Just…Back to Life?

Greetings my English-speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Could a website “die” for several years and then suddenly come back to life?  Certainly. This one just did.

How about a person?  Could a person die for several years?  Maybe months? Could a person be dead for several days and then come back to life? Certainly not.

It has been said that there are two things which are certain: death and taxes. What makes something certain?  If a person claimed to have truth, how could we be certain?  If a person claimed to bring  truth and justice, how could we be certain?

What would a person have to do in order to prove that he could give truth and justice to all people?  Might he have to feed the hungry?  Might he have to heal the sick?  Might he have to give sight to the blind?  Might he have to bring people back to life? Might he have to bring himself back to life? Two-thousand years ago, there was a person who might have done all these things.  In fact, many people say it is certain that Jesus came back to life after death.

Followers of Jesus claim that he died on a cross.  Roman historians say that their soldiers put Jesus on a cross.  Roman soldiers were very good at killing people.  They did their job or else they would lose their own lives. A cross was deadly.  The Roman soldiers confirmed that Jesus was dead.

Then, several days later, people claimed that Jesus came back to life.  Not only his followers saw him alive.  Even Jesus’ enemies saw him alive.  Jewish historians declared his tomb empty.

Jesus’  followers were scared when he died.  They abandoned him.  Several days later his followers had courage.  Now they were willing to die for him.  Something big changed their minds.

Could it be that Jesus was alive?  If so, could he bring truth and justice back to life?  Study the facts. At least, this website is back to life.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…The End?

Greetings my English-speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Some philosophers have said, “The end justifies the means.”

Does the end really justify the means?  For example, in order to clean up the world, should we kill all bad people?  If so, who decides which people are bad?  Adolf Hitler?  Ronald Reagan?  Mother Teresa?  Mohammad?  What makes one person’s end more valid than another person’s end?  Are there no wrong means?

In business, are personal goals more important than corporate goals?  From a different view, are corporate values more important than personal values?  Should the vote of the majority always win over the vote of the minority, even when it has to do with human rights?

There are other ways to think about ethics, morality and ends vs. means.  From a Christian perspective, decisions can be considered good when they glorify God.  What brings glory to God?  Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…And, love your neighbor as yourself.”  It’s that kind of life that brings glory to God.

It has been my personal goal during the short life of this program to give glory to God by sharing His simple truths with love.  To that end, I hope the means have worked some positive outcomes.

As I think about this topic, I am saddened to share that this program must end.  The radio station here in Peru has decided that too many people changed the channel when they heard Just English.  This program wasn’t a good means to their desired end.  That’s why the last two programs haven’t included audio.

What will happen to Just English?  Maybe you have an idea.  Maybe these small beginnings will lead to better means to teach basic justice.  I have learned quite a few things in the process of clarifying my thoughts on justice.  Now, I sure could use your prayers on learning better Spanish!! Whatever the case, please let me know if you have been listening to the program or enjoying the weekly transcripts.  Maybe I can continue online on a monthly basis.  Maybe I could put all this in a book?  Would you buy it?

Thanks for listening…

The End.  (At least for now)

 

 

 


Just…Property.

Greetings my English-speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

“Mine!” It is an idea learned early in our childhood. This is mine. That is yours.

What is “ours” is important to humans. In English we call things we own, “property.”
Sometimes we are given property. Sometimes we earn property. Sometimes we take property that is not ours. We call that, “stealing.”

Governments provide justice when something is stolen. In fact, one of the main reasons that governments exist is to protect property. Governments sometimes go to war with other governments because of arguments over property.

How should we think about our things? How should we treat property?

Here, the Constitution of Peru (1993) guarantees all persons the right to own and inherit property. Of course, under our current form of government, there are people who own more things than others. There are rich people. There are also poor people. Such differences can lead to greed and jealousy.

To deal with problems of greed and jealousy Karl Marx created Communism. Communists tried to make a world without rich or poor. However, communism failed. As a wise man once said, “The poor will always be with you.” People are selfish beings. Humans are by nature greedy. We desire control. We desire power. We want more property. Think deeply about yourself and your own desires. If you are honest with yourself, you will realize that what I am saying is true. We are born with a selfish nature. As adults, we still claim, “Mine!” A form of government is not the answer to this problem. The answer comes from God.

From early in history, God gave laws about property. He told people not to steal. He told us not to be jealous of other people’s property (Exodus 20:15-17). God does not only tell us what not to do about property. He teaches us to treat property in good ways. He teaches us to love others by sharing our property. Sharing is honorable and loving because it gives away ownership. You cannot truly share without the idea of ownership.

Early Christians lived this way. In the Bible, we find that followers of Jesus shared everything with each other. They sold their land and other possessions and gave the money to anyone who needed it.

Why do followers of God want to live this way? It is because they believe that properties, all things, are a gift from God. From this viewpoint, property “owners” might be better understood as, property “managers.” Followers of God consider what He wants them to do with His property.

What does God want people to do with His property? Jesus told His followers, “Whoever has two shirts should share with the person who doesn’t have any. Whoever has food should share it too.”

When tax collectors asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” Jesus told them, “Don’t collect more money than you are ordered to collect.”

When soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” Jesus told them, “Be satisfied with your pay, and never use threats or blackmail to get money from anyone.”

Property is important but, as Jesus warned, “Stop storing up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Instead, store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust don’t destroy and thieves don’t break in and steal. Your heart will be where your treasure is…”.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…End Slavery.

**Click here to listen to the audio version.**

Greetings my English-speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

The headlines open our eyes. It was reported recently that police in Peru rescued nearly 300 women from sex trafficking. Among those rescued from about 50 brothels were at least 10 minors – the youngest was a 13-year-old girl.

Human trafficking is a growing problem in our world.  It is a crime that knows no borders. It is modern slavery, and slavery is wrong.

There are estimates of 10-30 million slaves today around the globe.  That means there are more slaves today than ever in the history of the world.  After illegal drugs and weapons trafficking, it is the third-largest crime.

Human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar business. Yet, the average price of a slave is less than $100.  Victims are trafficked for many purposes, such as commercial sex, agricultural work, or housekeeping.  They all share the loss of the basic human right to freedom.

Many children are victims. To buy young children for sex is very evil. If I must explain to you why it is so evil, you have a problem. Get help.  As a popular campaign says, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.”

Slavery is not only a problem in poor countries.  Between fourteen to eighteen thousand people are trafficked INTO the United States each year. Studies have found that just New York City has nearly four thousand sex trafficked children. That number does not include children from foreign countries.

Slavery has been a problem since the beginning of time.  But why is there such a big problem with human trafficking today?

There are several reasons for this problem.  One cause is a need for money. There is a great divide between the rich and the poor in today’s world.  Poor people struggle to live.  In order to stay alive, they need their children to work.  It is easy for a poor person to be tricked for money.  Bad people come to villages and claim that there is money to be made in big cities.  They offer poor parents money if their children will come to work for them.  It sounds like a good deal when you are hungry for food.  But, it is a trap.  The children are brought into a life of slavery.

A large cause for sex trafficking is the growing pornography business. New technology allows sexually graphic material to easily enter our homes. The Internet, for example, is full of evil material. Even satellite TV with “X-rated” shows can be found in the smallest villages of the Andes Mountains.  The use of pornography can become an addiction and often leads people to the purchase of sex.  Again, there is money to be made.

C.S. Lewis once said, “All that we call human history–money, poverty…war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Brothers and sisters, it is right to fight for freedom.  Never stop.  Die for it if you must.  But always remember that true freedom for our world can only be found in God.

As the Bible says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1).

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Serve.

**Click here to listen to the audio version.**

Greetings my English-speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

We all want justice in our world.  We want people treated fairly.  Where I work, at Paz y Esperanza, we have a passion for justice.

Today I want to talk about one of the most important ways that you, as an individual, can help to build a culture of justice. That is through service.  When you learn how to truly serve others, justice will be served.

Do you know how to serve others?

When I was a youth, my family lived in Africa.  My African friends told many stories about animals.  One story went like this:

Once there was monkey who lived by a river.  One day he looked down from his tree and saw a fish struggling in that river.  The fish was working hard:  he was jumping high out of the water.  The monkey had compassion.  He wanted to help.  And so, the monkey reached down from his branch and grabbed the fish.  He then threw the fish onto the bank of the river. 

The monkey was very proud of himself.  He thought that he had helped the fish.  The fish looked happy…it was flopping on the ground.  In fact, after a while, the fish calmed down and it did not move at all:  it was very peaceful.  The monkey was very proud…

Did the monkey serve the fish?  No!  The monkey killed the fish!

Do you understand the moral of the story?  Sometimes we want to serve others but we do not help them.  We think we know what is best for them but we may not know the right answer.  First, we need to listen to their needs.

To serve best, we must listen first.  Is this difficult for you?  It is difficult for me.  I often think I know best and sometimes I act before listening.

For both justice and service, we must listen first.  This is true for individuals.  This is true for organizations.  This is true for churches.  This is true for governments.  Listen.  And then fulfill needs.

How does this proper service relate to justice?  It relates by helping to raise people’s dignity. Cultures that do not work to raise people’s dignity usually have trouble providing justice for all of their people.

My father once said,  “One serves best when one fulfills the needs of others in order to raise their dignity so they can also glorify God.”

What exactly is dignity?  Dignity is proper respect.  It is based on the idea that every person deserves to be treated equally well.  And why should all people be treated well?  It is because you and I, and all people, were created in the image of God.  We are all made to glorify Him.  Universal human dignity is a difficult idea to accept if one does not believe in God.

Even for people who believe in God, some other people can be difficult to serve.  Some people are bad people.  But they still deserve human dignity.  Maybe they do not know that God created them.  Maybe that difficult person does not know the purpose of his or her own life.  Serve them, and they may come to know their own purpose through your service.

Sometimes we can only do small things to help.  Of course, Mother Teresa once said, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

Serve the poor. Serve widows and orphans.  Serve victims of violence and abuse. Even serve people in prison. Serve and raise someone’s dignity.  Justice will be served.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Parent Your Children.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Justice begins with parents.

It was both the happiest and scariest moment in my life: the day my first child was born. I was speechless. Suddenly, I was a father. What was I going to do? The baby looked so small in my hands. She looked so fragile. How would I raise her? Would I be a good father?

Right then my life changed. My wife and I were now responsible for a new creation. And our daughter depended upon us. She needed us for food. She needed us to change her diaper. She needed us to protect her. She needed us for love.

It has been over fourteen years since our first daughter was born. We survived. My daughter can now feed herself. I am joking. Our daughter is a lovely, intelligent, responsible young woman. And we now have three other beautiful children, two other daughters and one son. Our children are blessings from God.

Even after these years of raising four children, it is still hard to be a parent. I pray everyday to be a good Dad. I pray to be a good example. I pray to be faithful to my wife and children. I pray to be faithful to my Heavenly Father.

Maybe you are a father or mother. Maybe you want to be a parent someday.

How should you raise your children?

Let me give you an illustration. Let us imagine that you plant a garden. You plant some seeds. You want them to grow. You water them. You pull the weeds. You might even talk to your plants and encourage them to grow. It would be bad to leave the plants to grow on their own. Eventually weeds would surround them. Eventually, they would wither and die. Plants take work.

In some ways, children are the same as plants. We need to tend to them. We cannot leave them alone to grow. God gives children parents to help them grow.

Almost 3000 years ago, Wise King Solomon wrote, “Train a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not turn away from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

To train a child, we need to give correct discipline. This does not mean we allow them to run free without limits. Children need limits. Limits help them to understand how the world works. Early limits protect children from danger. Limits help children understand relationships.

Sometimes when young children defy parents’ limits, they need spankings on their bottoms. This does not mean you should beat your child into submission. That is not my point. As the Bible says, “A spanking and a warning produce wisdom, but an undisciplined child disgraces his mother” (Proverbs 29:15).

Never spank a child out of anger. Calmly explain to the child why you are spanking him or her. After you spank your child, forgive them. Give them a hug. Tell them you love them. St. Paul added, “Fathers, don’t make your children bitter about life. Instead, bring them up in Christian discipline and instruction” (Ephesians 6:4).

It is not someone else’s job to raise your children. Be a responsible parent.

Teach your child about God’s love. And teach your child to love God and their neighbors. Teach your child about God’s truth. And teach your child to tell the truth. Teach your child about God’s justice and forgiveness. And teach your child to be just and to forgive.

Parents, you are the most important people in the lives of your children. Take responsibility: parent your children.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Have Courage.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

It has been 10 years since September 11, 2001.  The acts of terror in the United States on that day changed the world.  The violence brought fear to many people.  The rescuers displayed courage. Many heroes lost their lives trying to save others.

This past Monday, another much smaller act of terrorism occurred in Lima, Peru: there was a bomb threat at the Scotia Bank. It was a false alarm.  Nobody was hurt.  But for a moment, many of my emotions from ten years ago returned.

Terrorists seek to frighten people into change.  Their acts are scary.

It is easy to become afraid.  It is a normal human response.  Fear protects us.  In English, we say that fear leads to one of two actions:  fight or flight.  Some people fight what scares them.  Other people run from what scares them.  Sometimes we need to do both…fight and then run.

But what should we fear?  Are you afraid of something?  I fear heights.

Some people fear the dark.  Other people fear flying.  Others fear speaking in front of a crowd.

American President Franklin Deleno Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear it’self.”

The phrase is nice.  But, I am not sure the topic is that simple.  If we are talking about only the physical world, I agree with President Roosevelt.  Yet, there is more than the physical world.  There is also a spiritual world and we are part of it.

As Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”

We need to fear God because he rules over both the physical and spiritual world. Fear Him, yes. But does that mean we are to be scared of him? No. To fear God is to know that he is the most powerful being.  If we are under His care, we can be at peace because he has all power.

If we are with Him, we can have courage.  As Joshua said in the Bible, “Be strong and courageous! Don’t tremble or be terrified, because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Lt. John Putnam Jr. fought in World War II and said, “Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it.”

With God, we can face fear.

As Dorothy Bernard said, “Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers.”

Recently, my father left on a missionary journey to a dangerous country.  I told him to stay safe.  He responded with the same words as many brave missionaries before him, “Son, safety is not the absence of danger but the presence of God.”

In the Bible, King David was a brave man.  He sang,

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Who is there to fear?
The Lord is my life’s fortress.
Who is there to be afraid of?
                                                     (Psalm 27)

Do you live in fear? Have courage!

Live in the presence of God.  As God blessed his people in the past,

The Lord will bless you and watch over you.
The Lord will smile on you and be kind to you.
The Lord will look on you with favor and give you peace.
(Dueteronomy 23:24-26)

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Read.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

How can we teach freedom and justice?

James Garfield, the 20th president of the United States once said, “Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be maintained.”

Former Prime Minister of England Benjamin Disraeli agreed.  He said, “Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends.”

When asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated, the philosopher Aristotle answered, “As much as the living are to the dead.”

What is a good education?  In the English speaking world, it is said that there are three “R’s” to good education:  Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.

The first and most important “R” in that list is reading.  To read is the base of a solid education. Reading helps you to learn other subjects. Reading opens you to a world of new ideas.  As the famous author C.S. Lewis said, “We read to know that we are not alone.”

People tell me that here in Huánuco, Peru children can finish their primary education without ever reading a complete book.  If that is true, we have a big problem.  Schools here need to change. Reading needs to be the number one priority in education.  It needs to be a priority for our region.

In English, there is a word that describes people who read.  Such people are called “literate.”  For example, a person is literate if they have the ability to understand and use printed information.  Literature is printed information:  books, magazines, newspapers.  And a person who uses literature is literate.  A literacy rate tells how many people are literate.

One can study literacy rates.  Here in Huánuco, Peru there is a problem with our literacy rate.  While there are worse literacy rates in the world, there is a gap in the literacy rate here between men and women.  Sixteen point six percent of adults from Huánuco cannot read.  But 23.8 percent of women cannot read as compared to 9.5 percent of men.  (See: http://www.globalissues.org).

To develop our region we need to help ALL citizens to read:  BOTH men and women. And if we want better leaders we need better literacy.  It has been said, Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.

There is an important connection between literacy and justice. To develop a love for justice, we need to develop a love for reading.

The facts are in. Research tells us:  raise the literacy rates in a community and it will help reduce crime and repeat offenders.

    • Criminals have lower average literacy levels than other citizens.
    • Neighborhoods with lower literacy rates have higher crime rates.
    • Literate people are less likely to be accidentally put in jail.
    • Even literacy programs in prisons have good outcomes (such as being able to help ex-convicts find and maintain jobs) and reduce rates of repeat offenders.

The former slave Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” So, reading is an important way to keep freedom and justice in society.

Don’t be alone.  Seek freedom.  Seek justice. Learn to read.  Teach to read.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Live at Peace.

**Click here to listen to the audio version.**

Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English.

The world is not a peaceful place.  Natural disasters are scary enough. But then, people are scary too: wars, corruption, family violence, sexual abuse, and abandoned children.  What shall we do?

Someone asked me the other day, “How can we change our culture of violence?”

Personally, my natural desire is to FIGHT for peace.  But, is that wise?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.” (Nobel Lecture, 1964)

What do other wise people in history say about this topic?

Buddha once said, “Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.”  (BrainyQuote.com)

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who make peace. They will be called God’s children.”  (Matthew 5:9).

Lao Tzu said,

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart. (Peace-Quotes.net)

These seem to be very wise statements.  We cannot bring peace among our nations, cities, or neighborhoods without knowing peace in our own families or hearts.

But how do we find peace in our own heart?  How can you find peace?

Jesus said that he gives us peace as a gift.  He said, “I’m leaving you peace. I’m giving you my peace. I don’t give you the kind of peace that the world gives. So don’t be troubled or cowardly” (John 14:27).

If that is true, if Jesus gives us peace, how then shall we live in order to share that peace with others?

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  And then he added, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:34-40).

That said, it seems that the best way to bring peace, the best way to change my culture, is to change myself.  We cannot always control the way others act but we can control ourselves.  This is true, even within our own families and relationships.  In order to bring peace, we must live at peace.

And, if our hearts are troubled, we need to communicate with the “Prince of Peace” himself, Jesus.

One of Jesus’ early followers wrote, “Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Brothers and sisters, as King David said, “There is lasting peace for those who love God and His teachings.  Nothing will make those people stumble” (Psalm 119:165).

Love God. Love others. Love and live at peace.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Married.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Our countries are debating the definition of marriage.  What do you think about marriage?

Some people think marriage is important, while others disagree.  Some people say it is OK to have sex outside of marriage.  Others disagree.  Some people marry only one person for life.  Others get divorced.  In some countries, it is OK to marry more than one person at a time.  Sometimes men want to marry men and women want to marry women.  Other people think this is a bad idea.  There are many opinions about marriage.

To debate about marriage, we need to remember how and why marriage began.  Marriage began because of a man who was alone.

Humans need other people.  Some time alone is good.  But too much time alone will eventually make a human crazy.

In the Bible we read, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him’” (Genesis 2:18).

God created a mate for man.  He created a woman for that purpose.  The man and the woman were to live together as one.  They were made to complete each other.  Physically, emotionally, and spiritually they were created to fit as one:  married.

God now creates some people with the special ability to be single for life.  This is for God’s special purposes in their lives.  Other people God blesses with marriage.  And God gives them a wedding gift: married sexual intimacy.  Sex, within marriage, is a way to fully and safely know another person.

Marriage intimacy is God’s cure for loneliness.  And, through sexual intimacy, God truly cures it.  He gives humans more humans: children.  And, in marriage, God provides a safe place to raise these young humans.  Along with creating marriage, God created the family.

If we have questions about marriage, we need to turn to its creator for answers.  We find God’s answers in the Bible.

In the Bible we read that how we treat a spouse is important.  God’s design for marriage can be ruined.  In fact, one of God’s Ten Commandments is to keep marriage pure.  “Never commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).

Wise King Solomon came from a family that knew the problems of adultery.  He stated,

Whoever commits adultery with a woman has no sense.
Whoever does this destroys himself.
An adulterous man will find disease and dishonor,
      and his disgrace will not be blotted out  (Proverbs 6:32-33).

God doesn’t only tell us what not to do.  He also tells us what to do in marriage.  For example, we read in the Bible:

“…husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself”  (Ephesians 5:28).

We are to treat our spouse as we want to be treated.  We are to serve each other for life, in sickness and in health.   If we are rich or poor, by serving our spouse we can both have joy.

God created a good and safe cure for loneliness. He gave us the gift of marriage to be between one man and one woman. Sometimes temptations are difficult to resist.  However, let us be strong against temptation.

Let us celebrate the gift of marriage as God created it. Let us work to keep marriage pure.  Let us keep marriage between one man and one woman.  Let us honor the creator of marriage.  Let us honor marriage until death makes us part.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…What Now?

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

For the past several weeks I have talked about God’s plan for justice.  His message is important. Did you hear it?  It can change your life.  It changed mine.

Again, let me summarize.  The plan for justice is written in the Bible – a very special book.  We needed God’s plan because humans became sinful.  We broke the relationship with the God of life.  People chose separation from God.  People chose sin and death.   God deserved justice.  Yet, He fixed the relationship.  He chose life for us.  He sent His son, Jesus, to pay the price for sin and guilt.  By Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know the plan worked.  We can have hope.  We can have peace.  We are forgiven.  Rejoice!  By God’s great kindness, through faith in Jesus we are saved for life with Him (Ephesians 2:8).

But, now what?  If you and I are saved by God’s kindness what are we to do now?  Should we sin some more?  That would not honor God.  Should we sit and wait for God?  There must be a better idea. Should we get up and celebrate?  Maybe.

God gives us things to do.  First, God tells us to come together in His presence.  We are to worship him.  He tells us talk with Him.  We are to pray.  He tells us to pray for more workers. He sends us to serve.  He wants us to love others.  He says to tell others the Good News about Jesus.  He says to make him followers from all nations.  He says to teach and to baptize. He says to heal the sick.  He says to comfort those who grieve.  He says to feed the poor.  He says to defend the fatherless.  Yes, God’s people are to be God’s ambassadors.

But, never fear.  God tells us that we will not be alone.  He will send a person to help us.  And, God does not send just any person.  He sends His third person, the Holy Spirit.  This Holy Spirit helps us to understand God’s Word.  And, the Spirit helps us to live with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  The Holy Spirit gives gifts that help people to know God.

So, if you are wondering what to do today, it is time to get off your chair.  It is time to become God’s ambassador.  It is time to spread the Good News of Jesus here in Huanuco, Peru.  Up to the mountains, down into the jungle.  From Lima to La Paz, from Santiago to Quito, from Jerusalem to your heart it is time to spread the love of God.

That is “what now.”  You have a purpose.  You are an ambassador.  You have great value to God.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…God’s Kindness.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

In past weeks I shared with you the story of God’s plan for justice. And you have heard that we have justice by God’s free kindness. But you might still be confused. God’s plan might seem too good to be true. Other people have told you that nothing is free.

You are not alone. For thousands of years, people right here in this land, have thought that God’s love was difficult to earn. People believed that they must make sacrifices to earn God’s love. The Incas even made human sacrifices to earn God’s love. And yet, God gives His love as a free gift.

You do not have to pay anyone for forgiveness. You do not have to pay anyone—even a church—for God’s eternal peace and hope. God’s justice is not of this world. God has paid the price for the problems of this world. He gives you life, now and forever, as a gift.

It is hard to understand. But it is true. God saved us because of His great love for us. Jesus’ death has paid the price for our failures and sins. His resurrection proves it. Listen to how Paul describes God’s justice in his letter to the first Christians in the city of Ephesus. Paul writes:

You were once dead because of your failures and sins. You followed the ways of this present world and its spiritual ruler. This ruler continues to work in people who refuse to obey God. All of us once lived among these people, and followed the desires of our corrupt nature. We did what our corrupt desires and thoughts wanted us to do. So, because of our nature, we deserved God’s anger just like everyone else.

But God is rich in mercy because of his great love for us. We were dead because of our failures, but he made us alive together with Christ. (It is God’s kindness that saved you.) God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him. He did this through Christ Jesus out of his generosity to us in order to show his extremely rich kindness in the world to come. God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it. God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do. (Ephesians 2:1-10 – GOD’S WORD Translation)

Listeners, how we respond to God’s free gift is up to us. We can reject God’s gift or we can live in the peace and hope He gives us. God wants to baptize us. By that, I mean that He wants to wash us. As our Father, He desires to wash us in His Son’s perfection and comfort us with His Holy Spirit. He wants to clean us from evil.

He wants justice.  Shall we reject His justice…His kind gift? I think not. Today, let us live in God’s kindness.

I’m Leon Smith


Just…a Resurrection.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

It was a Sunday morning over 2000 years ago. Yet it changed history. It can also change your life today. A man called Jesus was said to have risen from the dead. Was it true?

Today, we look at the facts about Jesus resurrection. Did it happen? Last week I challenged you to try to disprove it. Could you do it?

If this were a case in court, we would need to look at the evidence.

First of all, was Jesus even dead? Death on a cross was almost certain. Roman soldiers would make sure of it otherwise, if not. Jesus was nearly beaten to death before being placed on the cross. Then both friends and enemies saw Jesus die. Next, a soldier speared him in the side, while his body was still on the cross, to make sure that Jesus was dead. Both blood and water flowed from his side. The separated fluids help to prove his death (John 19:31-34).

Doctors today agree (See: JAMA March 21, 1986—Vol 255, No. 11). Jesus was dead, and if not, he would have died in the tomb.

Next, did people know where Jesus was buried? Could his followers have looked in the wrong tomb?

Many people knew the location of his tomb. A member of the Jewish Council, Joseph, donated the use of his tomb. The place would have been well known. Jesus’ enemies wanted people to know that he was dead. They could have produced the body if there was a question about the death.

Could his body have been stolen? (Matthew 28:11-15) No, the tomb was sealed with a huge stone and Roman soldiers guarded it with their lives. They were professionals. If the body had been stolen, there would have been an investigation.

Are there other reasons to believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Yes.

Over the next 40 days, it is recorded that Jesus appeared alive to over 500 people. He even appeared to groups of people all at once.

Also, consider the rapid change in Jesus’ followers. Something incredible happened. Just before Jesus’ death, his followers were afraid to live for him. They ran away when soldiers captured him. Peter denied that he knew Jesus. Later—after the resurrection—the same followers, including Peter, changed. They were now willing to go to death for Jesus. Most of them died for their belief in Jesus and his resurrection.

People are willing to go to death for something they believe to be true. But people are not willing to go to death for a lie.

Finally, before Jesus’ death, he claimed that he would rise from the dead. No other man has made such a claim and then made it happen. If the resurrection did not happen, Jesus was a liar. Then he would be no different than any other religious leader: dead in the ground.

But the facts are strong, Jesus words were true. We can trust him. Our faith can be based on fact. He can provide justice. He can provide forgiveness. He can give us peace and hope. He can change the world. He can change you.

I believe it. So can you.

It’s a fact. Case closed.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Jesus.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Last week I talked about God having a plan of justice for you. It was a plan for the whole world. It was a plan that gave justice against evil. It was a plan of love and forgiveness. That plan was to send a savior.

Christians claim that Jesus was sent by God to save the world. If Jesus was God’s plan for justice, what should we know about him?

Both Christians and non-Christians agree that Jesus lived. There is no educated doubt that a man called Jesus walked the earth about 2000 years ago. But, if we look at the history of Jesus’ life here on earth, who was he? Was Jesus a simple religious leader? Was he a great teacher? Was he a liar? Was he a crazy man? Or, was he the Son of God?

According to historical documents, Jesus was the son of a Jewish girl named Mary. Both Muslim and Christian documents claim that He was miraculously conceived by God and born in Bethlehem. It was a little town in the Middle East that still exists today.

Jesus grew up in another town nearby called Nazareth, and it is reported that he lived a perfect life. He was without sin. When he was 30 years old, he began to teach and perform miracles (Luke 3:23). It is said that he healed the sick, fed the hungry and even cast out demons. Because of Jesus, lives were changed.

Jesus taught that God wants people to love Him first. Second, we are to love other people. We are not to worry about material things but to think about heavenly things. We are to walk humbly and live at peace.

Many people followed Jesus, but some people did not like him. The religious leaders were jealous of him. They were angry when he questioned their teachings. He taught with more authority than they did. He lived the way he taught.

When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Jewish leaders brought him to trial. It was a sin to claim to be the Son of God unless, of course, if it was true. The punishment for such a sin was death. The leaders led the people against Jesus. They brought him before the Roman ruler, Pilate, and wanted him condemned to death. Finally, the Roman ruler said the Jewish people could have their way with Jesus. After suffering beatings by Roman soldiers, Jesus died upon a cross. It was a Friday afternoon (John 18-19).

Jesus body was placed in a tomb…Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Three days passed on the Jewish calendar.

Today we have reports from Jewish, Roman, and Christian sources that something special took place on that Sunday morning. The tomb was empty. Jesus’ body has never been found. Christians claim he rose from the dead (Acts 2:22-24).

If Jesus rose from the dead, we need to study his teachings. If Jesus rose from the dead, we can have faith in our future. If Jesus rose from the dead, He can give us life; He can give us justice. He would be the Son of God.

But if Jesus did not come back to life, this message would have no meaning and Christian faith would have no meaning (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Here is a challenge for you. Try to disprove the resurrection this week. Let me know if you can. I base my life on it. I dare you.

I’m Leon Smith


Just…God’s Plan.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Last week I talked about a difficult theme. Our topic was what went wrong with the world: sin and the result, death. This week, I want to fill you with peace and hope.

There are problems with our world. But as we read in the Bible, God is not only just. We don’t only have to fear Him. Also, God is love. (I John 4:8). And God has a plan for us.

Our problem is that we are not perfect. You might say, we are slaves to sin. Our relationship with God is broken because of sin. We are guilty. And yet we try to reach God. For all of history, people have made sacrifices to try to make God happy. But the sacrifices aren’t perfect. And God wants perfect justice.

Never fear, God has a plan.

God’s plan can be found in the Bible. “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus, God’s son, was the chosen one: the Christ. He filled both justice and love.

In Paul’s letter to the people in Ephesus, we read, “But God is rich in mercy because of his great love for us. We were dead because of our failures, but he made us alive together with Christ. (It is God’s kindness that saved you.) God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him. He did this through Christ Jesus out of his generosity to us in order to show his extremely rich kindness in the world to come. God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it” (Ephesians 2:4-9).

Brothers and sisters, we can have peace and hope in Jesus. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Are you guilty from sin? Do you fear the justice of God? The time has come. Change the way you think and act. Believe the Good News about Jesus. God who is faithful and just will forgive your sins. He will clean you from every evil.

You might say that you do not deserve this. True. None of us deserve God’s love. But you are of great value to God. He created you. He cares for you. And he has paid the price for your sin.

The problems of this world are not forever. People live on this planet for a small time, no more than 120 years. Life on earth is short. However, life with God can be forever. You can have eternal life. In Jesus, God has a plan for you.

I’m Leon Smith


Just…Why do bad things happen?

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Greetings English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

This week, I want to talk about why bad things happen.

There are so many bad things happening in our world: corruption, terrorism, drug trafficking, war, abuse. What is wrong with the world?

Many people believe that humans are basically good. Maybe you believe that. Maybe you can’t believe that real evil exists in this world.

But if people are basically good, why do so many bad things happen? Why are children abused? Why are there wars? Why are there corrupt governments? Why do people go without food? Why do people die?

Maybe people are not good.

When a newspaper posed the question, ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ the Christian thinker G. K. Chesterton responded:

“Dear Sirs:
I am.
Sincerely Yours,
G. K. Chesterton.”

This great thinker realized that deep within himself, he was not good.

Think about yourself. Are you a good person? Be honest. Are you perfect? Nobody is perfect. But are you good?

You might want to be good. You might not have murdered somebody but, have you ever hurt another person’s reputation? You might not have ever committed adultery, but have you ever wished you had someone else’s spouse? You might not have stolen but, are you jealous of other people’s things? Do you think about others before yourself? Most people think about themselves first. Are you patient? Be honest. Are you loving? Be honest.

Deep down, we are not good.

How did we get this way?

In the beginning, when God first created humans, people were good. (Genesis 1:26-31) At that time, humans did not need justice. All of life was good. God, a loving God, gave humans true freedom. God gave humans the option to reject Him – He gave them choice. God didn’t create robots. He wanted real relationships with humans. And real relationships cannot happen without freedom. But, as I have said before, with freedom comes with responsibility.

Unfortunately, something went wrong. People were tempted by evil. Humans took advantage of their freedom. They decided to reject God and follow their own ways. They broke the relationship with their creator. They went away from their God. They went off target. We call that sin. People sinned. (Genesis 3)

Then and now, sin is the source of problems in our world. But we should not point at others. We all do things wrong because we are all sinful people. The Bible says, “…There is no difference between people. Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory,” (Romans 6:23).

Ultimately, death is caused by sin.

God is life. And He is a God of justice. Sin breaks our relationship with the God of life and death occurs.

However, “The Lord loves justice, and he will not abandon his godly ones…” (Psalm 37:28). God is not only a God of justice. He is a God of love. God is faithful and forgives our sin. His son suffers death in our place. (John 3:16) Because of Jesus, we can be good.

God has a plan.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…the Bible.

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

In future “Just English” moments, I will continue to share the basics of justice with you from a special book: the Bible.

But if we are going to learn justice from the Bible, we need to believe that the Bible is worth studying. Why should we believe the Bible as opposed to any other book? In short, why should you trust the Bible?

Maybe you ask, “Why should we trust any book?”

Some books inform us with facts. Other books teach basic truths through stories. Some books are written simply for entertainment. Ultimately, books are a form of communication. To trust what is in a book, we must trust the book’s author.

The Bible is a unique book. It is the world’s best selling book. It has been translated into more languages than any other book in history. Actually, it is a collection of books. It includes facts of history, predictions of the future, poetry, songs, and letters. The Bible was not written by only one author. It was not simply a story made up by one or two ore even 12 people. In fact, over 40 authors wrote it over the span of 1500 years. Some authors were kings. Some authors were servants to kings. Some authors were religious experts. Other authors were simple fishermen or shepherds. Authors wrote parts of the Bible from three different continents – Asia, Africa, and Europe. Some books were written while the authors were traveling, other books are letters written from prison.

In the Bible, we can read about God’s creation of the world. We can also read about the problems of the world and God’s answer to the problems. The Bible covers almost all topics of human experience, from birth to death, from love to war. In it we can read about justice against evil. We can also read about how to find freedom, peace and hope. We can read about life and we can also read about what happens after death.

It is amazing that with all of the different topics, and books, and authors, the Bible is unified in its message.

In one of the Books in the Bible, a letter from Paul to Timothy, we read that, “Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval” (II Timothy 3:16 – GOD’S WORD Translation).

We can trust the authors of the Bible because they were led by God to write. And each author ultimately points to God as a God of justice and mercy. He sends a chosen one to fix the world—His son, Jesus.

As the author John, an eyewitness to the life of Jesus writes, “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life” (John 3:16 – GOD’S WORD Translation).

God communicates with his creation, he speaks to you and me through the Bible. He gives us His word and message of life as a gift.

We can trust the Bible because we can trust God.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Fathers.

This post is dedicated to my father, an incredible man after God’s heart. “Thanks Dad for helping me to learn the difference between good and evil!”

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Greetings my English speaking friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

This week is Father’s Day.  Happy Father’s Day fathers, from your local English speaking friend, Leon Smith!

One of the most important things we can learn in life is the difference between what is good and what is evil. As a father, I try to teach the difference between good and evil to my children.

It is good to value life.  It is evil to murder.  It is good to tell the truth.  It is evil to lie.  It is good to care for your neighbors.  It is evil to abuse another person.  It is good to fight for justice.  It is evil to be corrupt.

How did you learn the difference between good and evil?  How can a society teach it?

Often we think it is other another person’s job to teach what is good and what is evil.  Maybe you think it is the government’s job to teach people the difference between good and evil…or a school’s job, or a church’s job.  I agree that all of these people and organizations should teach about good and evil.

However, whether we like it or not, most people learn about good and evil from their family.  God has designed it this way.  It is in families, particularly from our fathers, that we learn our views about good and evil from birth to death.  We learn to value what is good or what is evil from the people closest to us.

Now I love mothers but today, let me speak to fathers. Children learn from their father’s example whether it is good or evil to lie.  It is evil to lie.  So father, don’t lie.  Your children are learning.  Teach the way of good.

Children learn from their father’s example about how women should be treated.  It is evil to abuse women.  So husband, don’t abuse your wife.  Your children are learning.  Teach the way of good.

Children learn from their father’s example about how be healthy.  It is evil to drink too much alcohol or abuse drugs and lose control of your mind.  However, it is good to exercise.  It is good to eat healthy foods.  So father, how are you treating your body?  Your children are learning.  Teach the way of good.

Most importantly, children learn what is good and evil about the spiritual world from their fathers.  A father is meant to be the leader of family’s spiritual life.  Without good teaching and examples from a father, children may never learn what is ultimately good and what is ultimately evil in God’s eyes.  From God, Our Heavenly Father in Scripture, through our earthly father’s teachings we learn about God’s good love, and God’s good plan for life now and in the future.

So father, how are you teaching your children about God.  What kind of example are you giving them?  Teach God’s good way.

Are you good a good father?  Or, are you an evil father?  Fathers, reject evil.  God’s good chooses you!

Your Heavenly Father loves you.

I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Freedom.

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Greetings my English Speaking Friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Last Sunday our country of Peru voted for a new president. Through a democratic process, the people of Peru have chosen their next leader.

It was a close vote. Some of you are happy. Some of you are sad. Maybe it was a difficult choice and you are not sure what to think about the results. Everyone can be thankful that Peruvians have the freedom to vote.

A democracy allows people the freedom to make a choice. Voting is one of many important freedoms.

What is freedom and why is it important?

Freedom is basically the right to do what you want, to make your own decisions and express your own opinions. Having freedom encourages creativity. Freedom leads to new thoughts. Freedom brings hope for our future. Freedom even allows for learning and growth through failure.

Of course, with that freedom we need to respect the rights of others. I’m not talking about having no laws or raising our children without discipline. That is not what I mean by freedom.

It might help you understand freedom’s value by giving you an example of what is the opposite of freedom. This week my family made a new friend but her life is a sad story. She is a 10 year-old girl who has not known freedom. Her mother kept her in a locked room since birth. She had no freedom. She is not able to walk or talk. Without freedom, there was little development in her life.

Can you imagine being kept in a locked room for most of your life? I cannot. I like to walk around my neighborhood. I like to have the freedom to make choices. I enjoy the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of religion, the freedom from slavery.

Slavery is a big problem today around the world. There are many people, even children, who are slaves. Some people are slaves for financial reasons. Some people are slaves for labor. Even worse, some people are slaves for sex.

With our own freedom, we need to help those who do not have it. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility.”

We have the freedom to do wrong. But we are called by God to use our freedom to do right.

In the Bible, we read that, “You were indeed called to be free, brothers and sisters. [But] Don’t turn this freedom into an excuse for your corrupt nature to express itself. Rather, serve each other through love…” (Gal. 5 – GOD’S WORD Translation)

We are called to use our freedom for good.

God wants you to be free.

God freely chooses to be in relationship with you through his son, Jesus. He gives you freedom from evil and guilt: you are forgiven in Jesus. It cost a lot – Jesus died to pay for your freedom. And He gives that freedom to you as a gift. Through that freedom you are able to serve others with love.

True freedom for people of any country is not found in an election. True freedom comes through a relationship with God.

Go, live in freedom this week. I’m Leon Smith.


Just…Making a Decision.

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Greetings my English Speaking Friends and those wanting to learn, welcome to Just English!

Everyone in Peru knows that the elections are taking place this Sunday between Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala.  We all want the right decision to be made.  We want every person who will vote to think about his or her vote.  We want the country of Peru to make a good decision.

Voting can be difficult.  Today, I’m not going to tell you which person to vote for or against.  That is up to you.  However, I would like to talk about how to make good decisions in life.

How we make our decisions is a topic called ethics.  Ethics are an important aspect of justice.  Citizens, cities, countries, all need to make good decisions for justice to happen.

How do you make your decisions? Do you honor your family and God with your decisions?

I hope that you do not make your decisions by chance or luck, for example, by the roll of dice.  There is more to life than luck.

I hope that you do not make your decisions by your feelings alone.  Sometimes our feelings can be wrong.  Sometimes a bad decision can make me feel happy.  Sometimes a good decision can make me feel sad.

If we want to make a good decision, there are five important points to remember:

# 1. Consult God.  It is very important to remember this point.  If we want to make a good decision, it is important to ask our God what He wants us to do.  Our good God will help us to make good decisions.

Begin with Him. Pray.  Then, search the Bible, for answers.  In Psalm 119, verse 105, it says that God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.  Follow God’s lead.  Many people like to ask at difficult times, “What would Jesus do?”

# 2. Learn, about your choices.  In the time you have, be informed.  Read, discuss your options with wise people.  Listen to experts, even listen to opposing opinions.  Study the topics affected by your choices.  Know as much as possible about your options.

# 3. Think.  Seek advice but do not simply do what others say to do. Each person has the God-given freedom to make his or her own decisions. Take time to use the mind God gave you.  Think about the future and the results your choice might create.  Think about how your decision will affect other people.  Ask, “Will my decision bring honor to God?”

# 4. Choose.  With strength, make your decision and stay with it.  Have faith that you make the best choice you can at this time and place.  Be confident that God is with you now and into the future.

# 5. Honor the Results.  You may or may not like the results.  Celebrate the decision or congratulate others, whatever is needed.  Whatever the result, be peaceful.  You can be peaceful in any situation through faith in God.

Making a decision is never easy. Maybe at times you feel like you are choosing between AIDS and Cancer!  However, if you make your decisions by using the five steps of consulting God, learning, thinking, choosing and honoring the results…you can feel good about your decision and be at peace with yourself.

You can only be responsible for the choices you make.  But we must take responsibility for all of our choices.  Our personal decisions do affect other people.  They also affect our relationship with God.

In ethics, do your best.  As you need, live in forgiveness.

Let us all make decisions in freedom, mercy and peace – for this presidential election and always.  I’m Leon Smith.