Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Humility, 9th Sun After Pentecost
Volume 8 No. 490 July 20, 2018

III. General Weekly Features

Health Tip: A 'Skin Destroyer' in Your Refrigerator?

by David Watts, MD

Every day, millions of people drink something that's damaging their skin.

In fact, researchers believe the long-term effects of this beverage can be as damaging as smoking!

And unfortunately - despite all of its potential dangers to your skin and overall health - 50% of American adults drink this beverage every day.1

I'm talking about soda.

And today I'm going to reveal the drastic toll it can take on your skin - as well as a "healthy soda" you can enjoy instead.

(That way, you can quench your thirst without potentially causing damage to your skin!)

You see, a typical soda contains a shocking amount of sugar...

In fact, one 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola can have as much as 65 grams of sugar (and some brands have even more!).

And all that sugar can lead to disastrous consequences for your skin...

Including one I've spoken about before - glycation.

As you may remember, glycation is the process in which sugar molecules break down your skin's essential proteins…

Causing your skin to appear dry, dull, and damaged.2

But that's not all…

There's another way sugary sodas can wreak havoc on your skin - inside the DNA in your skin cells.

You see, your DNA strands are protected by "protective caps" called telomeres.3,4

As you get older, your telomeres get shorter - which is what causes your tissues to age.5

But if you drink soda every day… your telomeres may be "shrinking" even faster.

In fact, researchers from UCSF found that people who regularly drank soda had telomeres that were significantly shorter and less protective than those who didn't.6

Simply put - soda was making their skin age faster!7

In fact, the researchers estimated that drinking a serving of soda every day can accelerate aging by about 5 years - similar to the effects smokers experience.8

Now, I have to admit... when I read these results, I was absolutely astonished.

"Cutting out sugary drinks and replacing them with water definitely produces a visible change in the health of the skin, in a very short amount of time."
~ Dr. Steven Victor
Dermatologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City 9

Now, although water is the best thing you can drink to help your skin, I understand it's not exactly a flavorful replacement for soda.

That's why I'm going to share with you something I started drinking - and once I did, I stopped drinking soda for good.

It's a lot healthier and it gives me the delicious taste and fizzy fix I used to enjoy... plus, it's very easy to make!

Here's what you'll need:

Orange juice
Tart cherry juice
Unsweetened seltzer water

1. Pour 2 tablespoons of orange juice into an 8-ounce glass.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of tart cherry juice, then stir well.

3. Fill your glass nearly to the top with the unsweetened seltzer water.

4. Mix thoroughly with a spoon and enjoy.

Give it a try - it's absolutely delicious.

And because orange and tart cherry juices are packed with skin-healthy vitamins, it also helps nourish your skin from the inside out.

So be sure to save this healthy soda tip and share it with your loved ones...

After all, the only thing better than enjoying a healthy soda is enjoying one with someone else.

To healthy and comfortable days ahead,

Dr. David Watts, Dermal Medix


1 Sugar Sweetened Beverage Intake. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2017. Available at: Accessed October 11, 2017.

2 Danby FW. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation. Clin Dermatol. Jul-Aug 2010; 28 (4): 409-11. DOI: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2010.03.018.

3 Jaskelioff M, et al. Telomerase reactivation reverses tissue degeneration in aged telomerase-deficient mice. Nature. 2011;469:102-107.

4 Sahin E, DePinho RA. Linking functional decline of telomeres, mitochondria and stem cells during ageing. Nature. 2010;464:520-528.

5 Blackburn EH, Epel ES. Comment: Too toxic to ignore. Nature. 2012;490:169-171.

6 Norris J. Sugared Soda Consumption, Cell Aging Associated in New Study. UC San Francisco. 2017. Available at: Accessed October 11, 2017.

7 Id.

8 Id.

9 What is soda doing to your skin?. Fox News. 2017. Available at: Accessed October 11, 2017.

Family Special: Tearing Down The Barriers To Good Communication In Marriage

by Richard E. Powell, Jacksonville, FL

Scripture: James 1:19

Learning to communicate with your spouse is like learning a foreign language. I had one class of French in High School. I wasn't a very good student. The only thing I learned to say in French was, "Je ne sais pas." It means, "I don't know." That was usually the answer I gave to my French teacher when he asked me a question. Don't laugh! Most of us are about as adept in communicating with our spouse as I am in speaking French. It doesn't come naturally. It takes effort to develop the skill of communication. Most of us were never taught proper communication skills.

Poor communication can led to all kinds of misunderstandings. This is certainly true in marriage. Polls and surveys consistently demonstrate that the number one issue that can cripple a married couple's relationship is poor communication. It doesn't take long for the honeymoon to fade and the consequences of poor communication to appear. Couples wake up to the hard, cold reality: "We don't talk as much as we used to. We fight more than ever, and I feel like we are growing apart. I don't know who you are anymore."

First, let me tell you what communication is not. Communication is not just talking. Too many people think that communication is just running their mouth! Real communication involves talking but it also involves much more. Neither is communication just listening. Some people never express how they feel or what they think. They just passively listen and never genuinely respond.

So what is communication? Communication is the sharing of meaning. A husband and wife have not communicated until meaning has been shared. One sends a certain message and the other understands that message. That is communication.

Communication experts point out that when you talk with another person there are actually six messages that can come through.

#1 . What you mean to say.

#2. What you actually say.

#3. What the other person hears.

#4. What the other person thinks he hears.

#5. What the other person says about what you said.

#6. What you think the other person said about what you said.

A placard frequently seen posted on office walls reads:

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

(Communication: Key to your Marriage; H. Norman Wright)

Real, authentic communication between a husband and wife, or any two people for that matter, requires listening to understand and speaking to be understood. Today, I was thinking about the listening side of communication and noted three barriers that must be torn down if I am to understand my spouse.

"So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."
James 1:19 (NKJV)

James is discussing how God communicates with us through His written Word, the Bible. The Bible is God's message to us, God's love letter to mankind. James, however, reminds us that communication is a two-way street. We must be willing to listen to God with a desire to understand what He is saying. James says we must be willing to tear down the barriers that block our ability to understand what God is saying to us through the Bible. The same principle applies to communication in marriage. You must take the initiative in tearing down any barriers on your side of the relationship that will keep you from understanding your spouse. James mentions three barriers that must be torn down if communication is going to happen.

Tear down the barrier of apathy. (…be swift to hear…)

Couples often come to me for marriage counseling. It is not unusual to find one of them apathetic about truly communicating. The person is defensive about the counseling session. Their body language says, "I don't want to be here. This is a waste of time." True communication, however, requires one to tear down the barrier of apathy. If we truly care about the other person and the health of our relationship, then we will be eager (swift) to hear how they feel.

Sometimes we are apathetic about listening because we have been hurt so many times before that we don't believe things can change in the relationship. We have given up hope. We don't want to be hurt, so we don't get our hopes up. We feel like we have heard it all before; "I'm sorry. I won't do it again. Things will be different this time." Hopelessness leads to apathy. If this describes you, remind yourself that with Christ, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Yes, you will risk being hurt and disappointed again, but that is the risk we take when we love.

Sometimes we are apathetic because we are selfish. It is possible to get to the point where you only care about yourself, your plans, your pleasure, and your priorities. If this describes you, then repent of your sin and ask God and your spouse to forgive you. Then show you're sincere by learning to eagerly listen to your spouse to learn how they feel.

Tear down the barrier of arrogance. (…slow to speak…)

We must tear down the barrier of apathy, and we must tear down the barrier of arrogance. We must stop talking once in a while and listen to what our spouse has to say. To insist on doing all the talking is arrogant and communicates to your spouse that as far as you are concerned, they have nothing worth listening to. It is arrogant to think that you have all the answers, that your spouse has nothing to contribute to the discussion, and that it is a waste of time to let him or her talk. Be slow to speak and eager to listen. Learn to control your tongue. There is a time to speak and a time to listen (Ecclesiastes 3:7). The Bible says, "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels." Proverbs 1:5 (KJV)

Tear down the barrier of anger. (…slow to anger.)

Couples must learn to talk about their problems without fighting. Conflict will be inevitable, but we cannot allow anger to poison the well of communication. Kerby Anderson wrote, "1 Peter 3:9 says, ‘Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.' But this is exactly what happens with escalation. Each negative comment increases the level of anger and frustration, and soon a small disagreement blows up into a major fight."

Why do we get angry? Sometimes we don't like what we hear. The truth may hurt. Sometimes we don't like what we "think" we are hearing. We get defensive and angry because we misunderstood the other person. Sometimes we get angry because we have never learned self-control. Anger is a formidable barrier that must be torn down.

Healthy communication requires that we exercise patience and gentleness with our spouse's feelings. If we jump to conclusions or "fly-off-the handle" then we will kill communication.

The Apostle Paul clearly describes how we must treat one another when he wrote, "Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful." Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)

Resolve to do your part, with the Holy Spirit's help, to tear down the barriers to marital communication by learning to listen and listening to learn.

Copyright 2018 Faithlife

Family Special: 7 Signs You're Headed for Divorce

By Kristine Thomason

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's split has dominated the news cycle for the last two days, shocking fans and close friends alike (sorry, George Clooney). While this celeb breakup may seem surprising and awfully sudden, chances are, trouble's been brewing for a while. Most divorces - celebrity and mere mortal alike - don't just happen out of the blue, says Chicago-based relationship psychotherapist Michael McNulty, PhD. "Relationships tend to end more by ice than by fire," he says. In other words, there are generally some major warning signs that a relationship is on the rocks.

And believe it or not, frequent fighting isn't one of them. In fact, it's totally normal: "Sixty-nine percent of the conflicts that come up between partners are always going to be ongoing issues," says McNulty, who has been treating couples for over 25 years and is trained in the Gottman Method of Relationship Therapy, a research-focused approach to relationship counseling. "Only 31% of problems are actually very straightforward and solvable."

The true tell is how you and your partner interact during these conflicts. Here, McNulty clues us in on signs to look out for, plus strategies to work on repairing a broken relationship.

1. There's more negative than positive

The first sign of relationship rockiness is a boost in negative interactions, says McNulty. That could mean more nagging, criticism, or not-so-funny sarcasm. This negativity may be subtler than you realize. "It's only 1.2 negative interactions to one positive interaction that predicts divorce," says McNulty, while the happiest couples have five positive interactions for every one negative. Just that slight change can be a major sign it's time to rein in the bad, and amp up the good.

2. Your body freaks out during disagreements

Fights are overwhelming, but if you notice that tiffs with your partner take over your body a la The Exorcist, it's a big sign something's wrong. The psychology term for this is "flooding," or the physical response that occurs when talking about a problem with a partner, which can involve everything from an accelerated heart rate to sweating to a nervous stomach. "In this state, we can't take in new information, we can't think creatively, and we lose our senses of humor, all of which makes it difficult to have discussions around areas of differences," says McNulty.

If you notice this happening, he advises taking a break and revisiting the conversation once you've cooled down. "Do some deep breathing or watch a stupid TV show or take a walk—whatever it is that helps you relax," McNulty suggests. Just don't just leave the issue unresolved once you've reached a state of calm.

3. You constantly point out flaws

When you spend an excess amount of time with someone, even (if not especially) a person you love, you'll likely get irritated with his or her actions from time to time. Seeing a romantic partner's annoying habits as deeply rooted character flaws, on the other hand, is when things get problematic, says McNulty. Something seemingly trivial like forgetting household chores, for example, could be skewed as "You don't care about our home since you never remember to take out the trash."

The easy fix for this lowest form of nagging is re-framing your frustrations into "I" statements, says McNulty. So if you were talking about the trash issue, you'd say something like, "When you forget to take out the trash, it makes me feel upset because I'm trying to keep our home nice." This opens up the conversation for a more collaborative solution, rather than simply trying to bring your partner down.

4. You're always playing defense

If you're feeling attacked by a partner, your knee-jerk response might be to clap back at all the criticism. So if your S.O. brought up that trash issue, a natural reaction might be to counterattack with something like: "You're crazy! I always take out the trash, I don't know what you're talking about!" In the Gottman Method, this is referred to simply as "defensiveness." It's yet another factor that makes it impossible to have a productive conversation about the issue at hand.

But how do you recalibrate this natural reaction? "The antidote is taking responsibility, even for a small piece of it," says McNulty. Going back to the trash scenario, a better reply would be: "You're right, I could remember to take the trash out more often, I'm going to write a reminder on my phone so I don't forget." This approach shows you're willing to work as a team to solve the problem, McNulty explains.

5. There's a lot of eye rolling

The biggest predictor of divorce is none other than contempt, says McNulty. "It's like pouring acid on love," he explains. "And when you pour too much acid on love, at some point there's not going to be any love left." You can see contempt appear in the form of a nasty comment, eye rolling, or a subconsciously raised upper lip in a look of disgust.

While contempt between partners is one of the most telling signs a relationship is doomed, all hope isn't quite lost if you notice this variety of interactions. Instead, focus on talking about personal needs, be diligent about using "I" statements, and start to scan for the positive. McNulty encourages his patients to get in the habit of pointing out two or three good things about their partner every week. "The hope is to move from contempt to creating a culture of appreciation."

6. You can't break down the wall

"Umm hi, are you even listening to me?" If that question sounds familiar, you've likely experienced (or engaged in) "stonewalling"—disengaging from a conversation, both through body language (looking down or away) and verbally shutting down. "When this happens, it seems like the person doesn't care," McNulty says. "But what we've found is often they're overwhelmed by the discussion and don't quite know what to do."

When it comes to stonewalling, McNulty suggests a simple fix: Realize one of you is feeling overwhelmed and figure out how to tackle the conversation in a way that's more approachable for both parties.

7. You start feeling like you're actually single

Remember McNulty's comment that "relationships end more by ice than by fire"? That's because over time, all of these factors start to add up, making discussing ongoing problems totally unworkable. "People tend to get tired of dealing with each other and their differences, which leads to them living more like roommates, living parallel lives, and ultimately dissolving their relationship."

Before you let that info crank up your post-Brangelina depression and give up on love forever, know that there's a silver lining: It's never too late to salvage a waning relationship. In fact, studies from the Gottman Institute show that 80% of couples who tested out these remedies reported improvements in their relationship.

"When people realize that a certain percentage of the time, you're going to be in conflict with your partner, they're much better able to compromise and work together," says McNulty. So really, as long as you manage conflicts with positivity, you're set up for success.  

Bus Stop Quiz
You are driving down the road in your Corvette on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.

2. An old friend who once saved your life.

3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car? Think before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application. You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first. Or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS ......................

The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered: 'I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.'

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations.

Never forget to 'Think Outside of the Box.'

God As Gardener

by Margaret Manning

I took up gardening a few years ago. (Well, actually gardening seemed to take me up.) It all started very innocently when a friend gave me a cutting from her jade plant. I knew nothing about plants. I had watched for years as my mother worked in her garden and I appreciated the interplay of color and texture created by the various flowers, trees, and shrubs. But I didn't know the first thing about the process of cultivating or caring for a garden, and as far as I was concerned, the details involved in that process were best left up to my mother.

But all of that changed when I received my Jade cutting from my friend. She knew just how to initiate me into the wonders of gardening, without overwhelming me with the details. Jade plants are succulents; for those of you who do not know what a succulent plant is, it's simply a plant that doesn't need a great deal of water or attention. In other words, it's the perfect kind of plant for a novice gardener! I was amazed by how quickly this one plant put down roots in my heart. Watching this little cutting grow tiny, threadlike roots, planting it in a pot filled with simulated desert soil, and experiencing the wonder as it grew into the small Jade tree that it is today—over 15 years later—amazed me at how something so small, so ordinary could become extraordinary.

I can tell you that it didn't take long before I began to try my hand at plants that required more attention and care: African violets, cyclamen, gerbera daisies, iris, lilies, tulips, and a whole assortment of garden flora and fauna. I grew enchanted by the variety of color, texture, and arrangement each new species added to my garden. I learned about specific care regimens, their particular pests, the difference between a partial-sun and partial-shade plant, and how soil acidity impacts the color of certain types of plants.

More than all of this, gardening took me up because gardening quickly grew in me a sense of wonder. I suspect my friend knew this when she introduced me to my first, little jade plant. She knew that gardening would introduce me to the extraordinary in the ordinary. You cannot help but begin to pay attention to the tiniest details as you garden, and in turn, begin to notice all kinds of other awe-producing details all around you. The varieties of the color green in the trees, grasses, plants and shrubs, the nuances of blue and aqua hues that shimmer on lakes and oceans, and the little creatures that share the world with us—birds, rabbits, coyotes, skunk, deer, dogs, and cats. Living now in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, where gardening is beloved and beauty envelopes us, this is all the more true for me.

The Christian Scriptures indicate that the natural response to wonder is worship. Indeed, the psalmist suggests that the very detailed elements of creation proclaim the glory and worship of God: The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands! Whether we realize it or not, we are drawn into the very presence of God when we wonder in God's creation. We affirm the beauty and the goodness of God as we wonder at and with and for creation. And as we wonder, we agree with God that all God made “was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Have you lost your sense of wonder? Has your life gotten too busy, too laden with care or comfort or grief that you cannot see God's extraordinary presence in the ordinary details of life? Or maybe God seems far off and unreachable, and you long for the tending and nurturing of a gardener yourself. I cannot explain away that longing any more than the psalmist, who expressed a similar lament when God felt far off to him. But I do know that nurturing my own garden and wondering aloud at the beauty of color and intricacy, I am comforted by the declarations of creation—of gardens and waters and heavens who seem confident, not only that there is a gardener, but one who is very good.

About The Author:

Margaret Manning Shull is a member of the speaking and writing team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Bellingham, Washington.

Source: A Slice of Infinity; Copyright © 2014 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, All rights reserved.

Poem: I'd Rather Have Jesus

by George Beverly Shea

I'd Rather Have Jesus
Is this the cry of your own heart?

I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
I'd rather be His than have riches untold;
I'd rather have Jesus than houses or land,
Yes, I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.

Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin's dread sway
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I'd rather have Jesus than man's applause,
I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I'd rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,
I'd rather be true to His holy name.

He's fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He's sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He's all that my hungering spirit needs;
I'd rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin's dread sway
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.


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