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

Great Lent Week 4, Christian Life

Volume 5 No. 267 March 6, 2015

If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_267.htm

Archives: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/Default.htm

The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth
The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
According to Dr Ken Dark, a British Archaeologist, the boyhood home of Jesus
was located near this church. (see the story below.)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you are not receiving your own copy of Malankara World by email, please add your name to our subscription list. It is free. click here.

I. This Sunday in Church - Great Lent week 4

1. Bible Readings for This Sunday (March 8)

Bible Readings For The Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (Canaanite woman)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_4th_sunday_of_Great-Lent.htm

2. Sermons for This Sunday (March 8)

Sermons For The Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (Canaanite woman)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_4th-sunday-in-lent.htm

3. Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc. Read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week. You can find the resources here:

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Week 4 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week4.htm

II. Reflections on This Week's Bible Readings

4. A Mother's Cry - Perspective on Mental Illness

This is one of those remarkable instances where the woman in the story reminds me a lot of God. And if not actually God, then certainly one created in God's image: Her willingness to risk it all --- to go to any means necessary for the sake of her suffering child. It does sound an awful lot like what God did for us in Jesus, don't you think? And I find myself wondering if we all did this, wouldn't the world look a whole lot different than it does? Even when it comes to the fates of those suffering from mental illness...

5. What the Canaanite Woman Teaches

The woman Jesus meets, dismisses, and then learns from is a person, with all kinds of needs and concerns and hurts and interests. And the "great faith" she demonstrates is that she won't allow herself or, even more, her sick daughter, be dismissed. Too many people are used to being dismissed by the church. They assume (sometimes based on experience) that the church isn't really interested in them, but rather just sees them as potential members or giving units. And so they have no vested interest in being as tenacious as this woman was. ...

6. When Jesus Comes Into Your Life, It Will Never Be Business As Usual Again

Jesus met a man filled with demons when he visited Gerasa, in Gentile territory, on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. After Jesus cast out the demons, he allowed them to possess the pigs who ran down a cliff and into the sea. Meanwhile the man sat at Jesus' feet, calm, clothed, and in his right mind. The response of the townspeople is telling: "They were afraid" (v. 15). So they begged Jesus to leave their region. Jesus left and as far as we know, he never returned. ...

III. This Week's Features

7. Inspiration for Today

8. The Difficulty of Acceptance: In The Image of God

Maybe it's cancer. Maybe it's divorce. Maybe you have a son or daughter who's turned away from God. Maybe you have a friend who betrayed you. Maybe you're close to bankruptcy. Whatever it is, Mark 14:32-42 shows Jesus in a more painful predicament. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ faces a soon and horrible death on the cross. Even his friends - Peter, James and John - refuse to stand by him. They can't even stay awake as Christ pleads with his Father to "take this cup from me." As Christians, our model is Jesus Christ. In fact, there is probably no better way to deal with our circumstances than to see how Christ dealt with his, then go and do likewise. ...

9. Five Things the Church Wishes the Culture Understood

Time and time again, I have read blog posts about how the church is doing church wrong. The church is a victim of its ambivalence toward its own perpetual exclusivity of the present generation who has needs that are not being met. And each time I read the same list of an interchangeable 5-7 attributes, I realize that the ire and frustration comes from a misunderstanding of what church is. So let's break the silence on behalf of the church . . . the Church . . . the historical Christian Church. ...

10. The Problem with Going to Heaven

I have observed on a number of occasions that parish Churches are either paradise or a colony of hell. This is true simply because of the state of the heart. Those who carry hell in their hearts make the world hell for all around them. Those who carry paradise within are the bringers of paradise. And so we pray when we approach communion that the Holy Gifts would be "neither for our judgment nor our condemnation," but "for the healing of soul and body." ...

11. Charity Or Loving as God Loves

The two terms "love" and "charity" are frequently used interchangeably, and with good reason, since the virtue of charity is in fact a kind of love. However, the two are not identical; not all forms of love are also charity. ...

12. Live Wisely - Let the World See You Are a Christian

Live wisely today. Let the world see our good works, and then let them hear us return the glory to Whom it belongs . . . it may surprise us how much God will use us when we refuse to accept the credit. ...

13. Three Anti-Inflammation Recipes To Help Restore Your Health

Nutrition Icon Offers Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Options

14. Christ's Childhood Home Found?

Professor Ken Dark says De Locis Sanctis, written in 670 by Irish monk Adomnan, described the house as located between two tombs and below a church. The text was based on a pilgrimage to Nazareth made by the Frankish bishop Arculf and tells of a church 'where once there was the house in which the Lord was nourished in his infancy'. ...

15. From Iraq to Syria: The Genocidal Ordeal of the Assyrians

The Assyrian-Chaldean community is facing dark times and a distressing situation. These criminal attacks, these innocent kidnappings (more than 250 people, young people, women and older people are taken into captivity), the forced exile of thousands of people (more than 3000 refugees in Hassake and Qamishli) those martyred (more than 10 already) are a terrible shock to a community that has endured in the past much suffering. ...

16. About Malankara World

This Sunday in Church - Great Lent week 4
Bible Readings for This Sunday (March 8)
Sermons for This Sunday (March 8)

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement

Great Lent is the time for personal reflection, meditation, reconciliation, and prayer. Malankara World has a great resource that helps you accomplish that. We provide you daily reflections, meditations, prayer, bible readings etc.

If you only have a few minutes to spend a day, you can read short reflective articles and meditations. If you have more time, there is bible readings, and others to enrich your day.

Read the articles about how to practice lent. Then do the reading for the day specified. We will guide you week by week. You can find the resources here:

Malankara World Great Lent Supplement http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Default.htm

Week 4 of Great Lent
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lent/Lent_week4.htm

Malankara World Journal Issues:

Malankara World Journal Issue 203 - (March 20 2014)

Malankara World Journal Issue 204 - (March 23 2014) - Mid-Lent Supplement

Malankara World Journal Issue 128 - (March 6 2013) - Mid Lent Special

Malankara World Journal Issue 127 - (Feb 28 2013)

Volume 2 No 63: March 15 2012

Volume 2 No 62: March 11 2012
Special Edition: Great Lent Week 4

Reflections on This Week's Bible Readings

Featured: A Mother's Cry - A Perspective on Mental Illness

by Dr. Janet H. Hunt, Dancing with the Word

Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28

"Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David, my daughter is tormented by a demon."
- Matthew 15:22

Now I know that you all know this. Mental illness carries all kinds of stigma today.

I have known this since I was a child and we experienced it in our own family. Back then it was something whose name you whispered. I'm not sure it is so very different now. When I was young during that time during the prayers of the church where we stood in silence and remembered people in need, I would close my eyes shut tight and silently plead for Aunt Donna's healing.

It didn't come.

And now we go to visit and we find a woman who has somehow 'survived' but whose life and world is narrow. Over-medicated when she was younger and suffering who knows what sorts of abuse or neglect in all sorts of ways and places, she can still be delusional. Indeed, her daily treats of Pepsi and cigarettes may be her only joy. And yet, she scrawls across the pages of composition books her prayers... raising her own voice in the only way she seems able in behalf of family members and neighbors and friends --- many of whom have long since died. Along with the occasional prayer for a favorite food --- or beer. Something she has not enjoyed in a very long time.

It is a terrible thing to witness. It is all the worse when it is someone you have loved. Indeed, although it happened half my lifetime ago, I remember like it was yesterday sitting in my folks' living room listening to my own mother's utterly anguished cry as we tried to digest the news of my young cousin's death by his own hand. He had the same debilitating illness his mother had. We had no words.

It is surely heartbreaking.

And for all the time and effort and resources poured into it, we don't understand it still. The brain is complex and multi-faceted, and while it can be miraculous in its healing powers, it is also marked by such mystery that healing too often eludes us.

And if we don't understand it now, imagine how it must have been in the time of Jesus. It made perfect sense to attribute this daughter's torment to a demon. For this is how it must have seemed --- as though some outside force was taking over and making her life and the lives of all those around her, simply miserable. And if it's bad today, just imagine what that daughter's prospects were then. It is unimaginable, really.

So it is no wonder that the Canaanite woman in this story would go to any means necessary to secure her daughter help. She risked ridicule and rejection --- speaking out in a time and place when women certainly did not do so. Indeed, she would go anywhere, approach anyone --- even Jesus who was not part of her own tradition or culture -- she raised her voice to high heaven to get the attention of the one who, in 'casting aside a few crumbs,' might fulfill the hope she hardly dared hope. For her daughter's sake and for the sake of everyone who ever loved her.

Now I know there is a great deal to stand still in as we read the story before us now:

We wonder how Jesus could have ignored her at first. Even if he had wanted to, it had to be hard to shut her out. For this is the cry of a desperate woman. In fact, we hear that both the narrator and the disciples described her as 'shouting.'

We wonder at Jesus' initial response --- even while we understand that he had understood his mission differently: that it did not, at first, include such as her.

We wonder at her brilliance. It is a rare thing to 'win' a theological argument with Jesus and this one: a woman, an outsider, and one whose life was as hard as it could be --- does so.

We wonder at the faith that is already working within her. Even though she is a Gentile, somehow she sees Jesus as having come for her as well.

And we wonder at her persistence. And yet, we don't. For it is surely no surprise to anyone who has ever loved and lived through what she has lived through, that she would dig down deep for what she needed and risk it all for the sake of that love.

I don't know exactly how I will approach this when I preach it. But this is what keeps coming to mind. This is one of those remarkable instances where the woman in the story reminds me a lot of God. And if not actually God, then certainly one created in God's image: Her willingness to risk it all --- to go to any means necessary for the sake of her suffering child. It does sound an awful lot like what God did for us in Jesus, don't you think? And I find myself wondering if we all did this, wouldn't the world look a whole lot different than it does? Even when it comes to the fates of those suffering from mental illness...

I get glimmers of this from time to time:

I listen, for instance, to the woman who lost her son to a heroin overdose. She raised her voice continually while he was still alive. And the day after she found him dead, she was vowing to make his death mean something -- to do what she could to keep another family from suffering as they were. And she has devoted every day since to reaching out to other mothers who find themselves where she was.

I think of another mother who is weeping over her son's battle to another addiction... and her pleading with me to help find him some help.

Oh, yes I find myself thinking now of all those I know who suffer because of this sort of illness of a loved one and who don't speak or only dare to whisper it aloud because of their fear of our misunderstanding, our judgment: eating disorders and addictions, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, or just a deep, deep sadness that has the world closing in and renders it impossible, even, to get out of bed in the morning. The stories are countless and from what I can tell, touch most if not all of our families and I find, even now, that I am compelled to raise my own voice of pleading for forgiveness for my own too-long silence and wisdom to find a new way. Because if this week's Gospel means anything, it tells us that even the 'leftover crumbs' of what Jesus offered would be enough to change everything. And these are mine to give and to share. These are ours to share with those who suffer so.

And it all started with a mother's willingness not only to speak, but to shout. For the sake of love. Oh yes, I do wonder what would happen if we all were to do this. Maybe at least these 'demons' would come out of the shadows and become something we can better address as communities of those who follow Jesus. And I expect if that were so, almost anything would be possible, don't you?

It is clear that I see this story as being about Jesus' responding to mental illness. While this may not have been the case, it surely seems to speak today. What do you think?

What is your own experience with mental illness or disorders or addiction? How is that like being 'tormented by a demon?' How does this mother's encounter with Jesus speak to your own experience?

What do you make of Jesus' initial response to the woman? How does that square with your understanding of who Jesus was and is?

I know I am probably venturing into new territory when I compare this woman to God. What do you think? Does that comparison work? Why or why not?

What the Canaanite Woman Teaches

by Dr. David Lose

I've got two questions for you arising from the Gospel reading this week. And I'll warn you ahead of time that each question which might rock a few boats in your community.

First question: can Jesus learn?

I know that may sound odd. On the one hand, we may quickly answer, "Sure, why not?" Until we worry about the theological implications of that answer. If Jesus learns, a voice inside us may ask, does that means he's not perfect, or complete, or sinless, or…. And suddenly a cadre of theological police seem to be patrolling the long corridors of our imagination.

I ask this first question because at the heart of this challenging and even somewhat disturbing passage is a key interpretive question: Did the Canaanite woman Matthew describes pass a test or persuade the Lord? If we go with the former – which is probably the more traditional reading – then Jesus didn't really mean what he said. You know, about saying he was exclusive, ministering only to the Israelites, let alone calling her a dog. All of this was just a test, a way of bringing to harvest the faith that God had already planted in her.

As I mentioned, this is probably the more traditional read of the story. In fact, many commentators will draw our attention to the fact that the word translated "dogs" is actually the diminutive form of the word, meaning "little dog" or "puppy." I think we favor this interpretation because it saves Jesus from looking like, well, kind of a jerk. Instead, he's the all-knowing faith-tester, the drill sergeant to the new recruit, tearing her down in order to build her back up again. (Maybe you can guess, but I don't favor this interpretation. :) )

The other possibility, of course, is that Jesus' own sense of God's kingdom is challenged, stretched, and enhanced by his encounter with this fierce and faithful woman. Maybe, that is, Jesus is serious – that is, he believes he was sent only to the Israelites – and the woman takes him on and, in fact, persuades him that something larger is at stake. In this context, her "great faith" isn't so much an amount, but rather is simply the fact that she just holds plain holds on. She won't let Jesus go until she wrests a blessing from him on behalf of her daughter. Moms with sick kids are like that – they won't let anything get in the way of their taking care of their child. Not unsympathetic doctors or health regulations or lousy insurance, not even a slightly narrow-minded messiah-type.

If you go this direction, then Jesus can, in fact, learn. And he does. He learns that God's kingdom and his mission to enact that kingdom is bigger than he had initially imagined and that it is more encompassing that he'd at first dreamed. Does this mean he's not perfect or sinless or all the other things the most orthodox among us will worry about? To tell you the truth, I think those are questions this passage isn't interested in. Rather, I think this passage invites us to image that God's purpose unfolded throughout Jesus' life and ministry and continues to do so in our own lives and experiences. This tenacious and faithful woman, a complete stranger, pushed Jesus to reconsider, to learn, and to grow.

All of which brings me to a second question: can we learn?

I ask this because of a conversation I've repeated with literally hundreds of well-intentioned folks deeply concerned about their congregations: how do we get young people to come to our church? It's no secret that the mainline traditions are both aging and getting smaller, and so many are wondering what happened, what went wrong, and how we might entice young adults and young families into our congregations. Rather than answer that question directly – as if I have the answer! – I instead ask them a question back: have you asked any of the people you wish would come to church why they don't? Or what you could do differently in terms of Sunday worship that would make it meaningful for them?

The answer is almost always "no." Not "No, we'd never do that." But rather, "No, that never occurred to us." Which is understandable, as our congregational patterns and worship practices seem to have worked for generations, and so it simply doesn't occur to us to ask others what they think of them. We simply assume this is the way to do congregational life and Sunday worship.

But taking a cue from Jesus' encounter with this woman, what we might do is wonder with people how what we do as a community of faith might be more engaging and helpful as they seek to connect their faith and their everyday life. Which means that if we want to learn, we first need to listen. And, once we've listened, we need to be open to changing how we nurture worship and congregational life in a way that is meaningful not only to the ever-smaller but loyal cadre of "regulars" but also to the folks who aren't coming, or who used to come, or who might come. (And who knows, if we construct worship that is interesting and meaningful to them, it might even be more interesting and meaningful to us as well!)

So here's my suggestion and challenge this week. This week, before you write your sermon, ask someone who's not in church why they don't find it meaningful. Are there particular barriers or obstacles keeping them from coming (either in their own life or in the congregation)? Are there elements they just don't understand? But then go on to ask them what might make church more interesting, more worth getting out of bed for, more meaningful and useful to them as they try to live faithfully in the world? I'm guessing it won't be hard to find someone willing to have this conversation. Perhaps it will be one of your children, or a sibling, or a family friend. I've had this conversation a couple of times, and while it was initially awkward (more for me out of my insecurity than for the other person), it was also incredibly helpful. We're good at talking in the church; I think it's time we learn to listen.

If you want to take this further, invite your leadership team (church management council or board of elders) to invite one or more conversations with people over the next few months and start your meetings by discussing what you're hearing. Or even invite those in attendance this Sunday to have just one of those conversations in the week to come and email you what they heard. Believe me, this is the kind of practice that can be transformative if you engage it with gusto.

Because here's the thing: the woman Jesus meets, dismisses, and then learns from is a person, with all kinds of needs and concerns and hurts and interests. And the "great faith" she demonstrates is that she won't allow herself or, even more, her sick daughter, be dismissed. Too many people are used to being dismissed by the church. They assume (sometimes based on experience) that the church isn't really interested in them as persons with all kinds of needs and concerns and passions, but rather just sees them as potential members or giving units. And so they have no vested interest in being as tenacious as this woman was. For this reason we need to reach out to the persons around us as persons who have a lot to teach us, and we need to do this not as a strategy to grow our congregations but because that's what Jesus discovered from this encounter with this woman and that's what, I believe, he would have us learn from her as well.

This isn't easy work, but I know you're up for it. Why? Because when you get right down to it, you don't simply care about your congregation for its own sake, but rather for people who make up that congregation and for those who might also find life in it and contribute their questions and insights and strengths to it. And so whether you go in this direction or not, thank you for caring so much about your church, and blessings on your life, ministry, and proclamation this week and always.

When Jesus Comes Into Your Life, It Will Never Be Business As Usual Again

By Dr. Ray Pritchard

Gerasa: Go Away, Jesus

"When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. . . . Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region."
- Mark 5:15, 17

This is the most severe case of demon possession in the Bible.
It is also one of the most amazing miracles Jesus ever performed.

Jesus met a man filled with demons when he visited Gerasa, in Gentile territory, on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. After Jesus cast out the demons, he allowed them to possess the pigs who ran down a cliff and into the sea. Meanwhile the man sat at Jesus' feet, calm, clothed, and in his right mind. The response of the townspeople is telling: "They were afraid" (v. 15). So they begged Jesus to leave their region. Jesus left and as far as we know, he never returned.

Ponder this thought for a moment. After Jesus works an amazing miracle, the townspeople ask him to leave.

When people looked at the man, there was no doubt that a miracle had occurred. Evidently the pigs mattered more than the man. But to Jesus the man mattered more than the pigs. They couldn't handle the transformation. Instead of rejoicing, they were afraid. Of what? Of the man? Possibly. Of Jesus? Definitely! They were afraid of anyone with that kind of power. What will he do next? To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, Jesus is not safe, but he is good. He does not always do what we expect, but what he does is always for the best.

The people who came to investigate the miracle asked Jesus to leave because he was bad for business. They were right! When Jesus comes into your life, it will never be business as usual again.

Before his conversion, Augustine said he sometimes prayed, "Save me, O Lord, save me, but not now!" He is not the first or the last person to pray that way.

Lord Jesus, may we not be afraid of your power. Change us from the inside out, even if it makes us uncomfortable. Amen.

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
- Romans 8:28

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
- Isaiah 41:10

The Difficulty of Acceptance: In The Image of God

by Steve Brown

Maybe it's cancer. Maybe it's divorce. Maybe you have a son or daughter who's turned away from God. Maybe you have a friend who betrayed you. Maybe you're close to bankruptcy. Whatever it is, Mark 14:32-42 shows Jesus in a more painful predicament. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ faces a soon and horrible death on the cross. Even his friends - Peter, James and John - refuse to stand by him. They can't even stay awake as Christ pleads with his Father to "take this cup from me." As Christans, our model is Jesus Christ. In fact, there is probably no better way to deal with rcumstances than to see how Christ dealt with his, then go and do likewise.

Jesus Was Realistic

Jesus was realistic in dealing with his terrible circumstances. Jesus didn't hide or hide from what was happening to him. Rather, he was "deeply distressed and troubled," saying to those with him, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death."

We simply don't know what Jesus went through at this time. Part of it was the fear of death and physical suffering. Part of it was that on the cross, Jesus was soon to be separated from the Father because of our sins. Whatever the full extent of Christ's pain, something went on deep inside that was supernatural and horrific…something we can't even begin to comprehend.

There are two great dangers in the Christian life. The first is to build mountains where there are no mountains. The second is to pretend there are no mountains where there are mountains everywhere. We are dealing here with the second of those dangers.

Christians simply don't call lions "pussycats." Christians simply don't call cancer "indigestion." Christians simply don't call divorce "time apart." The point is this: Jesus refused to look through rose-colored glasses. Jesus forced himself to deal with reality. We should too.

Jesus Asked

Look at Jesus' request: "'Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me…'"

I once talked to a man who said, "When I pray, I don't ask God for anything any more. When I pray, I simply tell him I want what he wants." That sounds very spiritual but that's not the way it is or should be. If God is your Father and you're hurting, then you ought to ask. Anything big enough to trouble you is big enough to trouble the Father. Here Jesus didn't say, "Father, I'm going to leave this whole thing up to you." Instead Jesus, in essence, said, "Father, I'm scared. Get me out of this mess!"

If you have problems, for God's sake, ask him to intervene and to change the circumstances. That is your privilege as a child of the King of the Universe. If you belong to the Father, according to John 1:12, you can go to him. It is the Father's joy to say "Yes" to our prayers.

Jesus Reflected

Jesus reflected God: "And he said, 'Abba, Father.'" Jesus says "Father" twice. That is more significant that it first appears. Jesus says it once in Aramaic and once in Greek. In other words, Jesus repeats himself in two languages, as if to emphasize something very important, the fact that the Father is universally in charge of all that happens. Jesus saw the Father in control and in charge. Romans 8:28 is true. Jesus reflected on his position as the Son and on his position under the sovereignty of God.

Jesus, in his double way of calling God the Father, reflected on a worldview that circumstances of life are not just happenstance. God has not gone away on vacation. God is not unaware of our suffering. And if God knows, if he is in control, if he is our Father, then whatever else happens is irrelevant to that fact.

You can tell how a man or woman will handle circumstances by finding out what he or she believes about the world, about God, and about him or herself. Jesus reflected God. Who do you reflect?

Jesus Relinquished

Jesus relinquished control: "Yet not what I will, but what you will." Christ faced the most horrific pain and death…it was more than we can even begin to imagine. Christ did it for us. The question is how did he face it? He realistically faced the circumstance; he asked the Father to take it away (and received a "No"); and he had a worldview that included more than just rose gardens. Because of that, Christ was able to say, "Father, it's okay. I relinquish it to you."

The Tusculani, a people of Italy, once offended the Romans. That was a dangerous thing because the Roman power was so great that they could easily wipe out any small people. As the Roman armies approached, the Tusculani decided on a way to deal with them. Rather than fight, they opened the gates of their city. The men unlocked all of their shops and houses. Every man, woman and child in that city went about their daily business. When Camillus, the General of the attacking Roman army, reached the city, he was completely dumbfounded. The General stood in the town square and said, "You only, of all people, have found out the true method of abating the Roman fury. Your submission has proved your best defense. Upon these terms, we can no more find it in our heart to injure you than upon other terms you could have found power to oppose us."

Circumstances are like those Romans. Once you decide to no longer fight, but rather to relinquish circumstances to God the Father, then their ability to devastate is devastated.

Circumstances may not change, but crosses have a strange way of becoming crowns.

Time To Draw Away

Read Mark 14:32-42 / Romans 8:28 / Isaiah 41:10

What is your painful and hard circumstance? How can you face it realistically and then turn it over to God and his plan? Remember that God is your loving Father. You never walk down any road alone. He is with you, he is holding you, and he won't ever let you go.

About The Author:

Steve Brown is a radio broadcaster, seminary professor, author and the founder of Key Life Network. He previously served as a pastor for over twenty-five years and now devotes much of his time to the radio broadcasts Key Life and Steve Brown, Etc.

Steve is the author of numerous books including' A Scandalous Freedom', 'What Was I Thinking?', 'How to Talk So People Will Listen', 'Approaching God', 'Three Free Sins' and 'When Being Good Isn't Good Enough'. His articles appear in such magazines and journals as Relevant, Leadership, Decision, Plain Truth and Today's Christian Woman.

Source: Steve's Devotional ©2001-2015 Key Life Network. All rights reserved.

Five Things the Church Wishes the Culture Understood

by Rev. J. Patrick Niles

This post has been a long time in the making. For the past decade, every time I read a post by some avant-garde religious/church-planting/emergent/post-modern blogger, I think, "Hmmmmm. I should respond to that." Then kids need diaper changes, sermons need to be written and shut-ins need to be visited. Right now, however, I have some time to write a response.

Time and time again, I have read blog posts about how the church is doing church wrong. The church is a victim of its ambivalence toward its own perpetual exclusivity of the present generation who has needs that are not being met. And each time I read the same list of an interchangeable 5-7 attributes (unloving, culturally irrelevant, superficial worship and unintelligible jargon are ones that top the list most often), I realize that the ire and frustration comes from a misunderstanding of what church is. So let's break the silence on behalf of the church . . . the Church . . . the historical Christian Church. I am tired of being misrepresented. I am tired of being judged (sound familiar?). I am tired of disenfranchised people making more people disenfranchised with an improper understanding of church.

 And so, without further ado . . .

1. We want you here.

Really. We do. However, the reason might surprise you. It is not to boost the average age of the worshiping community to give us more "street cred." It is not so that we can have your money. It is not so that we can legitimize our existence. As a matter of fact, the reason that we want you here has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with you. We firmly believe that God distributes His good gifts of grace and forgiveness in the worship service. We learn together. We grow together. Christ is present for us, and we want you to have those good gifts of God. We want to pray with you. We want to praise God with you. We want to be at the font and the altar with you. We want to hear from the pulpit with you. And we want all of this for your good. We're already getting the goods. We want you to have them also.

2. We are not better than you.

However, we do have the same struggles as you do. Namely, we struggle with sin. We have the same inclinations toward pride, jealousy, selfish ambition and self-aggrandizement that you do. We like things a certain way. We like our carpets certain colors. We like people to dress certain ways because those ways make us feel comfortable. We can be hypocritical, judgmental and prejudiced without cause. We are all of these things because we are sinners. No, dear culture, we are not better than you. But that is why we are here every Sunday. We do not seek to be confirmed in those things that divide us. We seek to be forgiven for the times when we do not act like Christ. And we are. We are forgiven and renewed by Christ, and that makes all the difference. You do not want us to judge you by your checkered-past of sins? Why would you judge us by ours?

3. The church is for sinners of whom we are the worst.

The church is the place where God has ordained the forgiveness of sins to take place. The church exists to proclaim the Gospel. It exists to proclaim that you are a sinner, but you are a forgiven sinner when repentant. Why would you exclude yourself from that because you are surrounded by other sinners? Are you differentiating sins and making one sin worse than another? Judging, by chance? Hmmm. Interesting. Please forgive the snark, but this is the point that is made time and time again by the historical Christian Church. We are sinners and we are saints! We are forgiven only by the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ is for us. The blood of Christ is for you. We beg you, come–for your sake, not ours.

4. The church is bigger than you.

This is the part that you might not like to hear, but it is the truth. The church is not about you, your preferences or your tastes. The church is about Jesus. It is about the Son of God who came down to earth in humility as part of His creation. It is about this same God-man who dies willingly on the cross bearing the sins of the whole world–bearing your sins. It is about Jesus who left your sins in the tomb and rose victorious to reign for you. It is about the victorious Christ who will come again, who will create a new heaven and a new earth, who will restore these lowly bodies to be like His glorious body by the power that allows Him to subdue all things to Himself. This is the church in which uncounted saints have had their uncounted sins forgiven. Uncounted souls have been saved through the waters of Holy Baptism, taught through countless hours of instruction, bowed at numerous altars and received the infinite body and blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and strength for their lives in Him. This church is the voice of ages of martyrs who have not recanted the faith that we make to appear so malleable. This church has a language, an order, a life that is bigger than you. It is a life that includes 90-year-old Uncle Bud and 9-day-old Stryker. It is a life that is big enough to include you also. So if you want to be part of this church, show some initiative. Learn the language. Learn the story of the church that spans all time and space in the promises and words of Jesus. This. brings us to point number 5.

5. We will always be here . . . and so will Christ. For you.

Thank you for your concern about our demise. However, throughout the entirety of the Scriptures, the Lord has promised that the pure preaching and teaching of His Word will not vanish from the earth. There will always be a remnant who live in and proclaim the forgiveness of Christ. It might not always look the same or be the same size. But it will always exist. So when you realize that the forgiveness of Christ is more than the trifles of interpersonal relationships, we will be here . . . and so will Christ. When you want to stop poking holes in the very institution that was created to give you comfort of sins forgiven and the certainty of salvation, we will be here . . . and so will Christ. He will always be here for you with all you need and more.

Please understand that we do want you, because Christ wants you. My snarkiness and righteous indignation is not really aimed at those who are legitimately searching. They are aimed at those who wish to co-opt the church for their own agendas. Their agendas and straw-man portrayals of the church are not what the church is. If you are legitimately searching, I pray you find a biblical, confessional, Lutheran congregation in which to abide. For in that place you will find the true and pure preaching and teaching of the Word of God. You also find Christ who gives Himself for you every time you come. Please, come, not for our sake, but for yours.

About The Author:

The Rev. J. Patrick Niles is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Hilbert, Wisc.

Source: Lutheran Witness

The Problem with Going to Heaven

by Fr Stephen Freeman

"That man might become God…" On its surface this statement simply sounds blasphemous. Interpreted in a wrong manner, it would be worse than blasphemous. When read correctly, however, it is the very essence of salvation itself. "To go to heaven…" from my childhood this phrase has been used as the goal of a Christian life. But, interpreted in its most common manner, it is only a Christianized version of paganism.

The distinction between these two statements can be found in their treatment of the interior life. The first, "to become God," suggests profound, even transcendent change within a person. The second, "to go to heaven," suggests only a change of location. It is this change in location that is essentially pagan.

It is essentially pagan, meaning that it differs in no way from the sentiments of the ancient Romans, Greeks and the Norse. For to "become a God" in their pantheon would only mean a change in location. The gods of the ancient pagans differed in no way from human beings, other than being bigger, more powerful and in a larger location. But they had their faults. They could be greedy, angry, vindictive, jealous, lustful, etc. And because this was so, human beings needed to be careful not to offend them or to provoke their envy.

For many people the statement, "to become God," still carries a pagan meaning. It infers the acquisition of divine power and ability and somehow becoming a rival to the one God. This is the blasphemous meaning of the phrase and we do well to instinctively oppose it. We sometimes say of someone, "He thinks he's some sort of a god," and we never mean it as a compliment.

But within the New Testament and in the long history of Christian teaching, there is a perfectly acceptable use of the phrase. In 2 Peter we read:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
- 2Pe 1:2-4 (NKJ)

This is synonymous with concepts such as being "transformed" into the image of Christ (Ro. 8:29; 2Cor 3:18). But the right understanding of this "divinization" is not a transformation into a pagan deity, nor a rivaling of the One God. Indeed, the Fathers, with later theological precision, are careful to say that we become "by grace" what God is "by nature."

But it is utterly essential to the Christian telling of the gospel, that our salvation should be understood in terms of transformation, of an inner metamorphosis towards the image of Christ. Salvation is not a mere change in location (going to heaven).

And this makes sense when it is considered thoughtfully. The problems within our existence are not rooted in location. I do not hate, cheat, lie and hurt others simply because I'm living in the wrong place, and my re-location to some ideal paradise will not, in-and-of-itself, make a difference in what must be changed. If you put me in paradise right now, with no change in me, then I'll ruin the place for others in very short order.

I have observed on a number of occasions that parish Churches are either paradise or a colony of hell. This is true simply because of the state of the heart. Those who carry hell in their hearts make the world hell for all around them. Those who carry paradise within are the bringers of paradise. And so we pray when we approach communion that the Holy Gifts would be "neither for our judgment nor our condemnation," but "for the healing of soul and body."

That "healing of soul and body" is measured by "the fullness of the stature of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). Anything less than this is not the salvation promised in the Scriptures. In truth, if heaven is not dwelling in our hearts, then nothing outside of us will seem as heaven. And if hell is dwelling in our hearts, everything around us will seem like hell. In the words of St. Macarius:

The heart itself is but a small vessel, yet dragons are there, and there are also lions; there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil. But there too is God, the angels, the life and the kingdom, the light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasuries of grace - all things are there.

This marks the daily struggle of the Christian - the life of paradise versus the life of hell. These are not external rewards and punishments but simply ways of speaking about the state of the heart - ways of describing what we are becoming.

It has been my experience that those who judge others are almost always inwardly condemning themselves. Those who regularly speak well of all and even excuse others have an inward peace. It is troubling that there are so many of the former and so few of the latter. Will there be many who are saved?

Glory to God for All Things.

Charity Or Loving as God Loves

by CNA.com

The two terms "love" and "charity" are frequently used interchangeably, and with good reason, since the virtue of charity is in fact a kind of love. However, the two are not identical; not all forms of love are also charity. For example, we often hear expressions like, "I love hot chocolate," or "I love basketball," or even "I love America," and these kinds of love, while all good in themselves, still fall somewhat short of the love that is charity.

What sort of love is charity, then? Quite simply, charity is the Love of God, in which we are able to participate. Remember, as we discussed several lessons ago, every theological virtue means a share in God's activity. Faith, for instance, is a share in God's act of knowing, whereby the believer knows what God knows. Hope is a share in God's desire; the person with the virtue of Hope wants the same thing God wants, that is, for the person in question to make it to union with God in Heaven. Charity too is a mode of participating in God's action, the highest mode, for with Charity we share in God's act of love; we are able to love the way God loves.

God's Love: Selfless and Sacrificial

All this begs the question: how does God love? What especially characterizes Divine loving? The only way to find the answer is to examine how God loves us. More precisely, we have to reflect on how God manifests His love in the two great moments of Divine love for humanity. Those two moments are Creation and the Incarnation.

Creation might be accurately described as God loving things into existence. He loves you and me, and because of this love we actually come to be. The fact that we are is founded on the fact that God loves us. But why? Why does He love us, why does He give us existence and life and all good things? Is it because God somehow needs us, or because we make Him happier than He would be without us? Would God be less good, or less great, or less joyful if we weren't around? Absolutely not. God is already, in Himself, infinitely happy, infinitely good, and infinitely great, so it's inconceivable that we could add to Him in any way.

On the contrary, God doesn't benefit from creation at all. Supplying creatures with existence is a pure gift, without any gain on His part. Creatures receive everything from the act of creation; the Creator receives nothing from it. From the Divine perspective, creation is an act of love which is totally and in all ways selfless.

This love which God bears for humanity is most dramatically exemplified in the mystery of the Incarnation. After the human race had responded to divine gifts with ingratitude, pride and disobedience, it was plunged by its own sin into desolation and misery. The world became dominated by physical suffering and death and also by spiritual evil that killed the soul. We had thrown ourselves down the well of sin and sorrow, and we lack the means of getting back out.

Yet out of His vast love, God chose to become man in a staggering act of humility. He goes on to suffer the most horrible agonies, culminating in death on a cross, and then rises from the dead after three days in the tomb. All this He does for our sakes, even though there was nothing personally for Him to profit from it, and even though we had so disdainfully scorned His gifts of life and love. Here then, we see God loving in a manner that is still selfless, but also excruciatingly sacrificial.

Two Kinds of Love

The two chief characteristics of God's love are, therefore, selflessness and sacrifice. Consequently, in the virtue of Charity, our love must embody these two attributes. Of course, the fact that we must be selfless does not imply that we can never consider our own needs and desires. After all, the virtue of hope is based on fulfilling one's own need: "I want to get to Heaven; I need to get to Heaven." Hope is the desire for supernatural good insofar as it will make oneself happy. This is, in itself, completely appropriate, but it must also be complimented by charity, which is the desire for supernatural good insofar as something which will make God and neighbor happy.

To have a proper understanding of selflessness, we must first understand that there are two kinds of love. "Love" itself is often a difficult idea to get a handle on. We tend to use it without any reflection on its precise significance. The broadest definition of love is: To want some good for someone. Pretty much every time someone uses the word "love" it involves a movement towards some good thing for some person.

But there are two ways to want some good for someone. The first way is wanting some good for yourself. Phrases like "I love Pizza," "I love summer vacation," "I love the Kansas City Chiefs," or "I love being in a romantic relationship," all describe this first kind of love. It's based on wanting one's own happiness. However, there is also another form of love which involves wanting some good for someone else. So, for example, if I were to say, "I love my son; I'd do anything for him," it would indicate that what I desire is for my son to be happy. Examples of this second love are the way all parents are supposed to love their children, the way Mother Teresa loved the poor, or the way we are all supposed to love our enemies. It does not refer to concern for our own enjoyment, but rather a willingness to work for someone else's well-being.

Now, these two loves, the first which is self-focused and the second which is other-focused, are complimentary. Ideally, one should experience both. Consider the love between a husband and wife. When the man says, "I love you," to the woman, he normally means a) "You make me happy," and b) "I will try to make you happy." However, if all love is reduced to the first kind of statement, that is, to self-focused love, then love is impoverished and of little worth. Such love will not fulfill, and will eventually collapse. In dealing with those around us, we should strive to foster both forms of love.

The same is true in our relationship with God. In fact, we have already discussed the self-focused love that ought to propel us towards union with God, namely, hope. Hope motivates the Christian to do what is right in order to attain Heaven, which one realizes to be one's everlasting happiness. Charity, however, is the second kind of love, and it motivates the Christian to do what is right in order to bring about the happiness of God and neighbor. In Charity, we say to God and neighbor, "I will try to make you happy, I will try to serve you, I will make your good my priority."

Of course, such a selfless attitude always involves sacrifice. If you've ever made someone else's happiness a priority, then you know it's not easy. In fact, the proof of charity is measured by sacrifice. If we have a selfless love for God and neighbor, we will be willing to suffer in order to serve them. This is the ultimate test of love, as Our Lord Himself testifies, "No one has greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."1

Charity Towards God

What does all this mean practically? How can we concretely practice a selfless and sacrificial love? Well, the first step is to stop thinking about our faith, our religion, and our lives as Catholics as if it was just about us. We have to keep in mind that our number-one purpose in life is to serve God, to please Him. So we must not evaluate our spiritual life based on whether we get anything out of it. Many people do this; they quit praying, or going to confession, or going to mass, because they "don't get anything out of it." That's an indication that they are lacking the virtue of charity, that their relationship with God is fundamentally selfish.

We are supposed to have frequent prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments not based primarily on what we personally get out of it, but because it pleases God, because it makes Him happy. Charity means a willingness to sacrifice our time and energy and preferences in order to go to God in prayer and in the sacramental life of mass and confession in order to show our love for Him. That's the key point: we're not just doing this for ourselves, but for our Creator, Our Loving Father.

This also means that our prayers should also avoid the tendency to be exclusively self-focused. Often times our prayers include the following phrases: "Give me this," "Help me with this," "Here's what's happening in my life," "What should I do?" etc... These sorts of prayers are good, necessary, and not to be disparaged. God wants us to tell Him what we need, and what's going on with us. However there should also be prayers which are focused on God, prayers like: "Thank You," "You are so good," "You have done so much for me," and so on. To keep charity alive, we must remember that prayer is not just petition; it's also praise and thanksgiving.

Charity Towards Neighbor

Again, our standard for charity towards those around us is God's love. In fact, Christ explicitly gave us this standard, saying, "A new commandment I give you: love one another as I have loved you,"2 that is, selflessly and sacrificially. Consequently, whether we have genuine charity for our neighbors depends on whether we are willing to give selflessly and sacrificially for their sakes. Notice that Our Lord does not offer this principle as advice, but rather as a commandment; we are obliged to love selflessly and sacrificially. As Christians, we are obliged to spend time with people we don't enjoy, to be kind to our enemies, to strive for reconciliation with estranged family members, and to show our affection for people we don't get along with.

It also means that we must learn and practice the Works of Mercy, both corporeal and spiritual. The seven corporeal works of mercy are those which care for the bodily wants of our brothers and sisters. They are: Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, ransoming the captive,3 caring for the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. The chief opportunity for us to lend material aid to those in need is in giving alms; our financial donations to help the poor is a critical aspect of fraternal charity, and is a work pleasing to God. Our Lord Himself declares how closely He associates Himself with the poor to whom we are generous, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."4

The seven spiritual works of mercy are those which promote spiritual welfare. They are instructing, counseling, admonishing, comforting, praying for the living and the dead, forgiving willingly, and bearing wrongs patiently. So it is actually a work of kindness and charity to explain the faith to someone who is ignorant about it, to correct someone who has sinned, to pray for the poor souls in purgatory, and so forth. These works are just as crucial for our lives as Christians, for we cannot simply focus on serving the body of our neighbors and ignore the needs of the soul.

Perhaps one of the most important applications of the virtue of charity to daily life regards the institution of marriage. Charity demands that if we get married, we continue to love and serve our spouses even if we feel like we can't stand them another second. It is a shame that in today's society, marriage, like religion, is so often treated as something a person sticks with "as long as it works for him." Then, when the relationship between spouses becomes unpleasant, the standard response is simply to quit. The Catholic understanding of marriage, by contrast, is one whereby the spouses learn the art of charity through service and sacrifice. The husband should not think about how the wife should be satisfying him, but how he should be laying down his life for her. The same goes for the wife. And of course, this will involve great pain and difficulty. Remember, marriage is founded on the model of Christ's love for the Church, and Christ showed that love by undergoing excruciating torment and death for the sake of His Spouse. Consequently, to think of a marriage apart from sacrifice is like thinking of Christ apart from the Cross. Such a relationship will be empty, and will lack an enduring foundation of charity.

This final virtue, the virtue of Charity, is the summit of the Christian life and the beginning of everlasting happiness. And yet, in some way, it seems like a kind of inversion of the program with which we began this course. After all, we started out with trying to show how "you" could be happy, that is, through the personal attainment of the basic human goods, and now we've ended by saying that the ultimate means to happiness is to focus not on your happiness, but on the happiness of God and Neighbor. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what God and Neighbor can do for you; ask what you can do for God and neighbor." Only Charity can ultimately prevent us from becoming locked in our own selfish solitude. Only someone who has put himself at the disposal of those in his life will really be able to open himself up and experience the bliss of ecstasy.

So at last we see that seeking personal fulfillment is not enough; rather we must transcend our own good and act on behalf of the other. To be sure, we cannot stop pursuing the basic goods and eternal happiness, but Charity teaches us not pursue them only for our own sake, but also with an eye to serving God and neighbor. We have to make their happiness our objective if we would ever be truly happy ourselves.

References:

1 Jn 15:13

2 Jn 13:34

3 Note that "ransoming the captive" applies par excellence to the pro-life movement, that is, trying to save the babies held captive by the culture of death.

4 Mt 25:40

Source: CNA.com

Live Wisely - Let the World See You Are a Christian

by Stephen Davey

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
- James 3:13

I remember arriving at my first Driver's Ed class and being thrilled to discover the car I would be learning to drive was a Volkswagen Bug. My parents had the same stick shift VW at home, and I knew I was already way down the road, so to speak! I had spent hours driving in our neighborhood, learning to back up and pull in without popping the clutch too quickly and stalling. Frankly, I was ready to go.

I slipped into the driver's seat, my instructor in the seat next to me. I pushed in the clutch, started the engine, put the car in first gear, pressed the gas pedal, eased off the clutch, and away we went. Suddenly the car screeched to a halt. I looked over and discovered that my instructor had a set of brakes on his side of the car - something my wife has wanted for years!

He looked at me and said, "Young man, we're not here to race anybody . . . you're gonna learn to drive according to my rules."

Frankly, learning to walk as a Christian is much like learning to drive. We have to do it by His rules.

As you grow in your faith, your understanding and application of the Bible is constantly tested and sharpened. Like driving, the scenery's always changing. You not only have to keep your eye on the road but on others who are sharing the road with you. Walking with Christ isn't for cowards!

Maybe that's why so many people prefer to stay in the garage. We learned to drive; we have our license. We've earned the right to get behind the wheel. And that's good enough . . . we'll let someone else do all the driving.

James is telling us here that in order to grow up in Christ we have to take what we learn from God's Word out onto the open road. Drivers don't show people they are good drivers by flashing a driver's license; they show it by driving. In the same way, Christians don't show their faith by talking about the date they came to Christ - they show it by doing good works and by doing those works in the gentleness of wisdom.

Wisdom is really the key point, by the way. You can look around and find some really good people who aren't believers. Many of them are humanitarians, soldiers, doctors, counselors. Some are better at doing good than Christians are!

But the difference is one day they will all throw their good works at Christ's feet and say, "Look what I've done! This is why I deserve to be in heaven!" And Christ will stun them by saying, "Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, for I never knew you" (Luke 13:27).

The truth is unbelievers are not motivated by the Spirit of God. No matter what they do, they are doing good works so that people will see their good works and glorify them or, perhaps, they will simply feel better about themselves. Christians do good works in humility, knowing that people will look at those works and glorify their Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). And James considers this the life of wisdom.

The more we take our faith out of the garage and onto the highway, the more opportunities we'll have to say, "Look what a great Savior I serve!"

So live wisely today, friend. Let the world see our good works, and then let them hear us return the glory to Whom it belongs . . . it may surprise us how much God will use us when we refuse to accept the credit.

Prayer Point:

Have you been accepting too many compliments on your own lately? Do you need the reminder to give the glory to God? Ask Him today to give you the wisdom and humility needed to make a real difference in the world.

Extra Refreshment:

Read John 3:25-30 and stand amazed at the humility of one of Israel's greatest prophets, John the Baptist.

Source: A Wisdom Retreat

Three Anti-Inflammation Recipes To Help Restore Your Health

Nutrition Icon Offers Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Options

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

The link between chronic disease and inflammation based on a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle has been made clear by now, as outlined in an article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The article explores how humankind uncovered the tools to overcome infectious disease with germ theory, posited in the 19th Century. More than a century later, as we've encountered the wrath of chronic disease – including heart disease, cancer, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others – research has identified a modern-day equivalent, this time caused by inflammation.

"The best medicine to ease the massive suffering endured by so many in our population today is an active lifestyle and an anti-inflammatory diet; food should be nourishing and pleasurable," says nutritionist and juicing pioneer Cherie Calbom, MS. ("The Juice Lady"). Her latest book, "The Juice Lady's Anti-Inflammation Diet," (www.juiceladycherie.com), outlines the causes of inflammation and offers solutions with healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as robust juicing recipes.

"Whether you're on a vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, no-carb, Mediterranean, Neanderthal or any other kind of diet, there are delicious recipes available to anyone who wants to up their anti-inflammation efforts."

Calbom lists just three of her many recipes, with some ingredients that may already be found in your pantry, she says.

Breakfast: Spanish frittata and simple salad with maple orange vinaigrette
(serves 4-6).

Frittata:

Ingredients:

12 large organic eggs;
½ cup coconut milk;
½ tsp. sea salt, or more to taste;
2 tbsp. coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil;
1 small red onion, small chop;
½ cup sautéed mushrooms or your favorite vegetable;
1 cup spinach or arugula.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 deg C). Whisk the eggs and coconut milk with 2 pinches of salt. Set aside.

Prepare pan with coconut oil and medium-high heat and sauté onions until translucent, about 3 min. Add mushroom or favorite vegetable and sauté until soft. Toss in spinach and fold into veggie mixture just until wilted. Remove vegetables from pan; set aside.

Turn down the heat to low, adding a little more coconut oil if needed.

Using the same skillet, add the eggs, shaking to distribute the mixture evenly. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 min. using a spatula to spread the eggs from the edges to the center until the edges are no longer runny. Arrange the vegetable mixture over the top evenly.

Transfer to a 375-dgree oven and cook for 5 minutes until set and slightly browned. Remove from oven. Be very aware of the hot handle!

To finish, slide partially cooked frittata onto a large plate; wearing oven mitts, place a plate over the pan and, holding the two together, invert them so the frittata drops onto the plate. Slide the frittata back into the pan so partially cooked side is up. Place back in oven to cook 3-4 min. more.

"The simple salad with maple orange vinaigrette is something I dreamed up for a 'breakfast for dinner' themed night – a nice complement to the main dish," she says.

Lunch: Tropical quinoa salad with cashews with carrot fries
(serves 4).

Quinoa:

Ingredients:

1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed well;
½ red onion, finely chopped;
1 cup apple or carrot, finely chopped;
juice of 1 lime, 2 tbsp. honey or agave;
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil;
1 large mango, chopped (not overly ripe);
¼ cup mint, finely chopped;
1 tsp. seal salt, to taste;
freshly ground black pepper, to taste;
½-inch-piece ginger, finely chopped;
1 avocado, chopped or thinly sliced;
1 cup cashews, coarsely chopped;
3 cups Romaine lettuce (or greens of choice), roughly chopped.

Directions:

Cook the quinoa: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add the quinoa and simmer, covered 15-20 min. Set aside and let cool (spread out for best results).

In a large bowl toss the chopped red onion and apple/carrot. Whisk together the lime juice, honey and olive oil. Add to the bowl.

Add the cooked, cooled quinoa and mango to the bowl and toss well. Mix in mint, cilantro, ginger and salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with sliced avocado and cashews. Scoop mixture over greens and serve chilled or at room temperature.

"Who doesn't like French fries? – Carrot fries are a healthy alternative!" Calbom says.

Dinner: Grilled salmon and asparagus with stone fruit and lavender chutney
(serves 4-6).

Chutney:

Ingredients:

2 lb. stone fruit, small dice;
1 large onion, finely chopped;
zest of 1 lemon or lime;
2 tbsp. garlic, minced;
¼ tsp. chili flakes (optional);
1/3 cup red wine vinegar;
¾ cup raw honey or agave;
¾ tsp. sea salt;
2 tbsp. fresh lavender (or use basil or mint;
use 1 tsp. dried lavender if you cannot find it fresh).

Directions:

In a saucepan combine all prepared ingredients except the herbs. Bring to a boil. Continue cooking at a rolling boil, 15 min. Stir occasionally. Mix in fresh herbs and/or lavender at the end.

"This chutney will get you excited for salmon all over again," she says. "Of course, buy wild salmon, which is significantly healthier and environmentally friendly."

Snack: Cherry Chocolate Shake
(serves 1).

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. unsweetened, unprocessed cocoa powder;
½ cup frozen dark cherries, pitted;
1 cup coconut; almond or flax milk;
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract;
several drops of liquid stevia (suggest Sweet Leaf Vanilla Creme);
ice cubes as desired

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

About Cherie Calbom, M.S.

Cherie Calbom holds a Master of Science degree in whole foods nutrition from Bastyr University. She is author of 26 books including The Juice Lady's Anti-Inflammation Diet, (www.juiceladycherie.com), The Juice Lady's Big Book of Juices and Green Smoothies, The Juice Lady's Turbo Diet, Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing for Life, The Juice Lady's Living Foods Revolution, The Complete Cancer Cleanse, and Juicing for Life with over 2 million books sold in the US and published in 23 countries. She has worked as a celebrity nutritionist with George Foreman and Richard Simmons.

Christ's Childhood Home Found?

by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Exterior of the house where Jesus was raised

Exterior of the house where Jesus was raised (according to a British Archaeologist
Dr Ken Dark.) Overall the design of the house was typical of early Roman
settlements in the Galilee.

The "historical Jesus" is only of passing interest in comparison to the Lord of Salvation.

The Daily Mail has a piece about how archaeologists, reading medieval manuscripts, have identified a likely place …

Hewn into a hillside, this is the humble stone and mortar house where a scholar believes Jesus was raised.

It has been dated to the early 1st century by a British archaeologist who says an ancient text points to the building as being the home in Nazareth where Mary and Joseph brought up the son of God.

Professor Ken Dark says De Locis Sanctis, written in 670 by Irish monk Adomnan, described the house as located between two tombs and below a church.

The text was based on a pilgrimage to Nazareth made by the Frankish bishop Arculf and tells of a church 'where once there was the house in which the Lord was nourished in his infancy'.

In the Byzantine era, and again in the 12th century at the time of the Crusades, the ruins of the building were incorporated into churches – suggesting it was of great significance and needed to be protected, the Reading University archaeologist argues.

The house was cut into a limestone hillside and has a series of rooms and a stairway. One of the original doorways has survived, as has part of the original chalk floor.

Writing in the journal Biblical Archaeological Review, Dr Dark says that while he has no proof, there is 'no good reason' to believe it was not Jesus' home.

He has been researching the ruins, in what is now northern Israel, since 2006.

The house was first identified as significant in the 1880s after the chance discovery of by nuns an ancient cistern. An excavation was ordered.

Jesuit priest Henri Senes carried out more work in 1936.

Since 2006, Dr Dark's team has discovered broken cooking pots, a spindle whorl and limestone artifacts.

The limestone items suggest a Jewish family lived there as Jews believed that limestone could not be impure – and Mary and Joseph were living in Nazareth when the angel Gabriel revealed that Mary would give birth to the son of God, a baby to be named Jesus.

Dr Dark, a specialist in first century and Christian archaeology, argues that the house he believes was Jesus' boyhood home matches Adomnan's account.

It is located beneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent, which is across the road from Church of Annunciation in Nazareth.

The Adomnan text describes two churches in Nazareth, one of which was the Church of Annunciation.

Dr Dark writes: 'The other stood nearby and was built near a vault that also contained a spring and the remains of two tombs.'

The Sisters of Nazareth Convent matches this because there is evidence of a large Byzantine church with a spring and two tombs in its crypt, he says.

Dr Dark writes: 'Great efforts had been made to encompass the remains of this building. Both the tombs and the house were decorated with mosaics in the Byzantine period, suggesting that they were of special importance, and possibly venerated.

'Was this the house where Jesus grew up? It is impossible to say on archaeological grounds.

'On the other hand, there is no good archaeological reason why such an identification should be discounted.'

In 2009 archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority found another 1st century home nearby they believed had been occupied by a Jewish family. However they were able to say only that Jesus may have lived near the site.

There are lots of photos on this link:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2976157/Is-Jesus-childhood-home-Ancient-text-points-Century-structure-Messiah-lived.html

Source: Fr. Z's Blog; Dailymail.co.uk

From Iraq to Syria: the Genocidal Ordeal of the Assyrians

By Joseph Yacoub

(AINA) -- The Assyrian-Chaldean community is facing dark times and a distressing situation. These criminal attacks, these innocent kidnappings (more than 250 people, young people, women and older people are taken into captivity), the forced exile of thousands of people (more than 3000 refugees in Hassake and Qamishli) those martyred (more than 10 already) are a terrible shock to a community that has endured in the past much suffering.

A new tragedy and collective extermination against the Assyrian-Chaldeans is once more unfolding before our eyes in pain and blood in Syria, since Monday February 23rd, following that of Iraq where the Nineveh province is still in mourning since its invasion by the terrorist groups of the so-called "Islamic State", one June the 10th and July the 17th of 2014.

With the destruction of historical monuments that date back more than 3000 years of history and the demolition of churches and sanctuaries by a band of nihilist obscurantists, the memory of a people and traces of a civilization, Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of humanity, that holds a tangible and intangible world heritage, is being erased.

These acts of vandalism have been vigorously denounced by the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova.

Early on the morning of Monday February 23rd, the ISIS terror befell the Assyrian villages of Khabur, with the first persecutions having begun in September, with the summing of removal of crosses from churches.

The irony is that these new victims, these worthy son of Hakkari, their ancestral home, are precisely the children of the deported from Iraq massacres of 1933, themselves survivors of the 1915 genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

Syria was the third country of refuge

They live in the northeast of Syria, since 1933, on the 2 banks of the Khabur River in 35 villages between the towns of Hassake (which is my hometown) and Ras al-Ain. It is with joy that I spent my childhood and youth between Hassake and the Assyrian villages where I fed on the love of the Assyrian country and learned the pride of belonging to this people.

Who are the Assyrians?

The documents of the League of Nations (SDN), which is the UN between the wars, claim that the Assyrians were "driven from their mountains by Turkish forces" in 1915 and "took refuge in Urmia, Persia, that was, at the time, in the hands of Russian troops."

After 1915, a new tragedy occurred, the exodus of the Assyrian-Chaldeans of Persia to Iraq on the 31st of July 1918. This terrible exodus is described in these terms: "After traveling in the stampede 300 miles (480 km) towards the south-east, with their families, their livestock and their property, the Assyrians finally reached Hamadan, decimated by perpetual attacks of the Turks, Kurds and Persians on all sides. Burned by the heat of the summer, ravaged by typhus, dysentery, smallpox and cholera, the old and young, exhausted by fatigue and fever, were abandoned on the roadside, and the dead and dying marked the path to retreat. In the end, after losing 20,000 of them, the survivors reached Hamadan and made contact with the British troops."

Fifteen years after arriving in Iraq (1918-1933), they were again victims of massacres that were at the time largely reflected by the international press, namely French.

Yet when Iraq gained independence and was admitted to the League of Nations on October 30th 1932, commitments were made to establish the Assyrians, who originated in Hakkari, as a homogeneous ethnic unity and compact group. However, the word "unit" was in the plural, thus maintaining the dispersion of the people. At the time, three key ideas summarized their demands homogeneous institution, administrative autonomy and right to collect taxes.

All efforts to establish the Assyrian unity had failed due to the resistance of the Iraqi authorities. Therefore, it was before such a state of dispersion, disunity and sloshing that the situation was becoming more and more critical.

Massacres took place in the village of Simmele and other localities in northern Iraq in August of 1933, committed by the now independent Iraqi state.

They made state of 3000 victims killed in atrocious conditions. It was then that a number of Assyrian mountaineers once again took the road on a forced exile to Syria, where they were greeted and seated in the Khabur region by the French authorities who then had the Mandate of Syria, entrusted by the League.

Villages cited as model

They built villages and developed agricultural land that lay fallow. They were cited as a model of success and loyalty to Syria.

We can mention with pride the list of major Assyrian villages built with their labor, estimated at 35, which is a microcosm and a reproduction that reminded them of the Hakkari:

Um Gargan Arbouch Tal Tal Hormuz Damshesh Tal Tal Tal Tal Maghada, Kharita, Alkeif Um, Um Waqfa Abu Tina, Qabr Shamiyeh, Baloaa Tal Tal Goran Shamiram Tal Tal Jazirah, Talaa Tal Tal Najme, Hefian Tal Tal Nasri, Baz Tal Tal Jumaa, Maghas Tal Tal Masas, Jadaya Tal Tal Tawil, Tamer Tal Tal Kepchi, Faidat Tal Tal Ahmar Tal Ruman Tahtani Tal Ruman Fokani, Brej Tal Tal Sakra, Wardiate Tal Tal Shamyeh.

The Khabur, a miniature of the Hakkari

What is extraordinary, from an anthropological and sociological point of view, is that when they arrived in the Khabur, Assyrians reproduced the structures of tribal organization, clan, family and religion prevailing since ancient times in Hakkari.

Thus, Tal Damshesh was occupied by the people of Konak, called Qotchesnaye, a village which was until 1915 the Patriarchal Headquarter of March Shimoun , the Baznaye inTal Baz and Tal Ruman Tahtani, the Talnaye in Tal Tal, the Djeloaye in Qabr Shamiye, the Tchalnaye in Tal Brej, the Gounouknaye in Tal Sakra and Qabr Shamyeh, the Mazernaye in Tal Wardiate, the Deznaye in Tal Baloaa, the Gavarnaye in Tal Goran and Tal Maghas, the Marbouchnaye in Tal Shamiram, the Halemnaye in Tal Jumaa, the Barwarnaye in Tal Masas, the Ilynnaye in Tal Jadaya, the Tiaraye in Tal Tamer, the Akernaye in Tal Kepchi the Mazernaye in Tal Ruman Fokani ....

The defense of their identity, ethnic, cultural and religious

This story is transmitted, since, as an intangible heritage through songs, illustrated by folklore, perpetuated by many poems and literary productions.

Belonging to the Assyrian Church of the East, formerly called Nestorian, grouped around their Patriarch (who lived in exile) and their leaders (the Maleks), they built churches whose names recall their saints, those they worshiped the country, as Saint Shalita, Saint Zaya, Saint Petion, Saint Guiwarguis, Saint Sarguis, Saint Bichou ...and every village is composed mainly of the tribe and clan to which they belonged.

A knowingly planned strategy and a crime against humanity

Since the 23rd of February the situation has been extremely worrying, with several villages like Tal Tamer, Tal Shamiram, Tal Tawil and Tal Hormuz attacked by ultra radical Islamists, equipped with heavy artillery.

Misfortune has befallen this peaceful community that asks for nothing more than its share of life and the right to dignity and respect.

Fed by a political ideology of hate, this is a strategy concerted and carefully prepared for the goal of emptying the region of its Christian population, destabilizing, sowing fear and spreading terror.

Faced with these cruel and barbaric acts, it is urgent to respond by taking concrete measures to break this passivity and inconsistency in which the international community delights.

How did we reach this situation? What contempt of the human being and what decline of civilization.

This address was delivered at the event for the Assyrians Khabur (Syria), in Sarcelles, Sunday 1 March 2015.

Translated from French by Maguy Chiha.

About The Author:

Joseph Yacoub is Honorary Professor (Political Science) from the Catholic University of Lyon.

Source: AINA, Assyrian International News Agency

About Malankara World
With over 6000 articles and hundreds of links to outside resources covering all aspects of Syriac Orthodoxy that are of interest to Family, Malankara World is the premier source for information for Malankara Diaspora. In addition to articles on spirituality, faith, sacraments, sermons, devotionals, etc., Malankara World also has many general interest articles, health tips, Food and Cooking, Virtual Travel, and Family Specific articles. Please visit Malankara World by clicking here or cut and paste the link on your browser: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/default.htm

Malankara World Journal Subscription

If you are not receiving Malankara World Journal directly, you may sign up to receive it via email free of cost. Please click here: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Register/news_regn.asp

You can contact us via email at mail@malankaraworld.com

Malankara World Journal Archives

Previous Issues of Malankara World Journal can be read from the archives here.

You can contact us via email at mail@malankaraworld.com

Thank you for your help and support.

Malankara World Team

Malankara World Journal is published by MalankaraWorld.com http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/
Copyright © 2011-2015 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.