Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal
Overcoming The Storms in Life

Volume 2 No. 74 May 3, 2012

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House Built for Beena by the Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam, East Pampady, Kottayam Diocese
The House that Love Built
God makes ordinary people do extraordinary things.

Beena and her daughter in front of the house built for them by the Marth Mariam Vanitha Samajam of St. Mary's Jacobite Church, East Pampady, Kottayam Diocese. The church members collected money and materials to build the house. This had been one of the projects out of many undertaken by St. Mary's Church Vanitha Samajam members that earned them the award of the 'Best Church Unit' in the Kottayam Diocese. We congratulate St. Mary's Morth Mariam Vanitha Samajam - East Pampady for this major accomplishment. (See today's editorial for more info.)

Table of Contents
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1. Editor's Note

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 6)

Third Sunday after New Sunday

3. Sermons for This Sunday (May 6)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_3rd-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

4. Inspiration for Today

A Mighty Fortress is our God.

5. Dog Paddling or Water-Walking? How to Weather Life's Storms

You may be facing a storm today. You begin to feel a breeze or a ripple. Your company is downsizing, your mortgage is upside-down. A gust becomes a gale. Your husband walks out the door, leaving you with three kids and a broken heart. Your biopsy report comes back and it's bad -- really bad. You start to submerge. Where's Jesus? It's foggy and you're frantic. ...

6. Unanswered Prayers Force Unlearning Lessons

The lesson I learned was that when we pray, we pray for an entire constellation of events. Even if we are not granted that the person we pray for lives on, a lot of what we pray for is granted. ... I learned a new lesson. I learned that when there is something that you value above all else, you can tolerate no compromises. Some goals are so important that the achievement of lesser goals means nothing. ...

7. When God Hides You

God's children rarely seek to be hidden. However, it is in the hidden moments that men and women of faith are drawn closer to God and prepared for greater ministry. Joseph grew during his time of exile and imprisonment. Moses spent years in the desert before his greatest ministry. Esther spent a considerable amount of time being prepared to be presented to the king. Paul spent three silent years in northern Arabia before he launched his ministry. ...

8. Where is God in Hard Times?

Throughout the history of our faith, the question has often been asked, "Where is God when tragedy strikes?" And as often as that question has been asked, there’s been no shortage of answers put forth by Christians and non-Christians alike. But even deeper than that question is the concern by some that God is aloof when hard times hit. ...

9. The Dip Swimmer: Overcoming the Lows in Your Life

With James's (Book of James in New Testament) help, we decided to begin with practicality. We put away childish things. We took our eyes off ourselves, and we recognized that God had been active in answering prayers we'd prayed over a year ago that God would get our attention, develop in us humility and patience, and a genuine idea of what following Jesus was about. ...

10. Missing from the Meeting!

My experience in the ministry has taught me that those who profess to be Christians and yet deliberately absent themselves from fellowship with their brothers and sisters, are the ones who are usually most in need of this fellowship. ...

11. Health: Tinted Lenses Offer Real Migraine Relief

For the first time, researchers have shown why precision-tinted lenses reduce headaches for migraine sufferers, a finding that could help improve treatment options for patients battling the debilitating ailment. ...

12. Recipe: Grilled Open-Faced Mediterranean Sandwiches

13. Family Special: Coming to Terms With the Past

A friend told the story of a couple who had come to him for counseling. The couple had been married 40 or so years, and they were both plagued with guilt. They hadn't become Christians until their later years, and, prior to that, they had both lived sexually immoral lives. Although they had been faithful to each other during their marriage, their past dips into immorality were now making them feel guilty. ...

14. Humor: Bob Hope In Heaven

15. About Malankara World

Editor's Note
One of the themes of Malankara World is, 'God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.' During my recent trip to Kerala, I had an opportunity to experience this first hand on different occasions. We will cover a few of these in the future editions of the MW Journal-people making a difference in this world. This week, I would like to introduce the tremendous work done by a few women in a small church in Kottayam diocese that bagged them title of the best Morth Mariam Vanitha Samajam unit in the Kottayam diocese beating many larger churches in the diocese in the process. Not only they beat other churches, they have done it convincingly. They have raised twice the money for social ministry than the second place church!! Isn't that remarkable? St. Mary's Jacobite Church, East Pampady was honored as having the best Vanitha Samajam Unit in Kottayam Diocese at the annual Vanitha Samajam meeting held at St. Adai's Church in Nalunnakkal, Vakathanam on April 13. We extend our congratulations to all the women in the unit for this tremendous accomplishment.

It is interesting to examine what these women did to covet this honor. In addition to the piggy bank placed in all members' home for collection of small change [a modern version of the 'pidi ari collection' (handful of rice for the church)], they started looking into more beneficial projects. One such project that was identified was to hand-stitch the head-covering for bishops. They talked to several bishops to learn the requirements for the head-covering. Then they went and talked to several established commercial enterprises that make the official vestments for our church. They have practiced making the head covering till they perfected it. The women then went and talked to the store at Patriarchal center in Puthencruz to find a sales outlet for their products. Then they went into production. Their products were an instant hit with our bishops. Right now they have a big backlog of orders. The best part of this project is that not only the Vanitha Samajam makes a small profit that is then used for other projects, they employ poor women in the church for the manufacture. The women are paid wages. For many women this is a god-send. It is an example of a project that has multiple impact.

One of the active members in the Vanitha Samajam is a woman named Beena. Beena is a very hard working woman struggling to raise a family. The members recognized the need for a house for Beena. With the help of the church, at large, they embarked on a fund raising program to build a house for Beena. They also sought donations of building materials from contractors and other businesses. Last year, they built a beautiful home for Beena. You can see the photo of the home on our cover.

Vanitha Samajam also inspired others in the church to get into action. The youth group this year is working on building a library at church. They are also collecting donations to buy school supplies, books and uniform for poor students. Suddenly the church has been transformed into a place where the members look for opportunities to be of service. The commandment of Jesus 'Love one another' and 'Serve Unconditionally' found practical application in the church. You can feel the enthusiasm in the air when you go to the church. You can see the light of Jesus reflected in their faces.

If we can have all our churches perform to this level, can you imagine what will be the end result? Again we bow our heads to these enterprising women in St. Mary's Jacobite Church in East Pampady for demonstrating that God makes ordinary people do extraordinary work.

We also want to convey our condolences to Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel (Philadelphia, PA) and Chev. Daniel Biju Daniel (Middle East) and their families for the passing away of their mother. Both achen and Chev. Biju had been early supporters of Malankara World and long term friends. It is hard to console someone when they are grieving for their loved one. We pray for the departed and hope that she will deserve her place in eternity with Jesus.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (May 6)
Sermons for This Sunday (May 6)
This week's Gospel Reading based on the Syrian Orthodox Lectionary is St. John 6:47-58. This is one of the "I AM" (ego eimi) statements in St. John. St. John has seven I AM statements, viz.,

• "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35)
• "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12; 9:5)
• "I am the gate for the sheep" (John 10:7, 9)
• "I am the good shepherd" (John 10:11, 14)
• "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25, 26)
• "I am the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6)
• "I am the true vine" (John 15:1,5)

In 'I AM the Bread of Life,' John introduces our Eucharist or Qurbano. Interestingly, Gospel of John does not refer to the Last Supper unlike the other synoptic gospels. Instead, John covers the washing of the feet of the disciples and the introduction of the 'new commandment' of 'Love each other' on the Passover before the crucifixion. Instead John introduces the Eucharist in Chapter 6 - reading specified for this Sunday.

Interestingly, the revised Lectionary specifies St. Luke 24:13 - 35 popularly known as the 'Emmaus Experience.' This is one of the reported events  in the bible about the appearance of Jesus after His resurrection and before His ascension. Interestingly, the Emmaus experience is also where Jesus has demonstrated the Eucharist. Only when he raised the bread, and prayed and given to the disciples at the end of the journey that the eyes of the disciples were opened. Jesus was reinforcing the need for us to continue the practice of Eucharist, as He has introduced during the Last Supper here.

Malankara World provides sermons, bible commentaries, gospel analyses, exegetical notes, etc. of the two passages in depth. You can find them here:

Sermons and Bible Commentaries for 3rd Sunday after New Sunday (4th Sunday after Easter)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_3rd-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

More Sermons

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today
From: 'A Mighty Fortress is our God'

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.

The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.

Dog Paddling or Water-Walking? How to Weather Life's Storms

by Dr. Julie Barrier

Fierce, contrary winds whipped the waves of the Galilean Sea like a frothy meringue. Jesus' rag-tag team shivered in their sandals as their tiny wooden skiff tossed about on the choppy sea. White-knuckled, Jesus' motley crew squinted hard to see the shoreline. A ghostly apparition approached the tiny vessel. Wide-eyed, the crew saw that it was Jesus, tip-toeing over the surface of the water. Frozen by fear, the sudden appearance of their Master gave them a glimmer of hope.

Could this really be Jesus?

Peter, the off-again on-again disciple, called out to the Lord and asked Him if he could join his wave-walking. Jesus said yes, and Peter leapt out of the boat. No dunking, no drowning. His cohorts were stunned. Their rough-and-tumble buddy was doing the miraculous. But not for long. Peter, feeling his oats, decided to wave to the other disciples behind him and started gloating over floating.

Then the whole miracle started to unravel. When the crusty fisherman took his eyes off of the prize and broke His gaze on Jesus, he dipped lower and lower beneath the surface of the water. Terrified, Peter screamed for his Holy Lifeguard to pull him out of the deep. Ever faithful, Jesus took Peter's hand and safely returned him to the boat.

You may be facing a storm today. You begin to feel a breeze or a ripple. Your company is downsizing, your mortgage is upside-down. A gust becomes a gale. Your husband walks out the door, leaving you with three kids and a broken heart. Your biopsy report comes back and it's bad -- really bad. You start to submerge. Where's Jesus? It's foggy and you're frantic.

Are you a storm chaser-borrowing future peril before the pestilence hits? Rumors of global economic meltdown, Iranian and Israeli war brewing, droughts and gas shortages loom ahead. Now you are treading water and the Christ is nowhere to be found. What happened to the "Life-Savior"? He has never moved. But we are suffocated by panic and struggle to return to the wooden skiff.

We often deride Peter for his failure to trust His Messiah. We call him impulsive, reckless and immature. But at least Peter got out of the boat. Do you? Have you learned to float? Here's a simple swimming lesson from my childhood.

One balmy June morning in my sixth year of life, Daddy tried to teach me the fine art of "cannon-balling" off the diving board into his awaiting arms. He failed to notice my little sister Kathy. “Tiger Lil” (an apt nickname) was aggravated at being ignored and decided to swim to the deep end where we were splashing. Three-year-old Kathy had never read about Peter, but she had similar inspiration. She wanted to go see her daddy.

Kathy's idea of swimming was taking a brisk walk on the bottom of the pool. Dad shot toward her like a rocket and carefully explained to her that there is no air under the water. Mom was a land-lubber. She thought it unladylike and distasteful to get wet in public. After a heated discussion, they concurred that we needed swimming lessons.

Mavis Wilford (we nick-named her Mavis Wafflebottom) had leathery, pruny legs the size of tree trunks. Her faded, checkered swimsuit with the pleated petal skirt had seen many summers of dog-paddling and pool-floundering. Mavis was hard-core. Nobody left her class without a respectable American Crawl.

I'm sure Mavis was Baptist because her first lesson included a swift kick to the rear and full immersion. Her little charges bobbed to the top, screaming and sputtering. But their little arms flapped and their fat feet kicked ‘til they stayed topside. Gentler swim teachers wasted time with gentle bubble-blowing and face-dipping in the shallow end. Wimps.

Strong and sturdy Mavis was not affable or patient, but she got the job done. We could dive, thrive and shoot across the pool confidently and consistently. "Keep your head up, let the water lift you, and swim to me," she barked. Day after day Mavis chanted her mantra for success. "Keep your head up, let the water lift you, and swim to me..." The laws of hydrology never change. Water-displacement and buoyancy will support any human, no matter how portly or clumsy. We learned to swim to Mavis. She never left our sights.

Do you feel yourself slowly submerging? I have of late. Jesus is giving me a refresher course in water-walking 101. Most of my life I've been as healthy as a horse. I was the caretaker for all the hurting people around me. I was proud of my firm faith and flotation skills. But now I'm dipping beneath the surface of the water. Severe asthma steals my air and I fear I'll drown. Daily, quietly, I hear my Jesus whisper, "Be still. I breathed life into Adam and I will be your air. Narrow your focus and reach out your hand. Stop floundering. Float on my grace and cling to my promises like a life raft."

The storm has made me stronger, and my surrender into His awaiting arms has made my moments sweeter. "Keep your head up, let His grace hold you up and come to me," He cries. You'll be "walking on water" before you know it!

About Julie Barrier

For over 25 years, Dr. Julie Barrier is a well-known national and international conference speaker, addressing topics such as marriage, ministry, Biblical study, and women's issues in 32 countries.  Julie also taught Biblical Foundations of Worship, Conducting, and Arranging as an adjunct Professor at the Dixon School of Church Music at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Barrier is the author or composer of over 100 published works: books, articles, devotionals, dramas, choral and orchestral pieces. Her latest book is 'Bored in Big Church: Recollections of a Church Brat and Tattletale' (Xulon Press, 2011).

Unanswered Prayers Force Unlearning Lessons

By Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

I have learned the hard way that some of the most important lessons in life come from unexpected sources. I have also learned that later, equally unexpected sources often force me to reconsider those important lessons.

Let me tell you the history of one of those lessons, which I learned and then had to relearn.

It all started on the Saturday night that I agreed to address a group of women who had been praying for many weeks for the healing of the sick. This group recited Psalms, Tehillim, for a list of people in the community who were suffering from life-threatening illnesses. From time to time, they asked one of the local rabbis to address them at the end of their prayer session. On this particular Saturday night, they asked me, and I agreed.

I tried to give an inspirational speech, stressing the importance of compassion and the power of prayers on behalf of others. I commended them for their sincerity and concern, and for their willingness to surrender an hour of their time each and every week to address prayers on behalf of individuals whom many of them did not even know.

Then I made a mistake. I told the group and I had another 10 or 15 minutes and would be glad to answer any questions that they had about prayer. The questions were not long in coming, and they came from everyone in the group. "Why is it," they asked, "That we pray profusely, yet the only time we remove someone sick from our list is when they pass away?" "Our prayers seem to never be answered," they said in chorus. "What is the point of uttering unanswered prayers?"

I responded by "talking the talk." Every rabbi with even a smattering of theological training knows all of the stock answers to such questions. "God surely listens to our prayers," I pontificated, "but sometimes says 'no!'"

The next morning, I found a handwritten note in the mail. It was from a woman, a registered nurse in the emergency room of the local hospital, who had attended the previous night's session.

She wrote,

"I suggest a different kind of answer that could have been given to the questions that inundated you last night. You could've said that when we pray for a sick person to recover, we do not only pray for his or her total recovery. We also pray that the patient not suffer undue pain, that the family be able to bear the travail of witnessing the suffering of their loved one, that the doctors be able to execute their procedures effectively, and that, if so decreed, the patient leave this world surrounded by family and at peace."

The lesson I learned was that when we pray, we pray for an entire constellation of events. Even if we are not granted that the person we pray for lives on, a lot of what we pray for is granted.

In this week's Torah portion, Va'eschanan, we read how Moses fervently prayed that he be granted the privilege of entering the Promised Land. His prayer was denied.

"Oh Lord… let me go over, I pray Thee, and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan… but the Lord was wroth with me… and hearkened not unto me; and the Lord said unto me: 'Speak no more unto me of this matter.'"
(Deuteronomy 3:24-26)

After learning the lesson that the good nurse told me, I began to wonder whether indeed the prayer of Moses was not heard. True, his major request, that he be permitted to enter the Holy Land, was not granted to him. But wasn't there so much more that he might have prayed for that was indeed granted? His disciple Joshua entered the land. His children, the Jewish nation, entered the land. He was buried in close proximity to the land. He was permitted to at least see the land. Could he not take comfort in the fact that, although his major goal was not achieved, so much else was? This is a question that I have been asking myself for many years, whenever the Torah portion of Va'eschanan comes around.

Recently, I discovered the answer to that question. I had the very rewarding, although poignantly painful, experience of leading a retreat for bereaved parents. They came from a variety of backgrounds, and the circumstances of the death of their children ranged from terrorist murders to accidental drownings to long-term illnesses.

They too were troubled by the question of the efficacy of prayer. They asked questions similar to those asked by the women of the Saturday night prayer group. "Why were our prayers for our dear children not heard by the Almighty?"

I thought that I was being helpful when I shared with them the handwritten notes from the emergency room nurse. I was wrong. They did not find that note helpful at all. As one bereaved mother in the group told me,

"I was praying for the most important thing in the world - the life of my poor baby. Can I take comfort in the relatively trivial aspects of my prayer? Can I be consoled by the fact that he was killed instantly by the terrorist's bullet and suffered no pain?"

I had to unlearn the lessons taught to me so many years ago by that nurse. I learned a new lesson. I learned that when there is something that you value above all else, you can tolerate no compromises. Some goals are so important that the achievement of lesser goals means nothing.

This is how we can understand the fact that Moses was disconsolate when his prayer was rejected. To him, entry into the Holy Land was of paramount importance. Not that he sought to eat the fruits and gain the material pleasures of the land flowing with milk and honey. But because he knew that he could reach spiritual peaks in the land of Israel that even he could never attain outside the land.

He wanted to enter the Promised Land. No lesser promises could possibly have satisfied him.

This Sabbath is known as Shabbas Nachamu. It celebrates the end of the three weeks of mourning for the Temple's destruction, and inaugurates the seven weeks of consolation. This week, besides reading the Torah portion of Va'eschanan, we also read from the 40th chapter of the book of Isaiah, which begins, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people…"

The message is clear. Many of our prayers over the millennia have been denied. Our history is replete with unanswered prayers. It is difficult to take consolation when we have suffered so. But the message of Isaiah is clear: There is a time, and hopefully it is very near, when even the pain of the unanswered prayer can be assuaged.

In the words of the historian Graetz, as quoted in the Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz commentary: "These words of the prophets are like balm upon a wound, or like a soft breath upon a fevered brow."

Source: JewishWorldReview.com

© 2011, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb. Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, PhD is currently the Executive Vice President, Emeritus of the Orthodox Union.

When God Hides You

by Dr. Michael Youssef

Seemingly out of nowhere, Elijah appears in scripture. He had no family history, high office, or credentials to make him God's choice to confront the terrifying and immoral leadership of his day. There is no evidence that Elijah was super spiritual. Like us, he was fearful and perplexed at times. Yet with great directness he tells the wicked King Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." Read I Kings 17:1-6 to see how God used this ordinary man to make extraordinary changes in his nation.

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
1 Kings 17:1-6 (KJV)

Elijah's act was outrageously bold because King Ahab was under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel. She had led King Ahab to kill hundreds of God's people because they would not bow down to Baal. Delivering God's message to Ahab must have seemed like a suicide mission.

At God's direction, Elijah delivered the message and then hid in the Kerith Ravine. There he learned that when God pulls you away into hiding, He will supply the power, provision and protection you need to be prepared to be of even greater service to Him.

All of Elijah's needs were met through God's supernatural provision. Verse 6 states, "The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook."

God's children rarely seek to be hidden. However, it is in the hidden moments that men and women of faith are drawn closer to God and prepared for greater ministry. Joseph grew during his time of exile and imprisonment. Moses spent years in the desert before his greatest ministry. Esther spent a considerable amount of time being prepared to be presented to the king. Paul spent three silent years in northern Arabia before he launched his ministry.

Has God hidden you for a time? Are you feeling isolated, endangered, or unused for the kingdom? God has His purpose for you to be exactly where you are. Use this time to refresh yourself in the Word. Pray that you will grow closer to Him and more fit for service during this season of hiding.

Source: Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef

Where is God in Hard Times?

by Dr. Jack Graham

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.

Proverbs 16:1

Throughout the history of our faith, the question has often been asked, "Where is God when tragedy strikes?" And as often as that question has been asked, there’s been no shortage of answers put forth by Christians and non-Christians alike. But even deeper than that question is the concern by some that God is aloof when hard times hit.

I just love what Corrie ten Boom, the great Christian who served the Lord during World War II and was a prisoner in a concentration camp, was once quoted as saying. She said, "There is no panic in heaven; only plans!" What a perspective from a woman who knew what suffering and tragedy was all about!

Has it ever sunk in that nothing takes God by surprise? When tragedy strikes our lives and takes the wind out of us, God remains steady. When sickness and death seem like they’re winning and we’re tempted to panic, God doesn’t flinch. You see, while we’re often taken by surprise, nothing takes God by surprise.

No matter how great the power of Satan appears to be in this world… no matter how it may appear that evil is winning, God’s power is mightier than the power of our enemy. God is in control. This is our Father’s world!

GOD IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL. TRUST IN HIM WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH BECAUSE HE’S NEVER TAKEN BY SURPRISE EVEN WHEN YOU ARE!

Source: Power Point with Jack Graham

The Dip Swimmer: Overcoming the Lows in Your Life

by Shawn McEvoy

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
James 4:4-6

August is often monsoon time in Tucson, Arizona. The rains can come quickly, bringing flooding to dry ground not primed to soak them up. He always looked forward to that time of year, to the brief respites from the scorching zephyrs. But not this year. This year was his "nowhere year," the one between high school and college, the one where he lost sense of self, God, and purpose. Most of his friends had gone to school or summer projects. He himself would finally do so in just a few weeks. There was excitement in that knowledge, but also much apprehension. All he had known was Tucson. All he had was there. His best friend and his girlfriend and his family -- he'd be leaving them behind.

The leaving was becoming even more difficult because there were rifts growing. His girlfriend had requested a break because, among other things, he had begun to put on weight. Things weren't good between them. In fact, things weren't good anywhere. This was supposed to be one of the best times of his life, but all he felt was lost, left out, and lethargic. The weather wasn't helping. Neither was the fact that his Triumph TR6 convertible, the one he had received from his dad, the original owner, had finally died. He'd gone from driving that prime machine to a hand-me-up, dented Volkswagen Dasher from, insult of insults, his younger sister. His parents had opted to provide her a more reliable vehicle, a shinier, newer, cuter Honda Civic. It took him a long time, sad to say, to get over that.

On this night, he was also house-sitting for a friend of his mother's. It was a depressing apartment, containing two very depressing dogs. One was very old and mostly blind, and would spend each night spookily wandering from room to room. He would wake up and see it stalking the halls as if in trance. Freaky. The other one was a three-legged little mutt who was so scared of him that the very reason he was housesitting became obsolete! Every gentle attempt to let the dog out created so much fear in the animal that it would do its business in the process of running out the door, meaning he not only had clean-up duty, but still had to convince the frightened critter to come back inside!

So basically, he was bummed. Bummed and lonely. And the last thing on his mind was the Lord, even though he'd known Him for 10 years. He knew he had to get out of there and gain some perspective. Maybe Jay was around. His house wasn't too far away from Dog Central. He decided to try his luck in the monsoon.

As soon as he got to the Dasher, he should have known it was a bad idea. He'd left his windows down. He sat down anyway, right in the puddle of rain and dog hair and his sister's ancient cigarette ashes. At least the car started. He pulled it out onto Alvernon Road, and headed south toward Grant.

Grant Road, when he got there, no longer looked like a street. It was a rivulet. I don't know why, but he pulled out into it. For a while, the old wheezy car made its way slowly through the water. But eventually, it could go no more. He'd killed it. He stepped out into knee-deep water and looked to the heavens. A couple guys who were standing uphill in a shopping center watching the action helped him push the Dasher out of the street and up into the lot. Suddenly he heard shouts of joy and glee. He turned his head in time to see two kids in an inflatable raft cruise down a side street and out onto Grant, laughing all the way. Nice. Did anyone else want to mock him?

Well, what next? He had no cash, no coins. No cell phones in 1989. No ATM nearby.

There was only one thing to do: walk the rest of the way to Jay's house. Why not? He couldn't suffer much more, could he? It was a good 25 blocks. He'd gone about 24 of those in the rain when it was finally starting to let up. But through the parting drops he saw that he made yet another error in judgment. Rather than staying on the main road, where there was a bridge that crossed over a wash, he had taken a side street that dipped right down into it. It was going to mean another half hour if he backtracked, so he made his umpteenth stupid decision of the night. He tied his shoes around his neck, waded into the dip... and swam to the other side (kids, don't try this at home. He got lucky the current wasn't strong).

Emerging, he imagined himself as the creature from the black lagoon. Only several more houses to go. He knocked on the door. Jay's mother answered. She looked confused, then concerned, then sprang into action. "Oh my goodness! Get in here!" She got him towels and something hot to drink, and let him know Jay wasn't home yet. He was out on a date. She was going to bed, but he was welcome, as always, to wait up for Jay.

He sat in a dark corner of the living room, wondering how in the world he had sunk to this. He heard a key in the lock. He saw his best buddy enter, saw him notice a blob sitting in the corner, saw him realize he'd seen no car outside. When Jay recognized his pal, he paused, looked more closely, then... burst into laughter.

What happened next was an all-night conversation that would change both their lives. The gist of it was, "We've been giving lip service to our God and our church for a long time now. We've been part of this great youth group, but at heart we both know we love the popularity more than the fellowship. We've talked about the guys in our group who we know are authentic, who really study, really live the Word. Maybe it is time for us to be that, too? Maybe it's time to stop sinning and start taking Christianity seriously?"

Yes. We decided it was. In the morning the mercy was palpable and freeing. We went to the bookstore and bought a study guide on James. We drove up to Mount Lemmon, just outside the city, praising the Lord on the way and praying once we got there. With James's help, we decided to begin with practicality. We put away childish things. We took our eyes off ourselves, and we recognized that God had been active in answering prayers we'd prayed over a year ago (flippantly though they were spoken) that God would get our attention, develop in us humility and patience, and a genuine idea of what following Jesus was about.

Relatively speaking, we didn't suffer much, though our achings were deep and real for the time. God put us on our knees, gently but firmly, and turned us around, which is the essence of humility, repentance, and restoration. The Dasher was definitely dead... but we were alive.

Only a couple years later, God gave me a gift, an incredible, forever reminder of that night and what I learned and how it would carry me through the future. It came in the form of a song by Rich Mullins. To this day, I believe that Rich must have been there, must have seen what transpired. For he wrote:

I see the morning moving over the hills
I can see the shadows on the western side
And all those illusions that I had
They just vanish in Your light.

Though the chill in the night still hangs in the air
I can feel the warmth of morning on my face
Though the storm had tossed me
'Til I thought I'd nearly lost my way

And now the night is fading and the storm is past
And everything that could be shaken was shaken
And all that remains is all I ever really had

What I'd have settled for
You've blown so far away
What You brought me to
I thought I could not reach.
And I came so close to giving up
But You never did give up on me.

I see the morning moving over the hills
I feel the rush of life here where the darkness broke
And I am in You and You're in me
Here where the winds of Heaven blow.

And now the night is fading
And the storm is through
And everything You sent to shake me
From my dreams they come to wake me
In the love I find in You
And now the morning comes
And everything that really matters
Become the wings You send to gather me
To my home
To my home
I'm going home...

Intersecting Faith & Life:

1. If a storm were to shake your life, and "everything that could be shaken was shaken, and all that remained was all you ever really had," what would it be that remained?

2. What would you have settled for that God has blown so far away? What has He brought you to that you thought you could not reach?

3. What does it mean to go back "to my home," even if you're actually about to start a journey?

4. When was the last time you shared your testimony? Make an effort to write it down or share it today.

Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional. Shawn McEvoy is the Managing Editor of Crosswalk.com.

Overcoming Storms of Life - Malankara World Supplement

To read more about Overcoming the Trials, Tribulations and Storms in our lives, please visit Malankara World Supplement - Overcoming the Storms of Life.
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Reading/Suffering/Default.htm

Missing from the Meeting!

by Selwyn Hughes

For reading & meditation: John 20:24-31

"Now Thomas ' was not with the disciples when Jesus came." (v.24)

We said a couple of days ago that those who choose to deprive themselves of fellowship with other Christians miss out on life's greatest science - learning about God. I heard one preacher say: "People who neglect attendance at the house of God are fools because on some favored occasion something special and powerful will happen - and they will not be there."

The passage we have read today tells us of that glorious post- resurrection appearance of our Lord to His disciples. The disciples thought He was dead, and although there were rumors of His resurrection, they were not convinced. Suddenly, He appeared to them - they saw Him, heard Him, and felt the impact of His mighty presence. But here is the heart-rending tragedy of it: "Thomas ' was not with the disciples when Jesus came."

Why was Thomas missing from that meeting? Many preachers have speculated on the reasons for his absence, and they vary from Thomas not expecting Jesus to be there, to being afraid for his life. My own view, for what it is worth, is that there was something wrong with Thomas himself. The root cause of his defection, so I believe, was his own doubting and denying heart.

My experience in the ministry has taught me that those who profess to be Christians and yet deliberately absent themselves from fellowship with their brothers and sisters, are the ones who are usually most in need of this fellowship.

Prayer:

Gracious and loving heavenly Father, help me realize that the very time I need to be among my brothers and sisters is when I am at my lowest spiritually. Burn this truth into my consciousness so that it will never leave me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

For further study:

Matthew 25:13; Proverbs 15:5

Source: Every Day Light Devotional

Health Tip: Tinted Lenses Offer Real Migraine Relief
For the first time, researchers have shown why precision-tinted lenses reduce headaches for migraine sufferers, a finding that could help improve treatment options for patients battling the debilitating ailment.

Jie Huang of Michigan State University's Department of Radiology used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to reveal how precision-tinted lenses normalize brain activity in patients with migraine headaches, preventing such attacks.

Huang's research appeared in the May 2011 edition of the journal Cephalalgia, published by SAGE.

While tinted lenses are increasingly used for migraine sufferers, until now the science behind the effects was unclear. The team led by Huang showed how colored glasses - tuned specifically to each migraine sufferer - work by normalizing the activity in the brain's visual cortex, which is responsible for processing visual information and is located in the back of the brain.

Past research has revealed specific, abnormal brain activity, known as hyper-activation, when migraine sufferers saw intense patterns. The precision-tinted lenses considerably reduce the effect.

As part of the study, researchers focused on specific visual stimuli known to trigger migraines. These patterns, high contrast stripes or gratings, can give the illusion of shape, color and movement, not only triggering migraines but also causing seizures in some photosensitive epileptics.

Participants first were prescribed tinted lenses with an intuitive colorimeter, a device used to illuminate text with different colored lights, creating for each test participant an optimal color of light that led to the greatest comfort by reducing distortion.

Tinted lenses with this optimal color were created and given to each test subject, along with two other sets of tinted lenses without the optimal color. In addition, each patient was paired with a migraine-free control subject, who also was tested with that patient's three sets of lenses.

Once in the fMRI machine, the subjects were exposed to a range of striped patterns while their brain images were acquired. Then the researchers analyzed the effect of the tinted lenses on the activation of the different visual areas of the brain.

Specifically, the tinted lenses decreased hyper-activation for migraine sufferers in visual area V2 of the visual cortex of the brain.

Although patients reported some relief (a 40 percent improvement) using the control lenses, the precision-tinted lenses had a significant effect (70 percent improvement) when viewing the stressful stripes.

"The specific characteristics of activation we recorded could provide a potential biomarker for identifying those migraine patients suffering visual cortical hyper-activation," he said. "This biomarker could prove useful not only for further evaluation of tinted lenses but also for studying the effectiveness of drugs to prevent migraine headaches."

Huang worked with colleagues from the University of Michigan and the University of Essex in England.

Recipe: Grilled Open-Faced Mediterranean Sandwiches
Ingredients:

1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon prepared pesto
Dash of crushed red pepper
1 (7 ounce) can chunk light tuna in water or solid white tuna in water, drained
1/4 cup vinaigrette dressing
4 slices sourdough bread
1 cup jarred roasted bell peppers, drained
1 1/3 cups 1/2-inch sliced eggplant, grilled
1 1/3 cups 1/2-inch sliced zucchini, grilled
1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini, drained
1 cup shredded 3-cheese Italian blend
4 small sprigs fresh basil, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the broiler.
In a resealable container, combine mayonnaise, pesto and red pepper.
In a bowl, gently mix tuna with vinaigrette.

For each sandwich, place a slice of bread on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spread pesto mayonnaise on the bread. Layer each sandwich with 1/4 cup roasted bell peppers, about 5 slices each eggplant and zucchini, about 1/3 cup tuna mixture, pepperoncini (about 4-5 rings) and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

Broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Garnish with basil sprigs and serve immediately.

Yield: Makes 4 servings.

Note: This can also be served as an appetizer on French bread; just reduce the toppings accordingly.

More Recipes/ Cooking Tips at Malankara World Cafe

Family Special: Coming to Terms With the Past
Read: Jeremiah 33:1-26

"I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security." Jeremiah 33:6

A pastor friend told the story of a couple who had come to him for counseling. The couple had been married 40 or so years, and they were both plagued with guilt. They hadn't become Christians until their later years, and, prior to that, they had both lived sexually immoral lives. Although they had been faithful to each other during their marriage, their past dips into immorality were now making them feel guilty for enjoying sex with each other.

The pastor thought for a moment, then asked the couple to name their favorite hymn. They both said at the same time, "It Is Well With My Soul." So the pastor told them to go home and either listen to or sing the hymn every night before they went to bed.

A week later the couple returned to the pastor's office. They told him that they had felt foolish at first, but they had sung their favorite hymn together each night. The wife blushed and the husband got teary eyed as he told the pastor, "When we got to the part that says, 'My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O, my soul!' well... after all these years we feel fresh and squeaky clean and new all over again."

Throughout the Bible, God's relationship with Israel was tested over and over by Israel's sin. The book of Jeremiah talks about the horrible result of that sin. When the prophet received the prophecy recorded in chapter 33, Jerusalem was under siege from the invading Babylonians. Soon God would allow his people to be carried away from their land into captivity and their land to be destroyed. Like the couple who wrestled with memories of past sins, the Israelites would live with heartrending images of how their unfaithfulness to God had resulted in the burning and pillaging of their land. Their city would be filled with dead bodies.

But the story doesn't end there. The prophet went on to say that because of God's immense love, God would heal Israel's pain, cleanse the people from their sin, and restore them to abundant peace and security. "Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it," God said (Jeremiah 33:9).

Likewise, God does not want us to be forever burdened with our past sins. "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" says Romans 6:18 . And Romans 6:4 promises, "We were therefore buried with him . . . in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

So too is the promise for our marriages, which so often bend under the load of sins, both past and present. We must be honest with ourselves, with the Lord and with each other about memories or habits or activities that may be eroding our relationship and then deal with them. But we can do so in the joy of knowing that in Christ we can find forgiveness, restoration and a new start.
Nancy Kennedy

Let's Talk

What are some things from the past that each of us is still struggling with?
How are they affecting our marriage?
How can we talk about those struggles in a way that builds up our marriage?

Source: Bible Gateway - NIV Couple's Devotional

Humor: Bob Hope In Heaven

For those of you too young to remember Bob Hope, ask your Grandparents.
Tribute to a man who DID make a difference.

ON TURNING 70

'I still chase women, but only downhill'.

ON TURNING 80

'That's the time of your life when even your birthday suit needs pressing.'

ON TURNING 90

'You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.'

ON TURNING 100

'I don't feel old. In fact, I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.'

ON GIVING UP HIS EARLY CAREER, BOXING

'I ruined my hands in the ring. The referee kept stepping on them.'

ON NEVER WINNING AN OSCAR

'Welcome to the Academy Awards or, as it's called at my home, 'Passover'.

ON GOLF

'Golf is my profession. Show business is just to pay the green fees.'

ON PRESIDENTS

'I have performed for 12 presidents and entertained only six.'

ON WHY HE CHOSE SHOWBIZ FOR HIS CAREER

'When I was born, the doctor said to my mother,
Congratulations, you have an eight pound ham.

ON RECEIVING THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL

'I feel very humble, but I think I have the strength of character to fight it.'

ON HIS FAMILY'S EARLY POVERTY

'Four of us slept in the one bed. When it got cold, mother threw on another brother.'

ON HIS SIX BROTHERS

'That's how I learned to dance. Waiting for the bathroom.'

ON HIS EARLY FAILURES

'I would not have had anything to eat if it wasn't for the stuff the audience threw at me.'

ON GOING TO HEAVEN

'I've done benefits for ALL religions. I'd hate to blow the hereafter on a technicality.'

About Malankara World
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