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

Theme: Christian Life

Volume 3 No. 172 October 3, 2013

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Beautiful Thoughts
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Bible Readings for This Sunday (October 6)

Bible Readings For the 4th Sunday After Sleebo Feast
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_4th_sunday-after-sleebo.htm

Sermons for This Sunday (October 6)

Sermons for the 4th Sunday After Sleebo Feast
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_4th-sunday-after-Sleebo.htm

Inspiration for Today

Featured: Some Thoughts on Holy Trinity from a Physicist's Perspective

Together, all three of these entities represent God as a whole. Though we will not meet God the Father until after death, we are enlightened via the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, which existed and exist (respectively) in four-dimensional space-time. Jesus, as the perfect human being, set the example for us to follow. Though God is likely infinitely complex (and therefore will always be incomprehensible to us), this may give us yet some more insight into the Creator of our world and possibly infinitely many more worlds. ...

What Christ Does With Failure

Failure is an event, not a destiny. This is good news because we all fail sooner or later, and if we are honest, we all fail over and over again. As Peter's story abundantly proves, it's not our initial failure that ruins us. It's what happens next that matters. ...

How To Be Happy In An Unhappy World

Most people look for happiness in the wrong places. Many people believe that the key to happiness is wealth and possessions. However, materialism will never achieve happiness. ...

Seeing God in Your Work

Because of the curse of the fall, work can be difficult, frustrating, and dull. But Christians must understand that work itself is not part of the curse; it was part of God's original plan for humanity. It is an opportunity for us to exercise our creativity, gifts, and interests in order to be effective stewards of God's creation. ..

Eight Ways Satan Convinces You To Question Your Salvation

Though Satan can never steal the Christian's crown, though he can never snatch him away from the hand of the Father, he is so envious and malicious that he will leave no stone unturned in robbing the Christian of comfort and peace, in making their life miserable, in giving them reason to live in constant sorrow and mourning, doubt and questioning. ...

The Christian View of Death

Perhaps you desire to serve God longer in this world. But if he has nothing further for you to do here, why not say with David, "Here am I, let God do what seems good to him." He is calling you to higher service in heaven, and can accomplish by other hands what you desire to do further here. Do you feel too imperfect to go to heaven? Consider that you must be imperfect until you die; your sanctification cannot be complete until you get to heaven. ...

Health: Living Your Best Life with Incurable Cancer

No matter what the adversity a person may be facing, no one should waste a moment of our temporary time on Earth, Jane says. She offers these suggestions – learned the hard way – for living your best. ...

Recipe: Sweet Potato Tart Tatin

Sweet potatoes make a delicious snack and a healthy one, too. They are a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C, and they have no fat and 4 grams of protein per serving. ...

Family Special: Guidelines for Success in Raising Obedient Children

I thought about my impatience in the past. In how many of those instances had I been the problem because I failed to set boundaries or tell my children what kind of behavior would be appropriate? Because other responsibilities demand attention, it's easy to overlook preparing children for what lies ahead. How can they succeed if they don't know what is expected of them? ...

Family Bonus: The Day My Fragile Identity as a Mom Melted

Your daughter is a child in need of a parent. She needs to be taught. And some of your best teaching opportunities will come when she puts her sin nature on display. Don't fear or fret or feel like this is some sort of failure on your part. Her outside demonstrations are an internal indication of her need for guidance. So guide her. Love her. And always remember to be the parent. Not her friend. Not her buddy. The parent. ...

A Global Slaughter of Christians, but America’s Churches Stay Silent

Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. Not so. The silence has been nearly deafening. ...

About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (October 6)

Bible Readings For the 4th Sunday After Sleebo Feast

Sermons for This Sunday (October 6)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today
The Majestic Date Trees

Date trees dwarf coconut trees. They grow taller by a yard every year.

Lamba bhaya tho kya bhaya, dekho pedh khajoor
Panthi ko chhaya nahin, phal laage ati duur.

Kabir

Translation

In vain is the eminence, just like a date tree
No shade for travelers, fruit is hard to reach

Meaning

A date tree grows very tall, projecting eminence and a distinction of its own yet it does not provide shade to weary travelers. Its fruit grows so far that one cannot easily pluck it.

Using this simile, Kabir in this doha points out to us about our vain personalities. What good is our so called eminence, if it is neither compassionate nor helpful to others? Kabir emphasizes that we should shed our greed, selfishness and insecure tendencies and establish ourselves in such a way that we should be willing to give and share. Only then we will be blessed and become a blessing to others.

Here's a really down-to-earth simplification of this Doha:

"Don't get overawed by tall, hefty guys. Shorties like us can lead meaningful, useful lives, too".

Featured: Some Thoughts on Holy Trinity from a Physicist's Perspective

by Professor Michael Pravica, Ph.D

As a religious physicist, I have occasionally fielded questions from various people pertaining to my Faith and how I reconcile it with my understanding of physics. One point that is often brought up is the apparently "illogical" nature of the Holy Trinity, which is of utmost importance to Orthodox Christians: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. "How can three be one and yet be distinct at the same time?" I am often asked, and I never really had a good answer for that question.

Recently, however, I had an epiphany as I was thinking about the Holy Trinity from a physics perspective, which may aid in better appreciating Its' amazing significance. But to do so, I was forced to "think outside of the box (universe)" so to speak.

To begin with, we first must recognize that we live in four-dimensional space-time (x,y,z,t). Within the confines of our universe, energy and matter (a form of potential energy) interact and move about, converting from one form to another over the past 13.5 billion years or so. Within the paradigm of physical laws, we also have the concept of wave-particle duality wherein every physical object (proton, photon, electron, neutrino, etc) can be viewed either as a particle or as a wave, quantum mechanically. Both views are just as valid despite the apparent paradox of something being a wave and particle at the same time. From this, the uncertainty principle derives which some have argued enables "free will." As I have suggested before [1-2], our universe is likely a four-dimensional "bubble" that is expanding into infinitely dimensional (or at least higher dimensional) "space." With these perspectives, we can consider the following possibility:

God, the Father encompasses all that is outside of our universe (including other parallel universes and universes of different dimensions should they exist) as the Creator of these universes and as an infinitely-dimensional entity. This is similar to a painter such as Michelangelo existing outside of his painting or the designer/engineer of a car living outside of the car. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, represents God's representation within four-dimensional space-time, i.e., our universe, as a human being (made up of particles - matter) who suffered as a human being and then was resurrected. The Holy Spirit represents God's representation within our universe as an all-encompassing/ubiquitous wave (pure energy) which is immune/invisible to the material world - i.e. the matter-based world - but which permeates it with ease. Time stops for waves that travel at the speed of light. As long as the universe exists, the Holy Spirit will continue to roam and spiritually warm our universe. God may no longer be with us in the flesh (at least for now) but is with us in spirit (if we want Him to be).

When we pray, the Holy Spirit "hears" us. When we love God, the Holy Spirit "resonates" with us and perhaps even inspires us. In other words, we interact with the Holy Spirit.

When we attend Church and take Holy Communion, we interact/couple with the body and blood of Christ (physical particles) in accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and look to follow Him as our Shepherd. Jesus is much easier for us to comprehend (and follow) than an infinitely dimensional and complex Creator (God the Father).

Together, all three of these entities represent God as a whole. Though we will not meet God the Father until after death, we are enlightened via the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, which existed and exist (respectively) in four-dimensional space-time. Jesus, as the perfect human being, set the example for us to follow. Though God is likely infinitely complex (and therefore will always be incomprehensible to us), this may give us yet some more insight into the Creator of our world and possibly infinitely many more worlds.

I certainly am not pretending to "explain" God in this piece as I present an incomplete theory of sorts. Nevertheless, the more we learn about our physical universe and how it was put together, the closer we can come, I believe, to God.

About The Author:

Michael Pravica is an associate professor of physics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The opinions expressed in this article are solely his own.

Source: Pravda

What Christ Does With Failure

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Scripture: John 21

Let's begin with a poem called "And God Said If" that helps set the scene:

If you never felt pain,
Then how would you know that I'm a Healer?

If you never went through difficulty,
How would you know that I'm a Deliverer?

If you never had a trial,
How could you call yourself an overcomer?

If you never felt sadness,
How would you know that I'm a Comforter?

If you never made a mistake,
How would you know that I'm forgiving?

If you never were in trouble,
How would you know that I will come to your rescue?

If you never were broken,
Then how would you know that I can make you whole?

If you never had a problem,
How would you know that I can solve them?

If you never had any suffering,
Then how would you know what I went through?

If you never went through the fire,
Then how would you become pure?

If I gave you all things,
How would you appreciate them?

If I never corrected you,
How would you know that I love you?

If you had all power,
Then how would you learn to depend on me?

If your life was perfect,
Then what would you need me for?

Pause and consider that final line for a moment:

If your life was perfect,
Then what would you need me for?

This is a sermon about a failure so shocking that we still talk about it 2000 years later. There are really two parts to Peter's story-his three-fold denial the night Jesus was arrested and how Christ forgave and restored him. The first part depends wholly on Peter, the second wholly on Jesus.

Peter was in charge of his own failure.
Christ took charge of restoring him.

Behind this story lies a wonderful, liberating, hope-filled truth: Failure is an event, not a destiny. This is good news because we all fail sooner or later, and if we are honest, we all fail over and over again. As Peter's story abundantly proves, it's not our initial failure that ruins us. It's what happens next that matters.

  • Failure doesn't mean you have blown everything. It means you have some hard lessons to learn.
  • It doesn't mean you are a permanent loser. It means you aren't as smart as you thought you were.
  • It doesn't mean you should give up. It means you need the Lord to show you the next step.
  • It doesn't mean that God has abandoned you. It means that God a better plan.

Only those who have greatly failed will truly appreciate this story. If you have only failed in small things, then you will not be deeply moved. But if you have known the shame of large failure, then listen up. This story is for you.

When we have failed, especially when we have failed those we love the most, our mind becomes a swirl of emotions–Embarrassment . . . Anger . . . Fear . . . Shame . . . Despair. We feel dirty and unworthy because we acted foolishly. When we have hurt someone deeply, we want to know if they still love us or have we blown everything?

Only those who have greatly failed will truly appreciate this story.

Will they ever forgive me?
Can I ever forgive myself?

Peter never forgot what happened when he denied Christ. As long as he lived, he never forgot that terrible night. Tradition says that he would start weeping whenever he heard a rooster crow. Tradition also says that he would wake up every night and pray during the hour when he denied the Lord.

How does Jesus restore his fallen disciple? The answer comes in five stages.

I. He Sent for Him.

When the women arrived at the tomb early on Sunday morning, an angel announced the good news and instructed them to "go, tell his disciples and Peter" (Mark 16:7). What does that mean-"his disciples and Peter?" Peter's denial has separated him from the other disciples. No doubt he wondered to himself many times-"What am I now? Am I a traitor or am I a disciple?"

Peter may have failed in the Upper Room, but Jesus sent for him. Just a few hours earlier Peter had said, "Lord, you will never wash my feet" (John 13:8). And then later he bragged about his courage. He bragged that if everyone else deserted Jesus, he would never desert him. How wrong he was. Under pressure the bold apostle turned to butter.

Peter may have failed with Malchus, but Jesus sent for him. Peter meant well, but his futile attempt to protect Jesus accomplished nothing. "Put your sword away," Jesus said. "It must be this way."

Peter may have failed in the courtyard, but Jesus sent for him. "Are you one of those men who were with Jesus?" "Jesus! I don't know him." "Didn't I see you with his disciples?" "I don't know the man." "Aren't you a follower of Jesus of Nazareth?" He begins to swear as only a fisherman can swear. "I tell you, I don't know that man." In the distance a rooster crowed. Moments later Jesus was brought out from his trial before the high priest Caiaphas. Luke 22:61 says that the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. That's when the full impact of his sin hit him. Realizing what he had done, Peter went outside and wept bitterly.

After all that, the risen Christ sends for him! He doesn't write Peter off as a permanent failure. He doesn't put him in the "Biggest Loser" category. Jesus still has plans for Peter, plans to give him a hope and a future, plans to give him a second chance.

II. He Met with Him.

Where did Peter go after he denied Christ? The answer is, we don't know for certain because the Bible doesn't say. But we can surmise that Peter did what most of us do when have blown it big time. When we have made a huge mistake, the last thing we want is to be around other people, especially the ones who know us best and love us the most. Having let them down, we don't want to see them at all. Sin separates us from God and from God's people. Sin isolates us so that the devil can convince that, having made such a stupid mistake, no one wants to be around us again, ever. So we spend our hours in a miserable prison of self-imposed solitary confinement.

Sin separates us from God and from God's people.

I think that's what happened to Peter that weekend. Wherever he was, he must have felt alone in the world. The last thing we are told is that after Jesus looked at him, Peter wept bitterly. We are not told where Peter was during the crucifixion on Friday or during the burial late that afternoon. We can guess that he retreated to some lonely spot, there to replay those awful moments in his mind so he could beat himself up all over again and ask, "Why? Why did I do it? What made me think I was so much better than the others? How could I have been so stupid?" and "What does Jesus think of me now?"

We find an answer to that last question in the fact that Jesus made a special appearance to Peter sometime on Easter Sunday. We don't know where or when precisely nor do we know how long the meeting lasted. But twice the New Testament mentions that the meeting took place:

"It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon" (Luke 24:34).

"He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve" (1 Corinthians 15:4-5).

I am especially heartened that Jesus met with Peter before he met with the rest of the disciples. Aren't you glad about that? Jesus not only sends for Peter. He goes to meet him before he meets with the others.

What amazing grace. There will be no public humiliation. Since Peter denied Christ, things must first be settled between the two of them. With wisdom and grace, Christ comes after Peter and doesn't wait for him to make the first move.

III. He Challenged Him.

Now we come to John 21. It is evening on the Sea of Galilee, not long after the Resurrection. Peter and six other disciples have spent the night fishing and end up catching nothing. In the morning a man calls from the shore, telling them to put their nets on the other side of the boat and they will catch fish. They end up with so many fish, they can't haul the net because it was so full of fish. When he realizes the man is Jesus, Peter impulsively jumps in the water and begins swimming for shore. It turns out that Peter and the other disciples caught 153 fish simply by obeying the word of Christ.

With wisdom and grace, Christ comes after Peter and doesn't wait for him to make the first move.

If Christ was watching the disciples from the shore all night, why didn't he speak up sooner? Why allow his men to toil for hours in frustration? The answer is, they needed to fail. Failure in this case was the necessary prerequisite to eventual success. If that unidentified man had spoken up sooner, they would doubtless have rejected his advice. "What do you know? We're professional fishermen. We know where to find fish. We've spent years fishing this lake." But let the night pass and the sun come up and they are ready at last to listen to the voice of the Lord. So it is with all of us. The Lord allows us to fail in our own strength so that we may learn that only by his power will we ever succeed. Microsoft founder Bill Gates said, "Success is a lousy teacher. It makes smart people think they can't lose." The disciples needed to fail so they could learn to depend on Christ for their victories. Sometimes it takes shameful failure for us finally to wake up and see our need of Christ.

When we read John 21:1-14, we should connect it in our minds with Luke 5:1-11 where Jesus tells Peter to go out into the deep and let down his nets for a catch. Despite his doubts, Peter follows Christ's command and ends up catching so many fish, they filled up two boats. So now we have come full circle. The question is the same on both occasions. "Peter, will you obey me even when it makes no sense?"

It is the same question the Lord asks us every day. Will we obey even when we think we have a better way? Will we obey even when the way forward seems unclear? Will we obey when our instincts tell us to do something different? Will we obey when we have failed on our own?

IV. He Reinstated Him.

After the breakfast was over, Peter and Jesus took a walk together. This is the part of the story most of us know best.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17).

Peter and Jesus had this conversation around a charcoal fire (v. 9). The particular Greek word for "charcoal fire" is used in only one other place in the New Testament, in John 18:18 to refer to the charcoal fire in the courtyard where Peter denied the Lord.

The Lord allows us to fail in our own strength so that we may learn that only by his power will we ever succeed.

By one fire he says, "I don't know him."
By another fire he says, "Lord, you know I love you."

By one charcoal fire he denied Christ.
By one charcoal fire he is restored by Christ.

Several questions come to mind as we read this passage. Why did Jesus ask Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Answer: Because Peter had denied him three times. Why did he do this publicly? Because Peter denied him publicly. The other disciples needed to hear Peter openly declare his love for Christ. Without hearing those words, the doubts would linger forever.

The man who had been so boastful, so sure of himself, so confident of his own courage, is now thoroughly humbled. Jesus' first question-"Do you love me more than these?"-was a subtle reminder of his previous boast to be more loyal than the other disciples. In his reply Peter declares his love for Christ, but he refuses to compare himself with anyone else. As painful as this was, it was absolutely necessary. Jesus is cleaning the wound so that it might be properly healed. He is getting rid of Peter's guilt and shame by dealing with it openly.

Consider what Christ doesn't do. He doesn't try to make Peter feel guilty. He doesn't humiliate publicly. He doesn't ask him, "Are you sorry for what you did?" He doesn't make him promise to do better. He just asks one question: "Do you love me?"

Once we have hurt someone we love, it is hard to look them in the face and it is harder still to be questioned about our true commitment. "How could you have done that? What were you thinking? Do you even love me at all?" But the questions must be asked and the answers must be given. And they must be repeated if the truth is to be fully told.

Once we have hurt someone we love, it is hard to look them in the face and it is harder still to be questioned about our true commitment.

Peter needed to see the enormity of his sin, and he needed to hear Jesus ask these searching questions. Only then could he grasp the magnitude of Christ's forgiveness. Only then could he be truly restored. Without the pain, he would not get better. Years ago a friend shared this thought with me: "The truth will set you free but it will hurt you first." Often we don't get better because we don't want to face the hard truth about what we have said and done. But until we face the truth about ourselves, we can never be free.

There are three qualifications for those who would serve the Lord:

The first is love.
The second is love.
The third is love.

First we love, then we serve.
First we love, then we speak.
First we love, then we lead.

When Christ asks the question the third time, Peter's heart is grieved and he blurts out, "Lord, you know all things." With those words Peter renounces all his self-confidence. On that fateful night in the Upper Room, he thought he knew himself but he didn't. Now he's not so sure. He doesn't even trust his own heart; instead he trusts in the Lord who knows all things. This is a mighty step forward in Christian growth. It is a great advance to come to the place where you can say with conviction, "My trust is in the Lord alone." Sometimes we have to hit bottom and hit it hard before we can say those words.

Did it work? Did the painful surgery produce the desired healing? Yes. Peter never denied Christ again. And just a few days later, on the Day of Pentecost, fully restored, he stood in the temple courts and preached a mighty gospel sermon to the very men who had crucified the Lord (Acts 2:14-40). Three thousand people were saved that day.

There are three qualifications for those who would serve the Lord: The first is love. The second is love. The third is love.
The old Peter was gone forever. A new man was born when Jesus restored his fallen disciple.

V. He Reenlisted Him.

Early church tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome because he said that he was not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. It is remarkable that Jesus skips the rest of Peter's life and concentrates only on how he will die (John 21:18-19). Although he failed in the past, in the end he will glorify God in his death. In the Upper Room Peter had rashly boasted that he was willing to follow Christ to prison and to death (Luke 22:33). It's as if Jesus tells him, "You were right about that, more right than you knew. Someday you will have a chance to keep your promise. And I know that in that day you will not fail." The early historians tell us that Peter lived and died faithful to Jesus to the very end.

So we come to the end of the message. What does Christ do with failure? He redeems it!

God is able to forget our past. Why can't we? He throws our sins into the depths of the sea and puts up a sign on the shore which reads, ‘No fishing.' (Erwin Lutzer).
Peter remains a figure of surpassing interest to us. We can't get enough of him. We know him well because we see him every morning when we look in the mirror. We love Peter because we can see ourselves in his story. In fact, his story is our story. For all of us the process of Christian growth is long and painful, with many ups and downs. Peter the rock often seemed very un-rocklike. It took repeated failure to produce rock-solid character in him. But Jesus never gave up on his man.

We love Peter because we can see ourselves in his story.

Here is the final irony. From beginning to end, Jesus believed in Peter more than Peter believed in himself.

So it will be for all of us.

"If your life was perfect,
Then what would you need me for?"

The real hero of Peter's story isn't Peter.
The real hero is Jesus.

That's why John 21 is in the Bible, so that all of us Peter-types would know that though we fall again and again, by God's grace we can keep on getting back up.

What mercy!
What grace!

If he did it for Peter, he can do it for me and for you.

Perhaps you've heard it said that over the gate of heaven there is a sign that reads "For Sinners Only." That's a legend, of course, because the Bible says nothing about such a sign, but it would be entirely appropriate. And in my imagining I picture another sign, on the inside of the gate, one that reads "By Grace Alone." Those two statements tell us who goes to heaven:

For Sinners Only.
By Grace Alone.

And, finally, there is the longstanding legend that Peter will meet us at the gates of heaven. While there is no biblical proof of that, it would be appropriate for Peter to be there because he understood more than the others what those words really mean.

© Keep Believing Ministries

How To Be Happy In An Unhappy World

by Ken Trivette

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus opened His heart and told the crowd how to attain happiness in this world. In his sermon "How to Be Happy In An Unhappy World" Ken Trivette states "Happiness does not have to be something you pursue, but something you possess."

We live in a world that is largely unhappy. Jesus told us how to be happy in an unhappy world when He gave us the eight beatitudes.

Every person has a natural desire to be happy. It is even stated in the Declaration of Independence, that we will pursue happiness. However, happiness is an endless pursuit and is most often met with disappointment.

Most people look for happiness in the wrong places. Many people believe that the key to happiness is wealth and possessions. However, materialism will never achieve happiness.

In the beatitudes, Jesus explains the source and the secrets of true happiness. The happiness the world knows is dependent on happenings. That's not the kind of happiness Jesus is describing. He is describing a happiness that is not determined by outward circumstances.

The beatitudes that Jesus shares are about our relationship with God and our relationship with others. We learn that we must have a relationship with God, in order to be happy. If we are not right with God, we will not be happy. We also can never be happy if we do not treat others with kindness and forgive those who have wronged us.

Seeing God in Your Work

by Hugh Whelchel

The difference between barbarism and culture is, simply, work. - Lester DeKoster

If you're like me, you've often heard the saying that "work is a curse" as result of the fall in the Garden of Eden. That statement couldn't be further from the truth.

Our Original Purpose

In the beginning, prior to sin, God assigned Adam and Eve important work. In Genesis 2 we read about man's first day of work: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it" (Gen. 2:15).

We were created to be stewards of God's creation through our work. The opening two chapters of Genesis provide a foundation for how God sees work, culture, and our responsibility. This same perspective extends throughout the Scriptures.

Work is not a curse, but a gift from God given to us before the fall, although the effects of the fall make our work frustrating and difficult at times (Gen. 3:17–19). By our work, we employ useful skills to glorify God, love our neighbors, and further God's kingdom.

The Original Worker

We can better understand our work assignment from God by studying the work that he did in creation, when he brought order out of chaos. A gardener does something similar when he creatively uses the materials at his disposal and rearranges them to produce additional resources for mankind.

We were created to be stewards of God's creation through our work.

Thus, Adam's work in the garden can be seen as a metaphor for all work. Tim Keller offers the following definition of work: "Rearranging the raw materials of a particular domain to draw out its potential for the flourishing of everyone."

For example, an architect takes steel, wood, concrete, and glass and rearranges them for the flourishing of mankind. A musician rearranges the raw material of sound to produce music. That is what Adam was called to do in the garden, and that is what we are still called to do in our work today.

God's Call to Work

In the opening chapter of Genesis, God gave Adam a job description. It is called the "cultural mandate," also sometimes called the "creation mandate:" "God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth' (Gen. 1:28).

By our work, we employ useful skills to glorify God, love our neighbors, and further God's kingdom.

Why is it called "the cultural mandate?" According to Merriam-Webster, a "mandate" is an "authoritative command; especially: a formal order from a superior court or official to an inferior one," or "an authorization to act given to a representative." This is clearly a command given directly by God the Creator to Adam and Eve, his creation.

In her book Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey explains why it has been called the "cultural" mandate:

The first phrase, "be fruitful and multiply," means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, governments, laws. The second phrase, "subdue the earth," means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, and compose music. This passage is sometimes called the Cultural Mandate because it tells us that our original purpose was to create cultures, build civilizations- nothing less.

Building Civilization

The cultural mandate was meant not only for Adam and Eve, but for us as well. To find satisfaction and meaning in our vocational callings, we must begin to understand the importance of the cultural mandate. It is the only way to see our work in a truly biblical framework.

The cultural mandate still stands as God's directive for our stewardship of his creation. According to Dorothy Sayers, when we understand our work through the cultural mandate, we will finally see our work as "the full expression of the worker's faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God."

Because of the curse of the fall, work can be difficult, frustrating, and dull. But Christians must understand that work itself is not part of the curse; it was part of God's original plan for humanity. It is an opportunity for us to exercise our creativity, gifts, and interests in order to be effective stewards of God's creation. With a proper understanding of the cultural mandate, Christians can use their work as part of their broader calling as servants of Christ.

What about you? How does understanding work as a calling from God change how you approach your studies, your job, and your time?

About The Author:

Hugh Whelchel is the executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and author of How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Hugh has a master of arts in religion and brings over 30 years of diverse business experience to his leadership at IFWE.

[Editor's Note: Hugh's article was originally posted at Resurgence.]
Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Eight Ways Satan Convinces You To Question Your Salvation

by Tim Challies

Though Satan can never steal the Christian's crown, though he can never snatch him away from the hand of the Father, he is so envious and malicious that he will leave no stone unturned in robbing the Christian of comfort and peace, in making their life miserable, in giving them reason to live in constant sorrow and mourning, doubt and questioning.

Thomas Brooks once identified eight ways in which Satan keeps Christians--Christians like you!--in this sad, doubting, questioning, condition.

1. He causes you to think more about your sin than your Savior. He wants to so fill your mind with thoughts of the sin you've committed in the past, or temptations to sin you face today, that all thoughts of Jesus Christ and his finished work are displaced and erased. His desire is that you would think so much of your sickness that you would neglect the remedy that is close at hand.

2. He works in you to wrongly understand God's graces. Just as falsely defining sin will lead a person astray, so too will wrongly defining God's graces. In particular, Satan labors so a Christian will define saving faith only in such a way that it includes full assurance of salvation; he can then use that too-expansive definition to cause the Christian to make his doubt proof of his lack of justification.

3. He leads you to make false inferences from harsh providences. He whispers to you that providence appears to contradict your prayers, desires, tears, hopes and endeavors. Once he has shown you this he says, "Surely, if God actually loved you and delighted in you, he wouldn't deal with you in these ways. . . "

4. He suggests to you that the evidences of grace in your life are counterfeit rather than genuine. He wants you to believe that what you call faith is actually just a fleeting fancy, that what you see as zeal is just natural and unsanctified enthusiasm, that you are not actually evidencing any true evidences of grace, but just natural ability.

5. He convinces you that the kind of battle you have with sin is a battle that marks only unbelieving hypocrites. As you battle against sin, and while the same old sins continue to rise up against you, Satan tries to make you believe that these very battles are evidences of hypocrisy rather than a universal Christian condition.

6. He suggests to your soul that the fact that you have less joy in Christ now than you once did proves that you have not been saved. He may bring to your mind a time when your heart was overflowing with joy in him, when you felt the tangible comfort of the Holy Spirit. And then he will have you contrast that to your present condition and use it to convince you that you must not be a Christian.

7. He works within you to make you believe that relapses into sin--even sins you have labored to overcome--are evidence that you are not a believer. He may whisper to you that you are a fool and a hypocrite to believe that God could ever love someone who battles sin, overcomes it, and then later succumbs to that same old sin.

8. He convinces you that only an unbeliever could face the manner and the weight of temptation you face right now. First he will weary you with constant temptations perfectly suited to your weaknesses and desires. Then he will try to convince you that the very fact that you face these temptations must mean that you are not a Christian at all.

Let me share just three short, choice quotes from Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices. First, here are words of comfort for those who have fallen into sin, despite laboring hard against it:

Though their repentance is ever so sincere and sound, yet their graces are but weak, and their mortification of sin is imperfect in this life. Though by grace they are freed from the dominion of sin, and from the damnatory power of every sin, and from the love of all sin, yet grace does not free them from the indwelling of any one sin; and therefore it is possible for a soul to fall again and again into the same sin. If the fire is not wholly put out, who would think it impossible that it should catch and burn again and again?

And then a word on the sufficiency of Christ:

We have all things in Christ. Christ is all things to a Christian. If we are sick, Jesus is a physician. If we thirst, Jesus is a fountain. If our sins trouble us, Jesus is our righteousness. If we stand in need of help, Jesus is mighty to save. If we fear death, Jesus is life. If we are in darkness, Jesus is light. If we are weak, Jesus is strength. If we are in poverty, Jesus is plenty. If we desire heaven, Jesus is the way. The soul cannot say, ‘this I would have, and that I would have. ’ But having Jesus, he has all he needs—eminently, perfectly, eternally.

And finally, an examination of the ways in which Satan tempts us:

Satan loves to sail with the wind. If your knowledge is weak—he will tempt you to error. If your conscience is tender—he will tempt you to scrupulosity and too much preciseness, as to do nothing but hear, pray, and read. If your consciences be wide and large—he will tempt you to carnal security. If you are bold-spirited—he will tempt you to presumption; if timorous, to desperation; if flexible, to inconstancy; if proud and stiff, to gross folly. Therefore still fit for fresh assaults, make one victory a step to another. When you have overcome a temptation, take heed of unbending your bow, and look well to it, that your bow is always bent, and that it remains in strength. When you have overcome one temptation, you must be ready to enter the battle with another.

The Tweetable Puritan

• Sin may rebel, but it shall never reign in a saint.
• Christ in this life will not free any believer from the presence of any one sin, though he frees every believer from the damning power of every sin.
• It is one thing for sin to molest and vex you, and another thing for sin to reign and have dominion over you.
• Believers must repent for being discouraged by their sins.
• People may be truly believing who nevertheless are sometimes doubting.
• Many things may be cross to our desires that are not cross to our good.
• The hand of God may be against a man, when the love and heart of God is much set upon a man.
• God can look sourly, and chide bitterly, and strike heavily, even where and when he loves dearly.
• True grace works the heart to the hatred of all sin, and to the love of all truth.
• God will graciously pardon those sins to his people, which he will not in this life totally subdue in his people.
• Though Satan can never rob a Christian of his crown, yet such is his malice, that he will therefore tempt, that he may spoil them of their comforts.
• Christ himself was most near and most dear, most innocent and most excellent, and yet none so much tempted as Christ!
• It is as natural for saints to be tempted, who are dearly loved by God, as it is for the sun to shine, or a bird to sing.
• All the temptations that befall the saints shall be sanctified to them by a hand of love.
• Temptation is God’s school, wherein he gives his people the clearest and sweetest discoveries of his love.
• No temptations do hurt or harm the saints, so long as they are resisted by them.
• Satan will come on with new temptations when old ones are too weak. In a calm prepare for a storm.

About The Author:

Tim Challies is author of the weblog Challies. com: Informing the Reforming and lives near Toronto, Canada. He is also author of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.

Source: Christianiy.com Daily Update

The Christian View of Death

by John Flavel

I shall offer several considerations calculated to help the people of God in time of sickness, to keep their hearts loose from all earthly objects, and cheerfully willing to die:

1. Death is harmless to the people of God; its shafts leave no sting in them. Why then are you afraid that your sickness may bring you to death? If you were to die in your sins; if death were to reign over you as a tyrant, to feed upon you as a lion does upon his prey; if death to you were to be the precursor of hell - then you might reasonably startle and shrink back from it with horror and dismay! But if your sins are blotted out; if Christ has vanquished death in your behalf, so that you have nothing to encounter but bodily pain, and possibly not even that; if death will be to you the forerunner of heaven - why should you be afraid? Why not bid it welcome? It cannot hurt you; it is easy and harmless; it is like taking off your clothes, of taking rest.

2. It may keep your heart from shrinking back, to consider that death is necessary to fit you for the full enjoyment of God. Whether you are willing to die or not, there certainly is no other way to complete the happiness of your soul. Death must do you the kind office to remove this veil of flesh - this animal life which separates you from God - before you can see and enjoy him fully. "While we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord." And who would not be willing to die for the perfect enjoyment of God? I think one would look and sigh, like a prisoner, through the grates of this mortality - "O that I had wings like a dove, then would I fly away and be at rest!" Indeed most men need patience to die; but a saint, who understands what death will introduce him to, rather needs patience to live. On his deathbed he should often look out and listen to his Lord's coming; and when he perceives his dissolution to be near, he should say, "The voice of my beloved! Behold he comes, leaping over the mountains, skipping over the hills!"

3. Consider that the happiness of heaven commences immediately after death. That happiness will not be deferred until the resurrection; but as soon as death has passed upon you, your soul will be swallowed up in life. When you have once loosed from this shore, you shall be quickly wafted to the shore of a glorious eternity! And can you not say - I desire to die, and to be with Christ? Did the soul and body die together, or did they sleep until the resurrection, as some have fancied, it would have been folly for Paul to desire to die, for the enjoyment of Christ; because he would have enjoyed more in the body than he could have enjoyed out of it.

The Scripture speaks of but two ways in which the soul can properly live - that is, by faith and vision. These two comprehend its present and future existence. Now, if when faith fails, sight should not immediately succeed, what would become of the soul? But the truth on this subject is clearly revealed in Scripture. See Luke 23: 3; John 14: 3, etc. What a blessed change then, will death make in your condition! Rouse up, dying saint, and rejoice; let death do his work, that the angels may conduct your soul to the world of light!

4. It may increase your willingness to die, to reflect that by death, God often removes his people out of the way of great troubles and temptations. When some extraordinary calamity is coming upon the world, God sometimes removes his saints out of the way of the evil. Thus Methuselah died the year before the flood; Augustine a little before the sacking of Hippo; Pareus just before the taking of Heidelburg. Luther observes that all the apostles died before the destruction of Jerusalem; and Luther himself died before the wars broke out in Germany. How it may be that by death you will escape some grievous trial, which you could not and need not endure. But even if no extraordinary trouble would come upon you, yet God desires by death to relieve you from innumerable evils and burdens which are inseparable from the present state. Thus you will be delivered from indwelling sin, which is the greatest trouble; from all temptations from whatever source; from bodily illnesses and failings; and from all the afflictions and sorrows of this life. The days of your mourning will be ended, and God will wipe away all tears from your eyes. Why then should you not hasten to depart?

5. If you still linger, like Lot in Sodom, what are your pleas and pretenses for a longer life? Why are you unwilling to die? Are you concerned for the welfare of your relations? If so, are you anxious for their temporal support? Then let the word of God satisfy you: "Leave your fatherless children to me, I will keep them alive, and let your widows trust in me." Luther says, in his last will, "Lord, you have given me a wife and children, I have nothing to leave them, but I commit them unto you. O Father of the fatherless and Judge of widows, nourish, keep and teach them."

But are you concerned for the spiritual welfare of your relations? Remember that you cannot convert them, if you should live; and God can make your prayers and counsels effectual when you are dead.

Perhaps you desire to serve God longer in this world. But if he has nothing further for you to do here, why not say with David, "Here am I, let God do what seems good to him." He is calling you to higher service in heaven, and can accomplish by other hands what you desire to do further here. Do you feel too imperfect to go to heaven? Consider that you must be imperfect until you die; your sanctification cannot be complete until you get to heaven.

But,' you say, 'I lack assurance; if I had that I could die easily.' Consider, then, that a hearty willingness to leave all the world to be freed from sin, and to be with God - is the direct way to that desired assurance; no carnal person was ever willing to die upon this ground.

Source: gracegems.org

Health Tip: Living Your Best Life with Incurable Cancer

Survivor Shares Lessons & Inspiration During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

To be sure, Jane Schwartzberg of Montclair, N.J., would give anything not to have stage 4 metastatic cancer, a disease for which there is no cure. But she says that having a terminal illness has changed the way she lives – for the better.

"I live my best life every single day," says Schwartzberg, co-author with Marcy Tolkoff Levy of "Naked Jane Bares All," www.nakedjanebaresall.com, a new book that shares Jane's story with candor and humor.

Schwartzberg was a 31-year-old newlywed when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent treatment and eventually was declared cancer free. She moved on with her life, giving birth to two children and launching a technology company. Then, when she was 42, the cancer returned.

Now 44, her condition has stabilized, but she has no idea for how long. She lives every moment aware of "this cloud over me." But she's determined not to allow it to steal the laughter, meaning and fulfillment from her days.

No matter what the adversity a person may be facing, no one should waste a moment of our temporary time on Earth, Jane says. She offers these suggestions – learned the hard way – for living your best.

· Go ahead, make a "bucket list." And no matter how unlikely an item may be to fulfill, give it a try. Just for grins. After being blind-sided by the pronouncement that the cancer she had beaten 10 years ago had returned – enraged – Jane slumped into a depression for three months.

A friend, trying to rouse her spirits asked what she'd do if she could do any wild, crazy, highly unlikely thing. She was quick to answer: "I want to take Larry David to lunch."

She's a huge fan of the Curb Your Enthusiasm star and Seinfeld creator, and if anyone could make her laugh, she knew, it would be Larry David. Though the odds against such a meeting were astronomical, her friend encouraged Jane to write David a letter.

Jane ended up flying to California for a 52-minute lunch with her idol. Far from depressed, she remembers thinking, "I am the luckiest person walking this Earth!"

Says Jane: "Even before he responded to my letter I spent weeks fantasizing about what I would say if I met him, what I would wear … I pictured everything. If the lunch had never happened, I still had all those weeks of wonderful, happy dreaming."

· Choose the people with whom you spend time. We're not obliged to spend time with people who don't make us feel good or, worse yet, make us feel bad! Our time is the most valuable commodity we have and, for all of us, it's limited.

"I spend my time with the people I love – the people who are most precious to me," Jane says. "I don't have time for people who aren't genuine, who are negative, or always angry. I love to laugh and I strive to be 100 percent in the moment every moment.

"If you're with someone and thinking, 'Oh my gosh, I can't wait to get away from this clod,' you are definitely not living in the moment!"

· Remind yourself every day to love life. Every day is a gift – for any of us. And if we're not loving that gift, we're our own worst enemy.

"We have little control over how our lives unfold; the unpredictable happens and suddenly you're on a course you never guessed lay ahead," Jane says. "That does not mean you can't live a fulfilling life and continue to do what you were put here to do."

About Jane Schwartzberg

Jane Schwartzberg, 44, is the co-author of the newly released book Naked Jane Bares All, the many-layered story – told with humor and candor -- of how she learned to embrace life when she was down for the count. Jane is a financial services executive and former CEO-founder of LockStar Inc, a secure infrastructure software company, and CEO at Syndata Technologies, an information security company.

Naked Jane Bares All was co-written by veteran writer Marcy Tolkoff Levy. Following a year of interviews and many late nights with Jane, her family and friends, Marcy formed the foundation of a colorful, poignant and even humorous collection of vignettes about how Jane continues to get back up when life throws her down.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Tart Tatin

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

A Sweet Sweet Potato Treat

By Marialisa Calta

It's fall and time to pay homage to the humble tuber we all know and (some of us) love: the sweet potato. It might be the only time of year when we give it any thought at all, but sweet potatoes, according to "The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink," are "the sixth principal food crop in the world." Now, when discussing the sweet potato, the elephant in the room is, of course, the yam. Yams are an entirely different and unrelated species, rarely grown in the United States but popular in the tropics, and though they look similar, yams can weigh up to 120 pounds.

Sweet potatoes make a delicious snack and a healthy one, too. They are a good source of fiber and vitamins A and C, and they have no fat and 4 grams of protein per serving. Simply bake or microwave them as you would a potato, and eat with salt and pepper, hot sauce, maple syrup or brown sugar. For supper, slice them lengthwise into "fingers," toss them with oil and salt, and bake them at 400 F (200 deg C) for sweet potato "fries." Then there's the old standby, "candied" sweet potatoes baked with brown sugar and marshmallows. That's the way Julia Child liked them. At a book-launch party years ago, Jacques Pepin told Child he hated sweet potatoes with marshmallows. "That's because you're French," she said. Pepin laughed.

SWEET POTATO TART TATIN

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen, store-bought puff pastry, thawed (see Cook's note)
3/4 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
ice cream, for serving, optional

Cook's note: If you can, buy an all-butter puff pastry, such as Dufour brand, sold in natural-foods stores and specialty shops. It will give the tart a rich flavor and tender texture. If you can't find it, consider making your own puff pastry, or buy a regular supermarket brand.

Directions:

Heat the oven to 375 deg F (190 deg C). Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Place the puff pastry sheet on your work surface and cut out a 10-inch circle. (Coat the scraps with melted butter, top with cinnamon sugar or jam or grated cheese, and bake, along with the tart, for an extra treat.) Set the puff pastry round on the prepared baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Refrigerate while you make the topping.

Place the 3/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan and cover with 1/4 cup water. Gently stir with a spoon to make sure all the sugar is wet; it should have the consistency of wet sand. Place a cover on slightly askew, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the syrup is clear and producing syrupy-looking medium-sized bubbles, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the cover, and cook until the sugar is a light butterscotch color and its temperature reaches 320 F (160 deg C) on a candy thermometer. Turn off the heat. (The sugar will continue to cook.) Once the temperature reaches 350 F (175 deg C) (this will take only a few minutes) whisk in the butter, a piece at a time, waiting until each addition is completely incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the vanilla, and then pour into a 10-inch cast iron skillet.

Cover the caramel with the sliced potatoes, starting in the center and overlapping in a spiraling outward circle as you go. Top with the puff pastry circle. Beat the egg and milk together, and brush over the pastry. Then sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.

Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before inverting onto a large plate. Slice into wedges and serve with or without ice cream.

Recipe from "DamGoodSweet" by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel (Taunton Press, 2009)

Yield: 6 servings

Marialisa Calta is the author of "Barbarians at the Plate: Taming and Feeding the American Family" (Perigee, 2005).

© 2009, Marialisa Calta. Source: JewishWorldReview.com

Family Special: Guidelines for Success in Raising Obedient Children

by Kay Camenisch

Do your children occasionally shock you with antics that are entirely outside their training? Most homeschool families take seriously the admonition to "train up a child in the way he should go." When a child's behavior is outside acceptable boundaries, conscientious parents notice.

I experienced one such occasion when I took our youngest children to the mall. Daniel was almost 2 and Jonathan was barely 3 years old. My normally calm, obedient children squealed and chased each other around counters and wrapped themselves in hanging garments. They then played Hide and Seek among clothing racks. I was horrified and couldn't shop because I was too busy correcting and corralling.

Finally, I realized that the boys had never been in a mall. To them the store was a stimulating playground. They weren't going outside their boundaries-I'd never given them guidelines for behavior in clothing stores.

I called them to me, squatted down to their level, and looked them in the eye. I told them I needed them to stay close to me, keep their voices quiet, keep their hands by their sides, and so forth. I then asked questions to check their understanding.

After our chat, the boys became perfect little shopping companions. They did exactly what I had asked. We all enjoyed the excursion, and I found what I was looking for. As we walked to another store, a little hop-skip in Daniel's step mirrored the joy in my heart.

I thought about my impatience in the past. In how many of those instances had I been the problem because I failed to set boundaries or tell my children what kind of behavior would be appropriate? Because other responsibilities demand attention, it's easy to overlook preparing children for what lies ahead. How can they succeed if they don't know what is expected of them?

Children Need Guidelines

Even in everyday activities, children need to know what is acceptable behavior. For example, do your children know what you want from them when:

They have a question or important need while you're talking with someone?
They are asked by a peer to do something they know won't please you-or God?
They have to wait for you in a public gathering, like after church?
They are overwhelmed by a task or a situation?

If our children don't know what is expected, their disruptions lead to frustration, misunderstandings, wasted time, and possibly missed goals. Even in familiar settings, such as church, we'll get better cooperation if we explain what we expect during the service and why, rather than constantly whispering, "Shhhh!" and "Be still!"

In new situations, it's even more important. How could Jonathan and Daniel have known how to act in a mall when they had never been to one? If it is something that is unusual to us-like end-of-the-year testing-we're likely to prepare them. However, what about things that are familiar to us, but not to them?

Knowing what is expected will help children succeed in strange situations, such as these:

A visit to the doctor
An encounter with strangers or a relative they tend to pull back from
A trip to a nursing home, a museum, or a field trip
A first birthday party when the other child gets all the presents

When possible, we need to make time to tell our sons and daughters what to expect, how to act, or what to say in a new situation. When appropriate, we can build internal character by explaining whys of an expectation. It takes very little time and can save embarrassment, conflict, and/or lost time later.

Social grace is a learned skill. For the shy child-or the hyper one-it's especially helpful to have a strategy ahead of time. They will learn more quickly if we teach them how to be polite and appropriate rather than expect them to know intuitively or to absorb training by osmosis.

We home educate our children because we want them to adopt our faith and values as well as succeed in life. Taking time to give specific guidelines builds toward that goal. If a child doesn't follow instructions, there's an additional benefit.

An Added Bonus

We tend to confront disobedience with reprimand or ask, "Why did you do that?" Either approach immediately puts a child on the defensive. However, if we've given instructions, we can say, "What did I ask you to do?" Answers to that simple question can reveal lack of understanding.

A friend, Paul, had bedtime prayers with his young daughter. One night after Susannah prayed, he instructed her to begin her prayers with thanksgiving instead of making requests. The next day, he went on a trip. When he returned, just as in the past, she began with, "Dear God, bless Mommy, and Daddy, and..."

He said, "Susannah, how did I ask you to start your prayers?"

"Oh, yeah," she said. "Ummm. Was it with Halloween?"

Susannah heard her father's request, but she didn't know "thanksgiving" was an expression of gratitude. She thought it was a vacation!

The question "What did I ask you to do?" gave opportunity to hear her lack of understanding.

Further Bonuses

If a child understands but does not obey, rather than reprimand, ask, "Can you help me understand why you didn't do what I asked?" The question puts responsibility for obedience on the child without placing blame.

The question gives opportunity to learn if there is a legitimate reason for noncompliance. If your spouse had told him to do something different, it is good to have shown trust, rather than having blamed. However, if the child is guilty of willful disobedience, he/she will indict him/herself if answers show noncompliance without a reason.

If we constantly correct our children and rein them in, we focus on negative behavior and tend to address only external actions. It instills negative self-image and doesn't build character or relationship. In time, the child will resist.

On the other hand, if day by day we take time to prepare our children for things they face, it will build confidence to embrace life. If we correct them without judgment and blame, they will not be as quick to resist us. If we consistently communicate a desire to help them succeed, they'll learn to welcome our input, and it will also build our relationship with them.

Train Up Your Child

One of the definitions for train in Proverbs 22:6 is "to initiate." As we train our children, we initiate them for life. It is quicker, easier, and more productive to initiate correct performance than to change unacceptable behavior. Instruction and guidelines help children start on the right path-thus helping them succeed in the situation at hand and in the life ahead of them. The initial investment of time and attention is well worth the reward.

As we communicate expectations, we join our children in anticipation of coming events. It helps them be successful in new or difficult situations, thus preparing them for success in life.

When we seek activities to teach Godly character, we tend to get complicated and think of a planned activity or program. However, we can encourage character and relationship if we simply look from our children's perspective and give guidelines to help them be successful in daily situations.

About The Author:

Kay Camenisch, a pastor's wife, has four children and eleven grandchildren. She began to homeschool in 1989. Besides articles and dramas, she also writes devotions for cbn.com. Her search to help couples find freedom from anger led to the publication of Uprooting Anger: Destroying the Monster Within, a transformational Bible study that addresses the roots of anger.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Source: Live It Devotional

Family Bonus: The Day My Fragile Identity as a Mom Melted

by Lysa TerKeurst

"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

She had the most angelic sweetheart lips. Eyes blue as the most tranquil oceans. Blonde ringlet curls. Chubby cheeks begging to be kissed over and over. Little hands that instinctively curled around my finger while simultaneously melting my heart.

Pure sweetness wrapped in a pink blanket.

And then came the day this little creature pursed those lips, gripped the toy in her hand, tilted her pigtailed head and screamed, "Mine! Mine! Mine!"

The fuss was over a small red toy my friend had let her borrow. My friend who was much more organized than me. She had brought along toys and baggies of Cheerios to keep the kids entertained during our coffee date. The plan to use this toy as temporary entertainment had worked beautifully. Until it was time to go.

I could feel a burning flush of embarrassment rush from my chest to my face.

Of course my friend's child was shining her halo with one hand while happily handing over her yellow toy with the other.

"Mine! Mine!" My daughter screamed as every eye in the small java joint stared at me.

I pried the toy from her hand, thanked my friend, and hoisted my kicking and screaming daughter out of the wooden highchair. And then in slow motion, I watched in horror as she knocked my paper coffee cup from my hand and sent it careening across the floor.

I felt my fragile identity as a mom melt into the puddle of spilled coffee. What happened to my angel? My beautiful daughter was ... not so angelic.

It's been many years since that day in the coffee shop.

But oh how I wish I could go back and sit with my little inexperienced mommy self on the drive home.

I would say, "Your daughter is a child in need of a parent. She needs to be taught. And some of your best teaching opportunities will come when she puts her sin nature on display. Don't fear or fret or feel like this is some sort of failure on your part. Her outside demonstrations are an internal indication of her need for guidance. So guide her. Love her. And always remember to be the parent. Not her friend. Not her buddy. The parent."

I needed to know what Proverbs 22:6 teaches, "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it."

That daughter is 19 years old now. And is an absolute delight.

But growing her up wasn't always easy. There were many more times when she put her sin nature on display. And each time I had to choose to be the parent.

It's not easy to be the parent. It seems less and less popular to tell kids no.

As parents, we need to set biblical boundaries. Teach our kids the difference between realistic and unrealistic expectations. Not cater to their every whim. Draw lines between what's appropriate and inappropriate for language, entertainment, and the length of a hemline. Model manners. And what it looks like to seek a life of godliness, not just religious activity.

Glory knows I've been so imperfect with all this.

But holding the line on being the parent, even when done imperfectly, is good.

And will be worth it.

Even in those seasons where you feel as if they're doing everything the opposite of what you've taught them. All that parenting is in them. And the fruit of that will emerge one day.

Yes, be the parent. Teach biblical truths. Stand strong in saying no even when it's not the popular choice.

That's what our kids need so desperately.

And be encouraged, friend ... you're doing better than you think you are.

Dear Lord, You know better than all of us that parenting is hard. Help me to see each day as a teaching opportunity to raise up a child who loves You. In Jesus' Name, amen.

Reflect and Respond:

Take a moment to think: how and what am I communicating to my children?

Read today's power verses for a better understanding of just how important it is to raise a child to follow after the Lord.

Power Verses:

Isaiah 54:13, "All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace. (NIV)

2 Timothy 3:14-15, "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

© 2013 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Source: Proverbs 31 Ministries, Encouragement for Today Devotional

A Global Slaughter of Christians, but America’s Churches Stay Silent

by Kirsten Powers

Christians are being singled out and massacred from Pakistan to Syria to the Nairobi shopping mall. Kirsten Powers on the deafening silence from U.S. pews and pulpits.

Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. Not so. The silence has been nearly deafening.

As Egypt’s Copts have battled the worst attacks on the Christian minority since the 14th century, the bad news for Christians in the region keeps coming. On Sunday, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 85 worshippers at All Saints’ church, which has stood since 1883 in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. Christians were also the target of Islamic fanatics in the attack on a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, this week that killed more than 70 people. The Associated Press reported that the Somali Islamic militant group al-Shabab “confirmed witness accounts that gunmen separated Muslims from other people and let the Muslims go free.” The captives were asked questions about Islam. If they couldn’t answer, they were shot.

In Syria, Christians are under attack by Islamist rebels and fear extinction if Bashar al-Assad falls. This month, rebels overran the historic Christian town of Maalula, where many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The AFP reported that a resident of Maalula called her fiancé’s cell and was told by member of the Free Syrian Army that they gave him a chance to convert to Islam and he refused. So they slit his throat.

Nina Shea, an international human-rights lawyer and expert on religious persecution, testified in 2011 before Congress regarding the fate of Iraqi Christians, two-thirds of whom have vanished from the country. They have either been murdered or fled in fear for their lives. Said Shea: “[I]n August 2004 … five churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul. On a single day in July 2009, seven churches were bombed in Baghdad … The archbishop of Mosul, was kidnapped and killed in early 2008. A bus convoy of Christian students were violently assaulted. Christians … have been raped, tortured, kidnapped, beheaded, and evicted from their homes …”

Lela Gilbert is the author of Saturday People, Sunday People, which details the expulsion of 850,000 Jews who fled or were forced to leave Muslim countries in the mid-20th century. The title of her book comes from an Islamist slogan, “First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People,” which means “first we kill the Jews, then we kill the Christians.” Gilbert wrote recently that her Jewish friends and neighbors in Israel “are shocked but not entirely surprised” by the attacks on Christians in the Middle East. “They are rather puzzled, however, by what appears to be a lack of anxiety, action, or advocacy on the part of Western Christians.”

As they should be. It is inexplicable. American Christians are quite able to organize around issues that concern them. Yet religious persecution appears not to have grabbed their attention, despite worldwide media coverage of the atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

It’s no surprise that Jews seem to understand the gravity of the situation the best. In December 2011, Britain’s chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, addressed Parliament saying, “I have followed the fate of Christians in the Middle East for years, appalled at what is happening, surprised and distressed … that it is not more widely known.” “It was Martin Luther King who said, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ That is why I felt I could not be silent today.”

Yet so many Western Christians are silent. In January, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) penned a letter to 300 Catholic and Protestant leaders complaining about their lack of engagement. “Can you, as a leader in the church, help?” he wrote. “Are you pained by these accounts of persecution? Will you use your sphere of influence to raise the profile of this issue—be it through a sermon, writing or media interview?”

There have been far too few takers.

Wolf and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) sponsored legislation last year to create a special envoy at the State Department to advocate for religious minorities in the Middle East and South-Central Asia. It passed in the House overwhelmingly, but died in the Senate. Imagine the difference an outcry from constituents might have made. The legislation was reintroduced in January and again passed the House easily. It now sits in the Senate. According to the office of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the sponsor of the bill there, there is no date set for it to be taken up.

Wolf has complained loudly of the State Department’s lack of attention to religious persecution, but is anybody listening? When American leaders meet with the Saudi government, where is the public outcry demanding they confront the Saudis for fomenting hatred of Christians, Jews, and even Muslim minorities through their propagandistic tracts and textbooks? In the debate on Syria, why has the fate of Christians and other religious minorities been almost completely ignored?

In his letter challenging U.S. religious leaders, Wolf quoted Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed for his efforts in the Nazi resistance: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

That pretty well sums it up.

About The Author:

Kirsten Powers is a columnist for The Daily Beast. She is also a contributor to USA Today and a Fox News political analyst. She served in the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1998 and has worked in New York state and city politics. Her writing has been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, The New York Observer, Salon.com, Elle magazine, and American Prospect online.

Source: The Orthodox Church, theorthodoxchurch.info

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