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

Theme: Love of God

Volume 4 No. 192 January 23, 2014

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John 3:16 - God so loved the world ...
God's Eternal Love

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16 (KJV)

The essence of the gospel: God's gift of His Son as the ultimate expression of His love for the world. - Orthodox Study Bible

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword

In the last 10 weeks, we had been analyzing the story of Patriarch Joseph, the Old Testament Hero, whose life closely mirrors that of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. What was most impressive about Joseph was that he had absolute trust in God and had no desire for revenge towards his brothers, who certainly had wronged him and deserved retribution. Joseph merely submitted to the plan of God, saying,

"You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." (Genesis 50:20).

In this issue, we present the last chapter in this series written by Dr. Ray Pritchard. Ray says that Joseph could rise and be forgiving to his brothers and others who treated him bad, because Joseph saw the imprint of God everywhere. It is the providence of God, as he explains. I am sure you are captivated by the story telling ability of Dr. Pritchard and feel a sense of loss at the conclusion of the series. Next week, we will present an article by Monsgr Charles Pope, another of my favorite Christian writers, analyzing the life of Joseph from the 'suffering' perspective. ...

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (January 26)

Bible Readings For The Third Sunday after Denho (Baptism of our Lord)
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_3rd_sunday_after_Denho.htm

3. Sermons for This Sunday (January 26)

Sermons for the Third Sunday After Denho
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_3rd-sunday-after-denaha.htm

4. Inspiration for Today: Joseph, The Dreamer

As you listen to the prologue from Joseph, the Narrator reminds us that in order to make a dream come true we must think it, want it, dream it, and feel it, before it becomes real. The more 'emotion' that we can put into the planning and implementation of the dream, the quicker it will materialize in our reality. We must act in order to actualize the dreams we want to capture. ...

5. Story of Joseph - 10: Can You Trust God With the Details of Your Life?

As we have journeyed through Joseph's story, I have been impressed over and over again that the real hero of Joseph's story is not Joseph. It's God. Joseph's life illustrates perhaps better than any other story in the Bible a profound truth:

"For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28 NKJV).

In many ways Joseph's whole life is the Old Testament illustration of this profound New Testament truth. Deep in our hearts we know that Romans 8:28 must be true. ...

6. God So Loved The World

Whoever takes up fire and flame in the cause of truth has not yet learned truth as it really is. When he has truly learned it then he will cease to be inflamed because of it. God's gift, and the knowledge bestowed by this gift, are never motives for being troubled or raising one's voice. For wherever the Spirit dwells with love and humility is a place where peace alone reigns...

7. The Immensity of God's Love for You

Yet, when it comes to the love of God, that ocean is simply a drop. God's love is so vast, so full, and so powerful that anything else we consider 'big' pales in comparison to its grandeur. And the best part is that this wonderful love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. ...

8. Jesus, World's Greatest Lover

To know and comprehend Christ's love for us, let us compare it to the love of a man. And to magnify our Lord we shall imagine the richest, noblest, kindest, and most perfect man possible. Let us also imagine a poor, despised, and ugly single woman, though such an object is far superior to us as sinners. And we cannot forget that our Jesus is Jehovah God, the eternal Creator, made flesh. Maybe by this imperfect method we shall glimpse a little glimmer of His glorious love. ...

9. Loved, No Matter What

Pat mirrored the character of our heavenly Father when he vowed to always love Mitch and never let him go. Pat was saying to our son as God says to us, "No matter what, I'm here for you."

What a beautiful picture of our key verse. "We love because he first loved us." ...

10. Love Will Lift You

Sometimes nothing can lift our hearts like the love of God. Friends abandon us. Colleagues try to bypass us. Even our families may fail to understand us. But God's love for us never changes.

Even when we act unlovable, God continues to love us. When we are undesirable, He embraces us. When it seems that the world has turned against us, God's love remains. He has promised never to leave us hopeless. ...

11. In The Face of Terrorism and Persecution, Love Wins

While fear is an easy place to jump to and can be motivating, it is usually negative and has a short burn. So, my friend, today I challenge you to choose the eternal motivator: love.

Truly inspired leaders leverage love to inspire others into optimism, action and spreading joy. Love changes individual lives, unites families and transforms organizations. It's important to remember this simple truth when choosing between living in fear or love: love wins. ...

12. Health: Effects of Sugar (Glucose) on Skin

Most people today know antioxidants to be an effective method of fighting age, but few are aware of the biological process underlying for most skin damage – and what directly addresses the problem, says skin-care expert Ron Cummings.

"The word that has been on the minds of dermatologists and other skin-care researchers for many years is glycation, which is what happens on the cellular level to age our skin," says Cummings. ...

13. Recipe: Moroccan-Spiced Carrot and Sorghum Soup

Moroccan-Spiced Carrot and Sorghum Soup is creamy, hearty and chewy -- all, amazingly, without feeling overly heavy. There will be no leftovers. ..

14. Family Special: Three Ways to Improve Our Parenting Skills

We go to school anywhere from 12 to 20 years or more to prepare us for our jobs, yet there's no training for the most difficult job any of us will ever have: being a mom or a dad. You have to pick it up as you go. We do some things right, and we mess other things up. More often than not, I feel like I must be doing something wrong as a father when I don't see my children acting the exact way I want them to.

The key is learning from our mistakes. Here are three simple things that we can focus on in the new year that could have a big impact on our children. ...

15. Personhood, Grace, and the Sanctity of Human Life

Abortion is a polarizing issue in our culture: a moral, political, and religious dividing line that separates ethicists, citizens, and even professing Christians. ...In order to understand the thinking of people who believe abortion is morally permissible, we have to understand the moral arguments pro-choice people make in defense of their position... Their definition of when a fetus is a person...

But a deeper problem with Warren's (and Singer's) definitions of personhood is that they place the inherent worth and value (and thus right to life) in a human beings capacities - capacities of consciousness, rationality, inclination, activity, communication, and self-awareness.

But unique as they are, these capacities are not the most unique things about human beings, nor are they the basis of one's personhood, value, or human rights. The most unique thing about human beings is their distinct relationship to God as their Creator. Human beings are made imago Dei - in the image of God. And the distinctive thing about that relationship is that it depends not on our capacities of consciousness, rationality, or whatever, but on something much deeper and more fundamental to our existence: being known by God. ...

16. About Malankara World

Foreword
I hope that you enjoyed the Malankara World Journal Special Supplement on Christian Persecution in Middle East. As I write this, the two factions in the Syria conflict are meeting in Switzerland; but the fighting continues in Syria. The two sides are deeply divided. But both sides agree that the conflict has left more than 100,000 dead and millions displaced.

World leaders present in Geneva - including Ban Ki-moon, John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov and William Hague - have publicly reminded the warring parties of the real price of this conflict. An "all encompassing disaster" said the UN secretary general, which Russia's foreign minister added had caused "incalculable suffering" to the Syrian people. (BBC)

Mr Ban Ki-moon spoke of the suffering in Syria, saying: "Enough is enough. The time has come to negotiate." He added: "We have a difficult road ahead, but it can be done and it must be done."

This is the first time that both sides are meeting face to face. No one gives any hope for any settlement from the talks. But there is always hope that something positive may come. Remember Nathaniel's question, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" When we least expect it, God can perform miracles if that is what His plan is.

In the last 10 weeks, we had been analyzing the story of Patriarch Joseph, the Old Testament Hero, whose life closely mirrors that of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. What was most impressive about Joseph was that he had absolute trust in God and had no desire for revenge towards his brothers, who certainly had wronged him and deserved retribution. Joseph merely submitted to the plan of God, saying,

"You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." (Genesis 50:20).

In this issue, we present the last chapter in this series written by Dr. Ray Pritchard. Ray says that Joseph could rise and be forgiving to his brothers and others who treated him bad, because Joseph saw the imprint of God everywhere. It is the providence of God, as he explains. I am sure you are captivated by the story telling ability of Dr. Pritchard and feel a sense of loss at the conclusion of the series. Next week, we will present an article by Monsgr Charles Pope, another of my favorite Christian writers, analyzing the life of Joseph from the 'suffering' perspective.

This week's Gospel reading concerns the secret meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus, a member of Sanhedrin, and an influential Pharisee. Jesus tells him about the need for transformation. This week, Dr. Ravi Zacharias had a historic meeting with the Mormon Church heads in Salt Lake City. He gave a talk about, "What does it mean to be a Human" at the Brigham Young University. Dr. Ravi, originally from Kerala, said there are four stages to the development of Human, viz.,

Creation
Incarnation
Transformation and
Consummation

Interestingly, Dr. Ravi pointed out regarding Incarnation, that Isaiah prophesied "unto us a child is born"; but on Christmas day, a son is given and a child is born. I never thought of the difference. A son is ever-existent. He was there at the creation of the world. He took human form (incarnated) and was born on Christmas Day. So, what we have is a birth of a child - but the Son of God was there all along.

After incarnation comes the transformation. This is to be accomplished by the Holy Spirit. It is a new birth facilitated by Holy Spirit as Jesus explained to Nicodemus. The Gospel talks about repentance. We all have a problem; we got separated from the creator due to sin and we need to mend the fences by repentance (confession) and have a new birth. This is where our sacrament of baptism comes into play. Pope Francis, last week (Jan 15 2014) talked about the importance of baptism for Christians. Pope said an important fruit of this Sacrament is that it makes us members of the Body of Christ and of the People of God. Let me quote Pope Francis:

St Thomas Aquinas states that whoever receives Baptism is incorporated in Christ, almost as one of his own limbs, and becomes aggregated to the community of the faithful, that is, the People of God. .. Baptism allows us to enter the People of God, to become members of a People on a journey, a people on pilgrimage through history.

In effect, as from generation to generation, life is transmitted, so too from generation to generation, through rebirth at the baptismal font, grace is transmitted, and by this grace the Christian People journeys through time, like a river that irrigates the land and spreads God’s blessing throughout the world. From the moment that Jesus said what we heard in the Gospel Reading, the disciples went out to baptize; and from that time until today there is a chain in the transmission of the faith through Baptism. And each one of us is a link in that chain: a step forward, always; like a river that irrigates. Such is the grace of God and such is our faith, which we must transmit to our sons and daughters, transmit to children, so that once adults, they can do the same for their children. This is what Baptism is. Why? Because Baptism lets us enter this People of God that transmits the faith. This is very important. A People of God that journeys and hands down the faith. ...

Upon receiving faith and Baptism, we Christians accept the action of the Holy Spirit who leads to confessing Jesus as Son of God and calling God ‘Abba’, Father.... All of us who are baptized ... are called to live and transmit communion with the Trinity, for evangelization is a calling to participate in the communion of the Trinity.

No one is saved by himself. We are the community of believers, we are the People of God and in this community we share the beauty of the experience of a love that precedes us all, but that at the same time calls us to be "channels" of grace for one another, despite our limitations and our sins. The communitarian dimension is not just a "frame", an "outline", but an integral part of Christian life, of witness and of evangelization. The Christian faith is born and lives in the Church, and in Baptism families and parishes celebrate the incorporation of a new member in Christ and in his Body which is the Church.

So, the transformation, or "born again" or "new birth" happens at our baptism. Holy Spirit does the transformation. We become part of the Body of Christ when we undergo baptism and then accept the qurbano, the body and blood of Christ. Once this transformation takes place, we will produce the fruits of Holy Spirit and the greatest of these is Love. We learn of God's unconditional love or "agape love". We become sons and daughters of God and eligible for the eternal life.

In this issue of the MW Journal, we look at the 'Love of God' from the most famous verse in the bible, viz., John 3:16:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16 (KJV)

The Orthodox Study Bible calls this verse as "the essence of the gospel: God's gift of His Son as the ultimate expression of His love for the world." The articles in the Journal looks at this from different perspectives. God's love has no bounds; it cannot be compared to anything we experience or imagine as humans.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (January 26)

Third Sunday after Denho (Baptism of our Lord)

Evening

Morning

Before Holy Qurbana

Holy Qurbana

Sermons for This Sunday (January 26)
This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: Joseph, The Dreamer
As you listen to the prologue from Joseph, the Narrator reminds us that in order to make a dream come true we must think it, want it, dream it, and feel it, before it becomes real. The more 'emotion' that we can put into the planning and implementation of the dream, the quicker it will materialize in our reality. We must act in order to actualize the dreams we want to capture.

Multi-color Dreamcoat of Joseph
Joseph's Dreamcoat

Lyrics from: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Narrator

Some folks dream of the wonders they'll do
Before their time on this planet is through
Some just don't have anything planned
They hide their hopes and their heads in the sand

Now I don't say who is wrong, who is right
But if by chance you are here for the night
Then all I need is an hour or two
To tell the tale of a dreamer like you

We all dream a lot - some are lucky, some are not
But if you think it, want it, dream it, then it's real
You are what you feel

But all that I say can be told another way
In the story of a boy whose dream came true

Source: Napoleon Hill Yesterday & Today, Purdue University

Story of Joseph
10: Can You Trust God With the Details of Your Life?

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Scripture: Genesis 50:20

Do all things really work together for good? Consider the following:

  • A baby is born with serious birth defects. The doctors tell the distraught parents she won't live more than a few hours. When the parents take the baby home, the doctors tell them not to bring her back because there is nothing they can do. A few months later she dies.

  • In the Central African Republic, roving gangs of Muslims with machetes and guns have killed hundreds of fleeing Christians. "They are slaughtering us like chickens," one man said.

  • Feeling the call of God, a man and his wife and their young son move to Benghazi, Libya so he can teach in the International School where he is greatly beloved by his students. He sends his wife and young son home to the US while he stays behind to be with the students through their midterm exams. One day while he is out jogging near his home, some men in a black vehicle pull up and start shooting. They drive away, leaving his dead body on the street. He was only 33 years old.

  • A young man with a heart for God starts seminary, dreaming of the day when he can serve the Lord. Three months before graduation, his wife announces she is leaving him. "I don't want to be a pastor's wife." She divorces him and walks out of his life.

  • A police officer stops a man known to be a drug dealer. It happens on a busy downtown street and a crowd gathers to watch the unfolding drama. There is a struggle and somehow the drug dealer grabs the officer's gun. Someone in the crowd yells, "Shoot him, man." He does, at point-blank range, in the face. The officer was in his early twenties.

  • A youth group returns from a week of summer camp. When they are only one mile from home, the bus crashes as it exits the freeway, hitting a concrete abutment and rolling over. Dozens are injured. The youth pastor, his wife, and their unborn baby are killed in the crash along with one of the adult counselors, a mother of five children.

These stories are all true. I am sure you could add many others to the list.

Of all the questions that trouble the hearts of God's people, none is the greater than the question Why? No matter how many sermons we hear or how many Bible verses we memorize, the question returns again and again.

Why did this happen?
Lord, why didn't you answer our prayers?

When we see the pain of a fallen world, we wonder, "Where is God?" Over the centuries the greatest minds have wrestled with the problem of pain and suffering and still the questions come:

Why me?
Why now?
Why this?

A few months ago when we started our series on Joseph, I said that we were going to ask and answer nine crucial questions. These are fundamental questions that we all have to answer sooner or later. Some of them we will face many times. Here are the first eight questions:

1 Do you know why you were born?
2 Do you know who you are?
3 Are you willing to wait for God?
4 How big is your God?
5 Are you ready to face your past?
6 Do you want to be set free?
7 Are you satisfied with God?
8 How will you be remembered?

Here is the ninth and final question:

9 Can you trust God with the details of your life?

As we have journeyed through Joseph's story, I have been impressed over and over again that the real hero of Joseph's story is not Joseph. It's God. Joseph's life illustrates perhaps better than any other story in the Bible a profound truth:

"For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28 NKJV).

In many ways Joseph's whole life is the Old Testament illustration of this profound New Testament truth. Deep in our hearts we know that Romans 8:28 must be true.

Still the questions hang in the air. We wonder why things happen the way they do, why a teacher in Libya is shot and killed, why the bus didn't make it to the church, why the baby was born with such disabilities.

Why do these things happen? Why do they happen to good, decent people? Why do they happen to people who love the Lord?

Providence Defined

There is a doctrine that helps us understand. If it does not answer every question, at least it provides the only possible basis for understanding. It is the doctrine of the providence of God. In English the word "providence" has two parts. It's pro and video put together, literally meaning "to see before." Though the word itself is not found in most modern translations of the Bible, the concept is certainly biblical. It refers to "God's gracious oversight of the universe." Every one of those words is important. God's providence is one aspect of his grace. Oversight means that he directs the course of affairs. The word universe tells us that God not only knows the big picture, he also concerns himself with the tiniest details.

Here are five statements that unfold the meaning of God's providence in more detail:

He upholds all things.
He governs all events.
He directs everything to its appointed end.
He does this all the time and in every circumstance.
He does it always for His own glory.

The doctrine of God's Providence teaches us several important truths: First, God cares about the tiniest details of life. Nothing escapes his notice for he is concerned about the small as well as the big. In fact, with God there is no big or small. He knows when a sparrow falls and he numbers the hairs on your head. He keeps track of the stars in the skies and the rivers that flow to the oceans. He sets the day of your birth, the day of your death, and he ordains everything that comes to pass in between. Second, he uses everything and wastes nothing. There are no accidents with God, only incidents. This includes events that seem to us to be senseless tragedies. Third, God's ultimate purpose is to shape His children into the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). He often uses difficult moments and human tragedies to accomplish that purpose.

Many verses in the Bible teach these truths, including Acts 17:28 ("in him we live and move and have our being"), Colossians 1:17 ("in him all things hold together"), Hebrews 1:3 ("He upholds the universe by the word of his power"), Proverbs 16:9 ("The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps"), and especially Psalm 115:3, ("Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases").

The doctrine of God's providence is really a combination of four other attributes:

Sovereignty - He is in control
Predestination - He is in charge of how everything turns out
Wisdom - He makes no mistakes
Goodness - He has our best interests at heart

In the words of R.C. Sproul, "God doesn't roll dice." Nothing happens by chance. Ever.

Think of providence as "the invisible hand" of God moving through the circumstances of life.

Providence Illustrated

With that as background, we turn to consider the story of Joseph one final time. It goes something like this. Because Joseph was the favored son of his father Jacob, he was the object of envy by his many brothers. The day came when his brothers conspired to sell him to the Midianites who happened to be passing by. They splashed his "coat of many colors" with the blood of a goat in order to make it appear that he had been killed by a wild animal. They showed the coat to Jacob, who believed their lie and sorrowfully concluded that Joseph was dead.

Meanwhile Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Midianites. There he was sold again, this time to Potiphar, who was head of Pharaoh's security force. Genesis 39 tells us that Joseph gained favor with Potiphar because the Lord was with him to bless him. Eventually Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his entire household. This was a high honor for a Hebrew slave. Because he was competent, confident, and good-looking, Potiphar's wife approached him about having a sexual affair. Joseph refused, pointing out that he could not betray Potiphar and he would not sin against God. The woman persisted, to the point that one day when everyone else was gone, she attempted to pull him down on her bed. Joseph fled from the scene, leaving his cloak behind. Humiliated by his refusal, she accused him of rape. It was a false charge, of course, but Potiphar believed his wife and had Joseph thrown in prison.

In prison Joseph prospered once again and gained the respect of his fellow prisoners and of the guards. This happened because the Lord was with him to bless him. Eventually the cupbearer and the baker were thrown in the same prison and Joseph befriended them. One night they both had dreams they could not interpret. But Joseph was able to interpret them with the Lord's help. The dreams came true exactly as Joseph had predicted - the baker was hung but the cupbearer was released. Joseph asked him to remember him after he was out, but he didn't.

Two years passed and Pharaoh had a dream that he could not interpret. That's when the cupbearer remembered Joseph's amazing ability and mentioned it to Pharaoh who ordered Joseph brought before him. Joseph correctly interpreted his dream and was rewarded by Pharaoh, who made him the Prime Minister of Egypt. Not bad for a Hebrew slave who had been sold into slavery by his brothers!

Eventually a famine settled on the Near East. Jacob told his sons to go to Egypt and buy some grain. They go and in the process meet Joseph - only they don't know it's Joseph. This happens twice. Then Joseph reveals his true identity. They are shocked and then scared because they betrayed him and now he is in a position to get even. But Joseph doesn't do that. In fact, he stuns them with these words:

And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt (Genesis 45:5-8).

But that's not the end of the story. The brothers go back to Canaan and tell their aged father that Joseph is still alive. He can't believe it, but eventually they convince him to come to Egypt with them. He makes the trip and is reunited with the son he had given up for dead many years ago. Then he meets the Pharaoh who offers to let Joseph's family settle in Egypt for as long as they like. The family settles in Egypt and lives in peace there for many years. Finally Jacob dies at the age of 147. Now it's just Joseph and his brothers. They fear that with Jacob's death Joseph will be free to take revenge on them. So they tell Joseph, "Oh, by the way, before Dad died he told us to tell you to treat us kindly." It sounds like just one more deception to cover their guilt.

Listen to Joseph's response. These are the words of a man who believes in the providence of God.

But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:19-20).

How could Joseph talk like that after all that happened to him? The answer is simple:

He saw God everywhere!

Look how Joseph says it: "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good." Both sides of that statement are true.

"You meant evil against me" - what the bothers had done was indeed evil and Joseph doesn't sugarcoat the truth. They are 100% responsible for their sin.

"God meant it for good" - this doesn't mean that evil isn't evil. It just means that God is able to take the evil actions of sinful men and use them to accomplish his plans.

Joseph saw the "invisible hand" of God at work in his life. He understood that behind his conniving brothers stood the Lord God who had orchestrated the entire affair in order to get him to just the right place at just the right moment in order to save his whole family.

Providence Applied

Joseph is saying, "Though your motives were bad, God's motives were good." Though it took years and years for God's purposes to be clear, in the end Joseph saw the hand of God behind everything that had happened to him.

Think about the implications of that statement:

At just the right moment his brothers threw him into the cistern.
At just the right moment the Midianites came along.
At just the right moment he was sold to Potiphar.
At just the right moment Potiphar's wife falsely accused him.
At just the right moment he met the baker and the cupbearer.
At just the right moment the cupbearer remembered Joseph.
At just the right moment Pharaoh called for him.
At just the right moment he was promoted to Prime Minister.
At just the right moment Jacob sent his sons to Egypt.
At just the right moment the brothers met Joseph.
At just the right moment Jacob's family moved to Egypt.
At just the right moment Pharaoh offered them the land of Goshen.
At just the right moment they settled there and prospered.

All of this happened at "just the right moment" and in "just the right way" so that the right people would be in the right place so that in the end everything would come out the way God had ordained in the beginning. God never violated anyone's free will, yet everything happened as he had planned. That's the providence of God in action.

When Charles Spurgeon preached about Joseph's life, he repeated the details at great length. Then he pointed out that everything in Joseph's life had to happen in a particular way. He spoke of the chain of circumstances that led Joseph from the pit to the palace at just the right time. Then he concluded that "God is to be seen in small things." He also used a wonderful expression that I find personally encouraging. He spoke of the "minutiae of providence." If we look with the eyes of faith, we can see God's fingerprints everywhere.

I began this sermon by saying that the final question from Joseph's life is,

"Can you trust God with the details of your life?"

But that's not quite the right question. We need to change one word.

Not "Can you?" but "Will you?"

"Will you trust God with the details of your life?"

There's another way to say this. Either you run the universe or he does. A lot of people try to run the universe, but it never works out very well. Or you can bow before the Lord and say, "You are in charge. I am not. I will trust you with every detail of my life."

He Maketh No Mistake

In the 1920s a young man named A. M. Overton became the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Baldwyn, Mississippi. I happen to know a little about Baldwyn because we lived for seven years in nearby Tupelo. Baldwyn is a small community in north Mississippi on the road between Tupelo and Corinth. Back in the 1920s Baldwyn was just a tiny place. In 1932 Mrs. Overton was pregnant with their fourth child, but when it came time for delivery there were complications and both she and the baby died. During the funeral, the preacher officiating the service noticed Pastor Overton writing something on a piece of paper. After the service the minister asked him about it, and he handed him the paper with a poem he had just written. The poem was unknown for many years until someone set it to music. It eventually went around the world. The poem is called "He Maketh No Mistake."

My Father's way may twist and turn
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I'm glad to know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead,
For He doth know the way.

Tho' night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break,
I'll pin my faith, my all, in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There's so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight's far too dim,
But come what may,
I'll simply trust and leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift,
And plain it all He'll make,
Through all the way, tho' dark to me,
He made not one mistake.

That will be the testimony of every child of God. When we finally get to heaven, we'll look back over the pathway of life and see that through all the twists and turns and seeming detours that he was with us all the way.

Until that morning comes and the sunlight of God's presence fills our faces, we move on through the twilight still believing that though life is hard, God is good. In the end we will say with all the children of God as we look back on our earthly pilgrimage, "He made not one mistake."

Fear not!
We have a great God!

Stay tuned. There is more to come, but we will have to wait until we get to heaven. Joseph will tell us the rest of the story in his own words.

Next Week: What We Can Learn About Suffering in the Story of Joseph by Msgr. Charles Pope
After the 10 week series by Dr. Ray Pritchard who has dissected the story all possible angles, can we learn anything new? You bet. Read the story from Monsgr (Fr) Charles Pope's perspective.

God So Loved The World

by Isaac the Syrian (7th century), monk near Mosul, saint of the Orthodox churches

"God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son" - John 3:16

Whoever takes up fire and flame in the cause of truth has not yet learned truth as it really is. When he has truly learned it then he will cease to be inflamed because of it. God's gift, and the knowledge bestowed by this gift, are never motives for being troubled or raising one's voice. For wherever the Spirit dwells with love and humility is a place where peace alone reigns...

If fiery zeal had been any use for our restoration, why would God have put on a mortal body and used gentleness and humble means to convert the world to his Father? And why would he have stretched himself out on the cross for sinners or delivered up his most holy body to suffering for the sake of the world? For my part, I attest that God could only have done so for one reason: to make his love known to the world so that our capacity for love, already increased by such an event, might be made captive to his own love. In this way the admirable power of the Kingdom of heaven, which consists in love, found an outlet for expression in his Son's death... that the world might be assured of God's love for his creation. If this wonderful deed had no other purpose than the remission of our sins some other means would have been enough to bring it about. Who would have refused it if he had fulfilled it just by dying, without anything else? But he did not want just to die that you might understand the mystery...

Why were insults and spitting needed?... O wisdom, giving life! Now you have understood and experienced the purpose of our Lord's coming and of everything that followed from it even before he had explained it clearly to us from his own lips. For it is written that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son."

Source: Chapters on knowledge, IV, 77-78

The Immensity of God's Love for You

by Dr. Jack Graham

… God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Whenever I have a chance to go to the ocean and look out all the way to the horizon, I'm in awe of the greatness of God. It's hard to imagine, then, that at sea level you can only see a little over three miles. And it's even harder to imagine that what you're seeing is less than a billionth of a percent of all the oceans in the world!

And that's just the surface area. When you add in the fact that over half of the ocean is more than 10,000 feet deep, the vastness of our planet is astounding. It's so big, in fact, that scientists estimate that we have only discovered about a tenth of the species found in the ocean!

Yet, when it comes to the love of God, that ocean is simply a drop. God's love is so vast, so full, and so powerful that anything else we consider 'big' pales in comparison to its grandeur. And the best part is that this wonderful love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

I've visited prisons where I've seen people that society would say are unlovely. But God loves every person… and there is nothing that you can do to make God love you more or less. The love of God is not conditioned upon you. God loves you because it is His nature to love. So share His love with others no matter how 'unlovely' they may be!

GOD'S LOVE IS BIGGER THAN YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE. SO SHARE HIS LOVE WITH OTHERS EACH DAY NO MATTER HOW 'UNLOVELY' THEY ARE!

Source: Powerpoint Devotional

Jesus, World's Greatest Lover
Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-19

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit-not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength-that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (The Message)

To know and comprehend Christ's love for us, let us compare it to the love of a man. And to magnify our Lord we shall imagine the richest, noblest, kindest, and most perfect man possible. Let us also imagine a poor, despised, and ugly single woman, though such an object is far superior to us as sinners. And we cannot forget that our Jesus is Jehovah God, the eternal Creator, made flesh. Maybe by this imperfect method we shall glimpse a little glimmer of His glorious love. I justify my method by Ephesians 5:32.

Man: I have chosen you from obscurity and poverty to be my wife.
Jesus: I have chosen you from death and pollution for love (Ezekiel 16:1-8).

Man: I love you.
Jesus: I love you (John 15:9; Malachi 1:2-3).

Man: I have loved you since I first saw you on the street.
Jesus: I have loved you from before the world began with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3).

Man: I will love you forever - or at least until I die.
Jesus: I have already and will love you eternally (II Thess 2:16; Romans 8:38-39).

Man: When you look at me like that, I just have to love you back.
Jesus: I loved you when you hated me, and I never thought of giving up (Rom 5:8,10).

Man: If you love another, then our deal is off.
Jesus: If you love another, then I will win you back (Jeremiah 3:12-14; Hosea 11:1-4).

Man: I am the richest man in the world - at least for this year according to Forbes.
Jesus: I created the heavens and the earth and own everything in them (Psalm 50:10-12).

Man: I sit on the Board of Directors of seven companies.
Jesus: I am the King of kings and Lord of lords (I Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:15).

Man: Others consider me attractive.
Jesus: I am Beauty (Zechariah 9:17; 11:7; Psalm 27:4; 90:17; Revelation 1:17).

Man: I have brown eyes.
Jesus: My eyes are like a flame of fire (Revelation 19:12).

Man: I have brown hair.
Jesus: My hair is white like wool but covered with many crowns (Rev 1:14; 19:12).

Man: I will try to always tell the truth.
Jesus: I am the Truth (John 14:6; Revelation 19:11).

Man: I will try to always be faithful.
Jesus: I am Faithful (Revelation 19:11)

Man: If you will help me, I will try not to do wrong.
Jesus: I cannot do wrong (Hebrews 1:9; 7:26).

Man: Some say I am romantic. Let me read this little poem I have been working on.
Jesus: I wrote and am the ultimate fulfillment of Song of Solomon (Ephesians 5:32).

Man: I can be quite passionate.
Jesus: I am Passion (Romans 5:6-8; Luke 22:44; Hebrews 5:7-8).

Man: I promise to never lie to you.
Jesus: I cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

Man: I will make you happy for the rest of your life.
Jesus: I will make you happy for eternity (Psalm 16:11; Revelation 21:4).

Man: If you will tell me your needs, I will try to take care of them.
Jesus: I can supply all your needs according to my riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

Man: Others say I am compassionate and merciful.
Jesus: I gave myself for you (John 10:11).

Man: I will try to give you security.
Jesus: I have you in my hand, and we are both in my Father's hand (John 10:28-30).

Man: I will learn to appreciate your good features.
Jesus: I make you perfect, and I will greatly desire your beauty (Ps 45:11; Eph 5:26-27).

Man: I think my parents will like you.
Jesus: My Father has always loved you (John 3:16).

Man: I have learned your tastes in food, clothing, and entertainment.
Jesus: I know the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30).

Man: I think I know how you think.
Jesus: I know the thoughts and intents of your heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Man: I gave up many beautiful women for you.
Jesus: I gave up heaven's throne and died a crucifixion death for you (Philippians 2:5-8).

Man: I will ignore your faults.
Jesus: I will take away your sins and faults forever (Ephesians 5:27; Jude 24).

Man: I am very forgiving.
Jesus: I have already forgiven you, even for the future (I John 2:12; Colossians 2:13).

Man: Try not to fail in the same way more than once or twice.
Jesus: I will forgive you no matter how many times you fail (Matt 6:14; 18:22; Is 55:7).

Man: If you defy me, I will have to restrict your activities.
Jesus: If you deny me, I cannot deny myself; I will yet love you the same (Ps 89:30-37).

Man: I will try to forget what you have done to offend me.
Jesus: I cannot remember your offences (Hebrews 8:12).

Man: You look so good tonight.
Jesus: You are perfect forever - I only see absolute perfection (Col 1:22; Rev 19:8).

Man: I will give you the rest of my life - when I am not attending to business.
Jesus: I will give you myself for eternity (Romans 8:17).

Man: I will try not to change.
Jesus: I cannot change (Hebrews 13:8).

Man: My health is good - we should have several years together.
Jesus: I cannot die; I live forever (Revelation 1:18; Deuteronomy 32:40; I Tim 6:16).

Man: Whenever you need me, I will try to come home immediately.
Jesus: I will always be in and with you (John 14:16-18).

Man: When I have to be out of town, I will leave my chauffeur with you.
Jesus: I and my Father will live with you and in you by my Spirit (John 16:7).

Man: No matter where you go, I will try to find you.
Jesus: No matter where you go, I am there (Psalm 139:5-10; Jer 23:24; Matthew 28:20).

Man: You will never have to work again.
Jesus: You will never be sick, cry, or die (Revelation 21:4).

Man: I want to learn about your life to understand your perspective on things.
Jesus: I can relate perfectly to your life for I lived it already (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Man: I will give you your own bodyguard.
Jesus: I own principalities and powers in both worlds and give you my angel (Eph 1:21-22; Prov 34:7).

Man: I would love to hear your dreams.
Jesus: I know every thought and intent and desire of your heart (Psalm 139:2-4; 44:21).

Man: I want to get to know you.
Jesus: I know everything about you and care about every detail (Psalm 139:15-18).

Man: I think I will be able to surprise and please you often.
Jesus: I can do exceeding abundantly above anything you can ask or think (Eph 3:20).

Man: I will let nothing come between us - except death or desertion, of course.
Jesus: Nothing can separate you from my love (John 10:28-30; Romans 8:33-37).

Man: Tell me your fears, and I will try to make them go away.
Jesus: There is absolutely nothing to fear, for I am with thee (Hebrews 13:6).

Man: I will pay off your father's debts and give him a job.
Jesus: I destroyed your captor with everlasting destruction (Col 2:13-15; Heb 2:14-15).

Man: I will try to be sensitive to your needs.
Jesus: I am Compassion, and I know all your needs before you ask (Matthew 6:31-32).

Man: I need to admit a couple failed relationships some time ago.
Jesus: I have loved only you and will always love only you (Deut 7:6-8; 10:14-15).

Man: I will give you the best health care as you get older.
Jesus: I will give you an incorruptible body to live forever (I Cor 15:51-57; Phil 3:21).

Man: I am sorry if you get cancer or other fatal disease. I will not be able to help.
Jesus: I can heal your cancer or take you to our mansion early (Psalms 103:3; Isaiah 57:1-2)?

Man: I will give you the best burial in the best cemetery.
Jesus: I will redeem your body from the grave (Romans 8:23; Job 19:25-27).

Man: When I die, you will get my assets - after estate taxes, of course.
Jesus: I died already to give you everything to enjoy with me (Rom 8:32). I live forever.

Man: Will you sign this prenuptial?
Jesus: I am all yours forever and cannot deny Myself (II Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 13:5).

Man: I will invite you sometimes to accompany me at state functions as my wife.
Jesus: I have made you a king and priest to God forever (Revelation 1:6).

Man: Do you like the last name of Johnson - son of John?
Jesus: Do you like the last name of God's son - son of God (I John 3:1)?

Man: I cannot do more than marry you. Are you happy?
Jesus: I am marrying you, but I have also adopted you as my legal daughter (Rom 8:15; Eph 1:5).

Man: We will have our wedding dinner at the Ritz Carlton in New York.
Jesus: We will have the marriage supper of the Lamb with the host of heaven (Revelation 19:9).

Man: Photographers from "People Magazine" and "60 Minutes" will be there.
Jesus: Countless saints and angels, four beasts, and my Father will be there (Revelation 7:9-12).

Man: I will wear a white tuxedo at our wedding.
Jesus: I will ride a white horse at our wedding (Revelation 19:11).

Man: You may feel a little intimidated by the other women who will be there.
Jesus: I have loved you - women will adore and envy you (Revelation 3:9; Isaiah 43:4; 49:22-23).

Man: I have arranged all my business for us to have a two-week honeymoon.
Jesus: I have arranged heaven for us to live in pleasure forever (Revelation 22:1-5).

Man: We can build a house in Hawaii.
Jesus: I am building a mansion for you in heaven (John 14:2-3).

Man: I hope nothing happens to our relationship.
Jesus: Not anything in heaven or in earth can affect our relationship (Romans 8:34-39).

Man: "Till death do us part."
Jesus: At death I will take you to a mansion to love you forever (John 14:2-3; Phil 1:21).

Man: Look in my eyes and see my love.
Jesus: Look at my hands and my feet and see my love (John 20:26-28; Revelation 5:6).

Man: With this ring . . . I thee wed.
Jesus: With this blood . . . I thee wed (Revelation 5:9; I Peter 1:18-19).

Source: www.letgodbetrue.com

Loved, No Matter What

by Micca Monda Campbell

"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19 (NIV)

I don't recall what my son did. I just remember his reaction to my husband Pat's discipline. It was unlike any time before.

"You're not my dad!" Mitch screamed with rage. "I hate you, I hate you!" he added between sobs.

I was shocked as I watched the two of them battle out their affections. I had never seen our son behave that way before. He was completely out of control and overwhelmed with anger, fear and pain. He had lost one dad in death. Could he trust this one?

Pat fell to his knees and embraced our son. Mitch fought him. Without letting go, Pat spoke calmly, "You can hate me if you want, but I will always love you." Pat struggled to keep his arms around Mitch as he tried to pull loose. "You're my son. I will never leave you-no matter what."

With every word Pat whispered into Mitch's ear as he held him tightly, Mitch's fears began to melt away. Suddenly, his body relaxed and he returned his father's embrace.

It was a defining moment for us all. In that instant, our faces still wet with tears, we realized Mitch had let down his guard. He began to believe in his father, to accept his father's love, and to offer love in return. He didn't do it because Pat was his playmate or because he filled a certain role in Mitch's life. He did so because he had been loved even though he had rejected that love at first.

Pat mirrored the character of our heavenly Father when he vowed to always love Mitch and never let him go. Pat was saying to our son as God says to us, "No matter what, I'm here for you."

What a beautiful picture of our key verse. "We love because he first loved us."

Our heavenly Father is not some far away God. He is near to us and we can approach Him, regardless of our needs. Our Father wants to be involved in every detail of our lives. He wants to know and share in our joys and our pains. Mostly, God wants us to know He loves us and there's not a thing we can do to change that.

I find it interesting that the word "Father," referring to God, is often translated "Papa" or "Daddy" in Scripture. These expressions of endearment comfort me as I equate them to my earthly dad. But perhaps you've never had an earthly father to turn to in times of celebration or sorrow.

Maybe your dad was absent and uncaring instead of loving and available to you. If so, you've discovered that not all people love sincerely and you've been hurt. I'm so sorry and I'm praying today that you'll believe this truth: no matter what you've done, or what's been done to you, you have a heavenly Father and you can cry out "Daddy!" any time, any place, anywhere.

His love is unconditional. Will you allow God to wrap His loving arms around you and wash away all your fears as He whispers to your heart, "I'm here for you-no matter what" today?

Dear Lord, thank You for Your unconditional love. Please give me the grace I need to stop fighting and to receive Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Begin a relationship with your Heavenly Father

An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears by Micca Campbell

Reflect and Respond:

Do you fight God's affections or do you accept His love daily?

Make this your prayer each day until you grasp the reality and wonder of knowing that God truly loves you!

I pray, Father, that out of Your glorious riches You may strengthen me with power through Your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge; that I may be filled of measure of all the fullness of God. (based on Ephesians 3:16-19)

Power Verses:

Psalm 36:7, "How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings." (NIV)

Psalm 136:26, "Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever." (NIV)

Source: Encouragement for Today; © 2012 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Love Will Lift You

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Love lifts a broken heart - not just any love, but the love of God. Many of us have sung James Rowe's hymn, "Love Lifted Me." The first verse contains these words:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more.
But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me - now safe am I.
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help, love lifted me!

Sometimes nothing can lift our hearts like the love of God. Friends abandon us. Colleagues try to bypass us. Even our families may fail to understand us. But God's love for us never changes.

Even when we act unlovable, God continues to love us. When we are undesirable, He embraces us. When it seems that the world has turned against us, God's love remains. He has promised never to leave us hopeless.

Difficulties in life can certainly leave us feeling broken and confused. Many times, disappointments come in order to teach us more about the depths of God's love. In desperation, we turn to God. This is when we discover that only His love can truly lift us up and restore our sense of hope.

We may struggle to find another way around our problems, hoping that someone or something will bring relief, but nothing can help us outside the love of God. Only His love has the ability to satisfy our every need.

Maybe you are wondering if God really loves you. Have you yielded to sin? Or have you allowed the world and its trappings to come between you and your Savior? Cry out to Him and He will restore the joy of your salvation. When nothing else can help, love will lift you.

Prayer: Dear God, heal the broken and hurting places in my heart, soul and mind, that I may focus my hope and vision on Your unfailing love. As I train my eyes on You, restore the joy of my salvation. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:8).

Source: My Devotional © 2013 Leading The Way

In The Face of Terrorism and Persecution, Love Wins

by John O'Leary, RisingAbove.com

"Loving can cost a lot, but not loving costs more. Those who fear to love often find that want of love is an emptiness that robs the joy from life." – Merle Shain

The tragic bombings in Boston dampened an event intended to celebrate the best of human achievement. It weighs heavily on our hearts today and will forever affect those who were either injured or lost loved ones.

Terror has that impact.

It propels us toward fear. In fact, fear is both the motivator and the result of terrorism. In these tragic times, we could let ourselves be overwhelmed with fear.

But there's an alternative view that I challenge you to strive for today.

While fear is an easy place to jump to and can be motivating, it is usually negative and has a short burn. So, my friend, today I challenge you to choose the eternal motivator: love.

Truly inspired leaders leverage love to inspire others into optimism, action and spreading joy. Love changes individual lives, unites families and transforms organizations. It's important to remember this simple truth when choosing between living in fear or love: love wins.

At first, this may seem too simple for either the depth of a tragedy or the challenges you face in your own life, but history suggests otherwise. There are innumerable examples of despair and brutality that are retaliated with the weapons of hope, a path forward paved with love and it's impact clearly illustrated.

One example occurred in 1956 when Martin Luther King Jr.'s house was bombed. That day he had publicly started supporting a little unknown lady named Rosa Parks. Because of his beliefs, someone tried to destroy his house and silence his voice. Although he wasn't at the house, his wife and young child were. King raced home, comforted them and then spoke to an angry mob of his supporters gathered in his front yard. These people wanted revenge on those who had instigated the bombing. King had to choose between fear and love. This is what he said:

"If you have weapons, take them home; if you do not have them, please do not seek to get them. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with nonviolence. Remember the words of Jesus: 'He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword'. We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. He still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: 'Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.' This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love. Remember, if I am stopped, this movement will not stop, because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance."

In the battle for racial equality: love wins.

In the battle to grow as individuals, or to repair broken relationships, or to communicate more effectively, or to forgive past wrongs, or to create vibrant corporate cultures, or to grow sales, or to create schools that excel, or to lead hospitals that heal, or to ignite the possibilities in others, or to overcome cowardly acts of terrorism: love wins.

Love has that impact.

My friend, in the midst of the fear over terrorism and all of the challenges you face, remember: love wins. I encourage you to take this message with you into the weekend. Let your fear be overwhelmed and replaced with love; love that you find this weekend in the joyful sounds of your family, friends and the sights and sounds during this new season of spring. Carry this love with you and know that the best truly is yet to come.

Health Tip: Effects of Sugar (Glucose) on Skin

Anti-Glycation: the Next Level in the Battle Against Aging

Things Everyone Should Know About the Effects of Sugar on Skin

Most people today know antioxidants to be an effective method of fighting age, but few are aware of the biological process underlying for most skin damage – and what directly addresses the problem, says skin-care expert Ron Cummings.

"The word that has been on the minds of dermatologists and other skin-care researchers for many years is glycation, which is what happens on the cellular level to age our skin," says Cummings, founder and CEO of AminoGenesis Skin Care.

Glycation – damage to proteins caused by sugar molecules – has long been a focus of study in people with diabetes, because it results in severe complications, such as blindness and nerve damage. People with uncontrolled diabetes have excess blood sugar, so they experience a higher rate of systemic glycation, he says.

"Antioxidants fight inflammation caused by free radicals, which are largely created from external, environmental factors such as excessive sunlight or cigarette smoke. Glycation, though, damages from the inside out."

Using antioxidants and topical moisturizers are a good start to keeping the effects of aging at bay, but they only go so far, Cummings says. Even more important is reversing the damage to skin caused by glycation, which became possible only recently.

Cummings shares three points anyone interested in skin care should know about glycation:

Glycation is the skin's No.1 aging factor.

Sugar molecules in our body bombard our cells like a ferocious hail storm, bonding with fats and proteins. The proteins then become misshapen and excrete exotoxins that disrupt cellular metabolism. Collagen, which makes skin look smooth and plump, is a protein that's particularly vulnerable to glycation. The damage manifests as wrinkles, lines, discoloration and edema. Rather than attacking a cell from the outside, like a free radical, glycation occurs from within.

Anti-glycation topical solutions have been clinically shown to be effective.

Old lotions, from your favorite moisturizer to Grandma's secret facial solution to the new DIY recipe you found online act as a barrier to moisture evaporation. But their effect is temporary, and they don't prevent or reverse damage. New anti-glycation formulas, however, directly address aging by releasing the sugar molecule's bond with protein, allowing the cell to return to its natural shape and state.

"Just as antioxidants have revolutionized anti-aging efforts around the world, anti-glycation will be understood to be exponentially more effective," Cummings says.

About Ron Cummings

Ron Cummings is the founder and CEO of AminoGenesis Skin Care, which utilizes amino acids as the key ingredients to its age- and damage-reversing products. The formula for the solution features 17 plant-purified amino acids, which are necessary for healthy and radiant skin. Cummings donated one of his products, a protective agent, to support military forces in Afghanistan and received a hearty letter of gratitude from the Marines of Special Operations Company Bravo, which described the product’s excellent performance.

Recipe: Moroccan-Spiced Carrot and Sorghum Soup

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

Moroccan-Spiced Carrot and Sorghum Soup

by Megan Gordon, TheKitchn.com

Because so much of the recipe development I do these days involves whole grains, there are times when I rely heavily on different flours or grains for a short period and then grow tired of them. Quinoa had a strong run last spring, and this summer I found myself making either millet or polenta in some form practically every day of the week.

I've just started using a new grain in the kitchen, and I'm quite smitten, maybe for the long run.

Sorghum is a gluten-free grain that's common in African and Indian cuisine. I love it because it's truly unlike any other grain: It's hearty and chewy without feeling overly heavy and has a mild, earthy flavor. I think sorghum would be a really easy swap-in for any recipe that calls for pearl couscous (it has a similar look once cooked) or for a more substantial grain like farro or wheat berries.

It's not one of the quicker-cooking grains (it takes about 45 to 60 minutes to fully cook), but it does reheat beautifully, so I've been making a pot at the beginning of the week and tossing it into salads ... and into soups, as you can tell from this new favorite fall recipe. If I'm making the grain into a salad or pilaf-style dish, I will cook it for 60 minutes, because once it splays open (which takes about 60 minutes), it absorbs sauces and flavors more. But for this soup, it continues to cook and soften as the soup simmers --so the initial cook time is a little shorter.

During the winter, I crave creamy vegetable soups and often make big batches and freeze leftovers. This carrot and sorghum soup would be a good contender for that "stocking up" gesture, except we always eat it before it makes its way to the freezer -- a good sign.

At its heart, this is a pretty basic carrot soup, but it becomes special with the addition of the warm spices and sorghum. Essentially, you simply cook down an onion with some Moroccan-inspired spices, then add the carrots and sweet potato and let it simmer until the vegetables are soft. After pureeing the soup, I fold in the cooked sorghum, adjust the seasoning, and finish it with a swirl of tart, plain yogurt.

It's one of those recipes that is, truly, better the second day and keeps for a good week in the refrigerator, so it's always a great candidate if you're having company or have a good-sized soup-loving family. I'd love to hear what you think, or if you try it with a different grain you love!

MOROCCAN-SPICED CARROT AND SORGHUM SOUP

SERVES: 8

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sorghum

1 1/2 cups water

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 1/4 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins

1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (1 large or 2 medium)

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Plain yogurt, to serve (optional)

Directions:

Rinse the sorghum and place in a pot with water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer until the grains are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain away any excess liquid and set aside.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook the onion until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the fennel and cumin seeds and cook, stirring until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, carrots and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir well to coat with onion mixture. Cook down for 5 minutes. Add broth, coriander and bay leaf.

Bring mixture to a very low boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf and puree soup in batches in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Stir in the cooked sorghum and add lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve hot with a generous swirl of plain yogurt on top.

Note: I generally always buy low-sodium vegetable broth so that I can ultimately control the amount of salt in the soup recipe. So depending on what kind of broth you use, you may need to adjust the seasoning at the very end.

© 2013, APARTMENT THERAPY. Source: JewishWorldReview.com

Family Special: Three Ways to Improve Our Parenting Skills

by Brent Rinehart

We go to school anywhere from 12 to 20 years or more to prepare us for our jobs, yet there's no training for the most difficult job any of us will ever have: being a mom or a dad. You have to pick it up as you go. We do some things right, and we mess other things up. More often than not, I feel like I must be doing something wrong as a father when I don't see my children acting the exact way I want them to.

The key is learning from our mistakes. Here are three simple things that we can focus on in the new year that could have a big impact on our children.

Commend more than you command.

Controlling the behavior of our children is one of the hardest things about parenting. I find myself saying "no" so many times that I'm starting to think I need to learn it in a few more languages since my kids don't always pick it up. (Let's try Spanish, "No!" How about Welsh? "Na!"). Forego that lifetime supply of Rosetta Stone software. There are easier ways that – in the long term – are sure to make a difference.

Over time, the power of praise in the development of children has been well-documented (as has the effect of over-praising children). None of us would argue that we should compliment our children far more than we criticize them. As "Focus on the Family" states, our praise should be specific, personal, immediately following the behavior, and never followed by a negative comment. And, our praise is more impactful when accompanied by a hug.

Pastor and author Dave Stone has this to say: "In the absence of encouragement, discouragement prevails. If we're not building up, we're tearing down by default. A house left alone will crumble to the ground." (Source: How to Raise Selfless Kids in a Self-Centered World, Thomas Nelson, 2013)

It has also been said that children learn best when they are allowed to do things themselves. Before bossing them around, we should consider more opportunities for them to make their own choices within our given guidelines. They'll develop confidence and decision-making skills which are sure to benefit them long term.

Teach more than you tell.

We spend a lot of time as parents talking to our kids about how they should act. If you're like me, it seems like a lot of those words seem to go into one ear, bounce around in the cavity in between, and fly out the other side.

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese once said, "If one wants to reach younger people at an earlier age to shape their minds in a critical way, you really need to know how ideas and emotions are expressed visually."

That's because most children are visual learners. In fact, studies have shown about 65 percent of the entire population learn visually. (I realize each child's individual learning style is unique, but stick with me.)

You can't just tell your kid how to act, you have to show them. Let them see you being polite at the dinner table and speaking respectfully to each other. To rephrase, don't let them see you yelling at the car in front of you or stiffing the restaurant waitress on the tip.

Have you ever heard the saying, "There's more caught than taught?" There's a lot of truth in that simple phrase.

Pray more than you worry.

For so many of us, anxiety is a constant problem. "Let Go and Let God" is great for a bumper sticker, but it can be hard to put it into practice. We worry about everything – our kids, our jobs, our finances. Where the rubber meets the road for me is in this question: is worrying a sin? Here's what the Bible says about it:

  • Matthew 6:25: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…"
  • Matthew 6:34: "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
  • Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
  • Luke 12:25: "And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"
  • John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

When it comes to our children, there's only one way to rid ourselves of the worry. Turn to God. We have to commit our kids to our Heavenly Father. They belong to him, not us. They are just committed to our charge for the time being. And, during that time, we must seek his guidance in our lives and theirs.

Don't be discouraged. There's only one perfect Father. And he'll help us; all we have to do is ask.

About The Author:

Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com.

Source: Live It Devotional

Personhood, Grace, and the Sanctity of Human Life

by Brian Hedges

This week marks the 41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on January 22, 1973. Since that time over 55 million babies have been aborted in the United States. That's about 8 times the number of people who live in Indiana (my state) and over a sixth of the total current population in the United States.

Abortion is a polarizing issue in our culture: a moral, political, and religious dividing line that separates ethicists, citizens, and even professing Christians. And while many of my readers value the sanctity of human life and believe (as I do) that abortion is the unjust murder of a human being, it's all too easy for us to caricature people of the opposing position as monsters who lack any moral conscience whatsoever. Even calling abortion murder will sound (to many) like inflammatory rhetoric that generates more heat than light.

The problem, of course, is that while such statements may galvanize support from folks who already agree with us, it does nothing to actually engage the thinking of people who believe abortion is morally permissible. To do that we have to interact with the moral arguments pro-choice people appeal to in defense of their position.

Consider one example. An American philosopher named Mary Anne Warren wrote a well-known article defending "The Moral and Legal Use of Abortion." Warren acknowledges that if an unborn fetus is a full-fledged human person then abortion is morally wrong. But the crux of her argument is that fetuses in fact are not persons and therefore do not have the same moral rights persons.

So how does Warren define "person"? Well, she actually doesn't give a formal definition, but suggests a list of "the traits which are most central to the concept of personhood, or humanity." She suggests five of these traits:

(1) consciousness,
(2) reasoning,
(3) self-motivated activity,
(4) the capacity to communicate, and
(5) the presence of self-concepts and self-awareness

Warren argues that fetuses lack them all. "I consider this claim to be so obvious," says Warren, "that I think anyone who denied it, and claimed that a being which satisfied none of [these traits] was a person all the same, would thereby demonstrate that he had no notion at all of what a person is." [ii]

In other words, if personhood consists in these capacities, and a fetus has none of these capacities, then terminating a fetus in abortion is not equivalent to killing a human person.

So, how should we respond? First off, we could question this particular list of characteristics. While it's true that these traits do characterize many, even most, mature human beings it is not obvious that these are necessary traits for personhood. Just because a human being lacks some of these traits does not mean he or she is therefore not a person. (It's also not obvious that unborn babies lack all of these characteristics.)

But more than that, Warren's argument, if true, proves too much. She says one must have certain capacities to qualify as a person, and when these capacities (and therefore personhood) are lacking, it is not morally wrong to take its life. But this reasoning could be used to justify not only abortion, but also infanticide and the termination of people with certain disabilities. In fact, another philosopher, Peter Singer, actually goes this far, reasoning from similar presuppositions that there are situations when killing an infant "is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all." [iii]

You don't have to believe in God or subscribe to Christianity to think that this is not only morally objectionable, but also decidedly inhumane.

But a deeper problem with Warren's (and Singer's) definitions of personhood is that they place the inherent worth and value (and thus right to life) in a human beings capacities - capacities of consciousness, rationality, inclination, activity, communication, and self-awareness.

But unique as they are, these capacities are not the most unique things about human beings, nor are they the basis of one's personhood, value, or human rights. The most unique thing about human beings is their distinct relationship to God as their Creator. Human beings are made imago Dei - in the image of God. And the distinctive thing about that relationship is that it depends not on our capacities of consciousness, rationality, or whatever, but on something much deeper and more fundamental to our existence: being known by God.

We see this in Psalm 139, where the psalmist sees his life in terms of being known, cared for, and loved by God. In verses 13-16, we read:

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

John Stott, in his excellent book 'Issues Facing Christians Today', shows that the psalmist, not only views God as Creator, but also sees continuity in his own personhood as he surveys his existence in four stages:

(i) the past (v. 1);
(ii) the present (v. 2-3);
(iii) the future (v. 10);
(iv) the prenatal stage (v. 13);

Yet in all four stages he refers to himself as "I" - having the same personal identity as a grown man, writing this psalm, as he had as fetus yet unborn. [iv]

The Scriptures lead us to define personhood not in terms of our capacities at any given point in our lives, but in terms of our unique relationship to the Creator who knows and loves us from beginning to end. Our value is based not on what we can do (capacities) but on whose we are (grace).

To quote Stott again:

"The sovereign initiative of God in creating and loving is the biblical understanding of grace. Some Christians decline to attribute personhood to the newly conceived embryo because as yet it has no brain to sustain either self-supervision or conscious relationships. But supposing the vital relationship which confers personhood on the fetus is God's conscious, loving commitment to him or her, rather than his or hers to God? Such a one-sided relationship is seen in parents who love their child, and commit themselves to his or her care and protection, long before that child is able to respond. And a unilateral initiative is what makes grace to be grace. It is, in fact, God's grace which confers on the unborn child, from the moment of its conception, both the unique status which it already enjoys and the unique destiny which it will later inherit."

And this is the difference between Christianity and other systems of morality. Our value, worth, and rights as persons don't ultimately depend on our capacities or what we can do, but on our Creator and Redeemer and what he has done for us. Human lives are sacred not because of inherent capacities or functions, but because God has created them, knows them, and sustains them. And that means every person - prenatal, infant, child, adult, whether healthy, disabled, or elderly - is precious.

References:

[i] I'm grateful for the help of my friend and fellow pastor Luke Potter in both pointing me to Warren's article and helping me construct this response to her arguments.

[ii] Mary Anne Warren, "On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion," The Monist, Vol. 57, No. 4, 1973.

[iii] Peter Singer, "Taking Life: Humans," Excerpted from Practical Ethics, 2nd edition, Cambridge, 1993, pp. 175-217. http://www.utilitarianism.net/singer/by/1993----.htm

[iv] Stott, Issues Facing Christians Today, chapter 14.

[v] Stott, pp. 402-403.

About The Author:

Brian G. Hedges is the author of 'Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change' and 'Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin'. Brian and his wife Holly have four children and live in South Bend, Indiana. Brian also blogs at www.brianghedges.com

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

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