Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Themes: Bread of Life, The Parable of the Sower/Four Soils, 1st Sunday After Pentecost
Volume 7 No. 420 June 9, 2017
 

III. General Weekly Features

Health: The Four WORST Foot Health Mistakes

by Dr. David Watts, Dermal Medix

Keeping your feet smooth and soft is difficult, even if you're doing EVERYTHING right…

And what really makes it tough is if you're accidentally doing something...that makes your foot calluses WORSE.

In fact, when I see patients here at my office, I always make sure to tell them 4 things you should never do to your feet.

So I thought today… I'd share those same tips with you!

They're little things most people do every day, without even thinking about it, they even seem healthy.

But over time, they can do serious damage.

Foot Mistake #1: Wearing the wrong shoes.

I'm not talking about high heels or ill-fitting shoes.

No...the most dangerous shoes a lot of people wear is that "comfy" pair of shoes.

You see, shoes like that often have flat soles and minimal arch support.

And spending a lot of time in those shoes can put extra pressure on your heels - leading to deep calluses, dry skin, and painful cracks.

Solution: Got a favorite pair of shoes you don't want to give up? Invest in a pair of supportive insoles.

Foot Mistake #2: Ignoring your toes.

Most people don't spend a whole lot of time washing their feet in the shower - and drying their toes afterward? Almost nobody does that!

But that's possibly the most important step missing in your daily routine because excess moisture between your toes could lead to itchy, painful, smelly fungus buildup.

Solution: It's simple - dry your feet thoroughly after a shower - especially between your toes. A dry washcloth gets between them perfectly.

Foot Mistake #3: Over-exfoliating

If you're dealing with deep painful calluses or cracked skin, going crazy with the pumice stone seems like the logical thing to do.

But in reality, it's not good for you at all.

Over-exfoliating can lead to itchy, tight-feeling, flakey skin. It also leads to dangerous, infection-prone microlesions — which are tiny cuts on the surface of your skin.

Solution: Don't exfoliate more than twice a month, but wash and dry your feet daily - and moisturize for silky, smooth feet.

Foot Mistake #4: Slipping shoes on and off

Kicking your shoes off without untying them might sound innocent, but this time-saving habit is killing your feet.

You see, when you kick off your shoes without untying them, you're also damaging the structure of the shoe.

And that seriously limits the amount of support your shoes give your foot - do it often enough, and you may as well be wearing flip flops!

Solution: Untie your shoes every time, or invest in a pair of supportive clogs if you don't want to reach for your laces.

I hope these foot health tips help you out, the same way they have for so many of my patients.

And by following these simple tips, you can make sure they never come back!

Family Special: Seven Lessons Fathers Should Give their Children

By Deacon Mike Bickerstaff

This is not a comprehensive list, but I would like to share a few lessons I have learned as a child and a father that I believe are crucial.

1. Teach by Word and Deed

Do our words match our examples? You have heard it said that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. I would like to modify that. You can never, over time, fool your children even some of the time. Children seem to have a built-in detector for hypocrisy. Fathers, do you think that you can teach your children to love and honor their mother if you don't love and honor her in both your words and actions? It's not going to happen. Nor will you likely succeed in any area if your words and actions do not match. So, fathers, teach by word and deed.

Going to Mass, making a novena or praying a family rosary was never a chore for my mother. These were joyful expressions of her love for Jesus, His Blessed Mother and His Church. Even in later years as I struggled to maintain and grow my faith, the memory of the example given me by my mother served as an anchor keeping me from crashing against the rocks of the pagan culture of my college years. I may not have demonstrated that to her at the time, but it is true nonetheless. One thing I always knew - my mother was praying for me. And deep in my heart, I knew that my father who had died when I was 16 was praying for me too. He was not Catholic, but he supported my mother's efforts at every step. At that time, I retained the sense of the importance of God because God was important to my parents. They taught me this by their deeds. And I could feel their prayers. Because they taught my sister this too, I knew she also was praying for me. My life and the example of my family has taught me to never discount the power of prayer.

2. Be a Family of Prayer

This leads me to the topic of prayer. One of the great errors of our time is the failure of the individual Christian to advance in the prayer life and of the family to pray together. We are never going to truly know God until we become people of deep prayer and our children are not going to learn from their parents how to pray until they see them in fervent, urgent, persistent, faithful, expectant prayer - praying alone, praying together as husband and wife, and praying together with the entire family. No, we are not going to always feel like praying. And the devil is going to throw up obstacles, making us feel like we have no time to pray. Nor will our children always want to pray. But we must be faithful to God in our efforts to pray. And in this, fathers should take an active and leading role.

First, fathers need to commit to their own prayer life and that means more than simply reciting vocal prayers. We must practice meditative prayer - the Church teaches that this expression of prayer is a neccessity for the beginner - pondering in our hearts the events in the life of Christ and His Holy Family, reflecting on the lives of the saints, praying the scriptures, and thinking about the persons of God and the truths entrusted to the Church.

Second, pious practices such as grace before and after meals, a morning offering, blessing ourselves when driving past a Church where Christ is sacramentally present, offering a "Hail Mary" when seeing an ambulance or firetruck speeding down the road, all serve also as teaching moments for our children.

Third, fathers should encourage the family to come together on a regular schedule to pray a family rosary. This is a great way to introduce your children to the practice of prayer. There are endless ways to practice prayer as a family.

My previous pastor told the story of how his vocation to the priesthood developed in spite of all the obstacles he encountered on the road to ordination. He has vivid memories of his family praying an evening rosary together daily. But he remembers something more. After all had turned in for the night, he would hear, and sometimes look into his parents bedroom to see his parents (father and mother) praying together at the end of the day when none of the children were watching. This told him that prayer for them was really important. Their example provided him the fortitude to answer his call.

3. Make the Home a Place of Peace, Hope and Love

Peace and concord in the family is so important, yet it seems to be under fire more than ever. We are told in Scripture to be of one mind, yet members of families today seem to each have their own life and wants. Especially in these difficult economic times, the tendency is to allow worry and anxiety to permeate the home. Do you bring the troubles of work home to fester within the home? Do your children think that your work is more important than they are?

Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina wrote, "Don't worry about tomorrow because the very same Heavenly Father who takes care of you today will have the same thought tomorrow and always. . . What does a child in the arms of such a Father have to fear? Be as children, who hardly ever think about their future as they have someone to think for them. They are sufficiently strong just by being with their father." Make sure that the environment of the home provides this example for our children. Our children should be raised to believe, "Jesus, I Trust in You."

4. Live Simply, Give Generously, Be Present

Love, honor and respect for one another in the home and for those outside the home should be faithfully practiced. Charity should prevail in all things. In this increasingly materialistic world, we do our children a grave disservice by the excessive accumulation of possessions. We teach them to love creation more than the Creator. Resist all disordered attachments that keep you from advancing in the life of grace. Living simply allows us to live with a generosity of spirit that teaches children to care for their neighbor who is in need… remember Our Lord's teaching that when we fail to serve the least of our brethren, we fail to care for Him.

Look for ways to reach out beyond the family to assist those in need, both with your financial means and with your presence. Involve your children. Have them contribute to a charitable fund from their allowance. Involve them in preparing aid packages for the local shelter and food bank. Take them with you, where appropriate, to serve in person those less fortunate.

Most of all, be present to your children… patient and loving, firm and steadfast. Protect them from the evil of the world and help them discover their vocation from God.

5. Teach Your Children the Faith

It is simply not enough to expect the local parish or Catholic school to be the sole teacher of your children when it comes to what the Church teaches. We must take an active role as their primary teachers.

CCC 2223 - "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the "material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones." Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children…"

This "primary" roles means it is both before and above all others who are teachers of our children. We need to teach them in all the ways already discussed, plus we need to make sure that our children do not grow up to be doctrinally illiterate. Teach them their catechism, read the bible with them, and make discussion of heavenly matters and their role as pilgrims on this earth a natural part of the family experience. They were made for heaven, so keep their eyes fixed on their supernatural home even as you help them navigate the waters of this temporary world. Teach them the human virtues of the life of grace by which they can overcome sinful tendencies. Teach them "what a wonderful savior we have in Jesus."

6. Live the Sacramental and Liturgical Life

While the family is the first, that is, the Domestic Church, the Christian family is also a part of the larger family of God, the Church. Therefore, as parents, we have a grave responsibility to make sure that our children participate in the life of the parish, especially in the liturgical life and sacraments. As our children grow, their involvement in worship as part of the Catholic parish should be fostered through practice and education. The Mass will never be "boring" to one who has been raised to understand what it is. Assist at Holy Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days, even while traveling on vacation… even if it is very inconvenient to do so. Take your children to Confession regularly - help them prepare and teach them not to be afraid. Show them God's mercy and love. Develop in them a love for the Blessed Sacrament.

7. Practice Devotion to St. Joseph

Get to know St. Joseph. Meditate and reflect on his life and example. God did not entrust Jesus to only Mary, but also to Joseph. Find in him an example to follow and a powerful intercessor in prayer. Call on him in prayer each day as you raise your children and honor their mother.

There are many other lessons which could be included here. I hope you will share them with one another. We need to instill in our children the sense that they have been called to a high and noble purpose. Teach them to give praise and honor to God and to be grateful for His many blessings and to be good stewards of His gifts. How wonderful it is to be a part of this family which is the Catholic Church.

About The Author:

Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center's Business Conference; and Chaplains to the St. Peter Chanel Business Association and co-founder of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

Source:  The Integrated Catholic Life

Family Special: God's 'Real Man' List

By JT Waresak

I often heard growing up that there was a list of things men should never do in order to keep their manliness intact. Some of the more popular ones were:

1. Real men don't cry.

2. Real men don't wear pink.

3. Real men don't eat quiche.

4. Real men don't let other men eat quiche.

While this man-made list was more of an attempt to bring some humor into the differences between the sexes, it also sheds light on the shallowness of true manhood in today's culture. Beyond the lists, there is an obvious cultural norm that uplifts a message of manhood that greatly contradicts God's blueprint for being a man of God.

Within God's master design, He created two distinct gender-types that would bring completion to His creation of “mankind” made in His image. From Genesis to numerous books of the New Testament, God provides a very defined explanation of what real men should purpose to look like, and trust me, none of God's instructions mention quiche. However, God does touch upon the topic of men crying.

As a Christian man, my man code needs to be determined by God and not by the prevailing cultural norms of our day. Within the Person and life of Jesus Christ, along with God's Word, I have the absolute picture of what a real man should look like. I also know a number of God-given directives that reveal some things that men should do as well as never do.

My wife and kids need a real man, not some wimpy guy that rides the ever-changing cultural tides of our times. For Christian men, this means we must continually immerse ourselves in God's Word in our pursuit to become less so Christ can become more (John 3:30). In a very practical way, what we anchor our lives to will define us as men. If we're anchored to Christ, God will shape us into the men He wants us to be.

Here is a God-defined "Real Man" list, albeit a short one, that needs to drive my pursuit to be a real man of God:

God's Real Man List

1. Real men don't leave their wives. See Ephesians 5:25-32, Mark 10:9, Job 31:1

2. Real men honor their wives as co-heirs. See 1 Peter 3:7

3. Real men teach their children God's ways (both in word and in action). See Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Ephesians 6:4, Psalm 78:5-7

4. Real men build into the lives of other men. See Proverbs 27:17

5. Real men don't use their words to demean others. See Ephesians 4:29

6. Real men don't let their anger get away from them. See James 1:19-20

7. Real men lead best when they love most. See Ephesians 5:1-2; John 13:34-35

8. Real men are sacrificial for the sake of their Lord, family, and others. See John 15:13

9. Real men are servants. See Mark 10:45

10. Real men can show their emotions (this includes crying). See John 11:35, Matthew 21:12, Matthew 9:36

Again, this is just a quick "hit list" of ideals I know that God calls me to pursue to be a "real man" that lives for Him and His glory. I also know that I will never get it all right. Yet, my life objective is not to get it all right per se. My life aim is to follow after The One who has. If I pursue Christ, He will pursue me (James 4:8). In doing so, He will build me into the man my family needs me to be.

About The Author:

JT Waresak has been involved in family ministry for the past decade and serves as the Digital Director at Family Talk. He is the CEO of Mineeo360.com and Mineeo.com. He is a graduate of Grace Theological Seminary and has authored several books on the topic of fatherhood, marriage and missional living. See JT's recent children's book, Justin's Adventure, a project dedicated to building biblical manhood and womanhood into the hearts and minds of our children.

Copyright ©2015 Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk All Rights Reserved.

Five Verses You Thought Were in the Bible… but Aren't

by Inside BST

"Yea, Verily, God wants you to be happy." - Oprah 1:1

Even though Western culture gets slapped with the "Post-Christian" label, that doesn't mean references to biblical ideas have been scrubbed away. In fact, nods to Scripture show up quite often in pop culture—from movies to rockstars.

But as often as not, these attempts at grabbing onto what the Bible actually says can miss. By a lot. You see, we've got some "everybody knows" notions about God's Word that borrow much more from Western ethos than they do from the Wisdom literature. You could say they're something like the "old wives' tales" that popular imagination has attributed to the Good Book.

That doesn't mean these "phantom verses" are okay, though. In fact, they actually go against what Scripture teaches. Sometimes in damaging ways.

So, what verses do people think are in the Bible but really aren't? Here are 5 to get us started.

1. "God helps those who help themselves." 1 Americanians 17:76

The so-called American Dream means that almost anyone can be born into or come to the country with nothing, work hard, gather a loan payment or three, and die with enough to leave to children. And this "verse" (which may go back all the way to Aesop of fable fame) fits nicely with that American ethic.

But it's definitely not biblical.

In the Bible, the help always comes from one place, which the Psalmist lays out succinctly in Psalm 121:2, "My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." When the Israelites stared down the crashing waves of the Red Sea and the crushing horses of Pharaoh's army, God didn't have the people build boats. He did the helping:
"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:14)

When desperate people came begging Jesus for help, He never had them prove their mettle. After all, He knows the sinfulness in us. Instead, He helped them because of His own compassion.

Does that mean we can just float through our Christian walk? Not at all. In fact, it's because of our salvation through Christ that God has provided everything we need to "abound in every good work" (2 Cor. 9:8). We're saved to do good because God provides the tools and power to get it done.

2. "This, too, shall pass." Wisdomonius 4:11

Whenever something bad happens, this "verse" pops up. It certainly sounds biblical, and some have even quoted it on TV as being from God's Word. But it's not, and it's not even necessarily true.

Sure, we'll usally move beyond the debilitating pain of loss or find another job or heal from an accident. But not every pain will pass away while we're here on earth and in this body.

In fact, some pains don't pass because God has a bigger purpose for them. When Paul struggled with a thorn in his flesh, he begged Jesus to remove it. You'd think that Paul, who saw many miracles as he preached the gospel, would see this pain "pass." But he didn't:

We can be sure that God provides comfort, but that doesn't mean He will necessarily take away the source of the pain.

3. "Yea, verily, God wants you to be happy." Oprah 1:1

This popular verse floats to the top every so often and gets thrown around on talk shows and magazines. We like to think that our happiness is God's highest goal because that fits our consumer-focused, instant-access, you-deserve-it world. It's a verse that allows people to skirt other biblical mandates because, as is often claimed, happiness trumps everything else.

But none of these false verses does more damage than this one. So, let's just be blunt here: your happiness is not God's intent nor your reason for existing. We are here to praise God—not to accumulate wealth, be comfortable, have a great relationship, feel satisfied, or reach our personal goals.

Here's how Paul puts it:

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:6–7)

Why are we saved? So that God can forever point to us as evidence of His love and His glory. That in itself is enough to make us happy and to give us joy. But happiness is not the goal.

In fact, if we put our happiness ahead of everything else, we're completely disobeying what Jesus said are the most important commands: Love God; love people (Luke 10:27). Elevating our own happiness as the ultimate goal gets in the way of both of those. We love God by obeying Him. We love our neighbor by serving.

4. "If you work hard enough, you'll be successful." 2 Jobs 4:04

Is hard work good? Yes. In fact, we're told over and over in Proverbs that we're supposed to work hard (12:11, 13:4, 14:23, etc.). Jesus kept a tireless pace during His life on earth, and you'll never hear Paul condemn someone who works hard (in fact, he condemns those who don't in 2 Thessalonians 3:10).

But the popular idea that hard work necessarily equals abundant earthly blessings has no basis in Scripture. In fact, for all His hard work, Jesus sometimes had nowhere to even sleep at night (Luke 9:58). Paul, the tireless tentmaker, spent much of his time running from mobs, swimming from shipwrecks, and singing in jail.

As a Christian, we are supposed to work at everything as if we were doing it for Jesus. But our reward is in knowing we did our best for Him, not in seeing our bank accounts bloom. While we may receive tangible blessings for our hard work, the bigger blessing is knowing that our Father who sees everything is pleased (Matthew 6:4). That's a huge reward in itself.

5. "Just follow your heart and believe, and you can do anything." Song of Disney 20:15

Sometimes, Disney movies seem to invade Scripture. Perhaps because we humans love Cinderella stories (unjust rags to magical riches), the notion of us being "anything we want to be if we just believe" has become weaved into the fabric of how we view the Bible. David the shepherd boy became a king, right?

But we aren't meant to do just anything. We're meant to fulfill the purpose God has for our lives. For example, David was created to be king. Long before he was born, in fact, Jacob/Israel had prophesied that a ruler would spring from the line of Judah (Genesis 49:10). David didn't "follow his heart" to the throne of Israel. He followed His God along the path laid out for him (Psalm 119:35).

God gives us passions and desires and uses our lives to prepare us for His purposes - just as He prepared David during his time as a shepherd, soldier, and court musician. But that only works if we completely surrender our lives to His leading. On the other hand, if we spend our lives pursuing that "whatever we want to be," we may very well end up disillusioned and dissatisfied even if we achieve our goal.

Source: Today's Topical Bible Study

Self Improvement: Are you Busy or a Busybody?

by GLYNNIS WHITWER

"We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies."
- 2 Thessalonians 3:11 (NIV)

Busy and I have a complicated relationship.

There were years when I was too busy. Fast-forward was my mode of operation, and my family got lost in the wake. Looking back, I regret many decisions that kept us all on the go!

After a near meltdown, things had to be different. I made significant changes to balance my schedule. I stepped out of volunteer positions, cut back my hours at work and learned to honor the Sabbath. I still kept a productive pace, but this time it was healthier. Yet when people commented on how much I got done, there was this bit of shame that crept into my heart.

Were their observations innocent or a veiled suggestion, with a hint of disapproval, that I still work too much? Why did I still feel so guilty about my level of work? Was being busy bad?

In my search to understand the truth about busyness, God led me to our key verse for today from 2 Thessalonians 3:11: "We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies."

This chapter as a whole shines a completely different light on being busy. It elevates it. Here's what Paul (the author of 2 Thessalonians) says just before our key verse: "We were not idle when we were with you … We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate" (2 Thessalonians 3:7b, 9, NIV).

So if busy isn't the real problem, what is? In this passage, we get a hint at a potential problem: being a"busybody."

Busybodies can look busy, but in reality they are busy with things that don't concern them. As a result, they neglect the work they should be doing.

This truth cut right to my heart. When I take on responsibilities that aren't mine to assume, I'm ineffective in what Iam called to do. As a result, my schedule gets chaotic, and the people I love suffer from my too-busy life.

Here's another truth. The Bible doesn't say we need to be busy all the time. We need God's wisdom to know when to work and when to stop. Jesus modeled rest as well as hard work. He knew when to draw away from the crowds, from ministry, from work and press pause in the middle of the day. Jesus also modeled honoring the Sabbath as a complete day of rest and honor to God.

The Bible shows us how to be busy in a healthy way. We can learn to care for our priorities and not take on those assigned to others. We are not slaves to being over busy. We can trust God to help us get our work done in six days so we can honor His command to rest.

When I realized my life was out of my control, it took time to rein it back in. There was plenty of time in prayer asking God to show me my best choices, my priorities, my work. It was a yearlong process of stepping out of wrong commitments and recommitting to right ones.

For me that meant cutting out evening activities and nighttime phone calls so I could be available for my family. It meant saying no to responsibilities I'd done for years, but consistently added stress, like singing on the worship team Sunday mornings. It meant working at home so I had flexible hours.

Getting control of our schedules isn't always easy, but it is possible. I'm still learning to rest, and I still struggle with keeping my schedule in balance. The good news is God is faithful to help define my priorities for this season. Now I'm not ashamed of being busy in the right times with a focus on the right things.

Father, thank You for showing me that I'm wired to work in the exact way You planned. Help me guard that wiring and not take on more than I should. I want to be a woman who lives Your priorities for my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

Titus 2:4-5, "Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." (NIV)

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

Do you feel too busy? Consider if you are involved in anything that is not your responsibility.

What are some of the dangers of being idle or a busybody?

© 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Source: Encouragement for Today

Is Happiness Around the Corner?

by Michael Josephson, www.whatwillmatter.com

For lots of people, happiness is just around the corner. They just need to get their degree, a particular job, a promotion, or a raise. Maybe they're waiting to get married or have a child. Perhaps they will be happy when they retire.

Alfred D' Souza said, "For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." John Lennon put it another way, "Life is what happens while you are making other plans."

The point is our lives are happening now. If we are to get the satisfaction and fulfillment we want, we have to learn to draw pleasure and joy from everything that happens to us and around us because these experiences are the very essence of our life. The more conscious we are that life consists of the journey, not the destination, the more likely we are to get the most out of it.

So, if there are things you want to do, begin to fit them in now or accept the fact that you can be happy whether or not you do them.

Happiness is isn't just around the corner. It's now or it's never.

The good news is you have everything you need to be happy. Philosophers, poets, and scientists all agree it can't be attained through money, prestige, or power. Happiness is not a fact, it's a mindset. All you need is optimism and gratitude.

Source: Insight of the Day

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