Book Smarts

Book Smarts

by Laura Harris (35)

If you’ve ever gone to the supermarket, you can’t overlook the numerous “self help” magazines at the check-out counter. These magazines entice readers with “how to” advice on an array of topics, including personal relationships, child rearing, money management, spirituality, health and career advancement. The same advice is doled out in highly touted books as well. According to, the following are several best-selling books year-to-date:

— “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren (Pastor)
— “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen (Televangelist)
— “Natural Cures ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Know About” by Kevin Trudeau (Convicted Felon)
— “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke” by Suze Orman (Talk Show Host)
— “He’s Just Not That Into You” by Greg Behrendt (Comedian/Singer)

Human reasoning pushes people to look toward others for “expert” advice and direction in their life choices. Sadly, most do not find what they are seeking. The Bible is the one book individuals need most in answering their questions, but it is often the least sought book in finding answers to many of life’s problems. While some self-help books can be beneficial, THE Book – given by the Creator – is the ultimate guide for life.

We'll Always Be OK

We’ll Always Be OK
by Michael Link

We have all just returned from what was another enjoyable feast. During that time we experienced joy, fellowship, spiritual growth, peace and fun; a foretaste of what is to come in the Millennium. What about after the feast? We are faced with trials every year during this time. But no matter what is thrown at us, we have to remember that we have somebody watching and helping us through every situation. I wrote a song a while back which lets us know that we are always in good hands.

We drove down the coastline
expecting a safe ride.
Excitement was building,
we planned for a good time.

Our share of close calls
were unexpected.
Protection is vital
in case of a downfall.

We’ll Always Be Ok

A break is essential
from customary life.
Enjoy these few moments
Posing as crucial.

Trials we encounter
We seem to get through them.
This world is a landmine
but one thing is for sure

We’ll Always Be Ok

As we left this place here
back to our routine
Continue to live right
We have nothing to fear.

We’ll Always Be Ok

An Illustration

An Illustration
by Cali Harris (22)

Main Entry: joy

1 a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires: DELIGHT

b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion: GAIETY

It seems almost silly to read Merriam Webster’s definition of “joy”; the structured, rigid dictionary definition hardly conveys the real sense of the word. I imagine joy to be illustrated in so many different ways: in a positive attitude, in kindness among brethren, in laughter–even in a smile.

As I’ve been spiritually and physically preparing for the Feast this year, it’s like Satan is hiding around the corner to try and trip me up at every turn. This makes it particularly challenging to focus on having a joyful attitude. But we are actually instructed by God to be joyful–especially during His weekly and annual Sabbaths.

In spite of Satan’s efforts to try to derail us, it is so exciting to know what we have in store for our short-term AND our long-term futures! Merriam Webster’s definition may be lackluster, but it does point us in the right direction to being joyful in the way that God commands us.

How would we illustrate the best Feast of Tabernacles we’ve ever attended? Would it be filled with spiritual growth, appreciation for God’s beautiful creation, and building friendships with brethren? Would our Feast be illustrated by joy?

Standing Up For Your Belief

Standing Up For Your Belief
by Simon Akl (16)

In today’s world, numerous detractions and sins surround us. In school, we are constantly submitted to the famous false notion of evolution. Teachers are always trying to brainwash us, by forcing this common deception upon us. But as many of us know, this theory has no truth to it (compare, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults?”). In this corrupt world we need to be willing to stand up for our beliefs, even if we are facing attack and persecution. How far are we willing to go to state the truth?

Last year in my “Theory of Knowledge” class, I had the chance to give a speech on Creation vs. Evolution. At first I thought that since this was such a controversial subject, I would try to just give an informative speech, rather than becoming “argumentative.” I was a little afraid of taking the creationists’ side because we had previous debates on this subject in my class, and they, apart from myself, were all believing in evolution. I had even gone to the teacher to ask his permission to see if I could just state both sides’ arguments, and he had agreed. But after much thought and prayer, as well as consultation with friends from church, I came to the conclusion that we cannot compromise when it comes to God and His Word. I realized that in life we will always be faced with obstacles concerning our beliefs, and so we should not be afraid or back down, but instead stand up strong for the truth.

Our class speeches were supposed to take half an hour, but I ended up speaking for a whole hour. We had a lengthy debate after the presentation. All of my classmates were shooting at me, one after another, with numerous questions. Everyone tried to prove to me that evolution was not just a theory but the real truth. I was left all alone on my little island fighting off these hungry sharks. But I stood my ground and continued to state my position. Once the class had finished, the teacher congratulated me on my “outstanding performance.” As I left the classroom, my classmates approached me, one by one, and also–surprisingly–congratulated me. They explained that they respected what I had done, and understood that it was hard debating everyone by myself. Although we had different opinions, they all accepted the fact that I had stood up strong for my belief.

While I had been preparing for my presentation, there was always a little fear to go against everyone. But afterwards, the feeling of standing my ground felt great. I realized that God had answered my prayers and helped me. I also realized that we should never compromise when it comes to God, and that we should never be afraid. Fighting small obstacles, such as these, help us develop our character, and it will allow us to fight off greater challenges in the future. This is why “standing up for your belief” is so important.

The Ants

by Aaron Hooper (20)

Imagine trying to explain to an ant that if they live a righteous life and, in the end, are counted ‘faithful in the small things,’ you will make them into a human after they die. Imagine trying to explain to them the value of being human, or what it is like, though they have no idea of what it is like to be that ‘big’ and probably cannot understand through their ‘puny’ little eyes, what humans are.

The truth is, ants are more inherently selfless than we humans are, and don’t need us to teach them how to live their life. Solomon even admonishes us to consider their ways, and to learn from them.

Surely, such is the relationship between God and man (and how difficult it is to understand the things of God!), though the scale of God is much greater than the difference between human and ant. In fact, we are not much bigger than the ants when placed next to the INFINITE God, much as a pebble and a grain of sand are similar in comparison to the earth.

We are, however, not ‘god’ to the ants, because (1) we cannot see them all at once (2) we cannot rightly judge their thoughts or actions (3) we cannot make them live, or resurrect them to life… and the list goes on. The analogy is simply to illustrate the AWESOME MAGNITUDE of God and how infinitesimal we are.

There is a lot to be learned from the “faith” of ants, how they take action (without forethought of the benefit to themselves) to aid the larger purpose about them, without knowing what that purpose is or how it works, and having no promise or reward after they die. We should all the more put our minds towards diligently working towards the awesome purpose and the perfect plan that God has designed for us.

Open Doors

Open Doors
by Cali Harris (22)

It was a normal Monday morning recently when I went to work as a host at the restaurant where I am employed. I have always felt very blessed to have a great job, especially one where the Sabbath and Holy Days are not a problem. Lately, however, I have been interested in finding more challenging work. A few hours into my shift, my manager came up to the host stand and told me that the restaurant’s current sales manager was leaving the company.

Then, my manager offered me the open position! Right in front of me was an open door.

I could immediately close the door, turn around, and walk away from the opportunity, worried I may not have the skills necessary to do the job. Or I could leave the door open and deliberate for weeks, wondering whether or not this is a responsibility I really feel like taking on.

OR, I could walk confidently through the open door, having faith in God that this job is His answer to my prayers. Despite my nervousness I did walk through the open door; I saw it as a blessing and felt assured that God would guide me along the way. God opened the door for me, but I had to choose to faithfully walk through it.

Making a big decision–or walking through an open door–is sometimes a doubt-filled, stressful process. But if we are continually striving to build our relationship with God, then we can walk boldly through open doors!

You Got Served

You Got Served

by Laura Harris (35)

Volunteering offers great opportunities to learn new skills, meet new people and help others in need. We don’t need to build a home with Habitat for Humanity or join the Peace Corp to make a difference. But where should we donate our time? We can start with the church by doing good, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Some people may think that we need a title or position in order to help with church activities, but this is not true… anyone can serve! If we want to be more involved with the church, the first step is to ask how we can be of assistance. Although the ministry will know how best to utilize our talents, here are a few suggested activities we may want to get involved in, if appropriate:

–Lead music during weekly services, if you are a man
–Assist with the sound system and audio equipment.
–Provide flowers for services.
–Help set-up and clean-up during services.
–Contribute to potlucks.
–Photograph special events for the church website.
–Teach Bible lessons to younger members in the church, under the instruction from the ministry.
–Contribute money to help another family during the holy days.
–Perform special music.
–Assist with the coordination of special church events, such as the annual dance during the Feast of Tabernacles.
–Keep in contact with brethren, particularly those who are not well.

No matter what volunteer activity we choose — the important point to remember is to be a good example and serve with a positive attitude.

So, what are you waiting for?

Shine Bright!

Shine Bright!

by Shana Rank (31)

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a light in this dark world. The analogy of letting our light shine bright in relation to God’s perfect outpouring character is exciting, and the only type of character I wish to imitate. Since I must strive to be an excellent example to those around me, what kind of light should I be?

Possible scenarios:

Candlelight: This type of light is sufficient in limited situations. Often times candle light is easily extinguished by wind or other outside forces. Candlelight could also be described as timid and shy when compared to the brightness of other light. Do I want to be a weak light?

Fluorescent light: This type of light has endurance; unfortunately, the quality of light is poor in comparison to natural light. Fluorescent bulbs also exhibit symptoms like flickering and buzzing which can be very unpleasant. Do I want to be an inconsistent light?

Flash bulb: This type of light is especially effective at nighttime or for poorly lit areas. The effect a bright flash has on the pupil can be likened to the first impression we have on those with whom we come in contact. Is my light short and intense, or will my light have a lasting impression?

Sunlight: This type of light is the brightest light known to man. So bright that it can cause blindness for those that gaze too long. Sunlight is able to penetrate the darkest places imaginable; this is also how I think about the perfect Spirit of God the Father and Jesus Christ. God is also described in the Bible as being light–with no darkness in Him. Can I be the brightest light possible? With God’s help, yes!

I know I would like to shine bright like the sun. Which type of light would you like to be?

Be Content

Be Content

by Manuela Link (21)

How many people do we know who are really satisfied with what they have? Do they seem happy by cherishing, taking care of, or looking after their possessions? Or do they always seek something better, using their time in trying to find greener grass because theirs isn’t bright enough? It is not wrong to look for better alternatives and quality — but quality is not just “born”; it is built up. Sometimes we may think, “Things would be so much better if I had a higher-paying job, a bigger house, a newer car, better parents, brothers and sisters and friends… all my problems would be solved.”

Instead of worrying about what we may not have, we should be concerned about taking care of what we do have. Everyone knows that problems just don’t disappear, and that we can’t escape them. Even when we think that we have found an alternative, the problems seem to find us all over again.

Taken from a line in a song, “Tempted by the fruit of another; tempted, but the truth is discovered.” We are tempted when we are faced with the decision of possibly getting something better and newer, but in the end, even the new thing will soon become old and sometimes, it is worse than with what we started out. We should be content with what we have and work to improve it, if need be. We should not always concentrate on what we don’t or can’t have, while abandoning what is right in front of us. Again, how many people do we know who are satisfied with what they have? Are you content?

This Job?

By Shelly Bruno (34)

As I sit thinking about the new job I will begin on Monday, I can’t help but remember the same feelings I had experienced a number of years ago before starting another job-the nervousness, insecurity and wondering if I’d made the right choice. I do remember praying about finding a new job then, and specifically requesting that it would be a good situation-in a spiritual sense. That opportunity came, when I saw a job advertised. I applied, went through the nerve-wracking interview experience and got it! I was elated-that is, until I started work a few weeks later. That first week I was very sure that I had made a big mistake. Why did I leave a job I was comfortable with for this one that surely wasn’t right? Why did God give me THIS job?

As I stuck it out I realized that God had answered what I had prayed for-my supervisor was Jewish, so he not only understood what “Holy Days” I was speaking of-he was also absent from work the same days. What I didn’t realize, at the time, were all the blessings that were to come. Looking back now I can see how I was given much more than I asked for. That job provided a chance for me to grow in my professional skills and work with very talented people. I developed friendships that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I was supported, encouraged, and blessed financially as well. I still thank God for that opportunity He gave me.

So what about this new job I start on Monday? The questions are swirling again in my mind. Will it be the “right” job? Did I make a big mistake? What happens if I fail? I really don’t know the answer to these questions today, but there is one thing I do know for sure-that one way or another God will work out this job too!

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