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

Happy Birthday Malankara World Journal!!

Volume 5 No. 280 April 15, 2015

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A special Song for a Special Birthday, Columbus Ohio 2014, copyright 2014 Malankara World
A Special Song for a Special Birthday

This photo was taken during the Ecumenical Christmas Program organized by OMCC in Columbus, Ohio in December 2014. It features Jaya Eapen and Ayesha Eapen, daughters of Dr. Binay Eapen. While 'chechy' (elder sister) is seriously singing, Ayesha is having fun playing Peekaboo. So cute and adorable!!

Photo by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

TABLE OF CONTENTS
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1. Foreword

It is our fourth birthday; but you get the cake. ...

2. The Gift Of Inspiration

"Inspiration is the appearance in your mind of a thought you have never thought before." - Raymond Charles Barker ...

3. Integrity: The King's Test

We live in a world that puts a lot of value in how things appear, but God is looking for followers who speak honestly and live with integrity. When we live a lifestyle that honors truth, we're living a life that honors God. ...

4. The Essence of the Christian Ministry - Go Serve the Lord With Gladness

The incarnation of the Word is the central truth of Christianity and the very foundation of our faith. As John tells us, he writes concerning the word of life - "the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us."

That was the message of the Apostles, and it is the message that is now entrusted to us. ...

5. The Power of a Hug - 50 Years Later

My friends, frequently people ask me what to say to a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer, what to say to someone who has lost a spouse, what words to say to someone who is struggling.

Difficulty, challenge, strife and loss are absolutely part of life. ...

6. The Power of Thank You

Interestingly, learning how to say thank you had a greater impact than I imagined. People who were marginalized in the church became more active in time. Those who had contributed and given for years actually gave more. Individuals who had become disenfranchised with the church found a new spirit and life. ...

7. How Living with Less Has Brought Me More Freedom

Though it has been a slow, somewhat cyclical process, I've come to accept the fact that our treasure is not here on earth. As Christians, we are told to "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). ...

8. Thomas Jefferson's 11 Rules for a Great Life

"Whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun," was Jefferson's rule. He kept this habit for fifty years, getting up as soon as the sun lit the hands on the clock opposite his bed. Jefferson never missed out on his morning Magic Time by sleeping late, and because of this he was able to leave a long lasting legacy. If you want a good life, follow his 10 rules, but if you want to live a great life and leave your own lasting legacy, President Jefferson and I encourage you to add his secret eleventh rule for success. ...

9. Daily Deeds of Kindness

In the final days of Jesus' life, he shared a meal with his friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Within the week he would feel the sting of the Roman whip, the point of the thorny crown, and the iron of the executioner's nail. But on this evening, he felt the love of three friends. ...

10. What Can God Do Through You?

Today, what can God do through you? It isn't about how qualified you feel. It isn't about how talented you are; it's really about how yielded you are. When you obey God, when you trust Him beyond trusting your circumstances, that's when His power becomes available to you. ...

11. Are Your Prayers Big Enough?: The 'whys' and 'hows' of "praying big"

"Prayer should be as big as God's promises and as full as God's resources. Your requests should require the full power and provision of God." These are the prayers that depend fully on God--only he can make them happen. ...

12. About Malankara World

Foreword
Happy Birthday Malankara World Journal
Happy Birthday Malankara World Journal
Born April 15, 2011

 
Today, April 15, we celebrate the fourth birthday of Malankara World Journal (In Kerala, they call it fifth birthday.) The parent website, dubbed Baselios Church Digital Library, came into existence in 2009. So, Malankara World is six years old now.

Malankara World Journal started as a small newsletter for Easter and grew to become a spiritual staple for our families. To-date, we published 279 issues. That comes out to about 70 issues/year - 208 weekly issues and 71 special supplements (about 18 specials/year on top of the weekly issues.). We never missed a weekly issue, in spite of other major commitments. Our special supplements have become collector's editions: especially the issues on LL Zakka I bava, Issue 100, Issue 200, Issue 250, Special Edition on Women in Church, Special Issue on Christian Persecution, etc. etc. Please pray that we can maintain this momentum.

We thank you for your prayers, support and suggestions. A special thanks goes to His Eminence Yeldo Mor Theethose, Archbishop of Malankara Archdiocese of Syrian Orthodox Church in North America, our Patron, and the members of the Editorial and Advisory Committee.

Malankara World Journal now goes to every corner of the globe. We are gratified that it helps people. Last month, after seeing sunrise on our cover page, my cousin in Australia (we call her SS - Singapore Susan) went and shot some breathtaking photos of Sunrise in OZ.

Sunrise in OZ by Rita Burgess (c) 2015, SS and Malankara World
Sunrise in OZ by SS

 

This photo reminded me of the Resurrection Day - a new day unveiling for Christians. It is a new day for Malankara World Journal too.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

The Gift Of Inspiration

by Wes Hopper

"Inspiration is the appearance in your mind of a thought you have never thought before." Raymond Charles Barker

One of the great things about the human mind is the way it goes off on tangents of its own at times.

Sometimes those can be laughable, sometimes disturbing, and other times just plain inspiring!

Our mind is a great puzzle-solver, and it doesn't seem to wait for us to give it a puzzle to solve. It seems to just invent puzzles, solve them, and hand us the answer.

At other times it can surprise us, as we struggle with some problem that has us baffled. Our mind seems to be no help at all, until we set down the problem and go do something else.

Then our mind pops up with the answer! It seems as though the mind wants to remind us how good it is at solving problems.

That's where the inspiration that our quote is mentioning comes from. We get served up thoughts that we've never had before, to help us solve problems that we never solved before.

The mind is pretty handy to have around, isn't it?
Give it a pat on the frontal lobe!

Integrity: The King's Test

by Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Culture Editor

The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out. - Proverbs 10:9

There's an old folktale I'd like to share today.

Once upon a time, there lived a king who was beloved by all his subjects. Though he was a wise and just ruler he was also old, and had no heir to take his place when he died. The king decided to hold a contest so that he might choose a successor, and sent out a decree for all the kingdom's children to gather at his palace. Once the last boy and girl had arrived, the king placed them all in single file and gave to each of them a seed.

"Take these seeds and plant them in good soil." He commanded, "In one year's time, return to the palace with your flowers. I will examine how much they have grown and how well you have cared for them, the one who impresses me the most will become the new king."

So the children set off into the land and the kingdom waited eagerly for a year to pass. On the day of their return, a large crowd gathered at the palace to try and guess which shrub the king would choose. Some of the children appeared holding giant flowers with strong stalks, others had beautiful petals that gave off a sweet aroma. The king examined them all with great interest until he came upon a boy holding nothing but a jar of dirt.

"What have we here?" asked the king, "Didn't I say to go plant your seed and return with it in a year's time?"

"My king," the boy answered timidly, "I did everything you told me to do. I planted your seed in the best soil I could find. I gave it plenty of sunlight, and made sure it was watered every day, but it wouldn't grow no matter what I did! So I've brought you all I've managed to accomplish, please forgive me."

The king smiled broadly and raised his voice to address the crowed,

"The contest is over. This boy shall become my heir. The seeds I gave the children a year ago had been cooked and died, they could never have taken root or bloomed. Many children brought me beautiful plants today, but only one came with integrity, and for that he shall be rewarded."

We live in a world that puts a lot of value in how things appear, but God is looking for followers who speak honestly and live with integrity. When we live a lifestyle that honors truth, we're living a life that honors God.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

Remember that God desires Christians to live their lives openly and without shame. Are you doing so?

Further Reading

Titus 2:1-14

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

The Essence of the Christian Ministry - Go Serve the Lord With Gladness

by Dr. Albert Mohler, President, SB Theological Seminary

This is the season of commencement. High schools, colleges, and universities mark graduation at the end of the academic year. Auditoriums, chapels, convention centers, stadiums, and campus lawns are filled with graduates, family members, faculty, and guests for what is almost always a formal event.

The human species thrives on ceremony. We mark the most momentous events of our lives with a formality that does not mark the ordinary days of our ordinary lives. Something extraordinary is taking place here, and we both sense and know it.

At the conclusion of this ceremony we will sing the seminary hymn, written in 1860 by Basil Manly, Jr. for the seminary's first commencement. As that hymn reminds us, these graduates are "Soldiers of Christ, in truth arrayed." That is an astounding affirmation - that God uses human instruments as the proclaimers and heralds of his revealed truth. We will see them come to receive degrees and diplomas as they strengthen the great army of God by their deployment to serve in a new and vital capacity. What Christian would not want to witness such an event?

That hymn closes with the poignant realization that "we meet to part, but part to meet, when earthly labors are complete." And so, here we are . . . meeting to part, but parting to meet.

The New Testament epistle we know as 1 John does not follow the traditional form of the first century letter. There is no greeting, and no introduction. The first three verses of the epistle are, in reality, a massive run-on sentence in the Greek text. Some scholars, such as I. Howard Marshall, suggest that this is really not a letter at all, but a sermon from the Apostle John that was circulated among the churches, cherished for its urgency and powerful truth.

By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it is the Word of God. Whether letter or sermon, it is a much-needed word. I draw our attention to the first four verses of 1 John, chapter one:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life- the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

John the Apostle begins by affirming the centrality of Jesus Christ to all that we know, all that we hope, and all that we preach. He specifically affirms the truth of the incarnation of Christ - the great news that he described in his gospel with the truth that "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." The church of the Lord Jesus Christ has indeed beheld his glory, the glory of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

That Word is from the beginning. John speaks in the first person for the apostles, who heard the Lord, saw him in the flesh with their eyes, and touched him with their hands. Later in this epistle, we are warned that there are those who deny that "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh." [1 John 4:2] In 2 John 1:7, John will warn: "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist."

The incarnation of the Word is the central truth of Christianity and the very foundation of our faith. As John tells us, he writes concerning the word of life - "the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us."

That was the message of the Apostles, and it is the message that is now entrusted to us. The graduates we celebrate today are called by God to be the heralds of the truth that eternal life is found in Jesus Christ, and in Christ alone. They are called to declare that salvation has come, and that the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting comes to all who call upon the name of the Lord and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

John expresses this hope when he writes, "that which we have seen and heard we proclaim to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." These graduates join the long line of faithful heralds who have followed the Apostles by teaching and preaching and taking this same Gospel. We preach the Gospel and share the Gospel in order that sinners may come to the saving knowledge of Christ, and then join in fellowship with all believers throughout all the ages. The even greater affirmation in this text is that the redeemed in Christ have fellowship, not only with each other in the communion of saints, but "with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ."

This assignment - the preaching and teaching of this Gospel - represents a calling that exceeds all others in eternal importance. The graduates we celebrate today are not professionals entering one profession among others. They are standing in the faith and message of the Apostles, commissioned by Christ to feed his sheep and let the nations be glad.

In verse four, John states that he has written these things "so that our joy many be complete." The New Testament speaks often of joy, but it is an awkward word in our contemporary vocabulary. We tend to confuse joy with mere happiness or an emotional state. And yet, putting together the comprehensive New Testament witness to joy, what John is talking about here is something much greater than happiness, and much more lasting than any emotional state.

John is writing about the joy that defies death, the joy that gives meaning to life, the joy that is tasted on earth but known fully only in heaven. John is writing about the joy that fuels the Christian calling, the joy that brings satisfaction as it rests and trusts in Christ, the joy that looks back to the cross and the empty tomb, the joy that marks Christian worship and service. John warns of a joy that can be lost if the truth is denied and the Gospel is subverted, but a joy that the world can never take away.

The joy we rightly claim this day for these graduates is a joy that cannot be imprinted on a diploma or conferred as a degree. It is a joy that summoned them to study, sustained them through years of arduous learning, and enlivened them in the late hours of the night and the breaking hours of the dawn. It is a joy we now share as we celebrate what God has done and the promise these graduates represent. But it is a hungry joy that looks forward to even greater joys ahead.

This is far superior to happiness. The Gospel has enemies. The church experiences tribulations. The ministry comes with heartaches as well as gratifications. But, as the book of James reminds us, we are to count it all joy.

John ends this introductory statement, not only to affirm the church's joy, but "so that our joy may be made complete." We cannot rest until the nations are made glad in the Gospel. We cannot cease our labors until the work is done. Only Christ can complete the joy that we now taste and share, and every generation of Christians is to serve faithfully until Christ completes our joy.

We meet to part, and part to meet. We find great joy in these graduates and in this occasion. We know full well that this moment will never be repeated, that this graduating class will never again be gathered together like this on earth. We know that within a few short hours all these chairs will be gone, the graduates will have dispersed, and only the leaves of grass will remain to testify of what has been done here.

We are at peace with that, though there is both joy and sorrow on this day - for there is a parting as much as a meeting that we experience here. In this is joy. A joy the world cannot understand, a joy that every Christian knows, and a joy that is not yet complete.

Graduates, go serve the Lord with gladness. Go to the pulpit, go to the church, go to the nations, and go with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Go . . . that our joy may be complete.

Editor's Note: Adapted from the commencement address to the graduates of The SB Theological Seminary, delivered May 20, 2011 by R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President.

The Power of a Hug - 50 Years Later

by John O'Leary, RisingAbove.com

"I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words." - Ann Hood

We met in a boardroom.

He came in with a big smile. After short introductions, we started talking about business.

Tom Manenti is the Chairmen and CEO of MiTek. It's an arm of the Berkshire Hathaway family of businesses. His boss is someone named Warren Buffet. (Yeah, I've never heard of him either!)

The more we talked business, the more we realized it wasn't just business that motivates us.

It's a love of people. Focus on mission. Desire to inspire others to live up to the fullness of their potential.

We finished our meeting talking about family, faith and our inflection points, or the moments in time that change the course of our lives.

For Tom, it was losing his mother when he was just nine-years-old. He remembers most vividly the first day back to school after the funeral.

As a 4th grader at Middle Road Elementary in Hazlet, NJ, he was totally overwhelmed with grief. No one knew what to say, so no one said anything. Everyone in class pretended it was just another day.

The final bell rang. The kids grabbed their stuff. They raced out of the classroom toward their homes; toward their families.

This day Tom walked home with a classmate named Bob. The two friends walked together in silence. Tom was too sad. The woman who always greeted him at the front door, would not be at home today. Or ever again.

When they got to the corner where they parted ways, Tom kept his head down as he continued towards his home alone.

After a few steps, Tom looked up. To his surprise, Little Bob was standing in front of him. He looked Tom directly in the eyes, and gave him a big, sincere and much-needed hug.

No words were exchanged.

The hug ended. Bob turned and walked toward his house. Tom continued toward his.

That was more than five decades ago.

The boys grew up. They got through school, started jobs, grew businesses, moved states, raised families and enjoyed life.

Last summer they reconnected with old friends for a weekend of golf. At a quiet moment, Tom brought up that day back in 1960. They'd never discussed it. Tom asked if Bob still remembered it.

"Rock," Bob replied using Tom's old nickname, "I remembered it vividly. I'll never forget it."

My friends, frequently people ask me what to say to a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer, what to say to someone who has lost a spouse, what words to say to someone who is struggling.

Difficulty, challenge, strife and loss are absolutely part of life.

Hopefully this story reminds you that it's seldom the wisdom of the words we speak and much more frequently the gift of the time we spend, the love we share and the hugs we give.

Keep your head up and seek opportunities to give away good, strong hugs.

Stay on fire and live inspired.

The Power of Thank You

By Todd Outcalt, Brownsburg, Indiana

In his book, 'Say Please, Say Thank You' (Putnam, 1998), David McCullough makes the case that simple words and respectful behaviors can have a powerful impact on others. Learning to live together, he asserts, involves much more than toleration. We also must learn how to speak to each other, affirm the value of another and embrace the opportunities that build true community and hospitality.

It's not just society at large that needs to learn the impact of good manners. Often in the church, we have neglected the power of simple words and the kind expressions that build the body of Christ.

This realization came home to me some months ago when I witnessed an exchange between two of my parishioners on a Sunday morning. During the coffee hour, I noted that one of our Sunday School teachers was in a bit of a huff because some tables had been moved out of her classroom. Quickly, a couple of the older teens rallied to assist her; but in her state of agitation, she failed to recognize their helpfulness - continuing, instead, to dwell on the mistake. As the teens finished moving the tables, she neither recognized their contribution nor thanked them for their efforts.

Days later, my own sensibilities were awakened when one of our staff members pointed out that I had failed to write an official thank you to a group of men who had helped move some heavy boxes for our preschool. "Wow," I thought, "I've got to help change the culture of our gratitude." For the next year, I made that one of my goals.

Interestingly, learning how to say thank you had a greater impact than I imagined. People who were marginalized in the church became more active in time. Those who had contributed and given for years actually gave more. Individuals who had become disenfranchised with the church found a new spirit and life.

How did these things happen?

For starters, I made it a point to purchase some fine thank-you cards and stationery, which I kept ready in my desk. Whenever I noted someone giving something extra or special, I would do my best to acknowledge their contribution with a quick, handwritten note. These simple recognitions from the pastor made a difference. People were more eager to repeat their efforts and to avail themselves to God's work.

Likewise, I made it a point to write at least one bulletin cover, newsletter cover or pastoral letter every quarter that applauded the congregation in some fashion - be it financial giving, mission offering or just the hard labor of responding to a mundane task within the church. Often, it is not the big things people yearn for us to acknowledge but the simple gifts of their time and effort.

Additionally, I began to say thank you to those who made special contributions to the church. For example, during our building campaign, I made a point of writing a personal note of thanks (handwritten) to every family making a pledge. These simple notes were my way of acknowledging that I recognized their sacrifices and their faith. Every time someone gave a large gift, I'd either thank that person by card or letter or take the family to lunch or dinner and express my gratitude face-to-face.

In fact, I believe most congregations greatly under-fund the pastor's business/dinner accounts - with negative financial effect. I have found that taking families out to dinner - especially newcomers, seekers and large contributors - is crucial for the growth of the church in all respects. The families I have dined with are always the ones who do more, help more, give more and feel better about their involvement in God's work. This all begins with a spirit of gratitude. Of course, as the church grows, this isn't always easy. I can't dine with every person or family, but by making a consistent effort to take an hour or two a week to thank others, in time the dividends become noticeably real.

Likewise, having a time officially to thank those for their leadership and service is crucial. When is the last time you thanked the Sunday School teachers, the ushers, the greeters, the choir, the staff or those who help post the monthly newsletter or plant the flowers? In time, if people receive no acknowledgment for their efforts, they usually will lose interest. "No one notices," they tend to think.

As pastors, we might find ourselves taking the approach that people shouldn't need a thank you for doing God's work. A sense of duty, call or purpose often can drive our lives; but the average person in the church doesn't always experience this same sense of direction. Many may feel inadequate, alone or invisible in their efforts. So it isn't necessarily the accolade or the big buildup they are seeking. Often it's just the simple recognition from someone in authority that their efforts and gifts do have significance in the kingdom of God.

Not long after I began writing my notes, I had a visit from an older gentleman in the congregation. He showed up in my office one afternoon, sat down across from my desk, and held up the card I had written him some days before. "This is the first time in my 42 years in this congregation that anyone has thanked me for my contributions," he said tearfully.

His admission wasn't a cry for validation or recognition - as can be the case with some people - but merely an acknowledgment that he wanted to keep on giving and was glad someone had given him the confidence to press on. That's why the power of thank you isn't to be found in soothing fragile egos or shoring up difficult people - but rather in offering the simple truth that people's sacrifices and efforts do make a difference.

A casual reading of Paul's letters to the churches can bear out these truths. Consider for example how often Paul opened or closed his letters by thanking the congregation for their love, prayers or faithfulness. Paul often thanked co-workers. He also thanked those in leadership and told them how grateful he was for their work.

How often do we practice this example in our churches today?

Learning the power of thank you can go far beyond the church. For pastors, learning to say thank you may begin at home. When is the last time you thanked your wife or husband for the sacrifices he/she makes for your ministry? When is the last time you thanked your children? Your staff? Friends and colleagues who are your support and strength in difficult times?

Indeed, thank you is a simple expression - but a powerful one. Those two small words can yield large dividends when it comes to ministry and the church. Learning to use them well - and often - can make all the difference in the world.

source: Preaching.com

How Living with Less Has Brought Me More Freedom

by Kate Motaung

In the film, 'Eat, Pray, Love', the main character, Liz Gilbert, decides to spend a year traveling to Italy, India and Bali. Before she leaves, she boxes up all of her worldly possessions and packs them into a rented storage unit. As the employee is about to close the garage door, Liz sighs and says forlornly, "My whole life fits into a 12x12 box."

The mover rolls his eyes and remarks condescendingly, "Lady? You know how many times I hear people say that in a week? And most of 'em don't come back for their 'whole life.'"

I could've been Liz Gilbert in that scene.

I, too, have packed my "whole life" into a 12x12 storage unit, sighing as the door slammed closed.

A month before I turned twenty-one, I moved to Africa. In the next ten years, I moved nine more times, including another move back across the Atlantic. Needless to say, I've had my fair share of packing boxes and making decisions about worldly possessions.

Every time I moved, I had the same inner struggle: my heartstrings would ache from having to give up certain material goods and say goodbye to earthly treasures that I simply couldn't take with me.

I often get so ridiculously caught up in the sentimental value, the walks down memory lane, and the possibilities for using those art supplies 'one day' ... and then they sit there in Rubbermaid totes, locked up in storage, unseen. Unused.

I've spent many occasions asking myself: Is my 'whole life' boxed up in a garage? Or is it measured in other ways?

Why does it hurt so much to leave certain possessions behind? Why do I hold so tightly to things I can't take with me to heaven?

It all boils down to perspective. I need God's help in training my mind to be focused on eternity. To actually dwell on it, not just give it a passing thought every once in a while.

It grates against my nature, but Colossians 3:2 implores readers to "set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." When I'm wondering if my "whole life" fits into a storage unit, the verse that follows reminds me that my "life is now hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).

In a very real sense, my life is not here. It's tucked away in eternity, safely guarded by the seal of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14, 2 Cor. 1:22), where Christ has gone to prepare a place for me (John 14:2-3).

If I really believe that, then I have to conclude that everything I really need is in heaven. Deuteronomy 30 says, "... the Lord is your life ..." – not the set of your grandmother's china, or the dress you wore as an infant for that special occasion, or even the scrapbook of your firstborn's earliest days.

Though it has been a slow, somewhat cyclical process, I've come to accept the fact that our treasure is not here on earth. As Christians, we are told to "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

What about you? Are you a Liz Gilbert? Where is your treasure stored?

Every time I pack for another move, I'm stunned by how much stuff I've managed to accumulate. It's shocking, really. And what's the point of it all?

I could be saving items that I think I might use one day, or memorabilia I'd like my children to have when they grow up … or I could be investing in eternal things, like giving abundantly to support church ministry, missionaries on the field, Compassion International children, etc. The possibilities are endless.

The fact of the matter is, if you invest money somewhere, then your personal interest is also invested in the same place. If you give to AIDS orphans in South Africa, you have an interest in what is happening there. If you sponsor a child in Honduras, you care about that child's welfare and development. If you pour concrete in your backyard for a tennis court, you'll make sure that people respect your property and don't damage it on purpose.

I'm not saying that we can't spend money on ourselves or our families. I think what's important is the heart. If our hearts are tightly entangled around the sentimental value of things we don't really need, or greedily gathering up possessions for our own pleasure, we might need to recalibrate.

Even though our bodies are still physically here on earth, it's possible to have our hearts and minds dwelling in heaven. It's possible to have a huge impact on eternity by making wise choices with the gifts and resources that God grants to us in this lifetime. Remember, storage units and the boxes that line the back wall of your garage are temporary. There is a bigger picture.

Let's ask the Lord to help us hold our earthly possessions loosely, and focus on the eternal.

About The Author:

Kate Headshot Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. Kate is the author of the e-book, Letters to Grief, hosts the Five Minute Friday blog link-up, and has contributed to several other online publications.

Source: Christianity.com Daily Update

Thomas Jefferson's 11 Rules for a Great Life

By Craig Ballantyne

"Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits." - Thomas Jefferson

April 13, 2015 marks what would have been the 272nd birthday of the 5th most popular President in History, according to the New York Times. Thomas Jefferson was a Founding Father, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and the 3rd President of the United States of America, holding office from 1801 to 1809. He was also a man ahead of his time when it came to his healthy habits. These partially explain why he was so productive and how he was able to ride horses up until his passing at the age of 83. He also had 10 important rules that allowed him to leave a powerful legacy.

Jefferson's first order of business each day was to check the temperature and wind speed. For decades he measured the climate in both morning and afternoon in hopes of creating a national meteorological database.

Constantly observing, Jefferson would carry scales, drawing instruments, and other measuring tools, along with a small ivory notebook in which to note his observations, said his granddaughter.

After playing the role of morning weatherman, Jefferson would light his fireplace and sit with his feet in cold water, another lifelong habit and one he believed partly responsible for his good health. Aside from that odd custom, Jefferson's healthy routine would not be out of place today. He placed great emphasis on a plant-based diet, drank in moderation, and did not smoke. "I have lived temperately, eating little animal food, and that not as an aliment, so much as a condiment for the vegetables, which constitute my principal diet," he wrote in 1819. "I have been blest with organs of digestion which accept and concoct, without ever murmuring, whatever the palate chooses to consign to them, and I have not yet lost a tooth by age."

"Jefferson's stature was commanding," wrote Sarah N. Randolph in The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson. "He was six feet two-and-a half inches in height, well formed, indicating strength, activity, and robust health; his carriage erect; step firm and elastic, which he preserved to his death; his temper, naturally strong, under perfect control; his courage cool and impassive…it was remarked of him that he never abandoned a plan, a principle, or a friend."

Each morning he hosted a large breakfast at Monticello, his plantation in Virginia. At 8:00 AM tea, coffee, muffins, hot wheat and corn bread, cold ham and butter was served in the dining room for Jefferson and his guests. After breakfast he spent the rest of the morning writing letters. It was estimated that he sent nearly 20,000 letters to friends, family, and colleagues. He wrote to his grandchildren as soon as they could read, and expected them to reply in kind. He encouraged them to adopt his industrious habits and live a healthy lifestyle.

In a letter to his fifteen-year old daughter, Jefferson wrote, "It is your future happiness that interests me, and nothing can contribute more to it than the contracting a habit of industry and activity. Of all the cankers of human happiness none corrodes with so silent, yet so baneful a tooth, as indolence. Body and mind both unemployed, our being becomes a burthen, and every object about us loathsome, even the dearest. Idleness begets ennui, ennui the hypochondria, and that a diseased body. Exercise and application produce order in our affairs, health of body, cheerfulness of mind, and these make us precious to our friends." Jefferson even outlined a daily schedule for his daughter to avoid the temptation of wasting time.

From 8 to 10 o'clock practice music.
From 10 to 1 dance one day and draw another.
From 1 to 2 draw on the day you dance, and write a letter the next day.
From 3 to 4 read French.
From 4 to 5 exercise yourself in music.
From 5 till bedtime read English, write, etc.

Jefferson brought his passion for health and productivity to the students of the University of Virginia, of which he was a founder. "A strong body makes the mind strong," he said, and he prescribed the student's daily menu, one that would have passed the tests of Michelle Obama, full of fruits and vegetables, with only a small amount of meat at lunch. "Their drink at all times water, a young stomach needing no stimulating drinks, and the habit of using them being dangerous," he said.

Surprisingly, Jefferson was one of America's original oenophiles, and he believed wine was "indispensable for my health." But while his contemporary George Washington had a reputation for consuming up to four bottles in an evening, Jefferson did not drink large quantities, and was even known to water down his wine to temper the effects of the alcohol. "…you are not to conclude I am a drinker," he said, "My measure is a perfectly sober 3 or 4 glasses at dinner, and not a drop at any other time. But as to those 3 or 4 glasses I am very fond."

After dinner, he slept five to eight hours a night in a reclined position rather than lying in bed. "I never go to bed without an hour, or half hour's previous reading of something moral, whereon to ruminate in the intervals of sleep."

Seventeen years after leaving office, and exactly fifty years to the day of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson passed away at Monticello, on July 4, 1826. In addition to his legacy as a Founding Father, he also left us with his 10 Rules for a Good Life:

1. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.

3. Never spend your money before you have it.

4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will never be dear to you.

5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.

6. Never repent of having eaten too little.

7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

8. Don't let the evils that have never happened cost you pain.

9. Always take things by their smooth handle.

10. When angry, count to 10 before you speak; if very angry, count to 100.

I would argue an eleventh rule belongs on the list, one that enabled Jefferson to get so much done. Jefferson knew that one of the best habits for having all-day energy is to go to bed and get up at the same time every day of the week.

A consistent bedtime is difficult to maintain, and there will be nights you stay up later than you'd like because of social engagements or deadlines. That's fine. It happens to me too. But you must never waver in your wake-up time. Get up at the same time every day. Make up for lost sleep later in the day with a nap, if you must. But most importantly, if you commit to getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends, you will experience dramatic improvements in your productivity.

"Whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun," was Jefferson's rule. He kept this habit for fifty years, getting up as soon as the sun lit the hands on the clock opposite his bed. Jefferson never missed out on his morning Magic Time by sleeping late, and because of this he was able to leave a long lasting legacy. If you want a good life, follow his 10 rules, but if you want to live a great life and leave your own lasting legacy, President Jefferson and I encourage you to add his secret eleventh rule for success.

[Editor's Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise and author of Financial Independence Monthly. One of Craig's secret weapons to success has been his daily writing ritual. ]

Source: ETR; Copyright © 2014 Early to Rise, LLC.

Daily Deeds of Kindness

by Max Lucado

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:16

In the final days of Jesus' life, he shared a meal with his friends Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Within the week he would feel the sting of the Roman whip, the point of the thorny crown, and the iron of the executioner's nail. But on this evening, he felt the love of three friends.

For Mary, however, giving the dinner was not enough. "Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus' feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house" (John 12:3). . . .

Judas criticized the deed as wasteful. Not Jesus. He received the gesture as an extravagant demonstration of love, a friend surrendering her most treasured gift. As Jesus hung on the cross, we wonder, Did he detect the fragrance on his skin?

Follow Mary's example.

There is an elderly man in your community who just lost his wife. An hour of your time would mean the world to him.

Some kids in your city have no dad. No father takes them to movies or baseball games. Maybe you can. They can't pay you back. They can't even afford the popcorn or sodas. But they'll smile like a cantaloupe slice at your kindness.

Or how about this one? Down the hall from your bedroom is a person who shares your last name. Shock that person with kindness. Something outlandish. Your homework done with no complaints. Coffee served before he awakens. A love letter written to her for no special reason. Alabaster poured, just because.

Daily do a deed for which you cannot be repaid.

- from Great Day Every Day

Precious Savior, we pass people every day who need a demonstration of your love. May we search for ways to show extravagant gestures of gracious love, and outlandish acts of kindness. Make us people who set a goal of doing daily deeds for which we cannot be repaid. Set our hearts on fire for people who do not know you. Consume us with compassion for the desperate and downtrodden. Let us pour our lives out in love . . . just because, amen.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…
I Peter 1:22

From Live Loved: Experiencing God's Presence in Everyday Life
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2011) Max Lucado

What Can God Do Through You?

by Joel Osteen

"The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" (Judges 6:12, NKJV)

Many people feel inadequate to do anything for God. But God doesn't see you as inadequate, He sees you as complete, lacking nothing in Him!

In scripture, Gideon was hiding out from his enemies. He was afraid and didn't feel equipped to do what God called him to do. Gideon was focused on his circumstances and his limitations, but God was focused on what He could do through Gideon. Gideon felt weak, but God saw him as strong. Gideon felt unqualified, but God saw him as ready to do the job. Gideon felt insecure, but God saw him as full of boldness. Sure enough, when Gideon obeyed God, against all odds, he ended in victory!

Today, what can God do through you? It isn't about how qualified you feel. It isn't about how talented you are; it's really about how yielded you are. When you obey God, when you trust Him beyond trusting your circumstances, that's when His power becomes available to you. That's when He can work through you and bring about greatness in every area of your life!

Prayer

Father, thank You for giving me a spirit of boldness. Thank You for giving me a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. I yield myself to You. I yield my heart, my mind and my whole being. Have Your way in me and lead me into Your victory in Jesus' name. Amen.

Are Your Prayers Big Enough?: The 'whys' and 'hows' of "praying big"

by Carmen

One of my favorite subjects to read about is prayer. I'm not sure exactly why; perhaps because it's one of the subjects of faith that I can implement so directly into my life and that has had such a profound impact.

Regardless, I was staring at our expanse of IKEA bookshelves and the treasure trove of resources Michael and I have accumulated. I decided to pick a few of the books that have touched me the most and share some of my favorite insights from them.

As the first from my collection, I pulled out 'Pray Big' by Will Davis, Jr. He's a pastor out of Austin, and has written a whole series on the concept of "praying big"--there's a book about praying big for your marriage, for your child and for yourself. This book, though, is the keystone for all the others.

Davis describes this concept of "praying big": "Prayer should be as big as God's promises and as full as God's resources. Your requests should require the full power and provision of God." These are the prayers that depend fully on God--only he can make them happen. And when he does--then your faith grows by leaps and bounds and our relationship with him becomes stronger.

How can you discover these kinds of "big" prayers for your own life? Davis suggests:

Examine your concerns. "Are you worried about your marriage, your career, a friend's salvation?" Davis asks. Those are perfect things to put into prayer and ask God for. Also, consider your passions and the things you love to do or would like to do more of. Finally, is there anything you're afraid to ask God about? I've definitely had those kinds of prayers that are hard to give over, but that's exactly what we must do.

Find verses in the Bible that state what you want God to do--in your life, in a specific situation, etc.

Finally, get specific in what you're asking him. Have you ever heard anyone talk about make things measurable when it comes to setting goals? It's kind of the same thing here--when prayers are general, we can tend to wax over them and shrug the answers off. But when we pray as specifically as needed, we become more aware of the ways God answers us.

For me, I've got a binder full of these kinds of "big prayers." But here are just a few to give you an idea of how this has inspired my prayer life:

For my marriage:

I pray to be a Proverbs 31 kind of wife, that God would make me a woman Michael trusts, that I would greatly enrich his life, and do him good and not harm all of my life.

For my job:

I pray that God will provide an income for us and a job that I enjoy. This is one instance where my prayers may not seem all that specific, after all--but they're open-ended for a reason: When I was moving to Grand Rapids, I knew I wanted to work in Christian publishing, so I prayed accordingly so. Now, I'm not sure what I want to do. So I have turned the specific element on its head and am asking God to pick the job for me that will meet these two essential needs and leaving the details up to him.

For my future:

I'm praying about us being able to save up money for a future home purchase, that I will continue growing in my homemaking (ahem, culinary) duties, and that God will begin paving the way for Michael's career so that we can be prepared when we start our family.

For my spirit:

One thing I ask is that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life and gaze upon his beauty (from Psalm 27).

© 2012 Life Blessons.

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