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

Focus: Christian Persecution And Discipleship

Volume 3 No. 140 May 2, 2013

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Isaiah 60:1-3 - Arise, Shine; for thy light is come.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Foreword

Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 5)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_4th-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

Sermons for This Sunday (May 5)

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_4th-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

Prayer Request for Our Abdicated Bishops and Priests

It has been more than 10 days since the kidnapping of the two Metropolitan Archbishops of Aleppo, Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. We still do not have any information about the whereabouts of these bishops They were abdicated while on a humanitarian mission on Monday, April 22, 2013 to have two priests released. ...

Featured: No Servant is Greater than His Master

Jesus promised his disciples the night before he was crucified that their lot was to be no different than His. Jesus said: "No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also!" ...The best, the greatest, the most significant benefit of persecution is that it brings Christ close in the life of the persecuted believer. You. Me. We get the opportunity to know Christ better! That is the great miracle of it! ...

Regime Change and Christian Persecution

A great deal of the ambivalence toward the so-called "Arab Spring" and the events in Syria comes from the concern over what will happen to the Christians in these countries. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein was followed, in very short order, by open war on Iraq's ancient Christian community. The ouster of Hosni Mubarak has accelerated the attacks on the Copts. Who knows what might happen to Christians in post-Assad Syria? ...

Costly Discipleship

To pick up the cross and follow Jesus means to be willing to go anywhere and do anything for your Lord. It means that you want God to do His will in and through you. There is a cost to being a disciple of Jesus Christ, but the end results are well worth it. ...

Owned by Identity, Bought by a Savior

Christ urged us to follow Him with the heavy weight of lumber slung across our shoulders (Mark 8:34). That image is one of ownership. Why else would we take up humiliation and hardship to struggle after a bloodied Lamb? It isn't an image of coercion, but of willingness. Just as the Messiah surrendered Himself to be crucified, we crucify ourselves to admit surrender. ...

Orthodoxy is being destroyed in Syria

By now, 138,000 Christians have been banished from their homes and, at the same time, Christian Churches are systematically destroyed. "They are killing people. A human life is of no value for them," in such words Bishop Luke is describing the situation in the country. ...

Persecuted: Christians in a World of Trouble

Across the world Christians are harassed, arrested, jailed, tortured, raped, beaten and killed. Their churches and homes are bombed or burned to the ground. And children are taken from their Christian parents lest they too become tainted with faith in Jesus. ...

Facing Uncertainty

Sometimes Jesus disguises exciting opportunities for personal growth as difficult circumstances. We would choose to avoid trials at all costs, but Jesus sees the bigger picture. ...

Very Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Corepiscopos Moolayil To Be Decorated With The Patriarchal Award Malphono de Mardutho (Doctor of Literature)

Health: Get a Glowing Tan by Drinking Your Vegetables

New research suggests that eating vegetables gives your skin a healthy golden tan color. A study led by Dr. Ian Stephen at the University of Nottingham revealed that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables gives you more of a healthy golden glow than the sun, according to the journal Evolution & Human Behavior. ...

Introducing Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Pineapple

Enjoy this as a side dish along with Dosha, idly or uppuma or even rice.

Bonus Recipe: Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Loaded with potassium, fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, this simple smoothie recipe is the perfect pick me up.

Family Special: It's the Little Moments that Matter Most in Marriage

Things don't go bad in a marriage in an instant. The character of a marriage is not formed in one grand moment. Things in a marriage go bad progressively. Things become sweet and beautiful progressively. The development and deepening of the love in a marriage happens by things that are done daily; this is also true with the sad deterioration of a marriage. The problem is that we simply don't pay attention, and because of this we allow ourselves to think, desire, say, and do things that we shouldn't. ...

Family Special: Teach Your Children Well

Training children to love and to serve the Lord, to be compassionate toward others, and to have consistent walks of faith is the most noble and important work any parent can do. Therefore, we should find great joy in the fact that the Lord has called us and entrusted us to be parents! ...

About Malankara World

Foreword
It has been more than 10 days since the abduction of two Bishops of the Orthodox Church in Syria. No word, yet, about their whereabouts. This kidnapping brings to light the persecution the Christians are facing in different parts of the world. In this issue of Malankara World Journal, we feature several articles to highlight the cost of discipleship. Jesus had warned us that it will not be easy to follow him.
 
We honor Moolel achen, a member of Malankara World Board, for receiving the award of 'Doctor of Literature' from HH Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East. I often wonder how achen has time to do all what he does. It is truly remarkable. We need more of 'Moolel achens' in our church. Our congratulations to achen for this well-deserved honor, Kochamma, ammachy and others.
 
We have a new Food and Living Editor for Malankara World - Dr. Shila Mathew, MD. I can personally certify to the expertise of Shila in these fields in addition to her being a world renowned psychiatrist. We are glad that she agreed to be a contributor in spite of her busy schedule. So, you can expect to see mouth-watering, healthy recipes, starting with this edition.
 
Thank you. Please pray for us.
 
Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World
This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 5)

Bible Readings For The Fourth Sunday after New Sunday

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Sermons for This Sunday (May 5)
This Week's Features

Prayer Request for Our Abdicated Bishops and Priests
It has been more than 10 days since the kidnapping of the two Metropolitan Archbishops of Aleppo, Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, and Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. We still do not have any information about the whereabouts of these bishops They were abdicated while on a humanitarian mission on Monday, April 22, 2013 to have two priests released.

Kidnapped Bishops in Syria - April 2013
Kidnapped Bishops: Bishop Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and
HE Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

Every prelate of the both churches Syriac and Greek is putting possible efforts now to facilitate the soonest possible release of the abducted archbishops from captivity.

Please continue praying for these bishops and priests for their speedy release. If you haven't signed the online petition to President Obama, please do so using the following link:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/save-syrian-christians-bishops-and-clergy-men/Nqrb3cv1

Message from Karim Thirumeni

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As many of you are already aware, we are saddened to report the kidnapping of His Eminence Mor Gregorious Yuhanna Ibrahim, Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo, Syria by an unknown armed group. Also kidnapped, along with Archbishop Yuhanna Ibrahim, was Archbishop Bolous Yazejy of the Greek Orthodox Church of Aleppo. The Archbishops were en route to Kafr Dael, a relatively small village in the outskirts of Aleppo doing humanitarian work and their pastoral duties in securing the release of two priests who were kidnapped earlier this year. Both Archbishops were abducted from their vehicle and have not been seen or heard from since.

I urge everyone to take immediate action and sign the petition to help ensure their release.

Continue to pray for a quick and safe return of the Archbishops and that rational thinking prevail on the part of the kidnappers.

This petition should be circulated as widely as possible. Kindly pass it along and may God continue to bless you.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/save-syrian-christians-bishops-and-clergy-men/Nqrb3cv1

Yours in Christ,

Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim
Archbishop
Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch Archdiocese of the Eastern United States
260 Elm Avenue, Teaneck, NJ 07666

More Info at: https://www.facebook.com/SOCMNet 

Featured: No Servant is Greater than His Master

by Paul Estabrooks

John 15:9-21

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

The Hatred of the World

18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know Him who sent me.

Introduction

Jesus promised his disciples the night before he was crucified that their lot was to be no different than His. Jesus said: "No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also!"

Persecution Is on the Rise

The Pew Research Institute reported that nearly 73% of the world's population lives in areas where their religious liberties are restricted. (1) Six hundred million people on this planet are experiencing the severest forms of persecution. Most of them are Christians. The definition of that persecution includes physical mayhem, beatings, rapes, killings, and prolonged detentions without cause – all for simply exercising a universal right to believe and to worship as one sees fit." (2) And it's getting worse, not better!

The least we can do – which is the most we can do – is pray for them. This Sunday is dedicated to that cause.

Members of the Body of Christ=Members of the Persecuted Church

The Apostle Paul says in that well-known verse to Timothy, "All who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2Tim 3:12) You might say, "Well, I'm not suffering like a Chinese evangelist in jail," or "I can't compare myself to a Colombian pastor fighting to stop the bandits taking the young people, making the boys "child soldiers. and girls sex slaves for guerilla fighters." True, but the degree of severity is the only difference.

There are severe forms of persecution, and less severe; but there is no such thing as a non-persecuted Christian! It's absolutely vital we remember this. Persecution has become limited in our minds to extreme violence, or something that the state does to others. But the biblical understanding is much broader.

There are four broad types of persecution mentioned by Jesus in his teachings. In Luke 6:22 Jesus proclaims: "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man."

There are four distinct verbs used here by Jesus to define persecution:

1. Hatred
2. Exclusion
3. Insult
4. Rejection

Every Christian should be able to identify a situation in which he or she experienced at least one of these – even here in the so-called Free world. It is persecution, however, only when suffered for the cause of Christ – not for our own foibles and personality.

There are also five sources of persecution mentioned and illustrated in the New Testament:

1. Priests (see Acts 7:54-59, the deacon Stephen is stoned by Jewish religious extremists

2. Rulers (see Acts 12:2 Herod Agrippa kills James)

3. Merchants (see Acts 19 when the leader of the silversmiths in Ephesus drives Paul out of the city)

4. Mobs (Acts 17:5)

5. Families (see Mt 10:35-36, "I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and…one's foes will be members of one's own household.")

One of the five always applies! Persecution is not just pastors getting beaten in China, or killed in Pakistan, or burned in Nigeria and India; it's being cut out of your father's will in because you want to become a missionary; it's when a husband withdraws his love because his wife has become a Christian; it's when a family excommunicates a son because he rejects the teachings of Islam.

We have allowed the human rights community to limit the term "persecution" in two ways – they say it occurs when there is physical violence, and secondly when the state perpetrates this violence. But it is far broader than that. A more biblical definition is "any hostility experienced from the world resulting from one's identification with Christ." It can be psychological and verbal, not just physical, and as we have seen, can come from far more sources than the state. Don't underestimate the power of this form of abuse. And yet… persecution is one of the best ways to tell whether you really are alive in Christ!

We should fight every aspect of persecution wherever it raises its head. But there is also a deeper, cosmic struggle between our Lord and the principalities and powers. Like it or not, we're involved. It's like the saying in Korea, "when the whales fight, the shrimp's back is broken." The whales for them were Japan and China. Our "whales" if you like, are the Lord, and the Principalities and Powers. It's not an even fight, but it is a deadly one. And we shall be wounded in the fight!

Illustration

There's a house church in Xian, central China. And they start every service by going round all the members with the question, "What are your wounds of the week for Christ?"

Persecution: The Ultimate Invitation to Intimacy with Christ

We hear a lot these days about how persecution actually contributes to the expansion of the church. It's an important and inspiring lesson. But not all persecution increases the number of new Christians. There are parts of the world today – look at large swathes of Israel and Iraq for examples – where persecution is strangling the church. Be comforted though – that's not the norm.

Persecution normally is an instrument of revival. Let us beware of focusing on numerical growth. We would be remiss if we focused on the main benefit of persecution as bringing revival to the church.

The best, the greatest, the most significant benefit of persecution is that it brings Christ close in the life of the persecuted believer. You. Me. We get the opportunity to know Christ better! That is the great miracle of it!

How does it happen?

Illustration

Ahmad is an amazing young man of only thirty. He was a former Muslim extremist who turned to Christ in the late 1980's. He lives in Cairo and started a church for Muslim converts. When the fellowship reached fifty in number he was betrayed, and jailed in October 1990.

In that jail, this young man of 21 or so he was tortured. They pushed a cattle prod into his mouth. He was whipped, and hung from the ceiling with his hands tied behind his back. And worst of all, he was given what the prisoners called, "the experience."

He was placed in a stone box. A cube, no bigger than five feet square. No light. No toilet. And left there for three months with food passed through the door every few days. Most went crazy as a result of "the experience." He did not. He found Christ there. But more importantly, the words he used, in reflecting on how Christ came close there, are the most brilliant description of the process: how persecution actually delivers more of God. Here's what he said:

Illustration

"After I was converted, I got used to walking the way of the Cross. This was just a more intense Cross. With great suffering you can discover a different Jesus than you do in luxury. In the pain, you deal with the most weak point of your personality – I was very weak physically and mentally. The suffering exposes who you really are – worthless, greedy, sinful, selfish.

Normally we are able to hide who we really are from ourselves. But persecution makes you so weak, you cannot hide any longer. So you have to face how awful you really are. But then the incredible realization comes...just as you are in a darkest moment of despair… "I am all this, but Jesus loves me just the same. He loves me as I am."

And Christ rushes in and fills me. That is the position of true power and intimacy in the Christian life…where you are so broken, so empty, so sorrowful, that you can do nothing else but welcome Christ in. And in normal life, we are so selfish, so foolish, so stubborn, that we never do it. It takes persecution. That's the way we are made! "

The most liberating place we can live as Christians is when we fully accept our weaknesses, and let Christ in. It's the teaching of Jesus in the Beatitudes. Who gets filled? The hungry. Who gets filled? The poor. Who gets filled? The sorrowful. Who gets filled? The persecuted.

Normally, let's face it, we don't embrace weakness. Normally we think God is extremely lucky to have us on His side. How privileged He is that we place our gifts at his disposal. We don't put it that way, but deep-down, these are the whispers we live by. We think we deserve all the plaudits. And the result is, we are just not empty enough! Not empty enough of ourselves that Christ may come in. Persecution is the ultimate way God creates emptiness in our hearts. But that emptiness – which seems so hard to bear – is the prelude to liberation. Only empty hearts are filled with Christ!

Conclusion

How sad that this principle – so basic, so vast, so wonderful – should be a secret still after all these years! Welcome to persecution. Because it will bring Jesus close. It will break your heart. Break it to fill it…with Jesus. What an invitation! This is what we are alive for! And today we pray for those who are severely persecuted. May they too be filled with Jesus. Amen.

References:

1 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, "Global Restrictions on Religion," Executive Summary, December 2009

2 Robert A. Seiple, Keynote address, "The Cry for Help and the Sound of Trumpets", May 19,2001. Delivered at the Brandywine Forum, organized by the Institute for Global Engagement.

Supplemental Materials

Additional resources can be found on www.OneWithThem.com
One With Them is a campaign of Open Doors with Brother Andrew, Santa Ana, CA. www.OpenDoorsUSA.org

Source: International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Regime Change & Christian Persecution

by John Stonestreet

On Holy Thursday, the National Geographic Channel aired a three-part series about the rise of Christianity entitled "Jesus: Rise to Power." For those of us who are familiar with the history of the period, it was a mixed bag. After all, how can you tell the story of Christianity's "rise" without once using the word "resurrection"?

Still, one of the talking heads made a point well worth noting: many more Christians have died for the faith during our lifetimes than died for the faith between the first Easter and the AD 313 Edict of Milan, which ended Roman persecution of Christians.

A very sad example of this pattern took place this past week in Egypt. Coptic Christians protesting the killing of four Christians were attacked by a mob as they left a funeral at St. Mark's Cathedral.

The mob "pelted them with rocks and firebombs and fired birdshot, forcing them back inside the complex."

The police response, much like the Western media's, was to treat the event as an example of "sectarian violence." Thus, they "fired tear gas, and the gas canisters landing inside church grounds caused a panic among the women and children," to the delight of the assailants outside the church.

Labeling this event and other attacks on Coptic Christians as "sectarian violence" is the worst kind of moral equivalence. Violence against Christian minorities in the Islamic world is endemic, from Nigeria to Pakistan. And this violence goes largely uncommented-upon except on those rare occasions when Christians tire of turning the other cheek. Then, the tired cliché "sectarian violence" gets trotted out.

What's being labeled "sectarian violence" is actually an attempt by some Muslims in Egypt to make life so miserable for Christians that they'll either convert or leave the country. For groups such as the Salafis, who are aligned politically with Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood, the very presence of Christians in Egypt is an affront.

Thus, while countries like Egypt may be notionally committed to religious tolerance, if not actual religious freedom, their ability and, arguably, their willingness to enforce this tolerance is doubtful at best.

A statement from Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said that he regarded an attack on the cathedral as an attack on himself. But this leaves the lack of security at the cathedral and the firing of tear gas into the cathedral an even bigger mystery.

So is Morsi being disingenuous, or is Egypt, as presently governed, incapable of extending even the most rudimentary religious freedom to a population whose presence there long predates Islam?

A point made by "Jesus: Rise to Power" was that most of the persecution of the early Church was local in nature. With a few infamous exceptions such as Nero's persecution and the Diocletian persecution of the early fourth century, Christians suffered at the hands of local officials and mobs. Little has changed in seventeen centuries.

A great deal of the ambivalence toward the so-called "Arab Spring" and the events in Syria comes from the concern over what will happen to the Christians in these countries. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein was followed, in very short order, by open war on Iraq's ancient Christian community. The ouster of Hosni Mubarak has accelerated the attacks on the Copts. Who knows what might happen to Christians in post-Assad Syria?

While we may not want to prop up autocrats, we should have an ongoing concern not to make things worse for our already-suffering Christian brothers and sisters. And we must pray and speak out on their behalf. And that includes for Pastor Saeed, who has been wrongly imprisoned and physically abused in Iran for months.

The Devil They Know: Regime Change and Christian Persecution - Next Steps

From inside torture chambers to outside churches and in homes, the walls and grounds are dripping with the blood of faithful Christians. As John says, the events of Christian persecution are either being misreported or overlooked by the press. Tragically, many Christians are ignoring the problem, too.

But there is so much you can do - you can support ministries to victims of religious persecution. You can tweet, blog, or write about individuals who are being persecuted for their faith.

About The Author:

John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of 'Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.'

Source: BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Costly Discipleship

by Jim Burns

He called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" - Mark 8:34-36

To pick up the cross and follow Jesus means to be willing to go anywhere and do anything for your Lord. It means that you want God to do His will in and through you. There is a cost to being a disciple of Jesus Christ, but the end results are well worth it.

I recently heard of a business executive who said, "I spent my entire life climbing the corporate ladder only to find when I got to the top that my ladder was leaning against the wrong building. I have wasted my life with trivia." Are you passionately pursuing Christ? Don't waste your life in a trivial pursuit when you have at your fingertips the Lord of life to guide you into greater depths and a more meaningful lifestyle.

To be a disciple of Jesus means to pursue Him like the pursuit of a lover and the passion of a romance. Christ is worth your every thought and breath. In Him you will find your reason for living. Remember that He gives you His Spirit but wants you to give Him your body, mind, and soul.

GOING DEEPER:

1. Reread Mark 8:34-36. What does it mean for you to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus?

2. What will it cost you to truly be a disciple of Jesus? Are you willing to pay this price?

FURTHER READING:

Matthew 10:38; Luke 14:27

Source: Homeword with Jim Burns

Owned by Identity, Bought by a Savior

by John UpChurch, Senior Editor of BibleStudyTools.com

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Arguments about "identity" should end at this verse. For non-Christians, it's meaningless noise. For Christians, it's everything. We own nothing from our hair follicles to our toenails. Every drop of cytoplasm, every hormone, every spark of our synapses was paid for in full. Christ didn't die for the “good” parts or the parts we let Him have; He wanted all of us.

That's why it makes no sense for us to justify what's natural or what makes us happy or what satisfies us. To do so breaks us into pieces, compartmentalizing where we will and will not surrender, what we will and will not hand over to Christ. But the choice isn't ours. The price paid was for the whole shebang.

The heart loves to mass-produce idols, and identity works just as well as anything else. Deep inside, the hammers of what's just and fair and right beat in time with our resistance to surrender. We know who we are, and we can't change.

But the possibility of change is completely beside the point. Even if no change comes before the perfect does (1 Corinthians 13:10), even if the desires never stop, we have no room to act on them or justify them. We have no ownership in ourselves. Not even a partial vacation stake.

It all belongs to Jesus.

Christ urged us to follow Him with the heavy weight of lumber slung across our shoulders (Mark 8:34). That image is one of ownership. Why else would we take up humiliation and hardship to struggle after a bloodied Lamb? It isn't an image of coercion, but of willingness. Just as the Messiah surrendered Himself to be crucified, we crucify ourselves to admit surrender.

The arguments about orientations or ingrained needs or natural behaviors focus on one thing: us. They point to who we are and what we want. Put succinctly, such discussions are nothing more than navel-gazing. We're peering down at what makes us tick and letting that determine our course.

And ultimately, none of it matters. That navel we're peering so deeply into belongs to Christ. He bought it.

We've got genes. They're Christ's. We've got a past. It's Christ's. We've got failures and foibles and more twisted thoughts than we know what to do with. And they're hammered to the cross. The ownership of a Savoir sidesteps any arguments about identity because our true identity starts and ends with who we are in Christ. It undercuts any passionate defense of “who I am” because who we are is His. Nothing should come between us - the purchased - and the One who took care of the bill.

We must not let the clanging of our idol-making heart drown out the call of Christ to follow how He leads.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

Salvation is free, but following Jesus isn't. The cost isn't in wealth or doing enough good stuff. It's sacrifice - the willful surrender of even some of our most cherished beliefs about ourselves and what we need. When we come to Christ but refuse to surrender it all, we're like the rich man who couldn't bear the thought of empty pockets (Matthew 16:19-30). We're not all in.

However you identified yourself before you got blisters from hauling around your cross, that identity is now the old identity. You gave it up to the One who paid up. You're His. You're new.

For Further Reading

1 Corinthians 6
2 Corinthians 5

Source: Crosswalk, the Devotional. © 2013 Salem Web Network. All rights reserved.

Orthodoxy is being destroyed in Syria

by Bishop Luke of Seidnaya, Antiochian Orthodox Church

In his interview to the MEDIA, a Hierarch of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, Bishop Luke of Seidnaya, has disclosed the scale of persecutions suffered by Orthodox Christians of this region since the very beginning of the uprising against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, reports Agionoros.ru.

By now, 138,000 Christians have been banished from their homes and, at the same time, Christian Churches are systematically destroyed. "They are killing people. A human life is of no value for them," in such words Bishop Luke is describing the situation in the country.

Thus, in the city of Homs, anti-government forces have committed mass murder of Christians. Hundreds of people have been killed. Dozens of cases of sexual assault have also been recorded.

"The damage done to our Churches is great. They are burned, plundered, their walls are broken. If a human life is of no value for these criminals then will they spare our shrines? Our parishioners are beaten up and attacked. All this is obtaining "legal status" because revolution is happening and nobody is protesting against it," notes the Orthodox Hierarch.

"Our ancestors settled in this land long before Islam appeared here. A great number of saints, who preached love, were martyred in this land," notes the Very Reverend Bishop Luke who, in spite of all horrors described above, continues to call Muslims "brothers". And how can it be otherwise, since Orthodoxy rejects hatred for other religious convictions?

Unfortunately, Orthodox Christians in Syria are now abandoned to their fate. They are becoming vulnerable victims of Muslim fanatics. And the only way they can oppose violence in this situation is prayer and hope in help of God, Who does not abandon those who trust in Him.

Source: Pravoslavie.ru

Persecuted: Christians in a World of Trouble

by Eric Metaxas

Christianity came to Ethiopia in the fourth century and today about two-thirds of the population is Christian, but not everyone is happy about it.

In May 2011, Abraham Abera, a worker at an Evangelical church, was walking home with his pregnant wife, Bertukan. Suddenly, six Muslim men wielding machetes assailed them beating Abraham to death and leaving Bertukan unconscious. She and the baby survived and as Bertukan recounts the attack she recalls the men's words: "You [Christians] are growing in number in our area. You are spreading your message. We will destroy you."

In Russia, police with automatic weapons and attack dogs stormed St. George's Lutheran Church during Sunday morning worship. Blocking all exits, they announced that they were searching for "extremist literature" and proceeded to ransack Bibles and hymnals. Justifying the raid, the police commander said, "There were indications that terrorists were gathering there, and distributing terrorist literature." In fact, the raid was part of a growing program of hostility toward the Lutheran congregation that has been oddly branded "a Catholic sect."

These and far too many other stories are told by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea in their book 'Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians'.

"Our Christianity," they write, "doesn't require us to keep looking over our shoulders, unsure if we will be arrested for praying or attacked for having a Bible." But the majority of the world's 2.2 billion Christians do look over their shoulders. They have to.

Consider this horrific fact: "Christians are the single most widely persecuted group in the world today." The authors write, "This persecution is targeted at all Christian faith traditions from Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant to liturgical, evangelical and charismatic, including hundreds of small, little-known sects."

The sources of persecution, write Marshall, Gilbert and Shea, are threefold: Communist and post-Communist regimes that still "hunger for total political control"; Hindu and Buddhist nationalists who see Christianity as a political as well as a religious threat; and radical Islam with its "urge for religious dominance."

Across the world Christians are harassed, arrested, jailed, tortured, raped, beaten and killed. Their churches and homes are bombed or burned to the ground. And children are taken from their Christian parents lest they too become tainted with faith in Jesus.

As I wrote in the foreword to Persecuted, "we have been blessed with such a bounty of religious freedom that we can hardly imagine what such suffering must be like." But imagine it we must.

Persecuted is a hard book to read not because it's complicated, but because of the injustice, violence and suffering running down every page. In some ways it hurts to read this book, but I recommend you read it nonetheless. Why?

Well first of all, it will strengthen your faith. The lives of those who witness to the truth of Christianity in the midst of unspeakable pressure are inspirational. Second, you'll understand the world better. This blood-spattered world is the world Jesus came to save and for which we need to pray. Third, it will prepare you to act. As Christians in America, we're in a position to put pressure on our government and in so doing come to the aid of our suffering brothers and sisters - and we must.

As Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput writes in the book's afterword, "Ignorance of the world is a luxury we cannot afford. We must know our faith, know our world and its struggles - and then open our hearts, engage our minds, and lift our hands."

About The Author:

Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Source: BreakPoint commentary. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Facing Uncertainty

by James MacDonald, Walk in the Word

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?"
Matthew 8:23-26

Why didn't somebody tell me earlier in my life that I can't fix everything? I thought that with due diligence, everything can get resolved. If there were things up ahead that concerned me, I could just make a plan to solve them. In time, I could have it all figured out and then set the automatic "good life" pilot and let it take over.

It's only more recently that I have grasped that life will never be "together" this side of eternity. It's hard to accept sometimes that perfect is only for heaven.

There will always be people problems. There will always be financial challenges. There will always be a home burden, or a crisis of some kind. Every day I live in this world, there will always be some uncertainty ringing my doorbell.

So much for my assumption that if you just worked hard enough, eventually everything would be sorted out, categorized, and put neatly on the shelf. I have never gotten to that day and what's more, I now know it's never coming.

In Matthew 8:23-24, we land in Jesus' life on a day that perfectly illustrates the imperfections of human existence. "When he got into the boat, His disciplines followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm." In the original language, the two words great storm can be translated to mega and seismic. As in, And behold, there arose a mega seismic on the sea, so that the boat was consumed by the waves. It's worth remembering that this description comes from Matthew, one of the disciples who wasn't a fisherman. He had the terrified layman's perspective on this storm!

I have a few questions about that whole scene:

1. Did Jesus not check the Weather Channel? He totally knew that storm was coming yet He led them right into it. Get in the boat, boys. He knowingly took them into harm's way.

2. Could Jesus have stopped the storm before it started? Sure He could have but He let the storm come.

3. So is it true to say that He wanted the storm? I think we could surmise that He was actually looking forward to how He was going to use the storm in the disciples' lives.

Let's get our theology straight. Sometimes Jesus disguises exciting opportunities for personal growth as difficult circumstances. We would choose to avoid trials at all costs, but Jesus sees the bigger picture. -James MacDonald

Very Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Corepiscopos Moolayil To Be Decorated With The Patriarchal Award Malphono de Mardutho (Doctor of Literature)

V. Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Corepiscopos Moolayil
On Sunday, May 5, 2013, Very Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Corepiscopos Moolayil, a member of the  Malankara World Board, will be Decorated With The Patriarchal Award Malphono de Mardutho (Doctor of Literature) by HB Baselios Thomas I Catholica Bava at a ceremony at St. Adais Jacobite Church, Nalunnackal. The program will begin at 5:30 PM with evening prayer. Several bishops will be participating in the service. Several books will be published during this event in addition to decorating Moolel achen. Moolel achen is best known for his service at Theeram Center where they care for challenged children. We congratulate achen for this high honor.
Health Tip: Get a Glowing Tan by Drinking Your Vegetables

By: Cherie Calbom, MS, CN

Juicing is hot like the vibrant fashion colors for summer -- lemon, raspberry, orange, lime and tomato. Making delicious fruit and veggie juices is great for your energy, immune system, and workout. But did you know the juices can also improve the color of your skin?

Many people wonder if they should use a self-tanning cream or slather on copious amounts of sunscreen so they can get a little color in the summer. There's another option you may never have heard about that can give your skin a healthy golden tan the safest way possible.

New research suggests that eating vegetables gives your skin a healthy golden tan color. A study led by Dr. Ian Stephen at the University of Nottingham revealed that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables gives you more of a healthy golden glow than the sun, according to the journal Evolution & Human Behavior.

Instead of heading for the sun, which can irreversibly damage your skin, you can get your tan on by munching on or juicing up vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes. These can do double duty, depending on the ingredients you choose. In my newest book, "The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies," I share recipes for veggie combinations that soothe headaches, cleanse the liver, boost endorphins and help heal stomach ulcers, among other ailments. To think you can get all that and a beautiful tanned appearance!

"Our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective" than getting a suntan, Dr. Stephen says.

Most people just don't eat enough brightly colored vegetables and fruit to make a difference in their skin tone or their overall health. But people can juice a wide variety of produce in a short time. It's easy to drink two servings in one 12-ounce glass. Have two glasses of freshly made veggie and fruit juice a day, and you've sipped four servings. That will make a difference in how you look.

Dr. Stephen and his team found that people who eat more portions of fruits and vegetables per day have an attractive golden skin color thanks to substances called carotenoids. These antioxidants help soak up toxins and damaging compounds produced by the stresses of everyday living, poor food choices, and environmental toxins, and are especially prevalent when the body is combating disease.

"We found that, given the choice between skin color caused by suntan and skin color caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin color," Dr. Stephen said.

The study is especially important for single people, because individuals in search of a mate favor those who appear healthy, he says.

"This is something we share with many other species," adds Professor David Perrett, director of Perception Lab, where the study was conducted. "For example, the bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is. What's more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more colorful males."

So, rather than going to a tanning salon before suiting up for summer, why not head to the farmer's market and load up on beautiful veggies and fruit? Not only will your skin improve - your body will thank you as well.

About Cherie Calbom, MS, CN

Cherie Calbom, MS, CN is the author of 21 books, including her newest, "The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies," and best-sellers "Juicing for Life," with 2 million copies sold. Known as "The Juice Lady" for her work with juicing and health, her juice therapy and cleansing programs have been popular for more than a decade. She holds a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Bastyr University. She has practiced as a clinical nutritionist at St. Luke Medical Center, Bellevue, Wash., and as a celebrity nutritionist for George Foreman and Richard Simmons. For more information, go to www.juiceladyinfo.com.

Introducing Dr. Shila Mathew, MD.,
Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Dr. Shila Mathew, MD., Food and Living Editor of Malankara World
Dr. Shila Mathew, MD
Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

We are proud to welcome Dr. Shila Mathew, MD, as the Food and Living Editor for Malankara World. Shila is a Board Certified Psychiatrist practicing in Ohio. She is one of the Founding Members of St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Ohio and is one of the Board of Directors of the Church. She has served in the medical team of the Silver Jubilee Convention of MASOC.

Shila is originally from St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Church, North Parur and hails from the Erali Family. She is married to Dr. Jacob Mathew of Pullolickal Family, a member of St. Mary's Cheriapalli, East Pampady, Kottayam. After graduating from Kottayam Medical College, Shila did her Psychiatry Residency at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan. She has also studied at McMaster University School of Medicine, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and obtained a degree in Medical Acupuncture and subsequently has obtained Board Certification in Medical Acupuncture also, one of the very few doctors in US who has such distinction.

After spending the whole day listening to the problems of others at work, Dr. Shila unwinds with her hobbies: quilting and cooking. One of her prized quilts, donated to the Rotary Club, fetched over $1500 in auction!

Shila has two children: Dr. Seena Mathew Boroff and Capt. Dr. Jacob Madhu Mathew. Seena teaches Neuroscience at University of Texas in Austin, TX and Madhu is doing his residency in Internal Medicine at Trippler Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Welcome Dr. Shila to the Malankara World Team!

Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Pineapple

By Shila Mathew MD, Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Ingredients

1) Ripe pineapple cut into 1 cm cubes - 2 cups.
2) 1/3 cup sweet pepper (red, yellow or green color) Cut into ½ cm cubes.
3) ¼ cup sweet onion or red onion. Cut into ½ cm cubes.
4) Lemon juice - one tsp.

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together. Add salt to taste.

You can enjoy this as a side dish along with Dosha, idly or uppuma or even rice. Enjoy the sweet as well as the spicy taste.

Bonus Recipe: Strawberry Banana Smoothie

By Shila Mathew MD, Food and Living Editor, Malankara World

Loaded with potassium, fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, this simple smoothie recipe is the perfect pick me up.

Serves 1 12-oz. serving

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Light Cranberry Juice
1/2 cup Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt
1 banana, sliced
6 strawberries, rinsed and halved
5 ice cubes

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Chef Alyssa, Aldi Test Kitchen

Family Special: It's the Little Moments that Matter Most in Marriage

by Paul David Tripp

In his wisdom, God has crafted a life for us that does not careen from huge, consequential moment to huge, consequential moment. In fact, if you examine your life, you will see that you have actually had few of those moments. You can probably name only two or three life-changing situations you have lived through. We are all the same; the character and quality of our life is forged in little moments.

Every day we lay little bricks on the foundation of what our life will be. This is evident in our relationships; especially in marriage.

The bricks of words said, the bricks of actions taken, the bricks of little decisions, the bricks of little thoughts, and the bricks of small-moment desires all work together to form the functional edifice that is your marriage. So, you have to view yourself as a marital mason. You are daily on the job adding another layer of bricks that will determine the shape of your marriage for days, weeks, and years to come.

Perhaps this is precisely the problem. It is the problem of perception. We just don't tend to live life this way. We tend to fall into quasi-thoughtless routines and instinctive ways of doing things that are less self-conscious than they need to be. And we tend to back away from the significance of these little moments because they are little moments. You see, the opposite is true: little moments are significant because they are little moments. These are the moments that make up our lives. These are the moments that set up our future. These are the moments that shape our relationships.

We must have a "day-by-day" approach to everything in our lives, and if we do, we will choose our bricks carefully and place them strategically.

Things don't go bad in a marriage in an instant. The character of a marriage is not formed in one grand moment. Things in a marriage go bad progressively. Things become sweet and beautiful progressively. The development and deepening of the love in a marriage happens by things that are done daily; this is also true with the sad deterioration of a marriage. The problem is that we simply don't pay attention, and because of this we allow ourselves to think, desire, say, and do things that we shouldn't.

Let me play out this life of little-moment inattention for you. You squeeze and crinkle the toothpaste tube even though you know it both­ers your spouse. You complain about the dirty dishes instead of putting them in the dishwasher. You fight for your own way in little things, rather than seeing them as an opportunity to serve. You allow yourself to go to bed irritated after a little disagreement. Day after day you leave for work without a moment of tenderness between you. You fight for your view of beauty rather than making your home a visual expression of the tastes of both of you. You allow yourself to do little rude things you would never have done in courtship. You quit asking for forgiveness in the little moments of wrong. You complain about how the other does little things, when it really doesn't make any difference. You make little decisions without consultation.

You quit investing in the friendship intimacy of your marriage. You fight for your own way rather than for unity in little moments of dis­agreement. You complain about the other's foibles and weaknesses. You fail to seize those openings to encourage. You quit searching for little avenues for expressing love. You begin to keep a record of little wrongs. You allow yourself to be irritated by what you once appreciated. You quit making sure that every day is punctuated with tenderness before sleep takes you away. You quit regularly expressing appreciation and respect. You allow your physical eyes and the eyes of your heart to wan­der. You swallow little hurts that you would have once discussed. You begin to turn little requests into regular demands. You quit taking care of yourself. You become willing to live with more silence and distance than you would have when you were approaching marriage.

You quit working in those little moments to make your marriage better, and you begin to succumb to what is.

Why do we quit paying attention? Because it is hard work to care, it is hard work to discipline ourselves to be careful, and it is hard work to always be thinking of the other person. Now, be prepared to have your feelings hurt: you and I tend to want the other to work hard because that will make our lives easier, but we don't really want to have to sign in for the hard work ourselves. Oh, I'm not done! I think there is an epidemic of marital laziness among us. We want to be able to coast and have things not only stay the same but get better. And I am absolutely persuaded that laziness is rooted in the self-centeredness of sin.

We have already examined the antisocial danger of this thing inside us that the Bible calls sin. We have already considered that it turns us in on our­selves, but it does something else. It reduces us to marital passivity. We want the good things to come to us without the hard work of laying the daily bricks that will result in the good things. And we are often more focused on what the other is failing to do and more focused on waiting for him to get his act together than we are on our own commitment to doing whatever is daily necessary to make our marriages what God intended them to be.

You can have a good marriage, but you must understand that a good marriage is not a mysterious gift. No, it is, rather, a set of commit­ments that forges itself into a moment-by-moment lifestyle.

About The Author:

Paul Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. For more information, visit http://www.paultrippministries.org

Excerpted from 'What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage' (Crossway, 2010), by Paul David Tripp.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update. © 2013 Salem Web Network. All rights reserved.

Family Special: Teach Your Children Well

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Training children to love and to serve the Lord, to be compassionate toward others, and to have consistent walks of faith is the most noble and important work any parent can do. Therefore, we should find great joy in the fact that the Lord has called us and entrusted us to be parents!

Never lose sight of the fact that you are training your child not only to take a role in God's kingdom on this earth, but also to assume a place and an inheritance in heaven.

Many parents wonder what the most important lesson is that they can teach their children. The answer is simple. Nothing can take the place of teaching your child about the forgiveness and love of God. Sharing about the saving grace of Jesus Christ is the most important thing you will ever do.

Too often, mothers and fathers become weary in the process and say, "I am raising children" or "I am supporting a family." However, we need to view our parental roles as being a privilege. We are training heirs to the kingdom of God; children who will make a difference in this world for God, children who will love others in Christ and lead others to salvation, children who will live together with you in eternity, children who will know the fullness of God's blessings, guidance, and favor!

As you pursue the challenge of being a godly parent, you can be assured that God is on your team. He will provide the wisdom you need for every situation. He also will protect you and bless you as you walk in His ways and bring glory to His name.

Prayer:

Lord, I realize that as a parent I have a tremendous task. I know I cannot do it on my own. I need Your wisdom to guide me each day. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain" (Psalm 127:1).

Source: My Devotional © 2013 Leading The Way  

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