Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: 2nd Sun After Pentecost, Beatitudes
Volume 8 No. 483 June 1, 2018

III. General Weekly Features

Family Special: Men Have a Six-word Limit

by Erma Bombeck

I have publicly stated that men speak approximately six words a day in their homes. A few readers have challenged me and want to know what the six words are.

I should have qualified my statement. The six words are not necessarily spoken in sequence, nor are they necessarily spoken to wives.

A friend of mine, for example, has a husband who saves his six words until the Carson show has signed off and she is fast asleep. Then he snaps on all the lights in the bedroom, punches his pillow, shakes her out of a sound slumber and says, "Did you turn off the hose?"(6)

Some men will blow their quota at one time.

They'll garage the car, make tracks to the kitchen, take the lid off the fry pan and announce loudly, "I had it for lunch."(5) Then, realizing he has used only five words, he will add, "Yuck!"

Others will spend a half dozen words in obscenities directed toward Bobby's bicycle in the driveway.

My week gets off to a slow start but builds to a feverish climax.

Monday, Me: "Say something."
Him: "What ya want me to say?"(6)

Tuesday, Me: "What kind of day did you have?"
Him: "Don't aggravate me. You wouldn't believe."(6)

Wednesday, Me: "Try me."
Him: "Where's the rest of the paper?"(6)

Thursday, Me: "We had a crisis here today."
Him: "The dog isn't lost, is he?"(6)

Friday, Me: "Guess what? Know who called today? And is coming to dinner? And is bringing her new husband with her? And can't wait to talk your arm off? Are you ready?"
Him: "No. No. No. No. No. No."(6)

Saturday, Me: "I'll be out for a while. I've got some errands to do at the shopping center."
Him: "Admit it. My chattering gets on your nerves."(8)

Sunday, Me: "Do you know you spoke eight words to me yesterday? I wouldn't be surprised if you were starting a new trend."
Him: "Don't count on it."(4)

Part of man's silence is woman's doing. We created the strong, silent, masculine image. The silence represented deep thought, a repression of emotions. A quiet man was an island of mystery, a challenge to probe and discover as years went on. I always thought a quiet man was subtle and romantic.

But that was before I started arguing with the tropical fish over which channel we were going to watch.


The art of communication doesn't come naturally to all of us. Some folks just don't like to talk much. Others talk incessantly without ever really saying anything. But when it comes to marriage, communication is one of the keys to success. Those who master this skill are likely to enjoy a meaningful, fulfilling, productive relationship. Those who continually fail to understand each other, however, often feel isolated and alone. It is a major contributor to divorce.

We'll offer some tips this week that can improve your communication skills. I hope that by next Sunday your daily word count will be at least in the double digits—and even more, that your partner will understand what you say.

- James C Dobson

From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Men Have a Six-Word Limit" by Erma Bombeck, from Forever, Erma © 1996 by the Estate of Erma Bombeck. Reprinted with permission of Andrews and McMeel Publishing. All rights reserved.

Family Special: Neighborhood Secrets

by Sandra Byrd

I peeked at her every day, holding the slats on my mini-blinds just right so the viewing space would be imperceptible. Certain as the morning paper, at 10 a.m. she'd shepherd two dapper preschoolers into a clean minivan. They looked Sunday-school neat every day.

I envied her gauzy dresses, loosely catching a whispered breeze. I wanted to feel pretty and feminine and put together again. I probably wouldn't wear wide-brimmed hats woven of sun-bleached straw and cinched with a strawberry ribbon, but I might like to try. My car wouldn't need to be spotless - but lately there were so many coffee cups rolling about on the floor, they were talking of starting a union.

After a few minutes, I'd leave my post and go back to the television, and back to the baby who was crying once more. I went into the kitchen to warm some tea, disgusted with the mess on the countertops - again.

Could every woman in the world except me juggle all these balls?

One day, more out of anger than curiosity, I pulled my hair into a ponytail and set the baby in her stroller. I made sure I was at my neighbor's step at ten. "Oh, hello!" I said, blushing slightly.

"How are you?" she responded, her lovely British lilt reflecting genuine pleasure.

"Fine, fine…" I stumbled. "By the way, um, how do you guys always get out here so early looking great?" It blurted out. She knew what I meant.

"When Lizzie was born, I never got out the door until Reading Rainbow was over, and even then my house was a wreck," she chuckled. Hmm, I mused, Reading Rainbow was over at eleven. I was ready around noon, but at least I was within the hour. Encouraged, I pressed on.

"And you always look so pretty." I gestured at her outfit.

"I started buying these dresses after I had the kids. Loose fit and all, you know," she pulled at the waistband and let it snap, showing me the stretch.

"What about your house?" I pressed, though my brain was screaming, "Let it die!"

"Now that I have more energy, it's not so hard to keep up." She saw my droopy eyes. "But the baby was at least six months old before I kept enough dishes clean to eat the next meal."

We chatted for a few more minutes, and she left for wherever mothers of older children trundle off to on a peaceful summer morning. The baby and I strolled a bit and went home.

Later that evening, Michael stayed with the baby and I went out to buy a crinkly, gauzy dress. When I returned, I saw he'd made the kitchen sparkle. A sliver of hope penetrated my foggy brain: Maybe I can do this after all.

The seasons passed and another summer arrived. One day my nattily dressed child and I visited a different neighbor, on the kitty-corner side of my street. We cooed at her new baby. This neighbor and I had often chatted in the past, but I hadn't seen her since her baby had come. Her graying roots needed color, as did her complexion. She finally blurted out, "How come I'm the only woman that can't keep it all together?"

"Let's sit down on the grass," I said. "I'll tell you a neighborhood secret."

Looking ahead…

Sometimes those calm and orderly days before you had children seem a distant memory, don't they? You may be giving all you've got to your family, yet the dishes are piled higher than the Eiffel Tower, the grass looks like a jungle, and the kids seem unable to grasp even the most basic forms of civilized conduct. It's enough to make any mother and father throw their hands up and shout, "I give up!"

But don't do it. Don't give up or give in to the feeling that it's hopeless. As you persist in your efforts to be a godly spouse and parent, you will experience small victories along the way - and over time, those little successes will turn into much larger ones. I've seen it happen often, in my own family and in countless others.

Remember, the Lord is watching: "I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first" (Revelation 2:19). He will honor your persistent dedication to walking in the ways of Scripture.

We'll talk about the power of perseverance in the days ahead. My prayer for you is the same as the apostle Paul's: "May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance" (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

- James C Dobson

From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

"Neighborhood Secrets" by Sandra Byrd. Reprinted from Heartbeats, copyright © 2000 by Sandra Byrd. Used by permission of WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, Colorado. All rights reserved.

Prewired for Hope

by Gerg Laurie

"For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God's people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News"
—Colossians 1:4–5

Did you know that you were prewired for hope? There is a restlessness in the human heart for something more than this world can offer.

As Augustine said, "You made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You."

As believers, our hope is built on a sure foundation, and that is the hope of heaven. The apostle Paul spoke of faith that springs from this hope: "For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God's people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven" (Colossians 1:4).

It is a bit like the Golden Plovers. Native to Hawaii, these little birds migrate during the summer to the Aleutian Isles, some 1,200 miles away. There they mate and lay their eggs. Then, after their little fledglings are born, they return to Hawaii. Even more amazing is that their little fledglings, which are too young to return with their parents, fly to Hawaii once they have grown a little. God has given them a homing instinct that makes this possible.

In the same way, God has given us a homing instinct for a place we have never been. We have never been to heaven, but we long for it, because heaven is our home. C. S. Lewis calls it the inconsolable longing. This is what the Bible means when it says that God has set eternity in our hearts (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). Like the Golden Plovers, we have a heavenly GPS.

Copyright © 2014 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

True Love

by Oswald Chambers

The Piercing Question

"Do you love Me?" - John 21:17

Peter's response to this piercing question is considerably different from the bold defiance he exhibited only a few days before when he declared, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" (Matthew 26:35 ; also see Matthew 26:33-34). Our natural individuality, or our natural self, boldly speaks out and declares its feelings. But the true love within our inner spiritual self can be discovered only by experiencing the hurt of this question of Jesus Christ.

Peter loved Jesus in the way any natural man loves a good person. Yet that is nothing but emotional love. It may reach deeply into our natural self, but it never penetrates to the spirit of a person. True love never simply declares itself. Jesus said, "Whoever confesses Me before men [that is, confesses his love by everything he does, not merely by his words], him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8).

Unless we are experiencing the hurt of facing every deception about ourselves, we have hindered the work of the Word of God in our lives. The Word of God inflicts hurt on us more than sin ever could, because sin dulls our senses. But this question of the Lord intensifies our sensitivities to the point that this hurt produced by Jesus is the most exquisite pain conceivable. It hurts not only on the natural level, but also on the deeper spiritual level. "For the Word of God is living and powerful . . . , piercing even to the division of soul and spirit . . ."- to the point that no deception can remain (Hebrews 4:12).

When the Lord asks us this question, it is impossible to think and respond properly, because when the Lord speaks directly to us, the pain is too intense. It causes such a tremendous hurt that any part of our life which may be out of line with His will can feel the pain. There is never any mistaking the pain of the Lord's Word by His children, but the moment that pain is felt is the very moment at which God reveals His truth to us.

Source: My Utmost for His Highest (The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers;1992)

Six Questions to Ask an Atheist

by Dr. Ravi Zacharias

Many times, as Christian theists, we find ourselves on the defensive against the critiques and questions of atheists. Sometimes, in the midst of arguments and proofs, we miss the importance of conversation. These questions, then, are meant to be a part of a conversation. They are not, in and of themselves, arguments or "proofs" for God. They are commonly asked existential or experiential questions that both atheists and theists alike can ponder.

1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers. But it is an historic concern. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning to this life? If there is meaning, what kind of meaning and how is it found? Does human history lead anywhere, or is it all in vain since death is merely the end? How do you come to understand good and evil, right and wrong without a transcendent signifier? If these concepts are merely social constructions, or human opinions, whose opinion does one trust in determining what is good or bad, right or wrong? If you are content within atheism, what circumstances would serve to make you open to other answers?

2. If we reject the existence of God, we are left with a crisis of meaning, so why don't we see more atheists like Jean Paul Sartre, or Friedrich Nietzsche, or Michel Foucault? These three philosophers, who also embraced atheism, recognized that in the absence of God, there was no transcendent meaning beyond one's own self-interests, pleasures, or tastes. The crisis of atheistic meaninglessness is depicted in Sartre's book Nausea. Without God, there is a crisis of meaning, and these three thinkers, among others, show us a world of just stuff, thrown out into space and time, going nowhere, meaning nothing.

3. When people have embraced atheism, the historical results can be horrific, as in the regimes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot who saw religion as the problem and worked to eradicate it? In other words, what set of actions are consistent with particular belief commitments? It could be argued, that these behaviors – of the regimes in question - are more consistent with the implications of atheism. Though, I'm thankful that many of the atheists I know do not live the implications of these beliefs out for themselves like others did! It could be argued that the socio-political ideologies could very well be the outworking of a particular set of beliefs – beliefs that posited the ideal state as an atheistic one.

4. If there is no God, the problems of evil and suffering are in no way solved, so where is the hope of redemption, or meaning for those who suffer? Suffering is just as tragic, if not more so, without God because there is no hope of ultimate justice, or of the suffering being rendered meaningful or transcendent, redemptive or redeemable. It might be true that there is no God to blame now, but neither is there a God to reach out to for strength, transcendent meaning, or comfort. Why would we seek the alleviation of suffering without objective morality grounded in a God of justice?

5. If there is no God, we lose the very standard by which we critique religions and religious people, so whose opinion matters most? Whose voice will be heard? Whose tastes or preferences will be honored? In the long run, human tastes and opinions have no more weight than we give them, and who are we to give them meaning anyway? Who is to say that lying, or cheating or adultery or child molestation are wrong –really wrong? Where do those standards come from? Sure, our societies might make these things “illegal” and impose penalties or consequences for things that are not socially acceptable, but human cultures have at various times legally or socially disapproved of everything from believing in God to believing the world revolves around the sun; from slavery, to interracial marriage, from polygamy to monogamy. Human taste, opinion law and culture are hardly dependable arbiters of Truth.

6. If there is no God, we don't make sense, so how do we explain human longings and desire for the transcendent? How do we even explain human questions for meaning and purpose, or inner thoughts like, why do I feel unfulfilled or empty? Why do we hunger for the spiritual, and how do we explain these longings if nothing can exist beyond the material world?

For further reading, see Ravi Zacharias's book The Real Face of Atheism, and C.S. Lewis's book Mere Christianity. The RZIM website has many excellent resources on atheism, as does the Centre for Public Christianity,

Source: RZIM


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