Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NO Thanksgiving. NO Thank you!

“Thank God no matter what happens” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)*

A brief history of the 1st Thanksgiving: The Pilgrims who sailed to the USA aboard the Mayflower were members of the English Puritan Church seeking freedom and a better life. The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on 11/12/1620. Their first winter was devastating; they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. However, the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one and the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast which included 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. The first Thanksgiving lasted three days.

The 1st Thanksgiving came after the funeral and burial of almost 50% of the Pilgrims; it seems odd that in the midst of such great changes, enormous difficulties and insecurities, they found a reason for hope and celebration. Let me share with you a few reasons why many people don’t feel very thankful. If you are facing all of these problems, maybe and only maybe; you may be one of those that say, “No Thanksgiving. No Thank you!”

You don’t have family and friends, and…
Thanksgiving is one of the most family centered Holidays. We enjoy celebrating with our closest family members and friends; catching up on our lives and remembering the good old days. If you do not have any family or friends, you may NOT feel like celebrating Thanksgiving. Add to this…

You don’t have a job, and…
Having a job is such an important economic and emotional aspect of our life. It provides for our needs and wants and, it gives us a sense of worth and purpose. Our economy is facing difficult moments and many people find themselves without a job. If you do not have a job, you may NOT feel like celebrating Thanksgiving. Add to this…

You are not in good health, and…
Our health plays such a key part of our lives. When we have serious health issues, it affects our emotional state, our economy and ability of living a “normal” life. If you do not have good health, you may NOT feel like celebrating Thanksgiving. Add to this…

You don’t have a place to live, and…
As founder and president of a nonprofit organization that helps to reduce homelessness for the last seven years, I have seen the sadness of those living on the streets. If you do not have a place to live, you may NOT feel like celebrating Thanksgiving. Add to this…

You don’t have any food, and…
I have experienced and seen poverty first hand: As a boy living in Cuba under a communist regime and having traveled to a few third world countries. We need food to survive and to enjoy life. Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy good food! If you do not have any food, you may NOT feel like celebrating Thanksgiving. Add to this…

You don’t have freedom
Freedom is the desire of every human being and animal. Everyone wants the right to speak and live without fear of persecution. If you do not live with freedom, you may NOT feel like celebrating Thanksgiving.

The fact that you are reading this article means that you are alive. Even if you are experiencing extreme difficulties, you are still alive and there is always hope and an opportunity ahead. Most of us living in the USA are not facing all of the above mentioned problems that would give us grounds for NOT celebrating Thanksgiving. The Bible verse I selected says, “Thank God no matter what happens.” God cares for you. May you have reasons to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day and may God give you many blessings in the year to come!

*The Message
¡NO al Día de Acción de Gracia! ¡Muchas gracias pero NO!

“Den gracias a Dios por todo” (1 Tesalonicenses 5:18)*

Una breve historia del Primer Día de Acción de Gracia: Los Peregrinos navegaron a los EE.UU. en el barco Mayflower, ellos fueron miembros de la Iglesia Inglesa Puritana, vinieron en búsqueda de libertad y una mejor vida. Los Peregrinos desembarcaron en Plymouth Rock el 11/12/1620. El primer invierno fue devastador, de los 102 Peregrinos que llegaron a bordo del Mayflower; 46 fallecieron. Sin embargo la cosecha del 1621 fue muy abundante y el resto de los colonizadores decidieron celebrar con una fiesta que incluyo a 91 Indios quienes ayudaron a los Peregrinos sobrevivir aquel año. El Primer Día de Acción de Gracia perduró tres días.

El Primer Día de Acción de Gracia fue después del velorio y entierro de casi el 50% de los Peregrinos; tal parece insólito que en medio de grandes cambios, dificultades enormes e inseguridades, ellos encontraron un motivo de esperanza y de celebración. Voy a compartir con usted algunas razones por las cuales muchas personas NO se sienten agradecidos. Si usted está enfrentando todos estos problemas, quizás y solamente quizás; usted pudiera ser uno de aquellos que dicen: “¡NO al Día de Acción de Gracia! ¡Muchas gracias pero NO!

NO tiene familia ni amigos, y…
El Día de Acción de Gracias es una de esas fiestas donde la familia es el centro. Nos encanta celebrar con nuestros familiares y amigos; ponernos al día de los asuntos de la vida y recordar lo buenos días del pasado. Pero si usted no tiene familia, ni amigos; quizás usted NO se siente con deseo de celebrar el Día de Acción de Gracia. Adiciónele ahora…

NO tiene trabajo, y…
Tener trabajo es de suma importancia para nuestra economía y para nuestra vida emocional. Nos provee para nuestras necesidades y deseos; también nos ofrece un sentir de valor propio y de propósito. Nuestra economía enfrenta momentos difíciles y muchas personas están sin trabajo. Si usted no tiene trabajo, quizás NO se siente con deseo de celebrar el Día de Acción de Gracia. Adiciónele ahora…

NO tiene una buena salud, y…
Nuestra salud es primordial en nuestra vida. Cuando tenemos problemas serios de salud, afecta nuestro estado emocional, nuestra economía y nuestra habilidad de vivir una vida “normal”. Si usted no tiene una buena salud, quizás NO se siente con deseo de celebrar el Día de Acción de Gracia. Adiciónele ahora…

NO tiene hogar, y…
Como fundador y presidente de una organización sin fines de lucro que lleva siete años ayudando a reducir el número de personas que viven en las calles, yo he visto la tristeza de los desamparados. Si usted no tiene hogar, quizás NO se siente con deseo de celebrar el Día de Acción de Gracia. Adiciónele ahora…

NO tiene comida, y…
He experimentado y he visto la pobreza: En mi niñez viví en Cuba bajo un régimen comunista y he viajado a varios países del tercer mundo. Necesitamos alimento para sobrevivir y para disfrutar de la vida. ¡El Día de Acción de Gracia es un momento para disfrutar de la buena comida! Si usted no tiene alimento, quizás NO se siente con deseo de celebrar el Día de Acción de Gracia. Adiciónele ahora…

NO tiene libertad
La libertad es el deseo de todo ser humano y de todo animal. Todos anhelamos el derecho de hablar libremente y de vivir sin temor de ser perseguidos. Si usted no tiene libertad, quizás NO se siente con deseo de celebrar el Día de Acción de Gracia.

El hecho que usted esté leyendo este artículo significa que tiene vida. Aun si está experimentado dificultades extremas, todavía tiene vida, hay esperanza y existe la oportunidad de mejorar. La mayoría de nosotros en los EE.UU., no estamos enfrentando todas estas dificultades las cuales nos dieran motivo para NO celebrar el Día de Acción de Gracia. El versículo de la Biblia que seleccioné dice, “Den gracias a Dios por todo.” Dios tiene mucho interés en usted. ¡Qué tenga motivos por los cuales estar agradecido en el Día de Acción de Gracia y que Dios le de muchas bendiciones en el año venidero!

*Dios Habla Hoy

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just say NO! Five reasons to say, NO!

"You might get trapped by what you say; you might be caught by your own words. My child, if you have done this and are under your neighbor's control, here is how to get free. Don't be proud. Go to your neighbor and beg to be free from your promise" (Proverbs 6:2-3)*

At some point in time you have probably been a victim of your own words. You have said YES to someone and later you have told yourself: "Why did I say YES!? Now it is too late and I must live with the consequences." Since this happens to all of us, let's look at five reasons to just say NO!

1. Don't want it!
There are people that want to: A) sell you something, B) ask you for a favor, C) persuade you to be involved in something. I will call all three of these "ABC". Whatever "ABC" is, you are not currently interested. Don't be afraid, go ahead and say: "No thank you!"

2. Don't have time for it!
Most of us are busy; some are very busy and others are busy like crazy. Someone may bring you the "ABC"; you like it but your schedule is full and you don't have time for it. It is fine to say: "I like the "ABC" but I don't have time for it now. Perhaps I will have time for it in the near future."

3. Don't agree with it!
There are times that the situation is not that you 'do not want it' or 'you don't have time for it' but you simply do not agree with it. In this case, the person brings you the "ABC" but it is not according to your taste, goals or belief system. Be kind, but willing to say, "I don't want it." If the person asks for a reason, tell them the truth and you will avoid being asked again.

4. Don't have the finances!
We wish we could afford everything but we can't. There are times people want to offer you an "ABC" and you actually like it, would have the time to enjoy it and, agree with it. But, you can't afford it! Do not spend more than you can afford. Be honest and say: "It is not within my budget."

5. Don't like the person!
Let's be honest, we do not like everyone. All of us have people that we have "chemistry" with and others that we find "toxic". Whatever "ABC" the person is offering you: you may want it, may have time for it, agree with it and, have the finances to afford it. But, you dislike the person that is offering it to you. Be as kind as you can but say "NO, thank you!" If you really like the "ABC", find someone else that you like and get it.

Saying YES is normally a wonderful thing. But for many of us saying NO is a very difficult thing. Saying NO may sound rude and disappointing. We may feel guilty believing we have offended someone, or hurt their feelings. We ponder about our response and conclude based on guilt: "I should have said YES." All of us must decide when and why to say YES or NO. Consider the five reasons I have proposed and may your decision be based on truth and not guilt.

*New Century Version

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To Execute or Not to Execute the D.C. Sniper: That is the Question!

“If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image” (Genesis 9:6)*

Who is the D.C. Sniper? “John Allen Muhammad (December 31, 1960) is a spree killer from the United States. With his younger partner, Lee Boyd Malvo, he carried out the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks, killing 10 people. Muhammad and Malvo were arrested in connection with the attacks on October 24, 2002, following tips from alert citizens. Born John Allen Williams, Muhammad joined the Nation of Islam in 1987 and later changed his surname to Muhammad. Drawings by Malvo describe the murders as part of a ‘jihad’.” (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

I remember watching the news on a daily basis and desiring my silent condolences for the families of those killed by this mysterious sniper. He terrorized the Tri-States: Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. The whole nation watched in horror as ten innocent people were murdered, ranging in ages between 13 and 72. I remember thinking, “What would I do if this sniper would decide to come to Miami?” I prayed everyday that the mystery sniper be captured or killed! Last night John Allen Muhammad was executed and, once again as a Nation, we are faced with the ethical question: Is capital punishment moral or immoral? I will share my perspective.

Value of Human Life
As humans we value life. There are organizations to protect dogs, cats, whales, dolphins, eagles, alligators and almost all forms of animal life. Most people would agree that the value of human life is above all other life forms. I believe that murdering a human being, someone made in the image of God, is the worse crime any human can perform. So heinous is the act of murder that it deserves identical treatment.

Justice for the Victim
Everyone deserves justice; everyone deserves to be treated fairly; including the deceased. Many years after the Holocaust, the world still seeks to bring to justice all those that participated in the killing of millions of people. Those that have passed from the life to the afterlife deserve justice.

Closure for the Family
In life all of us need closure, we need to finalize this “chapter” and move on with our lives. The family of a victim has to live with the sadness of losing their loved one. During a legal trial, the family has to relive the pain and suffering again and again. Many victims’ families struggle to move on with life knowing that the murderer is still alive, while their child, spouse, parent, etc, is dead. The family deserves a closure and the right to continue their life.

Eliminating a Dangerous Murderer
Anyone that is serving a life sentence for murder is a danger to society; he or she has nothing to lose. Many are held in solitary confinement but there is always danger they can murder a guard or escape from jail. Why should society have to live with the possibility of having a murderer take another life?

I have briefly stated four reasons why I favor capital punishment. With John Allen Muhammad having been executed, I believe justice has been served. If you agree or disagree, I encourage you to write me and share your view.

*New Living Translation

Ejecutar o No Ejecutar al Franco Tirador de D.C.: ¡Esa es la Pregunta!

"Si alguien mata a un hombre, otro hombre lo matará a él, pues el hombre ha sido creado a imagen de Dios” (Génesis 9:6)*

¿Quién es el Franco Tirador de D.C.? “John Allen Muhammad (31 de Diciembre, 1960) es un criminal en juerga de los EE.UU. Con su joven cómplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, él realizó lo ataques del 2002 en Beltway, asesinando a 10 personas. Muhammad y Malvo fueron arrestados en conexión con los ataques el 24 de Octubre, 2002, después de los avisos de ciudadanos alertas. Su nombre de nacimiento, John Allen Williams, Muhammad se alineó a la Nación de Islam en el 1987 y se cambió su nombre a Muhammad. Pinturas de Malvo describen los asesinatos como para de un ‘jihad’” (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Traducción por el Rev. Pedro Martínez.

Recuerdo mirar diariamente las noticias y deseándoles mis silenciosas condolencias a los familiares de aquellos asesinados por este misterioso franco tirador. Aterrorizó el Trío-de Estados: Virginia, Maryland y Washington D.C. La nación completa miraba en horror viendo como diez personas inocentes fueron asesinadas, de edades entre 13 a 72 años. Recuerdo pensar, “¿Qué haría yo si este franco tirador decide venir a Miami?” ¡Oraba todos los días que el misterioso franco tirador fuese capturado o matado! Anoche, John Allen Muhammad fue ejecutado y una vez más como Nación, enfrentamos la pregunta ética: ¿Es la pena capital moral o inmoral? Yo compartiré mí perspectiva.

El Valor de la Vida Humana
Como seres humanos valoramos la vida. Hay organizaciones para la protección de los perros, los gatos, las ballenas, los delfines, las águilas, los cocodrilos y para casi todas las especies de vida animal. La mayoría de las personas están de acuerdo que la vida humana está por encima de todas las especies. Yo creo que asesinar a un ser humano, alguien creado a la imagen de Dios, es el peor crimen que cualquier humano puede realizar. El acto de asesinar es tan infame que merece el mismo trato.

La Justicia a la Victima
Todos merecemos justicia; toda persona merece ser tratada con equidad; incluyendo los muertos. Muchos años después del Holocausto, el mundo todavía busca llevar a la justicia todos aquellos que participaron en la matanza de millones de personas. Aquellos que ya han pasado de esta vida a la eternidad merecen justicia.

El Cierre para la Familia
En la vida todos necesitamos un cierre, necesitamos finalizar este “capítulo” y seguir adelante con nuestras vidas. La familia de la victima tiene que vivir con la tristeza de haber perdido a su ser querido. A través de juicio, la familia tiene que volver a vivir el dolor y el sufrimiento; una vez y otra vez. Muchos familiares de la victima batallan para seguir adelante con sus vidas sabiendo que el asesino aún vive, mientras su hijo, cónyuge, padre, etc., está muerto. La familia merece un cierre y el derecho de continuar su vida.

Eliminar un Criminal Peligroso
Cualquier persona que esté cumpliendo una sentencia de vida por asesinato es un peligro a la sociedad; el o ella no tienen nada que perder. Muchos están en cárceles aislados de otros presos, pero siempre existe el peligro que puedan asesinar a un guardia o escapar de la cárcel. ¿Por qué debe la sociedad vivir con la posibilidad que un asesino pudiera matar a otra persona?

En breve, he expresado cuatro razones porqué estoy a favor de la pena capital. Ahora que John Allen Muhammad ha sido ejecutado, creo que la justicia ha sido cumplida. Si usted está de acuerdo o en desacuerdo, le animo para que me escriba y me comparta su perspectiva.

*Dios Habla Hoy