Volume 2 No. 72 April 19, 2012 If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
Table of Contents
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2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (April 22)
First Sunday after New Sunday
3. Sermons for This Sunday (April 22)
Information alone rarely changes lives. But when someone experiences the truth, their future is often changed for good. This is certainly the case with Jesus. Sure, people's lives get changed for all sorts of different reasons, but the transformation that we see in the disciples’ lives is irrefutable evidence that they believed they had encountered the living Christ. ...
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue," Proverbs 18:21 says. The impact our words have on others cannot be overstated. One small comment or remark can make the difference between building a relationship up or tearing it down. We have the power to either encourage or destroy others with our speech. ...
Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries . . . When we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks. ...
For some decades now we have been experiencing a decline in religious practice and we have been seeing substantial numbers of the baptized drifting away from church life. This prompts the question: should the Church not change? Must she not adapt her offices and structures to the present day, in order to reach the searching and doubting people of today? ...
Since my father died, I have been looking through his papers. I found a small sheet with the following fifteen counsels, titled "Things I Have Learned." He didn't make most of these up. Some of them go back to his college days when he was absorbing the pithy wisdom of Bob Jones Senior. ...
This science news also gave me a new appreciation for how big and how grand God is. The opening line of the Bible says "God created the heavens and the earth". Yet despite the grandness of the heavens, God cares about the intimate details of my life. In the New Testament book of Matthew, Jesus says that God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground and that even the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ...
I'd heard that in this faraway island paradise, there's no word for "diet." A flower, that is considered sacred here, may hold the key to helping you achieve accelerated fat reduction. Researchers were able to see this at work in a recent animal study. They found that this sacred flower appears to have slowed down the animals' natural process of making new fat cells...and signaled for the breakdown of existing fat at the same time. ...
A simple, yet yummy, treat that will be popular with kids of all ages.
The cross was the goal of Jesus from the very beginning. His birth was so there would be His death. The incarnation was for our atonement. He was born to die so that we might live. And when He had accomplished the purpose He had come to fulfill, He summed it up with a single word: "finished." ...
Yesterday (Tuesday, April 17) was a
historical day for our church. I had attended the foundation stone
laying ceremony for the proposed St. Gregorios Cancer Research
Center in Chelad, near Kothamangalam. When completed as envisaged,
this hospital will be a world class super specialty hospital for
treating cancer patients. The man behind this vision is none other
than Malankara World Board Member Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Geevarghese
Kunnath, MD, FRCP Cor Episcopa. It will be built near the church
owned Dental College in Chelad. HB Baselios Thomas I, Catholicose of
the East hopes that this will become the anchor for the next Medical
College of the church.
The function was well attended. In addition to HB Catholica Bava, the dignitaries included HE Joseph Mor Greorios, Synod Secretary and Metropolitan of Kochi Diocese, HG Dr. Abraham Mor Severios, Angamaly Diocese Metropolitan, HG Mathews Mor Ivanios, Metropolitan of Kandanad Diocese, Mr. Anoop Jacob, recently elected MLA from Piravom and a minister in Kerala Govt., TU Kuruvilla, MLA, Sajan Paul MLA, UDF Convenor P.P. Thankachen, Municipal Chairman K.P. Babu, Sabha secretary Thambu George Thukalan, many priests, nuns and Govt. officials from surrounding panchayats, municipalities, etc.
As you know, in Kerala everyone speaks, whether they have something to say or not. But I was impressed with the speech given by our corepiscopa achen (as everyone addressed Fr. GeeVarghese at the event). Geevarghese achen described his journey to setting up the cancer hospital. It was something he hasn't shared with anyone including his wife before. Imagine achen attending his 1st grade classes sitting on the lap of his sister. Achen was too small and could not see the blackboard and so his sister opted to stay with him so he can sit on her lap. Achen developed a special love for his sister as a result of her sacrifices and caring attitude. Later his sister contracted acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer that had no known treatment at that time. Achen felt helpless seeing the person he adored suffer with this terrible disease. Later in his life, he will often see his sister in his dreams; he felt she was asking him to do something for others who are suffering from cancer. Achen started his preparations to start a cancer hospital from that point. The foundation stone laying ceremony on Tuesday by Catholica Bava took that dream and vision to near reality. When fully functional, St. Gregorios Cancer Research Center will treat 4000 new cases and 4600 outpatients and will have the most modern facilities to treat cancer patients.
We want to congratulate Dr. Geevarghese achen and Chinnu Kochamma for this great accomplishment. Let us hope that one day, no one will face the terrible consequences achen's sister Saramma had gone through.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
This Sunday in Church
First Sunday after New Sunday
This Week's Features
by Pete Briscoe
Information alone rarely changes lives. But when someone experiences the truth, their future is often changed for good. This is certainly the case with Jesus. Sure, people's lives get changed for all sorts of different reasons, but the transformation that we see in the disciples’ lives is irrefutable evidence that they believed they had encountered the living Christ.
Remember the disciples back in the Garden of Gethsemane? At the first threat of real danger, "everyone deserted him and fled" (Mark 14:50). But then, "Bam!" Just like that, something changed. These guys became radical and fearless, willing to give their lives in the name of Jesus Christ. What happened?
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. —John 20:19-20
This encounter with the living Christ completely transformed them from men who were hiding behind "doors locked for fear of the Jews" into an unstoppable team. History and tradition show us that the disciples were tortured, exiled, and killed because they wouldn’t shut up about their encounter with the resurrected Christ.
We can truthfully say that billions of people can testify to the change that the resurrected Christ has made in their life! Yes, I believe that information is important. That's why we are so committed to telling the truth from the Scriptures. But it has to go from head knowledge to a living, relational experience with the risen Christ.
Is the focus of your faith simply informational? How would your life be changed if you lived in fuller awareness of the resurrected Jesus in you and with you today?
Risen Christ, I don't want to just know about You. I want more than just the facts that show You rose from the dead. My heart yearns for You. My heart seeks You. I am open to experiencing You today, on a personal level, in any way that You choose! Amen.
Source: Experiencing LIFE Today
by Anna Kuta
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit" (Proverbs 18:21).
We've all heard the phrase "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." In my mind, that statement couldn't be further from the truth.
Words are powerful. We've all, no doubt, been wounded at some point by careless, unkind or mean statements. Their effect on our lives, even years later, is undeniable. No matter how much we deny it, it still makes us cringe to remember the taunts of the second-grade bully on the playground and makes us want to crawl under a rock to think of that rumor spreading through the high school hallways.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue," Proverbs 18:21 says. The impact our words have on others cannot be overstated. One small comment or remark can make the difference between building a relationship up or tearing it down. We have the power to either encourage or destroy others with our speech.
The Bible speaks extensively about the power of words – especially positive ones – and warns about the dangers of careless ones. "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger," says Proverbs 15:1. "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones," Proverbs 16:24 adds. Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." And Matthew 12:36-37 says: "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
One particular instance of the power of words in my life stands out in my mind – one that, without exaggerating, very likely changed my whole course at that time. It was early in the second semester of my sophomore year of college, and I was trudging up the stairs of the journalism building to turn in an assignment. Freshman year and the first half of sophomore year had been rough for a variety of reasons, and now I was struggling to juggle my classes, work and personal issues and keep my head afloat. I had to officially declare my major in just a few weeks, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It was one of those weeks where I seemed to be failing on every assignment, and to top it off, I had just come from a disastrous meeting with an econ professor who made me feel stupid for not understanding an "easy" problem. Even in my journalism classes – my best subject – I couldn't seem to get into the swing of things. The harder I tried, the worse the results seemed to be. I was beginning to worry that majoring in journalism would be the most terrible idea of my life, and I was, in all honesty, becoming more and more tempted to give it all up completely and go take a semester off somewhere.
On my way out of the journalism building, I passed two of my professors talking in the hallway. I said hi to them and kept walking, but after I rounded the corner I stopped short as I heard one of them say to the other, "Anna is one of the most hard-working and good journalism students." I don't know if he meant for me to overhear his statement, and I don't remember hearing either of them say a single other thing, but his words made me freeze and stand there for a good 10 seconds. A good student – that's really what he thought? My work was paying off? I wasn't a total journalistic failure who would never succeed as a writer? It was like right then and there something went off in my mind. I hadn't even realized I needed the encouragement, but suddenly my whole outlook changed. If that's what my professor thought of me, then I was determined not to let him down. Many times throughout the rest of college when I doubted myself or just needed a pick-me-up, I thought back to his comment. He became one of my most trusted mentors, and before I graduated I was finally able to tell him how his words that day had probably been the turning point in my whole academic career. To this day, I still don't know what it was about that one simple statement – but I do know its impact went a thousand times beyond what my professor could have ever imagined.
A kind, positive or encouraging word at the right time can truly be life-changing. Your words hold the power to breathe an attitude of death or life into others – which will you choose?
Source: Crosswalk.com Devotional. Anna Kuta is News and Culture Editor at Crosswalk.com
by Max Lucado
Sunday mornings. I awake early, long before the family stirs, the sunrise flickers, or the paper plops on the driveway. Let the rest of the world sleep in. I don't. Sunday's my big day, the day I stand before a congregation of people who are willing to swap thirty minutes of their time for some conviction and hope.
Most weeks I have ample to go around. But occasionally I don't. (Does it bother you to know this?) Sometimes in the dawn-tinted, pre-pulpit hours, the seeming absurdity of what I believe hits me. The fear that God isn't. The fear that "why?" has no answer. The valley of the shadow of doubt.
To one degree or another we all venture into the valley. In the final pages of Luke's gospel, the physician-turned-historian dedicated his last chapter to answering one question: how does Christ respond when we doubt him?
For both the dejected Emmaus bound disciples (Luke 24:13-35) and the frightened upper room disciples (Luke 24:36-49): A meal is served, the Bible is taught, the disciples find courage, and we find two practical answers to the critical question, what would Christ have us do with our doubts?
His answer? Touch my body and ponder my story. We still can, you know. We can still touch the body of Christ. We'd love to touch his physical wounds and feel the flesh of the Nazarene. Yet when we brush up against the church, we do just that. "The church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself " (Eph. 1:23 NLT).
Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries . . . When we mix, mingle, confess, and pray, Christ speaks.
The adhesiveness of the disciples instructs us. They stuck together. Even with ransacked hopes, they clustered in conversant community. They kept "going over all these things that had happened" (Luke 24:14 MSG). Isn't this a picture of the church—sharing notes, exchanging ideas, mulling over possibilities, lifting spirits? And as they did, Jesus showed up to teach them, proving "when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I'll be there" (Matt. 18:20 MSG).
UpWords with Max Lucado
by Pope Benedict XVI
For some decades now we have been experiencing a decline in religious practice and we have been seeing substantial numbers of the baptized drifting away from church life. This prompts the question: should the Church not change? Must she not adapt her offices and structures to the present day, in order to reach the searching and doubting people of today?
Blessed Mother Teresa was once asked what in her opinion was the first thing that would have to change in the Church. Her answer was: you and I.
Two things are clear from this brief story. On the one hand Mother Teresa wants to tell her interviewer: the Church is not just other people, not just the hierarchy, the Pope and the bishops: we are all the Church, we the baptized. And on the other hand her starting-point is this: yes, there are grounds for change. There is a need for change. Every Christian and the community of the faithful are constantly called to change.
What should this change look like in practice? Are we talking about the kind of renewal that a householder might carry out when reordering or repainting his home? Or are we talking about a corrective, designed to bring us back on course and help us to make our way more swiftly and more directly? Certainly these and other elements play a part. As far as the Church in concerned, though, the basic motive for change is the apostolic mission of the disciples and the Church herself.
The Church, in other words, must constantly rededicate herself to her mission. The three Synoptic Gospels highlight various aspects of the missionary task. The mission is built upon personal experience: "You are witnesses" (Lk 24:48); it finds expression in relationships: "Make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19); and it spreads a universal message: "Preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15). Through the demands and constraints of the world, however, the witness is constantly obscured, the relationships are alienated and the message is relativized. If the Church, in Pope Paul VI's words, is now struggling "to model itself on Christ's ideal", this "can only result in its acting and thinking quite differently from the world around it, which it is nevertheless striving to influence" (Ecclesiam Suam, 58). In order to accomplish her mission, she will constantly set herself apart from her surroundings, she needs in a certain sense to become unworldly or "desecularized".
The Church's mission has its origins in the mystery of the triune God, in the mystery of his creative love. Love is not just somehow within God, he himself is love by nature. And divine love does not want to exist in isolation, it wants to pour itself out. It has come down to men in a particular way through the incarnation and self-offering of God's Son. He stepped outside the framework of his divinity, he took flesh and became man; and indeed his purpose was not merely to confirm the world in its worldliness and to be its companion, leaving it completely unchanged.
The Christ event includes the inconceivable fact of what the Church Fathers call a commercium, an exchange between God and man, in which the two parties – albeit in quite different ways – both give and take, bestow and receive. The Christian faith recognizes that God has given man a freedom in which he can truly be a partner to God, and can enter into exchange with him. At the same time it is clear to man that this exchange is only possible thanks to God's magnanimity in accepting the beggar's poverty as wealth, so as to make the divine gift acceptable, given that man has nothing of comparable worth to offer in return.
The Church likewise owes her whole being to this unequal exchange. She has nothing of her own to offer to him who founded her. She finds her meaning exclusively in being a tool of salvation, in filling the world with God's word and in transforming the world by bringing it into loving unity with God. The Church is fully immersed in the Redeemer's outreach to men. She herself is always on the move, she constantly has to place herself at the service of the mission that she has received from the Lord. The Church must always open up afresh to the cares of the world and give herself over to them, in order to make present and continue the holy exchange that began with the Incarnation.
In the concrete history of the Church, however, a contrary tendency is also manifested, namely that the Church becomes settled in this world, she becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world. She gives greater weight to organization and institutionalization than to her vocation to openness.
In order to accomplish her true task adequately, the Church must constantly renew the effort to detach herself from the "worldliness" of the world. In this she follows the words of Jesus: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (Jn 17:16). One could almost say that history comes to the aid of the Church here through the various periods of secularization, which have contributed significantly to her purification and inner reform.
Secularizing trends – whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like – have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty.
In this the Church has shared the destiny of the tribe of Levi, which according to the Old Testament account was the only tribe in Israel with no ancestral land of its own, taking as its portion only God himself, his word and his signs. At those moments in history, the Church shared with that tribe the demands of a poverty that was open to the world, in order to be released from her material ties: and in this way her missionary activity regained credibility.
History has shown that, when the Church becomes less worldly, her missionary witness shines more brightly. Once liberated from her material and political burdens, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world. She can live more freely her vocation to the ministry of divine worship and service of neighbour. The missionary task, which is linked to Christian worship and should determine its structure, becomes more clearly visible.
The Church opens herself to the world not in order to win men for an institution with its own claims to power, but in order to lead them to themselves by leading them to him of whom each person can say with Saint Augustine: he is closer to me than I am to myself (cf. Confessions, III, 6, 11). He who is infinitely above me is yet so deeply within me that he is my true interiority. This form of openness to the world on the Church's part also serves to indicate how the individual Christian can be open to the world in effective and appropriate ways.
It is not a question here of finding a new strategy to relaunch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency, not bracketing or ignoring anything from the truth of our present situation, but living the faith fully here and now in the utterly sober light of day, appropriating it completely, and stripping away from it anything that only seems to belong to faith, but in truth is mere convention or habit.
To put it another way: for people of every era, not just our own, the Christian faith is a scandal. That the eternal God should know us and care about us, that the intangible should at a particular moment have become tangible, that he who is immortal should have suffered and died on the Cross, that we who are mortal should be given the promise of resurrection and eternal life – to believe all this is to posit something truly remarkable.
This scandal, which cannot be eliminated unless one were to eliminate Christianity itself, has unfortunately been overshadowed in recent times by other painful scandals on the part of the preachers of the faith. A dangerous situation arises when these scandals take the place of the primary skandalon of the Cross and in so doing they put it beyond reach, concealing the true demands of the Christian Gospel behind the unworthiness of those who proclaim it.
All the more, then, it is time once again for the Church resolutely to set aside her worldliness. That does not mean withdrawing from the world. A Church relieved of the burden of worldliness is in a position, not least through her charitable activities, to mediate the life-giving strength of the Christian faith to those in need, to sufferers and to their carers. "For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being" (Deus Caritas Est, 25). At the same time, though, the Church's charitable activity also needs to be constantly exposed to the demands of due detachment from worldliness, if it is not to wither away at the roots in the face of increasing erosion of its ecclesial character. Only a profound relationship with God makes it possible to reach out fully towards others, just as a lack of outreach towards neighbour impoverishes one's relationship with God.
Openness to the concerns of the world means, then, for the Church that is detached from worldliness, bearing witness to the primacy of God's love according to the Gospel through word and deed, here and now, a task which at the same time points beyond the present world because this present life is also bound up with eternal life. As individuals and as the community of the Church, let us live the simplicity of a great love, which is both the simplest and hardest thing on earth, because it demands no more and no less than the gift of oneself.
Dear friends, it remains for me to invoke God's blessing and the strength of the Holy Spirit upon us all, that we may continually recognize anew and bear fresh witness to God's love and mercy in our respective fields of activity. Thank you for your attention.
Source: The pope Benedict XVI speech to German Catholics, Freiburg im Breisgau, September 25, 2011
by John Piper
Since my father died, I have been looking through his papers. I found a small sheet with the following fifteen counsels, titled "Things I Have Learned." He didn't make most of these up. Some of them go back to his college days when he was absorbing the pithy wisdom of Bob Jones Senior. They have again confirmed the obvious: I owe my father more than I can ever remember. The comment after each one is mine.
Things I Have Learned
1. The right road always leads to the right place; therefore, get on the right road and go as far as you can on it.
My father was totally persuaded that wrong means do not lead to right ends. Or, more positively, he was persuaded that living in the right way — that is, doing the right things — are means that inevitably lead to where God wants us to be. This is why he told me, when I asked about God's leading in my life, "Son, keep the room clean where you are, and in God's time, the door to the next room will open."
2. There is only one thing to do about anything; that is the right thing. Do right.
This is what one might say to a person perplexed by a difficult situation whose outcome is unknown. The person might say, "I just don't know what to do about this." It is not useless to be told: Do the right thing. That may not tell you exactly which good thing to do, but it does clear the air and rule out a few dozen bad ideas.
3. Happiness is not found by looking for it. You stumble over happiness on the road to duty.
My, my, my. How was John Piper born from this? I would never say this. The main reason is that the Bible commands us to pursue our joy repeatedly. "Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice." "Delight yourself in the Lord." I think what he meant was: 1) Joy is always in something. Joy itself is not the something. So we seek joy in Christ. Not just joy in general. 2) When duty is hard and we do not feel joy in doing it, we should still do it, and pray that in the doing it the joy would be given. But what we need to make plain is that duty cannot be contrasted with joy, because joy is a biblical duty.
4. The door to success swings on the hinges of opposition.
Remarkably, this saying implies that opposition is not just a natural accompaniment or antecedent of success, but that it is a means by which the door opens. One can think of many biblical examples. The opposition of Joseph's brothers opened the door to his leadership in Egypt. The taxing of the empire opened the door to getting the Messiah born in Bethlehem, not Nazareth, and thus fulfilling prophecy. The betrayal of Judas opened the door to the salvation of the world.
5. God in the right place in my life fixes every other relationship of life (Matthew 6:33).
I wonder if this was tucked away in my mind so that unknown to me it controlled my analogy of the solar system to our many-faceted lives. If God is the blazing center of the solar system of our lives, then all the planets will be held in their proper orbit. But if not, everything goes awry.
6. It is never right to get the right thing in the wrong way — like good grades, wealth, power, position. Don't sacrifice your principles.
Again, he hammers away at don't use bad means for good ends. Be a principled, not a pragmatic, person. O how we need to hear this today. Churches need to be principled, not endlessly adapting to culture. Persons need to make a promise and keep it no matter how much it hurts.
7. It is a sin to do less than your best. It is wrong to do [merely] well.
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). But be careful. Sometimes the "best" is a B+ sermon and spending time with your child. In other words, "best" always involves more decisions than the one you are making at the moment. That one means many other things are being left undone. So "best" is always the whole thing, not just the detail of the moment.
8. It is wrong to be yoked to one who refuses the yoke of Christ.
Don't marry an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:39). Not all relationships with unbelievers are ruled out. Otherwise we could not obey Jesus' command to love them and bless them. But "yoke" implies a connectedness that either governs where we go or constrains where they go. And you cannot constrain faith in Jesus. It is free.
9. The part of your character that is deficient is the part that needs attention.
This is the counterpoint to the advice: Go with your strengths. There is truth in both. Yes, be encouraged by every evidence of God's grace in your life, and use your gifts and graces for his glory. But you will become smug and vain if you do not keep your deficiencies before you and work on them.
10. Don't quit. Finish the job. God can't use a quitter.
Warning: "He who endures to the end will be saved" (Mark 13:13). Promise: "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
11. Anything you do that hinders your progress for God is wrong.
O how thankful I am that this was the dominant way my father pressed me to pursue my sanctification. He did not mainly impose lists of don'ts on me, though we had them. And they were clear. Mainly he said: Maximize your progress in knowing and serving God. That ruled out a hundred foolish behaviors, some bad and some uselessly innocent.
12. Beware of any society in which you feel compelled to put a bushel over your testimony.
This implies that you can go into a group of people who are evil if you are willing to open your mouth and take a stand for Jesus and righteousness. Nevertheless, 1 Corinthians 15:33 stands: "Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'"
13. It isn't enough to be good. Be good for something. The essence of Christianity is not a passionless purity.
This is what I have meant in talking about a merely avoidance ethic. Don't just think of righteousness or holiness in terms of what you avoid, but what you do. As my father said in another place: Don't be a don'ter; be a doer.
14. Positive living produces negative effect[s].
This is wise counsel that affirmation of the good always implies negation of the bad. If you think you can live your life without negating anything, you have lost touch with reality. "Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good" (Romans 12:9). You cannot love without hating what hurts the beloved.
15. Learn to be sweetly firm.
This was what he said to my mother over the phone when she was exasperated with her one disobedient son: Be sweet and firm. I think she succeeded.
© Desiring God. www.desiringGod.org.
by Steve Arterburn
Recently a team of astronomers announced they have conclusive proof that a powerful black hole is 50 million light years away. Since the early 1900's Albert Einstein predicted there were black holes as a part of his theory of relativity. At first black holes were only a theory and based on math formulas. For many years astronomers have been trying to prove the existence of these black holes in space. Now with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists can prove the existence of these black holes.
Fifty million light years. As I thought about that distance, it was more than my mind could imagine. We usually talk about size with words like big, large, extra large, and huge. A black hole is bigger than big . . . it defies our comprehension.
This science news also gave me a new appreciation for how big and how grand God is. The opening line of the Bible says "God created the heavens and the earth". Yet despite the grandness of the heavens, God cares about the intimate details of my life. In the New Testament book of Matthew, Jesus says that God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground and that even the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
I challenge you today to consider how big the world is, but also realize that we can have an intimate relationship with the God who created it.
by Al Sears, MD
I'd heard that in this faraway island paradise, there's no word for "diet."
But I was still surprised to see what my new friends in Bali, Lelir and Westi, had made us for dinner. I expected them to eat like birds, but every single dish on the table was rich, creamy or sweet.
My first bite of bubuh injun had me wondering how in the world the Balinese stay so slim.
I'd just flown halfway around the world to see for myself if what I'd been reading about could possibly be true: Could they eat as much rich food as they want throughout Bali and still stay naturally thin?
I may have found the answer hiding in Lelir and Westi's everyday routines. It's a fat-melting flower that's one of Bali's best-kept secrets.
And the truth was even better than I imagined.
You see, Bali is a place that doesn't give up its secrets easily. After centuries of being invaded and conquered by hostile nations, the Balinese have become fiercely protective of their culture.
That might be why so few people know the full story behind one of their most celebrated treasures.
They call it sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). I saw its large, pink petals blooming above the surface of freshwater ponds. A few times I saw peddlers selling its unusual fruit, which grows right in the center of the flower and looks like the spout of a watering can. But most of the time I saw it carved into intricate stone statues outside of Hindu temples.
Westi told me that the sacred lotus represents divine beauty and purity, and has symbolic importance in the Hindu religion, which most Balinese practice.
Although it seemed to be everywhere I went on the island, very few outsiders know what this beautiful flower can really do.
The sacred lotus may hold the key to helping you achieve accelerated fat reduction.
Researchers were able to see this at work in a recent animal study. They found that sacred lotus appears to have slowed down the animals' natural process of making new fat cells...and signaled for the breakdown of existing fat at the same time.1
Sacred lotus seems to specifically target fatty tissue. It helped keep the animals from gaining more weight – and many even dropped weight.
Another animal study suggested that sacred lotus interfered with the body's digestion and absorption of fat and carbs. At the same time, it accelerated the breakdown of fat and helped the body melt it faster.2
These preliminary results are very exciting and I anticipate that human clinical trials will show a similar benefit. The results look very promising in my opinion.
Imagine what a relief it would be if this fat-melting flower could have the same effect for you... making it even easier to drop weight when you add it to the efforts you already make to melt off those excess pounds.
But that was only the first slimming secret I uncovered in Bali. My friends Lelir and Westi had the second one growing right in their own backyard, a treasured spice that shuts down fat cells.
Herbalist Ni Wayan Lelir My friend, herbalist Ni Wayan Lelir, shows me the turmeric root she uses in her daily tonic.
I wasn't surprised when Ni Wayan Lelir (pronounced Nee Why-an Lee-leer) told me, "We don't like to go to doctors. We don't need chemicals. We use the herbs surrounding us. Like for immune health, we use turmeric."
Lelir is a fifth-generation herbalist from a long family tradition of natural healers, called Balians. She learned the art of Jamu medicine from her mother and grandmother, and has spent years developing formulas in her workshop that you can't get anywhere else. Her husband, named I Made Westi (Eye Mah-dee West-ee), is an agriculturalist and herbalist, and he oversees their incredible herb garden.
People come to Lelir and Westi's herb shop for nearly everything you can think of: immune-strengthening teas, detoxifying tonics, skin soothers... even organic cocoa butter and lip balm.
But while I was there, I didn't see one person come in asking for help with their weight. They don't need to. There's no sure way to know why this is true, but the speculation is that it's because of what they eat.
This includes eating powerful roots like the turmeric many of them get every day from Lelir's "Jamu" formulas (Jamu means herbal healing in Javanese). And they cook with turmeric too.
Westi took me to see the turmeric plants in his garden, growing on a huge plot of land tucked away in the jungle high in the mountains near his home town of Ubud. There were at least 6 different kinds of turmeric there, in rows as far as I could see.
I'd already known about turmeric's power to support immune health and promote proper inflammatory response. But I suspected there was something else at work in this plant.
Turns out that the active component in turmeric, called curcumin, is also thermogenic – it may help increase metabolic rate! Think of it like turning up the heat in your cells. The temperature goes up, and the fat is converted into energy.
Back in my Florida office, I found an eye-opening study from the USDA's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
When they gave animals curcumin and a fat-inducing diet for 12 long weeks, the obese mice actually shed weight!3 It seems the curcumin "induced apoptosis of adipocytes." It caused the death of fat cells.
No wonder there's no word for "diet" in Bali.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1 Bin X, et al, "Nelumbo nucifera alkaloid inhibits 3T3-L1 preadipocyte differentiation and improves ... body fat accumulating in rats," Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 2011; 5(10):2021–28.
2 Ono Y, et al, "...effect of Nelumbo nucifera leaves extract in mice and rats," Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2005;106(2):238–44.
3 Ejaz A, et al, "Curcumin inhibits adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and angiogenesis and obesity in C57/BL mice." Journal of Nutrition. 2009;139(5):919–25.
4 Kuriyan R, Raj T, Srinivas SK, Vaz M, Rajendran R, Kurpad AV. "Effect of Caralluma fimbriata extract on appetite, food intake ... in adult Indian men and women." Appetite. 2007 May;48(3):338-44.
5 Anderson RA, "Effects of chromium on body composition and weight l," Nutri Rev. 1998 Sep; 56(9): 266–70.
6 Kaats GR, et al, "The effects of chromium picolinate supplementation on body composition: A randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled study." Current Therapeutic Research. 1996; 57(10): 747–756.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
by LeAnn Rice
■ 8 slices of bread
Spread four slices of bread with peanut butter and four slices with jam. Put together to make four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
In a flat dish, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.
Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Melt enough butter to coat the bottom.
Gently place one sandwich in the egg mixture, turning over to coat each side. Transfer to the griddle or skillet. Repeat with each sandwich. Cook for approximately four minutes per side or until golden brown.
To serve, cut each sandwich in half diagonally, or into triangles. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with a little drizzle of pure maple syrup.
NOTE: Leave out the jam and make peanut butter (only) sandwiches. Serve with fresh berries and berry syrup.
by Greg Laurie
The cross was the goal of Jesus from the very beginning. His birth was so there would be His death. The incarnation was for our atonement. He was born to die so that we might live. And when He had accomplished the purpose He had come to fulfill, He summed it up with a single word: "finished."
In the original Greek, it was a common word. Jesus probably used it after He finished a project that He and Joseph might have been working on together in the carpentry shop. Jesus might have turned to Joseph and said, "Finished. Now let's go have lunch." It is finished. Mission accomplished. It is done. It is made an end of.
So what was finished? Finished and completed were the horrendous sufferings of Christ. Never again would He experience pain at the hand of wicked men. Never again would He have to bear the sins of the world. Never again would He, even for a moment, be forsaken of God. That was completed. That was taken care of.
Also finished was Satan's stronghold on humanity. Jesus came to deal a decisive blow against the devil and his demons at the cross of Calvary. Hebrews 2:14 says, "Only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who hadthe power of death." This means that you no longer have to be under the power of sin. Because of Jesus' accomplishment at the cross, finished was the stronghold of Satan on humanity.
And lastly, finished was our salvation. It is completed. It is done. All of our sins were transferred to Jesus when He hung on the cross. His righteousness was transferred to our account.
So Jesus cried out the words, "It is finished!" It was God's deliberate and well-thought-out plan. It is finished—so rejoice!
Summary sentence: Have you experienced the "finished" work of Jesus for you?
Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
For seniors and those gradually progressing towards senior-hood ;-)
If My Body Was a Car!
If my body was a car, this is the time I would be thinking about trading it in for a newer model. I've got bumps and dents and scratches in my finish and my paint job is getting a little dull...
But that's not the worst of it.
My headlights are out of focus and it's especially hard to see things up close.
My traction is not as graceful as it once was. I slip and slide and skid and bump into things even in the best of weather.
My whitewalls are stained with varicose veins.
It takes me hours to reach my maximum speed. My fuel rate burns inefficiently.
But here's the worst of it,
(Source: Dr. Savio Mannatt)
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