Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Humility, Christian Life
Volume 6 No. 358 July 15, 2016
III. Featured Articles on 'Christian Life'

Five Verses to Help You Relax This Summer

by Candace Crabtree

Most of us look forward to summer for a multitude of reasons. One of the things I personally am looking forward to the most this summer is down time and a break from our normal craziness of the school year. If we aren't careful, though, we can even make our summers turn into crazy very quickly. There are so many fun and wonderful things about summer, let's choose to be intentional about our rest and relaxation as well.

Do you ever feel guilty about resting and relaxing? No more guilt, friends! Even the God of the universe rested. In fact, He took a whole day and rested after creating the world. And Jesus, while ministering here on earth, took time away as well. Rest and relaxation is a much needed aspect of our lives that often goes by the wayside during busy times of the year.

The definition of rest is: cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. Sometimes even thinking about rest can make us uncomfortable or even stressed. We think we can't possibly "cease work" or go a whole day (or even a few hours) without getting something crossed off our to-do list. Let's face it, the world we live in has a fast-paced, multi-tasking, never stop, keep on trucking kind of mentality. Before we decide to rest, we must decide that rest and relaxation is indeed a good thing.

What if, in our rest, we made more space for God? What if, in our relaxing, we were able to be still before God and actually listen to His still small voice? What if, when we set aside the distractions of our day, we see God's beauty all around us that we hadn't noticed before? What if…

5 Verses to Help You Relax This Summer

Genesis 2:1-3 "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

God created the world. The whole wide world. And, then? Then, He rested. The God of the universe, Almighty Creator God, He rested. Can you believe it? I don't believe He rested because He actually needed it or was tired and worn out from creating. I believe He rested because He was giving us an example… showing us what we need to do… letting us know that rest is important.

Exodus 23:12 "Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed."

God commanded a Sabbath for each of us. God knew how much we would need it. God also knew how hard it would be for us to attempt it. So, He offers Himself as an example of resting on the seventh day. When we are obedient we reap the rewards. We come back to the task at hand refreshed and energized after a time of rest and relaxation. God prepares us in our stillness. God is at work all the while.

Psalm 46:10 "He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'"

God knows best. He knows that sometimes we need to slow down and be still before Him to truly know Him. Sometimes we are so busy that we drown out the voice of God and the movement of God. Sometimes being still before Him allows us to hear His voice in ways we couldn't have if we kept going full speed ahead.

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

When Jesus speaks, we must listen. If we choose to believe in His miraculous birth, His death and resurrection, why can't we believe that His yoke is easy and His burden is light? Sometimes we look at our crazy life and think HOW in the world is His burden light? Is it that we are carrying things that aren't of Him? Are we choosing times of rest?

Luke 6:12-13 "One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles."

Jesus got away on a mountainside multiple times in Scripture. He knew that to continue giving His life as an offering to His Father, He needed to get alone and pray. Right before He chose His disciples, He prayed all night. Summer is the perfect time, we know there are big things ahead and possibly a busy autumn season. Now is the time to get away to our mountainside and spend time in prayer, being still before God and relaxing with some down time.

It is to our detriment that our world looks at rest and relaxation as laziness so often. God's Word is full of admonition to slow down, rest, be still and get away by ourselves. We see God, Himself, resting on the seventh day. We see Jesus getting away on a mountainside by Himself. This summer let's heed the wisdom of our Father and spend time resting our physical bodies as well as our souls. Let's be still before God and know Him more. Let's get away to our mountainside and pray. Let's be intentional about our sabbath rest.

About The Author:

Candace Crabtree is just a broken mama thankful for grace and new mercies every morning. She and her husband live in East Tennessee where they homeschool their 3 kids. Candace also enjoys teaching piano, coffee, good books and blogging at His Mercy Is New. On her blog she shares encouragement for weary women from God's Word along with resources for learning to pray the Scriptures.

Source: Daily Update

Love Your Neighbors... Even When They're 'Better' Than You

by Liz Kanoy

Christians may be tempted to see themselves on a moral high ground with their secular friends in the valley below … but the truth is we're all in the valley. The thing that separates Christians from non-Christians is not behavior or morals it's grace. It's grace that you understand the gospel, grace that you have salvation, and grace that you are convicted when your behavior is not Christ-like. Though you may have some acquaintances or friends whose behavior is questionable or dangerous, chances are you also have several non-Christian friends and neighbors who are genuine and kind, good parents, and they may even share many of the same values and morals as you.

Jen Pollock Michel, author and blogger, has written an article for The Gospel Coalition titled 'The Myth of Moral Superiority: When You're No 'Better' than Your Agnostic Friend'. When comparing yourself to your non-Christian friend, she implores us to remember:

"'None is righteous,' the apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:10. Even the most morally upright person, Christian or non-Christian, falls short of God's glory.

…The gospel doesn't make me better. But it does make me eager to admit my debts and deficits, grateful to receive God's good gifts from whomever's hand they come."

Michel gives an example from her church service in which the pastor humorously states, "It is the practice of Christians throughout the centuries to publicly and privately confess their sins to God—which might seem strange, considering that we are better than everyone else."

Confession is a way to give ourselves a reality check. Confession reminds us that we're not called to out-do others with our morals, but instead we're called to follow Jesus humbly and share the news of His grace with others.

Michel writes,

"We don't have to be better than our non-Christian neighbors and family, friends and colleagues. We just have to be the forgiven and the faithful, willing to proclaim the gospel even to the "good" people who earnestly strive to follow their moral code."

Michel continues, "To be a Christian is to relinquish self-will and moral self-confidence." For it's "amazing grace that saves the wretch—as well as the respectable."

Crosswalk Contributor Kathy Howard shares this in her article 'Should Christians be the Morality Police?':

"Sometimes Christians get so distracted by cultural skirmishes we lose sight of our prime directive. A quick reminder of God's purpose for Christians in the world will help us better determine how we should respond to our culture's changing values:

· We are "the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14).

· We are God's priests, declaring His praises to the nations (1 Peter 2:9).

· We are Christ's ambassadors, imploring the world to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)."

She advises, "Let us be seen as for Christ, not as against the world."

About The Author:

Liz Kanoy is an editor for

Source: Daily Update

Want to Change the World? Get to Know Your Neighbors

by Malinda Fuller

"Go into all the world," is the greatest and final command Jesus gave. We have heard it, memorized it, and hung it on our church walls. But while many Christians are excited about others changing the world and give generously to church programs or events, they often settle into daily life without much thought about what the great commission means for them personally.

The problem is that Jesus didn't give this command to a select few. He didn't pull Peter aside, along with James and John and tell the three of them to single-handedly change the world. It wasn't for the disciples, the early church, or for those who "feel called." His command is for anyone who bears His name. Christian reading these words, that includes you.

Whether you have worked with the youth for ten years, or pass offering buckets once a month, or are one of those who slip in late and leave early, you have a mandate to take the Good News into your world. The pastor who preaches on Sunday and the occasional attendee are lumped together when Jesus said, "Go."

But what does that mean for us in our daily living? And why do we struggle to do it?

Unfortunately, Jesus didn't leave us with a five-point plan on how to "go into all the world." What He did was show us how to love people. And that is what it will take to change the world. Here are three questions to get you thinking about who Jesus is calling you love:

1. Where do you spend your time?

Who cuts your hair, teaches your yoga class, or makes your coffee when you use Starbucks as your office? Who do you see at school drop-off, or in the early morning for your kid's swim practice? Who do you sit across from every day at work or shares space in the same office building?

2. Where do you spend your money?

Think about the places you frequent weekly: grocery stores and markets, specialty and coffee shops, the UPS store, the gym and wherever you frequent for your kids activities. Also, consider where you go regularly, though maybe not daily or weekly: the nail salon, the mechanic, a favorite restaurant or store.

3. Where do you already have common ground?

Parents of young children, this can include teachers, as well as coaches and therapists, instructors and aids, as well as other parents. Students, this means every other person attending classes. As an employee, this includes everyone you work with, and when you come home it includes every person on your block, in your complex, and most definitely those with whom you share fences and walls.

Now that you're thinking about the who, consider how to build relationships . It requires that we be intentional about engaging others:

Be aware of patterns and interests. If your neighbors sleep late on Saturday, they will probably be more inclined to a late brunch than an offer to join you for early morning antiquing? If they are active, perhaps they would love to join you for an evening walk or hike? Is there a family that you tend to see after soccer practice at the local pizza place; pull two tables together.

Learn their name and be interested in their story. It's amazing what happens when you say someone's name; their whole countenance changes. Don't wait for the cashier you see every Wednesday to ask how your week was, ask them. Recognize and celebrate things like birthdays, graduations and anniversaries. And when you remember that your barista was having a hard day earlier in the week, find a way to brighten their day.

For more inspiration, here's what Jesus did:

1. Jesus ate with people. In their homes.

There's something about conversation around the dinner table that connects people, and yet sadly, this has become a lost tradition. Take it up. Invite someone over and cook. If that isn't your thing, grab take-out. It doesn't have to be fancy to be sincere.

2. Jesus met people on their level.

He went into the home of a crooked tax collector; He spoke with the adulterous woman in a public place. He touched the terminally ill, the forgotten, the outcast, the children. Jesus didn't care what kind of lifestyle they were living and He never asked people to "Join me at the temple." He went to them and spent time with them.

3. Jesus showed unconditional love.

This doesn't mean that we have to change our behavior in an effort to get to know our neighbors. We do, however, need to get comfortable outside of our church circles, conversations and contexts in order to show that we actually care about people who are not "like us."

Many people feel that "They aren't ready for church," because they feel they aren't quite perfect enough to walk in the doors. So, don't make it about going to church. Don't invite them to any services or events. Bring them into your home instead. Go out with them to a social event, or play on a sports league together, or go camping with the family next door.

Jesus was genuine. That's why He was so intoxicating to be with. He cared. He looked people in the eyes; He used their name and knew their story. He met their needs and stood next to them when they were judged and ridiculed.

What would happen if Christians did this for people all the time? Imagine what our world would look like if we actually started to live this way— treating those outside the church just as well as we treat those inside the church. If you want to change your world, it doesn't take an event, a charismatic personality, or lots of money. It starts by getting to know your neighbors.

About The Author:

Malinda Fuller and her husband Alex have served at several churches and para-church organizations in the U.S. and Canada for over a decade. Malinda wields truth and grace through the words on her blog and has also contributed content for Relevant, Thrive Moms and The Influence Network. Malinda and Alex currently reside in Southern California, where they are homeschooling their daughters, working in ministry and trying to not complain about the continuous sunshine.


Come and Rest in Him

by Mary Southerland

Today's Truth

Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind' (Matthew 22:37, NIV).

Friend to Friend

From the moment of birth, we are taught that successful people never give up. Yet, I have discovered the paradoxical secret that true success can only be found in complete surrender.

Dr. Billy Graham tells the story of a little child who was playing with a very valuable vase. The child put his hand into the vase but could not pull it out. His father tried to free the little boy's hand, but couldn't. They were thinking of breaking the vase when the father said, "Son, let's try one more time. Open your hand and hold your fingers out really straight and then pull." The look of alarm on the boy's face surprised the dad until the little boy explained, "Oh no, Dad. I can't hold my fingers like that. If I did, I would drop my penny."

Many of us are like that little boy – holding onto something that is keeping us from letting go and letting God have His way in our lives. It doesn't really matter what that something is. If it is keeping us from surrendering to God, it is our jailor, and we are its prisoner.

Jesus longs for us to come to Him in total surrender. Not because He wants to win or prove His power, but because He longs to set us free. Matthew 22:37 goes straight to the heart of surrender and abandonment when it says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." Let's take a closer look at the meaning of this verse:

"Heart" means "thought and emotion."
"Soul" means "life or whole person."
"Mind" means "understanding."

In other words, to truly experience God, we must surrender all. And the word "all" really does mean all. Every thought and emotion, every dream and plan, every bit of human knowledge or understanding, our past, present and future - everything - just like the woman in Luke did.

Luke tells us that a certain woman came to Jesus bringing an alabaster jar of perfume. In Jesus' day, alabaster jars were very common and of little value. It was the substance hidden inside that was so precious.

The perfume was the woman's most priceless possession. It was very expensive but very necessary in her line of work as a prostitute, working the streets, selling her body in order to live. The money given to her by the men she slept with paid for the perfume she brought to Jesus. She could have put a small amount on His feet and it would have been a great financial sacrifice. But she brought it all, and she gave it all.

This woman came to God with a "yes" in her heart and a "whatever" in her soul, totally abandoning herself and all that she had to Him. "Abandon" literally means "without restraint or hindrance, a total relinquishment." She came to Jesus, walking through her shame, straining against every hindrance, and relinquishing her old way of life. She came, ignoring the ugly whispers and judgmental stares of those who knew her so well.

Why? I believe she was desperate. The emptiness and sin were eating away at her soul. She was tired of being used, unloved and unwanted. She came ready to give up everything and in a desperation that is always winsome to Jesus. He met every need of her heart and changed the course of her life.

Today, He is calling you to that same kind of abandonment. Are you ready to exchange your life for one that is far beyond your greatest hopes and dreams? Are you desperate for Him? The Father is patiently and tenderly calling you. Come and rest in Him.

Let's Pray

God, I am so tired of trying to live without You. I come today, desperately longing for You and seeking Your presence. Right now, I surrender to You, giving everything I know about myself to everything I know about You. Thank You for meeting me at my point of need.
In Jesus' Name,

Now It's Your Turn

List the things in your life that keep you from fully surrendering to God.
Confess them and choose against each one.
Destroy that list as a sacrifice of complete abandonment to God.
Choose to walk in the freedom He brings.

More from the Girlfriends

The most common invitation offered by Jesus Christ is simply to "come." He doesn't ask us to fix what is wrong or expect us to clean up our lives. That is His responsibility. Jesus loves us just as we are - in the midst of our sin and frail humanity.

When we come to Him with a "yes" in our hearts, He lovingly transforms the broken places into beautiful scars of healing and new life. Mary's MP3 download "Come As You Are" is an encouraging message filled with hope and God's love and power to help us be all He created us to be. Check it out!

Source: Girlfriends in God

Embrace Your Weakness

By Joy Mosbarger, The Good Book Blog

Have you ever felt like a failure? Inadequate? Ineffectual? Have you ever examined your heart and glimpsed sin and darkness and defeat? I have. It is discouraging and demoralizing. It makes me wonder what God sees in me. There is no doubt that I am a flawed vessel. But does that mean that I am a useless vessel?

Sometimes we try to get around our weaknesses by denying them. Other times we tell ourselves that if we just try harder ... buck up ... pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, then we will succeed; then we will experience victory and conquer the darkness. But these are not the answers I see in Scripture.

In 2 Corinthians 4:6-7, Paul affirms that the treasure of the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus" shines in our hearts, which inherently contain darkness. Yet we have this treasure in "jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." The place to start, then, is acknowledging that we are frail and damaged - jars of clay that are cracked and worn and easily broken. Weakness is not to be denied. Nor are we to overcome it ourselves. Rather, weakness is to be embraced. Paul actually takes pleasure in and boasts about his infirmities (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). We must recognize the darkness that dwells in our hearts and our failure and inability to overcome it ourselves.

But once acknowledged and recognized, this darkness and these weaknesses become conduits for the brilliant light and overwhelming power of God. The light of God's glory that shines through the face of Christ can overcome the darkness that lurks in our hearts. His light overpowers and then shines out of our darkness. And the reason Paul takes pleasure in his infirmities is because it is in his weakness that God's power and strength are made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It is because we are frail and feeble jars of clay that any successes or victories more clearly shine as displays of the efficacy of God and the results of the staggering strength of God. They emanate from the surpassing power of God, and not from any inherent strength of our own.

If we wait until we are perfect, until we fix all our cracks, to offer ourselves to God, then we will never do so. But if we offer ourselves to God with all of our frailties and flaws, our damage and darkness, his light will permeate our cracks and then shine through them. He will overcome our brokenness with his strength. We remain jars of clay, but jars of clay are particularly appropriate vessels to highlight the glorious power of God, as they have none of their own.

The refrain in a poem entitled "Anthem" by Leonard Cohen expresses these truths in a particularly evocative and eloquent way:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Source: Good Book Blog, a seminary faculty blog from Talbot School of Theology.


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