Of Common Sense – Volume III

The Words and Wisdom of Keith Lionel Brown

In the early morning of our lives, our school is our home, the students in the classroom are our siblings, and our teachers are our parents and grandparents. In the afternoon of our lives, our school is a building outside the home, the students in the classroom become our friends and confidants, and our teachers are those who have themselves studied and prepared to impart knowledge to us that we will use as we continue on our journey through life. In the evening of our lives, we continue learning in the school of life with the world being our classroom, and life itself being our teacher.

Each new day of life is an opportunity for us to learn some new and interesting things. The wise man gleans as much as he can from his life experiences and with his new found knowledge and wisdom is able to chart and navigate his course in life. With all of his learning, he also learns that some obstacles in life can be overcome by using a little common sense.

What you are about to read are some of the gleanings from my personal life experiences and the lessons that those experiences have taught me to help me chart and navigate my course. I believe that many of these thoughts are merely common sense.

Show me a man who is able to quote page, chapter, and paragraph from a book, and I will tell you that he is a learned man in that he knows how to read and is capable of memorizing what he has read. However, my question to you is, “Does he truly understand what he has read?” Show me a man who is able to take those things which he has read in a book and put his new found knowledge to practical use, and I will tell you that he too is a learned man in that he is not only able to read, but he is capable of putting to practical use what he has learned in his reading. Having book knowledge can be a wonderful asset, but what good is the knowledge that one obtains from reading a book if he is not able to apply it to his own life, or more importantly to be of some good in the lives of others? Learning without practicality can prove to be futile.

I have said it before and I will continue to say it. Just because a man and/or woman have a theological degree from a Seminary, Bible College, or some religious institution, it does not signify that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It only signifies that they have a piece of paper that indicates that they have successfully completed a course of study. It does not even fully qualify or equip them to be a minister of the Gospel to effectively teach and preach His truths. They may well know the name of Jesus Christ and have a concept of who He is, but that knowledge alone does not necessarily equate to them actually KNOWING Jesus Christ or having a personal relationship with Him. Even Satan knows the name of Jesus Christ, and when he hears the name he trembles. To be effective in the work of the ministry requires a personal, intimate relationship with the Master Teacher – the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through that relationship that one becomes fully prepared and equipped to effectively do the work that has been prepared for him to do.

I humbly submit that to know what the truth is and to deny it for the sake of pleasing the masses, or for fear of being rejected or being considered an outcast, is like denying food to one who is hungry, or a drink of water to one who is thirsty, even though you are able to give a morsel of bread to kill their hunger, or a cool drink of water to quench their thirst.

There are some people who seem to feed off of having constant drama in their life. They seem to be drawn to anything that will cause havoc and confusion, just as bees are drawn to honey and flies to sugar. They do not have a concept of what peace and serenity in life are, and in fact become annoyed at the thought of such things. They live their lives in constant turmoil, and do their best to create turmoil in the lives of others as well. They believe in their finite minds that as long as they can seemingly keep the world in a state of confusion and uproar, they can maintain control and authority over others. We cannot combat drama with more drama. We must stand tall and firm to prove that we are the stronger, and that we will not be subjected to anything that would otherwise cause disruption and disharmony in our life.

Let’s Show Our True Love through Our Actions

As we go forth each day may we not only tell people how much we love them, but show them how much we really care through our acts of love and kindness. Let us remember that it is not always the things that we say that matter the most, but the things, even the little things, that we do that often matter the most. Our actions can often express our true love for another more than an ocean of words ever could or would.

It is the single red rose that is given to someone to express true love, not the dozen roses. Likewise, one single act of kindness to show our love for someone can mean more than anything that we could ever say to them. As Oscar Hammerstein II once said, “A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it. A song’s not a song ’til you sing it. Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay. Love isn’t love ’til you give it away!

We are taught that we are to be in the world, but not of the world. That does not mean that we need to hibernate or bury our heads in the sand to avoid being influenced by the world. Rather, we are to live in the world and be the best positive influence that we can be on those around us. There is a vast difference between being influenced by the world, and influencing the world.

By the grace of God I am who I am. I do not claim to be, nor do I have a desire to be, anything other than what my Heavenly Father has purposed and planned for me to be. I am not all that I would be, for God is not finished with me yet. I am a continual work in progress as He molds and shape me into all that I am to become. He is the Master Potter and I am the clay.

To entertain a fool in his folly is like getting into the pig pen and wallowing in the mud with the pig. One of you likes it while the other becomes disgustingly filthy. The wick of the fool’s candle will continue to burn so long as there are those who give in to his antics and continue to play his nonsensical games of which there are no real rules other than the rules that he devises as the games progress to ensure that the score always remains in his favor. The longer one continues to play the fool’s games, the more they become ensnared in the mangling chords of his web of madness and confusion with not a chance of ever breaking free. There may seem to be no way to beat the fool at his games, but there is one sure way. The best way to beat a fool at his own games is to not become foolish enough to play his games in the first place. A fool left to his own folly to play his games alone will find that the wick of his candle will soon be snuffed out like a candle in the wind.

Where is He?

Wise men of old came from afar asking the timeless question, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). Following the star that they had seen in the east, they were led to where the Christ Child lay. Upon their arrival they presented the new born baby with precious gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why the scriptures never tell us exactly how many wise men came to worship the new born King? Have you ever wondered why there is no mention of their names or identities? I submit that it is because they were not the focal point of the lesson that is being taught. The lesson that is being taught is that Christ is the One upon whom our focus should be centered. Like the wise men of old, we should come near to worship Him. For truly He is worthy of all praise and adoration!

As we prepare to welcome another Christmas morning in just 7 short days, perhaps we need to pause for a moment and take a look around and ask the same question that was asked of old, “Where is He?” Among all the commercialism, the brightly colored lights, beautiful decorations, and the beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, “Where is He?”

What is our main focal point as we celebrate Christmas day? Is it the merriment of the world at this season of the year that fills our hearts with joy and delight for a few brief moments of time, or are our hearts and minds focused on the One whose name is indeed Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace – He that is the greatest gift ever given to mankind by our loving Heavenly Father Himself, wrapped in His Divine love and sealed with an Eternal Promise – He who is both the Light and the Life of the world?

The wise men came to worship the Christ Child. Who is it or what is it that we worship? The wise men presented the new born King with precious gifts from their treasures. What would we give to Him who is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords? Would we give Him those things that matter least to us and seemingly have no real value, or would we open our hearts and give Him our best? O’ come let us adore HIM, CHRIST the LORD!

Perhaps it is just me, but I am forever amazed at the number of people who claim that they never have time to do anything. I have become a firm believer that people will do exactly what they want to do and when they want to do it, and always seem to has plenty of time to do that thing which they want to do. I am forever amazed at the number of people who always claim that their lives are just oh so busy, but have you ever noticed that in all of their busy-ness they always seem to have time to stop and tell you why they think they are so busy.

Keeping It Real

Some have said of me that I am a person that believes in “keeping it real.” That is true for that is who and what I am. With that being the case, allow me to make just one more comment and share this tiny morsel of bread as food for thought as we welcome Christmas morning in just 8 short days.

One of the most valuable lessons that my dear mother ever taught me is that no matter how bad we may think our situation and circumstances are, and no matter how much we think that we have to do without some things, always remember that there is someone, somewhere, whose situation and circumstances are a lot worse than you can ever begin to imagine.

I say that to say this, as we are opening our presents this Christmas, let us be thankful for the things that we are blessed to receive, and not be quick to murmur and complain about the things that we may have wished for and did not receive. If we live to see the day clothed in our right minds and with our full health and strength we are truly blessed as that is more than some will have. As a case in point, I think of a dear sweet sister who has been hospitalized for 19 months now and will not even realize when Christmas Day arrives, not to mention that she has a 12 year old son that will not have mommy home at Christmas yet again. Let us take time to remember those who are less fortunate than ourselves and although we may not be able to do anything for them financially, we can give them our love and let them know that we do care about others and not just ourselves.

First, with the war now ended in Iraq and soldiers now on their way home to their families and loved ones, I wish to be one of the people who say “Welcome home and thank you!” And as a 30-year retired United States Navy Veteran, I humbly salute you. With that being said, as we are blessed to be able to have family around us this Christmas, let us not forget those valiant men and women who will still be in far distant lands away from their families. As we enjoy our presents and partake of the wonderful meals that will be prepared, let us take time to remember and give thanks for those men and women who continue to put their lives on the line each and every day in order that we may enjoy the freedoms that allow us to celebrate another Christmas Day. May God bless, watch over and protect each of them, and although they won’t be home for Christmas, may the peace, love, and joy that is Christmas fill and warm their hearts. Semper fidelis Deo et patria! Angeli eius semper ibi tueri. (Always faithful to God and country! His angels are always there to protect them). – ET1 Keith Lionel Brown, USN, Retired

The things that I remember the most from the Christmases of yesteryear are not the toys that I received as a child, or the gifts that I have received in years since, for many of those things were thrown away long ago and forgotten with time. What I remember the most is our little family gathering together and kneeling together for family prayer on Christmas morning before any gifts were open. What I remember the most is on that special day we took time to remember the Savior first, and to give Him thanks for all of the gifts in life that we receive, and for life itself. What I remember the most is that Christmas was about family and the love that we shared for one another. All the gifts in the world could never substitute for such precious memories.

At this blessed season of the year people are greeted with Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Holidays and the like and it appears that no one seems to be offended. However, as soon as someone says Merry Christmas or puts a sign out that says Merry Christmas, there are some people who seem to become enraged and claim that it offends them. I will make no apologies to anyone for as for me and my house we say Merry Christmas. Yes, Christmas. We do not celebrate the birth of a holiday. We celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ, God’s Precious Gift to the world, the very reason not only for this season, but for our very existence. I respect everyone for their beliefs and traditions and only ask that they reciprocate by respecting mine. If we would spend more time concentrating on the things that should unite us as brothers and sisters, and less time tearing each other apart because of our cultural differences and beliefs, truly there would be peace on earth and goodwill toward all men.

We have no “right” to complain about the distance that our cart is able to travel in a day’s journey if we are the ones who consistently insist on doing nothing but sitting in the cart and enjoying the ride. If we wish to cover a greater distance on the journey, we need to get out of the cart and either get in front of the cart and help pull, or get behind it and help push it along. And so it is in the workplace and also in the work of the ministry. As for the workplace, the optimum success of any team is dependent upon each member of that team doing their fair share to help achieve that success. If a team member is not willing to do their part to help achieve success, then they have no “right” to want to bask in the glory of success either. As for the work of the ministry, when Christ gave the Great Commission to “Go ye into all the world. . .” He was not speaking to one lone disciple and giving him the command to go and do all of the work alone. He was speaking to all of the disciples present, and in essence, He was speaking to all future disciples – you and me. I find no instance in the entire cannon of scripture where Christ ever called anyone to do the work alone. The Gospel continues to roll forth as WE work together to help bring its message of Light and Hope to the world. The world does not need more sideline cheerleaders. There are enough of those. The world needs more people who are willing to go to work and do those things that need to be done. If we are not willing to do our part, our fair share in helping to resolve issues and make a difference in this world, then we do not reserve the “right” to complain and criticize the efforts of those that are at least putting forth a valiant effort to do so.

Christmas is neither about the brightly decorated tree nor the beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree. Christmas is neither about the size nor the cost of the gift. Christmas is all in the heart. The true joy, blessing, and spirit of Christmas is not in the getting, but in the giving. We may never realize how many lives we touch if we but make room in our hearts for others that might otherwise be forgotten. The greatest gift that we can ever give to anyone is to love them. It is a gift that keeps on giving long after Christmas is over.

The Word of God does not need our defense to prove that it is true. It stands true on its own merit regardless if one person believes it, or hundreds of thousands of people believe it. We need never debate its validity with anyone. If they will not accept its truthfulness, we should bear our testimony of its Divine truthfulness and move on. Although the Word of God does not need our defense to prove its truthfulness, it is indeed our ready defense to prove that what we say and believe is true.

I am a firm believer that we do not learn or grow by wanting to remain hidden in the shadows while everyone else always takes the lead. We need to crawl out of our shells and get out of our comfort zones and let the world know, without being obnoxious or overbearing, that we do exist and that we do have a voice. We may falter and make mistakes along the way, but we learn from those mistakes and keep pressing forward. Many a talent is never revealed to the world, and many a blessing is missed out by the person possessing the talent perhaps because of a fear of failure and rejection. Let us think of failures as the bellows that stoke the fire within us, and rejections as the coals that are needed to help keep that fire within us burning. We need to be a light to the world, but we cannot do that if we continue to hide our light under a bushel where no one can see it.

Life Lesson:

It proves hard to get upset with a young child who continuously walks to the dangerous corner alone after you have repeatedly told him not to do so if you have never taken the time to teach him and show him what a corner is.

Life Application:

Tell a man to build a bridge, and the end result may not be to your satisfaction because he will attempt to accomplish the task based on his concept of what he thinks a bridge should look like when it is complete. Teach a man the concepts of building a bridge, and the finished product may more closely resemble the type of bridge that you had in mind as he will attempt to apply those concepts which he has been taught in order to get the job done. Show a man exactly how you want the bridge to be built and you will be more pleased with the finished product, and the man will be better able to hone his skills and have a better understanding of what is being asked of him.

We are all familiar with the classic Christmas story by Charles Dickens called “A Christmas Carol.” One of the characters in that story is a young crippled lad by the name of Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim represents the good in mankind and the hope for a brighter tomorrow. He is the tiny glimmer of light that shines in what seems to be a dark and dismal world. His cheerful disposition and glowing countenance are living proof that there is no night so dark in our lives that the True Light of Hope cannot shine through. And so, it is no small wonder that he can proclaim with such great merriment in his heart, “God bless us everyone!”

The greatest Christmas gift that you can give me is more precious than all the silver, gold, diamonds, rubies, and precious gems in the world. You cannot purchase the gift in any store, and even if you could, what price tag would you put upon it? Therefore, you cannot put the gift in a box and wrap it with brightly colored paper with a fancy bow on top and a name tag with my name on it, and place it under the beautifully decorated Christmas tree. For you see, the greatest gift that you can give me lasts longer than any gift that I could find under the tree and unwrap on Christmas morning. It is a gift that keeps on giving all year long. The greatest gift that you could ever give me is to love me.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea wise men from the east came to Jerusalem asking the question, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” As we prepare to celebrate another Christmas Season let us pause to ask ourselves that same question, “Where is He?” Amidst all of the parties, tinsel, Christmas trees, lights, glitter, and presents, where is He in all of the merriment? Wise men came from afar to worship the new born King. Who or what do we worship during this season? His humble birth was no ordinary birth, for He was no ordinary Child. This One born of Mary, a choice daughter of our Heavenly Father, in a humble Bethlehem stable, was indeed God’s Precious Gift to the world – the greatest gift that any man could ever receive. As we gather with family and loved ones during this season, let us take time to remember that Jesus Christ, the Light, the Life, and the Savior of the World, is the real reason for the season. O’ Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!

The old adage is indeed true; people will not care how much you know until they know how much you care. We can all be found guilty at times of being so wrapped around the grandiose moments in our lives that we often miss the beauty of, and the lessons that can be learned from, the moments that we count as insignificant. People may never remember what we did or said in this life, but what they will remember is how we treated them and how we made them feel. It is often the random acts of kindness, no matter how meager they may seem, that are the most beneficial to everyone. The man with the highest IQ is not necessarily the wisest man; rather he that has a heart full of love and compassion for others and demonstrates that he sincerely cares by reaching out to them in their moments of need. He who spends his life standing in the spotlight seeking vain glory and recognition may well be remembered by a few, but it is often he who stood in the quiet shadows realizing that because he has been given much he too must give that will be remembered the most, not necessarily by name, but because of his unselfish acts of kindness and because he cared.

A man wishes to visit his family for the holidays. The family lives some distance away from the man so he plans his trip, purchases his airplane ticket, and arrives at the airport the day of the flight, in time to catch the flight. However, if the man does nothing more than that, he will never reach his final destination to spend the holidays with his family. He has to physically get up when his flight number is called and board the airplane that will take him to where he needs to go. And so it is with life, as long as we remain comfortable and complacent with the mediocrity of life and wish to remain in our comfort zones and not move from where we are, we will never get any further in life. We have indeed reached our final destination. In order to get “there” from “here” requires some action and mobility on our parts. The same applies to the blessings that we receive in life. We cannot just sit by and expect to have blessings fall from the sky. Many blessings that we receive in this life are predicated on our willingness to do something and then we are blessed in return for our actions. In order to take full advantage of the life that we have been given, we need to spend more time doing something and less time just sitting around doing nothing.

Mothers are the true heartbeat of any home, and the greatest gift that a father can give his children is to love their mother. Mothers are choice daughters of our Heavenly Father. By loving their mother, the father is teaching his daughters the character traits to look for in a future husband, and he is teaching his sons how to be real men by having respect and honor for the blessedness of womanhood. He is teaching both daughters and sons that mother is a very special person and she is to be respected, honored, cherished, and never taken for granted. There is indeed beauty all around when there is love at home.

A very hard lesson for some people to learn and comprehend is that respect in this life is earned and never demanded. A military commander can lead and command his troops, and his troops will follow, but that does not mean that they are following him out of respect – they are obeying orders. He will only gain their respect when he has demonstrated that he is deserving of their respect. In that same vein, there is also such a thing as self-respect. If you expect others to respect you, you must first show that you have respect for yourself. It is not so much our words that condemn us, but more times than not, our actions speak a myriad of words that demonstrate that we do not even have self-respect. If we want to be respected by others, it all begins within ourselves.

From my own personal experiences and observances I have found two basic concepts to hold true in reference to the home: (1) if you want to know the true heartbeat of any home, take the time to get to know the mother. It is usually the mother that sets the tone and atmosphere for the home, and (2) if you want to get an idea of how a young man will treat his future wife, take the time to observe how he especially treats his mother. If he has no respect for his mother, the very one who gave him life, he will not have respect for a wife someday either.

I am thankful for my loving Heavenly Father. In spite of all of my faults, shortcomings, and failures, He has never left me nor forsaken me. He is always right there beside me. He never slumbers or sleeps. He does not have a telephone, but I still can call Him anytime, night or day, seven days a week and I never have to leave a message for Him to return my call because He personally answers all incoming calls. He does not have a Facebook account, but He is my dearest and closest friend. He does not have a Twitter account, but where He leads me, I will surely follow. He does not have a LinkedIn account, but I know His credentials and He knows mine. He does not need a YouTube account to display the majesty and wonder of His creations, all I have to do is open my eyes and behold the beauty and the splendor of it all. I have but “One Life To Live” but I take great comfort and solace in knowing that He loves and cares for “All [His] Children.” There are no “Secret Storm(s)” in my life that I have to endure for He knows all about them. He is my eternal “Guiding Light.” He is always with me even to “The Edge of Night.” Even if I must walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I need to fear no evil, for His rod and His staff, they comfort me. He is my Day Star and my Song in the night. He alone is worthy to be praised!

Gossip is an unwise and oftentimes unlearned man’s attempt to appear to be knowledgeable of some truth, but yet he has no evidence to substantiate that which he is proclaiming to be the truth. The words of gossip are cold and bitter. It has a tongue that is as deadly and poisonous as the bite of an asp or the sting of a scorpion. It destroys friendships, relationships, and even families. The wise and learned man goes near its lair with great caution avoiding being caught in its snares and thus forever becoming a prisoner tangled in the mangling threads of its web.

The Savior taught His disciples and then commissioned them and sent them forth to do those things which He had commanded them to do. In the same way, those of us who profess to be Christians are Christ’s disciples and He has commissioned us and commanded us to go forth and do the things which He needs and wants us to do. We are on a spiritual journey of which the road we travel will not necessarily be an easy one to navigate. However, when we are faced with trials, temptations, and challenges along our way, the question that should come to mind is not, “What would Jesus do?”; rather the question should be, “What would Jesus have me to do?”

I very often hear people proclaim when speaking of the condition that our world is in today that the times have really changed. I disagree. The times have not really changed, but have continued to roll on with time itself. In reality, it is the people living in the times that have changed. Those things which once seared our conscience are now mere fleeting thoughts. What used to be unquestionably wrong has now in some circles been declared undeniably right and vice versa. We live in a society where so many people live by the philosophy, “Everybody is doing it, so it must be alright.” So, does that mean that if I do not know how to swim, but everyone is jumping off a high tower into freezing cold water, I should follow suit? I say nay. In some instances we have gone from a society that was ever learning and ever seeking the truth to a society that can no longer discern what truth is, oftentimes accepting “half-truths” as truth, when in reality a “half-truth” is the footstool for a whole lie. Sadly, we have missed the mark in understanding that the easiest way to allow Satan and his minions to gain a toehold into any area of our life is to lay the welcome mat for him and invite him in as our guest.

Isn’t it amazing how some people find it hilarious to berate and belittle other people to the point of causing deep hurt and contention. Oftentimes these same people will get some of their “friends” to hop aboard their “merry” bandwagon to help spread salt on already deep and festering wounds. However, when the tables are turned and the proverbial shoe is on their foot, they are quick to whine and cry, and when reminded that they are getting a taste of their own medicine, they are quick to respond, “But, it isn’t the same thing!” Why isn’t it the same? When I was growing up people used to say, “If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out” or “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I humbly submit that there is an even GREATER rule that we should follow and live by, and that rule states that we should ALWAYS do unto others as we would have them do unto us. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to the rule. If we would follow this rule, we would find that we will be able to better live in peace and harmony with one another.

As long as those of us who know what is the right thing to do sit quietly by with our arms folded, legs crossed, and mouths closed, and in essence become sleeping giants while there is a great revolution in full force going on around us, the wicked of the world will continue to believe that they are the majority and we are the servants in their proverbial kingdom who are ready and willing to obey their every command. We must awake and rise from our slumbers, and with clarion voices let it be known that they are not the majority, but indeed the minority. We must let it be known that we will not fall servant to them, but we who stand on the side of that which is true and right shall be the ones who will reign triumphant when this revolution has ended. The evil in the world may appear to have its stronghold, but it is truth and that which is the right that will always prevail.

It is not the size of the blessings that we should be concerned with; rather it is the acknowledgement of the blessings that are bestowed upon us that should warrant every day of our lives being a day of Thanks Giving.

The beauty of the atonement of Jesus Christ is that if I had been an audience of one, if you had been an audience of one, He still would have bled, suffered, and died just for me – just for you. His love for each of us is both infinite and matchless. There are some men who would lay down their life for some or for even a few, but Jesus Christ is the only One who willingly gave His life as a ransom for ALL in order that you and I would be free from the chains and bonds of sin and have a way to return home to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father who awaits us. Truly, He was No Ordinary Man. Truly; He is the Son of the True and Living God. Of these solemn truths I do so testify.

I have come to realize that the reason some people constantly cut other people off or try to over talk them when they are speaking is because they realize that there is some shred of truth in what is being said, and they hope that by their rude tactics they will drown out that truth out, obviously not realizing that truth is still truth whether they want to listen to it or not.

One man pulling a cart alone can cover some distance in a day’s journey. Two men pulling that same cart, walking side by side in tandem can cover an even greater distance in a day’s journey. The point is, there are some things that we can accomplish as one person working alone, but we can accomplish so much more when we work together to reach a common goal.

Before rushing to be critical and judgmental of another may I suggest that we take a long hard look in the mirror and ask the reflection who we see, “Who am I that I am so perfect that I have the right to sit in the judgment seat and pronounce a verdict on another?” By so doing we may just find that we will have a whole different perspective on what it is to be criticized and judged.

Is Thanksgiving Day just another family gathering and an opportunity to partake of a delicious meal and sit back and watch football games? Or, is Thanksgiving Day truly a day of Thanks Giving? It is not the size of the blessings that we should be concerned with; rather it is the acknowledgement of the blessings that are bestowed upon us that should warrant every day of our lives being a day of Thanks Giving.

Heavenly Father does not need a YouTube account to display the majesty of His creations, all I have to do is open my eyes and behold the beauty and the splendor of it all.

Heavenly Father does not have a telephone, but I can still call Him and talk to Him. He does not have a Facebook account, but He is still my friend. He does not have a Twitter account, but still where He leads me, I will follow Him. He does not have a LinkedIn account, but still I know His credentials and He knows mine.

As we approach another Thanksgiving Day let us be reminded that the fourth Thursday in November should not be our only day for giving thanks. Every day of our lives should be a day of “thanks giving” for all of the bounteous blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon us – both small and great. Everyone has something to be thankful for. Therefore, in everything and every day let us give thanks unto the Lord.

God has a plan for each of our lives. We may have our hopes and aspirations of what we would like to see a person become in life; however, we must understand that we are not the one in charge of the orchestration of anyone’s life. God may reveal some things to us concerning a person, but only He knows and is indeed the Designer of the Master Plan for a person’s life, and is indeed the executor of that plan.

We cannot begin to comprehend the mind of God. We may make helpful suggestions as to the direction that we believe a person should go in life, but we must understand that it is the Holy Spirit, so long as a person is faithful and obedient, who will ultimately guide and lead that person to where God would have them to be.

We may be inspired or receive personal revelation regarding some things about a person’s life, but we are not necessarily privileged to know God’s full and complete plan for that person’s life. Only God Himself knows what He has in mind for each of us. We are instruments in His hands helping to guide and direct a person in the way that they should go in order to ultimately arrive at the destination where God would have them to be, and through their faithfulness and obedience, doing the things that He would have them to do.

The raising of a child begins in the home. The home is the first classroom in the school of life that a child enters. It is here that a child is taught how to live with and respect others. It is not the job of society, the school system, or even the Church to raise a child. God has entrusted the parents with that awesome responsibility. Parents who refuse to take on the responsibilities of raising their children today will tomorrow find themselves faced with some serious regrets.

Let us not get caught up in the trap of assuming that because a person is always smiling and has a cheery disposition that everything is going well in their lives. Some of the people who seem to be the most happy and content are in reality some of the most miserable people. Inside they cry for help. They cry for love. Let us not assume and take anyone for granted. Everyone is someone special and everyone deserves our love. We may never know how much our love and kindness toward another truly means.

The three little words “I Love You” are used quite frequently in everyday conversations. Though it is nice to hear those words, if not careful they can become just that – nice words to say. Those words become passé even. I much prefer to show you that I love you through the things that I am able to do for you -seen and unseen, and that people do the same for me. That to me is more special, more precious than hearing someone say “I Love You”, but are never there to help me in my hour of need, or to simply be a friend.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but then an entire life to forget them. Let us not live such hurried lives that we forget about the ones that matter the most. Don’t just tell someone you love them perhaps only in passing, but take the time to show them that you love them. Don’t always be in such a hurry that you forget how to live, but even more importantly, that you forget how to love.

Having taken a year of Latin in high school, and following traditional definitions, I often thought that the phrase “Carpe Diem” meant “Seize the day!” However, “Carpe” translates literally as “pluck”, with particular reference to the picking of fruit. So a more accurate rendition is “enjoy the day, pluck the day when it is ripe”. So my friends, “‘carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” – “Pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.”‘ Seize the day!

The telephone is made up of two basic components – a mouthpiece (transmitter) for speaking, and an earpiece (receiver) for listening. Communication using the device is meant to be two-way. Likewise, our daily conversations with others should be two-way communication. We must learn to not only be the voice (mouthpiece, or transmitter of the message), but a listener (earpiece, or receiver of the message) as well. Misunderstandings in our conversations often occur when we attempt to only be the voice and not the ears also.

Just as a thermometer is used to gauge the temperature in a room or the outdoors, our hearts gauge both our spiritual and temporal temperatures. A warm hearten person seeks to be a disciple of Christ and governs his life based on Christ-like characteristics, often putting the needs of others before his own. A cold hearten person denies the very existence of Christ and places himself at the center of everything with no regard for others.

In regards to the recent verdict of guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the case of Dr. Michael Conrad concerning the death of Michael Joseph Jackson, I offer this humble opinion. In regards to both Dr. Conrad and out of respect for Michael Jackson, though Michael fell victim, if we are totally honest about the matter, we will have to admit that Michael in some ways determined his own fate based on some of the choices and decisions that he made. Both he and Dr. Conrad knew the right things to do, but chose otherwise for whatever the reasons.

With every action there is a consequence – be it good or bad. To know what is the right thing to do, but yet willingly choose to do that which is perhaps easier, more convenient, or even more pleasurable, is to bring one’s own fate upon him – a fate that is based on the consequences of his own actions. In the end, there is really no one left to blame but himself.

In my 53 years of living, I still do not fully comprehend what one means when they say that they are “lucky” when referring to certain situations in life. Luck to me only applies in games of chance. When it comes to life itself, in my humble opinion, I have not been “lucky” throughout my life, but rather I have been blessed by the hand of God. It is He who sees fit to allow me to have one more day of life. It is He who has forgiven my past and He who holds my future in the palms of His hands. I am not lucky, I am blessed!

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