2017-03-27

We all know what’s wrong with our world, our nation, but … stop for a moment and consider: “What’s right with our world today?” We asked several fascinating people. Their responses ranged from “chocolate” to “our hope in Jesus Christ.” We believe you’ll enjoy their thoughts.

1. Chocolate! Bestselling author Linda Howard, who writes “A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith” for Beliefnet, says one of the extraordinary things about the world today is … “Chocolate!” Howard is the author of Mothers Are People Too. ““Recently, medical experts stumbled on an amazing discovery. Chocolate is good for you. Its chemical elements unleash beneficial reactions that strengthen the heart and the brain. Leave out some of the cream and sugar of milk chocolate – and God has given us a heart and brain pill that makes life more pleasing. Few things draw men and women together like sitting hunched over a box of assorted chocolates. Nations agree on almost no subject, except the goodness of almond M&M's. As others debate the economy and political positions, I'm ready to debate the value and difference between Belgium and German chocolates.”

2. Rising Global Literacy "There is much to be done in the worldwide war on illiteracy,” writes Stephen Mansfield, author of Lincoln’s Battle with God: A President's Struggle with Faith and What It Meant for America. “This is particularly true where governments use illiteracy as a tool of oppression and where religion mandates ignorance for a gender, a race or a tribe. However, global literacy is moving steadily in the right direction. The United Nations has reported that literacy worldwide has improved approximately 8 percent in the last 20 years. There is good news also in the fact that this rise has been greater for women—nearly 10 percent—than for men—about 6 percent. Women have historically lagged far behind men in literacy largely due to cultural values, religious restrictions, and poverty. Happily, this is changing. Overall, this global trend is something to celebrate – and encourage – as something going right in our world."

3. "So many things!" muses entertainment writer T.L. Stanley of the Los Angeles Times. "How about: 1) Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis, the oldest and youngest actresses ever nominated for an Oscar, showing that creating breathtaking, heartbreaking, sensitive and intuitive art has no age limits? 2) For all its myriad faults, social media's ability to build community, spread insight, right wrongs, touch lives, make history. 3) 50 is the new 30, or at least I'm hoping that's true by 2014. 4) Cat joins game pieces race car, shoe, thimble, top hat, wheelbarrow, battleship and Scottie dog. Finally, pet parity on the Monopoly board! 5) Thin Mints! No, they are not healthy. And yes, they contain partially hydrogenated oils. But sometimes you just have to say, ‘So what!?’ 6) Young entrepreneurs don't wait until their golden years to start giving away their immense wealth, setting a tangible, caring example today for the next generation. 7) Warren Buffet -- truth teller. 8) Baby activism: kids, tweens and teens making their voices heard on subjects like photoshopping models in girl-targeted magazines and creating gender-neutral Easy Bake Ovens. It gives me hope for the future.”

4. A wonderful eternity! “ The comforting knowledge that so much better awaits us is one of the greatest things in today’s world,” says Bill Hargis, publisher of Christian Crusade Newspaper and son of late bestselling author and media pioneer Dr. Billy James Hargis. “I am reminded over and over again of my dad saying from the pulpit that the only hymn he didn't like was This is My Fathers World, that it was not God's world right now, but Satan's. I also find myself singing repeatedly the lyrics of the old hymn, This World is Not My Home, I'm Just Passing Through: ‘Oh Lord, you know I have no friend like you. If Heaven's not my home then, Lord, what will I do? The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door, And I can't feel at home in this world anymore!’”

5. “Our lives are improving in an unprecedented number of ways,” writes Dave Halliday, editor of Beliefnet Buzz. “With the news media fixated on the financial crises, sensational crimes, and the latest reality-TV divorce, it can seem like there is no good news out there.” And yet, the evidence says good things are happening. Take U.S. crime rates, for instance. While 68 percent of us believe that crime rates are increasing, overall crime rates have actually decreased 71 percent in the past 20 years! And we can find these same good news trends almost everywhere we look: infant mortality rates have decreased dramatically while life expectancy rates are up worldwide, and every day, scientists are discovering new cures for diseases. In the last year, I have seen more good news stories through social media than ever before. My friends are sharing stories like Kyle's heart-warming Valedictorian speech , or this amazing story of a community of people coming together to save an orphanage . Good news is all around us. In order to see it, we may just have to tune out the mainstream media that is trying to convince us otherwise!”

6. Because we know God … “ Lots of things are going right in the world!” writes college professor Karen Jensen, author of the Parenting with Purpose series. “Even in the natural, 2012 was the greatest year in history -- there was less hunger, less disease and more prosperity .

Despite the recession, charitable giving (both money and time) continue to increase globally and literacy rates are also increasing globally. But for Christians, here are 10 things that are always going right in the world, because we know God: 1) He’ll never let you go. He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down [Assuredly not!] (Hebrews 13:5b amp). God has a firm hold on you! 2) He still has a good plan for you. “I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG). You have a hopeful future! 3) You’re not alone. (Matthew 1:23) He's not God-far-away-from-you! He's God right-inside-you! 4) He'll never change. In this world, everything changes: governments, buildings, people, prices, social norms, music and even mountains! But not God. (Malachi 3:6). 5) There’s a blueprint for your life. God's Word provides a path for you to follow. It's “a lamp to your feet and a light to your path” (Psalm 119:105).6) He's still in the multiplication business. Even if it seems like things are being taken away from you, don’t be fooled. God is and always will be a God of increase. “The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children” (Psalm 115:14). 7) You'll never lose your place. (Ephesians 2:5,6). God hasn't fallen off the throne, and neither have you – you're seated with Him! You're looking down on your problems. 8) You are loved. God doesn't love you because you've been good; He loves you because He is good. And He always will. (Romans 8:38, 39). 9) God believes in you. He always causes you to triumph (2 Cor 2:14). He knows how to take horrible things that have happened to you and make them turn out good (Romans 8:28). 10) In the end, you win! After you’ve lived your life to the fullest here on earth, you have a heavenly home awaiting you. (Philippians 3:20). That's a great promise indeed!

7. Daily miracles! “Are there ten things right with our world today?” responds retired college administrator Cris Richardson of Verdigris, Oklahoma. “I think there are, but sometimes we don’t notice them in the cacophony of bad news that spews forth from the television and radio. We need to listen to the quiet, gentle people who are going about their good works and lives without fanfare. Desmond Tutu recently wrote: ‘We are each made for goodness, love and compassion. Our lives are transformed as much as the world is when we live these truths.’ Miracles happen every day. First, many babies are born into loving families every day. Second, many people are adopting or are mentoring those who are not born into a loving family every day. Third, people celebrate birthdays, weddings, christenings, salvation, bar mitzvahs, and many others special events every day. Fourth, there are volunteers all over the world working to aid those suffering: providing food, providing fresh water, releasing the captives; praying for the suffering every day. Fifth, there are some who are expressing love to those who are neglected: prisoners, widows, and the disabled every day. Sixth, even young people are looking after the homeless here in the United States of America every day. Which leads to the Seventh: our young people are for the most part better than we give them credit for. Eighth, the church (the individuals that make up the body of Christ) is reaching out in love and compassion to the lost, ministering as Jesus Christ ministered every day. Ninth, perhaps, just maybe, optimists outnumber pessimists. Finally, tenth, we should recognize the health and happiness of our families every day."

8. Christians praying for each other! “It's very inspiring and hopeful to see the eager engagement of Christians in praying for the suffering of the world,” writes Joel J. Miller , author of Lifted by Angels: The Presence and Power of Our Heavenly Guides and Guardians . "There is a lot of bad news in the world, not least of which is the persecution and repression suffered by millions of Christian communities across the globe. But as the news comes to us through an ever-increasing number of outlets and social media outposts, something else seems to be increasing as well: prayer for the persecuted and disenfranchised. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul says believers should bear one another's burdens. If the fervent pray of the righteous are powerful, as James tells us, then nothing but good can come."

9. We are connected as never before! “The number one thing in the world that is going right is that we are now all connected,” writes Bob Roberts Jr., author of Bold As Love: What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does. “Every single person has access now to a mirror (webcams) and microphone (podcasts) for the whole world to see and hear what is going srusson anyplace anytime in the world. This creates massive exposure, awareness and opportunity not just for one’s own constituents but for the whole world. There is no privacy anymore, the whole world is listening. Contrary to what some may believe, this is actually a fantastic thing. Though bad things still happen globally, it's a lot harder for dictators, terrorist, psychopathic leaders, countries, organizations, even religions, to get away with wrong. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, internet news - more than state run or market run media - are now present in every corner of the world. Especially for those of us that are people of faith this can be our biggest opportunity or our worst nightmare. Since the whole world is listening we are forced to think about what we really believe and then how we best communicate it. I'm convinced the more a person believes they hold to truth, the kinder, gentler, humbler, and more considerate they are. They are not intimidated, neither do they have to bully – truth always wins.”

10. Hope! “The examined life is worth living … not so much the unexamined life,” writes Anglican Bishop Todd Hunter, author of Our Favorite Sins: The Sins We Commit and How You Can Quit. “The world gets a bit better every year about this time as tens of millions of people, beginning with Ash Wednesday, set food or activities aside in order to pay attention to God and his work in their lives. This is crucial to human flourishing because, as the research in my book Our Favorite Sins shows, most people have no idea why they continue to be defeated by sinful temptation. The first steps to freedom are recognition, alertness and presence to one’s life. That cannot be done without creating space in our over-calendared, over-indebted lives. Praise to the spaces created by Lenten fasting – something much greater is happening in the world than masses of penitents giving up on chocolate.

11. God loves us! writes Julie Zine Coleman, author of Unexpected Love: God's Heart Revealed in Jesus' Conversations with Women – and He will use even the world’s current turmoil to bless mankind. “In recent years, we have lost much of our former sense of security. The dollar appears to be on the verge of collapse, enemies lurk outside our borders threatening annihilation, and even the climate seems bent on our destruction. The silver lining in what ails us is the fact that God will use these hardships to bring people to himself. A sense of security in this world breeds complacency, running contrary to what the Bible teaches about our frailty as humans. When the trembling walls of security begin to fall, we seek a transcendent, eternal God, yearning to trust in a God who has a purpose and a plan for his creation.”

12. Education! “What’s going right in this world shines in the eyes of a 40-something single mother who sat recently in my classroom at Belhaven University, where I am an adjunct professor," writes Wallace Henley, author of Globequake, Living in the Unshakeable Kingdom While the World Falls Apart. He is also senior associate pastor at Houston’s Second Baptist Church. “She is the face of a multitude of adult learners who have swum upstream against the scornful currents of a dropout culture, work a job all day, and sometimes have no choice but to bring their children to school with them. What’s going right in this world is the presence of educators and institutions who see the potential in these unrelenting students, and who are willing to prioritize them, not just the prize academic recruits. There is much concern about the dropouts – as there should be – but there is a great deal to celebrate over those who drop back in, later in life, to complete an education left twirling in the dust by the urgencies of adolescence.”

13. Lives are Still Changing! “He hasn't split the Red Sea in while. He hasn't burned cities with fire and brimstone in quite some time. He hasn't walked on water, fed thousands with a loaf or two of bread, or turned water into wine in any of our lifetimes,” writes Doug Bender in I am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives. "But God is still working. He used a nervous real estate agent and a song about sex to change the life of Brian ‘Head’ Welch, lead guitarist from rock band Korn. He turned an affair and seven years of divorce into the beautiful re-marriage that Jeff and Cheryl Scruggs now use to inspire struggling marriages around the world. He used a reality television show about losing weight to reunite Michelle Aguilar with her estranged mother. He used drunk driving, baseball, and murder to change the lives of Jewish tattoo artist Whispering Danny, MLB All-Star Josh Hamilton, and UFC fighter Vitor Belfort. God is re-purposing the mundane, broken, and even nasty parts of our world to restore relationships, empower the ordinary, and bring good from terrible evil all around us. Whether we see it or not, God is still changing lives.”

14. God’s people are talking to each other! “How will God bring about the completion of His great plan?” asks Gidon Ariel, founder and moderator of the Facebook group, Jews Who Love Christians Who Love Jews (And The Christians Who Love Them), founder and director of the Holy City Prayer Society. “No one knows for sure, but certainly a bringing together of historical enemies is part of that plan. You know, the lion lying down with the lamb, that sort of thing. While today's newspapers focus on the Israel/Arab conflict, for most of the last two thousand years it, sadly, has been the Christians and the Jews who have filled the roles of opponents, to put it mildly. But today, new winds are blowing. Christians are recognizing the rights and identities of Jews, and Jews are accepting Christians' sincere overtures of friendship. While these movements still involve minorities of both religions, they are the rarity that will – that must! – turn into the rule. I personally am grateful to God for instilling within me the allure of this movement, and has used me to create the meeting spaces for Jews and Christians to help melt away millennia of animosity. I hope you will join me in thanking God for this thing that is truly going right."

15. Healing! “What is going right in the world? People are healing from their pasts,” writes Mary DeMuth, speaker and author of Everything: What You Give and What You Gain to Become Like Jesus. “It used to be that we hid our past pain, kept the family secret, and languished alone. But I’m seeing more and more people’s fierce desire to be whole and set free. People are sharing their stories, asking for prayer, and working through the past, no longer chained to painful memories. They’re daring to tell the truth and finding joy. As I note in my book, “A noble goal of living the Everything life is this forward heart momentum. God wants to do something new. He wants to create rivers where water languished, flowers where desert winds blew away all the foliage of our lives. He wants us to heal so fully from the past that folks wouldn’t know we even walked all those trails of tears."

16. Justice! “Recently, I was asked by someone to compile a list of ten – ten! – things that are right with the world,” writes Beliefnet columnist Jack Kerwick in a recent reflection on the world. “I have to believe – I would like to believe – that most of my colleagues will find this as daunting a task as do I. After all, those of us who practice philosophy and write cultural commentary are accustomed to sniffing out problems: the glass is always half empty for us. The vast majority of us never cease to be stunned by the world’s imperfections. That we never cease to be horrified by the innumerable injustices to which we are exposed on a daily basis proves that on this ‘third rock from the sun,’ to quote the name of the popular television series, there is no short measure of decency or justice. There is justice in the world. There are people who are willing to right the world’s wrongs.”

17. “Sustainability is a hot topic right now,” writes Judah Smith, author of Jesus Is ___.: Find a New Way to Be Human, “and I love the concept. In everything from fuel to fashion to fishing, people are asking, ‘Can we continue to do what we are doing the way we are doing it?’ I'm encouraged to see Christians asking themselves the same thing regarding their spiritual walk. Can we continue to follow Jesus, love people, and build the church for decades to come the way we are doing it? The answer is yes, and our secret is grace. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29, ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Around the world, I see the church with a fresh understanding of the simplicity and sustainability of grace. Works-based religion is complex, condemning, and doomed to fail. But grace is simple. Grace is renewable. Grace is sustainable."

18. The rise of women of faith “A father’s words spew forth, demolishing the fragile esteem of his tween daughter,” writes Nina Roesner, author of The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband. “Her tear-stained face turns away from him as she flees his criticisms, racing up the stairs to her room. His wife, a witness to the harsh exchange, walks over to him, puts her hand on his arm and gently says, ‘I know you deeply love her. She cannot hear your love when you don’t let her share her side of things, and treat her opinion as worthy of respect.’ Smiling at the man as he softens, she is filled with gratitude for renewed peace. This woman of strength and dignity is no coward of conflict. Women like her are popping up in homes around the western world. They appear unchanged on the outside, but inside, their souls have been transformed into deep pools of great faith. Their solid relationship with God reveals new heights of patience, kindness, gentleness, and peace in their interactions with others. They communicate from a firm foundation of love, having learned to speak the language of respect.”

19. The American political system works! "What's going right in the world, especially when it comes to our government? Not much, so it seems, with a $16 trillion deficit and a 7.8 percent national unemployment rate, which doesn't count the thousands who are underemployed,” writes Jane Hampton Cook, author of American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence. “Sometimes it's good, however, to remember what is good about America's system of government. With all of our problems, we are still a nation based on representation, not royalty – from the top down, to inside out. In America we can have pride that we elect our presidents. And because of our representative government, we limited the number of terms a president can serve to two. Can England say the same? It's been 60 years since Great Britain witnessed a coronation. Though our government is divided with one party controlling the executive branch and Senate, and the other controlling the House of Representatives, both have the freedom to express their opposing views. As George Washington said, "The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are ... deeply,... finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." That's something to celebrate!

20. Tomorrow’s leaders are collaborating! “I'm passionate about raising up great leaders around the globe,” writes Brad Lomenick, author of The Catalyst Leader: 8 Essentials for Becoming a Change Maker, “and I've devoted much of my life to convening, equipping and developing people of all ages and stages in life who want to grow in their leadership abilities. I've had the privilege of speaking and connecting with hundreds of thousands of young individuals and am encouraged by their passion, enthusiasm and drive to make a difference as leaders. But even more, I am encouraged by the collaborative spirit among the next generation of leaders. Collaboration is integral for leaders moving forward, and it is becoming the norm, not the exception. Today's generation wants to connect people, move people, transport people where they need to go, and introduce them to places and other people they might never encounter otherwise – without worrying about who gets the credit. Collaboration is built on generosity, which is a new currency in our generation. Generosity wins.”

21. Grandkids, cats, rain ... “Almost every night I write in my gratitude journal, at least a page,” writes Beliefnet columnist Dr. D. Britton Gildersleeve, a poetry professor at Oklahoma State Universwity. “Which means almost every day there are at least seven things I’m grateful for. Things that are right with my own personal world.

But what’s right for one human is quite often happening with many, as it turns out. Just as sadness knows few demographics, so does joy. It’s easy for us to forget, in a world beset by unhappy stories on TV, or in the papers, that every day has something absolutely right with it. We just need to pay attention. So here are 10 things always right with the world: 1) Grandchildren are born every minute. Which means ecstatic grandmothers & grandfathers are being minted! What’s better than a baby someone lets you borrow to love and cuddle and inhale? 2) Cats curl up in laps. They’re head-butting so someone will pet them or nuzzle them, and they’re purring. Loudly. Carriers of quiet content, they are nestling into the curves of people all over the world. And we’re the better for it. 3) Rain is falling. In some places, it’s falling slowly, quietly, a silver sheet in a grey day. Elsewhere, there’s the passionate drumming of great gouts of rain on the roof, and you can snuggle into a warm dry room with gratitude. 4) Birds come to porches, decks, windows. They perch in plain view and for a moment remind us that there is incredible beauty every day. And that it flies away almost before you can focus on it, on red & blue and soft grey wings. 5) Sooo much food tastes wonderful! Mango & apple, orange & pear. The sharp sweetness of strawberries, and the comfort of home-made bread. Food made with love & joy remains the thread that connects all celebrations of faith throughout the world.
6) Bees make honey – on six continents! They find trees & flowers & bushes & grasses blossoming, and work hard to turn their foraging into sweet honey. There are so many metaphors for happiness there I refuse to begin. 7) Music plays. Let me count the ways: singing & playing (guitar, harp, piano, fiddle…horn & drum & happy whistle ~). Joyful, plaintive, even sad, music is one of the ‘rightest’ things the world has to offer. 8) Trees tower over us. Or, in the desert, saguaro & organ pipe cacti. But almost everywhere, there is the slow, comforting growth of long-lived things sheltering us. Becoming more beautiful as they grow. How right is that? 9) Tea & coffee. Whichever culture you belong to, sitting down to savour a cup of whatever, with someone to talk to ~ that’s contentment on a table surface, right there. Throw in a plate of something delectable to share, and you have perfection. For at least ½ an hour… Enjoy! 10) The 10th thing is the simplest: Our breaths. The act of taking a deep breath to still a thumping, anxious heart. The sharp intake of breath at heart-stopping beauty. The release of breath when something difficult is completed. And the moment-to-moment in&out that is life itself. How much better does it get, than remembering: we’re here. Now. And that’s just the beginning…

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