The Birth of Jesus Christ

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” – Luke 2:14

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The most wonderful event in history occurred one night in the city of David.  Mary gave birth to her first Child, a Son.  She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in the manger because there was no room for them in the village inn.

Prophecy was fulfilled.  “Look!  The virgin will conceive a child.  She will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel—‘God is with us’” (Isaiah 7:14) The birth of Jesus was something to celebrate.  An angel, excited about the good news, went and told the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone.  The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David.  And this is how you will recognize Him:  You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth” (Luke 2:10-12).

Excited, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem!  Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (verse 15).  They rushed off and found Mary and Joseph.  And there was the baby, lying in the manger.  The shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had told them about this Child.  All those who were present were amazed to hear the shepherds’ testimony.  The shepherds returned to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them and because they had seen the Child just as the angel had said.

Could you imagine being one of those shepherds?  You are sitting there watching your flock and then an angel of the Lord suddenly appears to tell you that the Messiah—the Savior you had waited for so long is born?  Not only that—the angel tells you where you can find Him and how to recognize Him.  You and the other shepherds decide to go to Bethlehem and you see the baby.  You see the face of your Savior.  He is a Baby that would grow up into a Man who would touch the lives of many.  Mary kept these things in her heart and thought about them often.  Like her, we should treasure the things we know and learn about Jesus and think about them often.

During this holiday season many people think only about the birth of Jesus but how about thinking about His life, His ministry, His death and resurrection too?  Treasure not just Jesus the newborn babe lying in the manger, but treasure the Man, Messiah, Savior, Lord and King.

Have a blessed Christmas, everyone.

Mary Said Yes!

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” – Luke 1:38

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When the angel, Gabriel appeared to a young virgin named, Mary, in the town of Nazareth and told her that she would have a Son, she found the news astonishing seeing that she had never been with a man.  Yet, after he explained how this miraculous conception would happen, she believed him and her response was Yes.  She called herself the maidservant of the Lord.  In other words, she was going to do what the Lord asked of her.

She even sang a song, glorifying God, her Savior, rejoicing that He regarded her, his humble servant.  For saying yes to His plan, she would be called blessed by all generations.  She declared that, “…He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name” (Luke 1:46-49, NKJV).

Saying yes to God isn’t always easy.  It could cause problems.  For Mary a lot was at stake.  After she was betrothed to Joseph and just before they got married, she was found with Child by the Holy Spirit.   Joseph had no way of knowing how she got pregnant.  All he knew was that she was and that was a huge problem.  He loved Mary but he couldn’t go through with the wedding.  He had to divorce her quietly and he had to do it quietly because according to Jewish law, a betrothal was the same as a valid marriage.  So, although they weren’t formally married, Joseph was still considered Mary’s husband by betrothal.  A public divorce would have alerted the community to the fact that Joseph wasn’t the father of Mary’s child and she would have been stoned to death for adultery (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23).  

Poor Joseph.  His reaction to Mary’s pregnancy was understandable.  As far as he was concerned she had been unfaithful to him.  Mary must have tried really hard to explain how she got pregnant but it must have sounded too fantastic to Joseph.  While he was agonizing over what he had to do, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said to him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20, 21, NKJV). 

Joseph woke up from the dream.  What a relief.  All his troubles were gone.  He joyfully did what the angel commanded him.   He married Mary but didn’t consummate their marriage until after she had given birth to her firstborn Son Whom he named, Jesus.

Sometimes saying yes to God’s plan for your life might bring trouble, opposition or conflict into your life but God is in control.  He knows exactly what He is doing.  All you have to do is to trust and obey Him as Mary did.  She put God first and He blessed her and us with the Savior of the world.  Sometimes a situation may turn out to be completely different from how it appears.  Initially, Joseph saw Mary’s pregnancy as a betrayal but once it was explained to him, it became a blessing.  In his charge was the Christ Child.

This Christmas, be thankful that Mary said yes to God’s plan despite the risks.  She trusted in the God for Whom nothing was impossible.  Celebrate Joseph’s obedience too because once he learned the truth about Mary’s pregnancy, he didn’t hesitate do what the Lord commanded him through His angel and as a result he was there to witness God’s greatest miracle–the birth of His Son, Jesus.     

The Virgin Mother

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14

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The mere fact that a virgin will give conceive and give birth to a Son, is in of itself a miracle.  This is humanly impossible.  Even Mary marveled.  She exclaimed, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel, Gabriel explains to her how this miraculous birth will be achieved.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”  He reminds her that, “For with God nothing will be impossible.”

If the Almighty could have Elizabeth, a barren woman conceive in her old age why couldn’t it be possible for Mary, a young virgin, who found favor with Him conceive in her womb and bring forth a Son, and call His name Jesus? (Luke 1:30, 31, 36).  Yes, God can do the impossible and He did.  In Mary, He fulfilled the promise which He made through the prophet, Isaiah and He named the Child Immanuel, which means “God with us.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus for leaving the glory of Heaven to come to earth to be with us.

Ife’s Loss

Herieth_Paul_Women20194_R“He was only twenty-nine!”  Ife couldn’t believe it.  Her ex-husband, Damba was dead.  “What happened?” she asked  her brother, Irumba.  It was a Sunday afternoon and she was at home.  Miremba was out with her friends.  Irumba had stopped by to give her the news.

“He was killed in  road accident.  It was caused by over-speeding which resulted in failure to brake.  He died instantly.  His sister said she was trying to reach you but couldn’t.  The funeral is next week Friday.”

Ife sighed.  “I always warned him about driving too fast.  He never listened.  That was his problem.  I warned him about so many things but he never listened.  And now, he’s dead.  Poor Miremba.  She’s going to take this really hard.  She loved her Dad.”

“What about you?  Did you love him?”

“I thought I did but now I don’t think so.  I cared about him but I didn’t love him.  Soon after we got married I realized that I had made a mistake but I wanted to give our marriage a chance because of Miremba.  I learned that staying in a marriage for the sake of a child isn’t the best thing for that child.  He and I quarreled a lot and it was beginning to affect Miremba and that’s why I decided that a divorce was the best thing.”

“Couldn’t you have tried to work things out?  What about marriage counseling?”

“We couldn’t afford that.”

“You could have come to me and I would have helped you.”

“No.  Damba wouldn’t have wanted your help.  And he wouldn’t have wanted to go for counseling.  I know that divorce isn’t a good thing but in my case, it was the only option.”

“How are you doing, otherwise?”

“I’m getting by.”

“Why don’t you move out of this place and neighborhood and find somewhere better and safer for Miremba and you?”

“It’s not that bad.  It’s close to Miremba’s school and I don’t have to travel far to get to work.”

“Are you still working at that hotel?”

“Yes.”

“Ife, you’re a smart woman.  Why are you wasting your time cleaning a big, fancy hotel?”

“I got pregnant and got married soon after I finished high-school.  I didn’t go to university.  I became a housewife and a mother.  And now I’m a widow.”

“It’s not too late for you to do something with your life.”

Ife shrugged.  “I’m so used to working at the hotel.   I don’t want to make any changes right now.”  She knew the real reason for not wanting to leave her job at the hotel was because of Mr. Kobayashi.  In her mind she called him, Toshiro but whenever she addressed him, she called him, Mr. Kobayashi.  In spite of everything, she had fallen hopelessly in love with him.

“Did you call the company I told you about a couple of weeks ago?”

“What company?”

“Paper Craft Africa.  They are the company whose products are sold in local married African manhotels and gift shops.  Many of the people they employ are young, single mothers like yourself.  It’s right here in Kampala, Ife.  Why don’t you check them out during your lunch break?”

“I can’t.  I only have a half-hour lunch break.”

“Then go after work.  Don’t you work until 4:30?  The company is open until 5, I believe.  Call them and find out.”

“All right, I will call,” Ife promised.  “How are Nasiche and the girls?”

“They are doing well.  They were sorry to hear about Damba.  Nasiche said that if you need her for anything, call.  If you like Miremba could stay with us for a while.”

“I’ll ask Miremba.  I’m really sorry that Damba’s dead.  He was a good father to Miremba and a good husband to me in the beginning.  I think things changed between us when he realized that I didn’t love him.  I guess I was hoping that one of these days, he would find a woman who would love him the way he wanted me to love him.  I guess that isn’t likely to happen now.”

Irumba hugged her.  “Don’t beat yourself up about it.  Sometimes people end up marrying the wrong person through no fault of their own.  Besides, something beautiful came from your marriage.”

Ife smiled.  “Yes, Miremba.  She was a gift straight from God.”

Irumba drew back to look down at her.  “Speaking of God, you haven’t been to church in a while.  Miremba comes by herself.  What’s going on?”

“I’m too tired.”

“Ife, you should never be too tired to come to church on the Sabbath.”

“I still pray and read my Bible even though I don’t attend church.”

“I’m happy that you’re doing those things and but it’s very important for God’s people to attend church regularly.  It’s the time when we come together worship, are encouraged and learn from God’s Word for our spiritual growth.  The apostle Paul advises us not neglect our weekly gathering, as some people do, but to encourage one another, especially now that the day of the Lord’s return is drawing near.”

“I know that going to church is important.  Mama and Papa always told us that God expected us to be in His house every Saturday.”

“You know that if they were alive now, they would be telling you the very same thing.  Why don’t you come with Miremba this Saturday?  Afterwards, both of you will come home with us and have a delicious lunch which Nasiche will prepare on Friday before sunset, for us to enjoy and then we spend the rest of the afternoon together.”

Ife hesitated.  She wanted to go to church.  She missed going to church but how could she show her face there knowing what she was doing behind closed doors?  It would be uncomfortable sitting there among the church members, knowing what she was doing behind their backs.  The thought petrified her.

Irumba squeezed her shoulder.  “Think about it,” he said quietly.

She nodded.  “I will,” she promised.  “Thanks for coming over.”

“On Friday, the family and I will take Miremba and you to the church for the funeral service.”

“All right.  We’ll see you then.  Please give my love to Nasiche and the girls.”

“I will.  Give Miremba a hug for me and let her know how sorry we are to hear about her Dad.”

They hugged again and then he left.  After he was gone, Ife sat down on the sofa and cried.

Next Up, Toshiro Consoles Ife

Sources:  XinhuanetBible Gateway; Bible Study ToolsTechnoServe

Makena’s Story

D0g88WZXgAMP4QjI’m an only child.  I was 12 years old when my mother died.  My father was devastated.  A Catholic priest told him that I would be better off living in an Italian orphanage where I would have a good Christian education.  The father believed him because he was a priest.  He was a missionary sent to Kenya for a year and he visited our home when my mother was sick.  He prayed over her and when she died, he officiated at the funeral service.  He told my father that he didn’t have to worry about me.  He promised that I would be well taken care of by the nuns who ran the orphanage.

So, after we buried my mother and saying a tearful goodbye to my father, I went with Father Bernardo to a strange country whose language I didn’t know.  I was scared but Father Bernardo assured me that everything was going to be all right.  All I had to do was trust him. and if I had any problems or concerns, I could always talk to him about them.  It wasn’t until we got to the orphanage that I found out that he lived in one of the units on the grounds.

When we got to the orphanage, I was put to work as a domestic hand as well as carer for the younger children in the orphanage even though I didn’t understand a word of Italian.  I was also chosen to clean Father Bernardo’s unit.  He offered to teach me Italian after I finished my cleaning but things changed.  After I finished cleaning his unit,  had to sit on his lap, and while he taught me Italian, he played with my breasts.

I knew what was happening was wrong and I felt guilty because of my religious Priestupbringing.  Father Bernardo knew it was wrong too but he didn’t stop.  Instead, he made me go to confession and pray to God for forgiveness for my sins because I was making him do what he did.  And he threatened me that if I ever resisted his abuse, he would refuse to give me communion the next time I went to Mass.

As I got older, the abuse got worse.  He started to have sex with me.  While I was cleaning, he would get undressed and climb into the bed and wait for me to join him.  I couldn’t refuse because I knew that he would make good on his threat not to give me Communion.  So, I would let him do what he wanted to me, praying that one day it would end.  It was no use telling anyone about it.  Once when I told one of the nuns that I was bleeding down there, she thought I meant that I had my period and she gave me pads.  And Father Bernardo told me that no one would believe me if I told them about us.  They would accuse me of lying and beat me.

I got pregnant three times and all three times I was forced to have an abortion because he refused to use condoms or contraceptives.  I hated him because he was forcing me to commit murder.  As far as I was concerned abortion was murder.  Each time I had one, I cried bitterly in my room and begged God to forgive me.

I wanted to write my father and tell him what was happening to me but Father Bernardo wouldn’t let me to write or call without his permission.  He made sure that somehow he got a hold of my mail and if there was something in it that he didn’t approve of it was confiscated and discarded.  And I wasn’t permitted to leave the grounds of the orphanage or talk to any of the local boys or the even the gardener.  He got jealous and spiteful when I did.  I not only feared him but I began to hate him.  I wanted to run away from him and this horrible place.

One night I opened my Bible to the Psalms and found Psalm 37.  I read it.  These words jumped out at me, “Be still in the presence of the LORD and wait patiently for Him to act.”  I decided to do just that.  I had prayed to Him to rescue me from this private Hell and I know He heard my prayer.  Now, I will wait for Him to do something.

I didn’t have long to wait.  While Father Bernardo was in Rome, I left the orphanage and went to live in a house where I worked as a servant.  I was 18.  The couple with whom I lived were paid an allowance for having me and they had me accompany them on trips as nanny to their children.  Fortunately for me they spoke English, although by then, I knew some Italian.  I was happy living with them.  They treated me very well and I was very fond of their children.

Several times, Father Bernardo stopped by to persuade me to return to the orphanage but I refused.  He was taken aback and after his threats failed, he begged me to go back with him and promised that he would use condoms so that I wouldn’t have to have any more abortions but I told him to leave me alone.  He eventually went away and I never saw him again but he made the mistake of writing me a long letter in which he went off on a tirade.

In it he wrote that no man would want to marry me when he found out that I had been an older man’s lover and had three abortions.  He said that he wasn’t an evil man and that it was my fault that he did the things he did.  He said I bewitched him.  He ended the letter, promising that if I resumed our relationship, he would consider leaving the priesthood and marrying me.  I felt sick to my stomach.

I wanted to tear the letter to pieces and flush them down the toilet but I was impressed to show the letter to the couple whom I was working for.  Shocked and appalled, the man made several copies of the letter.   He mailed one copy to the orphanage, to the church where Father Bernardo did Mass, the Vatican and to the local bishop.  No response was forthcoming but the last I heard of Father Bernardo, he was no longer at the orphanage or at the church.  My employer said that they probably just reassigned him to another church instead of removing him from the priesthood.

I don’t hate him anymore but I trust in the Word of God which says, “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.”

user_male_portraitI’m 28 years old now and happily married with two children–a boy and a girl.  My husband, Stefano was the younger brother of the woman whom I was working for.  We met when he drove from Florence to visit the family.  He was very charming and it didn’t take long for him to win my heart.  I wrote to my father about him and he was able to come to the wedding.

It was wonderful seeing my father again.  He looked much older than I remember.  My mother’s death really hit him hard but he has managed to pick up the pieces.  He stayed for a couple of weeks in Florence before flying back to Nairobi.  Next year summer, Stefano, the kids and I will visit him.

I still haven’t told my father about my abuse.  Stefano told me to wait until I feel like I’m ready to do it but I’m not sure I ever will.  Especially not after he said to me as we danced at my wedding, “I’m thankful that Father Bernardo convinced me to let you come to Italy or you wouldn’t have met your young man.”  I don’t want my father to blame himself for what Father Bernardo did to me.

I’m still haunted by the memories and after leaving the orphanage, I have never set foot in a Catholic church.  I have an aversion for priests.   I left the Catholic faith and am now a member of Stefano’s church which is non-denominational.  Stefano had left his faith years ago because of the sex scandals.

There are times when I feel ashamed of what happened and wished that I had done something–anything to prevent it but Stefano told me to stop blaming myself.  Who would have believed me anyway?  It was my word against a priest’s.  With God’s help, I am working through the lingering guilt and the self-recrimination one day at a time.  I still think about the abortions I had and will always regret having them.

This story is fiction but is inspired by true stories of women who were abused by priests as young girls.  One woman was abused for 13 years beginning when she was 15 years old.  There are so many stories of victims suffering at the hands of those who are in positions of trust and millions of people want to know, “what new steps will the bishops take to clean up — or clean out — the church after years of sex abuse scandals?”  The pastoral practice of transferring priest from parish to parish (priest shuffling) has to stop.

Priests suspected of abuse should be removed from their duties/their parishes until there is an investigation into the allegations and once it is proven that they are guilty, they need to be arrested and serve time for their crimes against the innocent.  The Church as a whole has to be held accountable and put policies in place to protect the victims.  Victims should not be treated as if they have done something wrong or be accused of lying.

Anne Barrett Doyle of the research group, Bishop Accountability said that what Pope Francis should do to protect children, is to order the Vatican to release the names of all priests who have been convicted under canon law of abusing minors.  Pennsylvania Attorney-General Josh Shapiro urged local church officials to “cease their denials and deflections” and accept the grand jury recommendations, which include allowing victims to sue the church for abuse that otherwise would fall outside the statute of limitations.  According to Pope Francis, church leaders need to be more concerned about the safety of the children than their own reputations.

No more talk.  No more cover-up.  It’s time for the church to take action and root out priestly sex abuse.

Sources:  The Irish TimesRoyal CommissionKnowing Jesus; USA Today; The Globe and MailWikipedia

In Sanaya’s Memory

Web1It was love at first sight for me when I saw her walking towards me.  It was a blind date.  I don’t usually go on blind dates, mind you, but for some inexplicable reason, I went on this one and man, was I glad I did.

She had to be the most beautiful girl on the entire planet.  Those eyes did things to my heart and those Angelina Jolie lips–my, my, my.  Up to that point, I’ve only dated African American women but this girl was Pakistani.  I could tell from the way she was looking at me that she liked what she saw.

Needless to say, we really hit it off and that first date turned into other dates and before I knew it, I was telling Raj, the friend who set us up, that I wanted to marry this girl.  Raj was blown away and quite pleased with himself.  “I told you that you were going to love her.  If I weren’t already married, and happily married, I would have dated her myself.  I’m thrilled for you, Man.  So, have you popped the question as yet?”

“No, but I’m going to tonight when we’re having dinner at my place.”  And I did.  She was so moved by tears that for several minutes she couldn’t say anything.  After I slipped the ring on her finger, we stood and hugged.  She ended up spending the night.

We got married in an elegant but intimate ceremony.  Raj, of course, was my best man.  My family were all there but none of hers was–only friends and co-workers.  I knew that they didn’t approve of me because I wasn’t Pakistani.  I later found out that they wanted her to marry a friend of the family who was rich but old enough to be her father and she refused.  She moved out of her parents’ house and moved in with a friend.  b2052d4a374f85a4821cc75859f32472--full-lips-beautiful-eyes

When her family found out about me, they were livid.  They tried to get her to end our relationship but she refused.  She told them that she loved me and planned to spend the rest of her life with me.  Her father was especially opposed to this and told her that she was a disgrace to her family. Even there in America, she had respect their family’s caste, religion and customs.  He warned her that if she didn’t stop dating me and agree to the marriage they had arranged for her, she would be very sorry.

I didn’t know that she was afraid that something dad would happen to her.  If I had, I would have packed up everything and taken her far away.  It never once occurred to me that my father-in-law, whom I never met, would take my wife’s life.  Even now, I still can’t believe that a father would kill his own daughter because she chose to marry a man she loved instead of the man they wanted her to marry.

It happened a couple of months after she gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Alaya.  She was on her way home from the supermarket when she was struck by a car driven by her father.  She was rushed to the hospital.  Her condition was very critical.  She suffered multiple vertebrae fractures, an ankle fracture, a severe closed head injury and multiple soft tissue injuries from head to toe.  To say that I was devastated would be a gross understatement.  I was beside myself.  I cried and prayed for her to pull through but she slipped into a coma and never woke up.  My family and friends rallied around me, supporting me.  I had lost the love of my life and the mother of our child.  How on earth was I going to get through that?

Her father was charged with murder.  He’s still serving time.  I don’t hate him anymore.  I have channeled the negative feelings into something positive.  I have created a foundation in my wife’s honor.  It’s called Sanaya after her.  The organization is geared towards preventing honor killings in America.  This is America.  It’s supposed to be the land of the free.  What about the message at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty which says, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

Yet, honor killings are no longer happening in other parts of the world.  They are happening right here in our own backyard.  And it has to stop.  It is an issue that cannot be ignored.  Right now, I am working to expose the issue and help train front line responders, victim service providers, and counselors.  I have to do this for Sanaya, our daughter Ayala and other women.  There is no honor in killing and women are not objects or possessions.  They, like Sanaya, should have the right to marry the men of their choice and not be murdered for it.  It is my hope and prayer that honor killing will be a thing of the past.  Until that time, I will continue to honor Sanaya’s memory by fighting to “end the practice of Honor Killings and shift the mindset of Pakistani society to one of gender equality.” 

This story is fiction but it was written for National Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women which is today, November 25, 2019.  This story was inspired by the true tragic killing of Noor, a young Iraqi woman who was run over by her father in Arizona.  She was killed to preserve the family honor.  In her father’s eyes, she was engaging in behavior that could taint her family’s status.

Noor told a friend that her father disapproved of everything she did — from the way she dressed to her choice of friends. According to Noor’s friend, Pesta, “She had a foot in two worlds. She had one foot in suburban America and one foot in Middle Eastern tradition.  In public she tried to put on a brave face…and tried to live her life and enjoy the freedoms that American offered her. In private, she fought with her father all the time.”

Honor killing has been around for such a long time and was thought to happen only in certain countries but it is happening in North America.  According to Aruna Papp, an internationally recognized educator and a survivor, after being raised in an honour-based family structure in India, honor killings are happening here in Canada.  “It’s an epidemic. We have had 19 honour killings in Canada in the last decade. In all developed countries, the highest rate of suicide is among South Asians—why do they come to developed countries and kill themselves? Because we are trained from birth to be self sacrificing…it’s so much easier to kill yourself then to humiliate the family.” 

The issue of honour killing was thrust into the Canadian spotlight back in 2009, after four female members of the Shafia family were found dead in a canal in Ontario.

Honor killing and violence against women are real issues and we must continue to raise awareness and take action.  Girls and women deserve to live quality lives, free of violence, oppression and free.  It is believed that at least 5,000 honour killings are reported around the world each year, but most likely the actual number is far higher since many go unreported.

If you are interested in learning more about honor killing and/or how you can help in the fight to end it, here is a list of organizations you can check out:

 

Violence against women is not just a problem in countries like Afghanistan and Somalia. It’s happening in the U.S. too

Ayaan Hirsi Ali stated that most Americans refuse to accept that honor violence happens there and this is the biggest obstacle to providing effective assistance.  Her foundation receives requests for help from women and girls in crisis.  She mentioned in her editorial, “There is the young woman, an American citizen, who was taken to her family’s native country in the Middle East to marry a complete stranger against her will because her parents feared she was becoming too “Americanized.” There is the college student who fears for her life should her father discover that she is dating someone outside her family’s faith. There is the teenage girl who discovers she is pregnant and is threatened with murder by her family for bringing shame upon them.” 

Refusing to believe that this type of violence is in our country wouldn’t make it go away.  It exists and women and girls need our help.  We must do something.  No more burying our heads in the sand.  We MUST take action.

Honor killings are not honorable by God. They are driven by ignorance and ego and nothing more. The Creator favors the man who loves over the man who hates. If you think God will punish you or your child for allowing them to marry outside of your tribe or faith, then you do not know God. Love is his religion and the light of love sees no walls. Anybody who unconditionally loves another human being for the goodness of their heart and nothing more is already on the right side of God.
Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

Sources:  Amnesty International; CBS; The Guardian; Global News; Humanity Healing

The Pure Milk

…desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,  if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious – 1 Peter 2:2, 3, NKJV

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I remember when I was still breastfeeding, how on one occasion, my son was crying because he was hungry.  When I held him in my arms and he latched on, I saw his eyes close as he nursed.  Instinctively, he desired the milk and when he received it, he eagerly drank it until he was satisfied.

This is how we should crave God’s pure and unadulterated Word.   We don’t want any watered down version or truth mixed with error.   We need the pure milk of God’s Word for our spiritual growth.  Just as breast milk does wonders for a growing child, so does God’s Word do wonders for a growing Christian.

Milk is important for our bones and overall health.  The simple truths of God’s Word is important for our overall spiritual health.   And if you have indeed tasted/experienced the graciousness of the Lord, you ought to make it a habit to daily and earnestly receive His Word as a baby receives his/her milk.