholes, economist

“Silver and gold are not the only coin; virtue too passes current all over the world.” ~ Euripides, author

“I usually have a few coins in my pocket when I’m playing, but the one I use to mark my ball on the green is a special silver coin that my wife designed for me. It has our wedding date inscribed on it.” ~ Louis Oosthuizen, professional golfer

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two sides of the same coin,
without both, not whole,
through love’s fire join,
both sides into one soul, Continue reading

crazy perfect

“One is very crazy when in love.” ~ Sigmund Freud

“Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.” ~ Nora Ephron

“F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours.” ~ Zig Ziglar
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refrain from claiming you’re “too crazy” my dear,
such words suggest that you’re not seeing quite clear,
the past leaves you listening to Lucifer’s lies,
if only you could see yourself as seen through my eyes, Continue reading

a dreamer’s reality

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” ~Pope John XXIII

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

“Dreams are the seedlings of reality.” ~Napolean Hill

“I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.” ~William Butler Yeats

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The following poem is inspired by the eternal optimism–the faith and hope–that is contagiously exhibited by my best friend, Jeremy, whose birthday is today. May you enjoy your special day with God smiling down on you and that great faith!
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like a phantom feather to begging skin it tickles,
as the eyes shut and sounds are silenced to ear,
senility of the subconscious vacates sensibilities,
for emotions and desires now pray for solid form, Continue reading

Discomfort: Leaving Our Cocoons For Christ

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” ~ Pope John Paul II

“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” ~ Luke 9:57-58

INTRODUCTION
I returned from a trip to Virginia earlier this May in a poor state of mind. During the long drive back to Georgia, my thoughts wandered; pondering circumstances that I have no control over. For most of the week following, I struggled with anxiety… Continue reading

in memory this day

“Patriotism consists not in waiving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” ~ James Bryce

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15:13

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” ~ Harry Truman
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When enjoying this day with loved ones and family,
May we not forget those who warrant meaning in memory,
Those who were honored by sound of bugles playing TAPS,
Whether lain in earthen graves or a descent where the sea entraps, Continue reading