Friday, January 3, 2014

Church Attendance

Some of us, we attend church regularly, some go occasionally, and others seldom go at all.

The Bible calls on believers to gather with the other members of the 'Body of Christ' for encouragement and to increase in faith. The Scriptures advise us, "not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Lord's Day approaching." - Hebrews 10:25

President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1917, in an interview with Ladies Home Journal, offered his 10 reasons for attending church:
  1. In the actual world a churchless community, a community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a community on the rapid downgrade. It is perfectly true that occasional individuals or families may have nothing to do with church or religious practices, and observances, and yet maintain the highest standard of spirituality of ethical obligation. 
  2. Church work and church attendance mean the cultivation of the habit of feeling some responsibility for others and the sense of braced moral strength, which prevents a relaxation of one's own moral fiber.
  3. There are enough holidays for most of us that can quite properly be devoted to pure holiday making. Sundays differ from other holidays, among other ways, in the fact that there are 52 of them every year. On Sunday, go to church.
  4. Yes, I know all the excuses. I know that one can worship the Creator and dedicate oneself to good living in a grove of trees, or by a running brook, or in one's own house, just as well as in church. But I also know as a matter of cold fact the average man does not thus worship or thus dedicate himself. If he strays away from church, he does not spend his time in good works or lofty meditation. He looks over the colored supplement of the newspaper.
  5. He may not hear a good sermon at church. But unless he is very unfortunate, he will hear a sermon by a good man who, with his good wife, is engaged all the week long in a series of wearing, humdrum and important tasks for making hard lives a little easier.
  6. He will listen to and take part in reading some beautiful passages from the Bible. And if he is not familiar with the Bible, he has suffered a loss.
  7. He will probably take part in singing some good hymns.
  8. He will meet and nod to, or speak to, good quiet neighbors. He will come away feeling a little more charitably toward all the world, even toward those excessively foolish young men who regard churchgoing as rather a soft performance.
  9. I advocate a man's joining in church works for the sake of showing his faith by his works.
  10. The man who does not in some way, active or not, connect himself with some active, working church misses many opportunities for helping his neighbors, and therefore, incidentally, for helping himself.
Church attendance and participation is vital towards faith development and Christian service. This new year, are you considering attending church every Sunday and shining your Father's light upon all those who come to your church?

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Photos from 2013

Jan. 23, 2013. An Orthodox priest blesses rifles during a ceremony where new recruits receive their weapons at a military base of the Belarussian Interior Ministry in Minsk. The traditional ceremony was attended by 325 Belarussian recruits, and it is held a month after the recruits take their military oath.

Tap here to see more surprising photos from 2013. 


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Coffee Cups

During the Christmas break, a group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their beloved old university professor. The conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in their day to day work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive and some exquisite, telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

After all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.”

“Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases, it’s just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups and then began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and those jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. God brews the coffee, not the cups.

Enjoy Lord's coffee.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Preparing for 2014

“Beloved, I do not consider that I have finally made it my own. But in one area I have forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the finish line for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature be of this same mind.”
- Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church at Philippians. 3:13-15

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Christmas Carol

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" is a Christmas carol based on the poem "Christmas Bells" by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The song tells of the narrator's despair, upon hearing Christmas bells, that "hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men". The carol concludes with the bells carrying renewed hope for peace among mankind.

On July 9th, 1861, tragedy struck the home of America’s most popular poet. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, was near an open window sealing locks of her daughter’s hair in a packet, using hot sealing wax. It was thought that a spark from a match or a candle caused her dress to catch fire and engulf her with flames. Her husband, sleeping in the next room, was awakened by her screams. He desperately tried to put out the fire and save his wife. He was severely burned on his face and hands.

Tragically burned, she slipped into a coma the next day and died. His grievous burns would not even allow him to attend her funeral. He seemed to lock the anguish within his soul. Because he continued to work at his craft, only his family knew of his personal suffering. They could see it in his eyes and observe his long periods of silence. His white beard, so identified with him, was one of the results of the tragedy — the burn scars on his face made shaving impossible.

Although already famous and a legend in his own time, he still needed the peace that God gives to His children. On Christmas Day of 1864, just three years following the horrible accident, he sat down to try to capture, if possible, the joys of the season. He began:

“I heard the bells on Christmas day.
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

As he came to the third stanza, he was stopped by the thought of the condition of his beloved country. The Civil War was raging full swing. Earlier, the three-day battle at Gettysburg saw 50,000 casualties. Days looked dark, and he probably asked himself the question, “How can I write about “peace on earth, good will to men” in this war-torn country, where brother fights against brother and father against son?” But he kept writing – and what did he write?

“And in despair I bowed my head:
‘There is no peace on earth’, l said,
‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”‘

It seems as if he could have been writing these words for us today! Wadsworth then turned his thought to God, the only One who can give true and perfect peace, both in the heart and on the earth, and continued writing:

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Thus we have the marvelous Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. A musician, J. Baptiste Calkin, wrote the musical setting that made the carol a favorite still today.