When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount,1 one of the most quoted orations of all time, He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
So what is a peacemaker? A peacemaker is someone who comes into a situation that is stressful, angry, or disturbed and creates peace. This is hard and requires courage.
Unselfishness isn’t just about giving money. Sometimes it’s easier to give money than to give of ourselves. To give our time, attention, sympathy, understanding, and prayers to someone else, we have to be the “real deal.” We have to reach out, to understand, to feel compassion, and to do something about it. Often it’s those sacrifices of time that really count—such as when we give up our day off to participate in a local charity’s work or to visit someone who is sick.
How about playing a game where you compete only with yourself and get to do some good in the process? How about the “Game of Hearts”?
Last year, my daughter discovered her breast cancer had returned, and I found my mind becoming mired in depressive and hopeless thoughts night after night.
One of the miracles of Christmas is that even in a modern society, where you often find yourself seemingly besieged by rampant materialism, the true meaning of Christmas is never entirely lost. Even nonbelievers are moved by the symbolism of an innocent child who represents humanity’s hope and who came to earth to invite each person to reach out to God and to one another. I cannot imagine a more beautiful story.
Christmas is best enjoyed when it isn’t centered on decorations, presents, or festivities, but on My gift of love to the world. Love is the essence of Christmas. Christmas is best celebrated by taking quality time with your family and friends, and cherishing and celebrating the love you share. Sadly, love can get lost amid the Christmas hustle and bustle. Sometimes it’s covered up by the decorations and gifts, the endless shopping, and the Christmas dinner and parties.
Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch—have you ever sympathized with them as the Christmas season approaches? Or perhaps not to that extreme, but maybe you’ve never felt the warm fuzzies that everyone else has? And would you like to figure out how to have a better Christmas this year?
A few years ago, our neighbors gave their female dog to a friend of theirs. Some time later, this old man died and the dog journeyed to our street, but our neighbors no longer lived there. As time went by, the dog got scrawnier and more forlorn. Soon she dug a hole under our fence and started to eat what our two dogs left in their dishes or on the ground nearby.
Arguments with my parents marred my college years. We argued about how much time I spent on expanding my social life, my newfound love for television talk shows, my desire to buy a motorcycle, and a myriad of other things that are trivial in retrospect but were highly emotional issues for me. At the time, I saw my parents as old-fashioned guardians who were blocking my way to the full enjoyment of the prime of my life.
God’s unconditional love has no bounds, is unchanging and without limitations. It is given freely, no matter what. Each of us has sinned, and sin brings separation from God. Nevertheless, God loves us. It doesn’t mean He loves all that we do, but He loves us. In fact, He loves humanity so much that He made it possible for the breach caused by our sins and wrongdoing to be bridged through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”1
The air was heavy with impending rain as I made my way on foot through Chiba, Japan. As I glanced at the low gray clouds, I chided myself for not bringing an umbrella. It seemed that in a minute or two the heavens would burst open, but two minutes came and went.