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

Theme: Evangelism/Discipleship, Christians in Syria

Volume 3 No. 154 August 1, 2013

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Psalm 27:14
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Bible Readings for This Sunday (August 4)

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_11th_sunday-after-pentecost.htm

Sermons for This Sunday (August 4)

Sermons for the Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_11th-sunday-after-Pentecost.htm

Inspiration for Today

Pope Francis: "Go, Do not be Afraid, and Serve"

"Go, do not be afraid, and serve" - If you follow these three ideas - Pope Francis exhorted - you will experience the joy of faith. So: "go home and do not be afraid to be generous with Christ. He is counting on you! The Church is counting on you!" ...

"God's Biggest Problem"

Jesus left the splendor of heaven for the dreariness of the world. He came to where the harvest was and carefully and lovingly reaped the harvest. Then he said to his closest followers, "As the Father has sent me, so send I you!" [John 20:21]

May God give us eyes to see the harvest, a heart to care for the harvest, and a willingness to go into the harvest! ...

The Original Recipe: The Harvest is Ripe

The first disciples were to carry a simple message: The kingdom of God is at hand. God is real; God is present; God is near to us, in us, around us, alive and powerful. There weren't sixty-six books in the Bible to memorize; nor a long doctrinal confession of faith to be recited. Their original message was very simple: the power and presence of God is alive, near and around you and in you...  These first disciples had a simple message, a simple method to go to those who were hurting, and they had a simple but crucial attitude: compassion for those whose lives were messed up with pain. ...

Poem: A Melody of Grace by Dr. Mercy Abraham

Gods Grace is flowing like a spring of joy in my heart
It is like a music sublime with its chords of harmony and rhythm
It is so pleasant to think about, Your love and faithfulness,
O Lord my God. ...

One Hundred Days to the Abduction of Orthodox Metropolitans

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 - is entering into the hundredth day. ...

The Arab Springtime is a Nightmare for Syrian Christians

Today, after two years of "Arab Spring" rebellion, the 2,000-year-old community of Assyrian Christians - some of whom still pray in Jesus' Aramaic tongue - is facing extinction, and the international media is complicit. ...

Putin Concerned About Violation of Rights of Orthodox Christians in Mideast, N. Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his concerns about what he sees as infringement on the rights of religious minorities, particularly Orthodox Christians, in the conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa. ...

Health: The Long-term Safety of Statins: Who to Believe

Statins are widely used to prolong survival and reduce occurrence of coronary and cerebrovascular events in patients with and without cardiovascular disease. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of statins for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease with consistent benefits across all subgroups. ...

Recipe: 5 Recipes that Prove Healthy is the New Delicious

Holistic Chef Provides Foolproof Recipes for Taste & Nutrition. With adventurous food tastes and concerns ranging from personal health to ethical agriculture and livestock practices, more people are exploring alternative diets. ...

Family Special: Staying Strong During Difficult Times

These are stressful times we live in. But that doesn't mean we have to fall apart as a result. Everywhere I turn I hear of women who have experienced unimaginable heartaches, marriages that are in crisis, families that are financially strapped, and people struggling with cancer and disease.

Stress - whether it be personal, emotional, relational, financial, or medical - takes its toll on us in many ways. ...

About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (August 4)

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Sermons for This Sunday (August 4)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."

Melody Beattie

Pope Francis: "Go, Do not be Afraid, and Serve"
Celebrating the World Youth Day Holy Mass in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, July 28, 2013 Pope Francis told those present that it was time to go and to pass on this experience to others.

Addressing a crowd of over 3 million people gathered on Copacabana beachfront for the concluding Mass of the weeklong event, the Pope focused his message on the very theme chosen to run through World Youth Day: "Go and make disciples of all nations".

To the millions of young people gathered to be with him, Pope Francis offered three simple ideas: "Go, do not be afraid, and serve".

Go - he said - during these days here in Rio you have enjoyed a wonderful experience, meeting Jesus with others and sensing the joy of faith. But this experience - he said - must not remain locked up in your life or community, it must be shared and passed on so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus.

And he pointed out that Jesus' message of love is not just for some, it is for everyone, and he urged the young people not to be afraid of bringing Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem most indifferent.

Pope Francis galvanized the young people by telling them that Christ's proclamation is entrusted to them so that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you - he said - your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. Do not be afraid - he repeated - Jesus never leaves you alone!

And finally: Serve. Just as St. Paul made himself a slave to all - the Pope explained - "evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren as Jesus did."

If you follow these three ideas - Pope Francis concluded - you will experience the joy of faith. So: "go home and do not be afraid to be generous with Christ. He is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you!"

Full Text of The Homily Given by Pope Francis at The Concluding Mass of the 2013 World Youth Day

Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Young Friends,

"Go and make disciples of all nations." With these words, Jesus is speaking to each one of us, saying: "It was wonderful to take part in World Youth Day, to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others." Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission! Today, in the light of the word of God that we have heard, what is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.

1. Go.

During these days here in Rio, you have been able to enjoy the wonderful experience of meeting Jesus, meeting him together with others, and you have sensed the joy of faith. But the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history (cf. Rom 10:9).

Careful, though! Jesus did not say: "if you would like to, if you have the time", but: "Go and make disciples of all nations." Sharing the experience of faith, bearing witness to the faith, proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you; but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination or power but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of himself, but the whole of himself, he gave his life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus does not treat us as slaves, but as free men, as friends, as brothers and sisters; and he not only sends us, he accompanies us, he is always beside us in our mission of love.

Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone. Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, he wants everyone to feel the warmth of his mercy and his love.

In particular, I would like Christ's command: "Go" to resonate in you young people from the Church in Latin America, engaged in the continental mission promoted by the Bishops. Brazil, Latin America, the whole world needs Christ! Saint Paul says: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16). This continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now this proclamation is entrusted also to you, that it may resound with fresh power. The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you. A great Apostle of Brazil, Blessed José de Anchieta, set off on the mission when he was only nineteen years old. Do you know what the best tool is for evangelizing the young? Another young person. This is the path to follow!

2. Do Not be Afraid.

Some people might think: "I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?" My dear friend, your fear is not so very different from that of Jeremiah, a young man like you, when he was called by God to be a prophet. We have just heard his words: "Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth". God says the same thing to you as he said to Jeremiah: "Be not afraid ... for I am with you to deliver you" (Jer 1:7,8). He is with us!

"Do not be afraid!" When we go to proclaim Christ, it is he himself who goes before us and guides us. When he sent his disciples on mission, he promised: "I am with you always" (Mt 28:20). And this is also true for us! Jesus does not leave us alone, he never leaves you alone! He always accompanies you.

And then, Jesus did not say: "One of you go", but "All of you go": we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation, he called them to form a group, a community. I would like to address you, dear priests concelebrating with me at this Eucharist: you have come to accompany your young people, and this is wonderful, to share this experience of faith with them! But it is a stage on the journey. Please continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone! And at this point I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Youth Ministry groups, to the Movements and the new Communities that accompany the young people in their experience of being Church. They are so creative, so audacious. Carry on and do not be afraid!

3. The final word: Serve.

The opening words of the psalm that we proclaimed are: "Sing to the Lord a new song" (Psalm 95:1). What is this new song? It does not consist of words, it is not a melody, it is the song of your life, it is allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing his sentiments, his thoughts, his actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service.

In our Second Reading today, Saint Paul says: "I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more" (1 Cor 9:19). In order to proclaim Jesus, Paul made himself "a slave to all". Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.

Three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. Follow these three words: Go, do not be afraid, and serve. If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives joy.

Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel. In the first Reading (Jeremiah 1), when God sends the prophet Jeremiah, he gives him the power to "pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant" (1:10). It is the same for you. Bringing the Gospel is bringing God's power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world.

  • Jesus Christ is counting on you!
  • The Church is counting on you!
  • The Pope is counting on you!

May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, always accompany you with her tenderness: "Go and make disciples of all nations."

Amen.

Source: Vatican Radio

"God's Biggest Problem"

by John Jewell

Scripture: Matthew 9:35-10:8

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when I ask the question, "What is God's biggest problem?"

Now many people will immediately think, "Me - I'm God's biggest problem." And that is probably a good sign. But, beyond this personal perspective, it does not take long for the flood to begin.

There is the horror of a date on the calendar everyone knows, September 11, 2001. The events of that day represent the hatred, violence and human tragedy that surely could qualify as God's biggest problem. Or perhaps the hunger and poverty that devastates large portions of the world's populations and guarantees the suffering of millions of innocent children. Could that be God's biggest problem? Or maybe it is domestic violence, or physical suffering and illness. Perhaps these are close to the top of the list of God's biggest problem.

The list of troubles in this world you and I would like to see God do something about grows so long, so fast, it can be overwhelming.

Speaking of troubles, perhaps you have had days like the man who came home after a very rugged day at work and didn't want to hear about any problems. "I've had a very bad day today," he said to his wife, "So if you have any bad news tonight, please keep it to yourself."

"Okay," she answered, "No bad news. Now for the good news. Remember our four children? Well three of them did not break an arm today!"

Fortunately, God never says to us, "Look, I've got a very rugged world on my hands... please don't bother me with your problems." On the contrary, Jesus issued this standing invitation, "Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." It was not limited to the first 100 weary persons of to a certain group of favorite people - it was, "Come to me all of you who have heavy burdens to bear."

No... God's biggest problem is not that there are too many problems.

There is a direct clue to God's biggest problem in our Gospel reading. I want to focus on verses 35-38 in Matthew's ninth chapter. Listen once again:

"Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

Here then, is God's biggest problem:

God has a harvest of lost and hurting children in our world, but does not have enough workers to bring the harvest in!

And this problem is not a new thing at all. Almost eight hundred years before Jesus' ministry, the prophet Isaiah had an amazing experience of the presence of God. He is so overwhelmed by the experience that he feels completely undone. "I am a sinful man," he says, "And I live in the midst of sinful people." Then an angel comes to Isaiah with a live coal from the altar of God - he is forgiven of his sin and made whole in the presence of God. Then comes a startling question from the Lord God:

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I; send me!"

Who will take the good news of God's forgiving and healing love to a broken world?

Please make a note here: Vital, dynamic, growing churches are those churches which seek to have every one of its members embrace one of the great blazing truths of the Christian faith... namely:

Jesus Christ needs me for his harvest!

When Christ was on this earth, his voice could reach so few. He was never outside of Palestine and there was a world which was waiting. The crowds he had compassion on were a tiny part of the world that lay beyond. He still wants people to hear the good news that God loves and cares for them and wants them to experience his love and the love of a caring fellowship... But they will never hear unless others tell them. Jesus Christ wants a child taught, but that child will never learn unless a teacher emerges to teach.

It is the continuing dream of Christ that every follower of his should become a reaper on the harvest. There is at least one someone whom each of us could -- and must -- bring safely to the love of God.

Now - I want to assume that you will desire to help with God's biggest problem.

Here are a few principles for effective harvesting:

[1] You must see the harvest

As obvious as it may sound, you can't be a harvester if you don't see a harvest. Jesus had to tell his followers to LOOK at the harvest.

John 4:35 Do not say, "Four months more and then the harvest. I tell you open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest."

Let me ask... Is the harvest clear to you? Is there anyone you know who really needs the love of God and the comfort of a caring fellowship? People who want to be harvesters must train their eyes to see with the eyes of Jesus Christ.

[2] You must care about the harvest

When Jesus saw the crowds, the scripture says, "...he had compassion on them..." He saw the helplessness and hopelessness of people and his heart was moved to care for them. There is a great deal of difference between the way Jesus saw the crowds and the way the religious elite (the Pharisees and the ruling priestly class) saw them. They saw chaff where Jesus saw wheat. They saw social rejects where Jesus saw lost and searching hearts. They saw the unacceptable and untouchable while Jesus saw God's lost children.

They said, "Who cares?"

Jesus said, "God cares!"

In order to help with God's biggest problem, we must have the eyes and the ears and the heart of Jesus for those who need him most.

This can make a real difference. Try it this week - as you observe the people around you - at work, at the grocery store, as you drive around town, make a special effort to look at others with the eyes of Christ.

[3] You must go into the harvest

Joseph Aldrich wrote a book several years ago entitled, "Lifestyle Evangelism." His central point is that Christian people need to build bridges of friendship with people who are without a spiritual home. It is across these "bridges" that people can be gently nudged towards the love of God and the support of a caring Christian fellowship.

It is one thing to see the harvest. And it is important to see it. It is another thing to care about the harvest. And it is important to care about the harvest. It is something else entirely to go into the harvest. Seeing and caring can be done from a distance - but entering into the harvest is to make a commitment to join with Christ is solving God's biggest problem. Harvesting can not be done from a distance. God set the model for harvesting in the incarnation of Christ. As God came in the flesh through Jesus Christ to stand next to us and bear us up - so also we are called to enter the harvest and bear others up to the love of God.

Aldrich in his book suggests that the church has developed a style whereby we "call out to the harvest" to come in and be harvested. It is the opposite of how Jesus worked. Jesus left the splendor of heaven for the dreariness of the world. He came to where the harvest was and carefully and lovingly reaped the harvest. Then he said to his closest followers, "As the Father has sent me, so send I you!" [John 20:21]

May God give us eyes to see the harvest, a heart to care for the harvest, and a willingness to go into the harvest!

The Original Recipe: The Harvest is Ripe

by Edward F. Markquart, Grace Lutheran Church, Seattle, WA

Scripture: Matthew 9:35-10:8

"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send workers...now!"

Today, I would like to examine the appointed text for today, the call of the disciples, and see how it applies to our ministry today. I would like to look at the original calling of the first disciples and see how that paradigm for ministry then applies to our understanding of ministry today. I would like to look at the original recipe for discipleship. It is kind of like going to Kentucky Fried Chicken. You go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and they have the original recipe; but then they have all the later recipes for fried chicken. I would like to look at the original recipe for what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus and then examine how the original recipe has been changed through the centuries.

So, looking at the story for today, we discover that the first disciples were to carry a simple message: The kingdom of God is at hand. God is real; God is present; God is near to us, in us, around us, alive and powerful. There weren't sixty-six books in the Bible to memorize; nor a long doctrinal confession of faith to be recited. Their original message was very simple: the power and presence of God is alive, near and around you and in you.

Then, these first disciples had a simple method. Go to the needy. The sick and blind and crippled, those with leprosy, those who experienced death. Go to people who have a real felt need for God's help in their lives. Jesus later said: "Healthy people don't need a doctor; it is sick people who do." The disciples' original method was very simple: Go to those around you who have obvious needs for God to rule their lives, who need the power and presence of God to help them.

Then, these first disciples had a simple but crucial attitude: compassion to those in need, those who were hurting. The Bible says that Jesus had compassion on them, like sheep without a shepherd, and the Greek word of "compassion" is deep feelings, gut feelings of love for the hurting. The way you reach people is with this attitude of compassion. Not with an attitude of cynicism: those people are all messed up and nothing can be done about it. Not with an attitude of condemnation: boy, did those people mess up their lives. Not with an attitude of constructive criticism: let me point out the ten mistakes that these people made to mess up their lives. Rather, the attitude of deep compassion is what makes ministry possible.

So, these first disciples had a simple message, a simple method to go to those who were hurting, and they had a simple but crucial attitude: compassion for those whose lives were messed up with pain.

Then, as part of this original recipe, Jesus chose twelve common and ordinary people to go and do his work. There was not one religious professional among them.

Peter? Yes, Peter, the big fisherman by trade. The leader type who cracked under pressure and denied Jesus three times when the going got tough. He also had a case of foot in mouth disease, often saying the wrong thing at the right time.

James? John? Yes, the two sons of thunder. They had thunderous tempers. They would have qualified for anger management class. Hot headed. Hot tempered. And Ambitious. They wanted to sit at the head table at the future banquet. Not the meek and mild persons we often would expect to be disciples of Jesus.

Andrew? Yes, the kid brother of Peter. Always trying to live up to his brother's long shadow.

Judas? Yes, the greedy one. He sacrificed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. In the history of religion, there are always those who love gold more than God. Real basic.

Thomas? Yes, the doubter. He wanted proof that Jesus was raised from the dead. He was a natural born skeptic and even at the end at the Ascension, some of those disciples were still doubting.

Matthew? Yes, the tax collector. Half crook. Half businessman. Tax collectors will take financial advantage of you if they can. He reminds me of a used car salesman; they often don't tell the whole truth about the car you may be buying. No offense to used car salesman; that's my family background and I speak from experience. Make an extra buck if you can. Use Jesus if you need to.

Simon? Yes, Simon the Zealot. He was a political fanatic, liberal or conservative we don't know, but he was a fanatic and probably wanted Jesus to be a political revolutionary. In the history of Christianity, people are always interested in using Jesus to further develop their own political agenda.

Bartholomew? Thaddeus? Don't know anything about them.

So, as we look at the original group of twelve, we find people who are not the heroes of faith; they are not in the "who's who" of religion; they are not the model citizens of our stereotype of the kingdom of God. Jesus chose twelve common and ordinary, imperfect people.

And you will notice that not one of them is a priest or rabbi or religious lawyer or prophet. Not one. What does this mean, that Jesus avoided all the religious professionals of the Old Testament people? This becomes important later in this sermon.

OK, so in the original recipe of discipleship; those first twelve disciples had a simple message, a simple method to those in need, a crucial compassion, and they were common and ordinary, imperfect people, with not one religious professional among them.

Now, these original twelve also had a dress code. These verses were not included in the lectionary reading, but in the following verses of Matthew's story. The disciples are told to carry no gold or silver with them and they are to dress simply. One tunic. Two pairs of sandals. That's all. Now what is behind this? I am convinced that Jesus is aware that some people may be attracted to Christianity for the wrong reasons e.g. Christianity will make you healthy, wealthy, and rich. Fancy clothes and a bulging wallets may send the wrong message. The only thing the disciples have to offer is the kingdom of God, the power and presence of God to heal their lives, to make a difference in the way they live. Nothing more.

So, if these were the ingredients of the original recipe of discipleship, what does that mean for us today? How does this original recipe work itself out for us today?

1. First, the gospel of Christ is always directed to those are in need; to those who are hurting: the sick, the hungry, the poor, the weak, those whose lives are all messed up or screwed up. Phillips Brooks, in his Lectures on Preaching, 1877, has a line that I really like: The preachers/ the person's instinct is to feel instantly, how Christ and human need belong together. Let me say it again: a person's instinct is to feel instantly how Christ and human need belong together. You feel instantly how Christ connects to the need of the person you are talking to.

For example, this past week in our parish, two women lost their husbands, both 55 years old, Mary Koch and Cookie Morris. The pain and sorrow and shock were great, and person's instinct is to feel instantly how Christ and their human need belong together. To be with them, to hold them, to comfort them, to listen to sorrow, to listen to their sure hope for eternal life, in a thousand little ways, to know what it means to connect the love of Christ to their human need.

In the original recipe among the original disciples, the first disciples always related Christ to the human need of their friends around them: blindness, leprosy, death, whatever it was. And so it is with disciples two thousand years later, we always relate Christ to the deepest needs of the person we are talking with.

And the good attitude, the crucial attitude of compassion is so very necessary. Not cynicism: you are stuck in your life situation and there is nothing that can be done. Not condemnation: look at all the little mistakes you have made to bring this disaster on yourself. Not constructive criticism: here are some suggestions that if you follow them, you will get better. Rather, Jesus' attitude was the compassionate love of God for the hurting person. Not cynicism or condemnation or constructive criticism.

And so at the heart of discipleship is reaching out to our friends and neighbors and strangers in need with the genuine love and compassion of God living inside of you. These quality relationships of compassion are the means, the simple method, that God uses to reach others.

2. A second thing we learn from the original disciples in the original recipe is that Jesus chose common and ordinary people to go and do his work. He didn't choose one religious professional. I would like to prove to you how this principle is still valid some two thousand years later.

Researchers tell us how people come into the life of faith, and these researchers tell us that only one fourth of one percent come into the church by means of a famous evangelist or TV evangelist.

So I ask you here today and I need a show of hands: how many of you were brought to faith initially or brought to church initially because of a famous evangelist, at a revival or on TV? Could I see your hands? Not one. Out of the three worship services today and 800 people, not one of you was brought to faith through a famous TV evangelist?

A second question: how many of you were initially brought to faith because of a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, brother, sister, or friend? Could I see you hands? Hmmmm. It looks like all of you were brought that way.

Now, a third question: how many of you were initially brought to faith or the church because of a pastor? Let's see, that's five out of all who were present at our three worship services. Only five. But I thought the pastors or evangelists were the ones who did that kind of work.

What this proves to me and you is that Jesus' original recipe is still working. That is, people are still brought to faith and church by religious non-professionals. You were all brought to faith and church by some common and ordinary persons. That's the way it was in the original recipe. But in today's religious recipe, we often erroneously think that a person is brought to faith or the church because of a pastor, a childhood pastor, a dynamic pastor, or a suped up evangelist like Billy Graham. In the original recipe, it was the common and ordinary laity; but in the further evolutions of the recipe and in today's contemporary recipe, we think this work is done by pastors and suped up evangelists.

You have proven to me and yourselves that it is not pastors and suped up evangelists but that it is the common and ordinary people like you that God uses to bring people to faith and church.

And you have been given the authority to do this. Clearly, in the text for today, Jesus gives you the authority and power to do this. You don't have to go to seminary or Bible school or have a religious title as pastor to have this authority. You, the common and ordinary people of God, need to realize you have been given the authority by Jesus Christ to do this. And when you sense you have the authority to do it, that makes a difference in how you talk to and relate to others. You have greater inner confidence.

3. A third thing we learn from the original recipe is the prayer: Lord of the harvest, send workers... now.

In the original recipe, what did it mean to be a worker in the kingdom of God? To go to one's friends and neighbors who were in need and hurting, to go to them with compassion and message of hope to their need. But does it mean to be a worker today, in the later evolutions of the recipe? To be a worker in the kingdom today means to do the work around the church: paint the walls, sing in the choir, usher, attend worship, study the Bible, all of which are noble and good. But in the original recipe, when there was no church building and membership to maintain; in the original recipe, what it meant to work was to do the work of going to neighbors in need with the Gospel. The church in the twenty first century needs to recover the meaning of the original work of the first disciples.

And knowing how the original recipe worked, with common and ordinary people sharing the Gospel with their friends in need, and with Jesus not choosing religious professionals to do the work, Jesus prayed: "God, Lord of the harvest, please send workers now. Now Lord. Workers. Not coasters. But workers. There are tens of thousands around us who need the Gospel now. Please Lord. Send workers....now." And that is my prayer today: that this congregation would reclaim the original work of the first twelve disciples; that God will answer our prayer and send... workers... now. Amen.

[Editor's Note: This is an abridged version of a sermon given by Pastor Edward F. Markquart.]

Poem: A Melody of Grace

by Dr. Mercy Abraham

Mountains, Valleys and Lakes

Gods Grace is flowing like a spring of joy in my heart
It is like a music sublime with its chords of harmony and rhythm
It is so pleasant to think about, Your love and faithfulness,
O Lord my God. As we look at these mountains and
Deep fathomless valleys when we travel
Through these county highway - lanes.
Happiness and your grace fills my mind.

With pleasant tunes, we all sing in
unknown tongue, as we travel all these days.
In the night we dream strange visions
Which we do not understand.

It is only thy grace, that brought me years back
Which bring Praise and Honor to Thy holy name, O Lord my God
I want to sing new songs in an unknown tongue or
Dance to the tune of an unknown rhythm
Of a street back piper. Fragrance from
distant flowers waft across the air so fresh and cool.

It is a really a heavenly experience as well travel together in this
Journey of life across mountains, hills and valleys with its streams,
Rivers and lakes beautiful, which I will cherish in my life.

[Editor's Note: Dr. Mercy Abraham is a graduate of Kottayam Medical College. She lives with her family in UAE. Mercy is a talented poet. This poem was written when she and her family were visiting UK.]

One Hundred Days to the Abduction of Metropolitans
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 - is entering into the hundredth day.

The bishops were abducted on April 22, 2013 while on a humanitarian mission to release abducted priests in Syria. It is believed that the bishops are held in a town called Beshkatin Northwest of Aleppo; but no independent verification of it is available.

The two prelates are prominent figures who dedicated their lives to serve the people of Aleppo regardless of their religion and ethnicity.

Last week, the 50th convention of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch in North America convening in Anaheim, California expressed their deepest concern over the devastating war situation in Syria, and the plight of Christians in the Middle East, where they find themselves under increasing pressure to flee from their ancestral homeland. They were particularly concerned about the kidnapping of the two bishops.

During the convention, the participants offered prayers for the safety and immediate return of the two Archbishops and all kidnapped people in Syria. They likewise, prayed for all the victims of this senseless war and for a peaceful solution in Syria.

The convention urged the United States government to spare no effort in securing the immediate release of Archbishops Ibrahim and Yazigy.

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

We urge you to pray for the release of these bishops. May the risen Lord continue to strengthen our church and all Christians during these trials and tribulations. 

The Arab Springtime is a Nightmare for Syrian Christians

by Alessandra Nucci

Middle Eastern Christians decry how Western media misrepresent the increasingly violent events in Syria.

Now that Syria is in shambles - with an estimated 93,000 dead, 1.5 million refugees, and 4.5 million internally displaced; ancient churches torched, destroyed, or vandalized; Christians targeted for murder and kidnapping and even used as human shields - now the mainstream media is starting to admit that, yes, the rebel forces appear to include quite a few Islamist guerrillas. Now that even chemical warfare has made its appearance, with Carla Del Ponte, a member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, confirming that "the chemical weapons are being used by the rebels, not the men faithful to Bashar al Assad"; now that clergy are being kidnapped, with still no word of kidnapped bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi and with the beheading of a cleric by Islamist rebels available on YouTube for all to see - now the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has started including some jihadist rebel atrocities in their reports.

Now that women are having to cover up with the abaya, or at least keep a veil handy when they venture out, just in case (something previously inconceivable in Syria), now the press is reporting the establishment of sharia courts which, according to the Washington Post, pass sentences "daily and indiscriminately" on Christians and anyone else who violates precepts of Wahhabi Islam.

Now that the economy has been brought to its knees by the widespread destruction and looting of stores and workshops; now that famine is at hand in the city of Aleppo, and foodstuffs are to be had only at enormous prices; now that the terrorists have reached Homs and Aleppo and the mountains above Damascus - now at last the press seems to have stopped describing the rebels' fight as a high-minded struggle for "freedom."

Syrian culture used to be distinctive among the lands of the Middle East for a coexistence between Christians and Muslims which went beyond mere tolerant forbearance, a reality of which Syrians were proud. Under the iron fist of the ruling Alawite dictators, who kept fundamentalists at bay, a good degree of religious freedom was preserved. Christians fleeing persecution in other Middle East countries found refuge in Assad's Syria, including Iraqi Catholics fleeing post-Saddam persecution.

Yet today, after two years of "Arab Spring" rebellion, the 2,000-year-old community of Assyrian Christians - some of whom still pray in Jesus' Aramaic tongue - is facing extinction, and the international media is complicit.

Since 2011, mainstream Western media, along with Al-Jazeera, has produced a steady stream of reports on the brutal suppression of liberty by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, ignoring the fact that the regime had long ensured that Syria's nearly 2.5 million Christians - who include members of some 10 different faith traditions - were guaranteed the same rights as the Islamic majority. If the Assad regime, rather than being toppled, has become more popular with the passing of time and in the face of escalating violence, as many reports from the region indicate, it is because government tanks were the only thing standing between the people and sniper bullets from - or potential kidnapping by - rebel forces.

Nonetheless, as late as June - while the Vatican news agency Fides reported that the armed opposition was forcing Christians to leave the country, and PIME news agency AsiaNews identified Saudi Arabia and Qatar as the prime instigators of this move - the New York Times' reporting on Syria persevered in laying the blame for the nation's troubles largely upon on Assad and his supporters.

Yet Catholic authorities and Christian patriarchs of the different religious traditions in Syria have spoken up whenever possible.

"Eighty percent of the population is on the side of the government, like all Christians are," was the assessment, months back, of the Catholic Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, SJ, one of the many to accuse the mainstream media, including the BBC, of slanted reporting.

Msgr. Giuseppe Nazzaro, OFM, apostolic vicar of Aleppo, said: "The papers take up only the news published by Al-Jazeera and other Arab media, which are financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. These countries are among the main supporters of the rebel forces whose only aim is to foment chaos in order to topple the Assad regime."

Gregory III Laham, patriarch of Antioch and leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which is based in Damascus, revealed in an interview in June that Syrian Christians are being used as human shields in the armed battles between the Syrian army and the rebels. "The truce has been violated by the rebels, not Assad," the patriarch said, contradicting UN envoy Kofi Annan, who had blamed the violation of the cease-fire on the government. "It is in the regime's best interest that Kofi Annan's peace plan succeed. There have been thousands of casualties among the soldiers, out of the ten thousand dead since the beginning of the revolt. On behalf of the other Syrian bishops, I can assure you that there has never been an unarmed demonstration that was attacked by the army. The government does not attack unless it is attacked."

In June 2011 pro-government civilians carried a 60-foot wide, one-and-a-half-mile long Syrian flag through the streets of Damascus, hoping their demonstration would leave no uncertainty as to where the population stood, and that accounts of vast popular indignation against the government would be belied by the turnout. However, initial reports on the demonstration described it as being against the government rather than for it. To the camera a crowd is a crowd, their words are in Arabic, and any signs in English can be excised or spoken over.

In June 2012, the chief correspondent for Britain's Channel 4, Alex Thomson, reported that his crew was led by the anti-government rebels into a sure ambush in "no-man's land." Why? Because their deaths by gunfire from government forces would have backed up the rebels' accusations against the regime. "Dead journos are bad for Damascus," Thomson pointed out.

The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, in a recent interview with Catholic weekly Tempi, summed up the situation: "Of course, it's true that Syria needs reforms, who doesn't? But this does not warrant destroying the entire country just because there are a few who want change. We religious leaders of the Middle East are all of the same opinion: I prefer an imperfect regime with a dictator to 80,000 dead and one and a half million refugees."

"I thank the world's solidarity," the patriarch continued, "Italy's and America's, Caritas and the Muslim charity of the Gulf nations. But I would rather have not had to thank them." On the subject of the two kidnapped bishops, the patriarch said: "Still no news. Under the Assads no bishops were ever kidnapped. But now we have change, we want to better our condition, and here we are."

In the interview, which was given before President Obama decided to send arms to the rebel factions, Patriarch Twal worried that it might be the European nations who would do so: "All the Muslim radicals that were in Jordan have now gone to Syria. It is the utmost irony that we are now collaborating with them. Europe professes high values, yet collaborates with people who terrify them and their people, and terrify our Arab regimes. To think that Europe, and above all France and the UK, would even like to send arms to the rebels, in order to help defeat Assad! Aren't 80,000 dead enough? Do we really want more victims and destruction, to change this famous Assad regime? Okay then, send in more weapons and the dead are bound to increase."

One-sided reporting

Among the first cracks in the invisible iron curtain of mainstream media coverage was the testimony of the Trappist nuns of the Beata Maria Fons Pacis monastery, located in a small village near Aleppo. Of Tuscan origin, the sisters had come to Syria in 2005 to devote their lives to God and to their neighbors, Christians and Muslims alike. In an interview three years ago, with the uprisings already brewing, the community's superior, Sister Martha, spoke about the demonstrations in support of Assad. "President Bashar was truly beloved by many people," attested Sister Martha. "Today, of course, with the passing of time, there has been a growing awareness of a need for more justice and more liberty. But there is also a realization that among the rebels there is a violent faction that wants to exploit this situation to take over the country."

Is there an international conspiracy? "I can't say," replied Sister Martha. "All we know is that the Saudis have bought land and houses, or lent money to people to buy land and houses. We know that weapons are pouring into Syria, along with money and soldiers. This can't help but increase the instability."

The sisters hoe their vegetable garden, pray, work, comfort the people. They never dreamed the situation would come to this when they came. "But where else would it make more sense for a monastery to be, than here?"

A well-known religious figure who has spoken out on the plight of Syrian Christians is Carmelite nun Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix. Of Lebanese origin, Mother Agnès-Mariam, 60, is the superior of a convent near Qara, about 50 miles from Damascus. In June 2012 she was warned of a plot to abduct her after she revealed that about 80,000 Christians had been "cleared out" of their homes in Homs province by rebel forces, and forced to flee the country. After the uprising began, Mother Agnès said she had noticed growing numbers of "aggressive, armed gangs which wished to paralyze community life, abducting people, beheading, bringing terror even to schools." Slowly these gangs were identified: some were al-Qaeda recruits and affiliates, some had been involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, some were attached to other Islamist factions.

"Only about one in 20 of these fighters is Syrian," Mother Agnès said in an interview with The Australian. The rest come from places ranging from Britain to Pakistan, from Chechnya to Indonesia, from Albania to North Africa, many fought in Iraq, some also in Afghanistan. "Now their cause is being recycled to kill Syrians," Mother Agnès said.

In the beginning, the Carmelite nun explained, the uprising embraced freedom and democracy. "But it steadily became a violent Islamist expression against a liberal secular society." As one of many examples of the disinformation made possible by the language barrier, Mother Agnès cited an al-Jazeera report about the murder of a child in Homs, which was blamed on Syrian security forces. The video shows Sari Saoud's mother crying out in front of her dead son, with a caption in English quoting the woman as saying, "Security forces committed this crime". But, "we know this woman," said Mother Agnès. "[She] is the niece of a stone-cutter who works at the monastery. What the woman said in fact was, ‘If security forces had been here, my son would not have been killed."

Chemical warfare used, goes unreported

Another Christian voice out of Syria is Sister Marguerite of the Community of Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition, stationed at St. Louis Hospital, Aleppo, who writes that the people are so impoverished that they cut down the trees of city parks to get wood to heat their houses: "People resort to anything to support their families," she says. "Even middle-class, well-to-do people, lawyers, engineers, tradesmen…Along the roads there are innumerable improvised street vendors selling whatever. School buildings are no longer for teaching, but are filled with displaced families, so children are in the street all day long, in the cold and rain, selling cigarettes, biscuits, chewing gum for a few pennies… a famous Christian musician who is practically ruined can be seen living outside the house where he used to live, playing the violin with tears in his eyes."

Sister Marguerite also describes the menace of chemical warfare: "On St Joseph's feast day, in March, the terrorists launched a missile with a chemical warhead on the province of Aleppo, killing 25 people and wounding others. Why is it that no press organ has spoken of this crime or condemned this act of chemical warfare on civilians?"

Christians targeted; the West looks the other way

By all accounts, while many people are suffering and dying in the Syrian conflict, no group is suffering more than Christians, stranded in the middle of a brutal war in which each side - rebel and regime - fires rockets into civilian areas and carries out attacks on a daily basis.

The Christians are not, however, simply collateral damage. As Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, said at a subcommittee hearing at the US House of Representatives in June, "Christians are the targets of an ethno-religious cleansing by Islamist militants and courts. In addition, they have lost the protection of the Assad government, making them easy prey for criminals and fighters, whose affiliations are not always clear. Wherever they appear, Islamist militias have made life impossible for the Christians."

Christians, peaceful and without anyone to protect them, are the first to be persecuted and harassed into leaving Syria. According to a report from last December of the UN Human Right Council's Commission of Inquiry on Syria, although no religious community has been spared suffering, it is the Christians who face an "existential threat." And in contrast to Syria's Alawites, Shiites, and Sunnis, Syria's ancient Christian community has no tribal system and no foreign power to defend it.

Shea's detailed report cites numerous sources from within Syria, along with needed perspective on the foreign policies of Western nations with respect to the country's imperiled religious minorities. She points to the attacks on religious freedom which took place in Afghanistan and Iraq under both Democratic and Republican administrations, which received no significant policy response from the United States. "For example," relates Shea, while there were 90,000 American and NATO troops on the ground in Afghanistan, that country's last remaining church, in Kabul, was razed in 2010 after its 99-year lease was cancelled. The US State Department knew of this, and even reported on it in September 2011, but no US official took any measure to stop or reverse it. The destruction of Afghanistan's last church did not draw the international protest that accompanied the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhist statues in 2001, but it is equally emblematic and even more consequential, depriving a religious community of its only house of worship. While the American people supported President Karzai's government, financially and militarily, Afghanistan joined the infamous company of hardline Saudi Arabia as a country that will not tolerate any churches. America's own diplomats and contract workers in Afghanistan must now hide their worship services.

Other examples include Iraq in 2005-2008, when Christians, Mandaeans, and Yezidis experienced persecutions that ultimately led to a nationwide "religious cleansing" campaign against non-Muslims, under the noses of the US occupying power and more than 100,000 American troops. American foreign policy officials apparently believed that it would constitute "special pleading" to do anything to help when 20,000 Christians were violently driven from Baghdad by Islamists in 2006. Yet by then the US was involved "in intensive efforts to ensure that nonviolent Sunnis gained positions in the Iraqi government, which, thanks to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, was run largely by Shias, whom the administration had helped politically strengthen and unify," according to Shea.

With these precedents, there is no use expecting a reaction to the July 2 report from Vatican news agency Fides that the jihadi faction known as Jabhat al-Nusra (which has heavily infiltrated the rebel forces in the area of the Latin Church of Saint Anthony, near Aleppo, where Father Francois Murad was murdered), have declared as their sole objective the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate, under which the law will not allow even the mere presence of "kafir" ("infidels," or, in other words, non-Muslims).

With Islamic regimes gradually replacing the hoped-for democracies and extending from Morocco to Iran, thanks to Western influence, one wonders, with Mother Agnès-Mariam de la Croix, what exactly is going on: "We are bewildered by the position of Western countries; we aren't used to seeing France as a country that favors fundamentalism, and we are even more surprised at the United States: didn't they invade Afghanistan to get rid of al-Qaeda? What is the West out to achieve here…: freedom or fundamentalism? Or is it freedom for fundamentalism?"

Source: Catholic World Report

Putin Concerned About Violation of Rights of Orthodox Christians in Mideast, N. Africa
Moscow, July 25, 2013 Interfax - Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his concerns about what he sees as infringement on the rights of religious minorities, particularly Orthodox Christians, in the conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

"I must note with alarm and pain that interdenominational tensions are growing and the rights of religious minorities, among them Christians, including Orthodox Christians, are infringed on in many regions of the world, especially in the Middle East and Northern Africa," Putin said at a meeting with the primates and representatives of local Orthodox Churches in Moscow on Thursday.

"This pressing problem should be a subject of close attention for the entire international community," Putin said.

"It is especially important today to make efforts to prevent intercultural and interreligious conflicts, which are fraught with the most serious upheavals," he said.

"Russia, with its immense experience in arranging and maintaining interfaith peace and accord, is ready to share it," the president said.

Russia "will continue to pursue an active creative policy aimed at resolving conflict situations diplomatically as quickly as possible, and it attaches great significance in these efforts to the normalization of productive interreligious and intercultural cooperation," he said.

Putin also suggested that relations between the state and the church in Russia are developing at a new level. "We act as true partners and co-workers in addressing the most pressing domestic and international challenges," Putin said, adding that "active efforts and support of local Orthodox Churches are very important" for the government.

Source: Interfax

Health Tip: The Long-term Safety of Statins: Who to Believe
Statins are widely used to prolong survival and reduce occurrence of coronary and cerebrovascular events in patients with and without cardiovascular disease. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of statins for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease with consistent benefits across all subgroups. (1)

July 2013

A recent study published in the July 2013 issue of Circulation sought to systematically review all randomized controlled trials of seven different statins to determine their comparative tolerability and harms across a range of populations eligible for statin therapy. 135 trials totaling 246,955 participants were reviewed. Results showed that as a class, statins were not significantly different than controls as it relates to discontinuation due to adverse events. However, individual statins did show difference. Simvastatin was significantly more tolerable than atorvastatin, and patients on simvastatin and pravastatin were less likely to stop treatment because of adverse events.

With regard to myalgia, a common complaint of statins, the pooled data again showed that as a class statins were not significantly different than controls and there was a lack of any dose-response relationship for myalgia. Simvastatin patients had lower odds of experiencing myalgia compared to atorvastatin in head-to-head comparisons. The study also looked at other events including transaminase elevations, CK elevations, cancer, and diabetes mellitus. Overall, statins as a class were associated with an increase risk of diabetes and hepatic transaminase elevations, with no statistically detectable effect on myalgia, myopathy, rhabdomyolysis and cancer. In head-to-head comparisons, simvastatin and pravastatin ranked superior to their alternatives in terms of safety. (1)

July 2012

Last year, the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reported on a retrospective analysis of 239,628 patients. Their results showed that of those patients in the cohort who received statins during the study period, 5.9% were started on antidiabetic medications compared to 2.5% in the cohort not treated with any statins. An increased risk of new onset treated diabetes was found in those receiving statins compared to those receiving none. A significant risk of new onset diabetes was observed with monotherapy of atorvastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin. There were statistically significant overall dose and duration effects for all statins, except a duration effect for fluvastatin. (2)

June 2011

Just two short years ago, the FDA announced a Label change for simvastatin with regard to new restrictions, contraindications and dose limitations. The FDA notified healthcare professionals that it was recommending limiting the use of the highest approved dose of simvastatin (80 mg) because of increased risk of myopathy. (3) Later in June, the results of a meta-analysis by Preiss et al were published in JAMA that pooled the data from five statin trials (1,228 total articles were reviewed) primarily designed to assess the effect of intensive-dose statin treatment compared with moderate-dose therapy on cardiovascular outcomes. Study drugs included atorvastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin. The results showed that 2,749 (8.4%) participants developed diabetes. Of those who developed diabetes, 1,449 (52.7%) were assigned to intensive-dose therapy (80 mg of either simvastatin or atorvastatin). (4)

Conflicting results? Perhaps; or just the dangers of interpreting retrospective analyses. The benefits of statins are without dispute; however, it will be up to you to determine the benefit-risk ratio of these agents based upon personal experience.

References

1. Naci H, Brugts J, Ades T. Comparative tolerability and harms of individual statins: A study-level network meta-analysis of 246,955 participants from 135 randomized controlled trials. Circulation. Published online July 9, 2013.

2. Zaharan NL, Williams D, Bennett K. Statins and risk of treated incident diabetes in a primary care population. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2012;doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04403.x.

3. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Drug Safety Communication: New restrictions, contraindications, and dose limitations for Zocor (simvastatin) to reduce the risk of muscle injury. Accessed online at http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm256581.htm. July, 2013.

4. Preiss D, Seshasai SRK, Welsh P, et al. Risk of incident diabetes with intensive-dose compared with moderate-dose statin therapy. JAMA. 2011;305(24):2556-2564.

Source: DoctorDirectory.com Bulletin

Recipe: 5 Recipes that Prove Healthy is the New Delicious

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

Holistic Chef Provides Foolproof Recipes for Taste & Nutrition

With adventurous food tastes and concerns ranging from personal health to ethical agriculture and livestock practices, more people are exploring alternative diets.

But that’s not always easy - or palatable.

"You have paleo and primal diets, pescatarian and raw foods, vegetarian and vegan, and they all have wonderful merits, especially when compared with the processed foods many Americans continue to eat," says Holistic Chef and Certified Healing Foods Specialist Shelley Alexander, author of "Deliciously Holistic," (aharmonyhealing.com).

"My focus is on easy-to-follow healing foods recipes that make delicious, completely nourishing meals. Some will appeal to those who adhere to a strict diet, such as vegan, and all will make people feel noticeably healthier without sacrificing any of the enjoyment we get from sitting down to eat."

Alexander offers five recipes that can be used for any meal of the day or night, including:

Mango chia ginger granola (raw, vegan):

2 ripe mangos, peeled, cored and sliced in one-inch cubes;
2 cups Living Intentions chia ginger cereal;
2 cups nut or seed milk.

Put ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!

The cereal is gluten-free, nut-free, and raw- and vegan-diet friendly, and extremely nutritious.

Preparation takes five minutes or less and is hearty enough to satisfy appetites the entire morning.

The ingredients can be substituted for dietary needs or preferences.

Portobello mushroom and grilled onion burgers (vegan):

Marinade for the mushroom is essential -

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar;
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil;
1 tablespoon wheat-free Tamari or organic Nama Shoyu soy sauce;
1/8 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika;
1 peeled garlic clove (grated or minced);
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper;
2 teaspoons organic maple syrup - grade B.

The burgers include

4 large Portobello mushrooms - cleaned and patted dry;
1 large white onion (peeled and cut into thick slices);
olive or avocado oil to cook mushrooms and onions;
2 sprouted whole grain hamburger buns -toasted;
Dijon mustard;
¼ cup baby romaine lettuce - washed and patted dry.

Marinate mushrooms and onions for 30 minutes.
Drizzle with oil and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, turning mushrooms halfway through.

Serve immediately.

Wild blueberry smoothie (raw, vegan):

3 cups vanilla Brazil nut milk (there is an additional recipe for this);
2 cups fresh or frozen wild or organic blueberries;
1 peeled banana - organic or fair trade;
2 to 3 cups organic baby spinach;
1 small avocado - peeled and pitted;
¼ teaspoon cinnamon;
(optional) a preferred protein powder or superfood.

Blend until creamy.

Blueberries are an amazing fruit packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.

Raw corn chowder (raw, vegan):

4 cups organic corn kernels (best during summer months);
2¼ cups unsweetened almond milk;
1 clove peeled garlic (remove inner stem);
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice;
½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika;
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract;
½ avocado (peeled and seed removed);
unrefined sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

Blend ingredients and strain; top with corn kernels and diced organic red bell pepper.

Among other nutrients, corn provides lutein - an important carotenoid that protects eyes from macular degeneration.

Dijon honey chicken wings:

1/3 cup Dijon mustard;
½ medium peeled lemon - remove all the white pith;
¼ cup raw honey;
1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt;
2 large, peeled garlic cloves - grated;
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper;
12 whole chicken wings - rinsed and patted dry;
½ teaspoon paprika.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Blend ingredients in a blender, except for wings and paprika, until smooth.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remove tips of cleaned wings and store in freezer for future stock.
Place wings on lightly greased baking dish, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, place in oven.
After 30 minutes baste wings with juices from pan, then brush mustard sauce all over wings, sprinkle with paprika and continue baking for an additional 25 to 30 minutes.

Wings should have internal temperature of 165 degrees when done.

These are a healthy and tasty alternative to deep-fat-fried wings.

About Shelley Alexander, CHFS

Shelley Alexander has enjoyed a lifelong love of delicious, locally grown, seasonal foods. She received her formal chef’s training at The Los Angeles Culinary Institute. Alexander is a certified healing foods specialist, holistic chef, blogger and owner of the holistic health company, A Harmony Healing, in Los Angeles. 

Family Special: Staying Strong During Difficult Times

by Cindi McMenamin

These are stressful times we live in. But that doesn't mean we have to fall apart as a result.

Everywhere I turn I hear of women who have experienced unimaginable heartaches, marriages that are in crisis, families that are financially strapped, and people struggling with cancer and disease.

Stress - whether it be personal, emotional, relational, financial, or medical - takes its toll on us in many ways. And it's natural for us to reach out to someone - primarily our husbands or those closest to us - to get the relief, encouragement or support we believe we need to get through stressful times. This manifests itself in scenarios that can tend to backfire on us:

It can push a marriage over the edge when we, as wives, become a burden on our husbands - by letting them know how they are not meeting our emotional needs or expectations at a time when they have multiple frustrations as well.

It can damage a mother-child relationship when we expect our grown or semi-grown children to "be there" for us, emotionally, when they might not feel equipped to do what it is we are expecting of them, or respond in a way that will meet our emotional needs.

It can sabotage our friendships if others perceive us as needy - or aloof - as we attempt to survive our stressful situation by asking for - or avoiding - their help.

But a broken world - and the stressful results of it - doesn't have to result in a broken marriage, a broken heart, or broken relationships.

There have been many times in the past 30 years that I've had to look beyond the "brokenness" that life presents us and focus on the One who is whole and can make me that way, too. For instance, I've had to make a conscious decision to let God "husband" me while my husband, Hugh, has been preoccupied with work, stressed over family matters, or dealing with personal issues. After many attempts to make Hugh aware of my feelings, I finally realized he couldn't be all that I needed, nor all I expected (no man could, for that matter). So I learned to take an alternative approach. Instead of pointing out my husband's inadequacies - which would've added another heap of issues to the pile of stress he was already trying to get out from under - I began to go to God to be my "spiritual husband."

God, as our spiritual Husband was His idea, not mine.

In Isaiah 54:5-6 we read "For your Maker is your husband - the Lord Almighty is his name…The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit…." I realized that promise made by God to His people, the Israelites under covenant with Him thousands of years ago, applies to us today, regardless of our nationality, when we start trusting in Jesus Christ as our Personal Savior. You and I can know Him as our Spiritual Husband when we start depending on Him to meet our needs in a way that our earthly husbands cannot. When I began to look to God to be my spiritual husband, I found that it alleviated the stress I was placing on my own husband, and other relationships as well.

Today, when brokenness is evident before me, or when stress starts rearing its ugly head in my life, I practice these "Three T's" on a daily basis to stay strong during difficult times:

1) Tell God First - Sometimes we need to vent or just talk aloud about how we're feeling. But our frustrations can come across as accusations or complaints if we're not careful. And since it is natural for husbands- and others who love us - to try to find the problem and fix it, when we just wanted someone to listen, it's better to go to God with the venting first. Sure, God already knows what we're going to say. (Psalm 139:4 says "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.") But by telling God first all that is on our hearts and minds, He can be the ‘buffer."

2) Trust God's Promises - The Bible is full of God's promises about His provision and protection. So when we become troubled about finances, or other issues, we can find comfort just by remembering some of God's encouraging words to His people. In Psalm 37:25 David says: "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." In Philippians 4:19 Paul says "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." And Romans 8:28 tells us "…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Looking to God as your Spiritual Husband means banking on the Bible and taking God at His Word.

3) Thank God Constantly - No matter what the situation, there's always something to be thankful for. One of my friends was discouraged that her husband's new job didn't pay as well as his previous one. But some income was better than none. Another friend complained about her son's disinterest in school and his unwillingness to "apply himself", yet he was still very interested in his church's youth group. We can become people of praise with a contagious positive attitude when we obey God's command in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to "give thanks in all circumstances." A thankful wife, mother or friend is pleasant to be around.

When we practice these three Ts, our circumstances might not change immediately. But by depending on God - and not solely on others - we can become encouragers, rather than accusers, and we can alleviate the stress in others' lives, as well as in our own.

Can you start depending on the Only One who can make you whole, emotionally? Lighten your own load by lifting your burdens off of others in your life and leaving them with God instead. You'll be surprised at what a difference it makes in your heart and home.

About The Author:

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of a dozen books including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge, and When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold). For free resources and encouragement to strengthen your walk with God or your marriage, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Source: Live It Devotional

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