Keepers, not Owners

Chronicles 29:14

“…For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given you”.

Have you ever wondered, where do all the oxygen, sunshine and rain come from, of where is the snow kept during summer? How did the plants grow? Have you ever stopped to give thanks to God for all that you own right now? The reason is simple. We need to thanks Him because all things come from Him. He is the source of everything; the clothes that we wear, the supper that we have and everything else. King David reminded us that it was out of His own that we have given Him. Today, as we learn to pay our tithes and bring our offerings to Him, let us be mindful that we are only stewards. We are merely giving back to God what belongs to Him in the first place. Now, this is a very important principle that we must lean in order that we can lead a successful and prosperous life – that only if God can bring money thought us, will He bring money to us. So, learn to give and learn to sow for in due season you shall reap. No farmer can reap a mighty harvest before sowing. Hence, you too will now receive His blessings unless you have first given freely and willingly unto His kingdom. If you obediently observe this law, His blessings will chase after you. Sit tight, my friends! We are only keepers, not owners of His properties.

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A gift of Love

The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver and, using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he’d told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg.

It had been a year since Susan, thirty-four, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis she had been rendered sightless, and she was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity. Once a fiercely independent woman, Susan now felt condemned by this terrible twist of fate to become a powerless, helpless burden on everyone around her. “How could this have happened to me?” she would plead, her heart knotted with anger.

But no matter how much she cried or ranted or prayed, she knew the painful truth her sight was never going to return. A cloud of depression hung over Susan’s once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an exercise in frustration and exhaustion. And all she had to cling to was her husband Mark.

Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all of his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark’s military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations, and yet he knew this was the most difficult battle he would ever face.

Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to get around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city.

At first, this comforted Susan and fulfilled Mark’s need to protect his sightless wife who was so insecure about performing the slightest task. Soon, however, Mark realized that this arrangement wasn’t working – it was hectic, and costly. Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again, he admitted to himself. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe. She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react?

Just as Mark predicted, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. “I’m blind!” she responded bitterly. “How am I supposed to know where I’m going? I feel like you’re abandoning me.”

Mark’s heart broke to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened.

For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, specifically her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. He helped her befriend the bus drivers who could watch out for her, and save her a seat. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus, or drop her briefcase.

Each morning they made the journey together, and Mark would take a cab back to his office. Although this routine was even more costly and exhausting than the previous one, Mark knew it was only a matter of time before Susan would be able to ride the bus on her own. He believed in her, in the Susan he used to know before she’d lost her sight, who wasn’t afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit.

Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning arrived, and before she left, she threw her arms around Mark, her temporary bus riding companion, her husband, and her best friend.

Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience, his love. She said good-bye, and for the first time, they went their separate ways. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan had never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself!

On Friday morning, Susan took the bus to work as usual. As she was paying for her fare to exit the bus, the driver said, “Boy, I sure envy you.” Susan wasn’t sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live for the past year?

Curious, she asked the driver, “Why do you say that you envy me?” The driver responded, “It must feel so good to be taken care of and protected like you are.” Susan had no idea what the driver was talking about, and asked again, “What do you mean?”

The driver answered, “You know, every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the corner watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one lucky lady.”

Tears of happiness poured down Susan’s cheeks. For although she couldn’t physically see him, she had always felt Mark’s presence. She was lucky, so lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift she didn’t need to see to believe – the gift of love that can bring light where there had been darkness.

Pakistan Floods: HOW TO HELP?

More than 20 million people are affected by Pakistan’s worst flooding in 80 years, with at least 1,600 fatalities, according to estimates from the government of Pakistan. While the severity of their needs has not yet been fully assessed, the number is greater than those who were affected by the 2005 South Asia tsunami (5 million), the 2005 South Asia earthquake (3 million), or the 2010 Haiti earthquake (3 million). The estimate of 290,000 homes destroyed or seriously damaged is almost the same as those destroyed in Haiti. Below are organizations that are working on relief and recovery in the region:

Edhi Foundation
http://www.edhifoundation.com/contact.asp

Pakistan Red Crescent Society
http://www.prcs.org.pk/help.asp

AL-KHIDMAT Foundation Pakistan
http://al-khidmatfoundation.org/donate-here.php

Sungi Development Foundation
http://sungi.org/emergency_donations_contact_information.html

World Crunches Service
http://www.act-intl.org/donations.php

Save the Children
https://secure.savethechildren.org/01/support_now

Islamic Relief USA
https://www.islamicreliefusa.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=203

Islamic Help England
http://www.islamichelp.org.uk/servepage.asp?page=3

International Rescue Committee
https://www.theirc.org/donate/donate-now

UNICEF
http://www.supportunicef.org/site/pp.asp?c=9fLEJSOALpE&b=6161181

United Nations World Food Programme
https://secure.my-websites.org/supporter/donatenow.do?n=gbss&dfdbid=1044253

UNHCR
http://www.unhcr.org/emergency/pakistan/global_landing.html

UNICEF – USA
https://secure.unicefusa.org/site/Donation2?idb=784883377&df_id=1661&1661.donation=form1&JServSessionIdr010=vmk328n351.app17b

Oxfam America
https://secure.oxfamamerica.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=main_donate_go

International Medical Corps
https://www.internationalmedicalcorps.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=341

UNHCR – Canada
https://www.strategicprofitsinc.com/hosted/unhcr/index_s.php

World Vision
http://www.worldvision.org/#/home/main/disastrous-flooding-pakistan-1-1221

Muslim Aid
http://www.muslimaid.org/index.php/media-centre/press-releases/476-pakistan-flood-appeal

Need Vs Greed

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican fishing village.

A tourist complimented the local fishermen
on the quality of their fish and asked
how long it took him to catch them .

“Not very long.” they answered in unison.

“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”

The fishermen explained that their small catches were
sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.

“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children,
and take siestas with our wives.
In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs.
We have a full life.”

The tourist interrupted,

“I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!
You should start by fishing longer every day.
You can then sell the extra fish you catch.
With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?”

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring,
you can buy a second one and a third one
and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
Instead of selling your fish to a middle man,
you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants
and maybe even open your own plant.

You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City , Los Angeles , or even New York City !

From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?”

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting, ” answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.

“After that you’ll be able to retire,
live in a tiny village near the coast,
sleep late, play with your children,
catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife
and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?” asked the Mexicans.

And the moral of this story is:

Know where you’re going in life….
you may already be there

Stereotypes

stereotypes cannot be and should not be avoided, they are there for a reason. however, stereotypes should not be used as a lazy excuse to “write off” any person into a defined category.

advanced societies (as bench-marked against financial and tech advances) make the huge mistake of trying to ignore… stereotypes – in order to be politically correct.

stereotypes helps up quickly “categorize” and “sort” information. the problem with stereotypes is that they are (1) constantly out dated and need to be updated (2) apply only to general description of a group and not to individuals

Hence, again use stereotypes with a caveat – they only act as a cultural guide for 1st encounters and introductions, not for writing off people totally.

Why banning the Internet in Pakistan

Pakistan seems ready to ban the Internet (again) (well, parts of it)!

On the face of it, this is Internet banning silly season all over again. But wait. Maybe, this is different. Maybe, its not even a bad thing! Maybe, this is exactly what we need!

But before I explain why this may be so, here are the essential facts. The machinations of banning the Internet in Pakistan are not new. It has sometimes been done to silence political speech (and here), but its more common and certainly its recent incarnation is in the name of religion. Of course, the frenzy was at its height recently with the ‘Facebook ban.’ Now it seems that the Lahore High Court has ordered the banning of an entire range of websites, possibly including Google, Yahoo, MSN and Bing. Supposedly, the government’s position is that “no website will be blocked without investigation,” but also that websites will be blocked to comply with the court’s rulings.

Why, you ask. Here is how the report in The News explains it:

A citizen, Muhammad Sidiq, filed a writ petition No. 3246/2010 in the LHC, seeking a ban on the websites for publishing blasphemous materials and twisting the facts and figure of Holy Quran. Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Hussain Azad also endorsed the viewpoint of the petitioner and demanded blocking of these websites. Counsel for the petitioner, Latif-ur-Rehman Advocate presented CDs and other evidence in the court, showing that the said websites were publishing sacrilegious material. Later, President High Court Bar Aslam Dhakkar said the court has given a historic decision. He said the legal fraternity would observe a complete strike in Bahawalpur on Wednesday (today) against publication of such material by these websites. He said a meeting would also discuss the situation today.

It is not yet fully clear exactly what will happen because of this ruling, but it is very clear that no matter what happens we are going to keep getting a host of such cases. People will find things on the Internet that they are offended by. While I have never understood why people spend so much time and energy trying to find things that offend them, it is the nature of the Internet that everyone (and I mean, everyone) can find lots of things on it to be offended by. Conspiracy, idioticy, lies, ridicule. Its all there. What you choose to see on the Internet is your choice, not the Internet’s. (Maybe the Honorable Judge Sahib should have booked Mr. Muhammad Sidiq for visiting blasphemous site. Why is his faith so insecure as to be shattered by a website. After all, why is he going around searching for blasphemy!).

It would be too easy, however, to blame the Judge for giving a ‘wrong’ decision. Its too easy for Internet Freedom advocates to seek a reversal of the decision. But the fact of the matter is that the decision is NOT wrong. Under the laws of Pakistan, as written, blasphemy is indeed punishable and such sites should, indeed, be banned. The problem is not the judges or their decisions. The problem is the laws as they are written. And that means that the solutions will not come through the courts, but through society and through legislation. Blasphemy laws have been used nearly exclusively to exclude and to intimidate.

Historically, these blasphemy laws have been used to exclude and intimidate minorities. Now, the exact same tactics are being used to exclude and intimidate speech. The one thing you can be sure of is that we will see more and more of this. And our courts and judges will have no option but to rule as they have been ruling. Because that is what the law demands.

And herein lies the point about why banning the Internet in Pakistan may actually be a good thing.

Intimidation through these laws has never hurt the majority of Pakistanis, and certainly not those who matter in any consequential way. But Internet bans, no matter how temporary, do exactly that. The broader the Internet ban, the deeper the hurt, and the more it matters to those who matter. Maybe it will take repeated bans for us to realize the injustice, the exclusion and the intimidation that is baked into these laws.

The fact of the matter is that whatever inconvenience these Internet bans may cause are inconsequential in comparison to the actual murder and mayhem that is caused to minorities in Pakistan because of the same blasphemy laws. If this inconvenience is the way to awaken to the much greater injustice in these laws, then maybe these Internet bans are a good thing, after all. If, indeed, that were to happen, it would be an inconvenience well worth it!

10 Ways to Write a Stronger Résumé

Nearly one-in-four human resources managers said they receive, on average, more than 75 résumés for each open position, according to a nationwide survey by Careerbuilder.com. When a job posting’s response is that overwhelming, human resource managers often struggle to distinguish one candidate from another — particularly since most of them spend only a minute or two assessing each candidate’s résumé. That’s why job seekers have to be savvy about their résumé’s content and presentation. Unfortunately, even the most talented, qualified candidates sometimes write weak résumés. Whether they’re in a hurry, lack writing skills or are unsure how to market themselves to employers, they fail to score interviews because their résumés don’t immediately demonstrate what return on investment they offer employers. To sidestep this dilemma, consider Susan Britton Whitcomb’s 10 tips for writing great résumé copy, excerpted from her book, “Résumé Magic”:

1. Know your audience before you begin to write. What skills and competencies are they looking for? What knowledge do they require? What trends are they capitalizing on? What opportunities are they interested in tapping? What problems do they need fixed? What projects can you help them move forward?

2. Pack your résumé with keywords — those words that describe your title, knowledge base, skill set, impressive “name-brand” companies or Fortune 500 employers, prestigious universities attended, degrees, licensing, software experience, affiliations and so on.

3. Find keywords by reviewing relevant job postings online or detailed classified ads in newspapers, reading job descriptions or content at your target companies’ Web sites, reading your association’s newsletter or trade journals, conducting informational interviews with industry contacts and so on.

4. Position critical information at the “visual center” of the page. Weave keywords throughout your Qualifications Summary and Professional Experience sections, as well as in your cover letter. Create a Keyword Summary section for electronic versions of your résumé.

5. Resist the temptation to outsmart applicant-screening software by, for instance, planting the keyword “project manager” nine times throughout the résumé when you might have minimal experience as a project manager.

6. When writing job descriptions, try to keep your paragraph to around five lines. Summarize any redundant statements and present the material with an emphasis on transferable skills. Always highlight your accomplishments.

7. If you’re writing a functional or skills-based résumé, focus on three to five skill areas and lean toward occupational skills (such as event planning, marketing or project coordination) instead of personal skills (such as analytical skills, problem-solving skills or organizational talents) for category subheadings. After you have selected your subheadings, develop two to five sentences, along with specific accomplishments that encapsulate your range of experience for each subheading.

8. New graduates with limited professional experience will normally place their Education section near the top of the résumé, after the Objective/Focus or Qualifications Summary.

9. For categories such as affiliations, publications, presentations or awards and honors, consider presenting information in a bulleted list or two-column format to save space and add visual appeal.

10. Think like an advertising copywriter: Be concise, but give enough data to create interest and a desire to meet you.

Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST’s Job Search and Career Blog (http://jistjobsearchandcareer.blogspot.com/). Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SelenaDehne.