Religions of the World – Part 1 – An introduction to Religion


 Webster’s New World Dictionary defines religion as “any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.”  This definition would exclude religions that do not engage in worship.

Religion has played a huge part in the formation of the society we know today. Ingrained into many cultures around the world is what the community believes in. To understand the Jews, you need to know something about Judaism. To understand the Japanese you need some insight into Buddhism.

Needless to say, religion stems from one’s personal belief and faith in certain principles, objectives or God. Many religions in the world have leaders or founders and these humans usually claim to receive instructions from God or a deity.

In this series, I would focus on five of the world’s most influential religious traditions namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity and explore their origins, beliefs and key features of  their worship.

“Dr. Irving Hexham of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, assembled a list of definitions of religion from various authors and theologians. One which caught my attention was by Alfred North Whitehead, He claimed that religion is: “what the individual does with his own solitariness.”

Another definition by B A Robinson defines religion as “any specific system of belief about deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, and a philosophy of life.  Therefore, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Native American Spirituality, and Neopaganism would be religions and also Agnosticism, Atheism, Humanism, Ethical Culture etc., because they also contain a “belief about deity” – their belief is that they do not know whether a deity exists, or they have no knowledge of God, or they sincerely believe that God does not exist.”

Defining the word “religion” is a difficult task.

 

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Coping with the loss of someone dear…


Dedicated to lost souls of the Ebola crisis of 2013/2014 and their families and friends…

You hear people say that when you lose someone dear, you’d heal up with time.

In the period between losing them and healing, there seems to be a nudging that makes you feel like leaving everything that is worth living for (even God sometimes).

Losing someone deeply hurts, you can’t bring them back and they are gone for life. It hurts more when they are family and others in your family feel the same kind of pain so there’s no one to comfort everyone.

I was in such a situation, twice and I had to ask God to heal me, and do so quickly because I couldn’t understand the feeling. I was angry, hurting, irritated, pitiful and emotionally weak. It’s harder like I said when it’s a close family member or a close friend but God understands this pain too. Jesus’ close cousin John was not just killed but beheaded for Herodias’ entertainment.

During loss, trusting God could be difficult but you’ve got to pull yourself together and trust that what He said in Romans 8:28 is true – it says – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.” It’s hard but it gives soothe. It’s normal to feel vulnerable after the loss of someone dear and people sometimes cope with this vulnerability by being aggressive, defensive, open to anything, untrusting, or suicidal. It is common also to try to blame yourself for the death of the person you lost as though you could have stopped them from being sick, hit by a car, dying in a crash, choking or killing themselves. It’s never your fault that someone dies. Even if it were, God’s blood cleanses all sins including murder, you have another take on life.

Look unto Jesus, the hope and perfecter of your faith. You can’t get it wrong trusting God. All else can and usually fails. Trust Jesus to heal you and all those involved. Who knows, you could be telling someone this in some time to come, after your own healing has blossomed.

Share this with a hurting friend or family member…

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Listening to the Holy Spirit


When do you listen to the Holy Spirit? When you feel like? When you’re stuck or every time?

The Holy Spirit nudges us sometime to do things or refrain from things and sometimes we don’t see the importance or urgency or his alert.

The holy spirit is a gentle spirit, fulfilling the nine expression of the spirit (fruit) Love, Joy, Peace, Self-control, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Patience – therefore we can’t fault him for being pushy.
I remember praying years ago that the Holy Spirit has permission to kick me (anywhere) if I didn’t respond to his nudge.

Some how I never got a kick, but I allowed the passage – he causes is to do and to will of his good pleasure to be fully activated. I just desired right living, even without nudges!

The point here is, if you’re one that is constantly on the go…most of us are, you need to narrow into a quiet place every once in a whole during the day to chat and hear from your friend.

It’s pleasant to be told that the reason for failing a test is because you are ill prepared – two weeks before the test!

What more do we ask from someone ever so near?

The hymn writer wrote: oh what needless pain we bear; all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Prayer is your communication with God. Period!

We can gain so much when we listen to the Holy Spirit; we can lose so much when we do our thing.

Many of us need to learn that even though we are growing into maturity each day, God wants us to come as children, to ask questions and learn from him – not to control us.

We have nothing to lose people, this guy has been and will ever be, he knows the past, future and present (yeah – hindsight, insight and foresight) so what people are we always running away from?

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Are You Unhappy Because You Are Married or Single?


 Are You Unhappy Because You Are Married or Single?

Many people complain about being unhappy as a single or married person. When single people are worried about their status, they say marriage would bring happiness. When married people talk, they try to ask if there is anything greener out there or wish they hadn’t married…

The state of well-being should not be dependent on anything, not even on marital status.

  1. As a single person, do you look forward to being around friends so much that you are ALWAYS lonely without them? You might be unhappy, but it may not be down to your marital status.
  2. Review your life, what are you most upset about? What has been building up in your life that is negative and may need to be changed?
  3. Write down things you enjoy by yourself. Create activities that would enhance your mood with or without the presence of others. Keep looking for what you thoroughly enjoy at different stages of your life.
  4. As a married person, do you depend on your spouse to make nice or warm comments about you to become happy? It is essential but don’t let your happiness depend on this. Think back about your single life, was it any different? Why? Was it influenced by people or things you did or didn’t do? Can you create an atmosphere of happiness in your home to correct the (your) unhappiness? For your own good, also seek things that you enjoy and bring you joy.
  5. Get into a writing habit. Write about the things you like…even though they are shoes or gadgets. This frees up your mind, makes you happy and keeps you sane enough to talk things through with your spouse. We naturally hurt others when we haven’t dealt with our hurt.
  6. Pray – this helps me remain sane, happy or not.

Handy tips

  • Collect memories that bring joy
  • Read things that excite you – sometimes you’d be out of the mood, so listen to the radio (a programme) or an audio book.
  • Do things to keep your buzz flowing
  • Listen and dance to your favourite music
  • Kick out negative feelings and thoughts – you can identify them because they always seem to hang over you when you mind entertains them.

Watch out!

Don’t let your unhappiness slip into depression – you can

See a marriage counselor or faith leader if you have to

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Music or Cacophony


Music or Cacophony

Music is any organised sound. Even when there isn’t much of a repeated sound, the arrangement itself is music because it’s been organised that way.

Cacophony means loud, irritating and out of tune sounds. It also signifies harsh discordance or an unorganised sound. Many times, we choose the types of music we like because of our friends, the people we hang out with more often (i.e. siblings, family, relatives, classmates etc), our personality, or because of the content. Even though a music band in the 80’s called themselves Cacophony, it isn’t pleasant to the ears nor is any music rendered that way desirable. Music is always pleasant to the ears and the soul, that’s why when people are interested about what you are saying, your words are said to be like music to their ears. Having said this, when does music become noise or unedifying?

As a Christian youth, anything that does not give credence to God or that glorifies Satan, Lucifer, other gods worshipped by people should not be your type of music. If it contains nudity, sexual references or violent hero worship, you really need to think about what you are doing taking that into your spirit. Whatever you listen to or watch that is not glorifying God or expressing his wisdom will certainly impress another nature into you that is not from God.

You are pure through Christ but that gives you no licence to expose yourself. It’s just like wearing white canvases on a wet day through the side-walks of a village or country road and you say – oh, I can always get them cleaned. Why bother?

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Entertainment


Entertainment is an act or art to amuse and keep you relaxed or refreshed; the ability to hold the attention of someone with something amusing or diverting. In simpler terms, it is something that keeps you glued to the TV, an event or a group.

Do you know who topped the charts this week? Everyone seems to know the months top ten but does this make any difference to you as a Christian? Yes? No? Maybe?

Entertainment like everything else in this age is different from your parents or grandparents. Take for instance, Facebook or even Google! Google only started in 1998 and a few years later, in 2004, Facebook came into the scene displacing existing social networks like MySpace (co-owned by Justin Timberlake) or hi5 which both started in 2003! (Not very long ago at the time of my writing.)

The forms of entertainment these days are more different than ever before so it can’t be harmful right? Wrong! More and more young people are exposed to sex, drugs, witchcraft and violence just because of their choice of entertainment including movies, music, games, TV shows, party types and even comedy or sporting events.

In music, we see the rise and fall of stars, year in, year out. Our choice of music probably depends on its popularity (we like some celebs for their fame  or their appearance not necessarily what they say) and then we dislike them when the press makes them look silly. This ‘up and down love’ is not limited to celebrities alone – those in sports, art, performing arts, comedy, writers etc, face some of this unstable patriotism from fans.

Does the lifestyle of a person matter or are adults just making a fuss and being too emphatic about your type of entertainment? Seeing or listening to what is a not right or godly, snuffs life out of your spirit, thereby leaving you numb to what is against God. This is a gradual process that results in you not being able to see what is wrong and accepting what is wrong as being okay as long as it doesn’t hurt (as far as you can see).

Your choice of entertainment shows something about your inside – it reflects how much value you are expressing.

 

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A world with NO cancers!


Dealing with constant change and pressure is part of our everyday life. One important cause for mood swings is our body make-up. During puberty, the body starts producing sex hormones. These hormones — oestrogen and progesterone in girls and testosterone in guys — cause physical changes in the body, but it also has an effect on our hormonal balance, hence our moods as well.

When we are stressed, our bodies release more hormones, like adrenaline, than are necessary to motivate us but if it is prolonged, it can trigger the growth of cancer and growth of tumour feeding blood vessels or promote weakening of the immune system to stop them. Some common issues that take away our joy or cause stress:

  1.      When starting a new school, college or university. Odd right?
  2.       Not getting good enough grades or wanting to be better in sports or other activities can be a concern.
  3.      Struggle with identity and self-image because being accepted by friends feels extremely important to you.
  4.      Not getting along with people, even your family members. You may feel you want to be on your own and make your own decisions as you get older, but it can also seem overwhelming and even a bit lonely sometimes.

Why do we get sick?

  1.     Biological reasons – our bodies need to catch up on rest, nutrients, body defence mechanisms or self-repair and our immune system is too weak to fight off microbes.
  2.     Psychosomatic reasons – our minds shut down on us causing us to be slower, less able to fight microbes, we get more tired and have funny sleeping patterns i.e. too much or too little sleep.
  3.     Spiritual reasons – the enemy, satan, sometimes likes to distract us by making us ill and taking our focus from God, his purpose for us or our past and present testimony of well-being.
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