Be kind to one another. Love each other as Jesus loved you, insomuch that He shed his blood for us while we were yet sinners. Give and never fear of going without. God will always provide. He is the one who created everything. Is it so difficult for Him to supply the needs for his children?
Above all else, remember to have a soft and gentle heart to those who wrong you. They are lost, and they do not know what they do when they are harming you. The apostle Peter says it this way:
“For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” (1 Peter 2:19)
A gentle spirit is humble. A gentle spirit is pure. It does not desire vengeance, nor does it desire evil for evil. It returns love for hate. It shows understanding when there is a lack of wisdom. And it promotes comfort for those times when others feel insecure.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to the little children. That is something Jesus said. Jesus made it a point to encourage his disciples to receive the kingdom like a child. What does that mean? Here is the text as written in Luke 18:15-17:
“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’”
A friend of mine recently said to me, “I used to be so passionate and driven. What happened?” I took a moment and thought about it, and then I realized God was trying to tell me something; not only tell me something but also tell my friend something. People do not say these things without a reason. There is always a reason for their statements.
I explained it this way: I think, and this is purely out of my own experience, that as we get older we tend to lose more and more of our childlike qualities because the stresses of reality tend to choke them out of us. We are looking so much at what is happening now, with the bills to pay, the meals we have to prepare, the clothes we have to wash, the friends we think others want us to be, that we do not look at what God has given us and what he wants us to be. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” I thought about this a lot, and I believe kids are the happiest when they know someone loves them. Now I know Christ loves us, otherwise he would not have given his life for us like he did. But I also think that somehow, as we grow older and as we try to become more like Christ, we should remember what it was like to be as a child. That means, not worrying about what comes next, but living for God every day in the best possible way we can. How am I making a difference by simplifying my life so that the cares of this world do not choke God’s gift from me.
That was my quick explanation. As I give it more thought, however, I am more inclined to go deeper. Matthew 18:3-4 is Jesus’ answer to his disciples when they were arguing about who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Next Monday will be Thanksgiving for us Canadians. I can honestly say that this year has been one of the most remarkable years of my life. Never have I experienced such a powerful renewal of spirit as I have. And I believe this year is just the beginning.
The little things are what I am thankful for.
Such as when I finish shopping, a line will open up for me at checkout, saving me oodles of time later on. I enjoy how the lights going home all turn green, as if by some unforeseen miracle the lights themselves know I am on the road. It still impresses me when I arrive in a restaurant with the family with no reservation and the server gives us the last booth in the place. And I am in awe whenever I go to a movie to find it has sold out, but when ordering the ticket, a spot just happens to become available. This has happened on more than one occasion.
I am thankful for autumn, when the leaves change into a rainbow of colors, and all I can do is stand there wondering what have I done that I should so enjoy such an incredibly inspiring sight. I am thankful for this season’s rain, and the way it makes the moss on the rocks in the woods smell musty and worn. I am thankful for the lake in town, that I can watch the ducks paddle in among the fallen leaves by the shore, and relish in their simple life.
I am most of all thankful for my family—for my wife, Luana, who has supported me this year during my change from being lost to being found. I know she has prayed to God for my change in heart, as I know the kids have had their hand in it, too. I am thankful for my kids, one who is studying business, and the other who is pondering the life of a preacher. Both have been my inspiration. Both have provided me countless hours of joy.
Lastly, I cannot end this post without being thankful for my new church, where I have learned that I am worthy to go before the throne of God and worship him with my whole heart. No other place have I felt this before.
Oh, and of course, I am thankful for God patiently waiting for me (Isaiah 30:18) while I got my head straight as to realizing what is important in life. He has blessed me with peace (John 14:27). He has given me the hope that lies in Christ (Ephesians 1:11-12). He has shared with me his Sabbath rest I so truly sought for so long (Hebrews 4:9-12).
For all these things, next week’s Thanksgiving Day will be a day of absolute gratefulness in my home.
To me, the library has always been a special place to visit. In grade school, every teacher I’ve known would bring me, along with the rest of my friends, into the magical world of books where I would lose myself for hours at a time. While the rest of my class enjoyed recess outside, I took to the books, drowning my imagination in their stories.
For Freedom Friday, allow me a few minutes of your time to tell you what I love about the library and why I think everyone should take the time to enjoy this great resource of knowledge and wonder.
As a teen, I had my first job working at the city library. They hired me as a page. I never really knew what the title meant, but it wasn’t until I got older that someone told me a page is a gofer. Go for the books. Go for the librarian. Well, you get the picture. I spent most of my time putting books away. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
Late one fall evening, as I sat in my usual spot near the window sorting my books, the rain began. I stopped my sorting and just sat there watching. The traffic lights made a reflection on the street as they changed from green to yellow to red. People scattered to the nearest store searching for shelter. I sat on the ledge of a carpeted bay window. I remember how peaceful it was to look at the water coming down in the middle of the street.
When my wife and I had our first child, it was an incredible period. All of a sudden, we were parents, but at the same time, we became kids again. We filled our home with toys, books and baby clothes. We’d take family trips to the zoo, the movies and our nearest park. What I remember the most though, is the trips to the library. I don’t know who enjoyed it more, my child or me.
The biggest kick I got from the experience was watching my child’s face as it lit up with joy after having found the most perfect book. It brought me back to when I first graced the aisles of my school library to discover the book Where the Wild Things Are.
Now that my kids are older, I visit the library on occasion. I still get that wonderful feeling in the pit of my stomach knowing it’s an extended home to me. My interests may have changed, but I’m ever willing to explore the catacombs where fantasy and reality meet.
There comes a time in people’s lives when they have to decide what they want out of life. For some, they know as soon as they’re born. For others, it takes a lifetime. That’s a lifetime of going through the motions of living, making mistakes, hurting—but learning—learning what makes them tick, what makes them feel, what makes them happy.
No one ever said life is easy. In some respect, it’s not. It’s a matter of perspective. The choices will either encourage change in a person or force them to resist. One thing’s for certain, change will happen, whether someone wants it or not.
When I was a young boy, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I had creativity in my blood. On my mother’s side, music dominated our genes to produce a multitude of musical geniuses including a symphony composer and conductor in South America. On my father’s side, sports lives in the Flacco blood. The Flaccos have always pushed the limits in anything they put their hand to.
Then, there’s me. My story? I drifted. After finishing high school, I went from knowing I wanted to be a writer to working in blue-collar factories for seven years. If that wasn’t enough to learn a lesson, I then went into accounting for another seven years. That’s fourteen years—gone. That’s not including the added distraction of wanting to be a rock star. I mentioned that somewhere, didn’t I? Yes, I studied musical composition in Toronto, following the lead of my mom’s gene pool. Suffice it to say things didn’t work out quite as expected.
Ages later, after many hits and misses, I’m happy to say I’m doing the very thing I should have pursued right from grade school when the inkling of being a writer sprung into my mind.
Now, I’m going to play the part of devil’s advocate here and say a few things folks may not like. Kids know what they want to be. I really believe that. I believe kids not only know what they want to do with their lives, but they express it from an early age. They’re not going to say straight out “I want to be a doctor” or “I want to be an astronaut” or even say anything at all. Sometimes they’ll say it in the most beautiful and powerful language known to us—the language of doing.
A child may draw all day, may dance, sing, read, write, swim, laugh, throw, act, play, jump, crawl, watch butterflies float, dream upon the clouds, help mom bake, help dad put the car back together, mow the lawn and yes, shovel the driveway—the point is they’re telling us what they’re good at.
So my Freedom Friday question is this: Why on earth would anyone want to discourage them from being anything other than what they’re good at?
I don’t see that many zombie children in movies. Most of the zombie movies I’ve seen have one or two token kids, but what about a whole schoolhouse filled with them? Something must have happened to the children. Something must have made them all disappear. Or is it that film producers shy away from such a scene knowing parent groups may rebel against such a movie?
My Monday Mayhem series wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t talk about such a controversial subject as children in zombie movies. I say controversial because of the ramifications a film may possess if kids became the focus of a zombie apocalypse.
If the opening scene of 2004’s Dawn of the Dead is any indication, I can see why movie studios would repel ideas depicting children as undead corpses craving human flesh. Although the producers presented the notion in a tasteful matter (no pun intended), the fact of the matter lies with the question posed, “What do we do with the kids when they’ve completed their task?” Of course, the answer to that dilemma has more to do with the answer to the same question exchanging the word “kids” with “adults”. And we all know what happens to zombies when their turn is up.
I’m sure the decision not to include more zombie children in movies has to do more with child labor laws than creative license. For instance, hiring a child in a movie involves having that child work limited hours, whereas adults can work round-the-clock. Also, there’s the moral question that would come into play portraying kids in a bad light. Would it benefit or detract from the production if a child has blood dripping from its mouth?
Again, if the production has one child to work with, the director could utilize some creative means in order to not represent the scene in a most brutal and gruesome way. Dawn of the Dead does a good job at that.
What if, though, it wasn’t one child? What if the script called for a whole schoolhouse filled with them, as I had mentioned? What kind of logistical problems would that pose for the production?
Given each child actor would probably have to sign a contract, the parents or guardians would probably do their best to ensure their child does not commit something that would present them in a unfavorable light. This would otherwise pave the way for a lawsuit, should any of the children do anything beyond their stringent agreement with the studios.
And the schoolhouse filled with children, what happens to them?
It’s an idea that may never come to fruition, given the legal nightmare such a scene would present.
Therefore, we may never see that schoolhouse scene in the theater. Or anywhere else, for that matter. But at least we have zombie movies that can still cause heads to turn (no pun intended).