Monday, July 21, 2008

Good News

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

- Philippians 4:8-9 (New International Version)
Leslie read me the above scripture when we were talking on Friday night, while she was giving me a hard time about supposedly paying more attention to bad things that are going on in the world than those events that bring people together, solve problems, and generally lift up humanity rather than bring it down.

I think that there is some credence to her assertions, although I tried to assure her that I enjoy observing those occurrences in this world that interest or challenge me, as they provide some mental exercise in analyzing what I'm reading, and formulating a cohesive idea or two and writing about it.

Leslie is a committed Christian, and told me that if I pursued God as much as I pursued other things (like writing) that I would be much better off. For her, this starts with the daily pursuit of God's word through reading her Bible.

There is credence in most of the things she says to me, but I still feel obligated, driven, or called to walk the path that I am traveling. I feel that a lot of the time that God is directing my life, including my writing, and also helps me recognize when I'm not approaching things in a way that He would have me approach them. I try to listen.

Yesterday I found a website that seemed to send me in a direction that felt right. The Good News Network is found simply enough, right near the top of any Google search for 'Good News'.
A snippet from their Mission Statement says it all:
A Daily Dose of News to Enthuse — The Good News Network is a clearinghouse for the gathering and dissemination of positive news stories from around the globe. Daily stories will confirm what we already believe — that good news itself is not in short supply; the advertising of it is.
The site is subscription-based, but the fee is reasonable ($2.00 per month) and there is a free 30-day trial period. One of their top stories today grabbed my attention very easily. The message behind one man's tragedy and how he chose to deal with it is both moving and inspiring, in a way that compels you to change how you look at the world around you.

This story was also featured on NBC last week. The video is worth sharing:

Aside from the awesome power of forgiveness and grace so beautifully illustrated by the actions of Azim Khamisa, one line of the story stuck with me:
"..buried his only son Tariq according to his Muslim custom". (emphasis mine)
This led me to try to find out more about the foundation that was started by Azim Khamisa, and to find out more about his faith. I found some of that here. One sentence stuck out to me:
"As part of their faith, Ismailis accept a responsibility to work toward a better, more peaceful world. In fact, "peace" is one of the meanings of the word Islam."
It's interesting to note how a number of radical practitioners of a religion have, through their actions, sullied some of the deepest tenets of that religion in favor of earthly judgment, the taking of lives in the name of the religion, and the concentration of earthly power and influence in themselves or those who follow them.

You could assume from the framing of these comments that I'm talking about Islam.
Then you'd be missing the point, that being that all denominations are the creation of man, not of God.

Sunni or Shiite, Protestant or Catholic, Orthodox or Reform, it makes no difference if the Word of God, in whatever form it takes (Bible, Qu'ran, Torah), is disregarded as part of the belief structure of the denomination. Now I see Leslie's point - knowing the Word is just as important as trying to live up to it.

One of the things I told Leslie tonight is that I feel a sense of relevance, either spiritual or otherwise, when I find something to write about and can put something together that honors the skill that God gave me, if not God himself.

This is no substitute for the depth in which Leslie and others like her commit themselves to understanding God's purpose in their lives. It's something that I feel will be a continual struggle the rest of my earthly days. I've been blessed to have people like Jan and Leslie in my life.

Find some good news today.

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