Archive for January 17, 2014

This week’s homily

By the Rev. Thomas M. Boles PhD., DMin., D.D.

A man once went with a friend for a ride out in the country.

They drove off the main road and through a grove of orange

trees to a mostly uninhabited piece of land. A few horses

grazed there amidst a couple of old shacks. Walter stopped

the car and began to describe vividly the things he was

going to build on the land.

He wanted his friend Arthur to buy some of the acreage surrounding his project. Walter explained to his friend, “I can handle the main project myself. It will take all my money, but, I want to you have the first chance at this surrounding acreage, because in the next five years it will increase in value several hundred times.”

Arthur thought to himself, “Who in the world is going to drive

25 miles for this crazy project? His dream had taken

the best of his common sense. He mumbled something about

a tight-money situation and promised to look into the deal

later.

“Later on will be too late,” Walter cautioned.

“You’d better move on it right now.”

Arthur failed, however, to act.

And so it was that Art Linkletter turned down the

opportunity to buy the land that surrounded what

became Disneyland, the land his friend Walt Disney had

tried to talk him into.

Most opportunities take a step

of faith whether for financial or relationship investments.

The doors of opportunity are marked “Push and “Pull.”

The soul of the sluggard desireth,

and hath nothing; but the soul

of the diligent shall be made fat.

Proverbs 13:4

Keeping the Faith

Reflections stirred on the loss of Mandela

By Pastor Dwight Sullivan

In early December, 2013 the world lost a noble presence. Nelson Mandela died at age 95. An AP article described him as “South Africa’s first black president, who spent nearly 30 years in prison, and was a global symbol of generosity and sacrifice.”

His death was mourned by not only many in Africa, but by people all over the world. Many see in him a man of remarkable forgiveness, integrity, sacrifice and graciousness

The worldwide honor and praises given him bring to me fresh spiritual reflection and insights.

The Praise Due To Jesus

Nelson Mandela was born and grew up in the nation of South Africa, a country dominated by the practice of apartheid. This is a policy of strict separation of races, black and white. The result was that much power, and privileges went to the ruling white minority. It was an oppressive practice which distorted life for both blacks and whites. Growing up, Mandela got some schooling from Christian missionaries.

As a young man, Mandela joined those protesting the unjust practice of apartheid. When he became disenchanted with peaceful rallies and songs, he thought more forceful practices had to be used. He was arrested and convicted of attempted sabotage against the government and ended up spending 27 years in prison.

So why all the tribute? Mr. Mandela had become an articulate symbol for the struggle for dignity, human rights and freedom for people in South Africa. When world pressure to end apartheid mounted over many years, Mandela was released from prison. Then in the first election that included voters of all races, he was elected President in 1994 by a landslide.

Here is a man who rose from 27 years in a prison to become not only president, but the leader who helped uproot apartheid to plant a fresh democracy in a troubled nation.

Following Mandela’s death, our president spoke these words, “And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth.”

One thing that made Mr. Mandela great was that he insisted that his country had to be black and white, with equal opportunity for all, based not on the color of one’s skin but the content of one’s character.

In the movie “Invictus,” this attitude is illustrated by what Mandela does when he assumes power as the first black president of South Africa. The movie depicts him seeing all the white office workers in their offices packing their bags. The staff assumes they will be sacked. In the film Mandela gathers them and says, “I could not help but notice the boxes and the packing. If you don’t want to stay, then that is your right. And if you cannot work, it is better if you do leave. But I want you to know that if you fear that your language, skin color or previous employer will cost you your job, do not fear. The past is the past.

“We need your help. If you would like to stay, you would do your country a service. All I ask is that you work to the best of your ability and with all your heart. I will do the same.”
In December I found myself stirred by the outpouring of fondness, love and adulation for this man. I experienced a deeper sense of the praise due to Jesus who is the Greatest of Greats. Look at Jesus. He is beyond fame and is proclaimed the Son of God, the Son of Man. How amazing to hear that God sent His only Son, to our mixed up, muddled, murky world! The purpose was for Jesus to bring reconciliation for our whole world. 17 … if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself … 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them… (2 Cor. 5).

Christ acted to give life, not just to one country but to the whole world. And to each individual! In him our promise is that anyone who calls upon the name of Jesus can be saved and can be made right before the eyes of God.

Jesus was not only profoundly good, He was utterly righteous. He was filled with the presence of God. When the apostle Peter told the centurion Cornelius about Jesus, he shared how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him…. (Acts 10)

Jesus brought more than political liberation and freedom from earthly tyrannical oppression. He brought freedom to all who will trust in Him. He said, “Truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not continue in the house forever; the son continues forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8)

With a fresh appreciation, I see that although there are great men, here is the One that deserves all our praise. This is the one who came to be with us to show us God and to change our world by bringing to you and me freedom, dignity and eternal life — Jesus Christ.

- Dwight Sullivan is pastor of Whittier Evangelical UMC, 10262 Colima Road, Whittier, CA 90603

This week’s homily

By The Rev. Thomas M. Boles PhD., DMin. D.D.

Sadhu Sundar Singh was born into an Indian family of high caste. When he became a Christian and told his parents of his decision to follow Christ, they said, “You have broken caste. You cannot live here any longer.”

They immediately banished him from their home.

It was the wet season and the rain was coming down hard as he left his home, clad in only his insubstantial Indian robes. He sat under a nearby tree all night, soaked to the skin.

He said that he felt so radiantly happy, however, that he forgot any physical discomfort. He had the freedom to travel throughout the region telling the Gospel story.

He became known as the apostle of India. Once, he went into Tibet, where he was arrested, put into a pit, and branded with irons.

He bore those scars the rest of his life. While speaking in England he said, “I am going back to do what I have done. I am quite aware of the cost.”

Some time after his return, he disappeared and appears to have suffered a martyr’s death.

Singh moved from “high caste” in India into a “servant’s caste” for the gospel. His position in Christ was not only marked by the privilege of eternal life, but by the responsibility to serve others and share Christ’s love.

Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.

“For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more.”

Luke 12:48

Another look at things in Sacramento

By Debra Bowen

Secretary of State:

A Sacramento judge has rebuked Secretary of State Debra Bowen for seeking to prevent thousands of signatures from being counted in a referendum drive against the highly controversial Co-ed Bathroom Bill.

Judge Allen Sumner of the Sacramento County Superior Court issued a tentative ruling granting the writ petition of referendum supporters to have thousands of signatures counted that were delivered to the Tulare County clerk’s office before the deadline but were not accepted until after the deadline. Although tentative rulings are not official, they offer a preview of the court’s reasoning and are nearly always adopted as the official ruling of the court.

The Secretary of State’s Office has not yet indicated whether they will ask for oral argument to be held, or whether they will appeal the court’s ruling.

The Pacific Justice Institute is co-counsel in this case representing the referendum proponents. The president of PJI, Brad Dacus, commented, “Every Californian regardless of ideology should be encouraged by this ruling that strongly supports the fundamental right to have referendum signatures counted when they are delivered to county clerks ahead of the referendum deadline. These rights are too important for the Secretary of State, or a county clerk, to play politics when they don’t like a particular referendum.”

PJI also expressed concern about misinformation that is being spread by the Secretary of State’s office and some media outlets as to the current status of AB 1266.

“Quite simply, the law has not gone into effect because proponents have delivered more than enough signatures to place it on hold,” noted PJI attorney Kevin Snider. “It is mere wishful thinking on the part of politicians and activists to declare that the law is in effect. The California Constitution says otherwise, and even the Secretary of State has agreed with our position for other referenda that she deems less controversial.”

The law that has been placed on hold, AB 1266, would require all public schools in California to allow self-identified transgender students to choose the bathrooms and locker-rooms they want to use, as well as the sports teams they want to join, regardless of their anatomy or the objections of other students

Polling has shown the law to be unpopular among Californians. The Privacy for All Students coalition delivered abut 619,000 signatures to county clerks throughout the state in November. When about 505,000 of those signatures are validated, the issue will be placed on the ballot statewide in November, 2014.

Brad Dicus is president of the Pacific Justice Institute.

 

This week’s homily

By the Rev. Thomas M. Boles PhD., DMin, D.D.

Edmond once vowed that he  and his family would never be homeless. But, a short time later, he lost his job, and then fire destroyed their home. Suddenly, they were homeless. Their only option was a shelter.

At the end of the first day there, Edmond’s prayer was, “Lord, get me out of here.” His attitude was extremely negative. In his opinion, the shelter’s rules were humiliating. Residents had to be escorted across the street to the mission hall for their meals.

They had to attend a church thathelped support the shelter. When residents found work, they were expected to put 70 percent of their paycheck in a savings fund toward the day when they could move out of the shelter.

After pouring out all his complaints to the shelter’s director, Edmond had a restless night. He realized that he had been focusing all his attention on getting out, rather than on what he might do to make things easier for his family. That night, he changed his attitude. He started by

taking a glass of water to a coughing man in the next. room.

Nine months later, Edmond and his family had a home again. But

he didn’t forget what he had learned. He still visits the shelter, saying,

“Wherever you are, God is there too.” Attitude, not circumstances, made

the real difference to his life.”

The right train of thought can take

you to a better station in life.

For as he thinks within himself, so he is

Proverbs 23.7

Bathroom bill update

By Brad Dicus

President

Pacific Justice Institute

SACRAMENTO – A referendum has put on hold a 37-word bill which would have opened up restrooms, locker rooms and showers in K-12 public schools to students “irrespecacrtive of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”

Known as the Co-ed Bathroom Bill, Assembly Bill 1266 originally was due to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. But voters in all 58 of California’s counties have put on the brakes by submitting more than 600,000 signatures to the Secretary of State.

Under Article II, §9 of the California Constitution, the People have reserved to themselves their inherent power to review statutes enacted by lawmakers. “The voters are essentially part of the legislative process,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. “Through the referendum, they either approve or veto the law,” Dacus said.

There has been some confusion about what constitutes a referendum. By its nature, a referendum involves a law that has been passed by the Legislature, but not gone into effect. Because the signatures have been filed, the implementation of the law is suspended until the final signature tally. After that, the law will continue to lie dormant until the voters render their judgment in the November 2014 election.

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