Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Great Lent week 4, Faith
Volume 8 No. 465 March 2, 2018
 

V. General Weekly Features

Family Special: The #1 Priority for Christian Parents

by Dr. James Dobson

For parents who believe in Jesus Christ and His promise of eternal life, there is no higher priority on earth than to provide effective spiritual guidance at home.

Are you raising your children to know and love the Lord? That is a question every parent must examine, because its implications are breathtaking...

THE RELAY RACE OF FAITH

If you have ever watched track and field competitions, you know that relay races are usually won or lost in the transfer of the baton. A runner rarely drops the prize on the backside of the track. The critical moment occurs when he burns around the final turn and prepares to hand the baton to the next runner. If either of them has fumble-fingers and fails to complete a secure pass, their team usually loses.

So it is with the Christian life. When members of one generation are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are determined to finish strong, they rarely fumble the baton. But getting the handoff securely in the hands of children can be difficult and risky. That is when Christian commitments between generations can be dropped. It isn't always the fault of the parents. Some young runners refuse to reach out and grasp the baton. Either way, there is nothing more tragic than failing to transfer the baton to those who come after.

THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION

When I read the Bible today, I am aware that scribes and monks in the Dark Ages labored in monasteries or dreary caves and invested their lives in the tedious task of copying and preserving those priceless texts. What a gift they handed down to us. Now that treasure is in our hands. One of the most important questions Christians should ask is, how committed are we to the safeguarding of the faith for our progeny and for others they will influence. Those truths could be lost in a single generation. Will we hand down the "pearl of great price" to future generations?

That thought is addressed musically in the lyrics to the song "Find Us Faithful," written by Jon Mohr and sung by Steve Green.

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful May the fire of our devotion light their way May the footprints that we leave

Lead them to believe

And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful 1

What inspirational words are expressed in these lyrics! Let me say it again for emphasis: Staying faithful to our beliefs should be our ultimate priority. It has meaning not only for you and me but also for those who are yet to be born. That was the essence of my great-grandfather's daily prayer as he pleaded with God for the spiritual welfare of his family. Are you also praying for those in your bloodline?

THE GREAT FAMILY COMMISSION

O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from old - what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. They would put their trust in God and not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
(Ps. 78:17)

One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.
(Ps. 145:4)

Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
(Ps. 34:11)

The living, the living - they praise you, as I am doing today; fathers tell their children about your faithfulness.
(Isa. 38:19)

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.
(Joel 1:3)

God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob - has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation." (Exod. 3:15)

These Scriptures are "marching orders" for people of faith. Again, they are addressed specifically to parents, and all of us can understand them. No other commandments in the entire scope of Scripture speak so emphatically to the responsibility of raising children. That assignment can be summarized by one verse written by the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians. It says simply, "Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4 KJV).

NOW IS THE TIME

Now I will share something with you that will explain my passion for the issue we have been discussing. It espouses a theological perspective that some of you might not accept. It has been my lifelong conviction that if a Scripture addresses a specific issue in straightforward language, it should be accepted as written. We need look for no other interpretation. The biblical writers said what they meant and meant what they said. So it is with regard to the certainty of life after death.

When the Creator blew the breath of life into Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He made them in the image of God. Respected commentaries interpret that to mean all human beings were given eternal souls and they will live somewhere forever. Those who have been "washed" in the blood of Christ and whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be in Paradise eternally. Those who reject the gift of forgiveness and salvation will be lost forever, separated from God and His saints. The word "hell" is one of the most frightening and disturbing words appearing in Scripture, but Jesus Himself spoke of it as a literal place. We can't ignore those emphatic words, because they bear the authority of Christ.

This is what is at stake as we set out to introduce our children to the Savior. We can't make their decisions for them, but through prayer and careful guidance, we can influence their choices. The way we handle that responsibility has awesome implications for the future. If our children reach maturity and die without accepting the good news of the gospel, their parents will never see them again in the life to come. That understanding didn't come from me. It is straight from the Word of God. This is the source of the urgency of which I have written.

Now is the time to introduce your children to Jesus Christ. That training should begin early and continue for as long as you have moral authority over them. May the Lord bless you as you fulfill this divine responsibility.

For over three decades, Dr. James Dobson has been America's leading authority and advocate for the family. This material is excerpted from Dr. Dobson's book Your Legacy (Copyright 2015 Published by Tyndale House Publishers) and is used with permission.

Family Special: Healing After Abuse

For Victims of Abuse, Forgiveness is the Foundation of Healing
Nurse Shares Steps for Releasing Pain, Forgiving Yourself and Others

From child abuse and domestic violence to human sex trafficking and atrocities against civilians in war-torn countries, our world creates new victims daily.

Broken bones and bruises heal, but for many victims, the emotional damage is lifelong and life altering, says Amrita Maat, a nurse, child abuse survivor, and author of the inspirational new book, "Wearing a Mask Called Normal."

"Experiencing abuse can affect how you feel about yourself and how you respond to other people," Maat says. "These effects might be easy to see if you're observing them in someone else, but they can be nearly impossible to recognize in yourself without help."

The emotional and physical abuse that Maat grew up with set the stage for her to become a perpetual victim as an adult, she says. The choices she made and her interactions with others were often unwittingly self-destructive.

"Lifestyle changes that involve healthy choices include eliminating dysfunctional patterns, such as manipulation and abusive behavior the things children of abusive parents learn from their role models," she says. "A healthy lifestyle comes first through recognizing unhealthy behaviors and then laying the groundwork for positive change."

For Maat, that groundwork begins with forgiveness.

"You have to forgive," she says. "You have to forgive yourself and you have to forgive those who've hurt you. When you're a victim, you're often angry because you have every right to be angry, right? But anger, focusing on blame and thinking of yourself as a victim only perpetuates the dysfunction and the pain it brings."

So, how does one begin to forgive oneself and others? Maat shares the steps she put together, which helped her learn how to identify what would move her forward on her healing path. She started by creating a list of the people and circumstances she needed to forgive and systematically working through the process:

1. Identify the people who have caused you pain and why you feel that pain. This validates your pain; it was real and deserves to be acknowledged.

2. Identify the pain you feel from others and consciously release it to the universe in a personal ritual that has meaning for you. You might write it down on a piece of paper and burn it. Or speak the words out loud and blow them away.

3. Allow yourself to forgive those who have caused you pain as a means to your physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

4. Identify the people you have caused pain and recognize why you caused them pain. It's important to acknowledge that you, too, are capable of causing pain in order to forgive yourself and those you've hurt.

5. Identify the pain you have caused others with your actions.

6. Allow yourself forgiveness for the pain you have caused others as a means to your physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

While forgiving others for hurt caused intentionally is difficult, Maat says the hardest is forgiving yourself for pain you caused. But this is vital; in order to forgive others and to open yourself to positive energy, you must forgive yourself.

"From every hurtful moment, I learned something, and part of my process is to acknowledge each lesson and to be grateful for it," Maat says. "Forgiveness was possible when I released the hurt because it no longer served a purpose."

About Amrita Maat

Amrita Maat is a nurse who reached a turning point in her life when she was injured while trying to avoid the advances of a physician who had sexually harassed her for years. For the first time, she stood up to an abuser by taking the man to court. But she had waited too long under the statutes, so she did not get her day of justice. Because of the nature of her memoir, Amrita Maat is a pseudonym.

What Water Can Teach Us

by Wes Hopper

"Nothing in the world is as
soft and yielding as water,
yet for dissolving the hard and
inflexible, nothing can surpass
it. The soft overcomes the hard,
the gentle overcomes the rigid,
everyone know this is true, but
few can put it into practice."
Tao Te Ching

We have a cultural belief, here in North
America, that one's strength and
inflexible hardness are both admirable
attributes.

We see business leaders, politicians and
sports figures who have fallen for this
destructive fantasy. The problem is that
it's difficult to limit this attitude to just
your job.

Here in the United States we've been
treated this week to video of a pro
football player settling an argument
with his girl friend by punching her so
hard that she was knocked out.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't
seem like the best way to resolve a
disagreement.

Take a look at the wisdom in the quote
above, and you can see the possibility
for solving problems another way.

I'll warn you - the soft and yielding way
takes some practice because it takes
longer and is much more subtle. That's
why the Tao says that few can put it
into practice.

But the end results are worth it. No one
gets injured, no one loses their career,
everyone wins something.

Make that your first choice.

Source: Gratitude

Hymn: O God, Our Help in Ages Past
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

Source: O God, Our Help in Ages Past; Words: Isaac Watts, 1719.

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