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

Great Lent Week 5: Theme: Amazing God

Volume 3 No. 129 March 7, 2013

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Centennial project kickoff - st. Mary's cheriapally, E Pampady, Kottayam
Inauguration of the Centennial Celebrations of St. Mary's Cheriapally, E. Pampady, Kottayam by HG Thomas Mor Themotheos, Metropolitan of Kottayam Diocese.

Top: HG inaugurates the collection drive by accepting the first donation from Chev. Shibu Mathew, General Convener of Centennial Committee and member of Managing and Working Committees of Jacobite Syrian Church.
Bottom:  Foundation stone laying ceremony for the modernization of the church.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (Mar 10)

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent (Kpiptho/Crippled Woman)

2. Sermons for This Sunday (Mar 10)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_5th-sunday-in-lent.htm

3. Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc. First, read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week and day by day. You can find the resources here.

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Daily Reflections - Bible Readings, reflections and prayers for each day of the week: Week 5 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week5.htm

4. Featured: The Healing of the Bent-Over Woman

The bottom line is that she was there because it was important for her to be there. Here body may have been bent, but her priorities were straight. God came first. She didnít care if it hurt. She didnít mind if it was humiliating. Or maybe she did care and she did mind. But you know what? She didnít let it stop her. She was there. Thatís the point. ...

5. Meditation on Luke 13:10-17

Is there anything that keeps you bound up or oppressed? Infirmity, whether physical or spiritual, can befall us for a variety of reasons and God can use it for some purpose that we do not understand. When Jesus encountered an elderly woman who was spent of her strength and unable to stand upright, he gave her words of faith and freedom and restored her to health. She must have suffered much, both physically and spiritually for eighteen years, since Jesus remarked that Satan had bound her. ...

6. Every Story Whispers His Name

The Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne-everything-to rescues the ones he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! ...

7. God Is Better Than You Think

Most of the time, we see neither ourselves nor our circumstances nor the God we love clearly. As Paul says, we are always looking "through a glass, darkly." So our vision is blurred, limited, and confused, putting us into the foreground while everything else recedes to background. Our fears, our aspirations, our troubles - these are the focal points that command our attention. ...

8. Making The Best Of Every Situation

Sometimes life deals some devastating blows out of our control. Although we may not have a choice with the cards we are dealt at times, we always have a choice with how we play them. ...

9. Would You Like To See The Face of Jesus? Come To My Town

"To be saved" in the Pauline view means to become part of the people of God, who by the Spirit are born into God's family and therefore joined to one another as one body, whose gatherings in the Spirit form them into God's temple. God is not simply saving diverse individuals and preparing them for heaven; rather he is creating a people for his name, among whom God can dwell and who in their life together will reproduce God's life and character in all its unity and diversity. ...

10. Jesus - Our Wonderful Counselor

Have you ever sought the wisdom of a counselor? Maybe you needed perspective on a relationship, or help to walk through grief or depression. Counselors provide guidance, support and encouragement. Yet, no matter how helpful, well-trained or how well-intentioned human counselors are, none can compare to our Wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ. ...

11. Songs in the Night

You can talk about trusting God in adversity, but when someone sees it in action in your life, there is an undeniable authenticity. It is a powerful witness. Worship can be a powerful tool for a nonbeliever to be exposed to. ...

12. 10 Resolutions for Mental Health

He pled with us to stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, but instead to drink in the remedies of God in nature. He was not naÔve. He knew of sin. He knew of the necessity of redemption in Christ. But he would have said that Christ purchased new eyes for us as well as new hearts. His plea was that we stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things. ...

13. Recipe: Mustard Crusted Salmon with Green Beans

A healthy and satisfying dish for any weeknight. ..

14. Humor: Why Men Are Never Depressed

15. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Mar 10)

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent (Kpiptho/Crippled Woman)

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Sermons for This Sunday (Mar 10)
This Week's Features

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc. Read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week and then day by day. You can find the resources here:

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Week 5 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week5.htm

Daily Meditations and Bible Reading:

Day 28 - Mar 10 - Fifth Sunday of the Great Lent

Day 29 - Mar 11 - Fifth Monday of the Great Lent

Day 30 - Mar 12 - Fifth Tuesday of the Great Lent

Day 31 - Mar 13 - Fifth Wednesday of the Great Lent

Day 32 - Mar 14 - Fifth Thursday of the Great Lent

Day 33 - Mar 15 - Fifth Friday of the Great Lent

Day 34 - Mar 16 - Fifth Saturday of the Great Lent

Featured: The Healing of the Bent-Over Woman

by Fr. Stephen Ziton

Gospel: St. Luke 13:10-17

There are few things in life more difficult to bear than a prolonged illness or permanent debilitating condition. Just the other day on TV, I watched the story of a beautiful teenage girl struggling to walk after being crippled by a bullet at a school shooting. This is something she will struggle with all the rest of her life, all because of a senseless and self-indulgent act.

In our gospel today, we meet a woman who probably expected a similar lifetime of struggle. For eighteen years she had been dominated by her malady. There was no reason to believe her situation would change. She was bent over at the waist - she had a most abnormal crease in the middle of her body. She couldn't straighten up. In a kind of forced humiliation, she saw life from the level of half her stature. The horizon of her vision was the dusty realm of wagon ruts and hoof prints. Bent double, she had to look at the people she met at a strange and unnatural angle. Her life had become a forced bow.

Itís easy to envision how others reacted her on the dusty streets. Those afflicted with a visible handicap, such as cerebral palsy, would understand it well. Many undoubtedly quickly looked away when her sideways glance met their stares. We can readily hear in our own ears the innocent questions of the children: "Mommy, why is that lady bent over like that?"

There were probably those who were even been cruel enough to tease and torment her. Hers was a sad condition indeed. Sadder yet, she had no reason to believe it would ever be better. Bent as this lady was, however, we might notice that her priorities were a lot straighter than those of many who walk erect. Did you notice where her healing occurred? Luke tells us that it happened in one of the Synagogues on the Sabbath.

Letís take a moment and consider this question: "What was this lady doing in the synagogue?" Well, obviously, she was there to worship. But you know what? It couldnít have been easy for her to be there. If she had been looking for an excuse not to be there, she had the perfect one!

You can imagine it: "Rabbi, I just prefer to stay home. Itís hard for me to walk to synagogue, my back hurts terribly by the time I get there. When Iím there, people stare at me and I feel so uncomfortable. Itís just better for me to stay home!"

Put yourself in the position of the rabbi. What could you say? The bottom line is that she was there because it was important for her to be there. Here body may have been bent, but her priorities were straight. God came first. She didnít care if it hurt. She didnít mind if it was humiliating. Or maybe she did care and she did mind. But you know what? She didnít let it stop her. She was there. Thatís the point.

Her example certainly points out the utter lameness of so many of the excuses that priests, ministers, and rabbis hear to this day. If itís important to you to be here, youíll be here as long as youíre physically able. Letís face it: most people usually figure out a way to do the things they really want to do. We all have our priorities. So in spite the raw deal life had handed her, this woman had hers: God would be honored first. So, she was there. Thatís our first point: she was there.

Now I want you to notice another feature of this story: her healing was the result of her presence in the synagogue that day, not the cause of it. There is no indication in the text that she came looking for healing. She just came to the assembly where God's people were gathered as was probably her custom. Jesus saw her and called out to her. She didn't see Him and call to Him. She was simply there being faithful to God in worship. So we can see that because she was there, she was available. She was available to receiving the healing grace that Jesus offered that day. Had she just stayed home that Saturday, her back would have remained just as bent as it was on Friday.

A couple of weeks ago, we considered the example of the woman with the issue of blood Ė the one who reached out, touched Jesus and was healed. It was clear in that account that she took the initiative. Had she not reached out, Jesus just would have passed on by.

But this story is different. The bent woman did not reach out. Unlike so many others we meet in the gospels, she does not beg for, or even ask for her healing. Jesus simply fixed his gaze on her, and once he saw her condition, her healing was underway. The only condition for her healing was that she was available for Jesus to do his work.

Hereís the point for us: A most basic condition for the grace of God to act powerfully in our lives is that we be available to God. But not everybody understands this.

Iíve known people who did not pray, did not attend church or receive the sacraments, did not study the Scriptures or any other pious literature, and even lived openly immoral lives, complain that God deserted them when grave problems or tragedy visited their lives. And so they became very angry with God.

The basic philosophy seems to be that "I can utterly ignore God, but when I have a need heíd better be there for me." Well, let me ask: Do you think God was there for them? Of course, he was there. What was the problem? They were not available to God.

They were not there. They were not in the place where Godís mercy, power, and healing were available: neither alone in the quiet of their hearts - in prayer; nor in church, nor in any good spiritual relationships Ė whether with clergy or friends. On the contrary, our Orthodox tradition teaches us to make ourselves available to God, and offers us many ways how to do so:

In addition to prayer & sacraments generally, in particular, I might mention the Jesus prayer (Hesychasm) Ė silence, visitation to monasteries, pilgrimages to holy sites, observance of fasts and feasts, and much else. All these have the purpose of rendering us available to God.

So we can see, when we consider it, that the true Orthodox way of life is the cultivation of heightened availability to God; it leads us to place ourselves in those settings and locations where His power is greatly manifested.

My brothers & sisters in Christ, the bent over woman in our Gospel had no special claim to the mercy and grace of God. God simply was a priority in her life; so much so, that she was willing to endure pain, suffering, and discomfort to be faithful to him.

But in that process of putting God first, she found the solution to her life's biggest problem. When the mercy and salvation of God entered that synagogue on that day, she was there. She didnít have to plead for anything from God; but she was available. And so the abundance of Godís goodness was poured out on her. One canít help but recall Jesus' statement: "Öseek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."

Let us take those words to heart. Seek first the kingdom of God; be there; make yourself available to God; and may his great mercy be poured out on you now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Source: St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral, Wichita, KS;
©2000 St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral
 

Meditation on Luke 13:10-17

'Woman, you are freed from your infirmity'

by Don Schwager

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your infirmity." 13 And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God.

14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day."

15 Then the Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?"

17 As he said this, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him. (Luke 13:10-17)

Meditation:

Is there anything that keeps you bound up or oppressed? Infirmity, whether physical or spiritual, can befall us for a variety of reasons and God can use it for some purpose that we do not understand. When Jesus encountered an elderly woman who was spent of her strength and unable to stand upright, he gave her words of faith and freedom and restored her to health. She must have suffered much, both physically and spiritually for eighteen years, since Jesus remarked that Satan had bound her.

How can Satan do this? The scriptures indicate that Satan can act in the world with malice and can cause injuries -- of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature. Satan's power, however, is not infinite. He cannot prevent the building up of God's kingdom or reign in our lives. Jesus demonstrates the power of God's kingdom in releasing those captive in bondage to Satan, sickness, and sin. It took only one word from Jesus to release this woman instantly of her infirmity.

Do you believe in the power of Jesus to release you from affliction or oppression? The Jewish leaders were indignant that Jesus would perform such a work on the Sabbath, the day of rest. They were so caught up in their ritual observance of the Sabbath that they lost sight of God's mercy. Jesus healed on the Sabbath because God does not rest from showing his mercy and love, ever. God's word has power to change us, spiritually and physically. Is there anything that keeps you bound up or that weighs you down? Let the Lord speak his word to you and give you freedom.

"Lord, you grant freedom to those who trust in you. Give me freedom to walk in your way of love and to praise and worship you always. Show me how I can bring your mercy and healing love to those in need around me."

Source: The Gospel of Luke: a commentary & meditation (c) 1999 Don Schwager

Every Story Whispers His Name

by Tullian Tchividjian

Contrary to what many Christians have concluded, the Bible does not tell two stories: the story of Israel in the OT and the story of the church in the NT or the story of law in the OT and the story of grace in the NT. No, the Bible tells one story and points to one figure: it tells the story of how God rescues a broken world and points to Christ who accomplishes this. In the OT God revealed himself through types and shadows, through promises and prophecies. In the NT God reveals himself in Christ who is the substance of every shadow and the fulfillment of every promise and prophecy. The OT predicts God's rescuer; the NT presents God's rescuer. In all of its pages and throughout all of its stories, the Word of the Lord reveals the Lord of the Word. The plot line of the Bible, in other words, is Jesus-centered. He is the rescuer sent by God to right all wrongs, mend all that is broken, and reconcile separated, fallen human beings like you and me to God.

Even though it's a children's Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible is, in my opinion, one of the best beginner resources available to help both children and adults see the Jesus-centered story line of the Bible.

In the Introduction of that book, author Sally Lloyd-Jones rightly explains what the Bible is not before she beautifully explains what the Bible is. She writes:

Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you'll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren't heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose), they get afraid and run away. At times, they're downright mean.

No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne-everything-to rescues the ones he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

You see, the best thing about this Story is-it's true.

There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in the puzzle-the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

My hope and prayer for all is that we would come to a bigger, better, deeper, and brighter understanding of this remarkable Story and its infallible Hero!

About Tullian Tchividjian

William Graham Tullian Tchividjian is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Tullian is the grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a contributing editor to Leadership Journal. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (M.Div.), Tullian has authored a number of books including Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Crossway).

Source: Christianity.com

God Is Better Than You Think

by Ann Spangler

Not long ago, while puzzling over the difficulties that bear down hard upon most lives - things like job loss, illness, financial ruin, conflict and other maladies, it occurred to me that the emotional pain we feel as a result of our troubles is often magnified by a colossal misunderstanding, one common to the human race. This misunderstanding arises from our lack of vision.

Most of the time, we see neither ourselves nor our circumstances nor the God we love clearly. As Paul says, we are always looking "through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12). So our vision is to some extent blurred, limited, and confused, putting us into the foreground while everything else recedes to background. Our fears, our aspirations, our troubles - these are the focal points that command our attention.

This pattern of distortion happens to everyone, Christian and non-Christian, even though God has revealed truths about Himself that should untangle and upend our twisted view of what is really going on. Despite the fact that God is now in the picture, we Christians often relegate Him to the blurry background.

When I was a child I was introduced to a God who was all seeing, all powerful, and all knowing. But to my child's mind He looked like someone distant, fearful, and untrustworthy. How could you warm to a god who held you in disdain for your many failures, a perfect god whom your flawed self was incapable of pleasing? Fortunately, that imbalanced and distorted vision of God eventually gave way to the understanding that God loved me, indeed that He had saved me by coming into the world and taking away my sins.

In the years that have followed, I have watched as the church has jettisoned the hard god of my youth in favor of a much softer god, one who is always tender and tolerant and who does not demand too much of his people, in which notions of holiness and awe have receded to background or disappeared altogether. But that soft god produces only soft followers, spiritually enfeebled and vulnerable to the shaping power of the surrounding culture.

What am I arguing for? A return to the hard god? By no means. Let's not discard one distortion so that we can embrace another. What we need is something only God can give - a true and deeper vision of who he is as the Almighty, Everlasting God--one who is holy and yet merciful, jealous and yet loving, righteous and yet forgiving. This is the God of Abraham and Sarah and Moses and David and Mary Magdalene and Peter and John and all the faithful who have preceded us. They lived with a sense of God's majesty, a life-shaping knowledge of his greatness and goodness. As A.W. Tozer has said, "the great Church, has for centuries lived on the character of God. She's preached God, she's prayed to God, she's declared God, she's honored God, she's elevated God, she's witnessed to God...."[1]

Let us not settle, then, for a vision of God that is thin and anemic, one that will fall to pieces when life becomes more difficult than we can bear. Instead, let us pray that God will draw us out of our complacency so that we might hunger and thirst for more of Him.

One way to do this is to study Him both prayerfully and humbly. In Jewish tradition, study undertaken in this way is the highest form of worship. But how can we possibly study God? Perhaps one way to begin is by resurrecting an old-fashioned word. The word is "attribute," (n. a-truh-byoot). God's attributes are facets of his character that the Bible reveals. Some might object that it is impossible for human beings to comprehend God. And they would be right. But God can enable us to experience Him in deeper ways. Why else would he reveal Himself if He did not want to be known?

While studying His attributes, we must resurrect other old-fashioned words like holiness, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, righteousness, sovereignty, and transcendence. (Do I hear you snoring yet?) But rather than boring us to death, excavating the biblical content of these words may end up thrilling and freeing us from the colossal mistake of concluding that God is too weak or too removed or too soft to enable us to live with joy and fearlessness regardless of the problems we face. Who knows, a thorough-going study of the attributes of God may even show us that God is far bigger and far better than we think.

Notes:

[1] A.W. Tozer, The Attributes of God, Volume 2 (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread Publishers, 2001), 6.

About The Author:

Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and speaker. Her best-selling books include Praying the Names of God, Praying the Names of Jesus, Women of the Bible (coauthored with Jean Syswerda) and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus (coauthored with Lois Tverberg). Together, her books have sold nearly 3 million copies. Visit her website at: annspangler.com

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Making The Best Of Every Situation

by Kim Gemmell

It was spring of 1998, and life was good. My husband, Cam, and I were expecting our second child in early June. Our Daughter, Jesse, had just turned three. We owned a lovely little house just outside Vancouver, Canada, and short of the white picket fence, everything was perfect.

On May 29, 1998, the rug was pulled out from underneath us, and a hurricane of devastation followed. My placenta detached and I needed an emergency c-section. Our son Avery was born, but he was blue. A team of doctors from Vancouver Children's hospital were called, and before I know it Avery was whisked way to Vancouver. I didn't even get a chance to hold him. Cam was able to be with Avery, but I had just had surgery and the doctors wouldn't allow a transfer until the following day.

I remembered thinking, how could this be happening? Having a baby is supposed to be one of the happiest times of our lives. How will I survive? I soon learned that as long as Avery had the fight and determination to live, I had to be there for him.

Short of a miracle five months later, after four heart surgeries, renal failure, Code Blue's, and the sudden death of my beloved father, we were able to take Avery home. It was the best day of my life.

Now I had a promise to fulfill; I had promised God that if I got to bring my little baby home at the end of this tragedy, I will forever be the most grateful mom in the world. Spending five months in the hospital, we saw a lot of parents leave without their baby. I didn't even care what kind of shape he was in, I just wanted us to be home as a family.

Fourteen years later and I have kept my promise. Oh sure I have bad days, but not many, and never for long. It was a bit of a struggle when Jesse was diagnosed with autism, but it was just another hurdle we had to jump. Fortunately with much diligence and therapy, Jesse is a happy, beautiful seventeen-year-old.

Both Jesse and Avery are happy, healthy and amazing people. At the end of the day what more can a parent ask. It is all I need to fill my soul with gratitude.

People are constantly astonished that I am always so upbeat and happy, considering all our family has been through. This is why I knew I had to write a book. I needed to share with others how life can be wonderful, even if it's not what we thought it would or should have been.

Sometimes life deals some devastating blows out of our control. Although we may not have a choice with the cards we are dealt at times, we always have a choice with how we play them.

About The Author:

Kim Gemmell is an author and inspirational speaker who recently wrote her nonfiction memoir telling her inspirational story - 'BRAVERY: Our Journey of Faith, Hope & Love'. Currently BRAVERY is available on most online bookstores, and also can be purchased through Kim's website: www.braverybook.com

Would You Like To See The Face of Jesus?
Come To My Town

by Mark Altrogge

Do you want to see the face of Jesus?

I'm not talking about seeing it in peeling paint on a warehouse door or an oil slick or a mosaic made of toast. I'm talking about seeing him singing, laughing, serving coffee and praying for people.

If you want to see the face of Jesus, come to my church. Come and see Don and Lisa caring for Don's aging mother and mentally challenged brother. You think that's just Heather taking her Friday afternoons to paint pictures with my 93 year-old Dad, to keep him company? Look closer. And speaking of Dad, for the last 15 years he's been hand-painting birthday cards to bless people - look past the bolo tie and Panama hat, get past the WW2 story you've heard 16 times - you might have to squint a little, but you'll see Jesus.

Who's that gathering eyeglasses to take to Africa? Just Mike? He bears a striking resemblance to Jesus. And there's Jesus at the sound board. You thought it was only Ron? You were partially right - it is Ron. But it's Jesus too. And there's Jesus welcoming that new family. And Jesus leading the 3-year olds in "Wiggle Worship."

You can head across town to Baselios Church or CMA or Lord Jesus Christ Assembly or Word of Grace and see Jesus there. He's all over town! If you want to see Jesus, go to a church. Look at his people living together whether in Indiana, PA or Nigeria or Switzerland.

God is not just saving individuals and preparing them for heaven; rather, he is creating a people among whom he can live and who in their life together will reproduce God's life and character. - Gordon Fee

God is creating a people to display his character in and through.

Join a church if you haven't yet. Be a brush stroke in the portrait of Jesus God is painting in your corner of the world. You can't see this portrait on TV. You have to get with Christians living together.

"To be saved" in the Pauline view means to become part of the people of God, who by the Spirit are born into God's family and therefore joined to one another as one body, whose gatherings in the Spirit form them into God's temple. God is not simply saving diverse individuals and preparing them for heaven; rather he is creating a people for his name, among whom God can dwell and who in their life together will reproduce God's life and character in all its unity and diversity. - Gordon D. Fee

Get involved in God's living temple, the church. Live out your life together with other imperfect people like yourself. Join your voice to Rodney and Gingie's and Rick and Kathy's and Jeff's in lifting up God's praises. Close your eyes and listen. You might just hear Jesus singing.

(Quotations from Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God by Gordon D. Fee)

Source: The Blazing Center

Comments by Ron Reffett

The Lord is amazing in how He works. Just the fact that He uses us in our messed up and broken state is nothing short of astounding! I love what Psalm 68:5-6 says "Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; He leads out the prisoners to prosperity but the rebellious dwell in a parched land." Jesus is indeed seen in the family of God, and it's evidenced by the love that is shown by the people that are there from all walks of life! The diversity of the body is amazing and I am so incredibly thankful that the Lord has allowed me, sinful, broken me, to be a part of His family!

Jesus - Our Wonderful Counselor

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Have you ever sought the wisdom of a counselor? Maybe you needed perspective on a relationship, or help to walk through grief or depression. Counselors provide guidance, support and encouragement. Yet, no matter how helpful, well-trained or how well-intentioned human counselors are, none can compare to our Wonderful Counselor, Jesus Christ.

Several hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah described Him as Wonderful Counselor in Isaiah 9:6. Jesus is the wisest counselor we will ever know, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). He does not simply possess some wisdom, but all the treasures of wisdom. His expertise is unrivaled in providing guidance for our lives.

Christís wisdom is not marred by human logic or reasoning; He does not see things from faulty perspectives. He is Truth. He knows all things. "The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere" (James 3:17). Jesusí counsel is not tainted with worldly thoughts or self-serving motives. His counsel is not contaminated by bias or manipulation. The counsel of Christ is pure.

No matter whose godly advice we seek on earth, we should always seek the counsel of Christ first. He possesses wisdom and knowledge that no human counselor or teacher has. He wants to be the One we immediately seek out when we stumble. He wants to hear about our heartaches and pains. He is the best listener we will ever know. When we place our burdens before Christ, He will fill our troubled hearts with peace.

Prayer: Wonderful Counselor, thank You that I can come to You and know that You give wisdom and guidance that no one else can offer. Help me to remember to come to You. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory" (Psalm 73:24).

Source: My Devotional; © 2012 Leading The Way

Songs in the Night

by Greg Laurie

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me--a prayer to the God of my life. - Psalm 42:8

Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night and had a Christian song or a worship chorus going through your mind? If so, then that tells me you are laying up the things of God in your heart. Instead of waking up with the latest pop music in your head, you are thinking of a Christian song or maybe a Scripture verse. That is a song in the night God has given to you.

When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison in Philippi, Acts 16 tells us that "at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (verse 25).

The word "listening" that is used here is significant. In the original language, it means to listen very, very carefully. Another way to translate it is "they listened with pleasure." There are some things that are not a pleasure to listen toóthey are painful, like fingernails on a chalkboard. But this was pleasurable, like when your favorite song comes on the radio and you turn it up. Oh, I love this song! This is a great song! That is how the prisoners were listening.

I doubt they had ever heard anyone sing in that dungeon before. And I think just the fact that they were singing to the Lord was a powerful testimony. It was a platform for evangelism. You see, you can talk about trusting God in adversity, but when someone sees it in action in your life, there is an undeniable authenticity. It is a powerful witness. Worship can be a powerful tool for a nonbeliever to be exposed to.

When you are in pain, the midnight hour is not the easiest time for a worship service. But God can give songs in the night.

Copyright ©2013 by Harvest Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

10 Resolutions for Mental Health

by John Piper

On October 22, 1976, Clyde Kilby, who is now with Christ in Heaven, gave an unforgettable lecture. I went to hear him that night because I loved him. He had been one of my professors in English Literature at Wheaton College. He opened my eyes to more of life than I knew could be seen. O, what eyes he had! He was like his hero, C. S. Lewis, in this regard. When he spoke of the tree he saw on the way to class this morning, you wondered why you had been so blind all your life. Since those days in classes with Clyde Kilby, Psalm 19:1 has been central to my life: "The sky is telling the glory of God."

That night Dr. Kilby had a pastoral heart and a poet's eye. He pled with us to stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, but instead to drink in the remedies of God in nature. He was not naÔve. He knew of sin. He knew of the necessity of redemption in Christ. But he would have said that Christ purchased new eyes for us as well as new hearts. His plea was that we stop being unamazed by the strange glory of ordinary things.

He ended that lecture in 1976 with a list of resolutions. As a tribute to my teacher and a blessing to your soul, I offer them for your joy.

1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me.

2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death when he said: "There is darkness without, and when I die there will be darkness within. There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing."

3. I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event, filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities. I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence, but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

4. I shall not turn my life into a thin, straight line which prefers abstractions to reality. I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.

5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their "divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic" existence.

7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the "child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder."

8. I shall follow Darwin's advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.

9. I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment." I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is now.

10. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.

About The Author:

John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org. He served for 32 years as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

© 2013 Desiring God

Recipe: Mustard Crusted Salmon with Green Beans
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

A healthy and satisfying dish for any weeknight.

Ingredients:

1 cup Seasoned Croutons
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
16 ounces Extra Fine Green Beans
Iodized Salt, to taste
Ground Black Pepper, to taste
16 ounces Salmon, thawed
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 lemon, sliced into wedges

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400įF (200 deg C).

Place croutons in a food processor and pulse to form large, coarse crumbs. Add parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and pulse gently to combine. Mixture should be coarse and crunchy.

Place frozen green beans on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Roast in the oven until hot and beginning to caramelize, about 20 minutes.

Place salmon fillets on a greased baking sheet and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread Dijon mustard evenly covering each piece of salmon. Top mustard with breadcrumb mixture. Roast salmon fillets for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and the topping is crunchy and golden brown.

Serve the salmon with the green beans and lemon wedges.

TIP: Place green beans in the oven to begin roasting before you finish topping the salmon fillets and dinner will be on the table in no time.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Kates, ALDI Test Kitchen

Humor: Why Men Are Never Depressed
Men Are Just Happier People --
What do you expect from such simple creatures?

Your last name stays put.
The garage is all yours.
Wedding plans take care of themselves.
Chocolate is just another snack...

You can be President.
You can never be pregnant.
You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park.
You can wear NO shirt to a water park.

Car mechanics tell you the truth.
The world is your urinal.
You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.
Same work, more pay.

Wrinkles add character.
Wedding dress for women $5000+. Tux rental for man-$100.
People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet.

One mood all the time.
Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat.
You know stuff about tanks.
A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.

You can open all your own jars.
You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness.
If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.

Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Three pairs of shoes are more than enough..
You almost never have strap problems in public.
You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes..

Everything on your face stays its original colour.
The same hairstyle lasts for years, even decades.
You only have to shave your face and neck.
You can play with toys all your life.

One wallet and one pair of shoes -- one colour for all seasons.
You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look.
You can 'do' your nails with a pocket knife.
You have freedom of choice concerning growing a moustache.
You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.
___________________________________

Men Are Just Happier People

NICKNAMES

If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura,
Kate and Sarah. If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Bubba and Wildman.

EATING OUT

When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.
When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

MONEY

A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale.

BATHROOMS

A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel.
The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.

ARGUMENTS

A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

FUTURE

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

MARRIAGE

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

DRESSING UP

A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the trash, answer the phone, read a book, and get the mail.
A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

NATURAL

Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

OFFSPRING

Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.
A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

A married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing!

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