Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
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Malankara World Journal Monthly
Theme: Advent, Christmas
Volume 9 No. 508 December 2018

IV. General Monthly Features

Recipes for Christmas and Holidays

We have a great collection of recipes for your holiday and Christmas cooking. Please go to:

The Gift for the Person Who Has Everything

by Charles R. Swindoll

In our pocket of society where pampered affluence is rampant, we are often at a loss to know what kind of gifts to buy our friends and loved ones on special occasions. For some people (especially those who "have everything"), the standard gift won't cut it. Nothing in the shopping mall catches our fancy.

I have a suggestion. It may not seem that expensive or sound very novel, but believe me, it works every time. It's one of those gifts that has great value but no price tag. It can't be lost nor will it ever be forgotten. No problem with size, either. It fits all shapes, any age, and every personality. This ideal gift is...yourself. Don't forget the unusual value of kindness.

That's right, give some of yourself away:

Give an hour of your time to someone who needs you.
Give a note of encouragement to someone feeling down.
Give a hug of affirmation to someone in your family.
Give some time to someone who is lonely.
Give a meal to someone who is sick.
Give a word of compassion to someone who has suffered a loss.
Give a second chance to the fallen.
Give a deed of thoughtfulness to someone who is often overlooked.
Give a gentle response to the frustrated.

In the words of Ephesians 4:32, be kind.
My sister Luci paraphrases this verse, "Just be nice."

Covering all the one another commands of the Bible (and there's a lot of them!) is the umbrella of kindness. Kindness braids mercy and grace, humility and gentleness all together. Kindness gives grace, requires humility, and asks that we think of others before ourselves.

Ever notice that kindness is most appreciated when life has gone sideways? When you're having "one of those days," kindness speaks that thoughtful word and draws you back like a lifeline.

Who should the world look to as a model of kindness but the body of Christ? Unfortunately, ask the man on the street how he would describe the Christians he knows and I dare say kind would not be his first or even his second response. I say we change that.

Kindness is something you and I can do today. A gentle response. Being the first to forgive. Giving the gift of time, compassion, and thoughtfulness. In ordinary ways, we can give ourselves away and, by doing so, model God's agape love. Remember 1 Corinthians 13:4 — "Love is kind."

Look for ways today to give ordinary kindness, and you'll find there's nothing ordinary about it.

Taken from Charles R. Swindoll, "The Gift for the Person Who Has Everything," Insights (June 2001): 1-2.
Copyright © 2001 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Source: Insight for Living

The House of Christmas

by Dr. Ravi Zacharias

Some years ago, we were spending Christmas in the home of my wife's parents. It was not a happy day in the household. Much had gone wrong during the preceding weeks, and a weight of sadness hung over the home. Yet, in the midst of all that, my mother-in-law kept her routine habit of asking people who would likely have no place to go at Christmas to share Christmas dinner with us.

That year she invited a man who was, by everyone's estimate, somewhat of an odd person, quite eccentric in his demeanor. Not much was known about him at the church except that he came regularly, sat alone, and left without much conversation. He obviously lived alone and was quite a sorry-looking, solitary figure. He was our Christmas guest.

Because of other happenings in the house (including one daughter being taken to the hospital for the birth of her first child), everything was in confusion. All of our emotions were on edge. It fell upon me, in turn, to entertain this gentleman. I must confess that I did not appreciate it. Owing to a heavy life of travel year-round, I have jealously guarded my Christmases as time to be with my family. This was not going to be such a privilege, and I was not happy. As I sat in the living room, entertaining him while others were busy, I thought to myself, "This is going to go down as one of the most miserable Christmases of my life."

But somehow we got through the evening. He evidently loved the meal, the fire crackling in the background, the snow outside, the Christmas carols playing, and a rather weighty theological discussion in which he and I were engaged—at his instigation, I might add. He was a very well-read man and, as I found out, loved to grapple with heavy theological themes. I do too, but frankly, not during an evening that has been set aside to enjoy life's quiet moments.

At the end of the night when he bade us all good-bye, he reached out and took the hand of each of us, one by one, and said, "Thank you for the best Christmas of my life. I will never forget it." He walked out into the dark, snowy night, back into his solitary existence.

My heart sank in self-indictment at those tender words of his. I had to draw on every nerve in my being to keep from breaking down with tears. Just a few short years later, relatively young, and therefore to our surprise, he passed away. I have relived that Christmas many times in my memory. That year God taught me a lesson. A home can reflect and distribute the love of Christ.

The first time I walked through the noisy streets of Bethlehem and endured its smells, I gained a whole new sense of the difference between our Christmas carols, glamorizing the sweetness of the "little town of Bethlehem," and the harsh reality of God becoming flesh and making a home among us. G.K. Chesterton captures the wonder of such a thought:

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where he was homeless
Are you and I at home:
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.(1)

Jesus' earthly address changes our own. Christ comes this Christmas, and shows us what it means to live.

About The Author:

Ravi Zacharias is founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.


(1) G.K. Chesterton, "The House of Christmas," from Robert Knille, ed., As I Was Saying (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1985), 304-5.

Source: A Slice of Infinity
Copyright © 2016 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, All rights reserved.

Inviting a Guest for Christmas

By Shirley Dobson

Bring Joy To Someone In Need by Including That Person In your Christmas Celebration.

Jim's dad, James Dobson Sr., died three weeks before Christmas after suffering a massive heart attack in September. It was a devastating loss for our little family but especially for Jim's mom, Myrtle. We will always regret not having that last Christmas season with Jim's father, which would have been filled with love and laughter, children, and wonderful food from my mother-in-law's kitchen. Instead we struggled to cope with our loss. Three things sustained us during that time: the love of one another, the support from caring friends, and the precious promise of eternal life.

Having been through this experience, I am even more aware that Christmas can be an especially lonely time for those who do not have family nearby. As members of the body of Christ, we must be willing to open our homes and hearts to people in need.

That is precisely what we did one Christmas Eve when we invited an elderly woman who needed a loving family to join us. Her name was Mamie Hendricks. She was in her eighties and the widow of a missionary. Mamie bubbled over with joy when we asked her to join us. At the dinner table that evening, she was the center of attention. All the conversation focused on this wonderful lady as she shared her experiences with us.

After dinner Mamie opened several scrapbooks she had brought. Apparently no one had been willing to look at them for years, but there was meaning for her on every page. She told us about her deceased husband and how much she loved him. She described her life on the mission field and talked about the people they had introduced to the Lord. Then she talked about her husband's death and how she missed him. Story after story poured out. Our two children sat enthralled as they listened to Mamie's recollections of a lifetime.

We had thought that evening with our friend would be our gift to her, but Mamie contributed much more to each of us. She is gone now, but I cherish that evening we spent together.

As we all look toward our holiday plans, may I encourage you to invite a lonely person, someone who is older, or a single adult to join you? I believe you will recognize that it is, indeed, "more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10)

From Welcome To Our Table by Shirley and Danae Dobson

Don't Wait until Next Year

by John O'Leary

"Each day provides its own gifts." - Marcus Aurelius

"Is that all?"

It's an innocent enough question. Well, unless it's being asked to you by one of your kids on Christmas morning.

Let me explain. Last Christmas Eve we went to church, to my parents' Christmas celebration, and then to Beth's family for dessert, coffee and more holiday cheer. We stayed up late, got up early, lined up on the steps, and raced down together to see if Santa came.

Oh man, he came and the party began!

The kids checked their stockings, tore into their gifts, devoured their candy and had a freaking blast!

And then my oldest, Jack, after opening his last present, looked at me and asked, "Is that all?"

Is that all?!

After dealing with all the traffic and crowded stores and racing around to get you these special gifts that were on your list you're going to ask "Is that all?"

After wrapping and stuffing stockings and laying them around the tree and eating three bites of carrots and two sips of milk from Rudolph's bowl before going to bed at 3 AM you're going to ask "Is that all?"

I looked back at my little man and remind him, "No. This it not it at all."

There is so much more. The presents and paper and lights and cookies and cards are just an excuse to celebrate what it is all actually about.

You see, real joy, peace, and love are seldom wrapped, rarely arrive through the chimney and are generally not found under the tree. Sometimes they arrive as an old friend, a gentle snow, a new love or a family tradition.

They may arrive through the least likely of packages: growing out of financial woes and relational challenges; flight delays and personal struggles. Typically they will be birthed when no one is around, no one notices, no one even fathoms the great gift that just arrived. hey may arrive through the least likely of packages:

This holiday season and Christmas week, take pause to open up, celebrate and rejoice in the amazing gifts of your life. The seemingly good and bad of your life unite to lead you perfectly to where you are today and providentially to what's possible tomorrow.

Don't look up after opening your last gift this year and wonder, "Is that all?" Don't wait until next year to unwrap a present that arrived 2,000 years ago. It's the greatest you'll ever open: that regardless of what you encounter today or may face tomorrow, there is reason to rejoice, reason to celebrate and reason to sing out.

As Linus reminded Charlie Brown as he also struggled with the holiday season: "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men."

That's what Christmas is all about. So, is that all?

Yup, that is all. And that is more than enough.

I wish each of you a healthy and happy holiday, a very merry Christmas, and a joy filled New Year. The best is yet to come.

Stay on fire,


Unrestrained Generosity

by Shirley M Dobson

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us…!" 1 John 3:1

It's no coincidence that we started this week's look at generosity with a story about a little boy. Children are often our best teachers.

Years ago during the week of my birthday, our family decided to go for a leisurely stroll through our local shopping center. Ryan, who was eight at the time, opened his piggybank and took out five dollars he had been saving for something special. As we walked along, window shopping and enjoying being together, Ryan announced that he wanted to have some time alone to go to the toy store and pet shop. We set a time and place where we would meet, and off he went. In about thirty minutes, he came walking up with a grin that stretched from ear to ear.

Ryan said, "Here, Mom, this is for your birthday. But you can open it right now!" By the look on his face, it was obvious that he felt strongly about my opening the gift right there in the middle of the mall. So we found a nearby bench. He announced his present had cost a lot of money. (He had spent the entire five dollars on it.)

As shoppers filed by, he watched excitedly while I carefully unwrapped the package. Gazing down at its contents, I was suddenly filled with emotion. His present wasn't anything he could have found in a toy or pet store. It wasn't even something you'd expect to receive from an eight‐year‐old boy. There in my lap was a lovely desk set. The ostrich‐feathered white pen looked like an old‐fashioned quill that Ben Franklin might have used to sign the Declaration of Independence. The stand was padded in matching white, with a spray of pink flowers delicately painted around the edges.

My eyes brimmed with tears as I hugged and thanked my son for such an extravagant gift. It has been many years since that day, and I still treasure that pen as a reminder of Ryan's spontaneous gift of love.

Most of us are too inclined to keep our purses or wallets shut tight against the opportunities for giving that are all around. Or when we give, we give what's convenient or interesting to us, not to the recipient.

In our marriages, we have so many chances to practice childlike, unrestrained generosity - with no ulterior motive, necessity, or expectation in mind. The more we give and receive that kind of love, the more we will experience the love of God in our homes. I think the apostle John had something like "unrestrained generosity" in mind when he wrote, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1).

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


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