Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Epiphany, Theophany/Denho (Baptism of Christ)
Volume 7 No. 392 January 5, 2017

V. General Weekly Features

Health Tip: 13 Foods That Help You Sleep

by BistroMD

Eat your way to health, weight loss... And sleep!? In a busy society, optimal sleep may seem out of the question. These foods to help you sleep may be exactly what you need to obtain the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Foods That Help You Sleep

Combination of Tryptophan and Carbs Tryptophan-containing foods are suggested to induce sleepiness, as the amino acid plays a large role in elevating serotonin levels. Serotonin, known as the "feel good" hormone, is a body chemical shown to initiate a calming effect. Serotonin can further be converted into melatonin, a hormone advocated to induce sleep at a quicker rate and increase sleep hours. Interestingly, a high-tryptophan diet does not elevate serotonin levels on their own. Carbohydrate sources assists in heightening serotonin, subsequently increasing the effects of melatonin.

1. Turkey Sandwich

Turkey is notorious for its tryptophan content. To increase its availability in the body, pair with whole grain bread. Sticking to a half sandwich can further save on calories and reduce carb content!

2. Soybeans

Also known as the soya bean, soybean is a valuable plant-based protein source. So if straying away from animal meats or limiting their intake (including the tryptophan-containing turkey identified above), soybean may also be a beneficial food that helps you sleep. Cozy up with this warm bowl of nutritious, soybean curry. Added bonus, they also boast in magnesium. Read on to discover the mineral's contribution in fighting insomnia!

3. Cheese and Crackers

Whether it be mozzarella or cheddar, top cheese onto grained crackers for a simple bedtime snack. For best portion control practices, utilize a cheese stick or cheese cubes, as one serving of cheese resembles four stacked dice cubes.

4. Cheesy Popcorn

Popcorn is light in calories but boasts with fiber, making it a diet-friendly nighttime snack. Sprinkle popcorn with tryptophan-containing shredded cheese to encourage a good night's rest!

5. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds boast with tryptophan! Munch on this pumpkin seed trail mix to enrich the calming potential of tryptophan. Like soybeans, they are also rich in insomnia-fighting magnesium!

6. Bananas and Yogurt

Bananas also contain potassium, a nutrient suggested to prevent waking up throughout the night. A protein-rich, natural-carb containing Greek yogurt paired with banana slices is a filling, yet low-calorie bedtime option.

7. Cherries

Cherries are special, as they may be the only food source to naturally offer melatonin! Specifically, tart cherries are shown prompt a better night's sleep and improve sleep duration. For an extra dose of sleepy, combine the sleep-inducing properties of pumpkin seeds and cherries into one nutritious trail mix.

Magnesium-Rich Foods

The mineral has been explored and suggested to treat insomnia, a common sleeping disorder that may make it hard to fall or stay asleep. Magnesium may encourage sleep efficiency, improve sleep onset, and sleep duration. The following are rich sources of the sleep-inducing mineral.

8. Rice Bran

Rice bran is used mostly to create breads and cereals, and further used to enrich fiber content in other products. Rice bran, though, is one of the richest sources of magnesium available with its use capable of combatting insomnia. If not desiring getting in the kitchen to bake with rice bran, take a sip out of this healthy strawberry-banana smoothie. Further packed with protein, you will feel guiltlessly satisfied until the morning hours.

9. Almonds

Almonds also offer magnesium along with healthy fats, protein, and fiber. When enjoying almonds, though, it is important to stick to recommended portion sizes, as they are calorically-dense. On average, a small palmful (approximately one ounce or 23 almonds), provides 130 calories.

10. Cocoa Powder

Chocolate before bed? This may seem too good to be true! However, it is important to utilize pure cocoa powder, as commercial chocolate products are loaded with unwanted sugars, which may inhibit sleep induction. Mixing hot cocoa into warm milk can supplementary initiate a calming lull, accelerating feelings of sleepiness.


Sipping on tea come bedtime has been a practice for centuries. The soothing effects of these teas may assist in richer and more sufficient sleeping patterns.

11. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile, coming from daisy-like plants and flowers, is commonly steeped in water to produce chamomile tea. Also known as the "sleep tea," the warmth and delicate flavor assists in soothing and relaxing the body. Sleep quality has further shown to improve in postpartum women following German chamomile tea intake.

12. Lavender Tea

In addition to chamomile, lavender tea has also shown to improve sleep quality in postpartum women. This soothing herbal tea features lavender and may be the key to a restful night's sleep!

13. Green Tea

Green tea, devoid of caffeine, has shown to aid in good quality sleep. Green tea contains theanine, a beneficial amino acid, offering mood stability, stress reduction, and sleep improvement.

Recipe: Apple Walnut Crisp

by BistroMD

This fall-favorite dessert is perfect for any time of the year and is one that everyone will love. Have all the taste of apple pie without any of the guilt with bistroMD’s delightful apple walnut crisp recipe. This sweet treat has only 160 calories per serving and is a perfect size for your next family get-together!

Apple Walnut Crisp Recipe

Apple 'Crisp' or 'Crumble' get its name from the perfectly golden crumbly and crisp topping after you bake it in the oven. This well-known dessert is a staple for any fall gathering which is around the time for apple harvesting. We suggest using Golden Delicious apples since they are common to find year-round, but you can also use locally grown apples, when in season, for even more flavor.

This recipe is stuffed with sweet cinnamon apples and chopped walnuts for a sweet, melt-in-your-mouth center. The apple crisp’s topping contains oats, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salts to create an impeccable crumble finish.


½ cup all-purpose flour, plus 2 Tbsp.
½ cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
4 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1 pinch ground cloves
3 lbs. Golden Delicious apples (about 7 cups), peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 375F (190 deg C) and oil a 1 ½ quart baking dish.
2. In a small bowl combine, ½ cup flour, oats, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt.
3. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes crumbly.
4. Stir in the chopped walnuts and set aside.
5. Combine sliced apples, 2 tablespoons flour, cloves and vanilla extract. Mix well so apples are evenly coated.
6. Transfer apples to a baking dish and sprinkle the topping over the apples.
7. Bake until bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 50 minutes.
8. Serve warm.

Chef Tip: top with a dusting of cinnamon for one incredibly delicious dessert!

Yield: serves 10

Nutrition per Serving

Calories: 160
NET Carbohydrate: 25g
Protein: 2 g

Family Special: Setting Goals for a Good Year of Marriage

by Pam and Bill Farrel

Resolutions are rarely kept past 30 days, but goals can be life changing. More than good intentions, goals help you put in place concrete steps to create a different life, and a different kind of love. Goals are simply dreams with deadlines. So take some time to dream together!

If life feels too hectic to sit and write goals for your future, as a couple or family - take goal setting on the road! While you are both in your car, have the non-driver interview the other and write down some goals for the coming year that will make your love stronger and last longer. (We offer a "Your Best Year Ever" goal planning sheet that can walk you through goal setting set by step at This may lead to some deeper, richer, or more lively discussions, so it might take a few sessions to work your way through the questions. Enjoy the forward movement!

Here is a sampling of a few questions to fine-tune your life, your marriage or family life:

  • As you look at the year ahead, what is the most important issue or goal you have on your heart for the coming year for yourself?
  • As you look at the year ahead what is the most important issue or goal you have on your heart for the coming year for our marriage?
  • As you look at the year ahead what is the most important issue or goal you have on your heart for the coming year for our family?
  • What adjustments on the home front would make reaching these desires easier?
  • How are you planning to grow yourself

-Academically or in your career?

  • What can I do to help you? (Each answer this for the other.)
  • Can we write these desires into tangible measurable goals? (Write below.)
  • Can we create a personal motto, family or marriage motto for the year? (We detail this out in our book 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make)

We like to create a theme for the year too. One couple we know selected "Think Young" for a year in their mid 40's. One of our friends who were drifting apart made theirs' "Love again in 2010" - and guess what? They went from the brink of divorce to a vibrant and strong loving marriage before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Do you have a verse for the year that captures what you think God is saying to your heart? (To find a verse select a few key words and place them into the word search on or Logos Bible software and you'll get a list of verses to select from.)

Samples of "The Verse for the Year", we have used in the past to motivate forward movement:

2013: With a goal of becoming stronger in all areas

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).

This year both Bill and I selected the same word (STRONGER), the same verse Joshua 1:9, and the same motto for the year ("Stay Strong"). All year, all our choices were made with one question in mind, "Will this make me/us stronger?" The outcome was we got stronger as a couple physically, financially, and our ministry and family were strengthened as we checked off goals.

2008: With a goal of becoming a better leader publicly and privately

"Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to him" (2 Corinthians 5:9 NASB).

My one question that provided focus was, "Is this pleasing God?"

See if each of you can come up with a verse that will motivate you personally in a way that will case positive impact on your love and life together. We then memorize the verse and meditate on it daily. Try to create a singular question that can serve as a focusing lens for life.

The key to success is not just voicing your goals, but go back to your Outlook or personal planner system and place time to actually DO your goals into your scheduling. We also place a date to review our progress every three to four months.

The final secret to success is to reward yourselves and celebrate every possible victory all along the path. If your goal is to argue less, then the first day you go all day without a fight, celebrate it! If your goal is to save money, plan ways to pat yourselves in the back that don't cost: share a sunset moment, walk along the beach or in the park holding hands. Make it a goal to list off five ways you can celebrate each other as you make progress in your goal to stay in love. A long lasting love is just a couple who have made it their goal to go one more day in love and invested the time and effort to pull it off-one day at a time.

About The Authors:

Pam and Bill Farrel are the authors of 40 books including their newest: '7 Simple Skills for Success for Men'. For more information on goal setting, we have a few books available with goal information in them: Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti or 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make or download a goal setting sheet at


Family Special: The Influence of Grandparents

By Dr. James Dobson

Let me turn to the people who are most likely to give you the help you need. I'm referring to maternal or paternal grandparents. They have a God-given responsibility to influence their grandkids, and most of them are more than willing to fit the bill. There is a very helpful book that may stimulate some ideas. It is called 'The Gift of Grandparenting', by Eric Wiggen. Here are some excerpts from it that will, I hope, not only motivate single parents to look to their parents but will inspire grandparents to get more involved with grandkids. These are the considered words of Eric Wiggen:

Young people who visit their grandparents, with few exceptions, do so because they want - often very badly - the companionship of their elders. The same grandmother who beat me at checkers when I was nine became a friend in whom I could confide when I was 19. She wrote me letters, long and full of family news. When I came home from college, we talked. And you know what? Grandma wanted to listen to me! I soon found that she was fascinated with what I had to say, and she had more time to listen to me than my parents. For your teen or single young-adult grandchildren, perhaps the most important "entertainment" you can give them is to listen when they talk.

A sage once remarked that the elderly slow down and stoop over so that they can see things as children once again, so that they can hold the hands of children who toddle along on inexperienced feet. That bug on the sidewalk, the snail under the cabbage leaf, the robin pulling the worm from the rain-moistened earth - these are the things small children and their grandparents notice.

Our grandchildren live in imperfect homes, reared by imperfect parents: our sons and daughters who are married to our sons-in-law or daughters-in-law, all of them imperfect. Although we all made mistakes raising our children, the good news is that as godly grandparents, walking with the Lord, we can expect the Lord to use us. Because of our own immaturity when our children - now parents - were growing up, we may have disappointed them. But by keeping us alive to enjoy our grandchildren, the Lord is giving us a ministry to help fill in these gaps in our imperfect child-rearing.

We grandparents must first firmly retake the lead, if not of society as a whole, at least of our own families. This is not as drastic a step as it may seem, for the pendulum has begun to swing the other way, and maturity is coming into fashion again.

Writing to grandparents, columnist Evelyn Sullivan summarized a study of more than seven hundred students at Central Missouri State University. Sullivan cited Central Missouri professor of family studies Dr. Gregory E. Kennedy, who found that after a divorce these students felt the role of grandparents to be "even more important" in their lives than in homes that remained intact. Most grandparents, whether or not the parents have been divorced, do have regular interaction with their grandchildren, Dr. Kennedy's study found. Significantly, most students felt closer to their maternal grandparents than to their paternal grandparents. This is important to maternal grandparents, since in a divorce settlement the children are usually placed in the custody of the mother.

As grandparents, we desire to help usher our Brandons and Meghans across the threshold of adulthood. We can best do this when we realize that these youth, who much of the time are carefree and happy, are also suffering through the most trying years of life - from puberty to young maturity. We gently criticize their behavior when we must. We set guidelines and expressions when they're entrusted to our care. Even as we wouldn't question another adult's toupée or hairdo, we avoid personal remarks about our emerging adult-teens whose souls may have been torn and trampled already in the school gauntlet or by conflicts at home. But most of all, we support, we listen, we pray. And we love.

Grandparents today are not only needed in a supportive role to their daughters and sons, a surprising number of them have been given full custody of their grandchildren. They raised their children many years ago and thought their parenting job was done. Then when they should have been simply supplementary to the main event, they are faced with one of two very difficult choices: either accept the responsibility of raising another generation of kids, or watch them suffer from inadequate care or placement in a foster home. This is not the way families were designed to function. It represents another aspect of marital disintegration and children born out of wedlock. I would need another book, or many of them, to address that concern in depth, but it is one that deserves our prayers and creative thought.

From Bringing Up Boys.

About The Author:

Dr. James Dobson is the Founder and President of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, "Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk." He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family, including The New Dare to Discipline; Love for a Lifetime; Life on the Edge; Love Must Be Tough; The New Strong-Willed Child; When God Doesn't Make Sense; Bringing Up Boys; Marriage Under Fire; Bringing Up Girls; and, most recently, Head Over Heels. ...

Copyright ©2016 Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk All Rights Reserved

The Number One Lesson I Learned from Stephen King

By Craig Ballantyne

"Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." - Stephen King

Twenty-five years ago, on a cloudy April afternoon, my mom and I drove out to visit her brother. He lived across from the old church that we attended, and on this particular day, was having a garage sale. It was there that my cousin Luke, two years older than me, and someone I looked up to as the epitome of cool, were selling a bunch of old books. In this pile of tattered paperbacks I would find my first writing mentor.

There were books on sports, a few Westerns, and a row of mystery books. But only one beat-up paperback caught my attention. That book would begin an epic journey for me and would have a dramatic impact on the rest of my life, and yours, too. It was a book from Stephen King.

My first foray into the King macabre was Thinner. While not his best work, any author that could weave the phrase, "arm-pit farting Hail Columbia" into a tense standoff between mysterious gypsies and the story's hero was sure to make a fan out of a 14-year-old boy.

I spent the rest of that summer devouring every Stephen King book I could find at the local Stratford library. Some books even had a waiting list, and I'd spend days and even weeks anxiously awaiting its return, hoping it would arrive back before I finished reading whatever King book I had at the time (this was long before the days of instant fix Kindle book delivery).

Each night, exhausted from nine hours of manual labor at my summer construction job, and then followed by two hours of soccer, I'd finally crawl into bed with one of King's stories. And each night I'd intend to read only a few pages so that I could get to sleep before 9 p.m.

Two hours later - and sometimes not until after midnight - I'd finally force myself to put down the book so I could get six hours of sleep, during which I would often dream about King's characters.

After 'Thinner', I graduated to It, my first of King's epic 800-plus-page novels. I spent the rest of the summer and the next school year racing through his shorter classics, like Carrie and Cujo, his lesser-known works like The Talisman (written under a penname, Richard Bachman), and of course, his masterpieces like The Shining, and my personal favorite to this day, The Stand.

I tried other horror authors, such as John Saul and Dean Koontz, but their books seemed like the same old rehashed plotline over and over. There was no substitute for King.

Who else could tug at your heartstrings with a story like The Four Seasons (that would become the coming-of-age movie, Stand by Me), while later terrifying you to be in the presence of St. Bernards, prom queens, or a red 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine?

I have not yet read King's non-fiction work on storytelling, On Writing. But through osmosis during the hundreds of hours I spent with his books, King has taught me several lessons. He showed me the power of storytelling and character development.

I'll never forget his description, from Pet Cemetery, of the comforting old neighbor who listened to Boston Red Sox games on the radio each night on the front porch. Only King could make you want to visit the scene of mass murders and grisly killings because he made it all sound so idyllic.

King also showed me not to pigeonhole writing into a genre or style, and of course, he instilled in me the importance of being prolific. My Early to Rise essays, Turbulence Training emails, my writing work ethic, and even my workout program cover art remains influenced by his horror to this day.

Alas, as the years went by, his stories no longer held the same influence over me. I seemed to be outgrowing his characters and stories like The Tommyknockers and Dolores Claiborne, and while I had high hopes for the tales of Roland the Gunslinger in The Dark Tower series, these new books just didn't connect.

Still, King left me with fond memories of growing up with his reluctant heroes, his chilling plots, and his addictive storytelling. The ending to one of his early short stories, The Jaunt, still fascinates me as I try to imagine what the young boy, the mice, and the prisoners experienced as they spent a maddening eternity lost in space.

Today, King is worth an estimated $400 million dollars. He's published 63 books at last count, turned over a dozen into movies, and one into a three-season TV series, Under the Dome, and yet he continues to write every day. According to one of my favorite books from 2013, Daily Rituals, “King writes every day of the year, including his birthday and holidays, and he almost never lets himself quit before he reaches his daily quota.”

King taught me all of his lessons virtually, without a formal lesson, and if you're short on in-person mentors, you'll find you can learn a lot just by studying what the masters do.

The most significant lesson I've kept from King came in his short, lesser-known novella, The Mist. (You'll find it in his anthology, The Skeleton Crew). It is one of my favorite King stories, and was made into a movie in 2007 that has grossed over $60 million.

In this story, the small town of Bridgton, Maine mysteriously becomes shrouded in a dense mist that is home to the monsters you once feared were living in your closet as a child. (If bugs give you the willies, you'll love this story.) Soon we learn that the mist has been released as a result of a U.S. Military operation called, “The Arrowhead Project.”

As happens with all King books, his reluctant hero is just an average person living a regular life with its normal trials and tribulations. That is, until King unleashes something horrific upon them that turns them into a hero. In this case, the hero is named David Drayton. Drayton eventually rounds up his son Billy and two other survivors, and drives as far away from Brighton as they can get on the gas in his jeep.

King's description of their trip down a highway, dodging the giant legs of enormous centipedes and other hideous monsters of the mist, still pops into my head from time to time when I'm on a long road trip. King's vivid attention to detail is just one of his storytelling secrets that keep you glued to every page.

It is the end of this book, one where you might say that the story remains incomplete (the novella ending is different from the movie, by the way) that leaves me with the number one lesson I've learned from King.

Drayton's jeep had run out of gas before they were able to escape the mist. Pulled up beside a pump at the gas station, Drayton and his band of travelers know that stepping outside the jeep will result in a monster of the mist delivering a sure and grisly death sentence. But as they sit there, listening to the radio through almost overwhelming static comes a single word, “Hartford.”

The mist has yet to make it there. If they can only get gas in the tank, they can make it to safety. To Drayton, Hartford is Hope.

Hope is what we all need.

It is the belief that no matter how horrific your situation right now, no matter how dark the days seem, no matter how deep the dips in life have taken you, that there is always a shred of hope if you look to find it.

When you have hope, you'll keep on going.

When you can offer someone else hope, it gives them the will to move on.

When there is hope, there is a will. Where this is a will, there is a way. When there is hope, there is an ending left unwritten for you, your family, or your customers to fill in.

That is the biggest lesson I have learned from King. Give your readers, prospects, and customers hope. Give it to your family, and give it to yourself.

What was your favorite Stephen King book, story, or lesson?

About the Author:

Craig Ballantyne is the founder of EarlyToRise University and the author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes "politically-incorrect" advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig's secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision.

2016 © Early to Rise Publishing – All Rights Reserved

Happiness Is Intentional!

By Lionel Ketchian

"Happiness is intentional and it serves us best when we use it to serve others. Share a genuine smile and you bestow an undeniable gift to others."

Happiness happens when you intend it to happen. Happiness is an intention; you create happiness by causing it to happen within your experience.

For many years I have been teaching and explaining how to find happiness and use it for your own benefit and the benefit of others. Let me share my experience of happiness and the meaning and purpose it has given me in my life with you.

I have lived with happiness for over 25 years and the benefits to me personally have been profound. A few years ago, I begun to become aware that living with happiness has also revealed some life long lessons for me. I have been feeling more connected to people I meet and have any kind of communication with. I have felt a sense of family arising from this connection.

We live in a wonderful community here in Fairfield, Connecticut. For me the community is a sense of an extended family. This is not because I want or need more family, it is because that is the feeling I have about the people I encounter. When I allow myself to express my feelings about a greater feeling of family, I realize that my life has expanded in an infinite dimension.

I care about people and I regard them as brothers and sisters and close relatives in our one big beautiful human family.

I thought I would express this gratitude I have for the people in my life, which includes many of you. As I find more people benefiting from being happy, I enlarge my own happiness. Your happiness becomes my happiness.

Each encounter has been so positive that it adds to my experience of life. Another benefit I have discovered to being happy is the interconnectedness I have found in my happiness relationships, no matter how brief the communication. All connections, even a simple e-mail, are real and lasting ones that have enduring substance when you feel this way.

I have felt a wonderful feeling of finding my purpose in life. That purpose basically is to serve others. Not to serve others what they want, but to serve them what I can serve them best. We can only give away what we have. Some of us have money and are generous and benefit others with our donations.

All of us have something we are good at and it is usually something we love. You can always give some of what you love or have to others. What you love, you have in abundance. The real reason for serving others is that when you give part of yourself you gain so much more of yourself. You gain the freedom and exhilaration from the meaning and purpose you bring into your life. So give you gift to others and see how much better your life becomes!

Just to have a small positive effect in someone's life has been a source of tremendous fulfillment and meaning. In showing others ways to happiness and enriching their lives, I have found authentic purpose and thereby real meaning in my life. I have felt a real sense of purpose in life that my feelings of family have given me. This may not make a lot of sense to some people.

I am writing this for those who understand the heart of this matter. This is about living in a world of inner peace and unconditional love and happiness, whose rewards are in the present moment for the individual who is serving others. If you have not served others with an open happy heart, it would be impossible to understand the feelings I am expressing to you now.

I have found that individuals are good, especially as they become happy. If you seek to do good and even if you do good in your life, you will not be able to sustain it without being happy. At the very least you will not enjoy it or benefit from it yourself. Let me make a bold and outrageous statement for you. Begin thinking of the world as your family. Look at people with the thought that you are connected to them in some way.

They have dreams like you, feel like you and want to be happy just like you do. If you do this you will create a changed world to live in for yourself that will support you.

Happiness is intentional and it serves us best when we use it to serve others. Share a genuine smile and you bestow an undeniable gift to others. Share some of your time, a kind word, provide a gentle thought or express sincere praise and you have made a contribution in someone's life that may be more meaningful and important to them then you will ever know.

To quote the great words of Albert Schweitzer, "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."

Wishing you a very Happy, Healthy and Meaningful life for this New Year!  

It's Good for Your Character

by Laura MacCorkle

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
- Romans 5:3-5, NIV

I grew up in a very special church back in the '70s and '80s. It was nondenominational, had tremendous traditional worship and congregational singing and was attended and led by many seminary professors and students.

Seeds that were sown in my life in those early years of my spiritual growth are now sprouting, and I'm drawing upon what I have learned as I make my way through adulthood.

From time to time, I flip through a bound collection of meditations on sayings that my pastor put together. He would regularly refer to these life principles from the pulpit, and today, whenever I hear them being said (or similar concepts) by others, I remember what he preached on them many years ago.

"It's good for your character," he would often say. And here's how he explained that further:

"God uses the routine, the difficult, even the painful to develop in us qualities of Christlike character that can be learned in no other way."

When we begin to see our lives from this perspective, that's when we've turned a corner. But in order to keep thinking in this way, we have to make daily readjustments, as we don't always want to see the routine, the difficult and even the painful in this way.

But it is the right way to look at any uncomfortable situation in our lives. The classic passage regarding trials in James 1:2-4 is wonderfully helpful and instructive to us pilgrims travelling life's road on our spiritual journeys:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Now, let's break down this outlook:

Consider it pure joy. How do you do this when you're going through a divorce? Or in the aftermath of a departed loved one or the loss of a job? What will it take to see the joy despite the circumstances? Only God can give us this joy and change our perspective (Psa. 16:8-11).

Testing develops perseverance. In order to learn how to persevere, we have to go through some trying times. Think back on the trials in your life. What were the results? Did you make changes in your life? Did God help you get through them? Remember that as you continue to serve him (Psa. 25:4-10).

Perseverance must finish its work. We can't go from diapers to dungarees in the snap of our fingers. Living takes time. And there are "pains" that go with it. Sure, it hurts sometimes, but know that the uncomfortable seasons mean that you're growing (1 Peter 4:12-19).

Be mature and complete. When you were a child, you didn't have a bulging file folder of life experiences to draw from. Now that you're older, hopefully you can see how you have grown closer to the Lord and how he has changed you. Draw from past lessons as you choose to live and think differently today (1 Cor. 13:10-12).

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Can you look back on "the routine, the difficult, even the painful" times of your life and see how God has developed your character? List some specific trials and the resulting changes that have been made in your character and then praise your merciful Savior.

Further Reading:

2 Cor. 4:7-12, MSG
Phil. 1:21, NIV
Heb. 10:32-39, MSG

"When We All Get to Heaven"
by Eliza E. Hewitt (1898)

While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when traveling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We'll sing and shout the victory!

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional


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