Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Aneede Sunday (Departed Faithful Sunday)
Volume 7 No. 398 February 17, 2017

III. General Weekly Features

Family Special: Looking For Love in All The Right Places

By Julie Clinton

To the world you may be one person,
but to one person you may be the world.
- Bill Wilson

I was sitting with my daughter Megan as she read through this chapter's outline. When she read the title "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not," she giggled comically.

"What's so funny over there?" Tim asked, watching TV from the sofa nearby. He had just asked me if I used to play that game with daisies when I was little.

Megan responded playfully, "When I was a little girl, I remember plucking the petals off the daisies and saying ‘He loves me, He loves me not' in the landscape outside the house. And the funny thing is, I wasn't even interested in boys yet."

That's when I protested, "What do you mean, yet?"

As her mother, I may have been slightly overprotective, but this illustration points to something written deep in the heart of every woman - the longing to be loved. Even before Megan was interested in "boys," her heart's desire was to be loved. Like me and you, she will feel this longing a lot more in this life.

Why do we make sure that the last petal we pick is engraved with those three comforting words "he loves me"? Is it simply that we were made for love? Or perhaps that we fear being unloved?

Living in such a confusing world, we can easily miss how beautiful we are to God and how much He really does love us. But extraordinary women long for the love of God and are able to receive it.

Here's what we know: Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, and 20 percent of women can expect to suffer from clinical depression at some time in their lives. At least 33 percent of women have been physically abused, forced into sex or otherwise abused during their lifetime, and 25 percent of women in North America were molested in childhood.

The open and unhealed wounds plaguing the hearts of women, adding turmoil and stress to everyday life and interpersonal relationships, are huge. Both single women determined to find a life partner and married women frustrated with theirs experience the tension of living with longings unfulfilled.

How do we cope with the tension of feeling unloved? We actively search for love and reach out to find it. Psychologist Ernest Becker wrote that "modern man is drinking and drugging himself out of awareness, or he spends his time shopping, which is the same thing." Statistics reveal that today women control 80 percent of household spending, a market worth $3.25 trillion. And the average debt for a woman with a credit card exceeds $2,300. The unbridled anxiety, depression, divorce, and escapism through drugs, alcohol, consumerism, sex, violence, and suicide have suffocated women from the spiritual fresh air of God's love they long for and so desperately need. Dallas Willard alluded to this in his book on spiritual disciplines stating, "Obviously, the problem is a spiritual one. And so must be the cure."

Evil hates God's beauty in you and is trying to get you to believe God doesn't care about you or doesn't love you. Evil wants you to believe that you mean nothing to Him. But here is the truth: "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:15-16).

Your ability to understand, accept, and embrace the fact that God loves you is at the heart of finding your freedom. When you accept His love, you can more easily pass it along. His love shines through you.

But first you have to dispel the evil lies running rampant in your mind and accept that God really loves you. There's a simple way to find out if it's true - ask.

An old adage says, "Don't ask if you don't want to know the answer." But the opposite is also true. If you want to know the answer, ask.

When you ask God if He loves you, He will answer because God is love. And because He is love, everything He does is infused with love.

That's why you long to be certain of God's love for you. Joyce Meyer agrees:

"A confident woman knows that she is loved. She does not fear being unloved, because she knows first and foremost that God loves her unconditionally. To be whole and complete, we need to know that we are loved… receiving the free gift of God's unconditional love is the beginning of our healing, and the foundation for our new life in Christ"

Being secure in God's love for us is an essential element of handling whatever comes our way. Wife, mother, and grandmother Cathy Hendrick, experienced the unimaginable but was able to move through it by holding fast to God's love. On October 24, 2004, her husband and 22-year-old twin daughters were killed in an airplane crash. Following the accident, she asked herself, Did God love me any less on October twenty-third than He did on October twenty-fourth? She knew the answer: No, He did not.

Says Cathy, "I know He loves me and of this I am confident. My assurance of His love began many years before the crash. But it is during these times of broken heartedness, sickness, losses, etc. that you will discover what you really believe about Him and if you truly put your faith and trust in Him."

By putting her faith in Him, Cathy has been able to move through tragedy with her faith intact.

Evil tells you that love can't be trusted. But God will show you it can.

God's love shows in the gentle hug of a friend who knows you're hurting but doesn't need to know why. In the flowers delivered on your birthday or the card or e-mail that arrives for no other reason than to cheer you. In your husband's voice when he asks, "How can I help?" and your child's when she says, "You're the best mommy ever." His love shows through the touch of a nurse who inserts the needle into your chemotherapy port as you're treated for cancer and in the mind of the doctor who studies overtime to make sure your treatment is effective. It shows in the act of a neighbor who returns your trash can after it has blown down the street, in the smile of the elderly man who opens the door for you when your arms are full, in the funeral director who gently helps you plan a memorial service befitting your father, and in the neighbor who recognizes you're weary and offers to watch your kids for the afternoon.

"There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life…is one not yet fully formed in love"
(1 John 4:18, MSG).

Consider what Meister Eckhart, one of the great Christian mystics, penned in the 14th century: "The soul must long for God in order to be set aflame by God's love; but if the soul cannot yet feel this longing, then it must long for the longing. To long for the longing is also from God."

Because God loves us, He puts that longing to be loved - and the longing for Him - in our hearts. It's no wonder we want that last petal to say, "He Loves Me."

Live the Dream: Long for the love of God and prepare to receive it.

About The Author:

Julie Clinton M.Ad., M.B.A. Is president of Extraordinary Women and host of Ewomen conferences all across America. A woman of deep faith, she cares passionately about seeing women live out their dreams by finding their freedom in Christ.

Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Family Special: The Integrity of Marriage

by Rev. David Holwick

Gospel: Matthew 5:31-32, 19:3-9, KJV

Of all the decisions a person makes in life, getting married is one of the most important. No matter how it ends up, your marriage changes you forever. After 50 years together you even start to look alike. A happy marriage is one of the greatest blessings you can have. Your spouse builds on your strengths and covers up your weaknesses.

An unhappy marriage is something else. Very few things can fill you with bitterness or hopelessness like a failed marriage. One of the great Russian novels begins with the line, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." [1]

Dr. Thomas Holmes at the University of Washington conducted a study to find what situations cause the most stress and disruption in the average person's life. At the top of the scale was having your spouse die. The second and third most stressful situations were divorce and separation. These produced more stress than having a parent or a child die, getting fired from work or having cancer.

Nobody wants to get divorced. Newlyweds always have high hopes the expectation that their marriage will be fulfilling. But despite these high hopes, one and a half million marriages end in divorce every year. It is a very difficult topic to preach about because it touches many people's emotions at a deep level. Nevertheless, every sincere Christian must wrestle with the view of Jesus on the matter.

Matthew 5:31-32 gives only a few points about his attitude. First, he quotes from Deuteronomy 24:1 which says that the procedure in a divorce is that the husband gave his wife a written notice. Second, Jesus says that anyone who does this will end up causing both people to commit adultery. The only exception is divorce that is caused by fornication.

Matthew gives a longer version of Jesus' teaching in chapter 19, which helps us interpret chapter 5. In chapter 19 Jesus is contrasting his teaching with that of the Pharisees. They differ in three important areas.

First, the Pharisees were preoccupied with the grounds for divorce, but Jesus was more interested in God's intention for marriage. In verse 3 the Pharisees ask Jesus - "Is it lawful for a man to put away (or divorce) his wife for every cause?" Some Jews at that time said you could divorce your wife if she burned your toast or lost her sex appeal. Others said only adultery was proper grounds. Where did Jesus stand? Was he liberal or strict?

His reply doesn't even answer their question. Instead he refers them back to Genesis. In verse 4 Jesus alludes to the creation of man and woman in Genesis 1, and in verse 5 he alludes to the establishment of marriage in Genesis 2. God's intention, therefore, is that marriage should be a close relationship and a permanent one. What God has put together, people should not take apart.

The second difference is that the Pharisees called Moses' provision for divorce a command in verse 7, but Jesus calls it a concession to the hardness of human hearts. Moses never commanded people to get divorced in Deuteronomy chapter 24. He doesn't even encourage it. All Moses says is that if people become divorced and remarry other partners, they can never go back to their original partners. Moses does describe the process of divorce which involved the written notice, but he does not by any means make a command about it.

Jesus provides God's real intent -- God does not want us to be divorced. But since people are sinful, God's intention is sometimes unable to be carried out. In verse 8 Jesus says, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to divorce your wives." This doesn't mean that Moses was wrong to allow it. In means God made a concession to human weakness. Divorce is never God's perfect will, but sometimes it can be allowed.

The third difference is that the Pharisees took divorced lightly. Jesus took it so seriously that, but only one exception, he called all remarriage after divorce adultery. This was the conclusion of this debate with Pharisees, and this is what is recorded in the Sermon on the Mount.

I have emphasized the differences between Jesus and Pharisees in Matthew 19 because I believe many Christians actually operate like the Pharisees on this issue. Even though we study all the New Testament passages and the words of Jesus, we still tend to focus on the grounds for divorce instead of God's ideal plan for marriage. Christians dig through the Scripture to find a loophole that justifies their divorce or condemn someone else's. The loopholes are legitimate -- adultery is one, and the Apostle Paul adds desertion by a non-Christian spouse. Nevertheless, the loopholes should never become the focus of all our attention. If you allow this to happen you become no better than a legalistic Pharisee.

It's much more profitable to focus on God's perfect will for marriage. Ever since creation God has wanted people to be fulfilled together through marriage. Every marriage should set an example for love and unselfishness. Forgiveness and reconciliation should be used to smooth over the rough spots. Even if there is a severe break in a relationship, such as adultery, divorce doesn't have to follow. The nation of Israel is often described as an adulterous wife in the Old Testament but God never gave up on her.

Jesus says that it is never God's perfect will to have a divorce. Concessions are allowed, such as divorce because of adultery, but these concessions are not God's perfect will. Jesus gives an absolute demand -- "Whatever God has join together, let man not separate."

This is not only absolute, it is downright harsh. The reason is that Jesus' prohibition of divorce is very similar to his prohibition of anger and lust. They are not meant to be a "new law" by which you have to live in order to be saved and right with God. Christians often treat the Sermon on the Mount like this but somewhere along the line you will fall short.

The reason is that all of us have hard hearts. God's perfect will is for us to fill our marriages with joy and peace but our old nature continually fights against it. Because of the reality of sin, God allowed divorce in the Old Testament and Jesus allows it in the New. These concessions are meant to protect people for whom the marriage relationship has been destroyed by sin.

Christians never completely overcome sin in this wife, so anger, lust and even divorce are always possibilities. The world would like to think they are not just possible, but inevitable. That is why some people change their wedding vows from "death do was part" to "as long as our love holds out."

I would argue that broken relationships are not inevitable. To counter our hard hearts, and Jesus offers a new heart. This new heart is a possession of everyone who accepts Jesus as their savior and becomes born again. Jesus gives us this new heart, but we have to nurture it and let it control us.

If you have been divorced, God can forgive you. If you are in a failing marriage, God can heal it through you. If you are happily married -- so far - you should ask God for the grace to get through each day with your spouse so that His love can be evident in your relationship.


1. From "Anna Karenina," by Leo Tolstoy.

Judge Not

by: Scott F Paradis

The first sin of ego is hubris - arrogance. The arrogance of ego is to insist, "I know best." "I know what is right." "I know the answers." "I know the way." "And the world will conform to my will." This all to frequent human failing is illustrated through an old story:

A man of supreme faith in God waited and watched as torrents of rain fell raising the nearby river. In a few days the river overflowed its banks. The water began to flood the man's home. After three days of fighting off flood waters a neighbor came by in a canoe to ask our hero if he needed help getting to dry land. No, the man insisted, God would care for him. He sent the good Samaritan on his way. The water continued to rise, until the man was trapped on the second story of his house. Within hours a speedboat came by, its driver offered the man a lift to drier, safer ground. Again the man rejected the offer; God would save him. The waters continued to rise, forcing the man to scramble onto his roof. As daylight broke after a miserable night a helicopter flew in, dropping a line to pull the man to safety. Again the man refused, claiming God would rescue him. Finally raging waters collapsed the house, drowning our would-be hero in the torrent. The man, upon seeing God in heaven, lamented, "Lord I put my faith in you to rescue me." God looked at the man with pity and replied, "Well, heck, I sent a canoe, a speedboat, and a helicopter — what more did you expect?"

Like this man, we invest ourselves in the belief that life is supposed to be a certain way. We mistakenly punish ourselves through pride and hubris as we seek to be "right" rather than to be "happy"; to get "our way" rather than to "have peace"; to be "vindicated" rather than exist in "harmony." We judge people and circumstances that do not measure up to our preconceptions.

We judge people and conditions by appearance, by demeanor, by expression, by every sense and faculty. Every judgment is an exultation of "I" - "ego" over the "other" and the "whole." We seek power, we crave control, even if only in the confines of our self-righteous sentiment. By extolling ego and making judgments we remain lost and alone in a divided, dangerous world - a circumstance of our own making.

To be and accept fully what you truly are — a child of God — embraced by the Creator's immeasurable love, you must release the vain comfort of judging. As you journey through the adventure of life, forego the ego's attempt to seize power and bestow position by condemning individuals or circumstances. Discipline your need to judge. This is no easy task — the ego is a crafty force. Only through personal vigilance, can you master ego.

Luke, chapter six, verse 37 reads: "Judge not lest ye be judged." This exhortation is not so much a foreboding of the end days and final judgment as it is practical advice to realize a full and fulfilling life. The opportunity before you is one of unlimited potential. Do not squander the prospect for joy by shackling yourself to unproductive perceptions. Don't waste your energy judging and condemning.

Refuse to judge, rather meet life on its terms and revel in the adventure trusting that God has the big picture well in hand.

About The Author

Scott F. Paradis, author of "Promise and Potential: A Life of Wisdom, Courage, Strength and Will",  publishes "Insights" and a free weekly ezine, "Money, Power and the True Path to Prosperity".

Copyright (c) 2010 Scott F Paradis

Mending Conflict
Once upon a time two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.

Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I'm looking for a few days work," he said.

"Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there. Could I help you?"

"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor; in fact, it's my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll go him one better. See that pile of lumber curing by the barn? I want you to build me a fence – an 8-foot fence – so I won't need to see his place anymore. Cool him down, anyhow."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."

The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.
The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing.
About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped.

There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge… a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work handrails and all – and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched.

"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done."

The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. "No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother.

"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "I have many more bridges to build."

Source Unknown

Four Reasons God Values Your Work

by Os Hillman

Christians often measure the significance of a job by its perceived value from the eternal perspective. Will the work last; will it “really count” for eternity? The implication is that God approves of work for eternity, but places little value on work for the here and now.

By this measure, the work of ministers and missionaries has eternal value because it deals with people’s spiritual, eternal needs. By contrast, the work of a salesman, teller, or typist has only limited value, because it meets only earthly needs. In other words, this kind of work doesn’t really “count” in God’s eyes.

But this way of thinking overlooks several important truths:

(1) God himself has created a world that is time-bound and temporary (2 Peter 3:10,11). Yet he values his work, declaring it to be “very good,” by its very nature (Gen 1:31; Acts 14:17).

(2) God promises rewards to people in everyday jobs, based on their attitude and conduct (Eph 6:8; Col 3:23-4:1).

(3) God cares about the everyday needs of people as well as their spiritual needs. He cares whether people have food, clothing, and shelter.

(4) God cares about people who will enter eternity. To the extent that a job serves the needs of people, God values it, because he values people. (Four reasons adapted from the Word in Life Study Bible.)

As Christians, we should step back for a moment and remind ourselves again that each of us is called to a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, first and foremost. From this position all else comes. The fruit of our relationship with Christ moves us to the level of our calling in work. That work – whether serving on the mission field—or delivering mail-- is a holy calling of God.

The reason God holds a high view of work is that He created each person in His image for an express purpose in this world to reflect His glory in ALL aspects of life. "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col 3:17). He knows the number of the very hairs of our head, and He knows what we are wired to do in life (see Ps 139).

By segmenting the "secular work" part of our life, we cut off the expression of His life to the world. However, He would by no means let us do that. He knows there are many who will never hear the gospel because they will never enter a church building. You may be the only representative of the true and living God they will ever encounter.

The Lord has called each of us to be excellent in what we do. Those whom God used in the Kingdom as marketplace ministers were skilled and exemplified excellence in their field. Not only were these men skilled, they were filled with God's Spirit. Then the Lord said to Moses, "See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship" (Exodus 31:1-5).

Consider Huram, the master craftsman of bronze to whom Solomon entrusted much of the temple designs. He was a true master craftsman (see 1 Kings 7:14). Consider Joseph, whose skill as an administrator was known throughout Egypt and the world. Consider Daniel, who served his king with great skill and integrity. The list could go on (David, Nehemiah, Acquilla and Priscilla). Most of these were in the “secular” world of work providing a service that was needed for mankind. May we strive for excellence in all that we do for the Master of the universe.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians 3:23-24 emphasis mine).

Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men (Prov. 22:29).

Os Hillman is president of Marketplace Leaders and author of Change Agent and TGIF Today God Is First daily devotional.

[Editor's note: adapted from Os Hillman's full-length article "Secular vs. Sacred: What's Our Primary Call?" Read it at]



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