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

Theme: Kingdom of God

Volume 3 No. 156 August 8, 2013

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Peace - Landscape
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. - John 14:27 (NIV)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Bible Readings for This Sunday (August 11)

Bible Readings For The First Sunday after the Festival of Transfiguration
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_1st-sun-after-transfiguration.htm

Sermons for This Sunday (August 11)

Sermons for the First Sunday After Transfiguration
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-transfiguration.htm

Church Calendar

Featured: Understanding the Kingdom

When God comes first, all of life is different. Our foundations for living are rock solid, our relationships are cemented with the love of God and our destiny is forever intertwined with that of Jesus Christ! ...

The kingdom of heaven is where God reigns. God is in charge. That means no one else is reigning or in charge. And if we look seriously at how human beings have done while reigning and being in charge - we may break into worship about this truth! ...

What is the Kingdom Like?

To what would you compare the Kingdom of Heaven? It is like finding the technology stock you bought in the 1980s for $50 and suddenly realizing you are a millionaire. It is like the owner of DeBeers finally finding the perfect diamond and selling a billion dollar empire to have it. It is like the harassed physician tired of the HMOs, selling home and BMW and finding bliss in a mission in Congo. It is like the crack addict waking up with a clear head and is free to choose a new life. ...

Parable of the Lamp: A Commentary and Meditation

There is great freedom and joy for those who live in God's light and who seek this truth. Those who listen to God and heed his voice will receive more from him. Do you know the joy and freedom of living in God's light? ...

Kingdoms in Conflict

"Your kingdom come" is not a passive prayer. If you ever decide to make the kingdom of God the first priority in your life, you may not become a missionary, but you will become fundamentally different from the world around you. ...

Wanted

A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands. ...

Pastoral Prayer

Give us eyes of faith to see beyond the dark horizon of this present
darkness into the light of a new day. Open our spirits more fully to the
joy that lies beyond the trial, in the courts of your eternal love. ...

Health: Physicians Share Tips To Prevent And Correct Signs of Aging

"Increasingly, both men and women have anxiety about looking older, but the good news is that science has developed natural tools to help us look younger longer," say Drs. Rick and Arlene Noodleman, the husband-and-wife physician team at Silicon Valley's Age Defying Dermatology. ...

Family Special: Help for a Shaky Marriage

The psalmist tells us that through all of the turbulence, God is with us. God is our refuge and strength when problems shake our world. He has such awesome power that the world actually melts at the sound of his voice. God is in control and will be exalted. ...

World Leaders Should Unite to End Anti-Christian Persecution, Vladimir Putin Says

Vladimir Putin has urged the world's political leaders to stop the violent persecutions against Christians that have erupted in many Middle Eastern countries. ...

How to Deal with People Who are Jealous of Your Success

My advice is to gently separate yourself from those jealous, negative people and have as little to do with them as possible. The fact is they will drag you down into the muck and mire of their negative attitude, and as an entrepreneur, you just don't need that. I also avoid doing things that will trigger jealousy in others, such as making ostentatious purchases. ...

About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (August 11)

Bible Readings For The First Sunday after the Festival of Transfiguration

Sermons for This Sunday (August 11)
This Week's Features

Church Calendar
August 10 - Shunoyo Lent Begins

August 15 - Assumption of St. Mary (Shunoyo)

September 1 - Eight Day Lent Begins

September 8 - Birthday of St. Mary

Featured: Understanding the Kingdom

by John Jewell

Gospel: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Every hour in the 24 hours that make up any Sunday on planet earth, the words are heard countless millions of times. Millions pray these words each week in worship and some pray these words every day.

Do you know them?

"Thy kingdom come.."

Of course you do. These words come from the best known prayer in the Christian world... The Lord's prayer. But let me ask you a question.

When you pray, "Thy kingdom come," what exactly do you mean by this "kingdom?" What is it that you want to come?

It would seem to be a pretty straight forward question with an easy answer. The "Thy" in the phrase refers to God, so obviously it is God's kingdom we want to come.

***

The gospel reading for today can go a long way toward understanding what God's kingdom is all about. In order to get a full sense for what Jesus taught, however, we need to understand the context of today's reading and how it fits in with the entire 13th chapter of Matthew's gospel.

There is a very interesting question that Jesus asks in our gospel reading. After Jesus told a series of parables to a large crowd that had gathered, he sent the crowd away and held a private session with his disciples. They wanted some explanation of the parable of the wheat and the tares. After his explanation, Jesus asked, "Have you understood all these things?" They answer simply, "Yes."

In light of the events that were still to come in the lives of Jesus and his disciples, you have to wonder if they really understood. Understanding the kingdom is no little thing. We know for sure the people of Jesus time did not understand the real meaning of "Messiah." When Jesus came as a servant instead of a warrior and when he was crucified instead of driving Rome from the Holy Land - he did not look like the Messiah everyone had been expecting.

So also, there was not such a good understanding of the kingdom of heaven. It was Messiah who would be God's agent to bring on the kingdom - but if they do not understand Messiah, they will not understand God's kingdom either.

So let's set the context. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells several parables concerning the kingdom of heaven. Mark, Luke and Paul use the phrase kingdom of God instead of the kingdom of heaven, but the sense is the same. Wherever God reigns, the kingdom is present. Six times in this chapter, Jesus uses the words, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." The entire chapter is intended to instruct the larger crowds and Jesus closest followers what God's kingdom is like.

***

This is necessarily oversimplified, but Matthew's 13th chapter - the "Parables of the Kingdom" chapter goes something like this:

• At the beginning of the teaching session, Jesus sits in a boat and teaches a large crowd that had gathered on the Northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

• Jesus begins with the well known parable of the sower. God's word goes out into the world and there are varying responses. Jesus explains to his disciples that some will hear and become a part of God's kingdom while others do not hear and the word will have no effect on them.

• Then Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and tares - he will later have to explain the parable to his close followers the disciples. He explains two critical things. [1] God and not we - will separate the wheat from the weeds. [2] There is a great chasm between those who embrace and are a part of the kingdom of God and those who reject it. There is a great line of demarcation between faith and unfaith - between God's kingdom and the kingdom of "self."

• The remainder of chapter thirteen is a series of parables which point to the meaning of the kingdom. This kingdom is like this...

***
• The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed...

• The kingdom of heaven is like yeast...

• The kingdom of heaven is like treasure...

• The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant...

• The kingdom of heaven is like a net...

The "like" in "The kingdom of heaven is like" is not about the subject - "mustard seed," "yeast," and "treasure," -- it is like the action that takes place with the objects. The kingdom of heaven can not be contained in one simple analogy. The kingdom of heaven is difficult to get our minds around because it is all encompassing. The kingdom of heaven changes everything about our world, our values and our priorities.

The first two parables point to the fact that the kingdom of heaven may begin small, but its eventual triumph is certain.

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed

The first quality of the kingdom of heaven is that it begins with so little and grows to so much. The mustard seed Jesus speaks of is tiny, but the mustard plant can grow anywhere from six to twelve feet. Jesus sends out his small group of followers knowing that they will be tried, tested and rejected by many - yet the kingdom of heaven - or the reign of God will finally reach around the world.

"...you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." [Acts 1:8]

No matter how difficult times may be or how distant the hope of God's reign may seen, the kingdom is sure.


"...at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." [Phil. 2:10-11]

The kingdom of heaven is like yeast

To put it another way... the kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman put into some flower. The three measures of flour would amount to a little over a bushel. In other words a little bit of the kingdom of heaven has a tremendous impact.

These first two images of the kingdom tell the followers of Jesus that no matter how small they felt or how hopeless their task seemed in a hostile world - they could have every confidence in what they were doing because God was the guarantee of a good outcome!

Most of us know what it is like to feel small and powerless in the face of forces that loom large over us. What can one person or even a small group of persons do in a world where hunger, poverty and terrorism seem to rule. In his poem "Wanted," Josiah Gilbert Holland wrote, "...lo! Freedom weeps, Wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps." In a broken world where wrong so often reigns, the good news is that even a handful of people who are totally committed to the reign of God can be the means by which God works the wonders of divine justice. And... that kingdom of heaven which we see by faith is based on the promises of God which can never be broken.

For it is written,

"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." [Romans 14:11]

***

The next two qualities of the kingdom of heaven point to the value of the kingdom.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure...

This kingdom where God reigns is worth everything. It is something that is hidden beneath the surface of humanity's search for meaning and significance.

Viktor Frankl's book, "Man's Search for Meaning," has reached over 4 million copies in print. it tells of Frankl's desperate search for hope and meaning during three years in a Nazi concentration camp. A Book of the Month Club survey of readers called this one of the ten most influential books in America. Frankl went against the long held psychiatric theory of Freud that human beings are driven by sexual instincts and affirmed instead that our deepest desire is to search for meaning and purpose.

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that is hidden away beneath the surface of our living, but when we discover the love and care of God and the promise of God's reign in all things, life is forever changed. This is a promise worthy of our total commitment.

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant...

Jesus underlines the value of the kingdom of heaven by saying it is like a merchant who went searching for fine pearls and in the process discovers one pearl that was worth everything he possessed.

God's kingdom, in other words, is worth everything!

When the merchant encountered the pearl to end all pearls, he was so captured by that pearl that nothing else mattered. This pearl went to the very top of his priority list.

When Jesus called his earliest followers, they left everything to follow him. Boats were left by the seashore and accounting tables were left at the tax collectors office. It is not different today. Giving ourselves fully to the kingdom of heaven - that is - to the reign of God in our lives is worth everything.

When God comes first, all of life is different. Our foundations for living are rock solid, our relationships are cemented with the love of God and our destiny is forever intertwined with that of Jesus Christ!

***

But there is another quality of the kingdom of heaven. A sobering quality.

The kingdom of heaven is like a net...

The good news of God's love and care is one side of a two sided coin. The flip side of that coin is what happens when God does not reign and the kingdom of heaven is not chosen.

The kingdom of heaven, Jesus says, is like a net which is thrown into the sea and catches every kind of fish. Some of the fish are good for the feeding and nourishment of people. Some of the fish is not edible and is thrown out. In other words, there is a great divide that the kingdom of heaven brings about. To chose the kingdom of heaven is to choose life with God at the center. The only other choice is the kingdom of "self." The consequences of life without God is dramatically portrayed in this last parable. Listen once again:


"So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." [vv.49-50]


These words grate on our ears a bit, don't they? Maybe they even irritate us. Aren't we past all of this talk about hellfire and damnation? Certainly in "pop" culture, there is a sense in which lines are blurred and responsibilities are vague and unclear. And what about appreciation of diversity and acceptance of every point of view? The kingdom of heaven doesn't sound very democratic.

And indeed it isn't. The kingdom of heaven is where God reigns. God is in charge. That means no one else is reigning or in charge. And if we look seriously at how human beings have done while reigning and being in charge - we may break into worship about this truth!

The parable is not about rejecting other religions or drawing tight circles of exclusion for every group but ours. It is about the huge divide between those who choose God and live in relationship with Christ and are committed to God's love in every area of life --- and those who choose only themselves and reject the reign of God.

The weeping and gnashing of teeth is simply the final realization that our search for meaning and significance are destined for absolute failure. The joy and rejoicing of those who discover the pearl of great price or the treasure hidden in the filed is nothing less than the joy of knowing the love of the One who created us.

May God give us wisdom to understand the kingdom of heaven and grace to embrace it!

What is the Kingdom Like?

by Rev. Todd Weir, bloomingcactus

Gospel: Matthew 13:31-52

To what would you compare the Kingdom of Heaven? It is like finding the technology stock you bought in the 1980s for $50 and suddenly realizing you are a millionaire. It is like the owner of DeBeers finally finding the perfect diamond and selling a billion dollar empire to have it. It is like the harassed physician tired of the HMOs, selling home and BMW and finding bliss in a mission in Congo. It is like the crack addict waking up with a clear head and is free to choose a new life.

What will we tell our congregations about the Kingdom of Heaven? What makes this Kingdom any better than what can be gotten at the mall? Is it bigger than the consumer paradise promised every 7 minutes while we watch Desperate Housewives? Is it something that can only be had in the next life, so we must patiently suffer in this life to earn it? Will we be any closer to the Kingdom of Heaven if the right Supreme Court Justice is nominated, if our kids pray in school and have the 10 Commandments etched in 20 tons of marble in front of every town hall, or if we properly observe separation of church and state? If we double the new member classes and exceed the demands of the annual budget will we be any closer to the Kingdom of Heaven?

Sure, these may sound like silly rhetorical questions. But I must confess that I regularly let things much less valuable than the Kingdom of Heaven take on ultimate importance in my life. As much as I wish to deny, repress and shove this thought into my unconscious, worldly success too often is my measure of the Kingdom of Heaven. I can easily settle for much less than the life Jesus has to offer. I think our churches and our spiritual lives suffer more from an anemic view of what being a Christian can be like and a paltry view of the Kingdom of Heaven in our midst than from doctrinal error or, God forbid, a lack of funds.

When our congregations start to complain about the hymn selection or meet far into the night about carpet colors it is time to rise up and say, "What is the Kingdom of Heaven like?" Jesus did not go to Webster's Dictionary for a precise definition of the Kingdom of Heaven. Precision has its place, but here he means to stimulate the imagination. Our life with God is better than the most breath-taking thing we can imagine. We plant tiny seeds, we search the fields for it, we scour the marketplace and when we find the divine presence, nothing else can compare. It seems that the searchers in these brief parables were not quite expecting what they found. They didn't know their seeds would grow so well, they stumbled across the treasure while working the field, while looking for fine pearls they find one so incomparable. They were searching and working, but found more than their imagination.

I take this short series of parables to challenge me into a daily awareness of the Kingdom of Heaven breaking in all around me. It is there if I can lift my attention from lesser things. Greater intimacy with God awaits my vision to sweep in a new direction. My urban ministries professor, Bill Weber, always said, "The Kingdom of God comes in inches, and we must learn to celebrate every small glimpse we can find." Then he would talk about finding the Kingdom in every unemployed person that found a job, every addict who got sober, every poor child who stayed in school and got an education. These are the mustard seeds of hope that surround us.

What small and insignificant seed of great importance are you called to attend to today?

Parable of the Lamp: A Commentary and Meditation

by Don Schwager

Gospel: Mark 4:21-25

21 And he said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. 23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear." 24 And he said to them, "Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25 For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

Meditation:

What does the image of light and a lamp tell us about God's kingdom? Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, much like they do today. They enable people to see and work in the dark and to avoid stumbling.

The Jews also understood "light" as an expression of the inner beauty, truth, and goodness of God. In his light we see light ( Psalm 36:9). His word is a lamp that guides our steps (Psalm 119:105). God's grace not only illumines the darkness in our lives, but it also fills us with spiritual light, joy, and peace.

Jesus used the image of a lamp to describe how his disciples are to live in the light of his truth and love. Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables one to see visually, so the light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God's kingdom. In fact, our mission is to be light-bearers of Christ so that others may see the truth of the gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception.

Jesus remarks that nothing can remain hidden or secret. We can try to hide things from others, from ourselves, and from God. How tempting to shut our eyes from the consequences of our sinful ways and bad habits, even when we know what those consequences are. And how tempting to hide them form others and even from God. But, nonetheless, everything is known to God who sees all.

There is great freedom and joy for those who live in God's light and who seek this truth. Those who listen to God and heed his voice will receive more from him. Do you know the joy and freedom of living in God's light?

"Lord, you guide me by the light of your saving truth. Fill my heart and mind with your light and truth and free me from the blindness of sin and deception that I may see your ways clearly and understand your will for my life. May I radiate your light and truth to others in word and deed."

(c) 2000 Don Schwager

Kingdoms in Conflict

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

"Your kingdom come." Matthew 6:10

Before we begin: What is the kingdom of God? In what sense is it a present reality? In what sense is it yet to come? How would things be different if you had a "God invasion" in your life? Your family? Your workplace? Your neighborhood?

Sometimes our prayers are too small. For seven years I met with 8-10 men in a Promise Keepers group. I remember one week when we began by sharing various prayer requests. One man was going on a business trip soon, another had a son with problems in his English class, another mentioned a health issue in his family, and another asked us to pray about a troublesome situation at work. All the requests were very legitimate. All were shared with a sense of honesty and openness. As we began to pray, everything proceeded normally until one man prayed something like this: "Lord, teach us to pray big prayers. So much of what we pray is just details." I found that a helpful and challenging thought. It's not that the details don't matter. They do, but sometimes our prayers suffer because our vision is so small. If we truly want to honor God, we will believe what he says and then act on that belief by praying large prayers that require an Almighty God to answer them.

When we come to the second petition of the Lord's Prayer, it is as if God himself says, "Ask me for something hard. Ask me to send my kingdom to the earth." Now that's big. It's a lot bigger than asking God to give you a good time on your vacation to Florida or asking God for the right Christmas present for your cousin Sherrie. As we will see later in our journey through the Lord's Prayer, it's perfectly appropriate to bring even the tiniest concerns of life to our Heavenly Father. But if all we do is pray about small things, we have missed the world-changing power of the Lord's Prayer.

Sometimes our prayers suffer because our vision is so small.

Your Kingdom come. That's serious business. On one level, you are asking God to send Jesus back and bring down the curtain on human history as we have known it. On another level, you are inviting God to invade your world and transform it. If that's of interest to you, then let's spend a few minutes thinking about what it means to pray this way.

I begin with two simple observations:

1. This is the shortest petition. In English, it is 3 words; in Greek, only 4 words. Don't be misled by that fact. Length does not indicate importance. In this case, it indicates the opposite.

2. This in an imperative. That means it is given in the form of a command. More than that, the verb is placed first for emphasis.

You could rightfully translate it, "Come, Kingdom of God." The same is true of the following petition, e.g. "Be Done, will of God." When we pray, "Your kingdom come," there is an atmosphere of calm, steady faith about those words, as if we mean to say, "I know your kingdom is coming someday and I pray that you will help me be patient until that day finally come." And that sort of prayer is entirely biblical. We are called to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord.

But when we pray, "Come, Kingdom of God," there is a note of urgency about those words, as if we are praying, "Lord, let your kingdom right here, right now, today!" To pray this way means that we are not satisfied with the status quo. We are praying because we know things could be-and should be-better than they are.

God's Great Society

But what is this kingdom of God for which we are to pray? It's clearly a crucial topic, or Jesus wouldn't have mentioned it. A quick perusal of the gospels-especially the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) reveals that the phrases "kingdom of God" and kingdom of heaven" are repeated over and over again. A quick check through a concordance reveals that the word "kingdom" comes up over and over again. Not just a few times, but dozens and dozens of time. It is clear that Jesus talked to his disciples about the "kingdom of God" almost every day. It's no small subject. And Jesus said that when we pray, we are to petition God that the "kingdom" might "come."

What is the kingdom of God?

Ask 10 different theologians and you will receive 10 different answers. For one thing, the term is never precisely defined. In our thinking, a "kingdom" requires a king and a realm in which he will rule. For a kingdom to be operative, the king must have people who are subject to his rule. And in the earthly sense, a "kingdom" is more than a vague, undefined realm; it's also a literal piece of real estate. It always includes land, dirt, some sort of property with measurable boundaries. William Barclay offers this helpful definition: The kingdom of God is "a society upon earth in which God's will is as perfectly done as it is in heaven." The kingdom of God is first of all a society, an organized group of men and women. It is second of all "on earth." It is thirdly a place where the will of God is done.

But why is the kingdom of God so important? Why would Jesus speak of it over and over again? Most importantly, why is the kingdom of God so important that we should make it the subject of our daily prayers?

That's a very good question and in this message I would like to offer four different answers.

# 1 The Kingdom of God is important because it was the central issue of Jesus' ministry.

The kingdom of God is what he came to establish. He said that in various ways over and over again. Consider the following verses:

Matthew 4:17 "From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Matthew 4:23 "Jesus went throughout Galilee . . . preaching the good news of the kingdom."

Luke 4:43 "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God . . . for that is why I was sent."

Jesus came to establish a new society on the earth.

Luke 17:21 "The kingdom of God is in your midst."

John 18:36-37 "My kingdom is not of this world . . . my kingdom is from another place . . . You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

When Jesus began his ministry, he announced that the kingdom of God was "at hand" and "in your midst." He said that preaching the kingdom of God was the reason he had been sent to the earth. At the end of his ministry, he told Pontius Pilate that his kingdom was "not of this world" but was "from another place."

Not Politics, But Persuasion

Jesus came to establish a new society on the earth. This society would be made up of men and women who are fully dedicated to doing the will of God. When he was here, the kingdom of God was "at hand" because the King himself was "in the midst" of the people. But the kingdom he would establish would be fundamentally different from the kingdoms of this world because it would call for a moral commitment from those who follow him. That's a crucial point that forever separates the kingdom of God from every earthly kingdom. Being in an earthly kingdom is merely a matter of geography. It is, so to speak, just an accident of birth. Not so with Jesus' kingdom. As he said to Pilate, "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." The kingdom of God is reserved for those who recognize and follow the truth as it is revealed in Jesus Christ. That's the moral commitment that Jesus demands of his followers. "You want to be in my kingdom? Fine. But you have to become a follower of the truth. You can't remain neutral about me or about the things I am saying. You have to get off the fence and make a commitment or you'll never be in the kingdom of God."

And that explains why the people of the world will never understand the people of the kingdom. We have made a moral commitment to the truth and that commitment guides everything we do. We start from a different place, we look at life a different way, we make our decisions on a different basis, and therefore we end up in a different place. That fact applies all the way across the board, whether we are talking about how to raise our children, or how to spend our money, or how to vote in an election. Our commitment to truth forever separates us from the people of the world, which is why they don't understand us and think we're a little bit crazy. We aren't crazy, but we are different. The kingdom of God is reserved for people who are fundamentally different from the people of the world.

Our commitment to truth forever separates us from the people of the world, which is why they don't understand us and think we're a little bit crazy.

Let's take that one step farther.

The kingdom comes first in the hearts of men and women as they surrender themselves to Jesus Christ. That's where it all begins. But since that is true, we also know that kingdom spreads not through political power, but through gentle persuasion as one by one people choose to follow Jesus Christ. As good and right and important as political action is, it can never by itself bring in the kingdom of God. We ought to register to vote, we ought to write letters to our congressmen, we ought to speak out on moral issues, and we ought to run for office. But as good as those things are, they will never bring in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God must come in human hearts before it will ever effect society at large. Conversion comes before character and personal change before social change. In the great debate concerning evangelism and social action, the answer must be that while both are needed, evangelism takes priority because it is only through the spreading of the gospel that human hearts are changed.

There is much more that might be said on this point, but to say this much at least makes clear why the kingdom of God was central to Jesus. It is the reason he came to earth. What was important to him must become important to us. And that's one reason Jesus taught us to pray "Your kingdom come."

But there is a second reason why Jesus taught us to pray this way:

# 2 The kingdom of God is the only thing that will last forever.

When was the last time you thought about Zachary Taylor? It's probably been a long time. Until a few years ago, the last time I thought about Zachary Taylor was back in Mrs. Alexander's 8th grade American history class-and I didn't think too much about him then. We were on vacation out in Arizona and Utah when I happened to hear on the radio that they were digging up Zachary Taylor. It had been so long since I thought about him that I had to stop and remember who he was. When the announcer called him "President Taylor," it sounded odd to me. I had never heard that expression before. It didn't sound right. The scientists dug up his remains to see if he had been poisoned with arsenic by his enemies. (It turns out the answer was no. He apparently died after eating some chilled cherries and cold buttermilk-a deadly combination.) Do you know what they found when they opened the casket? It had been 140 years since he died and there wasn't much left. They found his hair, his bones, and his fingernails. Everything else had disintegrated.

As good and right and important as political action is, it can never by itself bring in the kingdom of God.

"Old Rough And Ready"

One newspaper said, "We now know more about Zachary Taylor than we ever knew before-and more than we ever wanted to know." Another story called him the most obscure president in American history because he was succeeded by a man whose name has become a sort of running Trivial Pursuit joke-Millard Fillmore. Here's the oddity of it all. When he died Zachary Taylor was considered a very great man. One writer put things in perspective by calling him "the Norman Schwarzkopf of his day." He was a great military leader who later became president. He was the hero of the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican War. His nickname was "Old Rough and Ready," an appellation not much different from calling George Patton "Old Blood and Guts." Until they dug him up, we had forgotten Zachary Taylor altogether. One of our old hymns puts it this way: "Time like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away, they fly forgotten as the night dies at the opening day." Solomon added these words of wisdom in Ecclesiastes 9:5, "For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten" (emphasis added).

Sooner or later, you'll be just another name on a tombstone.

What a sobering thought-"even the memory of them is forgotten." It's true. Zachary Taylor had been forgotten-and he was once the president of the United States. After 150 years, "Old Rough and Ready" is nothing more than a the answer to trivia question-"What president died after eating chilled cherries and cold buttermilk?" It is true of all human endeavors-"they fly forgotten as the night dies at the opening day." What a lesson this is for all of us. If you are counting on somebody remembering you after you are gone, forget it. Sooner or later, you'll be just another name on a tombstone. Let me tell you what will happen after you die. Your family will call up the funeral home and arrange a real nice service. Someone will stand up and say some nice things about you and then they will bury you in the ground. Do you know what happens then? Your friends will go over to your house and have a party and eat your food. Then they will get in our cars, go back home, and get on with their lives. Somebody may say, "That's depressing." No, it's not. That's reality. And if I happen to die before you do, you'll do the same thing for me. And before long, I'll just be a dim memory and then I'll be forgotten altogether.

If you are looking for significance and permanence in this world, you are wasting your time. By definition, this world forgets the past, lives in the present, and dreams about the future. And all those things we do to give ourselves significance-the degrees after our names, the houses we buy, the money we save, the cars we drive, the empires we build, the relationships we seek, the clothes we wear, the networks we create-in the end, those things will amount to nothing. If you are living for this world, you are of all people most to be pitied.

Why? Because nothing in this world lasts forever. Just ask Zachary Taylor.

The Unshakable Kingdom

That's why Hebrews 12:28 says that God is going to give "a kingdom that cannot be shaken." Everything that is of this world is shakable. The buildings crumble into dust, the companies go into bankruptcy, our degrees fade into illegibility, our houses age and creak and crumble, our cars rust out, and worst of all, our bodies eventually wear out. But the kingdom of God lasts forever. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, he predicted that she would give birth to a Son who would "rule over the house of his father Jacob, and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:33, emphasis added). God desires to establish a kingdom on earth that will last forever. That kingdom will be made up of men and women who have decided to live by God's eternal values. Therefore, the whole human race may be divided into two groups-those who live by earthly values and those live by kingdom values. If you decide to live by earthly values, you will receive an earthly reward. If you decide to live by kingdom values, you will receive a kingdom reward. The difference is this. Living by earthly values produces earthly rewards that pay off quicker and disappear faster; living by kingdom values produces kingdom rewards. They don't usually come as quickly, but they last forever.

By definition, this world forgets the past, lives in the present, and dreams about the future.

You can live for this world or you can live for the kingdom of God. The choice is yours.

That's the second reason the kingdom of God is so important. It's the only thing that will last forever.

# 3 The kingdom of God gives a purpose, meaning and goal to history.

Where is history going? Philosophers have pondered that question for thousands of years. Is history nothing more than "a tale told by an idiot, scribbled on the walls of an insane asylum?" Or is history, as Edward Gibbon suggested, "little more than the register of crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind." Should we accept the Hindu view that history is an endless cycle of reincarnation? Or should we adopt a vague evolutionary view that we came up from the slime over the course of billions and billions of years? Where would that lead us? To some positive thinking nirvana where "everyday in every way things are getting better or better? Or should we conclude with the cynics that life is meaningless, an eternal cul de sac that leads to nothing at all?

If you decide to live by earthly values, you will receive an earthly reward. If you decide to live by kingdom values, you will receive a kingdom reward

No question is more important because the way you view history ultimately shapes the way you view your own life. If you believe that history is going nowhere, then your life is just a momentary blip on the radar screen of the universe-you pop up, you fly across the screen, you disappear, never to be heard from again. If history has no goal, then life has no meaning and every man is left to his own devices. When pornographer Larry Flynt was interviewed by Larry King, he said he believed we are like bottles on a conveyor belt. We pop up, ride the belt for a while, then something knocks us off the belt, and we disappear, and our place is taken by someone else. It would be hard to imagine a more hopeless view of human life.

History Is His Story

But the Bible teaches history is his story, the record of God's dealings with the human race. It teaches that the universe had a definite beginning at a definite point in time. And it teaches that man didn't come up from the slime in some crazy accident of evolution. God created man with a purpose, and history is the story of the slow unfolding of God's purpose on the earth. The Old Testament prophets spoke again and again of a coming kingdom on the earth. Abraham caught a glimpse of it, Moses saw it from afar, David learned about it directly from God, and the major and minor prophets filled in the details. The Old Testament writers foresaw a time when God's Messiah would rule the world from David's throne in Jerusalem. If you put the pieces together, they speak of a coming golden age for the earth, a utopia if you will, a paradise on the earth itself. In that day, the lion will lie down with the lamb, and all nations will stream into Jerusalem. The law of God will be written in the human heart and "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). The New Testament writers add two very significant details:

1. The promised Messiah is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. The kingdom of God will not be ultimately established until Jesus the King returns to the earth in person.

And that is where history is going. The kingdom of God is what history is all about. It's the goal toward which everything else is moving. It's the last chapter in a story that started in the Garden of Eden.

Praying "Your kingdom comes" links us with the faithful of all ages who have surveyed the wreckage of a fallen world and concluded that there must be something better than this.

We are looking through the haze of history to a time when the Lord Jesus Christ will reign on the earth in person. In a deep sense, we are asking God to hasten the day when the Lord himself will descend from heaven and reclaim his rightful place as the ruler of the earth. That's why the angels declared to the startled apostles that "this same Jesus" who had ascended to heaven would one day return to the earth (Acts 1:11). In many ways this is a shocking thought, one that runs against the grain of modern thinking. We believe that a man who once walked on the earth 2000 years ago, and who disappeared from the earth, is one day coming back to the earth. Who is he? "This same Jesus." The same one who walked the dusty roads of Judea and Galilee. The same one who healed the woman who touched the hem of his garment. The same one who divided the loaves and the fish and fed 5000 people. The same one who told a man named Nicodemus that he must be born again. The same one who caused the lame to walk and the blind to see. The same one who walked on the water. This same Jesus is one day returning to the earth. I could on but you get the idea.

Most of us have spent many years reading the Bible and looking at pictures of Jesus performing miracles and speaking to great multitudes. I can recall standing in the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, just a foot or so from Rembrandt's powerful painting of Christ being taken from the cross. We believe that the Jesus who is the subject of that painting, the one who died on the cross and rose form the dead, is actually, literally, bodily, physically and personally returning to the earth one day. And he's not sending a representative. He's coming back in person. That's a mind-blowing fact. No wonder the skeptics think that Christians believe in fantasies. If you stop and ponder what we believe, it is truly an out-of-this-world truth.

Ten Thousand Points Of Light

Let me give you a Reader's Digest version of what history is all about. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He then placed Adam and Eve on the earth and made them stewards over the whole planet. But when they disobeyed, they surrendered their stewardship into the hands of Satan, God's arch-enemy. From that day until this, the whole world has been the domain of Satan. It is still God's world by creation. But Satan has usurped God's authority and set up a counter-kingdom to the kingdom of God. And from that day until this, the earth has been the central battlefield in a war between those two competing kingdoms.

But that's not the whole story. Once the world fell into enemy hands, God determined to win it back at any costs. That meant sending his message through kings and prophets and priests and poets. It meant raising up an entire nation through whom he would bless the earth. But ultimately it meant that he himself had to enter the conflict. In order to reclaim the world from Satan, God entered the human race in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. That story is very familiar to you, but perhaps you are not used to thinking of it as God's ultimate blow against Satan. Even then it appeared that Satan might win, indeed for 36 hours it seemed certain that he had won, that the battle was over and God had been decisively defeated. Then Sunday came and with it, the empty tomb and the risen Savior. Suddenly it became clear to everyone-even to Satan-that Jesus was the victor in the great battle to reclaim the earth. Since that first Easter Sunday Satan has been like a squatter on planet earth. Jesus reclaimed the title deed but Satan refused to give up his territory.

In order to reclaim the world from Satan, God entered the human race in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

But, please mark very carefully four sub-facts on Satan's side. First, he refuses to acknowledge his defeat. Second, he refuses to surrender his dominion until he must. . . . Third, he is supported in his ambitions by man. He has man's consent to his control. The majority of men on the earth today, and in every day, have assented to his control. . . . Fourth, he hopes yet to make his possession of the earth permanent (S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer, p. 46).

The world is still in darkness but here and there the followers of Jesus have established outposts of the kingdom, little pinpoints of light that promise better things to come. Meanwhile the battle rages on between the two kingdoms-King Jesus on one side and Satan on the other. In these last 20 centuries, the light has spread until it seems like there are ten thousand points of light chasing away the darkness. In many other places, however, things look darker than ever. That's the history of the world up until this present moment. But it is not the end of the story. All over the world, in those little outposts of the kingdom, the followers of Jesus are praying "Your kingdom come," and as they do, they set their gaze toward the Eastern sky and wait for the Son of God to personally and visibly return to the earth. When he at last comes, he will trample Satan under his feet, judge the workers of iniquity, set right the wrongs in the world, and reign from David's throne in Jerusalem. That day has not yet come, but it will come, and indeed it is coming, and we believe the "signs of the times" tell us that the coming of Christ is not far away. But whether near or far, the kingdom Jesus will establish on the earth forms the goal of all human history. It is the last and greatest chapter in the "Battle of the Ages."

The battle rages on between the two kingdoms-King Jesus on one side and Satan on the other.

That's why the kingdom of God is all-important and that is why "Your kingdom come" is the central petition of the Lord's Prayer. You are praying that God's whole program for human history might succeed and that Satan's counter-kingdom might be destroyed.

# 4 The kingdom of God is the only possible explanation why some people live the way they do.

This is the final reason why the kingdom of God is so important. It's also the reason that strikes the closest to home. Without the kingdom of God it is simply impossible to explain the way some people choose to live. There are men and women all around us who, although they seem perfectly normal as the world counts normal-ness, in some ways seem to behave very differently. I submit to you that when you examine their lives, the one great factor that makes a difference is that they have been gripped with the concept of the kingdom of God. They have decided to "seek first the kingdom of God," and that has made all the difference in the world. Should that surprise us? No, because Jesus predicted that some people would choose to live that way. These are his words in Luke 18:29-30, "I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." Jesus is teaching us that the kingdom of God changes the values of life. It leads to unusual and otherwise unexplainable behavior. When you sign up for Christ's kingdom, you parachute directly into a war zone. You are leaving a life that makes sense (from the world's point of view) for a life governed by eternal realities. People will do things because of the kingdom of God that they would not do otherwise. In some cases, they will choose to set aside a life of ease and comfort; in other cases they will set aside the closest human relationships; in still other cases they will give up a promising career; still others will spend their money in ways that make no earthly sense.

Without the kingdom of God it is simply impossible to explain the way some people choose to live.

I have some friends who spent several terms as medical missionaries in Nigeria. Both are doctors who had well-established practices in America. A few years ago they felt God calling them to put their careers on hold and go serve in a hospital in Jos, Nigeria. They have four children who went with them. My wife and I (along with my bother Alan) visited them during their first term. It is hard for those of us who are used to advanced medical care to comprehend the working conditions in Africa. It happened that the day we arrived, the hospital ran out of sutures. Does that ever happen in America? I can't imagine a major medical facility in the States where they suddenly said, "We can't do surgery because we don't have any sutures to sew up the patient." But Greg and Carolyn Kirschner weren't surprised. That sort of thing happens all the time in Africa. They had two x-ray machines, but one of them was not working. Everything was primitive by American standards. The Kirschners also weren't surprised to learn that my brother Alan had brought with him a large supply of sutures donated by a hospital in Tupelo, Mississippi. To them, it was no coincidence that a visitor brought what they needed on the very day they ran out of supplies. That's what life is like on the mission field. It's not just George Muller of Bristol who lived day by day, praying in whatever those orphans needed. That's how they operate at the Evangel Hospital in Jos, Nigeria. And that's how it is on mission stations all over the world.

But couldn't Greg and Carolyn make more money by staying in America? Yes, and they could spend that money in support of other missionaries. And their children would be closer to their grandparents, too. They were been back in the States for almost two years, then they went back to Nigeria again. Going back the second time in some ways is harder because all the romance has been washed away by the hard reality of life in Nigeria. It's not that it's a bad place to live or that they don't like it there. Not at all. They love the opportunity of using their considerable gifts to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ. But it is different, and as Greg pointed out to me, in Nigeria you are always reminded that you are a resident alien. So why go back a second time? Because Greg and Carolyn Kirschner decided to live by Kingdom values and those values led them to Nigeria. It's really as simple as that. They left the States for Nigeria, came back, went back to Nigeria, came back, and as I write this, they are in Nigeria for a five-month stint. They have been captured by a higher calling. That's why they went in the first place. And that's why they are there now.

When you sign up for Christ's kingdom, you parachute directly into a war zone.

Let me take this a step further. Jesus laid down the challenge in even starker terms in Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple." You can check the word "hate" in the Greek and you'll discover that "hate" is exactly what it means. But the "hate" of this verse doesn't refer to personal animosity. Being faithful to Jesus Christ and following his call on your life may mean that from time to time you will do things that seem to your loved ones as if you hate them. You don't hate them at all, but your obedience to Christ may cause them to think that you hate them. Such is the price we all must pay to be a disciple of Christ.

You'll Never Know ‘Til You Pray The Prayer

Am I suggesting that living for kingdom values means going to the mission field? Not really. But that does stand as a particularly good example. It throws into bold relief what seeking first the kingdom of God is all about. If you ever decide to make the kingdom of God the first priority in your life, you may not become a missionary, but you will become fundamentally different from the world around you. And the choices you make in your own life will be continually misunderstood because you will be living for values that the people of the world don't comprehend. Perhaps that seems too intimidating. I hope not. Even though you decide to make the kingdom of God your first priority, your life may seem mundane. That's all right. You don't need to go to Nepal or Swaziland or Bulgaria to live for the kingdom of God. You don't even have to move to another country. The kingdom of God is not a matter of geography; it's a matter of the heart. You become a kingdom man or a kingdom woman when you decide to live by the values that matter to God-righteousness, holiness, humility, compassion, zeal, sacrifice, charity, joy and forgiveness.

If you ever decide to make the kingdom of God the first priority in your life, you may not become a missionary, but you will become fundamentally different from the world around you

Consider the matter this way. Every time you pray, you must say one of two things. Either you pray "My kingdom come" or you pray "Your kingdom come." Those are the only two possibilities. But note carefully: When you pray "Your kingdom come," you must of necessity also pray "My kingdom go." God's kingdom cannot "come" unless your kingdom is going to "go." They both can't co-exist at the same time and place. The bottom line is this: Those who pray "Your kingdom come" will never be sorry. We have the words of Jesus on that. Whatever they lose will be amply repaid in this life and in the life to come. But you'll never know until you pray that prayer.

Four Ways to Pray

Let me wrap this up by suggesting four ways to pray "Your kingdom come."

1. In your own life. It all begins here.

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." (Luke 18:17) You enter the kingdom of God by having the simple faith of a child. You enter the kingdom by asking the Lord Jesus to become King in your life. So, we must ask a crucial question. Are you in the kingdom of God? The answer must always be yes or no. You enter the kingdom through simple faith in King Jesus. But-and note this carefully!-you enter individually and personally. No one else can enter for you. It requires a definite decision on your part. Without that definite decision, you will not even "see" the kingdom of God (John 3:5). So, we begin there. Are you in the kingdom of God? If the answer is yes, then you pray a prayer like this every day: "Lord Jesus, may your kingdom come in my life today. May your values predominate my thinking and my decision-making. May your cause in the world be advanced by the things I say and do. Help me to do your will all through this day." There's no magic in that prayer, but properly understood, it is a revolutionary way to pray. Make no mistake. If you mean those words, God will take you up on your offer to become a "kingdom person." Don't pray like this if you intend to stay the way you are.

Are you in the kingdom of God?

2. In your family.

That means praying for your wife, your husband and your children that they too would become kingdom people. This includes praying for your extended family and even for the spouses that your children and grandchildren will one day marry.

3. In your church.

The church is to be a model of that "great society" God is building. Even the best church will fall far short of the ideal. But why not pray for your pastor, for the staff, for elders and deacons, and for the various committees, that they will be completely committed to kingdom values? And then pray for the congregation, that men and women would set aside their own agendas. The church can become as political as any political party. Differences of opinion are good and healthy, but sometimes we can get so fixated on our own ideas, that we destroy the unity of the Spirit in our desire to get our own plans implemented. Pray that your church will become an attractive community of kingdom people-an outpost of light in an ever-darkening world.

The church can become as political as any political party.

4. In the world.

It's true that the kingdom will never come until the King himself returns to the earth. Yet the kingdom of God "comes" in a spiritual sense as men and women surrender their lives to King Jesus. So we are praying "May your kingdom come in hearts and lives today and may the King himself quickly return." While you are at it, pray for the kingdom to come in your community, your state, your nation, and finally throughout the world. "O God, give us leaders who fear your name and respect your Law." As you pray, remember the words of Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."

"Begin, I Pray Thee, With Me"

I conclude with this final observation: "Your kingdom come" is not a passive prayer. It's not a placebo for someone who wants to stand by and watch the action from the grandstands. No, this is a prayer for someone who wants to get in the game. That's why the verb is an imperative-"Come, kingdom of God!"

Do you really want the kingdom of God to come? If you do, I leave you to ponder the words of this ancient Chinese prayer: "O Lord, change the world. Begin, I pray thee, with me."

Father, we thank you that Satan will not have the last word. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly and establish your visible kingdom on the earth. Between now and then help us to live as Kingdom People whose values are not of this world. May we not grow accustomed to second-best living when you have called us to higher ground. Grant us wisdom to be citizens of heaven while we sojourn as pilgrims on the earth. In Jesus' name, Amen.

A Truth to Remember:  If you ever decide to make the kingdom of God your first priority, you will become fundamentally different from the world around you.

Going Deeper

1. When we pray, "Come, Kingdom of God!" what are we really praying for? How will we know when our prayer has been answered?

2. Why did Jesus talk so much about the kingdom of God?

3. What does this petition suggest about the attempt to improve the world through legislation and political pressure? How can we strive for what is right while at the same time praying "Your Kingdom Come?" How does this petition impart a sense of humility to our efforts to make the world a better place?

4. Describe the difference between a life lived by worldly values and a life lived by kingdom values.

5. How does Satan try to stop God's kingdom from spreading in the world today? How does he attack you personally?

6. Memorize Luke 18:29-30. Ask God to help you live for the sake of his kingdom this week.

An Action Step

This message ends with four ways to pray "Your kingdom come." Use that as a guide in your personal prayer time for the next seven days.

© Keep Believing Ministries

Wanted

by Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881)

"God, give us Men! A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;

Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor;
Men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!

Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps."

Pastoral Prayer (With a view to Romans 8)

by John Jewell

There are times in our living Lord when things pile up, pressures mount
and we feel overwhelmed. A sudden grief comes out of the blue, a child
strays, a job is lost or that dreaded phone call from the doctor comes.

Our faith is tested. Our hearts break. Hope flees. And we wonder.
Where are you Lord? How could this be? Why did it happened? Did I
do something wrong?

In our heads we know that your love is forever and ever. But, sometimes
in our hearts we are so overwhelmed by the pain, we are not able to sense
your presence.

Where can we turn but to the promises you have provided for us through
your servants who saw your heart and wrote the words. O help us to hear
today, not so much with our ears, but with our souls:

"I love you my child and even in this, I will work for your good."
"I am for you -- not against you -- no matter how it looks right now."
"Nothing -- not even this -- can separate you from my love."

Give us eyes of faith to see beyond the dark horizon of this present
darkness into the light of a new day. Open our spirits more fully to the
joy that lies beyond the trial, in the courts of your eternal love.

Lift us up, O Lord, for we can not lift ourselves. Strengthen us for the living
of these days, for we can not strengthen ourselves. Pray for us, even in those
times when we have not the words to pray.

Amen.

Health Tip: Physicians Share Tips To Prevent And Correct Signs of Aging

Some Vitamins Do Work From The Outside-In

Women's worries about wrinkles, dark spots and other aging skin concerns aren't all vanity, a new poll reveals.

Forty-two percent of women ages 50 to 59 believe they need to look young to be successful at work, according to a recent poll by Penn Schoen Berland.

"Increasingly, both men and women have anxiety about looking older, but the good news is that science has developed natural tools to help us look younger longer," say Drs. Rick and Arlene Noodleman, the husband-and-wife physician team at Silicon Valley's Age Defying Dermatology, (www.agedefy.com), national leaders in medical and cosmetic dermatology and integrative medical treatments.

Something we all battle daily is damage from free radicals, a term that has entered the public lexicon with little understanding by most people.

"Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have lost electrons through oxidation, making them unstable. If your body doesn't have enough antioxidants to stabilize them and render them harmless, they can damage cell membranes, which eventually breaks down the proteins that support and plump the skin," explains preventive medicine specialist Dr. Arlene Noodleman.

"We're bombarded by free radicals every day", she says. "We produce them when we metabolize food and even when we breathe. They're also in the environment – diesel exhaust, air pollution, UV radiation (from the sun) and cigarette smoke are all major producers."

"What's worse, those free radical oxygen molecules are always looking to stabilize themselves by swiping electrons from stable molecules, which creates even more free radicals," says dermatologist Dr. Rick Noodleman.

"We have lots of natural defenses against free radicals, but as we age, we begin to lose them," he says.

Some vitamins are antioxidants, meaning their molecules provide electrons that stabilize the free radicals. Clinical studies have found that certain of these are effective in preventing damage, or correcting damage such as reducing wrinkles and dark spots.

In certain cases, "taking your vitamins" means applying them on your skin so they can work from the outside-in, the physicians say.

• Vitamin A – "There is significant scientific evidence that the form of vitamin A called retinoid, when applied topically, can treat damage caused by sun exposure," says Dr. Arlene Noodleman. "It can soften fine lines and wrinkles and lighten dark spots." In one study, subjects had significantly fewer fine wrinkles after applying a prescription-strength retinoid cream (0.1 percent isotretinoin) once a day for 36 weeks. "Of the over-the-counter retinoid products, Retinol appears most effective", Dr. Noodleman says.

• Vitamin C – "Vitamin C applied topically is much more effective than taken orally", says Dr. Rick Noodleman. "That's because vitamin C is relatively unstable -- it quickly oxidizes when exposed to air and in certain other conditions. So, to get the full benefit, you would need it in much greater amounts than you would normally consume in a tablet. You can get that benefit by using a topical formulation," he says. "Look for 'stable' vitamin C of the L-ascorbic variety, which offers the best protection against sun damage", he states. "It reduces lines and wrinkles, protects against sun damage, and encourages production of collagen, one of the proteins susceptible to free radical damage. Importantly, collagen makes up 75 percent of our skin and gives it support and volume."

• Vitamin B3 – "As a 'damage corrector', test-tube studies have shown that vitamin B3 boosts collagen production and clinical studies have shown that it reduces dark spots", says Dr. Arlene Noodleman. In one significant study, 50 Caucasian women applied a 5 percent vitamin B3 solution to one side of their faces every day for 12 weeks. They had a marked reduction in dark spots, redness and yellowing, and increased elasticity.

The two doctors advise that, for best results, people should buy these topical vitamin products at concentrations that have proved effective – and use them for the length of time recommended.

About Drs. Rick and Arlene Noodleman

Dr. Rick Noodleman, a board-certified, Stanford-trained dermatologist, is an expert in the medical and surgical management of skin disease, aging skin, and advanced cosmetic techniques. Dr. Arlene Noodleman, board-certified in preventive medicine and fellowship-trained in integrative medicine, is a healthy aging expert who focuses on the whole person and strategies that facilitate the body's innate healing response. Together, Drs. Noodleman created the Revercel cosmeceutical and neutraceutical product line. (www.revercel.com)

Family Special: Help for a Shaky Marriage

by Jennifer Schuchmann

Scripture: Psalm 46:1–11

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

What could shake the very foundation of your marriage?

For Rick and Amanda, it started with Rick's working too much. With each promotion, Rick spent more time on the road and less time with Amanda. But success at work left him empty. He bought things he couldn't afford to reward himself for his long hours away. Soon he and Amanda were arguing over money.

To pay the mounting bills, Amanda found a job. She also found a sympathetic friend at work and tried to heal her hurts with an affair. When Rick found out about the affair, he quietly made plans to divorce Amanda. Before the papers could be filed, however, Amanda got sick with a minor illness. But complications set in, and she was put into the hospital. More than once, the doctors told Rick that she wouldn't make it through the night.

That night Rick began to see things differently. He wanted to save the marriage, but he didn't know how. As Amanda's illness became progressively worse, she went into a coma. Rick feared for her life and spent every waking moment by her side.

In Psalm 46, we see the world being torn apart by cataclysmic disasters - mountains collapsing into the sea, earthquakes, floods and military conquests. But the author of this psalm tells us that we shouldn't fear. How could we not be afraid when faced with such terrifying events?

The psalmist tells us that through all of the turbulence, God is with us. God is our refuge and strength when problems shake our world. He has such awesome power that the world actually melts at the sound of his voice. God is in control and will be exalted.

As Amanda lay in the hospital, fighting to live, Rick was fired from his job. He had to sell their house and their car. But when everything he thought was important was stripped away, Rick found God was there through it all. When he heard God's voice, it was as if his earthly troubles melted away. Rick believed God was in control and that Amanda would live.

And she did.

Today Amanda is permanently disabled. She requires full-time care. Life will never be the same for this couple. But their marriage has withstood the worst threats possible. They now trust God daily for healing, forgiveness and the restoration of their marriage. They endured past trials and found that God was their refuge. They will face future trials knowing he is their strength. Their marriage has never been stronger.

Whatever long, dark nights you face as a couple, let this passage remind you that God is ever-present, the morning will come, and the battle has already been won.

Let's Talk

This psalm inspired the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." What spiritual fortresses can we build to protect our marriage in times of trials?

Recognizing that God is our refuge and our strength during trials means understanding his character before trials occur. What is God really like? How does knowing who he is provide us with strength and refuge?

When our world is shaken, how hard is it for us to believe that God is really in control?

Source: NIV Devotions for Couples

World Leaders Should Unite to End Anti-Christian Persecution, Vladimir Putin Says

by Hilary White

MOSCOW, August 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Vladimir Putin has urged the world's political leaders to stop the violent persecutions against Christians that have erupted in many Middle Eastern countries.

Speaking at a meeting with Orthodox Christian leaders in Moscow last week, the Russian President said he noted "with alarm" that "in many of the world's regions, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa inter-confessional tensions are mounting, and the rights of religious minorities are infringed, including Christians and Orthodox Christians."

"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."

Putin praised the growth of cooperation between the Orthodox Churches and the Russian state, saying, "We act as genuine partners and colleagues to solve the most pressing domestic and international tasks, to implement joint initiatives for the benefit of our country and people."

The Russian Federation recently passed legislation making it illegal to promote homosexuality as normal, a move that, while condemned by many European leaders, was strongly supported by the Orthodox Church.

Putin added Thursday that the Church was giving Russians a moral compass when so many were looking for help. "Today when people are once again searching for moral support, millions of our compatriots see it in religion," he said. "They trust the wise, pastoral word of the Russian Orthodox Church."

He added that it was the Church that was ultimately responsible for the development and rise of "culture and education" in Russia over the last 1,000 years. "The adoption of Christianity became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland, made it an inseparable part of the Christian civilization and helped it turn into one of the largest world powers," Putin said.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said at the same meeting that the attempts to push Christians out of Syria would lead to a "civilization catastrophe." Kirill and other Orthodox leaders have been critical of the lack of response to the crisis facing Christians in the Middle East by US and other Western leaders.

The meeting was held with the leaders of all 15 Orthodox Churches to commemorate the 1,025th anniversary of the "Baptism of Russia" – the official adoption of Christianity and establishment of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kievan Rus by Prince Vladimir in 988 A.D.

Orthodox leaders at the meeting also condemned the growing secularist suppression of Christian freedoms in non-Muslim countries like Britain, where "gay marriage" has just been created.

Metropolitan Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox Church's chief ecumenical officer, said "secularization in disguise of democratization" is leading Western nations toward totalitarianism. He spoke of a "powerful energy today [that] strives to finally break with Christianity, which controlled its totalitarian impulses during 17 centuries." ...

Source: LifeSiteNews.com Copyright 1997-2012 LifeSiteNews.com, all rights reserved.

How to Deal with People Who are Jealous of Your Success

By Robert W. Bly

I once heard a great piece of advice concerning whether to tell other people how much money you make.

The advice was: don't.

Reason: If you make less than they do, they will look down on you.

If you make more than they do, they will resent you.

Most people would never think of asking a friend or acquaintance who has a conventional 9 to 5 job what their salary is.

But those same people have no hesitation asking an entrepreneur or self-employed professional "Do you make good money doing that?"

Many secretly hope you do not ... and here's why:

They already imagine that being your own boss gives you an enviable life style and work environment - which in most cases is usually true - so they're already jealous.

If on top of all the freedom you enjoy, you also make a lot more money than them, they turn green with envy and silently wish for your failure.

When asked questions that probe my income, I don't give the figure. I reply: "Well, I'm not Bill Gates, but I do OK" - and leave it at that.

Another manifestation of jealousy is for people to make snide comments that denigrate your success as an entrepreneur.

KK, a friend, recently commented, "You must really have to scramble to find clients."

I think he wanted to assure himself that I could not possibly be matching the low six-figure salary he earns as an IT manager.

If I were to reply with the truth - that I have more opportunity for assignments than I can handle - it would be rubbing my success in his face, which is unseemly.

So I gave a noncommittal answer that it's true you have to market your services to get clients but I was not hurting for business.

Ironically, KK's wife TK knows what I make and that it is several multiples of her husband's salary - because she correctly guessed, and when she did, my wife Amy confirmed that her guess was on target.

I was displeased that Amy revealed this information, because it is none of TK's or KK's business.

In my experience, people who are employed in a traditional job are envious of these aspects of you being an entrepreneur:

1--They worry you make more money than they do, which they view as unfair because you avoid so many of the drawbacks of conventional jobs, such as office politics and horrible bosses.

2--They envy your ability to work at home unless they are telecommuters.

3--They wish they had the guts to start their own business and feel inferior to you because you do.

4--They are told what to do, when, and where, and covet your ability to do what you want, when you want to do it, and where you want to do it.

5--They feel like "wage slaves" and resent your potential to earn an income that is many multiples of what they make.

How can people reduce their envy of those more wealthy and successful than themselves?

I wish more people would heed the wisdom of writer Max Ehrmann, who in his 1927 poem "Desiderata" wrote, "There will always be those greater and less than you."

Remember, there are millionaires envious of multi-millionaires, multi-millionaires envious of billionaires, and billionaires envious of multi-billionaires ... even though they may not say so.

One question I get from time to time is, "Can you really make a living doing that?" In this case, I think the motivation for asking is genuine curiosity, not the desire to put you in your place.

How can you deal with the jealousy of others towards you?

To begin with, you have to be selective about whom you associate with.

There are always people who are filled with negative thoughts -- not only about others whom they envy (you) but also about themselves and their perceived failure to having achieved their goals (which are often to own their own business or be richer than they are).

My advice, which is hardly original, is to gently separate yourself from those jealous, negative people and have as little to do with them as possible.

The fact is they will drag you down into the muck and mire of their negative attitude, and as an entrepreneur, you just don't need that.

I also avoid doing things that will trigger jealousy in others, such as making ostentatious purchases.

In a conversation I had with successful entrepreneur Sy Sperling, founder of the Hair Club for Men, he told me, "I could easily afford a Rolls Royce but I drive a Lexus."

Gaudy displays of wealth, or dropping hints in conversation that let the listener know how well-heeled you are, do nothing to endear you to other people and instead make then burn with envy.

If you are modest and humble, others won't envy you or try to tear you down.

Of course, you may want to treat yourself to the trappings of the wealthy entrepreneur, but you don't have to push it in other people's faces. For instance, most people won't ever see your million-dollar home, and you can drive the Toyota instead of the BMW to business meetings.

In particular, you want to avoid demonstrating your success and wealth to your customers, lest they feel that you achieved it by gouging them.

And everyone would be well advised to obey the 10th commandment:

You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.

[Ed. Note. Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of 80 books including Start Your Own Home Business After 50 (Linden).] Source: Early to Rise

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