Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Volume 2 No. 103 October 11, 2012

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Malankara World - Nehemia 9:17
Table of Contents
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Bible Readings for This Sunday (Oct 14)

Fifth Sunday after Sleebo/ the Feast of Holy Cross

Sermons for This Sunday (Oct 14)

Sermons for the Fifth Sunday After Sleebo
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_5th-sunday-after-Sleebo.htm

Inspiration for Today

Featured: What's So Appealing About Orthodoxy?

I had longed for Orthodoxy for some time, for the same reasons I, as a young man, found my way into the Catholic Church. It seemed to me a rock of stability in a turbulent sea of relativism and modernism overtaking Western Christianity. ...

Love and Mercy

The Lord was so pleased with those who showed mercy to His needy ones by being merciful to the poor. He is pleased, honored and glorified by our showing mercy. Jesus said, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat." See how closely He ties our salvation with our showing mercy. ...

Peace of Jesus: More Solid Than Fear

For the Christian, to be found in Christ means to be thoroughly stilled by who Christ is. His victory gives life, and the surety of that victory gives peace that transcends all things. Like children pacified by the assurance of bread, we are invited to hold the very bread of life, a hope more solid than fear. ...

The Cross – Transforming Initiatives

The Christ-like response of turning the other cheek says the person does not assume the inferior place of humiliation the striker had in mind but views himself as an equal. The supposedly powerless person has redefined the relationship and forced the oppressor into a moral choice: escalate the violence or respond with repentance and reconciliation. ...

The Secret of Success

Your life will be measured, not by the amount of money or power or fame you gain, but by the way you allow God to touch others through you. ...

Family Special: Nurturing a Healthy and Blessed Marriage

There are many people today who would like to demote marriage by labeling it a human invention. But Scripture tells us marriage was created by God and, as such, it is a holy institution. Let’s take a moment to look at the components of a stable, healthy marriage. ...

Health: Five Ways to Find Healing from Your Past

I’ll be the first to admit that some gut-wrenching issues in my life have taken time and even Christian counseling in order to heal and move forward again. So I’m not offering you pat answers. ...

Recipe: Coconut Pecan Sweet Potatoes

The Best Day is Today

There are two basic kinds of actions. One is pro-action, which puts you on the offensive and gives you a great deal of control over events. The other is reaction, which puts you on the defensive and relegates you to an inherent position of weakness. ...

Inauguration of Theeram Residential Care Center

EN CHRISTOS - 2012 in Abu Dhabi

Humor: Have You Found Jesus?

About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Oct 14)
Sermons for This Sunday (Oct 14)
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.

Sermons for the Fifth Sunday After Sleebo
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_5th-sunday-after-Sleebo.htm

More Sermons

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today
Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. - Thou are fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips. - All bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.

Ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. - He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. - We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. - I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. - Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. - As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

II COR. 8:9. John 1:14. Psa. 45:2. Luke 4:22. I Pet. 2:3. I John 5:10. John 3:11. Psa. 34:8. Song 2:3. II Cor. 12:9. Eph. 4:7. I Pet. 4:10.

Source: Daily Light on the Daily Path

Featured: What's So Appealing About Orthodoxy?

By Rod Dreher

I came to Orthodoxy in 2006, a broken man. I had been a devoutly observant and convinced Roman Catholic for years, but had my faith shattered in large part by what I had learned as a reporter covering the sex abuse scandal. It had been my assumption that my theological convictions would protect the core of my faith through any trial, but the knowledge I struggled with wore down my ability to believe in the ecclesial truth claims of the Roman church (I wrote in detail about that drama here). For my wife and me, Protestantism was not an option, given what we knew about church history, and given our convictions about sacramental theology.

That left Orthodoxy as the only safe harbor from the tempest that threatened to capsize our Christianity.

In truth, I had longed for Orthodoxy for some time, for the same reasons I, as a young man, found my way into the Catholic Church. It seemed to me a rock of stability in a turbulent sea of relativism and modernism overtaking Western Christianity. And while the Roman church threw out so much of its artistic and liturgical heritage in the violence of the Second Vatican Council, the Orthodox still held on to theirs. Several years before we entered Orthodoxy, my wife and I visited Orthodox friends at their Maryland parish. As morally and liturgically conservative Catholics, we were moved and even envious over what we saw there. We had to leave early to scoot up the road to the nearest Seventies moderne Catholic parish to meet our Sunday obligation. The contrast between the desultory liturgical proceedings at Our Lady of Pizza Hut and what we had walked out of in the Orthodox parish down the road literally reduced us to tears. But ugliness, even a sense of spiritual desolation, does not obviate truth, and we knew we had to stand with truth – and therefore with Rome – despite it all.

If Catholicism in America had been healthy, maybe we could have held on through the sex abuse trials. But my wife and I had been worrying for some time how we were going to raise faithful Christian children given the loosey-goosey moral teaching in Roman parishes. We considered ourselves orthodox Catholics, meaning we really believed what was in the Catechism, and struggled to live by it. We failed – everybody fails – but the point is, we looked to the church to provide clear moral leadership, and to help us live out the faith with integrity and joy. Here's the problem: there is very little orthodoxy in the U.S. Catholic Church, and at the parish level, almost no recognition that there is a such thing as “right belief.” It wasn't that I wanted to throw out all those who don't live up to Catholic teaching – I would have been the first one shown the door if that had been true – but that I discerned no direction, and no real conviction that parish communities exist for any reason other than to affirm ourselves in our okayness. Though I didn't have a term to describe it at the time, I was weary to the bone from an ersatz form of Christianity that sociologist Christian Smith calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” I had been so hollowed out by despair over all this as a Catholic that when the strong winds of the abuse scandal began to blow, the structure of my Catholic belief did not stand.

I say all this not to disparage the Roman Catholic Church – which I still love, and to which I cannot be grateful enough for introducing me to ancient, sacramental Christianity – but to show why Orthodoxy was so attractive to me. When I interviewed him for my book “Crunchy Cons,” my friend Hugh O'Beirne, a convert from Catholicism to Orthodoxy, told me that for a Catholic wearied by the culture wars raging inside American Catholicism, it is blessed relief to find that in Orthodoxy, there is no “war footing.” The kinds of issues that are tearing apart many other American churches aren't nearly as contentious in Orthodox practice. Though it would be foolish to pretend these conflicts don't exist in Orthodox parishes, they simply aren't nearly as much of an issue.

And then there is the liturgy and music. There is nothing comparable to it in other churches. It is overwhelmingly beautiful and deep, and is largely the same Divine Liturgy (though in the vernacular tongue) that St. John Chrysostom, the 5th century patriarch of Constantinople, formalized. The beauty of that liturgy is utterly transporting, and the reverence it inspires is tonic. And while I miss familiar old hymns (in Orthodox services, we chant prayers and Psalms), there's a lot to be said for never having to endure “On Eagle's Wings” and other shag-carpeted hymnody endemic to modern American Catholic worship.

The main reason why Orthodoxy is so attractive to converts, at least to this convert, is its seriousness about sin. I don't mean that it's a dour religion – it is very far from that! – but rather that Orthodoxy takes the brokenness of humankind with appropriate seriousness. Orthodoxy is not going to tell you that you're okay. In fact, it will require you to call yourself, as St. Paul described himself, the “chief of sinners.” And Orthodoxy is going to tell you the Good News: Jesus died and returned to life so that you too might live. But in order to live, you are going to have to die to yourself, over and over again. And that will not be painless, and cannot be, or it's not real.

Because of that, for all its dramatic beauty and rich feasting, Orthodoxy is far more austere and demanding than most American Christianity. The long liturgies, the frequent prayers, the intense fasts – all make serious demands on the believer, especially comfortable middle-class Americans like me. They call us out of ourselves, and to repentance. Orthodoxy is not interested in making you feel comfortable in your sins. It wants nothing less than for you to be a saint.

It's common among American converts to hear that men were first attracted to Orthodoxy, and their wives followed. It's not hard to see why. Many men are tired of a soft, bourgeois Christianity that doesn't call them to much because it doesn't ask much of them. Men love a challenge, and that's exactly what Orthodoxy gives them.

Don't be misled. Orthodoxy is not, at its core, about rules and practices. The more I progress in my Orthodoxy, the clearer it is to me that Orthodoxy is, above all, a way. It is not an institution, a set of doctrines, or a collection of rituals, though it contains all three. It is rather a way of seeing the world, and one's place in it, and a map to holiness that is paradoxically both ancient and astonishingly fresh, at least to Western sensibilities. It is the way of liberation.

True, it is possible to find dreary parish life in American Orthodoxy, often among the ethnically-oriented older parishes that see themselves as little more than the tribe at prayer. And because Orthodox churches are full of ordinary American people, they are also filled with ordinary American problems. Anyone who comes to an Orthodox church expecting perfection will be disappointed. What you will find, though, is truth and beauty presented in a way that can be breathtaking to modern Americans, and an ancient Way grounded on doctrinal stability, sacramental reality, and practical Christian mysticism – a mysticism that has been marginalized in most other American churches.

I found in Orthodoxy what I thought I would find when I became Catholic. As my patron saint in Orthodoxy, I chose St. Benedict of Nursia, dear to both churches, and a sign of the unity we used to have, and that we might yet have again. The Catholic church needs to be more orthodox, and the Orthodox church needs to be more catholic. I pray, I really pray, that I will live to see that unity return. Until that time, though, I am grateful to God that He gave me a second chance in Orthodoxy, and showed me the Way I had been searching for all my life. When I first came in the door, a spiritually broken mess, I thought it would be impossible for me to learn to endure these long liturgies, this intense prayer, these prostrations, the strict fasting, and – how to put this? – the weirdness of Orthodox Christianity in an American context. Five years on, I can't imagine how I ever lived without it. You can't read your way into Orthodoxy. You have to come and see for yourself.

Source: oodegr.com

Love and Mercy

by Ralph Bouma

"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy," MAT 5:7.

Our Saviour tells us about being merciful to the poor in MAT 25:34-36. The King of kings is glorified by us being merciful to the poor. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me."

The Lord was so pleased with those who showed mercy to His needy ones by being merciful to the poor. He is pleased, honored and glorified by our showing mercy. Jesus said, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat." See how closely He ties our salvation with our showing mercy.

Notice how those who obtained mercy saw their own shortcomings and unworthiness. They did not feel they had earned anything in MAT 25:37-39. "Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?"

Their own poverty made them so merciful and deserved nothing in the sight of God, but the Lord had richly blessed them; they were able to give unto others. They laid their crowns at His feet and said that they had only done that which was their duty to do.

Verse 40 says, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." The heart of Jesus is so gratified by those who show mercy.

Therefore, see our exhortation in MIC 6:8. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" The Lord requires this of us. This is not an option or a matter of opinion. If we claim the work of regeneration, this conversion must accompany it.

We must love to do things that are helpful to those who come to destroy us. COL 3:12-13 says, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."

Mercifulness is to show love. If we have not love, we have nothing. To rightly understand First Corinthians, we must realize it was a letter of reproof from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church. These are not examples to build upon. Paul exaggerates to illustrate their unreasonableness. He uses illustrations that are beyond what any human mind can conceive. Then he comes back to the logical sense and gives the bottom line.

Take notice of this in 1CO 13:1-3, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

Paul illustrated these extremes to show that if these things were possible and a man could have all these gifts and yet he lacked charity, he still had nothing. He knew that no person had ever literally moved a mountain. He wanted to demonstrate that regardless what gifts we may claim, if we do not have love, we have nothing. The apostle's admonition was against placing our hope of salvation upon gifts; they have no value for salvation.

The Apostle Paul was teaching that all the law and the gospel hang upon the law of love, i.e., to love God above all, and your neighbour as yourself. See MAT 22:37-40.

Love is the essential element to salvation. In love we see mercy. If we have not love, we have nothing. That is how important it is to show mercy, my friends! If we don't have love, we are destitute of anything good. If we have love, we will show mercy.

There shall be judgment without mercy for those who show no mercy. This is so awesome and should cause our hearts to tremble. JAM 2:13 says, "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment."

The Jews did not look for a merciful Messiah. They were looking for a Messiah who would avenge them of the Romans. While the disciples stood on Mount Olive as the Lord Jesus Christ was being taken from them, they asked the Lord if He would restore again the kingdom of Israel at that time. They were still looking for the overthrow of the Roman rule and revenge. As the Lord answered their question, He was taken up into heaven.

ACT 1:6-9 says, "When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." The disciples still looked for the overthrow of the Roman kingdom, for an earthly kingdom. Until the Day of Pentecost, they did not fully understand the true work of regeneration in the soul and the true work of conversion. They did not even understand Christ's first coming while they were with the Lord.

We must understand the progressive work of conversion, sanctification, and repentance. Becoming merciful is a continual quest throughout our entire lifetime. The Lord Jesus told Peter to strengthen his brethren when he became converted. Peter already had the work of conversion in him, yet he did not understand the mercy of God. Amen.

Teach me, O Lord, thy way of truth,
And from it I will not depart;
That I may stedfastly obey,
Give me an understanding heart.

In Thy commandments make me walk,
For in Thy law my joy shall be;
Give me a heart that loves Thy will,
From discontent and envy free.

From Psalm 119:33-40; The Psalter, 1912

Peace of Jesus: More Solid Than Fear

by Jill Carattini

A powerful story is told of the bombing raids of World War II where thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. After experiencing the fright of abandonment, many of these children were rescued and sent to refugee camps where they received food and shelter. Yet even in the presence of good care, they had experienced so much loss that many of them could not sleep at night. They were terrified they would awake to find themselves once again homeless and hungry. Nothing the adults did seemed to reassure them, until someone thought to send a child to bed with a loaf of bread. Holding onto their bread, the children were able to sleep. If they woke up frightened in the night, the bread seemed to remind them, "I ate today and I will eat again tomorrow." (1)

Hours before he was arrested, Jesus spoke to his disciples about the time ahead of them, days they would face without his physical presence. "In a little while," he said, "you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me." Reasonably, at his words the disciples were confused. "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying," they grumbled. Jesus answered with more than reassurance. To their confusion and uncertainty, perhaps also to their fears of the worst and visions of the best, Jesus responded with something they could hold on to. Concluding his last conversation with them before the cross, he said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Like children with bread holding onto what gives us life, Jesus offers peace in uncertainty, mercy in brokenness, something solid when all is lost. He speaks of peace can that transcend understanding when we cling to the one who gives us life. It is worth noting that his use of the word "peace" here portrays a quiet state of mind, which is infinitely dissimilar to a mind that has been silenced by coercion or despair—emotions some associate with religion. To these, the gospel is good news. It is as if Jesus says, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you might be thoroughly quieted by what gives you life."

When the Apostle Paul wrote down the now oft-quoted instruction "Do not worry about anything," he had every reason to be anxious about everything. In prison and facing days unquestionably out of his control, Paul was undeniably holding on to something solid. "The Lord is near," he wrote from a jail cell. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (2)

Paul does not promise that followers of Jesus will not see darkness or sorrow anymore than he himself was avoiding it or Jesus himself escaped it. But he does promise, as clearly as Jesus promised the disciples, that there is a reason for hope in the best and worst of times. The Lord who is near has overcome the world in which we will continue to find trouble. The mystery of Christ is that somehow even in the midst of trouble he can answer the cries of our hearts with more than reassurance.

For the Christian, to be found in Christ means to be thoroughly stilled by who Christ is. His victory gives life, and the surety of that victory gives peace that transcends all things. Like children pacified by the assurance of bread, we are invited to hold the very bread of life, a hope more solid than fear.

References:

(1) Story told in Dennis Linn’s Sleeping with Bread, (New York: Paulist, 1995), 1.

(2) Philippians 4:5b-7.

About The Author:

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

Copyright (c) 2011 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)

The Cross – Transforming Initiatives

by Paul Estabrooks

"But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles." - Matthew 5:39-41

When we read these verses about non-violent resistance we usually think this is a defensive directive of Jesus. For example, a leading church bishop in Nigeria, amidst severe Muslim-Christian conflict, has repeatedly been quoted in the press as saying, "We have turned the other cheek so many times, we have no more cheeks to turn!"

Palestinian Christians involved in peace, reconciliation and non-violence movements have helped me see this teaching differently. When Jesus teaches about "turning the other cheek, "it was an offensive-not a defensive-act of peace using a culturally relevant example of His day. A person who slapped another on the cheek normally used the back of the right hand as an act of insult by a superior to an inferior. Thus, by turning the "other" cheek, the one hit (the perceived powerless person) takes an initiative to force the aggressor to now return the swing and hit his face a second time. This time the "hit" must be with an aggressive open palm or fist thereby transforming the nature of the relationship.

The Christ-like response of turning the other cheek says the person does not assume the inferior place of humiliation the striker had in mind but views himself as an equal. The supposedly powerless person has redefined the relationship and forced the oppressor into a moral choice: escalate the violence or respond with repentance and reconciliation.

Other transforming initiatives are to give your cloak when sued for your tunic and to carry a load for two miles for a person who can legally demand that you carry it for only one mile.

We all must seek "transforming initiatives" within our own particular context.

RESPONSE: As a peacemaker for Jesus, I will seek out "transforming initiates" wherever I see conflict.

PRAYER: Lord, give me the attitude of Your peace and Your methods of not resisting an evil person that will prompt repentance and reconciliation.

Source: Standing Strong Through the Storm
© 2010 Open Doors International. Used by permission

The Secret of Success
What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - MICAH 6:8

A friend sent me an email posting from Ruth McGinnis, a Nashville recording artist and author, who had recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In the midst of her ordeal, God began reframing the definition of success in her life:

'One of the most powerful insights I've had as a result of this unexpected detour in my well-planned life is truly understanding that the value of my work - the books I've written, my instrumental recordings, the speaking and performing I've done for countless years - has nothing to do with commercial success. I always thought that to be "successful," I would have to register in the marketplace with some measurable impact, like making the New York Times best-sellers list. As a result, even though I've enjoyed a rewarding career as a creative person, I've always felt that somehow I'd never quite arrived - that my life was incomplete.

Having cancer has forever changed this. The cards, letters, gifts, phone calls, and emails I've received from people I know - and many I've never met - have revealed to me that the reach of my work and the value of my simply being here is greater than I ever could have imagined.'

I am convinced this is true for each one of us. That we all tend to be hard on ourselves and measure our achievements against harsh standards.

We fail to appreciate our own contributions, and we forget to acknowledge the gifts, beauty and efforts of others.

I will never think of success, fulfillment and contentment the way I used to. Cancer has swept the veil away from my eyes - has given me a new way of looking at life and rethinking everything. It is an unexpected gift.

Your life will be measured, not by the amount of money or power or fame you gain, but by the way you allow God to touch others through you.

DISCUSS

How would you define "success" in your life? In your family? Talk about Ruth McGinnis's perspective.

PRAY

Pray that you will be content just being who God has called you to be.

Source: Moments with You Devotional

Family Special: Nurturing a Healthy and Blessed Marriage

by Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

There are many people today who would like to demote marriage by labeling it a human invention. But Scripture tells us marriage was created by God and, as such, it is a holy institution. Let’s take a moment to look at the components of a stable, healthy marriage.

Imagine your marriage as a three-legged stool, and the three legs are selflessness, forgiveness and communication. Without one of the legs, the stool will fall down. A good marriage needs all three components to be well-balanced and strong.

The first component of a blessed and healthy marriage is selflessness. We live in a self-centered world, and this focus on self is destroying marriages. The concept of "looking out for number one" is creating division between husbands and wives. But Paul tells us, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves" (Philippians 2:3).

Immaturity and selfishness tell us to focus on our own desires, comfort, and self-protection, but maturity leads us to focus on other’s needs. Maturity is a key to selflessness.

Selfless love manifests itself in graciousness. It focuses on the other person’s thoughts, feelings, and needs. In marriage, the focus is on our spouse’s needs. A selfless love makes sacrifices without keeping a running tally of who has contributed the most in the marriage. It puts aside selfish stubbornness for a willingness to yield to each other.

While selflessness goes against many of the world’s teachings about personal ambition, self-importance, and self-protection, selfless love is a critical component to a healthy marriage.

The second component of a blessed and healthy marriage is forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is hard, especially when we allow little annoyances to build up over time. But the Bible tells us, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).

In Matthew 18:22, Jesus told Peter that we are to forgive each other not merely seven times, but seven times seventy. In other words, we are to forgive so often that we lose count.

So, how can we forgive that readily?

First, begin by forgiving the things which seem insignificant - the irritating habits and the annoying characteristics. These can build up over time and can destroy a marriage. Forgiving them will require daily discipline.

Second, "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). You will find it harder to forgive others if your own mind is waging a battle against old hurts. Focus on Christ in your relationship, not on keeping score.

Third, maintain your identity in Christ. Our old sinful nature is filled with resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. But through Christ, we are able to offer mercy and forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Problems of selfishness and unforgiveness may seem apparent in a relationship. But there are also enemies that stealthily creep into a marriage like a choking vine. Busy schedules, apathy, and even exhaustion can lead to a deadly trap, a breakdown of communication.

The third component to a healthy and blessed marriage is communication. When communication breaks down between husband and wife, Satan is always waiting in the wings. Then what often takes place is a power struggle, the silent treatment and deception.

How many hours - or minutes - did you spend this week engaged in conversation or activity while solely focused on your spouse - no TV, no children, no computer or cell phone interrupting? Many of the larger problems in marriage stem from poor communication.

Poor communication stems from not making the time for your spouse, letting the children come before the marriage relationship, and from a fear of conflict. Inevitably, there will be conflict but keeping the lines of communication open will provide the opportunity to resolve the conflict rather than allowing it to take root. The ultimate outcome is a growing and thriving relationship.

Maintaining the components of the three-legged stool of marriage is not easy. We will always be competing against our sinful, selfish nature. We will always be seeking God’s strength to forgive. We will often struggle to find balance between our calendars and our marriage. But, if you keep Christ at the center of your marriage and allow Him to give, forgive and communicate through you, yours will be a blessed and healthy marriage.

Prayer:

God, show me how I can improve communication in my marriage. God, I need Your help to be the godly spouse I should be. Help me to keep You at the center of my marriage and to be on guard against selfishness, to be quick to forgive, and to be vigilant to communicate. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine
from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.

Health Tip: Five Ways to Find Healing from Your Past

by Rebecca Barlow Jordan

"Get over it!" "Move on!" "The past is gone!"

Well-meaning friends may offer you their best unsolicited advice, but their words hurt.

Why? The past still haunts you. Are new beginnings possible? Is healing a reality? How do we confidently release the past and embrace the future? How do we find the strength to "press on"?

I’ll be the first to admit that some gut-wrenching issues in my life have taken time and even Christian counseling in order to heal and move forward again. So I’m not offering you pat answers.

Life-altering wrongs committed against us may never be corrected in this lifetime. But what about the times when we’ve wounded others? How can we remove the "Cain-stamped" seal on our souls – the glaring sins and blunders that have almost destroyed our lives in the past?

Only God can completely remove those, but here are five ways to help you find healing from your past.

1. See yourself as God sees you.

As a child growing up in the church, I still remember the teaching on "justification." One teacher explained it simply: Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible for me to be right with God – "just as if I had never sinned" (Romans 3:24). So, as a follower of Christ, I get that. Because of Jesus, that’s the way God views me.

But in a series of Christmas messages at our current church recently, a speaker focused on Jesus and His perfect character. Jesus was tempted in every way, yet He never sinned. Faced with every wrong choice imaginable, He always obeyed. When Jesus took our sin upon Himself, the perfect, sinless, Son of God, and we accept that payment for our own sins, God then sees us, as believers, like He sees Jesus – as if we have always obeyed, and as if we always will obey.

Maybe that truth doesn’t affect you the same way, but somehow, seeing me as if I’ve always obeyed – in addition to just as if I’d never sinned (even though they mean the same) – forged in me a new attitude of gratitude. If God sees me that way, then I need to as well. The mistakes and sins of my past no longer exist – except as a reminder in my own heart of my humanity (which leads me to #2.)

2. Place GRACE beside every destructive thought and negative reminder from the past that threatens you.

Satan loves to remind God’s children of their marriage mess-ups, their parenting blunders, their business failures, and their prideful actions of the past. You can keep trying to pay for those yourself, but the reality is, you can never really undo the past. You can only learn from it, and accept God’s grace to move beyond it. It’s God’s grace that erases our past; and it’s God’s grace that will remake our future (Ephesians 2:5-8; Hebrews 4:16; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Each time you begin to dwell on your mistakes or sins of the past, visually picture the words GRACE beside those thoughts, pushing the negative ones out. Then whisper a thank you cry to God: "Lord, thank you for your grace that brings healing from my past. Thank you for redeeming me, and for seeing me as if I have always obeyed. Thank you that You love me completely and unconditionally."

3. Meditate on the healing truths in God’s Word daily.

Almost every "how-to" topic I write seems to include this step. But the relevance of God’s Word never changes (Isaiah 40:8, Proverbs 30:5, Matthew 4:4, NIV). Scientists and doctors have proved that prayer and meditation on spiritual truths like those in the Bible can actually promote healing, well-being, and longevity, by impacting the brain positively.

Joshua 1:8 told us thousands of years ago what scientists are just now discovering. "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful" (Joshua 1:8, NIV). Centuries later, the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in the Word because, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV).

God’s Word doesn’t return “void.” In other words, allowing God’s truths and promises to saturate our lives give us the very defense and offensive we need to press on positively to the future God has prepared for us. God will take those implanted seeds of truth to accomplish His purpose for our lives.

4. Forgive as Jesus has forgiven you.

If you desire – and expect – God’s grace and forgiveness to remain active in your life, you must learn to not only forgive others, but also yourself. When I temporarily slip back into an “Oh, me!” mentality, I find comfort and grace in reversing to an “Ah, Lord,” declaration. “Ah, Lord, if you have forgiven me so completely, what right do I have not to forgive others – or even myself?” (Forgive, as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV). His grace enables us to do what we can’t do alone: forgive.

You’ve heard, “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” I would add, “to not forgive is to trample down God’s grace and render it useless in our lives.” I love Proverbs 24:16 (NLT): The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. Everyone errs. But with God’s grace, we can all start over.

Perhaps we could also add, “To err is human, but not to learn from it (our errors), is foolish.” Be patient with yourself. Get an “accountability partner” – someone you trust who can check in with you often and help keep you moving in the right direction. You can step in the same hole only so many times. Sooner or later you’ll need to take a new path. Receive God’s infinite, complete forgiveness as a gift; then give Him the gift of belief and trust: that He still has good plans, a hope and a future for you (Jeremiah 29:11).

5. Keep moving forward by anticipating something today and something tomorrow.

My father used to say, “Have something to do today, something to do tomorrow.” I don’t know about you, but there’s always something to do at my house – or in my life – but not always what I anticipate doing. Yet even in the midst of the mundane, it helps to change my outlook by focusing on something I can look forward to today, and something I can look forward to tomorrow. That something may be as ambitious as writing 2500 words, or as practical as planting new garden flowers. It could be as simple as “coffee with Jesus,” moments when I can mix the aroma of fresh java with the perfume of God’s presence and time in His Word, or simply having lunch with a good friend.

Find joy in what you do, and in doing for others. Putting our past behind is a constant action; but so is pressing on. Consider a reachable goal like Mother Teresa‘s: “Doing small things with great love” – even while she worked in the midst of extreme poverty and adverse circumstances.

Recently, I read of two women and their noteworthy goals. One had just completed hers: writing 365 thank you notes in the previous year – one per day. The other woman chose a simple goal for 2012: “Be kind.” Great “somethings” to look forward to!

Busy Activity vs. Balanced Work

Discern the difference between busy activity and balanced work. Coping with a painful past can include hiding ourselves behind a facade of endless activity. We can try to cover our pain by eliminating any time to think, rest, or refresh. But band-aids don’t bring inner healing. They only cover the scars or open wounds. Balanced Work is a meaningful and intentional fulfilling of God’s purpose for our lives – that doesn’t crowd out right priorities.

These are only a few ways to help you find healing from the past. Accepting the truth that God has already covered your past will help eliminate any of your own painful coping methods. But it means trusting God daily with the details of your life. He will bless your todays and reinforce your tomorrows if you live in anticipation of God’s plans for you. He is the only One who can truly help you put the past behind and press on toward the future.

But I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (Philippians 4:13, NLT).

Recipe: Coconut Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients:

2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup broken pecans, toasted
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp coconut flavoring
1/4 tsp vanilla
Toasted coconut -- optional

Directions:

In a slow cooker (crock pot), combine potatoes, sugar, butter, coconut, pecans and cinnamon.

Cover; cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Stir in coconut flavoring and vanilla.

Sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired.

The Best Day is Today

by Robert Ringer

There are two basic kinds of actions. One is pro-action, which puts you on the offensive and gives you a great deal of control over events. The other is reaction, which puts you on the defensive and relegates you to an inherent position of weakness.

An interesting way of looking at inaction is that it's really just a negative form of action, a sort of black hole that sucks energy away from you much the same as the black holes of the universe pull matter into the deep recesses of their cosmic bowels. This is why inaction often yields consequences by default. If you wait for something, or someone, to act on you, you likely will be unable to control the consequences.

Homeostasis, a trait that all human beings possess to one extent or another is (in psychological terms) the tendency to live with existing conditions and avoid change. Which is ironic, because resistance to change defies both the laws of nature and the laws of the universe.

The earth, the universe, and life itself are in a perpetual state of change, and so, too, is secular life. Weather changes, laws change, the economy changes, the reigns of power change, technology changes, and, perhaps most significant of all, your age changes every second of your life. In addition, with the generation and dying of cells in our bodies, each of us is in a constant state of change physiologically, from birth to death.

Homeostasis is the ultimate defense against taking action, which is why most people stubbornly resist change, particularly major change. Outwardly, of course, we fabricate excuses that attempt to justify why we aren't able to take action just yet, the most common one being that "the time is not quite right."

Someday, we insist, when all the pieces of our lives fit perfectly together, we'll be in a better position to take action: change occupations, go back to college and get an engineering degree, start a business, work on that big project we've thought about for years, move to the city of our dreams, or begin writing the novel that we've always believed would be a best seller.

The self-delusion of trying to disguise procrastination as a responsible attitude that is just waiting for the "right" time brings to mind a fascinating essay titled The Station, wherein the unknown author metaphorically describes all of us as being on a mythical train of life, rolling relentlessly down the tracks toward the future.

As we travel on this train of life, we keep believing that just around the next bend we're going to arrive at The Station, a beautiful little red station house that will signify the panacea moment when all the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.

When we arrive at The Station, there will be a big crowd cheering, flags will be waving, bands will be playing, and that's when all our troubles will vanish and we can finally take action.

There's only one problem with this picture. It's a fantasy – a pure fantasy – because the reality is that there is no station. It doesn't exist! The perfect moment never quite arrives. There's always one more piece of the puzzle that has to fall into place before we're ready to take action.

The truth of the matter is that, with few exceptions, the best day to take action is today. You can make a sales call today. You can start working on that important project today. You can begin to pick up the pieces and start a new life today. The issue isn't about today being the first day of the rest of your life; the real issue is that today could be the last day of the rest of your life.

When people cling to the excuse that the time isn't quite right to move forward with a plan or change of one kind or another – particularly starting a business – it's often because they get caught up in the "how" of the situation. No one is omniscient. No one can foresee every problem and know, in advance, how to resolve it.

The reality is that all start-ups are dysfunctional. What makes a person an entrepreneur is that he has the determination, perseverance, and resourcefulness to overcome the dysfunction of a new enterprise. Paul McCartney put it well when asked in an interview about how the Beatles got started. Said McCartney, "Nobody knows how to do it. You just start a band."

I should also point out that people often fail to take action because they tend to confuse the word hard with impossible. It's not impossible to change occupations right now; just hard. It's not impossible to move to another city right now; just hard. It's not impossible to start a new business right now; just hard.

Hard is the very thing that gives value to an objective. Everything worth accomplishing is hard. If you're waiting for everything to be just right before taking action, you are in possession of a foolproof excuse for failure.

Don't fear change; embrace it as one of the most exciting aspects of life. Think of action as an opportunity to make mistakes, mistakes that give you a front-row seat in the Theater of Learning.

Carlos Castaneda explained perfectly succinctly when he said, "A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting."

Thinking is a good thing to do – but not nearly as good as action.

About The Author:

Robert Ringer is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and host of the highly acclaimed Liberty Education Interview Series. His recently released work, 'The Entrepreneur: The Way Back for the U.S. Economy,' shows the pathway back to prosperity paved by entrepreneurs. Ringer has appeared on numerous national talk shows and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron's, and The New York Times.

Inauguration of Theeram Residential Care Center
India Center for Social Change - Theeram Residential Care Center being built in Vakathanam - Thrikkothalamangalam will be inaugurated on Saturday, October 13, 2012. As part of the festivities, a seminar related to Care of Mentally Challenged (10 AM - 12 Noon) and a Variety Entertainment Program (2 to 4 PM) will be organized. The inauguration program will start at 5 PM and will be done by Hon. Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala. Many VIPs from different political and religious background will be present at the event. Please see the program for more details.
Theeram Residential Center Inauguration Notice
EN CHRISTOS - 2012
Abu Dhabi St. George Orthodox Cathedral to Host the Camaraderie Meet of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches in the UAE on Friday, October 12, 2012 at 6 PM.

The OCYM - St. George Orthodox Cathedral, Abu Dhabi will host a camaraderie meet of the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches in UAE. The event will offer a unique opportunity to these Churches in UAE to acknowledge and celebrate the spiritual unity of the valuable inheritance in its cultural diversity that dates back to the Apostolic age. Clergy members, choristers and representatives from the Armenian, Coptic, Russian, Syrian, Ethiopian and Indian (Malankara) Orthodox Churches will share the dais in the event titled 'En Christos-2012' - we are one in Christ.

The program is divided into three segments, namely: Salah - Vespers or the evening prayer; Brahmabhavana to celebrate the Orthodox chanting of hymns and perform traditional art forms; and Agape- to nurture the unconditional bonding of fellowship with a ceremonial dinner.

The event is a first of its kind in the Gulf region. More Information can be found in Malankara World News.

Humor: Have You Found Jesus?
A drunken man stumbles across a baptismal service on Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeds to walk into the water and stand next to the old country preacher. The minister notices the old drunk and says, "Mister, are you ready to find Jesus?"

The drunk looks back and says, "Yes, preacher, I sure am." So the minister dunks the fellow under the water and pulls him right back up.

"Have you found Jesus?" the preacher asks. "No, I didn't!" said the drunk.

The preacher then dunks him under for quite a bit longer, brings him up, and says, "Now, brother, have you found Jesus?"

"No, I have not, Reverend."

The preacher now holds the man under for at least 30 seconds this time, brings him out of the water, and says in exasperation, "Man, have you found Jesus yet?"

The old drunk wipes his eyes and says to the preacher, "Are you sure this is where he fell in?"

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