Saturday, October 31, 2009

Didn't make the cut

The below entry is the one I submitted to The Washington Post for it's Next Great Pundit contest. There were over 5,000 entries and only ten could make the next round. Needless to say, I didn't make the cut. It was limited to 400 words and maybe, with the way I normally express myself, the content was lacking. Nevertheless, I am use to taking constructive criticism, so I present to you my entry for the contest:

As I woke up October 9, 2009, the big story was going to be a rocket crashing into the surface of the moon, hoping to find some signs of water for future space explorations. While that event did happen, not living up to the hype I might add, a reality crashed on all of us, especially the President of the United States. That fact is that the trusted international mantle of leadership was handed back to us.

President Obama was surprisingly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace that same morning, and with it an awesome responsibility to walk the walk, after two years of talking the talk. Forty-one years ago, demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago shouted, “the whole world is watching!” The five members of the Nobel Prize for Peace Committee quickly reminded the President, and the United States as a nation, that the whole world is still watching, and waiting with hope.

The committee said they chose the President because of his diplomatic strategy of engagement rather than the unilateral approach the previous administration practiced for eight years. The question becomes now: Can that approach work in the current world we live in?

President Obama embodied a symbol of change for Americans, invoking an image of hope and energy. The fact that the majority of American voters elected him to be President sent a message to the world that the America their ancestors talked about and sought, to either visit or live in, had returned, that ever-shining beacon of hope in the world.

After World War II, the world entrusted America to be the economic and military superpower, but lately it seemed as though the luster in America’s star had dimmed severely as our stewardship of that trust was questioned. Now, after nine months in office, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize sends a message that the luster could return and that the President is on the right path to make that happen.

As a citizen of the world, I hope that the President is successful in his strategy of engagement. As an American, while I am glad that he has secured such a distinguished honor, I just hope that he can take that mantle of international leadership and deliver on the promise it symbolizes, while at the same time making our nation better place for us to live.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just starting to fight

Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalm 46, Romans 3:19-28, John 8:31-36

This was inspired by a disturbing note I saw one of my friends post online. She said that she had given up on everything and everyone. My response: This is not the time to give up, this is the time to start!

God empowered us to fight off despair and gloomy outlooks. People will come and go, especially false friends. Financial troubles will subside. Sickness can be healed. Those are all temporary conditions and experiences. God, however, is constant and eternal.

As the old hymn says, He is willing to aid you and He will carry you through anything you ask Him too. I have seen Him heal the sick. I have seen Him financially bless people that needed it. He is a Friend when all others abandon you. This is not just hearsay, these are personal testimonies.

Our God is a glorious God and He made us wonderfully. There is nothing we can't overcome if we put our trust in Him and thoroughly exercise our faith. Thus when it seems as though you have reached the end of your rope, remember that God is our heavenly lifeline. He will never fail us, all we have to do is not get weary in our struggle.

Today is not the day to surrender to the principalities and powers that want to see us suffer. This is the time to fight. Press on toward the higher mark and claim your victory today! Amen!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Turning our own way

Job 38:1-7, (34-41), Isaiah 53:4-12, Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c, Psalm 91:9-16, Hebrews 5:1-10, Mark 10:35-45

Many times we develop a compass for our lives that is, at best, faulty. We tend to set off in a direction that takes us away from God and we encounter a very adventurous, and sometimes perilous, journey.

We trust our own understanding and we end up getting lost in despair. It does not have to be that way though. If we trust in God and follow Him, He will direct our path, with the ultimate goal of eternal salvation.

Our lives are not guaranteed to be easier because we choose God to be our pilot for our lives, but it will make the rough spots in our journey bearable and easier to overcome. Remembering our strength comes from our faith, it is better to keep our hearts open to God than turning our own way.

Stay strong in the faith, trust in God and keep on the path He sets before us.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not a genie in a bottle

Job 23:1-9, 16-17, Amos 5:6-7, 10-15, Psalm 22:1-15, Psalm 90:12-17, Hebrews 4:12-16, Mark 10:17-31

We live in an instant world. Things are disposable, especially when it is new and improved. We receive information 24/7 as the news is breaking. While living in this world, we have to remind ourselves that we are not of this world. We make adjustments for gadgets and info, but we cannot apply this to our relationship with God.

God works on His own time. He that created the universe cannot be restricted to a timetable. Therefore, we have to be patient and endure until the end. If you have asked God for a blessing through a tough period, then you have to be prepared to receive it. That takes time and a test.

God is not a genie in a bottle, granting our every wish as soon as it is uttered. He is our Father and He will only grant us the blessing when we are ready for it. How many talents and blessings have you wasted already in your life? That is why God is temperate with us. However, our assurance is that God does answer our prayers and the blessings will come down.

I remember playing on a team that lost every game. The next year we were the champions. The championship was much sweeter because of the struggles we endured. We were tested by fire and were ready to be champions when the opportunity presented itself. That is what God wants us to do when we request a blessing from Him, be ready.

A famous gospel song has a chorus that says, "He may not come when you want Him/But He'll be there right on time/He's an on-time God/Yes He is." Remember that when you are having hard times and you seek God's help. He will answer your prayer, just hold on!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Quick Piece of Advice

Job 1:1; 2:1-10, Genesis 2:18-24, Psalm 26. Psalm 8, Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12, Mark 10:2-16

A quick piece advice for my friends this morning: Praise Him in advance! Don't wait until your back is against the wall, your health is failing and your bills are overdue. Praise God now, right this very minute even, for all He has done for you.

The fact that you are able to read this is a blessing. The fact that you can communicate with the world via the Internet is a blessing. The fact that you are alive this morning is a blessing. Embrace the God that seeks to embrace you everyday. However you praise Him, as one shoe company would say, just do it!

Tapping into your power, the Holy Spirit, becomes even more powerful if you also directly tap into the source. Ask God through fervent prayer to guide you through His word, so that you can understand His promise to you. Praise God for He is worthy to be praised, in good times and in hard times. May God continue to bless you, be with you and keep you in His favor always

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Olympics in my hometown

I remember as a young man, growing up in Chicago, wondering how cool it would be for the Summer Olympics to be hosted in my hometown. I had envisioned the opening ceremony in Soldier Field, before the spaceship known as the Bears home stadium landed there, the Olympic Theme blaring from the Colonnades.

I just thought how electric the atmosphere. People from all over the world coming to my hometown, not that they don't already, but this time the whole world will be watching. ( I know, in 1968, the marchers said "the whole world is watching", but I mean in a positive sense. ) Somebody could actually say I won "x" number of gold medals or set a new world record at the Chicago Olympiad. That would be awesome.

Well, as I write this the President of the United States and the First Lady, former Chicago residents, are in Copenhagen, Denmark trying to make that dream a reality. Mayor Richard M. Daley could pull off something his father, "Da Boss", could not do, all it takes is a majority vote from the International Olympic Committee on October 3rd.

Now Chicago's main competitor is Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I can only imagine what the opening ceremony would be like if the Games end up there. If you think Carnival is a site to behold, just let the folks in Rio host the Olympics in 2016! So just that thought shows the competition is stiff. But the fact that Chicago has made it this far is incredible.

Now there are naysayers out there that are bitchin' about traffic tie ups and higher taxes. They just don't get it. The world will have its focus on Chicago for two weeks. The city will become truly a world class destination from that moment forward. If you don't believe me, look at how the 1996 Olympics transformed Atlanta into a mecca city. International flights leave from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport now. Centennial Park is the hub of downtown. Population has tremendously increased and so has economic development. I mean Salt Lake City, Utah hosted a Winter Olympiad people and they have benefited tremendously as well.

Chicago has had a history of hosting the world before with the Columbian Exposition and the World's Fair, but that was before jet planes, 24-hour cable and the Internet. Now the city I call home could be properly put in its rightful place as one of the greatest cities in the world. For the record, Chicago has hosted an international sporting event before, where the US Women's Soccer team proved they were the best on the planet during the Women's World Cup, but this is the sporting event of all sporting events.

Just imagine the Cubs playing the White Sox in the World Series, the Blackhawks playing for the Stanley Cup, the Bears playing for the Super Bowl and the Bulls playing in the NBA Championship during the same two week period and multiplying that 3 times over. That is how big this is.

If you want to gripe about the inconvenience, then plan a vacation for that time. Just don't watch the television for two weeks as your city will dominate the news and somehow, some way, you will really wish you had stayed. As for me, I will try to find a way to be there, even if I can't afford the tickets to the actual events. ( I hear that golf will be played at that Olympiad, so count me in the gallery at Olympia Fields Golf Course, wink, wink. ) Just being in that atmosphere and I am only a $99 ticket away on Southwest from going? At worse, a one day train ride or a 10-hour drive on the Interstate? Sure beats trying to get to Rio, I would have to start saving for that trip tomorrow. Who am I kidding, if its in Rio, I will be watching the NBC family of networks like I have lately.

It would be great for America to host a Summer Olympiad again, if nothing else to give our young men and women competing a home field advantage once again. China fed off its home crowd in Beijing last year. It would also be fifteen years after 9/11, thus showing the world how resilient and proud we are as a nation.

Now there are two things that concern me. First, Nostradamus said the world will end in 2012. Boy I sure hope he got that one wrong. Second, since Kanye West is a Chi-town native, there is the possibility he may interrupt the opening ceremony and say that Barcelona was the best ceremony ever. Barring that, I think Chicago will be a great city to showcase a world-wide event and I can think of no better city to do it than my hometown.

Good luck in Copenhagen!