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 Tulips  ,© DS 2010

 

(Republished)

Looking at the flowers (see photo) as they started blooming, their story comes to my mind. They were just seeds [tulips grown from seeds often need five to eight years of growth before plants are flowering size. Commercial growers harvest the bulbs in late summer and grade them into sizes; bulbs large enough to flower are sorted and sold, while smaller bulbs are sorted into sizes and replanted. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip#Cultivation)]. I am not sure whether they came from Germany or Holland but anyway, I bought them here in Northern Ireland and I did plant the bulbs sometime around October 2009. To summarise, they were seeds and grew up to flowering bulbs within 5-8 years – somewhere in the world; they travelled up to a Garden Centre of NI and somebody (me) just chose and planted the bulbs 6 months ago. A long trip isn’t it? A trip that is long in distance and time. Around three months ago, they started shooting their leaves, the weather was still cold or to say almost freezing. They continue growing and recently their flowers spurted in the middle of the leaves. They were so small but so firm and so green. I could not remember what colours they should be but I waited for the surprise. And here they are: long stems, straight, strong and so red! Notice the photo more: still one is to come!

Now, I can watch them every day from my kitchen window, admire them not only for their beauty but for the long trip they took. I do remind myself as I look at them how many of us have experienced those long trips of dreams, desires and survivals.

One thing comes to my heart: Savour the moment! Each moment is so unique. Everything changes each second and savouring the moment gives dignity and honour to that moment.

We read in the Book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 and verses from 1 up to and 11:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

A time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

The point that I am trying to make is to bring the story of those tulips in parallel with our stories and the purpose in our lives. Each one of us was created by our Creator in a unique way and for a unique purpose. Like the tulips, we started as a seed and we are growing till we flourish and come to the fulfilment of our purpose, to stand firm, straight and colourful as they stand. Few days from now they will start dying as flowers but their seeds will go back to the soil and their bulbs will multiply, next spring more tulips will come to visit my garden!

It is not an easy trip that they had till now. They travelled long distances, they went through freezing winters and they spend long periods in dormant condition. But each period had its purpose even if the Tulips (us) could not understand it. Reading again this famous part of the Book of Ecclesiastes we can realize that life is full of different times, times that come in contradiction, times that are unpleasant, full of conflicts but all pass and the times of love, peace, harvesting come as well.

Nobody has promised that the journeys will be easy but looking towards the purpose, we can start breaking the big pictures in more detailed ones and understanding each time’s objective.

Who could know what was hiding down there inside the soil when the bulbs were still underneath? Who knew whether they had survived the wild freezing winds and the snow? And one day their first leaves appeared and spoke to me: “here we are”; and still who could imagine their beauty when they presented their flowers, their hiding gifts? And still here they are, an evidence of their existence.

When we savour the moment as IT IS  and cherish it in our heart even when we do not understand it, we still get the knowledge of it at the proper moment and we savour this new moment and finally all the purpose will unfold in front of our eyes step by step, moment by moment.

That’s why it is important to savour the moment. No moments go waste. They most likely seem as just a seed but in time and through more moments they will become beautiful flowers, beautiful deeds, dreams will take place, visions will be fulfilled.

As we take pleasure, appreciate, value each moment we open the door to new opportunities, opportunities which bring us in higher levels. When we are delight in small moments we will become qualified to the next promotion. If we discard the moment, please, do not expect any promotion. It is about appreciation and recognition.

By savouring the moment we do give value to its purpose and existence. We acknowledge that is a part of the whole journey.

Enjoy each moment of this day and savour them all! They will never be repeated the same way! They are unique as we are!

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(THIS POST WAS WRITTEN NOVEMBER 2012, IT IS A REPUBLISHING)

You would wonder how the only thing I need to say concerns James Bond. Probably I am triggered by the latest James Bond movie, which I have not yet watched; but trust me; I have not missed any of the previous ones!

What is it so extraordinary about James Bond? What does he represent in our life? He is the hero! He is the hero who we expect to save us, or perhaps the hero we hide inside us? It might be just a good entertaining story, well written, well said and well-directed.

I have to say that the last two movies disappointed me a little. We watch James having a human and emotional side – but this is not James Bond. Our hero is not about emotions but about perfection, neatness, elegance, precision, achieving the impossible for Queen and country! It is the impossibility that attracts us, I think. Otherwise we could watch a romantic or an existential movie of the great 20th century’s Italian or French directors.

There is only one James: the untouchable, the one who is always ironed and clean, the one who has no bureaucratic issues with his boss, contrarily everybody just admires him. This is the hero I need to see, this is the hero I want to be! I want to achieve the impossible! What about you?

I admit, in spite of everything, that a hero never becomes a hero by being unemotional. It is just that we, I, prefer to see him strong and in control. Or all the above might be just my imagination as I write this article in my warm bed in a nice hotel just outside the Dublin airport in Ireland, and just a few hours before I catch my plane to Africa (the article was written on 1st November 2012). It might be the strength I imagine that I need for the new adventures ahead, for the new decisions to be taken.

Nevertheless, my true James Bond is not the one of Ian Fleming! My true Hero is my Lord, my creator, my provider, my protector, the one who is always in control, always neat, trustworthy and who, for sure, achieves the impossible, brings light and truth, covers me throughout and gives me a vision higher than any MI6!

We have a hero inside us – we carry the Holy Spirit, we the believers!

So, let’s allow this Hero to lit, let’s show our Hero God and let’s be James Bonds for our Lord!

Let’s allow Him to work with us, so we can do all heroic acts – and not only – through Him!

Amen!

Love,

Dimitra

 

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED – Any unauthorised broadcasting, public performance, copying or re-recording will constitute an infringement of copyright.

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“two seagulls  (Christians ???!!!)…in conflict! Looking at different directions…”, DS

It is a fact: Christians, we live not always in unity! We do not always dwell in peace between us! We are not real followers of Christ when it comes to the way we understand the Word of God and its application. Obviously, our problem does not remain within our community, as we are part of a whole  society and planet Earth. That’s why Mahatma Gandhi said the famous quote:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I assume that Gandhi had read the Bible or maybe not. We know that he was not a believer. When we are not believers – that means, not guided by the Holy Spirit – our capability reaches up to just read the Bible but the word is not alive to us – if you know what I mean. Gandhi and so many others might have read the Bible but when it comes to application of its value, they need to see relevancy between the teachings of Christ and what Christian communities act upon. When they do not see words and acts to come together…so, they wonder! Mark Twain said that we may be the only Bible that somebody else reads. We carry a great responsibility!

I will repeat one of my favourite verses (yes, I know, you are tired to read it often in this blog! sorry…)

Ecclesiastes 1v9 

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

We discuss about our differences within the Christian Community as it it something new. It is not! It was happening since the beginning of the existence of the Church. We read – a lot – in the Bible of how the first Christians quarrelling between them.

Of course, through the History of the Church – a period of 2000 yrs – we learn of all divisions of the Body, the splits, the wars, the killings. All take place sadly…in the name of God. Not a God that is debated between different faiths but the same God who we, Christians, believe in and the only Lord of lords, God of gods and King of kings.

Let’s have a look of what was happening 2000 yrs ago in the so called first churches. We might learn something that we can apply today. We might learn to focus on our similarities as various parts of the same Body, than dwell into our differences.

We are a family. Families are related by blood. We are related through the Blood of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It is true that we do not chose our family but we always try to find a way to stick together and keep supporting each other. It is the same with the Body of Christ.

Let’s have a look on some issues in the first Churches:

1Corinthians 3v3-5

“You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task.”

We can see that there was conflict, jealousy of who was better, more righteous, more productive, who was bringing more people to the Lord. It seems that there was a competition within the Body, trying to prove who is better! They have forgotten that it is the Lord who saves, the Lord who creates, the Lord who heals. They forgot that it is not by might or by power but by His Spirit, says the Lord!

2Corinthians 12v20-21

“For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.”

2Timothy 2v14-18

“Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and
who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away
from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.”

James 4v1

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

Honesty, I wonder what else can be added on the above verses! We read about quarrels, jealously, anger, slander, gossip, wrong teachings, creation of doctrines out of the Word of God! Wow, it is overwhelming! Does this description reminds you our days?

Do you really wonder why Gandhi said what he said?

The most important to keep practising is:

Happy Moments – Praise God.
Difficult Moments – Seek God.
Quiet Moments – Worship God.
Painful Moments – Trust God.
Every Moment – Thank God.

IT IS ALL ABOUT HIM and not about our doctrines and our self – righteousness!

Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED – Any unauthorised broadcasting, public performance, copying or re-recording will constitute an infringement of copyright.

 

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Through prayer light comes in our lives, © DS

 

 

Last week as we discussed on Prayer –Part A, we agreed that we will use – just for our discussions sake – the terminology of “Personal Prayer” and “Collective Prayer”.

We understood, through the Holy Spirit, that we pray our personal prayers in our closet as being just us and the Lord. We do also pray our collective prayers with our fellow believers in Church or any place of fellowship. It was nicely said that even when we participate in a collective prayer, still it is a prayer between our own self and the Lord.

Matthew 21v13

“It is written,” he said to them” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’ “

The above scene takes place in the area of the Temple, where different traders were selling their products. Jesus Christ overturned the tables of the money changers and the ones where doves were sold! The same incident is repeated at Mark 11v14 and John 2v14. At John’s Gospel except the money changers and dove vendors is added that people were selling cattle and sheep. In few words, the Temple was used as a supermarket!

It always amazed me that, in all Gospels, when this scene is described, traders of doves are mentioned. My thought runs to the fact that dove represents the Holy Spirit as we know from the scene where Jesus Christ was baptised. In my heart, I remind myself how important person is the Holy Spirit; imagine that only the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is not forgiven among all sins!  The thought is mostly how much we do respect or not the Holy Spirit within the Church. What I want to say is that in my mind – not biblically supported – speaking all times about the doves is like telling me to respect the spirituality of the Church and not to trade the Spirit.

It was written that the Temple, the House of the Lord, is a house of prayer. The House of the Lord during the era of the Old Testament was the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, the House of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, is us. We are used to call the Church – building – the House of the Lord most likely out of tradition or understandable terminology. The scriptures, still, say something different:

1Corinthians 3v16-17

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”

2Corinthians 6v16

“What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

We are the temple of God. Our body is the house of the Holy Spirit. The house of the Lord should be a place of prayer. It is so great to know that at each moment, each second, we can pray to our God, talk to Him, make petitions, pray for us and others and just pour our hearts out.

Prayer is an open line with God 24/7. In our modern terms we could say that we are “on line” at all times with our Lord, our Creator, our Provider, our Comforter. We can say anything and everything to Him, a friend and a listener 24/7!

Philippians 4v6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

He has invited us to speak to Him about every concern, anxiety, issue, problem, thought and need. We can freely present all to Him.

Additionally, I see that believers do not pray just to pray. Yet, it is not a bad idea to pray for just to pray. Just to talk, communicate, being thankful and praise the Lord. Our prayers should be a way to praise and worship the Lord. Do you remember in Part A of our discussion concerning the outlines of a prayer? Prayers prayed in the Bible include praise and worship, thanking and acknowledgment.

I understand that believers also pray as they wait results out of the prayer. As the Lord spoke and said that we should present our requests to Him, as he said that anything we ask in His name will be done, it is absolutely natural to expect answers on our prayers. Nothing selfish about it!

There are different schools of believers with regard to when, how and if prayers are answered. Some say that all prayers should be answered as exactly were prayed. Others say that it is up to the will of the Lord if answers will be answered or not. At last, a number of them believe that all prayers are answered but not necessarily they way we were expecting, which I think it is the same as the second school. It is interesting to meditate upon to various scriptures and come to an understanding, to conclude how the Spirit counsels us on this issue, in our Christian life than arguing among us!

The Lord has made some very important statements with reference to successful prayer, such as:

Matthew14v31

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 

The above-mentioned scripture corresponds with the amazing story of Peter and Jesus. The Lord was walking on the waters and called Peter. He, without thinking, spontaneously followed the Lord and as a result he started walking on the water (something naturally impossible). But lasted only as long he did not doubt. It was a fact, he was doing it but still he doubted it. Imagine! In my own eyes, faith is absolutely connected with doubt. Or we believe or not. It is a black white situation and there is no grey in it.

Let’s read carefully more scriptures, they speak by themselves!

Mark  11v23

“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”

James 1v6

“But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”

To me, it is very apparent that doubt should not exist in our prayers otherwise as we wave we cancel the prayer itself. We need to stand after we have done all. We need to remember that He is God! 

James 5v16

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

This scripture speaks for powerful and effective prayer. Powerful and effective prayers belong to the righteous men and women. It is up to us to study, to ask, to meditate and learn as we grow in our faith how to be righteous in the eyes of our Lord and to practice what we believe. Amen! 

 

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 Through prayer we become bigger than the circumstances that surrender us © DS

Members of the Christian community understand Prayer in different ways, creating rather few arguments in connection with how to pray, what to say, how to present it, in which position to pray, how a prayer can be effective, whether God answers prayers and so on. We will try to explore some of these aspects. Let’s start with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our Counsellor who teaches us all!

Matthew 6v5-7

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

Prayer is probably the most important action of our Christian Life. Prayer is not only asking, it is a way to communicate with our Lord, it is a way to be in His presence, to show our love to Him and to hear His voice. It is the moment that we go in front of Him and we lay everything on His feet, we completely surrender ourselves to Him. Prayer is not something that we should take light. The above-mentioned scripture says a lot to us.

How we should pray?

It is written that when we pray, not to be like the hypocrites. This is a heavy word to be said. It is the Lord who speaks in this scripture and describes in details the meaning of the hypocrite: s/he is somebody who prays in order to show off, to declare how a good believer is and how well performs the rituals. Yet, the heart is not pure. S/he does not come in the presence of the Lord with humility to seek Him. We should go into our closet and pray in secret. Does this mean that there is an error when we pray in open, together with other people in the church or when in fellowship? I do not think so. It is important to study our Bible as a whole, not just verse by verse, thus all to come together. The Bible is “written” by the Holy Spirit and no man. There is no lie in it; there is no contradiction or unclear issue. We might not understand all, yet, it barely stands for not clarity. Travelling from book to book we come across incidents where believers were praying together, shouting their prayers in the presence of others and proclaiming their prayers for others. Some examples:

Acts 12v5:

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” 

Acts 12v12

“When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.”

Acts 16v25

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”

Acts 21v5

“But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.”

Reading all above scriptures, we notice that believers were praying not in their own rooms necessarily. It says also that the Church was praying for Peter, so it was not a prayer in a secret way; everybody knew that this prayer was taken on. Looking at the bigger picture, I could say that there are moments that the Spirit guides us to pray alone, in our closet, without showing off and as well, there are moments that the fellow believers need to pray as one body. I would call them “personal” prayers and “collective” ones just for the sake of our discussion.

Q: Does it look to you that there is a contradiction? What do you understand?

If we continue reading the chapter 6 of Matthew, we are directed to a specific prayer, the one called “Lord’s Prayer”. We pray this prayer as it is and the truth is that it is a wonderful prayer. There are believers who do not pray this prayer all times, every day or during church services. Are they in error? If we take literary what Jesus Christ said, it seems as an instruction. Is it a command to pray this prayer exactly as it is or reflects a frame of how the outline of a prayer ought to be? The Lord’s Prayer starts with acknowledging that God is our Father and it is addressed to the Father – one of the three persons of the Trinity – and continues by praising Him; asking for His will to be done. It carries on with our physical needs requests, our spiritual needs, seeking protection from the enemy and concludes with praising Him by recognizing His Glory. An important part of this prayer is the subject of Forgiveness. It includes our forgiveness for others as also the request for our forgiveness from Him. We cannot be forgiven without forgiving others. Our prayer in this way becomes powerful.

It seems mostly as a guideline of our prayers. In fact, through the whole New Testament we are introduced in different kinds of prayers and Jesus Christ, himself, asked us to pray in His name, something that does not exist in the Lord’s Prayer. Did He change His mind since His teaching at Matthew, chapter 6? I do not think so! Let’s see few scriptures on this issue:

Philippians 4v6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

1Timothy 2v1

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone”

We can see that there are prayers, prayers of petition, prayer of intercession, yet in the Lord’s Prayer there is for example no intercession. Checking in the dictionary I found that synonyms of Prayer are: Invocation, meditation, contemplation, devotions, chant, petition, supplication, appeal, plea and request.

And in John 14v14:“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Ephesians 1/17-23, John 17 (whole chapter) and much more scriptures, give us some prayer samples. The common element among all those prayers is that they are directed to the Father and I add, as per John 14v14, they should be concluded in the name of Jesus Christ, as He taught us.

Alike all our Christian life, the important “ingredient” of our prayers, as it emerges through numerous verses, seems to be connected with our Heart! Read:

Jeremiah 29v11-13

“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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

In the course of previous posts – “Deeds and Fruits” –  it was clarified that the Lord looks in our hearts to discover the motivations of our deeds and accordingly he prepares the harvest. It is the same with our prayers. In Jeremiah – and not only – He promised to listen their prayers, the prayers that come from the heart, full of purity, repentance and acknowledging Who the Lord is.

One more scripture will make it even clearer:

James 4v3

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

____________To be continued_______________________

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“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.”

-Voltaire

This is the last post on the subject of Relationships. We discussed few things, few tools and few understandings on Relationships. We explore attitudes that benefit the building of any relationship; we examine the meaning of relationship and its definition.
We conversed on “tricks” we can use to maintain relationships, to improve communication and be more honest and human with our relations at home, work or community.

During the ending, we focused to The Greatest Relationship and our Relationship with our fellow Christian Brothers and Sisters.

Today, we conclude with our attention on our Relationship as Christians with people who have no faith or different faith, people who walk completely different paths in life.

Re-reading Voltaire’s quote reminds me what the Lord said to us:

Luke 6v31

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

I believe that this value apply to all “others”, believers or not. We can read further in

Luke 6v32-36

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love
those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what
credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from
whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to
‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to
them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward
will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the
ungrateful and wicked.

If you wish keep reading, it speaks about justice and so many other values that apply to all, no matter their faith.

In the Christian Community, there is a lot of pride, arrogance and a sense of superiority. I have seen it again and again. I am sure that you have noticed it as well. I have accepted that it is there and it will be till the end of times. The reason of its existence is the lack of humility.

We, Christians, consider ourselves princes and princesses of God Almighty, His servants and His friends. We are
absolutely correct, He said so! Nevertheless, it is nowhere written that our high self-confidence will be an obstacle of being humble.

Who more self-confident than Jesus Christ Himself, God Himself! Yet, He never stopped being humble. We need to
learn from Him. He was firm and bold when it was needed but He never provoked the no believers. When they provoked Him or they just asked questions, then, He was answering. He was basically going on with His own business, trying to bring people in to salvation, spreading the good news and focusing to His ministry than to any body’s else job, work, envies or whatever.

We have a tendency to spread the news of what others believe, how others act or what is evil. We reach to the point to
try to control the world, to become the keepers of the Universe!

We are here to be peacemakers! We live to build bridges and not to demolish them. Having a civilized conversation with
an unbeliever without pushing or without trying to intervene or try to prove how right we are, is so beneficial. Before we speak, we need to listen to them, to listen actively and to try to understand through appropriate questions what they really say and mean.

There is no reason to try to stop them expressing themselves. At the end of the day, we want freedom to express ourselves …so we need to be just and fair.

Do you know the expression -The Greeks and the Barbarians? If fact, it is not an expression per se but it was actually
meant for anybody who was not Greek! I think that Wikipedia explains in a nice way (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbarian):

Barbarian and Savage are pejorative terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized.
The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage. In idiomatic or figurative usage, a “barbarian” may also be an individual reference to a brutal, cruel, warlike, insensitive person.

The term originates in the ancient Greek civilization, meaning “anyone who is not Greek”, and thus was often used to refer to other civilized people, such as the people of the Persian Empire.  Comparable notions are found in non-European civilizations.”

I wish to believe that we have made progress since then and we do not separate people to Greeks and No-Greeks.

We serve a God of love, a God of peace, a God of justice and a God who is capable to be the keeper of the Universe by Himself!

We do not need to spread the news of what others do but to spread the news of the Gospel, the Good News independently of what happens in the world.

We need to remember the way that Voltaire expressed it and I repeat it:

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.”

Nobody is obliged to believe in what you believe, they have a choice and a mind of their own. Allow them the privilege to do so, so, you have the same privilege! Also, if you feel important to get busy and scrutinize what they do wrong, be fair and support them when society goes against them for not reason, just out of fear and lack of knowledge or political reasons. We do not need new “crusades”, we should have learnt from the past!

Personally, I have not time for criticizing, scrutinizing and judging other beliefs, philosophies or thoughts. In fact, when time permits, I try to learn out of them and try to understand what they understand. It is so much work to be done till the Lord returns and we need to focus on the important aspects.

Amen!

 

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Love is not lies but truths

Colossians 1v15-16

He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”

So many times along my Christian years and growth I thought and re-thinking and wonder about many things, two of them questioned today with this article. I know that many won’t like my wonders. I believe that we know partially. I believe that the Spirit is able to answer questions and quests. We agree that we disagree and it is OK.

It was during an interview of an artist when he said : “ I am not religious. I believe that there is one God and all religious books are about the same God”.

Or I have heard many saying that there is one God and He is just present Himself in various communities in various ways so there is relevancy.

And I wonder…

I agree that there is one God and only. I agree that this one God is available to all humans. I agree that He created all, earth and heavens. I agree that He is spirit. I agree that He is love. The reason that I agree is that I read it in the Bible that is God’s Word for us, Christians.

1 John 4v8

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

John 4v24

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Now, God – who is a spirit and He is love – wants us to worship Him in truth, to live life in truth. Love is truth, love cannot be based in lies!

Also we know that:

Psalm 33v4

For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth.

So, God is a spirit. He is love and His word is right (meaning truthful, correct, honest, appropriate…) and His work is done in truth!

Conclusively, I understand that what He does, says and performs is the truth and truthful. Now, my question is: how comes that this God who does all in truth He goes to a part of this earth and gives to people the books of what is called Old Testament, to some others the Bible as we know it, to others the Koran, to other the teachings of Confucius and so forth. There are similarities among the teachings but there are also amazing differences. How comes to be all true, especially the ones coming in contradiction? Make any sense?

Another wonder of mine (and I stop here for today…) is about religious, being religious, it is a religion or it is not a religion.

We, Christians, use to say and announce that we are not religious and Christianity is not a religious institution but a personal relationship with our Lord.

What is the definition of religion? According to Oxford Dictionary is:

  • the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods:

  • a particular system of faith and worship:

  • a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion:

My conclusion is that Christianity is a religion and we are religious! Nothing wrong with the definition or our practices. It is even Biblical:

James 1v26-27

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

The author of James letter, the God Holy Spirit does not reject the words religion and religious because that is the meaning of the words! I read also the original – the Greek text – and that’s exactly the words Θρήσκος (religious) and Θρησκεία (religion)!

I believe that our God is truth and we need to not only act and worship in truth but also speak in truth and not manipulate words or presentations in order to make a point or clarification.

I do understand that when they say that they are not religious, they try to say that it is the Bible followed than some human traditions which betray the Word of God. Speaking about personal relationship with God, they try to exclude themselves from the other Christian communities…you know what I mean!

We can give clarifications with so many other words and keep the original text and meaning untouchable, without bringing confusion to people who do not know. We are a religion, we worship and believe! We do have traditions, rules and regulations that our local churches run with. I travelled to many countries and continents and I had the principal to join a lot of churches – so called not traditional – and most of them start with praise, following by worship, following by prayer and announcements, preaching, greetings and so on…Yes, at times the whole process changes through the Holy Spirit for the specific service.

All had home groups, all had prayer groups, memberships, training programs, women groups, men groups, offerings each Sunday, communion once per month or every Sunday etc.

I think that’s fine! Some of the traditions, rules and regulations were already happening in the first Church in the Biblical era and some are new, no problem.

Simple things can become complicated and best to be avoided. We worship a God who is love and we love in truth and nothing that is a lie. Amen!

Love,

Dimitra

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We can decide which door to open and which not…DS ©

 

Nobody is really an expert in relationships. We see “life coaches” or “relationship coaches” from all ways of life, doing well in the outside but looking more in their inner life, we still see issues with their own selves, families, colleagues and others.

A relationship is a Living thing, progressing each second, changing each moment and demanding new things.

Relationships are, by definition, commitments. Commitments carry responsibilities. By saying that we love somebody, we do carry a responsibility. By feeling that we have a relationship with a friend we carry responsibility. We cannot behave as we like, without taking in consideration that one more person is involved.

Do we live a life designed by fate or destiny? It is vital to settle what our perception is. Personally, I believe that we have choices at each moment (there are only few cases that we do not have choices…in fact, I can’t think any at this moment) and it is up to us to make decisions. As so many times it is said: “between stimulus and response there is a gap”. It is a fact that there are plenty situations in life that we cannot control, still we can at least control our attitudes towards them. That’s where choices and decisions lay.

The above reminds me:

Matthew 27v3-4

“When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

There is a great debate about Judas position. One side says that he had a choice: he could have denied betraying Jesus. The other side says that if it was not Judas, somebody else had to be for the foretold plan of God to be implemented. Basically one says that Judas had responsibility, made choices and took decisions and one says that all was already pre-designed, it was fate, destiny, pre-decided.

I see a third version: Judas made a choice and he justified it. He wanted to “give a lesson to the Lord” and he wanted – with good intensions – to use the money for the poor. He felt that he was “pushed” to that choice due to the circumstances and what he considered unjust, unfair. God gave him a chance to choose what was right. If Judas had refused to betray Jesus, God would have “asked” somebody else…and, for the sake of the argument, if nobody was available and willing to betray Him, God would have find another way for Jesus to be arrested, tortured, and crucified; to die and to raise from the dead. Do you think that there were no other ways?

Genesis 3v12-13

“The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

We need not only to recognize our responsibilities within the relationship but we need to take responsibility of our choices, decisions and actions. Adam and Eve had a relationship with God and between them. They had responsibilities within the relationship. The Lord had explained the “rules” since the beginning and they had accepted. When the moment of crisis arrived, Adam threw the responsibility on Eve and Eve on the serpent! If we read even more carefully, Adam said to God also that “the woman you put here with me…” It sounds to me that Adam made even God responsible for what happened to him…as long as God created that woman and gave it to him!

This “curse” of attitude follows us since then!

The reason that we highlight the importance of responsibility is that accepting and acknowledging that we are responsible and we do have responsibilities allow us, in moments of crisis and challenge, to look first at ourselves and our doings than point finger to others.

Taking in consideration my personal experiences in life, I have discovered what great difference this value makes in life. I mean the difference that crafts within the relationship. This perception permits us to take a moment and think, than grab the other person on the spot. Can you picture the results?

At the same time, taking responsibility could be dangerous. Many of us by receiving responsibility they start feeling guilty and enter in a circle of remorse, shame, guilty conscience and they might not appreciate the real texture of events.

In conclusion, I wish to encourage you to think about this important fundamental truth. When we deal with relationships and our aim is to create healthy relationships and to keep them going, we need to be very clear on which values we base the structure of relationship.

Today, we spoke about responsibility, next time we touch another value. The purpose is to clear at first what are the values of relationships and use it as our base of future discussions. As mentioned in the previous post, the target of 2011 is to explore the subject of relationship as it is a topic very important in our lives. We are/were children, friends, parents, grandparents, colleagues, fellow citizens, social acquaintances, brothers and sisters. Wherever we are, we get involved with others and create connections.

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“The view from the top is amazing”, © DS

“Humans have the tendency to choose that they have no choice!” That’s how the previous post of this blog started and we continued by mentioning what it is written in the Bible about choices. We just looked on the scriptures without any explanation, just as a trigger for us to meditate upon them. (see Choices Part A).

Today, we will try to go a little bit deeper and see how we can select at each moment what we will do next, how we will respond, how we will walk and talk.

In any stimulus/event/situation in our lives, there are always four choices to explore and decide on:

  • Change the situation;
  • Change oneself to adapt to the situation;
  • Run away from the situation/person/ stimulus;
  • To accept the fact and find ways to live with it;

No matter what choice we make, we need to remind ourselves that we are the ones who decide the way to walk. We are responsible for the choices; us and nobody else.

It is quite common to hear an expression of the following nature “ I have made so many sacrifices for you…blah, blah, blah” – I think that some of us thought or said something like this – at least, I had.

Sacrifice, according to the Dictionary, means: “to give up something that is important or valuable to you in order to get or do something that seems more important for yourself or for another person.”

I wonder how comes and we say to another person that we did sacrifices for s/he and we are disappointed for his/her no return of appreciation. I do understand that all of us need to be appreciated, no question about it. It is enough to express our desire for appreciation. We do not need to relate it with the sacrifice we did!

The question is whether a sacrifice is a sacrifice, meaning its true definition “that seems important for yourself”…do we do something only for the other person or also for our self?. We have to decide between too important things/issues and we choose the most important for ourselves or others. Searching deeper and not only on the surface of the meaning, we see clearly that it was more important for us to do something even if it reflects on somebody else needs. It makes us to feel better, more creative, more sensible, more satisfied, more approved. Sacrifice fulfills/pleases us first and then others. It is for our satisfaction and justification. We do not really “scarify” but we make a choice. It is for our joy, peace and happiness; we sleep better the night.

Only Jesus Christ did a sacrifice. He was sinless, He is God, He needs nothing to be fulfilled but He did go through pain to save us. This is the only sacrifice that reflects on real “sacrifice.” He had no reason really to do that. He did it out of unconditional love for His creation. Reading through the Bible, we cannot find anywhere written something such as “see what I have done for you; why do you treat me like this?”

It is stressful to live with one foot here and the other somewhere else. When we make choices, we need to own them and go all the way. For sure, at some point, we might decide to change/ modify this choice and again it is our choice to do so and to choose a new path. Each moment we make choices. This moment as I write this post, from word to word and sentence to sentence, I choose what I write guided by the Spirit but still I choose to do so…nobody obliges me!

When somebody talks to us, we decide what we will respond and how, nobody else! When we buy tomatoes, we choose them. If they do not look nice, we can go somewhere else but if time is more important, we might buy those ones or not eat tomatoes at all!

There are plenty solutions for each situation, we can find some and choose one!  In a lot of cases, it is not easy to choose and the mountain might seem high. It takes an effort to climb it, however, it is worth it! The view from the top is amazing!

I believe that the best choice is:

Proverbs 8v10

Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,”

AND

Deuteronomy 30v19

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.


The last two weeks, Christians all around the world celebrate and remember what Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, did for us and this is exactly what God tells us: “I have set before you life and death…Now choose life…”

The most important choice that we might have to do! Amen!

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Gaudi: A dreamer who chose to follow the dream

Casa Battlo, Barcelona, © DS 2010

When I travelled to Barcelona, Spain, my desire was to see through my own eyes what I had read in books about the marvellous creations of the architect Gaudi.

Gaudi was a real artist, engineer and architect but, at the time he lived, not many realized who he was. Probably, only Güell who supported all his work and paid the bills. Gaudi, however, chose to follow his dream and the desire of his heart. That’s who he was, no matter what others thought. Today, millions of people visit the dreaming buildings he dreamed, designed and supervised.

Humans have the tendency to choose that they have no choice! It is an easy way to escape the ownership of situations; it is a good excuse for not bringing changes in their lives; it is a way to explain what had happened in their lives and point the finger of blame to others such as the politicians, the society, God and to anything else except their own selves.

The truth is that we do have choices and anything that happens we have contributed into, through choices that we always do but we do not acknowledge them as our own.

It has been quoted: “between stimulus and respond, there is a gap”. There is always a gap – it is up to us to decide its length – and it is the moment that we decide/choose how to respond. Nobody can take this freedom away from us.

We need to acknowledge this truth, so we can make the choices that they bring changes. Knowledge is power.

It is written in Hosea 4v6

“my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”

Besides, we cannot change something that we do not acknowledge. As we recognize the power of choice and we take responsibility of our choice, we stop seeing ourselves as victims and powerless.

Knowing our authority of our own choices gives us the freedom to move forwards and stop crying over spoilt milk. In this way we hold our own power than give it to others, to the systems, societies, spouses and so on.

There is a saying: “people make mistakes and mistakes make people”. Yes, we will make mistakes but we learn out of them and we grow through them to better human beings.

By believing that we have no choice, we basically live in a denial and we fail to reach our real purpose and achieve our dreams.

The question is whether we have choices in our Christian lives. We read in the Bible:

PEOPLE’s CHOICES?                                           

Proverbs 8v10

Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,”

Deuteronomy 30v19

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

Isaiah 7v15

“He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.”

Hosea 8v4

“They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval. With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction.”

Psalms 65v4

Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.”

 GOD’s CHOICES?

Acts 15v7

After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.

Deuteronomy 12v5

But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;

I wish to stop here for today and allow time to all of us to think deeper on the above scriptures and whether we can choose; whether we can be responsible for our choices; whether God makes His choices, as well.

I pray that the Holy Spirit enlightens us to have God’s understanding and to reveal to us the power of choices, in Jesus Name, amen!

p.s.  I consider Choice a gift in our lives, a miracle. When I  realized that I had choices and I am not a victim, my whole life changed and yes, I do consider this change a great miracle as I found freedom, complete freedom.

 

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