Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fear Not, Pray, and Help the Young Who are Afraid.

Maryland USA

Since the Boston Marathon bombings in April, many people around the world have felt burdened for children affected by these very hard days. As a Christian, a teacher, a mom and a grandmother, I know that children experience fear that is much like our fear, only their youth limits the perspective of experience. For some, this is "the first worst thing" to happen.  
  Nothing is more important now to Christian families than awareness, calm, and being present to the children. God is helping. Who sees this? Evil may strike and severely wound, but it must not be allowed to overtake. God helps us overcome fear.  
   From Isaiah 41:10: 

Fear not, for I am with you; 
be not dismayed (confused), 
for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you; 
yes, I will help you; 
yes, I will hold you up 
with My righteous right hand. 

   Horrible news is not new, yet why were the recent Boston bombings allowed to happen? Habakkuk, a prophet of long ago, also wondered. He cried out to God, "Violence! Violence everywhere!" Violence tortured that faithful man of God. His conclusion was that he would trust the living God, no matter what happened. His hope, he realized, must remain steady. God strengthened, helped, and upheld him in his trials.     
   Prayer and helping, alone and with others, are like water and food to nourish and refresh us, to keep us alive in strength and hope. We must pray for this nation's parents and families. We agree that the future, immediate or otherwise, is now different. God is able to sustain, to  make resilient, to help, and to hold up when the knees try to buckle permanently.    
  "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). That is a place to begin, if anyone needs a place to start praying. 

Copyright (c) 2013 Opinari Writers.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boston Wounded-Hope, Encouragement, Love, Prayer-HELP

Maryland USA

Freedom-loving people all over the world rejoice today. The Boston Marathon terrorists have been stopped. The aftermath is at the forefront of our minds...wounded runners, helpers, police, and marathon watchers. Some have buried loved ones or will in the near future, including a police officer's family. 
   News reports say that a Boston bombing casualty has no health insurance. His and others' medical care will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars at least. You may have found a way to help with finances of medical needs of the wounded. I found a link to ideas of ways to help
   We continue to remember and to pray, while we resolve to do something and to remember to keep doing it. Whatever financial contribution we give, however small it may seem to us in light of these recent traumas, makes a diference. Progress in healing and moving ahead needs love and persevering care. I believe that financial gifts, however small, also give some measure of comfort for the wounded needing so much special and professional medical attention.  
   Thank God for the desire for freedom, that precious estate in which we live. Freedom, even to run a race or gather in a crowd to cheer, offends some among us to the point of terrorizing us in the most heinous actions. Freedom, however, reflects well, and the scars of these fresh wounds must make us more aware and determined than ever to hold freedom close. This treasure, freedom, has a great price. This we know.  

Copyright (c) 2013 Opinari Writers.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

We Guard Freedom and Help the Innocent...Together

Dr. Keith Ablow expressed meaningful thoughts after the Boston Marathon bombings, and his statements gave focus for follow-up days. For example:   
  • "The pursuit of liberty is a marathon." 
  • "...We are vulnerable, because we are free and strong."
All freedom-loving people experience push-back in different forms and at different levels of intensity.  I agree with those who describe terrorist attacks as acts of cowardice. They are violent actions arising from misleading and evil thoughts, from moral blindness, and from deep spiritual emptiness. In calculating deliberateness, to shed the blood of innocent people requires twisting one's self outside the gates of civil life, beyond the influence of all that is bright and true. It is to place one's self in utter darkness beyond rational thought or awareness of the holy. 

Many children and young adults today face a world their parents and grandparents never anticipated for them. We grieve within ourselves, wishing we could change the world back to, at minimum, hidden evils, not overt terrors. 

I wonder again how my parents felt when their oldest son went to war as a fighter pilot. On a bright and warm day the world changed for his generation. He dropped out of college and went in the direction of a call to serve, to fight, to defend. He fought in World War II as a pilot of a P-38 Lightning, over North Italy and other areas, including as I recall from my mother's reminiscences, Egypt. At age 22, he held captain rank in the U. S. Army Air Force/Corps. Advancement came quickly in those days. 

Britain, the U. S., and Canada--who sent fighters--remained free during the war. Britain, however, was not spared extreme bombings. These and other countries of that time are free today, operating under free governments. Yet, none is free from threats and attacks by their foes.  All have a sacred trust to remain vigilant over freedoms. 

We are free people; due to our love of freedom, we are not free yet from those who hate freedom. As a Christian, I read Jesus' words, "It is for freedom that I have set you free." Christ set us free from sin--that is my belief and experience. Did He mean, perhaps, that being free in Him we therefore especially love freedom? It is for freedom that every Christian has been set free in mind and in spirit, if not in body. We have been made free to fight whatever threatens any one's freedoms, anywhere. This includes an urban area where people enjoy a race, a marathon, a celebration and commemoration of Patriot's Day, in Boston. 

We as a people, founded by men and women of faith, claimed freedom and inherited the desire to oppose anything or anyone that opposes freedom. We are free as a people to think for ourselves, as Dr. Ablow repeats. We are free to speak and to write our thoughts and to claim them without apology or embarrassment. 

It is a wonderful and proud thing to value and to defend freedom and freedom's ways, which include life not with license but with a costly liberty. Freedom is corporate, mutually experienced and guarded, not to be taken lightly or selfishly. Now, freedom reminds us to stand together. We owe a collective debt of freedom to remember those victimized by terrorist acts, to pray for them, to donate to their well-being and care, and never to forget. We remember them all, including witnesses scarred by memories. We remember the children and young people now shaken, trying to grasp what the recent violence means for their times.

We live each day in these times together. Even in solitude, we are not alone. In our different circumstances, in communities, churches, synagogues and other places we want to do more to help others. As a believer, I see freedom as God's idea, which He gave us as a  good desire in our hearts. Let us never forget freedom's value; let us guard against anyone or anything trying to destroy our freedom to dream, to strive, to hope, and to endure...together. It is for freedom that God has made us free. We are never weak when we love freedom enough to go forward in the light of each new, precious day.    

- Dr. Keith Ablow on Boston Marathon Bombings - Link
- FBI - Video posted to help the public - Link
- Boston Strong. Bruins fans sing The Star Spangled Banner - Link

Copyright (c) 2013 Opinari Writers.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Public Education in the State of Virginia: Flexibiity above Conformity

This is my second blog post on the controversial state and national public schools common core curricula when compared with each other, focusing on the state of Virginia.
     From the perspective of conformity and flexibility, the state's curriculum has broad conformity, it appears, regarding standards, yet much flexibility for choosing resources. For example, in the English program, specific reading is not laid out for all schools to follow. Localities may choose among titles that fit their students' interests and teachers' sensibilities of topics most beneficial to their students where they are. They could go so far, I infer, as to give students individual reaching choices, along with discussion or counsel and oversight. What strikes me about this feature is that a flexible approach allows one classroom teacher familiar with literature of the state to plan units on that topic, choosing works at appropriate reading levels. That is just one of many advantages that could arise from flexibility.  
     To learn more, see English, Math, and College Prep specifics on the Virginia Department of Education website.

Copyright (c) 2013 Opinari Writers.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Oddities of the Federal Core Curriculum for Public Schools

I am challenging writers to investigate a topic that affects children of all ages in public schools - the national education core curriculum. The national program, seeking a large measure of conformity across participating states, is called the common core curriculum. It operates in participating states through education departments, state/county-parish/community. Five states, including my state's neighboring Virginia, remain outside this system. The Virginia education site on this topic gives links for comparing English and math standards plus college prep. The Virginia state department of education is satisfied they are able to do a better and more cost-effective job. The opt-out states appear to prefer the option on the basis of their priority for different or higher standards for their students, with more flexibility.
     This is a new area of study for me, and I expect to use my local library soon. Information on the Internet is somewhat sketchy regarding specifics. Here are a few of this morning's discoveries. My search began with fiction that has been chosen or recommended in the national program. 

First link of today. I found a site of a publisher claiming affiliation with the national core curriculum. Check out that link for yourself. You will note that all titles in "fiction" are recent. There are no children's classics. All "fiction" titles are in the same genre: horror/thriller. Strikingly, the titles are no older than 2006, with most being 2012 and 2013. There is no attempt to introduce new titles considered "children's literature." Most are elementary through middle school readers. See for yourself: 

"Fiction" titles are in one genre and include:
Monstrous Morgues of the Past
Creepy Castles
Haunted Hotels
Cursed Grounds (Children’s Choices 2012)
Zombies and Other Walking Dead

Spooky Schools
Ghosts and Other Spirits of the Dead

Vampires and Other Bloodsuckers

Spooky Cemeteries

It appears that recent books are more favored than classics, and I have heard that  Huckleberry Finn is banned from a national list. Is that so? 
     The third link for today, where you can judge for yourself whether leadership/principles are expected to focus on initiative, thinking for one's self, academic standards...to name a few missing from the leadership/principal graph. Also, note the lack of emphasis on the child rather than on groups/economics.
    Why not research this topic for yourself?

Copyright (c) 2013 Opinari Writers.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Pray for Nepal's Spiritual and Life Well-being

Photo "Please Pray for Us"_NepaliChristians.com

I wrote about Nepal over a year ago and Lorilyn Roberts' comment reminded me then and now to pray more for Nepal's spiritual life in Christ. People continue to visit my article, so there is continued interest.  
     It's time for a Nepal update. Lorilyn's comment urged prayers for orphans (she adopted two children from Indonesia and has nurtured them into  youth and young womanhood), pastors, and missionaries there. 
     To mention orphans is the response to the tug on my mind, to remember to pray for them and for widows, as well. Many missionaries and local pastors and families in Nepal give of themselves daily, sacrificially, to help others.
     If you visit Nepal as a tourist or on business, you might be interested to learn more about a Christian Guest House that I learned about in researching news of Nepal's Christian life. I have not stayed there, but if I ever visit Nepal I would likely investigate this place to stay with my husband or a visiting group. The website says that the guest house is 20 minutes on foot from Patan and 20 minutes by car to the airport and Kathmandu City. Also, there is Internet with Wifi, plus "en-suites and economy rooms with various rates...affordable for all missionaries, students, back packers and to tourists also special rates for long term guests."   
     There is another side of life for Nepali Christians that we, in other places, can remember in our prayers...specific problems with acceptance of Christians as peaceable (my interpretation).  

Since I was a child, I've been fascinated by places far from my North Carolina home (USA). Perhaps you were the same, and like me perhaps that appeal never faded. When our children were working in the U. S., my husband and I worked and traveled in other parts of the world. Now that we live again in the U.S., we know there is still much to see and many more brothers and sisters in Christ to meet. 
     Whether we meet face to face or via Internet or news, we are one in Christ. Today, I think of the churches in Nepal. Perhaps one day we can go there...   
     Meanwhile, I have learned of Nepali Christians new to the U. S. Read more here. Some of the U.S.-based churches are in the eastern side, in Pennsylvania and Maryland.       

Copyright (c) 2013 Opinari Writers.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Controversy on and after Resurrection Day

Washington, DC

This Easter Sunday, if the reports are true, a great preaching opportunity was overlooked in the nation's capital city. As it often happens, that fact has drawn many of us to think of what was not said inside the church known as "the church of presidents" and "the presidents' church."
     The presidents' church is a narrow, pale yellow building that dates way back. It sits on the corner of 16th Street, NW, a little north of the White House visible across the way.
     It is where people in the capital city go to pray at times of national emergency. People left offices to go into that church to pray for President Reagan after he was shot one sunny afternoon. People went there to pray on days after 9/11/01. 

This day, Easter Monday. The Washington Post and other news sources were full of reports again about the historic church. On the most joyful day of the Christian calendar, Resurrection Sunday, the good news was not preached. Harangue does not help the soul or exalt God, if that is what happened, as reports said. What a humbling privilege it would have been to have heard Christ exalted. President Obama and his family were there to hear. As professing Christians, they most likely expected to rejoice.
     Yet, mind and hearts were lowered as familiar critiques of society's failures were recited, a missed opportunity.
     I have been thinking today of another church, an English church, on a snowy evening. It was the scene of another kind of history. On that snowy night, only two people entered there: an old preacher and a young man. The young man stopped in mainly to get out of a hard snowfall.
     He had been raised in a Christian home. Personally, however, he felt very unsure, almost antagonistic, about what he believed for himself.
     The preacher kept to his calling and preached the gospel. The young man listened as he sat in that cold church. The words brought unexpected warmth to the young man's soul. His heart and mind responded as the preacher ended, proclaiming, "Look up! Look up!" As in the phrase that leads into "...for thy salvation draweth nigh."
     When the preaching ended, the young man went out of that church a changed man. He soon realized God's call to preach. He sought to "stay true to the gospel," not knowing that he was to become known around the world, prolific in preaching, writing, prayer, teaching, and establishing help for London's poorest. He preached to the poor and the great. He was heard by royalty, everyday people, and powerful government leaders. He was London's great 19th century proclaimer of Christ.
     He was once criticized by another pastor for laughing from the pulpit. He replied that maybe it was that joy that drew so many. He did not know. He admired Christ who, he said, preached when He spoke and preached when He was silent. Preached preached by the sea, in the synagogue... and from a cross of crucifixion. 
     The name of the preacher who cried out "Look up!" was never greatly known and today has faded; the effect of his faithful preaching remains through his listener that night and his books--Charles H. Spurgeon* and his life devoted to Christ. That unknown preacher, the vessel of the good news, did his work that snowy night. He not only showed up; his preaching played a role in the salvation of a young listener being called by God.
     There was a third person in that English church in the unseen, living Christ. He was in the Washington church across from the White House, too. And many thought of Him, the One deserving of utmost praise.    
     "The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed." One Cross stands over the world. It points to the crucified and risen Lord. Kings and kingdoms, nations and leaders, news and uproar come and go. Christ remains. He is here and now, present and eternal. Some who do not know Christ Jesus today will soon know Him through the joy of His salvation. Their minds, hearts, and lives will open to God, with love and joy following. The gospel summary of Resurrection Day and every day is that Jesus is alive. 

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

This is the day the Lord has made. Let's rejoice and be glad in it! 

*The Mourner's Comforter, Morning by Morning, and many other books by C.H. Spurgeon.
Copyright (c) 2013 Opinari Writers and Jean Purcell