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)

 

 

 

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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…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…Married.

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

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?

**Click here to listen to the audio version.

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…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!”

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

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…Making a Decision.

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

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.