Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 1 No. 17 August 5, 2011
Transfiguration Special

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Transfiguration by Bellini, 1487
Table of Contents
Editor's Note
This issue of Malankara World Journal is a special edition to commemorate the feast of Transfiguration, one of the important feasts observed by Orthodox Church. The Lectionary specifies Luke 9:27-36 as the gospel reading, although all 3 synoptic gospels mentions this feast.

All three Synoptic Gospels place Transfiguration immediately after Peter’s confession about Jesus and his subsequent teaching to the disciples about his impending death, as well as an emphasis on discipleship ("If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up take up their cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23). Transfiguration is intricately related to the looming crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The experience of the three disciples seeing Jesus transfigured changed their way of looking at Jesus. It also changed the way they saw God as well as how they saw the fellow human beings.

"With Moses standing right there, the parallel was hard to miss. Jesus, like Moses before him, was about to set God’s people free, only it was not bondage to pharaoh they needed freeing from this time. It was bondage to their own fear of sin and death, which crippled them far worse than leg chains ever had.

Elijah’s presence was the divine seal of approval on this plan. He was the one whose reappearance meant the Messiah was due. To see him standing there with Moses and Jesus was like seeing the Mount Rushmore of heaven -- the Lawgiver, the Prophet, the Messiah -- wrapped in such glory it is a wonder the other three could see them at all. But they did see that epiphany, and then they could not see anything anymore, because the cloud swallowed them up. It was still God’s glory, only it was dazzling darkness this time, not dazzling light. For us, they are opposites. For God, they are the same." - Barbara Brown Taylor

"Luke understands that both the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah), the entire witness to God throughout Israel’s history from Sinai onward, confirms Jesus in that path of suffering and death (v. 30; cf. 24:25-27, 44-49). The power that comes from the Holy Spirit to carry out the mission to the world is not the power to rule a Kingdom; it is the power to participate in a Kingdom whose goal is to transform the world, even if it takes death to do it. The power is the power to be faithful unto death. As the disciples continue their journey beyond Jerusalem, they will finally understand (note 2 Peter 1:16-19)." - Dennis Bratcher

We had been suggesting in several previous issues about reflecting the light of Jesus in our face as well as in our lives. Jesus was not reflecting the light of God in Mt. Tabor. He is the God. He was shining with the Shekinah glory of God. He's not reflecting God's glory. God's glory is radiating from Jesus.

In transfiguration scene, we see Moses and Elijah, in presence of Jesus, reflecting God's glory. This tells us that if Moses and Elijah can reflect God's glory as they stand by Jesus then we, too, can reflect God's glory as we stand up for Jesus.

"Simon Peter, James and John saw things in a whole new light. Jesus is God. God is involved in human life. Human life is precious in God's sight. What a momentous vision! Oh, that God's glory, radiating in the Risen Jesus, may be so reflected in me and you that people everywhere may see clearly in that light that Jesus is Lord; that God cares about every human being; and that we humans are invited to share God's glory!" Rev. Charles F. Duvall

We have an interesting article by Sr. Joan Chittister titled, 'The Role of Religion in Today's Society' in this issue of the MW Journal. Sr. Joan says that Transfiguration provides us to a window to how real religion should operate. Peter's reaction during transfiguration was typical, according to Sr. Joan.

"Let's settle down here, Jesus, and build three booths (tents or tabernacles)."

Was Peter suggesting to build a seminary, a cathedral or a college like we do these days, Sr. Joan wonders. Was Peter opting for a religion of temples, institutions and shrines? Peter was opting for a religion that transcends the world, but the scripture reads that before he could even finish speaking, God interrupted and said, "Listen." Sr. Joan's following words are very poignant and powerful:

"At the very moment, when it would seem that Jesus is emphasizing the mystical and transcendent dimension of religion, Jesus himself takes the apostles away from visions, away from privatized religion, to meet the ones who needed them most in the town.

Jesus takes them to the man whose son was possessed by a demon. Jesus himself leads them down to the bottom of that mountain to the hurting people, unbelieving officials, the ineffective institutions and the demons below.

Real religion is not about building temples and keeping shrines. Real religion is about healing hurts, speaking for and being with the poor, the helpless, the voiceless and the forgotten who are at the silent bottom of every pinnacle, every hierarchy and every system in both state and church, church and state.

Real religion, the scripture insists, is not about transcending life; real religion is about our transforming life. The gospel of the transfiguration calls us to Sabbath; calls us to become enlightened; calls us to change our attitudes about the role of religion; calls us to understand the nature of religion itself; because the so-called rational has failed."

That is the power of transfiguration. Jesus changed everything. It is not about amassing riches; it is all about serving. It is not about thrones; it is about washing the feet of fellow humans. It is all about unconditional love.

Read all the commentaries and sermons given in Malankara World to gain a new perspective on the Transfiguration experience.

This Sunday, the lectionary reading is about the Parable of the two sons. (Matthew 21: 28-32.)

"The stories in Matthew 21 center on controversies that occur days before Jesus goes to the cross. They draw our attention to issues of authority and obedience. Jesus is confronted by the chief priests and elders who want to know by what authority he has been doing "these things." We assume "these things" to be the events recorded earlier in this chapter: the entry into Jerusalem, the cleansing of the temple and now his teaching in the temple. In good rabbinic style, Jesus answers their question by posing a question. His question involves their understanding of the authority of John the Baptist. If they answer that John the Baptist was divinely inspired, then they open themselves to the charge of ignoring God's will and of being unrepentant. If they say that John's authority was from human beings, then they risk offending the crowd that believed John was a prophet. Either way, they are condemned. And so they plead ignorance.

Jesus then tells a parable about two sons which offers an interpretation of the previous confrontation. The first son tells his father that he will not go and work in the vineyard, but then changes his mind and goes to work. The second son tells his father that he will work in the vineyard, but doesn't. "Who has been obedient to the father?" Jesus asks the chief priests and elders.

It is clear to all who have "ears to hear" that the disobedient son represents the chief priests and elders. It is small wonder that on Friday of that same week they took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And on the night before, in the Garden of Gethsemane, this somewhat reluctant son had to decide whether to be obedient to his Father's will. Matthew records that three times he had prayed: 'Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Yet, like the son in the parable who hesitated at first and in the end did as his father had asked, Jesus affirms three times: "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." It is this response of radical obedience that takes Jesus to the cross." - Susan Pendelton Jones

Again we provide different viewpoints about this week's gospel reading in the variety of commentaries and sermons provided.

This Week in Church

Bible Readings for Transfiguration (August 6)

The Festival of Transfiguration/Koodaara Perunnal (6th August) 
  • Evening
    • St. Matthew 16: 27-17: 13
  • Morning
    • St. Mark 8: 38-9: 13
  • Before Holy Qurbana
    • Deuteronomy 16: 13-17
    • Psalms 24
    • Isaiah 61: 1-3
  • Holy Qurbana
    • I John 2: 23-3: 1
    • Romans 11: 25-36
    • St. Luke 9:27-36

Sermons for Transfiguration (August 6)

Bible Reading, Commentaries, Analysis and Sermons for the Feast of Transfiguration

Bible Readings for This Sunday (August 7)
First Sunday after the Festival of Transfiguration
  • Evening
    • St. Mark 4:21-34
  • Morning
    • St. Matthew 13: 44-52
  • Before Holy Qurbana
    • Deuteronomy 25: 13-16
    • Psalms 27
    • Ezekiel 7:1-4
  • Holy Qurbana
    • St. James 4: 7-5: 6
    • Philippians 4: 8-20
    • St. Matthew 21: 28-32

Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Sermons for This Sunday (August 7)
We have greatly expanded our Sermon Resources. The sermon collection now includes general and classical sermons. This will give a broader appeal to the Gospel Reading for the week. We also added bible commentaries for the bible reading to facilitate study and meditation. Please check it out.

Bible Reading, Commentaries, Analyses, and Sermons for the First Sunday After Transfiguration

More Sermons

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." -- Luke 10. 27.

O God, what offering shall I give
To Thee, the Lord of earth and skies?
My spirit, soul, and flesh receive,
A holy, living sacrifice.
J. Lange.

To love God "with all our heart," is to know the spiritual passion of measureless gratitude for loving-kindness, and self-devotedness to goodness.

To love Him "with all our mind," is to know the passion for Truth that is the enthusiasm of Science, the passion for Beauty that inspires the poet and the artist, when all truth and beauty are regarded as the self-revealings of God.

To love Him "with all our soul," is to know the saint's rapture of devotion and gaze of penitential awe into the face of the All-holy, the saint's abhorrence of sin, and agony of desire to save a sinner's soul.

To love Him "with all our strength," is the supreme spiritual passion that tests the rest; the passion for reality, for worship in spirit and in truth, for being what we adore, for doing what we know to be God's word; the loyalty that exacts the living sacrifice, the whole burnt-offering that is our reasonable service, and in our coldest hours keeps steadfast to what seemed good when we were aglow.
J. H. Thom.

Featured This Week: The Role of Religion in Today's Society

by Sr. Joan Chittister

There is no doubt about it, in a society of gross imbalances somebody has to ask, "What is the role of religion? Should it be a private refuge or a public presence and how will we ever know?"

The Vietnamese tell a folk tale that I think goes right to the point of the question. The Vietnamese say that there is only one difference between heaven and hell. In hell, they have chopsticks three feet long and the people can't eat. In heaven, they have chopsticks three feet long but the people feed each another.

The purpose of holiness is not to protect us from our world. The purpose of holiness is to change the way we live in the world, not for our own sake but for the sake of others. Jesus demands the same thing. For some reason or other, we often miss that point. We are more inclined to want a religion that comforts us than challenges us. Why? Where did we ever get that idea? Maybe it is because we have misunderstood, or at least forgotten, the meaning of Sabbath, the importance of mountain symbolism in religious literature and the effect of the very placement of gospel text.

Let's look at each for a minute. Sabbath, the rabbis teach us, doesn't exist because God needed rest. God doesn't need rest. That is heresy. The rabbis tell us that the Sabbath exists because God demanded rest. God wanted Sabbath to equalize the rich and the poor, so that the poor could be free for at least one day and the rich could no longer oppress them. God wanted Sabbath to give us time to evaluate our work as God evaluated God's work, to see if our work was equally good.

Finally, God gave us Sabbath to give us time to reflect on the meaning of life. Sabbath is one-seventh of every week. It is one-seventh of every life. Sabbath is fifty-two days a year, over 3,500 days in a lifetime of seventy years, or over ten years of the average life. Sabbath is thinking time designed to change us. Sabbath is important, then, to all of us in our worlds. Week after week after week, we have to ask the questions, "What changes are demanded of us now?" That answer, I think, depends on how we see the role of religion.

There is a scripture story about the Transfiguration of Christ that gives us an idea, perhaps, of the answer. In the story of the Transfiguration, remember, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a high mountain. Mountains, you may well know, in Greek, Hebrew, Roman and Asian religious literature, were always places where the human could touch the divine. Sure enough, at the top of that mountain with Jesus, a wonderful thing happened. The apostles began to see Jesus a new way. The apostles got a brand-new insight into whom this Jesus really was -- dazzling, consuming, literally enlightening. They began to see Jesus differently.

What they see at the top of that mountain is, at least, unexpected and certainly disturbing. You see, at the top of that mountain before those apostles, Jesus does not appear with Aaron the priest, who was the interpreter of the law. Jesus doesn't appear there with David the King, the defender of the state. No, Jesus does not appear with symbols of royalty or ritualism. Jesus appears to those apostles with Moses, Elijah, the prophets. Moses, who led the people out of oppression; Elijah, whom King Ahab had called, "that trouble of Israel," because he condemned the people's compromise between true and false gods as the underlying cause of their problems.

In a gospel apparently about the mystical dimension of religion, there is a troubling, teeming undercurrent of turmoil, a struggle between piety and real Christianity, a struggle between religion for real and religion for show. The gospel shows us that Peter, in your name and mine, opted for piety. "Let's settle down here, Jesus, and build three booths."

I'm not really sure, but I think what he had in mind was a chancery, a seminary and a college. Peter, in other words, was opting for a religion of temples, institutions and shrines. Peter was opting for a religion that transcends the world, but the scripture reads that before he could even finish speaking, God interrupted and said, "Listen."

Then something happens that we too often forget. The gospel is completed by a portion that is usually unread, too little remembered, too much unfulfilled. At the very moment, when it would seem that Jesus is emphasizing the mystical and transcendent dimension of religion, Jesus himself takes the apostles away from visions, away from privatized religion, to meet the ones who needed them most in the town.

Jesus takes them to the man whose son was possessed by a demon. Jesus himself leads them down to the bottom of that mountain to the hurting people, unbelieving officials, the ineffective institutions and the demons below.

Real religion is not about building temples and keeping shrines. Real religion is about healing hurts, speaking for and being with the poor, the helpless, the voiceless and the forgotten who are at the silent bottom of every pinnacle, every hierarchy and every system in both state and church, church and state.

Real religion, the scripture insists, is not about transcending life; real religion is about our transforming life. The gospel of the transfiguration calls us to Sabbath; calls us to become enlightened; calls us to change our attitudes about the role of religion; calls us to understand the nature of religion itself; because the so-called rational has failed.

For instance, they say that militarism is rational. How else can we defend ourselves? Never before in history have we spent so much money on defense and never before in history, have been so vulnerable because of it. The people below, the people at the bottom of our mountains, wait to be healed of the diseases that spring from our spiritual darkness. The poor wait for jobs; the homeless wait for shelter; children are waiting for food; young people are waiting for education and job training; the elderly are waiting for care that we say that we can't afford in the richest nation in the world.

Every year we go on in peace time spending more money on instruments of destruction than on the development of peoples. We create the end of the world and store it in the corn fields of Kansas while the working poor, the people who suffer under part-time pay for part-time work or double-time work for part-time pay, get poorer and poorer in this country and around the globe.

Religion, you see, does not call us to the rational. Religion calls us to the Beatitudes, to the works of mercy, to the casting out of demons, to the doing of miracles for those in need, to the being and act of irrational love and burning justice of God. That is what the Transfiguration is about, that is what religion is really about, changing ourselves so we can change the world.

Once upon a time a group of disciples asked an elder, "Does your God work miracles?"

The elder said, "Well, it all depends on what you mean by a miracle. Some people say it's a miracle that God does the will of the people. We say, it's a miracle when people do the will of God."

What is the role of religion in society, private refuge or public presence? Transfiguration means that the role of religion demands enlightenment. The role of religion is to bring us to an awareness of life. The role of religion is to transform the world, to come to see the world as God sees the world and to bring it as close to the vision of God as we possibly can. Why? Scripture is very clear. What God changes, God changes through us.

About the Author:

Sr. Joan Chittister, a Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pennsylvania, is a best-selling author and well-known international lecturer. She’s the co-chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the United Nations, and an active member of the International Peace Council. Sr. Joan is the author of over 35 books.

In the Dark about the Transfiguration

by Christopher H. Zakian, Armenian Orthodox Church

Three disciples come face-to-face with the mind-boggling nature of God. How do they react? And is there a lesson for us in their experience? That's the question the church poses in the Feast of the Transfiguration.

There is a mystery at the heart of Christianity. In our Divine Liturgy, we worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Incarnate Word of the Lord, through whom the entire universe was created. As humble human beings, we might naturally ask, Where do we fit into all this? Can such a cosmic being really care about creatures as small as us?

A clue to such questions is quietly offered in the Gospel story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13). Prior to the Transfiguration, Jesus had been very secretive about his true mission and identity, even to his twelve disciples. At one point, Jesus asked them who they thought he was. After a round of wrong answers from the others, Peter spoke up and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus blessed Peter for this insight, and then disclosed the prophecy of his own death and resurrection.

Now, the disciples had always understood that Jesus was a unique and important figure-he was, after all, a riveting teacher, an inspiring leader, a powerful miracle-worker. But now, for the first time, they were being let in on the secret of just how special Jesus was.

With that disclosure, the groundwork was now prepared for the visual spectacle of the Transfiguration-which is the very next episode in Matthew's gospel.

The story begins: "After six days, Jesus took Peter and the brothers James and John, and brought them up into a high mountain apart."

Right from the start, we are given a subtle reminder of the mystery of Creation, in the seemingly unnecessary comment about "six days." The mountaintop, too, is a place of mystery. The difficult climb, thin air and cold climate all make the high altitudes inhospitable to human beings: this is a world quite literally "apart" from normal human activities and concerns, where the heroes of the Bible met in solitude with God Himself.

In this strange, unearthly environment, Jesus suddenly appears physically changed and glorified-transfigured-to the three disciples: "his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." Even more amazingly, Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the prophet emerge from the mists of Biblical history, and break into conversation with Jesus.

This fantastic scene unfolds as if the disciples were not there; the presence of Peter, James and John is either forgotten or ignored by the participants in the mystical proceedings. For their own part, the disciples must feel as though they have stumbled upon something they were not supposed to see. It is Peter who finally finds voice to speak, but his words are little more than a plea to be useful: "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you would like, let us build three tabernacles [shrines or shelters] here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."

It is a kind and pious sentiment; but it seems woefully inadequate to the grand scale of the event. Imagine having three of the greatest figures of all time materialize right before your eyes, and all you can think to say in response is, "Can I get you a seat?" In such circumstances, it might be better simply to keep silent.

Read the rest of the article in Malankara World

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How to Know the Will of God (Part 2)
by James Montgomery Boice
[Editor's Note: This is part 2 of the article. For part 1, see Issue 16 (July 29, 2011) of Malankara World Journal.]

In ourselves we are a bit like the Israelites when they had first come out of Egypt. They were a huge company. The Bible says that there were 600,000 men, and in addition to that there were the women and children. So the total must have been in the neighborhood of two million. Now this great host had been led into the desert where the temperature goes much above 100 degrees in the day-time and often falls below freezing point at night. When I was in Egypt in the middle of the summer of 1961, the temperature was 140°F at Luxor. And it was even hotter in the middle of the desert. In these circumstances the people would have perished from the extremes of temperature if God had not performed a great miracle to save them.

The miracle was the miracle of the cloud which signified God's presence with the people and led them in their wanderings. The cloud was large enough to spread out over the camp of the Israelites. It provided shade during the day-time; and it gave warmth by night, when it turned into a pillar of fire. It was the banner by which they regulated their march. When the cloud moved the people moved, and when the cloud stopped they stopped. One of the great hymns describes it by saying,

Round each habitation hovering,
See the fire and cloud appear,
For a glory and a covering,
Showing that the Lord is near.

Thus, deriving from their banner
Light by night and shade by day,
Safe they feed upon the manna,
Which he gives them when they pray.

The cloud was the single most distinguishing feature of their encampment.

Now we must imagine how it would be when the cloud moved forward and how weary the people would have become of following it. We read in the final verses of Exodus, "When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys; but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up" (Exodus 40:36-37). Sometimes it moved often, at other times not at all. We must imagine a family coming to a stop under the cloud's guidance in the middle of a hot afternoon and immediately beginning to unpack their baggage. They take down their bedding and set up their tent. And then, no sooner has it all been arranged, than someone cries out, "The cloud is moving." And so they repack their baggage and start to go on again. One hour later the cloud stops. They say, "We'll just leave our things packed this time and sleep on the ground." Well, they do. And the cloud stays that night and all next day and all that week. And as they are going into the second week the family says, "Well, we might as well get it over with." They unpack. And immediately the cloud begins to move again.

Now the people must have hated the moving of the cloud by which God guided them. But no matter how much they hated the cloud they still had to follow its guidance. Because if someone had said, "I don't care if the cloud is moving; I'm going to stay right here," the cloud would have gone on, and he would have died in the heat of the desert, or he would have frozen at night. They hated God's leading. But by this means God was molding a nation of rabble, of slaves, into a disciplined force that would one day be able to conquer the land of Canaan. And He was teaching them absolute obedience.

It is the same with us. Neither you nor I naturally want God's will. We want our will. We will always hate God's way, and particularly His way of training us to be soldiers. But we must go through it. For through that training we must learn to say, "Father, even though I do not naturally want Your will, nevertheless, I know that it is the best thing for me; and it is necessary for my spiritual training. Lead me in the way I should go." And God will do that. For to know God's will we must come to the point where we first want to do it.

The second great principle for knowing the will of God is that nothing can be the will of God that is contrary to the Word of God. The God who is leading you now is the God who inspired the Bible then, and He is not contradictory in His commandments. Consequently, nothing can be the will of God for you that is not in accordance with what is taught in His Word.

God's will is expressed in great principles. Take John 6:40, for instance. I call this verse the will of God for all unbelievers. It says, "And this is the will of Him that sent me, that everyone who seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." If you are not a Christian, God is not at all interested in telling you whether you should accept a job with General Motors or with Dupont. He is not interested in whether you should marry Sally or Mary, or Henry or John, or whether you should enlist in the army. He is interested in whether or not you will believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him as your personal savior. God's will for you starts there. This is His will. And you must accept this demand before you can begin to go forward on any other level.

Another passage is Romans 12:1-2. It is an expression of God's will for the Christian. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." If you are a Christian, you can take it as an unchangeable principle that anything that contributes to your growth in holiness is an aspect of God's will for you. And anything that hinders your growth in holiness is not His will. God is interested in having you become like His Son, the Lord Jesus.

Colossians 3:23 is an expression of God's will for your work. It says, "And whatever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men." I think this is especially applicable to young people. Not long ago a member of my congregation remarked that all too often young people interpret a difficulty in their work or their schooling as being an indication that what they are doing is not God's will for them; actually, she said, it is probably God's indication that they should work harder at it. This verse tells us that God wants us to do everything we have to do well.

A principle that is closely related to this one is found in Ephesians 6:5-6: "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear the trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as menpleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." This is for you if you have a difficult boss, or a difficult teacher. The Bible says that it is God's will that you should avoid gossiping about him or her and instead work as well as you are able under his guidance. And you should do it, not only when he is watching, but when he is not watching—as unto the Lord and not unto men.

Perhaps you are saying, "Well, these principles are good, but they do not touch the small things with which I am wrestling." You want to know whether you should go to the movies as a Christian, join a bridge club, make friends with the people at work, join in social drinking, or some other thing. Well, let me give you a final principle that covers most of these. Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Do you see the instruction? God says that you are to pursue the best things in life. If these things are the best things for you, then do them. If not, you are to go another way. Just be sure that you take your guidelines from Scripture.

The third principle is also important. It is the principle of daily and even hourly fellowship with the Lord. Psalm 32:8 states it like this: "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye." Clearly, if God is to guide us with His eye, He must first catch our eye. And this means that we must look to Him regularly throughout the day.

Let me illustrate this by a story. I have a good friend who is a gospel singer and who for many years was a bachelor. He once said, "You know, Jim, it is always easy to find a Christian girl to marry. And it is always easy to find a beautiful girl to marry. But it is not always so easy to find a beautiful, Christian girl to marry." I suppose he was partly right. At any rate, he eventually found a beautiful, Christian girl and married her. And she was perfect in every way but one. The one imperfection lay in the fact that at times she talked with a very shrill voice, especially in the presence of company. And because he was a great baritone singer, her voice often grated on his ears. This was the making of a serious problem in their marriage.

Well, the Lord had given him a great deal of tact among many other talents, and he used his tact to go about the problem in this way. One day he came to his wife and said to her, "Look, dear, do you know the first thing that a drama coach teaches an actress when she begins training?" His wife said, "No." "He teaches her to lower her voice. By nature a woman's voice is shrill, but it becomes warm and pleasing when it is lowered about an octave. A drama coach will teach an actress to say a phrase, count down eight notes, repeat it again, and then practice that repeatedly. I think your voice would be improved if you would do that." When my friend's wife agreed, they arranged a signal by which she would be reminded to lower her voice in the presence of company. The signal was for him to tuck in his chin.

My friend told me that there were times when this produced the funniest effect you could imagine. There they would be, sitting around the dining room table talking, and his wife's voice would be rising higher and higher. He would tuck in his chin and look at her. And then, often right in the middle of one of her sentences, she would catch his eye. She would notice his chin, and her voice would drop like a lead marshmallow and then go on at a pitch one octave lower.

She saw the sign when she looked at her husband. It must be the same in our daily walk with the Lord. The Lord knows that we shall go astray. It is our nature to go astray. Our speech will become unpleasing, or our conduct. And we will always do things that displease Him. But we must get into the habit of looking to Him often—in church, in our quiet time, in the various periods of our day—to catch His eye, to notice His sign. For if we do, we shall find Him watching. He will direct us. And He will guide us with His eye.

Now there is only one more point that I need to make, and it is not difficult at all. If you are serious about knowing the Lord's will and honestly seek it, then you must be prepared for the Lord to guide you into new ways. If there is one thing that I have most learned about the Lord's guidance it is that He does not often lead us in old ways. God is creative. He is infinite. And He is infinite in His plans for His children.

David Wilkerson, the author of The Cross and the Switchblade and a minister who has been greatly blessed in a unique ministry to teenagers in New York City, tells in the opening chapter of his book how he was led in new paths in his ministry. He had been a Pentecostal preacher in central Pennsylvania, and by his personal standards he was doing quite well. The church had grown. There were several new buildings. And yet he was discontent. One day he decided to spend the late evening hours, when he had been used to watching television, praying. He sold the television set after much hesitation and began to spend time with the Lord. He did this for some time. Eventually, out of these times of prayer he was led to begin his work helping the youth caught up in drug addiction and delinquency in Manhattan. God's will for David Wilkerson meant leading a country preacher into the heart and the heartbreak of the city.

It will also be true for you. If you will seek God's will, determining to do it even before you know what it is, if you will look to Him while responding to His voice in the Bible, then God will reveal His way and direct you in ever widening and ever more interesting paths. He will be close to you, and He will lead you in the way that you should go.

© Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Inc. All rights reserved.


by Jay C. Treat

We went up the mountain with Jesus,
but quite unprepared for surprise.
We never expected to see him
transform right in front of our eyes!

His face was as bright as the sunlight,
his clothes were as bright as the skies.
He talked with Elijah and Moses,
who stood right in front of our eyes.

We thought we could build them three temples:
one shrine for the giver of laws,
and one for Elijah the prophet,
and one for this master of ours.

A bright cloud then covered the mountain.
A Voice echoed deep from within,
Said, "This is my son, my beloved one!
He pleases me! Listen to him!"

We came down the mountain with Jesus,
now ready for any surprise.
We're ready to listen and follow
and change right in front of his eyes.

Proper attire is required in the cafeteria at the University of Maine. To enforce that rule, the management posted this notice:

"Shoes are required to eat in this cafeteria."

Next to it, a student added, "Socks can eat wherever they want."

Health Tip: When Infertility Becomes a 'Guy Thing'

How Men Can Combat Declining Fertility Trends

When infertility strikes, it can be a massive source of stress for couples, and many are too quick to assume it’s a female issue.

Alarmingly, the average sperm count for adult males has decreased by 50 percent since 1938 and is currently declining at a rate of 2 percent each year, according to a study in the British Medical Journal. Stress, exposure to environmental toxins and diets deficient in key vitamins and minerals are likely to blame.

"It’s a fact that one in six couples will have difficulty conceiving, but many aren’t aware that almost half the time, it’s the male who is the cause of the problem," said fertility expert, Dr. Amos Grunebaum. "When couples address this issue, it’s been my experience that the woman is the first to see a specialist to determine her fertility status. It’s a little more difficult to get the man on board with doing the same thing. Some men just don’t want to acknowledge that they may have a fertility problem. As such, they are more reluctant to get tested and I have seen a lot of men delay seeing a specialist or even avoid it completely."

Unfortunately, Dr. Grunebaum can confirm these disturbing statistics as he has seen sperm counts decline in his 25+ years of practice.

"From my experience, low sperm count is one of the primary reasons that couples have a difficult time conceiving," said Dr. Grunebaum, also a medical health advisor for Fairhaven Health. "Quite simply, the fewer sperm a man produces, the lower the likelihood that one will successfully fertilize the egg."

However, according to Dr. Grunebaum, there are a variety of ways men can help improve their reproductive health.

"A diet rich in antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E and Zinc can go a long way in improving sperm health. Exercising regularly plus limiting caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco intake can also help a great deal," he added.

While low sperm count is known to be a major cause of infertility, for many men, visiting a doctor or clinic to have a sperm analysis done can be a daunting task.

"The testing process itself can be a little embarrassing and even more so when faced with the prospect of exposing their condition to the doctor, nurse or office staff," he added.

Fortunately, there is now a way to test for low sperm count in the privacy of one’s own home. A new product from Fairhaven Health, the SpermCheck Fertility Test, accurately confirms if a man has a normal count (20 million per milliliter). The test can be completed in a matter of minutes and retails for around $35. Should the SpermCheck at-home test confirm a low count, it’s generally a good indicator that he should see a specialist to help further diagnose the problem.

"There are many benefits from determining early on if sperm count is a problem for you," Dr. Grunebaum said. "The sooner an issue is pinpointed, the sooner proper treatment can be started. Treatments for male infertility typically include lifestyle changes, vitamin, mineral or herbal supplementation, prescription medication, or even surgical procedures. But before any of that can begin, the couple has to be able to communicate and agree to take action."

About Dr. Amos Grunebaum

Dr. Grunebaum is a New York based physician who is double-board certified in obstetrics/gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy). He is recognized as one of New York's foremost Ob/Gyns as evidenced by his regular inclusion in Castle Connolly's 'Top Doctors: New York.' Dr. Grunebaum has helped formulate a number of products for Fairhaven Health, a leading manufacturer of products to help couples conceive.

Read more health tips in Malankara World Health Section

Marriage and Family: A Communion of Love
The Christian married couple, with their children, form an image of the Trinitarian God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Marriage and family life images the Trinity in two ways. First, like the Trinity, marriage is a communion of love between co-equal persons, beginning with husband and wife and extending to all the members of the family. Second, just as Trinity’s love is life-giving, a married couple’s love conceives and cares for children.

In addition to reflecting the Trinity, the family is a microcosm of the Church. The ancient expression “domestic church” accurately describes the family because it is a small communion of persons that draws its sustenance from the larger Church and reflects its life in unique ways. Within this domestic church, parents have a special responsibility to teach children the faith and help them to grow in virtue. The family matures as a domestic church by participating in the life and worship of the larger Church, especially Sunday Eucharist. In the Eucharist, members of the family are most fully united to Christ, to one another, and to their brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Marriage is a vocation, or divine call, as necessary and valuable to the Church as other vocations. Discernment of and preparation for marriage is a process that begins early in life and continues through the engagement period. Because marriage is for the good of the Church and the entire community, the Church and the state have an obligation to help support and sustain marriage.

Source: MARRIAGE: LOVE AND LIFE IN THE DIVINE PLAN. A Pastoral Letter by the Catholic Bishops of the United States

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Tell Your Friends about Malankara World

Malankara World is different. Malankara World''s focus is on our families. Our mission is to help every member of our families. Since family is a microcosm of church, it will have everything that a church focused website will have. But there will be more. We will cover issues that are important to families. What are the things that keep our members awake at night? Is that about their children? taking care of old aged parents? Relationship with their spouses? Breakdown of marriage? Health issues? Balancing work, family and spiritual life? Managing stress?

We will use a combination of technology and harnessing the resources of our people within our church to do that. What we hope to do with Malankara World is to strengthen our families. First, we want to teach them about our faith. What is different about Orthodoxy? We want to start bible and Sunday school classes for all ages through Malankara World and a series on our qurbana. Later we will have support groups for different age and interest groups.

So, please tell your friends about us and ask them to sign up. Since we need a minimum number of people in a geographic region to start a support group and local events, we need to have a large involvement. The only way to make that happen is by your telling us about your friends or asking your friends to register with us. We do not send spam or sell the list. (We hate spam than you do!). Again, to register, Please click here:

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Thank you for your help and support.

Malankara World Team

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