Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 1 No. 35 October 20, 2011

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Autumn Scene in Ohio
Autumn Scene in Ohio
Table of Contents
Editor's Note
As our cover page photo shows, we are into autumn in North America. It is beautiful all over with colorful foliage. In another week or so all the leaves will be down and we will be staring at the trees without any leaves - a ghost of a landscape. It is hard to imagine the drastic changes in the landscape here in North America when we are in Kerala.

The church also goes through the change in seasons next week. The church year officially starts on Sunday, October 30 with Koodosh Etho - the day of cleansing. This is a good time to do some introspection and clean ourselves too. Throw away some of that load of sin we have accumulated in our lives; go for a confession and start fresh. This edition of Malankara World Journal is designed do just that.

As this week's gospel shows, everyone who are invited by Jesus to follow him will not be able to accept his invitation. We need to get rid of the things that keeps us away from God.

'The Window from which we look' tells us, in a powerful way, that what we see in others is greatly influenced by our own experiences and prejudices. It depends on the purity of the window through which we look!

We often feel that we have to become someone else to do an effective job. A laity says only a priest can do that; a priest says only a bishop can do that; etc. Fr. Patrick Brennan, in his article, 'Power, Pleasure and Wealth' tells us that we are wrong on that. We are all given talents and we can do much if we come with an attitude of service and love as demanded by Jesus. According to Fr. Brennan, "Jesus calls all of us to service, to be servants—whether we teach or drive a truck, whether we pick up garbage or do brain surgery—in all that we do, we are to be servants. The goal of our lives can not be to just pick up a pay check."

"Archbishop Rembart Weakland of Milwaukee once said that the most important role of the laity is not to spend a lot of time doing Church work, but rather, in whatever role they play in the career we chose to do, to give witness to Christ alive in them. The real challenge of being a disciple of Jesus is to be a servant, as Jesus was, in whatever work that we do.

Servant leadership, leading by serving is the essence of life in the Reign on Kingdom of God."

We, in Malankara World, had been big proponents of 'Servant Leadership' and 'reflecting the light of Jesus on us'. This gives us another opportunity to think about this powerful teaching from Jesus. I strongly recommend that you read Fr. Brennan's article from beginning to end. It is one of my favorites. (There are also several articles in Malankara World as well as in the back issues of the Malankara World Journal.)

If you ask any Christian, they will say that one of the most destructive habit of us is "gossip." Gossip can destroy families; it can destroy churches; it can destroy friendships. Dave Burchett's article on "why Christians gossip?' may be an eye opener for us.

Alex Crain talks about 'Seven Habits of Truly Effective Living' based on Psalm 92.

"In Psalm 92, the ideal end that God depicts for our life is that of being a righteous person who is filled with spiritual vitality. Even at the end of life when the temptation to grumble and express radical selfishness is often the strongest, we are to be full of spiritual health. Instead of complaining, his lips are filled with praise—declaring that there is no unrighteousness in God, his Rock (v. 15)."

The roots for such vigor of soul are woven throughout Psalm 92 where we see seven habits of truly effective living unfolded, according to Alex. A very timely article indeed!

Heart disease is something all of us are interested in. So, our health feature this week with a prominent cardiologist in India will be of great interest.

Read the rest of the Journal. It is choke full of goodness to help us in our spiritual journey.

This Sunday in Church (Oct 23)
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Oct 23)
Sixth Sunday after the Feast of Sleebo (Holy Cross)
  • Evening
    • St. Matthew 19: 13-26
  • Morning
    • St. Mark 10: 17-27
  • Before Holy Qurbana
    • Genesis 42: 29-36
    • Psalms 84
    • Isaiah 43: 16-25
  • Holy Qurbana
    • Acts 21: 27 -40
    • I Corinthians 5: 6-13
    • St. Luke 18: 18-27

Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Sermons for This Sunday (Oct 23)

This Sunday's gospel reading is from St. Luke chapter 18. It is also covered in Matthew chapter 19 and St. Mark chapter 10. It is the familiar story of the rich man coming in front of Jesus and asking Jesus what he should do to obtain eternal life. Jesus knows that he already follows all the commandments prescribed by Moses. Bible says that Jesus "loved him." It is not too often that one come face to face with a sincere person who follows all the commandments. Jesus was sick and tired of all the Pharisees and scribes who were hypocrites - behaving one way in public and leading a double life in private. Jesus looks at this ruler and asked him to sell everything he had and donate the proceeds to poor people and then to follow Him.

This is a confusing passage. Does it mean that we have to sell everything we have to become a disciple of Jesus? Are all the prosperity gospel evangelists wrong? Yes, God provides our riches; we don't own them. He can take it back anytime as he did to Job. Abraham was a very rich man. Jacob accumulated lot of riches when he was working for his uncle. Solomon was one of the richest kings of Israel. So, it is not that God is allergic to us having money.

In fact, recall that Jesus did not ask Zaccheaus, who was the richest tax collector in town, to sell all he had and give it to the poor. Jesus did not ask Joseph of Arimathea, who the Bible says was rich, to sell all had had and give it to the poor. Jesus did not ask Nicodemus, the wealthy man from the Jewish Sanhedrin or Senate, to sell all they had and give it to the poor. Nor does Jesus ask us today to sell all we have and give it to the poor. To think such thoughts would misunderstand Jesus and the text.

Jesus was putting the rich young ruler to a test to see whether he personally and specifically loved God and his neighbor more than money. This test was similar to the story about Abraham in the Old Testament when God asked him to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. God was testing Abraham to see if Abraham loved God more than his son. Similarly, Jesus was testing this rich young man to see if he loved his riches more than God. That is what the story is about. God is testing us to see if we love our money and material possessions more than God. We remember Jesus' teaching when he said: "Where your treasure is, there will be your heart." The man's heart was in his treasures.

Bishop William H. Willimon from Birmingham, Alabama, presented this story of Jesus and the rich man in a college dormitory Bible study. He then asked the gathered students, "What do you make of this story?"

"Had Jesus ever met this man before?" asked one of the students.

"Why do you ask?" he asked.

"Because Jesus seems to have lots of faith in him. He demands something risky, radical of him. I wonder if Jesus knew this man had a gift for risky, radical response. In my experience, a professor only demands the best from students that the professor thinks are the smartest, best students. I wonder what there was about this man that made Jesus have so much faith he could really be a disciple."

Another student said thoughtfully, "I wish Jesus would ask something like this of me. My parents totally control my life just because they are paying all my bills. And I complain about them calling the shots, but I am so tied to all this stuff I don't think I could ever break free. But maybe Jesus thinks otherwise."

Bishop Willimon was astounded. What he had heard as severe, demanding BAD news, these students heard as gracious, GOOD news.

Many had come and followed Jesus. All of the disciples, standing around witnessing this encounter, had left much and had followed Jesus. The journey had not been easy for them. Jesus never promised them a rose garden while on earth. When they were asked to follow him, they left everything and followed him. They paid the price of being a disciple of Jesus.

Now, here, someone else is being met by Jesus, face-to-face; someone else is being asked to become a disciple. And after hearing how much it costs to be a disciple, the man slumps down and walks away sorrowfully.

The story, then, is about someone like us being met by Jesus and asked to follow, but who decides that it is not a way he wants to go. He walks away. Bishop Willimon says that this is the only call story in all the gospels in which someone refuses to follow Jesus. A person like us is being invited to be a disciple of Jesus, and this person like us walks in the other direction.

Jesus invites people to be his disciples: "divest! Break free! Let go of your stuff! Follow me! I believe you can do it!" Are we?

You can read more bible commentaries, bible analyses, sermons and homilies based on this week's Gospel reading in Malankara World.

More Sermons

This Week's Features

Inspiration: The Window From Which We Look
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood.
The next morning while they are eating breakfast,
the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

"That laundry is not very clean", she said.

"She doesn't know how to wash correctly.
Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry,
the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a
nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband:

"Look, she has learned how to wash correctly.
I wonder who taught her this."

The husband said, "I got up early this morning and
cleaned our windows."

And so it is with life. What we see when watching others
depends on the purity of the window through which we look!

Power, Pleasure and Wealth

by Fr. Patrick Brennan

A very kind man from the business world asked me a question recently that momentarily caused me to pause. I have been the pastor of a large northwest suburban parish for three years now. Focusing on my role as pastor, the man asked me: "Are you happy with where you are at career-wise?" I had not thought of my role as pastor in those terms; so, I paused for a moment.

My immediate answer was one of frustration. "I wrote twelve books before I was named pastor," I said. "Now I do not have the time to write a few pages of a chapter...and I have been trying to complete a doctorate in psychology for some time. I have all the course work done. What remains are final exams, part-time internship, and dissertation. Because of the time demands with being a pastor, I am stalled in completing my doctorate."

I continued more positively: "But Holy Family Parish fascinates me. It is a progressive parish, which is none the less respectful of Catholic tradition. It is a parish dedicated to Evangelization, small Christian communities, and the re-imagining of parish systems. I spent a good part of my priesthood directing such efforts for the Archdiocese, as well as teaching in these areas. So, the parish and I seem to be in a good marriage."

I say to all of you today, being pastor is contributing toward my growth, conversion and healing. And I hope, believe that my presence at the parish is helping the parish and parishioners also. I hope, believe that there is some mutuality of benefit happening.

For followers of Jesus, the gentleman’s question needs some expanding and deepening. Some expanded, deepened questions would sound like this: as a pastor, am I a servant? Am I a servant leader? Do I lead by serving? Do I seek to serve God’s people? Do I seek to serve God? Is service my motivation in living out my role?

Let me expand the field of focus. Jesus does not just call male, celibate priests to service. Jesus calls all of us to service, to be servants—whether we teach or drive a truck, whether we pick up garbage or do brain surgery—in all that we do, we are to be servants. The goal of our lives can not be to just pick up a pay check.

A doctor friend of mine was telling me recently that he has become concerned about a peer of his, another doctor. This other doctor’s number of patients has risen exponentially. But as patients have increased in number, the doctor’s bedside manner, and style of inter-acting with patients have deteriorated. My doctor friend’s concern about his colleague is this: something seems to have become more important to him that the purity of the Hippocratic oath, and his original commitment to service. That "something else" seems to be money or profit.

Archbishop Rembart Weakland of Milwaukee once said that the most important role of the laity is not to spend a lot of time doing Church work, but rather, in whatever role they play in the work would to, give witness to Christ alive in them. The real challenge of being a disciple of Jesus is to be a servant, as Jesus was, in whatever work that we do.

Servant leadership, leading by serving—as Robert Greenleaf has described it—is the essence of life in the Reign on Kingdom of God.

My dad, who is deceased, was a wonderful example of service to me. He did not make a lot of money. He did not have a lot of education. He worked for the city for many years at a water pumping station. He monitored the working of pumps making sure that people had water in their homes on the southwest side of the city of Chicago. The job would seem to be meager, not all that important to many people. But my dad had a great sense of service and responsibility about his job. He was serving the people of Chicago as he monitored those pumps. Similarly, I had an uncle, John, who several times as a fireman had to be hospitalized for injuries incurred trying to rescue people from burning buildings. He also was a model of service to me.

But I also saw another side in my family. A couple of relatives started out in service professions, but then something went wrong. Their lives ended in public scrutiny regarding possible misuse of office or position. Some things became more important to them than service, things like money, homes, cars.

Service as motivation for our lives brings us into close personal contact with brothers and sisters in the human family. Its antithesis, power, on the other hand distances us from one another; it causes disconnection. A life of power often also disconnects us from God.

In the 10th Chapter of Mark, verse 35 and following, James and John ask Jesus for power places in His future, coming Kingdom. This sets off some arguing with the other apostles. Here and elsewhere in the gospels, the apostles, while good people, are portrayed as ambitious, concerned about power. The encounter gives Jesus the opportunity to teach to us how true greatness is found in service, how one ranks first in the Reign of God by serving the needs of all. He explains that He has come, not to be served, but to serve, to actually give His life as a ransom for all of us.

Ambition, grabbing for power, can manifest itself in the Church also. Some men begin as fine priests, but as they progress upwardly, on a hierarchical-career track, it becomes difficult to discern what they believe in—God? or their role? or power? Similarly, in this age of lay ministry, the laity need to beware that they do not take on the errors of clericalism, namely using what should be a role of "servant" for one’s own needs for importance and power.

Relative to those of us who are clergy, the venerable Msgr. Jack Egan used to tell us as younger priests: "you have to make a decision—do you want to be a bishop or a priest?—and that decision will influence the rest of your life." He was not criticizing all bishops, for obviously there are many fine ones—historically and in our midst today. I do think Msgr. Egan was saying, in your priesthood, you need to decide whether you are going to be a careerist or a servant and that decision will influence the rest of a clergyman’s life, like the rest of anyone’s life.

Jesus’ warning against power needs to be connected to another warning He gives in Mark 10, verse 17 and following—a warning against stockpiling wealth. This is the exchange He has with a rich man, challenging him to sell all that he has, give to the poor, and come follow Him. Stockpiled money and things, like power, can disconnect us from brothers and sisters in the human family. Because of wealth and possessions, people can develop a pretense that somehow they are better than, ahead of, different from others—when, in fact, we are all pretty much the same, and we will all leave this world the same way—through the passage way of death. Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus, Paul and others warn us about another spiritual landmine—self-focused pleasure. Take, for example, the gift of human sexuality. It has been given to us for connection, commitment, communication. If used in an immature, irresponsible, or immoral way, sexuality—or any pleasure—can disconnect us, cause alienation among and between us. So often in marriage counseling people will report feeling great "loneliness" after moments of so called "intimacy". In such cases, people or a person have been self-focused in using a gift that should bring people into greater unity or communion with each other.

Power, wealth, pleasure—they are goods in themselves, given to us to bring us into closer connection with God and each other. Misused, they cause distance and divisiveness.

I was thinking about hell recently. What might the experience of hell be like. I think at root, hell must be isolation from brothers and sisters and God, an isolation that begins during this life through a self-deceiving misuse of power, wealth, or pleasure, and then continued after death for eternity. Isolated eternally: that must be what hell is like.

If someone asks you if you are happy with your career, answer honestly. But then, ask yourself more important questions:

Am I serving?
Am I connecting with brothers and sisters, my fellow human beings?
Am I, more and more, trying to place God at the center of my life?

[Editor's Note: Father Patrick Brennan is the pastor of Holy Family Parish in Inverness, Illinois. He served as the Director of the Office of Evangelization for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago for more than a decade, where he developed innovative renewal programs for local churches. Father Brennan is a psychotherapist and the author of several books, including 'Spirituality For An Anxious Age' and 'The Way of Forgiveness.' ]

Featured: Two Reasons Why Christians Gossip

by Dave Burchett

Gossip is a huge problem in the church and sometimes gossip is very stealthy. Satan has a slick marketing trick that he sells to Christians. We don't call gossip by it's name. We like to call gossip by euphemisms like "sharing our concerns" or "venting to a brother or sister." We gossip when we divulge unnecessary details in prayer requests as if God needs to be brought up to speed on the entire situation. We like to think we are in the clear if we know that the information is true and we are simply being "honest" and "telling it like it is". But Frank Clark correctly stated that "gossip needn't be false to be evil - there's a lot of truth that shouldn't be passed around."

The Bible is very clear about gossip. I found fourteen specific mentions of gossip in Scripture. A couple of Old Testament highlights...

"Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people." Leviticus 19:16

They visit me as if they were my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere. Psalm 41:6

A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends. Proverbs 16:28

Paul reveals how seriously he ranks gossip when he includes the act of gossip in this not so attractive menu of sins.

Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. Romans 1:29

Seriously, do most of us lump gossip in with hate, murder and deception? Paul does. The church at Corinth also had an ugly list of problems and gossip made the list.

For I am afraid that when I come I won't like what I find, and you won't like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior. 2 Corinthians 12:20

If Paul were to write a letter to the modern church he would surely include gossip in his list of rebukes. A follower of Jesus certainly should not spread gossip any further. Gossip is a parasite that requires a host organism to survive. Don't give gossip a place to live.

Solomon wrote this in Proverbs:

Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. Proverbs 26:20

Think of how many times you have believed something to be true only to find out the information was mostly or even totally wrong. I find it interesting that the threat of a libel or slander lawsuit will cause us to be cautious about our remarks in the public square. How naive that we think it is okay to denigrate a child of God and somehow think that there are no repercussions to that action. Are we really more concerned about the People's Court than the Kingdom's Court?

Paraphrasing something that I heard Pastor Rick Warren say, I believe these are the two real reasons why Christians gossip:
Our problem is that:

(1) we take ourselves too seriously and
(2) we don't take God seriously enough.

God takes seriously how we communicate about others in the flock. Peter said to "Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless-that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing". 1 Peter 3:8-9 (MsgB) So there is an added bonus for your Godly communication...a blessing at no extra charge.

Pastor Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn Tabernacle writes how his church handles the topic of gossip.

About 20 years ago, I said something impromptu to the new members lined up across the front of the church. As we received them, the Holy Spirit prompted me to add, "And now, I charge you that if you ever hear another member speak an unkind word of criticism or slander against anyone — myself, an usher, a choir member, or anyone else—that you stop that person in mid-sentence and say, 'Excuse me — who hurt you? Who ignored you? Who slighted you? Was it Pastor Cymbala? Let's go to his office right now. He'll apologize to you, and then we'll pray together so God can restore peace to this body. But we won't let you talk critically about people who aren't present to defend themselves.'

"I'm serious about this. I want you to help resolve this kind of thing immediately. And know this: If you are ever the one doing the loose talking, we'll confront you."

To this day, every time we receive new members, I say much the same thing. That's because I know what most easily destroys churches. It's not crack cocaine, government oppression, or even lack of funds. Rather it's gossip and slander that grieves the Holy Spirit.

Powerful. And so achingly true. God is not glorified when we spread gossip and idle chatter. The test is very simple. If I am not part of the situation or a part of the solution I should not be talking about it. James is typically to the point in this brutally honest assessment.

A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. James 3:6

Vaccinate yourself with a couple of scriptural truths about gossip. An injection of biblical truth and a dose of how God views gossip can control the deadly virus. And that will make the body of Christ a whole lot healthier.

About the Author:

Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through

[Editor's Note: This is an excerpted version of the article. The full article can be read in Malankara World. ]

Book: 'With Christ In the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray

Lesson 9: 'Pray the Lord of the Harvest' Or Prayer Provides Laborers
[Editor's Note: Here is this week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. This book is a very important reference book on intercessional prayer, something Orthodox Church believes in greatly. Murray skillfully describes the role of the Holy Spirit within the church and exhorts Christians to use the blessings God has given us. This book is a guide to living a life as a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have missed the earlier lessons, please read them in Malankara World.]

"Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest." - Matt. 9:37-38

...cry to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers.

The Lord frequently taught His disciples that they must pray, and how; but seldom what to pray. This he left to their sense of need, and the leading of the Spirit. But here we have one thing He expressly enjoins them to remember: in view of the plenteous harvest, and the need of reapers, they must cry to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers. Just as in the parable of the friend at midnight, He would have them understand that prayer is not to be selfish; so here it is the power through which blessing can come to others. The Father is Lord of the harvest; when we pray for the Holy Spirit, we must pray for Him to prepare and send forth laborers for the work.

Strange, is it not, that He should ask His disciples to pray for this? And could He not pray Himself? And would not one prayer of His avail more than a thousand of theirs? And God, the Lord of the harvest, did He not see the need? And would not He, in His own good time, send forth laborers without their prayer? Such questions lead us up to the deepest mysteries of prayer, and its power in the Kingdom of God. The answer to such questions will convince us that prayer is indeed a power, on which the ingathering of the harvest and the coming of the Kingdom do in very truth depend.

...given them authority and right to call in the powers of heaven to their aid as they needed them.

Prayer is no form or show. The Lord Jesus was Himself the truth; everything He spake was the deepest truth. It was when (see ver. 36) He saw the multitude, and was moved with compassion on them, because they were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd, that He called on the disciples to pray for laborers to be sent among them. He did so because He really believed that their prayer was needed, and would help.

The veil which so hides the invisible world from us was wonderfully transparent to the holy human soul of Jesus. He had looked long and deep and far into the hidden connection of cause and effect in the spirit world. He had marked in God's Word how, when God called men like Abraham and Moses, Joshua and Samuel and Daniel, and given them authority over men in His name, He had at the same time given them authority and right to call in the powers of heaven to their aid as they needed them.

...on them, and their being faithful or unfaithful, the success of the work would actually depend.

He knew that as to these men of old, and to Himself for a time, here upon earth, the work of God had been entrusted, so it was now about to pass over into the hands of His disciples. He knew that when this work should be given in charge to them, it would not be a mere matter of form or show, but that on them, and their being faithful or unfaithful, the success of the work would actually depend.

As a single individual, within the limitations of a human body and a human life, Jesus feels how little a short visit can accomplish among these wandering sheep He sees around Him, and He longs for help to have them properly cared for. And so He tells His disciples now to begin and pray, and, when they have taken over the work from Him on earth, to make this one of the chief petitions in their prayer: That the Lord of the harvest Himself would send forth laborers into His harvest. The God who entrusted them with the work, and made it to so large extent dependent on them, gives them authority to apply to Him for laborers to help, and makes the supply dependent on their prayer.

Read the rest of the Lesson 9 in Malankara World

Read the Previous Lessons You Missed in Malankara World

Seven Habits of Truly Effective Living

by Alex Crain

"They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green." Psalm 92:14

The phrase, "begin with the end in mind" may sound familiar if you've read the popular life management book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. But even if you aren't familiar with the phrase (or the book), you get the general idea. Simply stated, before you begin a task or project, it's a good idea to ask the question "How do I want this to turn out?" This question helps sharpen your focus and should produce effective action. What is missing from the book, however, is the God-sized perspective that we see in Psalm 92.

If your only source of vision and motivation is the self, frustration will actually result; even though you may lead a life of effective action and reach your goals.

People typically envision the ideal life as one that's surrounded by beauty, valuable things, and great people. We want plenty of leisure time and the health to enjoy these things. But without God, such a life is depicted in Scripture as empty and deceptive. It is a self-absorbed dream that springs from a heart tainted by sin. If we are to be truly effective at living, we must humbly begin with God's end foremost in our minds.

In Psalm 92, the ideal end that God depicts for our life is that of being a righteous person who is filled with spiritual vitality. As Psalm 92:14 says, "full of sap and very green." Even at the end of life when the temptation to grumble and express radical selfishness is often the strongest, we are to be full of spiritual health. Instead of complaining, his lips are filled with praise—declaring that there is no unrighteousness in God, his Rock (v. 15).

The roots for such vigor of soul are woven throughout the preceding verses where we see seven habits of truly effective living unfolded. They are:

#1 Seeing thankfulness and praise to God as desirable, not as duty (v. 1).

#2 Focusing on God's lovingkindness in the morning and His faithfulness at night
(v. 2). For the righteous man, each day begins and ends with God, implying that God is central in his thoughts throughout the entire day. Literally, lovingkindness refers to God's covenant loyal love, which features His promise of salvation. The righteous person is not self-righteous, or just externally moral. Rather, he looks to God's promises and unchanging character as the basis for his right standing before his Creator-Judge.

Twentieth-century author, Francis Schaeffer, speaks of this in chapter eight of his book True Spirituality: "It is not honoring to the finished work of Christ to worry about [forgiven sins] as far as our relationship to God is concerned. Indeed, to worry about them is to do despite to the infinite value of the death of the Son of God. My fellowship with God is restored upon the basis of the value of the blood of Jesus Christ."

#3 Enjoying resounding music and singing for joy at God's great works (vv. 1, 3-4).

#4 Pondering the deep thoughts of God (v. 5)—that is, not being characterized by a shallow, pragmatic view of God that sees Him merely as a means to get other things.

#5 Praising the transcendence of God—declaring that God is the "Most High" who is above all His creatures. The righteous one realizes that man is in no way equal to God. Thus, he can never legitimately view God with suspicion or call Him into judgment (v. 8).

#6 Resting securely in the fact that, in the end, God will have the final say on all matters. He will deal justice to the enemies of righteousness (vv. 9-11).

#7 Depending continuously upon God for strength—for "fresh oil" (v. 10), knowing that yesterday's supply never carries over to today.

Perhaps you know an older believer who embodies these seven habits. My own 'eighty-something' grandmother, "Meme," is one such saint. At the time of this writing, she was in a hospital bed, and having serious health problems. But during a phone call with her, she talked to me not about her pain but about her delight in truths she read that morning in her well-worn Bible. She asked me about my family, my work, and what I've been reading and learning. She spoke of hymns and songs she had been singing throughout the day. Her prayer at the close of our conversation was full of gratitude and praise to the Lord, evidencing a deep, personal knowledge of and trust in God. While I listened, I thought to myself: This is what Psalm 92 is all about. Here is a person who, by God's grace, has learned to practice the habits of truly effective living.

Intersecting Faith & Life:

Let's ask ourselves honestly: how regularly are these seven habits in Psalm 92 seen and practiced in my daily life? Given the way I am right now, will I spend my latter days of life on this earth in spiritual vitality? If not, what is the source of the problem? Do I not know God? Is there an idol in my life? Re-read habits 1-7 above to reflect again on what the psalmist delighted in.

Further Reading:

Philippians 2:12-18
Numbers 14

Editor's Note: Alex Crain is editor of

Source: Crosswalk Devotional, October 5, 2011

True Greatness

by A.W. Tozer

Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave.
--Matthew 20:26-27

The essence of His teaching is that true greatness lies in character, not in ability or position. Men in their blindness had always thought that superior talents made a man great, and so the vast majority believe today. To be endowed with unusual abilities in the field of art or literature or music or statecraft, for instance, is thought to be in itself an evidence of greatness, and the man thus endowed is hailed as a great man. Christ taught, and by His life demonstrated, that greatness lies deeper....

While a few philosophers and religionists of pre-Christian times had seen the fallacy in man's idea of greatness and had exposed it, it was Christ who located true greatness and showed how it could be attained. 'Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.' It is that simple and that easy--and that difficult. Born After Midnight, 50.

"Lord, this truth is indeed contrary to the philosophy of the world-which the church has unfortunately bought into. Stimulate my heart this morning to desire this true greatness-for Your glory. Amen."

Source: Insight for Leaders [A.W. Tozer Devotional], October 13, 2011

Family: Understanding the Shadow Side of Your Man

by Dr. David Hawkins, Director, The Marriage Recovery Center

"When it's good, it's really good," Cassie said to me recently, tears running down her face. "But when it's bad, it's really bad. It's like he's two different men."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I swear he's two different men," she said insistently. "There's a switch that seems to go off inside him. One minute he's caring and sympathetic and the next he's mean. He's black and white, talking in extremes. He gets irrational, twisting my words. I don't know what to do when he gets like that."

"I hear these stories a lot," I told her sympathetically. "Unfortunately, there are many men who seem to have this split personality."

"Yeah," Cassie said firmly. "What's up with that? Why can't he always be ‘the good guy,' the guy I married? That's the guy I want to live with."

"I wish it was as simple as that," I began. "There really seems to be something to this ‘Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde' thing. There's nothing officially documented," I added, "but women really resonate to this idea."

"There really are two different men: the nice guy, who is sweet and kind, willing to do anything for me, and then the mean one. The nice guy is really caring, sensitive and very expressive of his love for me. But Mr. Hyde can be outright mean. He can shift in a second, going from nice to nasty. That guy wants to hurt me and knows just how to push my buttons. I swear he's trying to drive me crazy."

"I don't think so," I said. "Let me tell you a few things that might make you feel a little better. I have some bad news and a bit of good news."

"Great," she said. "I need a little hope right now."

I began sharing what I've experienced from working with a lot of men during my career.

First, most men with ‘Mr. Hyde-like' qualities are not trying to be difficult. They really want to be nice guys, but their "shadow side"—when they become mean-spirited, controlling and even vindictive-- is outside of their awareness much of the time. Shifting from ‘nice guy' to ‘nasty' happens in an instant, usually when they feel provoked or defensive. They don't set out to be mean or cruel, though they are capable of such actions.

Second, these men aren't aware of the tension leading to the shift. These men are usually completely unaware of the shift that takes place internally, when they change from ‘nice guy' to ‘nasty.' When feeling threatened they will shift to defending themselves, which can include all kinds of ‘crazymaking' tactics such as shifting the blame, rationalizing their action, changing the topic, turning the focus onto you, angry power plays and possibly even outright deception. These actions take the heat off him. I talk about these tactics at length in my book, Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life.

Third, they aren't trying to ‘hook' you, but their actions usually do just that. Because they cannot tolerate the tension of looking at their behavior, their retaliatory actions are often provocative, setting you up to respond or react aggressively. This in turn triggers more outrageous behavior on their part, creating an even larger confrontation. Getting hooked, you get pulled into the fray where both of you are now acting irrationally.

Fourth, they have little or no insight into their actions. Even when you point out what they are doing, they have little awareness in order to take responsibility for their actions. Using the primary defense of denial, they rarely learn from their actions. Because they don't recognize the gravity of their behavior and magnitude of their thinking errors, they have little motivation for change and thus rarely seek counseling, which could help end the cycle of problems.

Fifth, relational change is most often initiated by the woman. Sadly, women involved with these men often try repeatedly to coax Mr. Hyde into counseling, unsuccessfully. They wonder why he won't volunteer for counseling, failing to understand that his behavior is not troubling to him—only to others. Hence, he has no motivation for change until she becomes exasperated enough to insist on change.

Sixth, begging for change, instead of insisting upon it--with enforceable consequences—leads to profound discouragement. Many women become exhausted trying to argue with their man. Hooked into irrational behavior themselves, these women fight a battle they cannot win. They can't out-argue Mr. Hyde, won't be able to reason with him, and certainly can't make him calm down. What does help is to set firm boundaries on what Mr. Hyde can expect if he erupts in anger, uses foul language, treats you mean or acts irrationally. Setting clear, firm boundaries is the best argument against ‘nasty' behavior. Seeing the "hook" well in advance, and avoiding it, is your best offensive behavior.

Finally, couples counseling is often the only venue for effective change. Since these men aren't often motivated to change, and have little insight about the severity of their problems, as well as the impact it has on others, counseling is usually initiated by the mate of Mr. Hyde. Women, exhausted from years of dealing ineffectively with his antics, must ultimately set enforceable boundaries that provide an impetus for character change. She can elucidate his behavior and the impact on her in the safety of couples counseling. Even then, she needs to be prepared for rigorous, depth counseling, holding him accountable for specific behavior change. Anything less only enables continued outrageous behavior.

Editor's Note: Dr. David Hawkins is the director of the Marriage Recover Center where he counsels couples in distress. He is the author of over 30 books, including Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life, 90 Days to a Fantastic Marriage, and Saying It So He'll Listen.

Health Tip: A Chat with a Heart Specialist
A chat with Dr. Devi Shetty ( Heart Specialist), Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bangalore was arranged by WIPRO for its employees .

The transcript of the chat is given below. Useful for everyone.

Qn: What are the thumb rules for a layman to take care of his heart?


1. Diet - Less of carbohydrate, more of protein, less oil
2. Exercise - Half an hour's walk, at least five days a week; avoid lifts (elevators) and avoid sitting for a long time
3. Quit smoking
4. Control weight
5. Control blood pressure and sugar

Qn: Is eating non-vegetarian food (fish) good for the heart?

Ans: No

Qn: It's still a grave shock to hear that some apparently healthy person gets a cardiac arrest. How do we understand it in perspective?

Ans: This is called silent attack; that is why we recommend everyone past the age of 30 to undergo routine health checkups.

Qn: Are heart diseases hereditary?

Ans: Yes

Qn: What are the ways in which the heart is stressed? What practices do you suggest to de-stress?

Ans: Change your attitude towards life. Do not look for perfection in everything in life.

Qn: Is walking better than jogging or is more intensive exercise required to keep a healthy heart?

Ans: Walking is better than jogging since jogging leads to early fatigue and injury to joints.

Qn: You have done so much for the poor and needy. What has inspired you to do so?

Ans: Mother Theresa, who was my patient.

Qn: Can people with low blood pressure suffer heart diseases?

Ans: Extremely rare

Qn: Does cholesterol accumulates right from an early age (I'm currently only 22) or do you have to worry about it only after you are above 30 years of age?

Ans: Cholesterol accumulates from childhood.

Qn: How do irregular eating habits affect the heart ?

Ans: You tend to eat junk food when the habits are irregular and your body's enzyme release for digestion gets confused.

Qn: How can I control cholesterol content without using medicines?

Ans: Control diet, walk and eat walnut.

Qn: Can yoga prevent heart ailments?

Ans: Yoga helps.

Qn: Which is the best and worst food for the heart?

Ans: Fruits and vegetables are the best and the worst is oil.

Qn: Which oil is better - groundnut, sunflower, olive?

Ans: All oils are bad.

Qn: What is the routine checkup one should go through? Is there any specific test?

Ans: Routine blood test to ensure sugar, cholesterol is ok. Check BP, Treadmill test after an echo.

Qn: What are the first aid steps to be taken on a heart attack?

Ans: Help the person into a sleeping position , place an aspirin tablet under the tongue with a sorbitrate tablet if available, and rush him to a coronary care unit since the maximum casualty takes place within the first hour.

Qn: How do you differentiate between pain caused by a heart attack and that caused due to gastric trouble?

Ans: Extremely difficult without ECG.

Qn: What is the main cause of a steep increase in heart problems amongst youngsters? I see people of about 30-40 yrs of age having heart attacks and serious heart problems.

Ans: Increased awareness has increased incidents. Also, sedentary lifestyles, smoking, junk food, lack of exercise in a country where people are genetically three times more vulnerable for heart attacks than Europeans and Americans.

Qn: Is it possible for a person to have BP outside the normal range of 120/80 and yet be perfectly healthy?

Ans: Yes.

Qn: Marriages within close relatives can lead to heart problems for the child. Is it true?

Ans : Yes, co-sanguinity leads to congenital abnormalities and you may not have a software engineer as a child.

Qn: Many of us have an irregular daily routine and many a times we have to stay late nights in office. Does this affect our heart ? What precautions would you recommend?

Ans : When you are young, nature protects you against all these irregularities. However, as you grow older, respect the biological clock.

Qn: Will taking anti-hypertensive drugs cause some other complications (short / long term)?

Ans : Yes, most drugs have some side effects.. However, modern anti-hypertensive drugs are extremely safe.

Qn: Will consuming more coffee/tea lead to heart attacks?

Ans : No.

Qn: Are asthma patients more prone to heart disease?

Ans : No.

Qn: How would you define junk food?

Ans : Fried food like Kentucky , McDonalds , samosas, and even masala dosas.

Qn: You mentioned that Indians are three times more vulnerable. What is the reason for this, as Europeans and Americans also eat a lot of junk food?

Ans: Every race is vulnerable to some disease and unfortunately, Indians are vulnerable for the most expensive disease.

Qn: Does consuming bananas help reduce hypertension?

Ans : No.

Qn: Can a person help himself during a heart attack (Because we see a lot of forwarded emails on this)?

Ans : Yes. Lie down comfortably and put an aspirin tablet of any description under the tongue and ask someone to take you to the nearest coronary care unit without any delay and do not wait for the ambulance since most of the time, the ambulance does not turn up.

Qn: Do, in any way, low white blood cells and low hemoglobin count lead to heart problems?

Ans : No. But it is ideal to have normal hemoglobin level to increase your exercise capacity.

Qn: Sometimes, due to the hectic schedule we are not able to exercise. So, does walking while doing daily chores at home or climbing the stairs in the house, work as a substitute for exercise?

Ans : Certainly. Avoid sitting continuously for more than half an hour and even the act of getting out of the chair and going to another chair and sitting helps a lot.

Qn: Is there a relation between heart problems and blood sugar?

Ans: Yes. A strong relationship since diabetics are more vulnerable to heart attacks than non-diabetics.

Qn: What are the things one needs to take care of after a heart operation?

Ans : Diet, exercise, drugs on time , Control cholesterol, BP, weight.

Qn: Are people working on night shifts more vulnerable to heart disease when compared to day shift workers?

Ans : No.

Qn: What are the modern anti-hypertensive drugs?

Ans : There are hundreds of drugs and your doctor will chose the right combination for your problem, but my suggestion is to avoid the drugs and go for natural ways of controlling blood pressure by walk, diet to reduce weight and changing attitudes towards lifestyles.

Qn: Does dispirin or similar headache pills increase the risk of heart attacks?

Ans : No.

Qn: Why is the rate of heart attacks more in men than in women?

Ans : Nature protects women till the age of 45.

Qn: How can one keep the heart in a good condition?

Ans : Eat a healthy diet, avoid junk food, exercise everyday, do not smoke and, go for health checkups if you are past the age of 30 ( once in six months recommended)

Read more health tips in Malankara World Health Section

Humor: Where Was Jesus Born?
A lifelong unchurched man suddenly develops a vague religious urge and decides to join a church--any church. So he sets out to find one.

His first stop is a Roman Catholic church where he asks what he has to do to join. The priest mentions diligent study and the affirmation of the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, then--just to see how much the man knows--asks him where Jesus was born.

"Pittsburgh," he answers. "Get out!" cries the shocked priest.

Next stop is a Southern Baptist church where the seeker is told he would have to learn Bible verses, swear belief in the Nicene and Apostles' creeds, swear off booze, and be baptized ("By immersion, not just some sissy sprinklin'"). The Baptist preacher then, to see how much this man knows, asks him where Jesus was born.

"Philadelphia?" he asks tentatively (once bitten, twice shy).

"Get out, you heathen!" yells the preacher.

Our perplexed protagonist finally walks into a Unitarian church where he is told all he has to do is sign a membership card. "You mean I don't have to renounce anything, swear to anything, or be dunked in anything?"

"That's right. We have no special tests for membership, no dogma. We support total individual freedom of belief."

"Then I'll join! But tell me--where was Jesus born?"

"Why, Bethlehem, of course."

The man's face lights up. "I knew it was some place in Pennsylvania!"

[Editor's Note: For our non-US friends: Bethlehem is a city in Eastern Pennsylvania in the Lehigh valley.]

About Malankara World
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