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Category: Love

Does Religion Cause War?

Publication Information: Encyclopedia of Wars – 3 Volume of Set (Fact on File Library of World History) by Charles Phillips

Publication Source: Click here to view source

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ILLUSTRATION

In the wake of the senseless massacre of human life in Paris, I have heard a familiar refrain. A lot of people seem to be of the opinion that religion is the problem. They tell us that if we just do away with religion, wars would cease. They tout the John Lennon philosophy, made popular in the song “Imagine.”

But what those who hold this opinion have failed to take into account is that the 20th century was the bloodiest century in the history of mankind, and that the atrocities of that century were committed by anti-religious movements, led by men like Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Lenin, Chiang Kai-shek, Hideki Tojo, and Pol Pot. These men were not religiously motivated, yet they ruthlessly slaughtered millions of people:
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Overcoming Evil With Good in Charleston, SC

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Topic: Forgiveness
Scripture: Romans 12:21; 1 Corinthians 13:8, 13; Matthew 5:44-45; 1 Peter 3:9
Source: “Chris Singleton Opens Up About Losing Mother In Charleston Mass Shooting” by Maxwell Strachan, Posted HUFFINGTON POST, 06/19/2015
Author: Illustration Exchange

“Chris Singleton, whose mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, died during the shooting rampage in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday [6/17/15], delivered a powerful message to the world on Thursday evening: No matter how much hate there is in the world, it’s no match for love,” reports the HUFFINGTON POST.

Singleton is a 2nd year baseball player at Charleston Southern University, a faith-based school affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. His coach and teammates stood beside him as he addressed reporters just hours after learning of his mother’s murder. “Love is stronger than hate,” said Singleton. “So if we just love the way my mom would, then the hate won’t be anywhere close to where the love is.”

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Taste Them Again For The First Time

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Topic: First Love
Scripture: Revelation 2:4-5; Psalm 34:8
Source: Various
Author: Illustration Exchange

There have been some pretty memorable commercial catch phrases for cereals over the years. Among them is the 1990s ad campaign for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes: “Kellogg’s Corn Flakes – Taste them again for the first time.”

It’s genius, really–a call to go back to relive the pleasure, the delight, the satisfaction of a product which may have lost its luster in your mind, and its place in your pantry.

Application:

When it comes to your spiritual life, have you lost the pleasure, the delight, the satisfaction you once found in the Savior? Has walking with Him lost its luster? Has He lost His place in your heart?

Jesus calls you to return to your first love–to “taste” Him again, as though for the first time.

“Taste and see [as if for the first time!] that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8).

“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place–unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5, NASB).

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ISIS Destroying the Language of Jesus

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Topic: Incarnation
Scripture: Romans 12:21; Psalm 118:1; Psalm 100:5; Luke 6:27
Source: “ISIS: Destroying the Language of Jesus? ARAMAIC IS UNDER THREAT AS ISIS INVADES NORTHERN IRAQ” By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff, Posted Newser.com, Aug 15, 2014
Author: Illustration Exchange

NEWSER reports that, “Islamic militants may have an unexpected victim in northern Iraq: an ancient collection of dialects and languages that’s been around for over 3,000 years … called Aramaic.”

It was the language of ancient Babylon and the first Persian Empire. It is, today, the native language of some 200,000 modern Iraqi Christians who have been systematically slaughtered, tortured, and driven into exile. Interestingly, it was a predominant language of the common man throughout Judea and the surrounding area during the last century BC. In fact, it was the language of Jesus himself, spoken as he hung on the cross, crying out to God, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

“The threat to the Christian Neo-Aramaic-speaking population of northern Iraq is very great,” says [one] linguist. “Since each village has a different dialect, if the inhabitants of the villages are uprooted and thrown together in refugee camps or scattered in diaspora communities around the world, the dialects will inevitably die.”

Before ISIS invaded, reports NEWSER, “the best hope for Aramaic’s survival [according to FOREIGN POLICY] was in northern Iraq.” Now, it suggests, we may witness “the deliberate extinction of a language and culture, unfolding in real time.”

NEWSER reporter Neal Colgrass frets that ISIS may indeed be “destroying the language of Jesus.”

Application:

Actually, in the ancient Palestine of Jesus’ day, there were three languages that were routinely spoken. Hebrew (which became a dead language until revived in modern times), Koine Greek (which has been replaced by contemporary Greek), and Aramaic (which is now being threatened with extinction by ISIS).

But ISIS can never threaten the most important language employed by Christ–the language of God’s agape love.

In communicating His message to the world, Jesus went beyond mere words. By willingly going to the cross to pay for the sins of the world, Jesus became the incarnate expression of God’s love.

Even then, hatred, violence and persecution attempted to silence the message of God’s love by killing its messenger. But the brutality of those who crucified Christ only served to fulfill God’s plan. Evil couldn’t stomp out love. Hate only served to accelerate its spread. Instead of being “overcome by evil,” love overcame “evil with good” (Romans 12:21). God’s love, we are assured in Scripture, “endures forever” (Psalm 118:1).

Indeed, the language of Jesus–God’s agape love–cannot be destroyed.

“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5).

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).

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Sacred Melons

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Topic: Spiritual Growth
Scripture: John 15:1-2, 5
Source: Info Barrel and FASCINATING FACTS by David Louis, p. 56.
Author: Illustration Exchange

In Japan, melons are considered luxurious, even sacred. While a common cantaloupe melon might set you back two or three dollars here in the states, it could easily run upwards of $15 dollars in Japan. Specialty melons sometimes sell for hundreds of dollars a piece. The gift of a meticulously cultivated melon is considered one of great generosity and respect.

Japanese “master” melon growers take tremendous pride in growing only the best melons. To ensure success, they “hand pollinate three flowers and let them get to about the size of a baseball, then select the best one and let only that one grow. The others are chopped up and added to the compost pile.” In this way, a single fruit receives all the nutrients originally meant for the entire plant. The result—a sublimely succulent, “best possible” melon.

Application:

The master melon growers of Japan have learned the secret of growing the “best possible” melon–channeling all of the nutrients to just one selected fruit. They do this to produce something they prize, something they consider sacred.

Likewise, God knows the secret to helping you to become the “best possible” you. As the Master Grower, He seeks to remove everything from your life that might prevent you from receiving the fullest measure of His growth producing love.

Every call to repentance, every warning against sin, every word of caution concerning temptation are all set forth in the Bible to prevent anything from competing with your spiritual growth potential. Once these things are removed, chopped up and added to the compost pile, you are free to receive all the nutrients necessary for God to cultivate something He prizes, something sacred–the “best possible” you!

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more . . . Yes, I (Jesus) am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-2, 5, NLT).

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The Anti-Loneliness Cafe

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Topic: Loneliness
Scripture: Revelation 3:20
Source: “Japan’s ‘anti-loneliness’ cafe goes viral” by Frances Cha, published CNN,Thu May 15, 2014
Author: Illustration Exchange

Hate to dine alone? Many people do. No worries. If you don’t have a date for dinner, you can now dine with a Moomin.

Wait, a what?!

Moomins, are a family of white, anime, hippo-like characters created by Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson. They’ve been around for decades, and have increased in popularity around the world, especially in anime-obsessed Japan, where Moomin House Cafes are catering to the solitary diner.

In a nod to the growing isolation of Japan’s workaholic labor force, giant, plush-toy Moomins are brought to the tables of solo diners in an effort to spare them the “awkward perils” of dining alone.

The original Moomin cafe opened in 2001, but pictures of diners “enjoying” the company of Moomins have recently gone viral, creating a huge surge in the cafe’s popularity. There are now three locations, with more on the horizon, if their “anti-loneliness” concept proves to be more than a passing fad.

Click here to see a diner with her Moomin companion.

Application:

Yes, Moomins are cute, but it seems a stretch to suggest they can quell the “awkward perils” of loneliness.

The truth is, even real people aren’t able to satisfy our need to be perfectly loved and fully accepted. For that we must seek the companionship of the only person who is actually capable of meeting these deeper, spiritual needs. To every lonely heart, Jesus says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends” (Revelation 3:20, NLT).

A Moomin might fill an empty seat, but only Jesus can fill an empty heart. Open your heart to Him and you will never have to fear the “awkward perils” of loneliness again!

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10,000 People Disappointed In You

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Topic: God’s Love
Scripture: 1 John 4:16
Author: Mitchell Dillon

Whitney Houston, in an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002, discussed the pain and frustration she experienced in her failed comeback attempt. At one point in the interview she turned to Ms. Sawyer and asked, “Have you ever heard the sound of 10,000 people disappointed in you?”

Application:

Hailed as perhaps the greatest vocalist of all time, Whitney Houston once stood atop the music industry as the unchallenged queen of pop. The greatness of her talent was met by an equally magnanimous outpouring of love from millions of fans the world over. But when her abuse of drugs and other related habits finally robbed her of that “golden voice,” the cheers turned to jeers.

She had risen to the pinnacle of admiration like few others, only to have it all melt away as soon as her flaws were revealed. The rejection left her confidence wavering from the resonating sound of her fans’ disapproval. Even so, in that same interview, Ms. Houston declared emphatically, “I know this—Jesus loves me!” It was a declaration she would assert repeatedly, even at the occasion of her final public appearance the night before she died.

Despite her flaws and self-doubt, there was one thing she did not question: the love of Jesus. What a critical realization, one which highlights the important distinction between the love of the world and the love of God. The former is fickle and fleeting; the latter is sure and eternal.

If an adored star like Whitney Houston could suffer the pain of this world’s fickle love, don’t think it won’t treat you the same–or worse!

The sad truth is we must conceal our flaws if we hope to hang on to the love of this world. But not so with the love of God! His love is felt most strongly when we lead off with them!

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

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Called To Leave Our Mark

Printer Friendly Topic: God’s Love
Author: Illustration Exchange
Scripture: John 13:35
Source: “One Amazing Thing You Never Noticed In Countless Disney And Pixar Movies: What does ‘A113′ signify and why does it keep popping up everywhere?” by Robyn Wilder, BuzzFeed Staff, published on BuzzFeed.com, retrieved 5/4/14

“A113” … It’s everywhere!

  • It’s Andy’s mom’s license plate number in Toy Story;
  • It’s a door number in Monsters University;
  • It’s the courtroom number in Up;
  • It’s the camera model number in Finding Nemo;
  • It’s on a rat’s ear tag in Ratatouille;
  • And it’s the train number in Cars … to name just a few.

But what does it mean?

“A113” was a classroom number at the California Institute of the Arts. “If it appears in a movie,” reports BuzzFeed, “it means that a CalArts alumnus was involved with the animation.” And it’s not just in animated films. The trademark number even appears in live action films like Hunger Games and Mission Impossible.

Like a digital calling card or a cinematic fingerprint, it’s a message to the public … a CalArts alumnus was here!

Application:

What is your calling card, your fingerprint, your message to the public? How will you communicate to the world that you are an alumnus, a disciple of Christ?

Jesus has a trademark number for you to consider. It’s J1335.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

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