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This Sunday in Church
First Sunday after Shunoyo/the Assumption of St. Mary
Before Holy Qurbana
This Week's Features
|Inspiration for Today|
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. -- I have blotted out as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. -- Your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. -- God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. -- That he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. -- They shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ: not by water only, but by water and blood.
I JOHN 1:9. Psa. 51:3,4. Luke 15:20. ‑Isa. 44:22. ‑I John 2:12. ‑Eph. 4:32. -Rom. 3:26. Eze. 36:25. ‑Rev. 3:4. I John 5:6.
by Brian Hedges
Human beings are thirsty, but not for water. The thirst we long to quench is deeper, arising from the parched places of the soul, the cracked earth of our barren hearts. We feel disoriented and dissatisfied with life. Lost and confused, we crave something more, though we know not what.
These feelings come in a variety of ways, along many different paths. Sometimes it's relational: the ache of loneliness, the awkward feelings of not fitting in, the deep and painful sense of alienation from others that seems to take on cosmic proportions.
Or maybe it's the need for meaning and purpose. When we are young, we yearn for significance, wanting our lives to count for something, believing that we're specially crafted to fulfill a certain destiny, though we're not sure what it is. But then as we grow older, those dreams fade. We realize that we're merely existing: working for a living, trying to hold a marriage or family together, but still lacking a sense of congruity between what we're doing and who we really are
Sometimes this inward ache is awakened by beauty. Have you ever had the strange experience of something beautiful moving you deeply, unexpectedly? The fire in your spirit is stoked with desire. A secret longing provoked by the sonorous sounds of a symphony, or the lyrical laughter of a little child, or the consoling cadences of poetry, or the stunning spectacle of a crimson sunset over the ocean.
It's the experience that Guinan (the psychic bartender played by Whoopi Goldberg) had in one of the Star Trek films. A renegade aboard a starship is trying desperately to get in line with the Nexus, a mysterious ribbon of energy floating through space. Captain Picard has a conversation with Guinan who had been in the Nexus, and she says, "That ribbon isn't just some random energy phenomenon travelling through space. It's a doorway. It leads to another place - the Nexus . . . It was like being inside...joy."
You know that you are treading on transcendent ground in moments like this. But try to grab the experience, to hold it, to preserve it, to make it last, and it will slip like sand through your fingers.
These are the experiences that stab the soul awake with an ardent desire for something more. And perhaps most significant of all is how desirable this piercing desire is in and of itself. Though it is a thirst we cannot quite satisfy, the worst thing in the world is to have the desire and then lose it. That's why C. S. Lewis once said, "Our best havings are wantings."
The problem is that we so often mistake the object of our longing. We think that if we can just find that perfect relationship, or achieve success, or realize our dreams, that we will finally feel deeply satisfied. It's not that any of these things are wrong in themselves. Created things, as Lewis points out, "are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited."
The ancient prophets and songwriters of Israel were also pierced with longing. But they learned to channel their yearning to the true source of satisfaction, the fountainhead of divine beauty in God himself. The psalmists described God as a river of delights and a fountain of life (Psa. 36) and yearned for pleasures at God's right hand forevermore (Psa. 16). In one of his most desperate Psalms, David cried, "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psa. 63).
The prophets uttered oracles of judgment on God's ancient people because they had forsaken God, the fountain of living waters, and had contented themselves with broken cisterns instead (Jer. 2). But they also held out hope, inviting all who were thirsty to come buy wine and milk without money or price (Isa. 55).
But it is in the Gospels that we discover the ultimate quenching for our thirst. For Jesus himself, speaking to a woman who had vainly sought satisfaction in multiple relationships with men, promised that anyone who drinks the water he gives would never thirst again, but find instead a well springing up to eternal life (John 4). In fact, the Bible ends with an invitation to drink: "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price" (Rev. 22).
Are you thirsty? Have you been looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places? Have you been trying to quench your thirst for joy with broken cisterns that can hold no water? Then come to Jesus. The fountain is open; the water is fine. Jump in and drink!
Brian G. Hedges is the lead pastor for Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles, Michigan. He has been married to Holly since 1996 and has three children: Stephen, Matthew, and Susannah. He has contributed articles to Heartcry! A Journal on Revival and Spiritual Awakening, Pastor Connect, and The Banner of Truth magazine. He is the author of Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change (Shepherd Press, 2010). And Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin (Cruciform Press, 2011)
Source: Christianity.com Daily Update
"Ignorance is not bliss. Bliss is ignorance of one's ignorance." - Unknown
Scripture tells us we can be radically transformed by renewing our minds according to what is true (Romans 12:1-2). That's important, because there is a problem that only Christians can have: we often think we are clothed in sin, when in fact, we are truly dressed in the righteousness of God.
I believe Satan will often try to convince you that you're still who you were before Christ changed you. A sure sign of this is the self-talk that sounds righteous, but is actually based on a lie: Oh, I am such a sinner. Oh, how could God ever forgive me? You look at other people and think Oh, they are so much "closer" to God than I am. (Remember, the truth is that you could never get closer to God when He is in you already!)
When Joshua the high priest was standing before God, and Satan was accusing him (Zechariah 3), Satan was pointing at his sinful filthy rags. He probably said something like, "God, look at this miserable slob. How could You love him?" Joshua was listening to all this. How do you think he was feeling? You know what he was feeling, don't you? You know what it's like to have your sin pointed out.
But that's when God steps in.
The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes."
Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you." - Zechariah 3:4
This is exactly what Jesus did to us the day we said yes to him! "Take off your filthy rags." God has made you His righteousness; that's the truth. You can renew your mind and be transformed. How? By refusing the lies of Satan and embracing who Jesus made you into. What happened to Satan's accusations when the robes of righteousness were placed on Joshua? Satan went mute. Satan has nothing to say when we stand in the righteousness of Christ.
Jesus, I ask that Your truth would break through my feelings, my experiences, and the lies of Satan and the world that continually remind me of my sins. Thank You for taking away my sin! Thank You for putting the fine garments of righteousness around me. Thank You for what You did on the cross, my Lord. Amen.
Source: Experiencing LIFE Today
by Alex Crain, Editor, Christianity.com
The arm amputation scene in the movie “127 Hours” vividly portrays the tough-as-nails experience of rock climber, Aron Ralston, during a 2003 expedition that almost claimed his life. As I watched the scene not long ago, I was reminded of a spiritual truth that makes most Christians wince, including me.
Aron, an experienced 27-year-old outdoorsman had taken along just enough food and water for the day. He hiked all by himself in a remote canyon area that used to be the hideout for wild-west outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. At one point in the middle of the afternoon of that near perfect day, he was about seventy feet above the canyon floor—climbing in a narrow crevice that was just a few feet wide. Without warning, a boulder above him shifted and came hurtling toward him. Within seconds, Aron’s right arm was pinned against the wall. His hand was crushed. What had been one of his greatest assets as an expert climber was now his greatest liability.
For the next five days, he tried various ways to free his arm. Chipping away at the boulder with a pocket knife only made a small dent. Rigging up a pulley system to somehow shift the boulder drained precious time and strength to no avail. Finally, a moment of clarity came. Aron would break his forearm, cut through the muscle with the dirty pocket knife, detach his arm, and use rope for a tourniquet. Following this plan, Aron would lose his arm, but save his life.
In his book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place (© 2004 Simon & Schuster), Aron explains that "some sort of autopilot" took over him as he went about the gruesome task of amputation. When he finished, Aron lowered himself down the rock wall, leaving a trail of blood. He then trudged slowly in the direction of his truck parked miles away. Fortunately, he happened across two hikers on the way who phoned in a rescue helicopter. Amputating his right arm was a radical act, but it saved his life and, soon, he was reunited with his loved ones.
Christians are called to deal with sin in a similar way. The Bible doesn't offer a laid-back, live-and-let-live approach. Sin is our deadly enemy. We have two choices: kill or be killed. As Puritan writer, John Owen famously put it in his classic book The Mortification of Sin, “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.”
Jesus spoke about the time for radical action in Matthew 5:30: "If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell." While Jesus was not literally talking about physical amputation, He was saying that sin's deadly effects call for extreme measures. It may cause temporary pain or loss, but we must kill sin in our lives. In fact, our eternal destiny hinges on how we deal with sin. Yes, really. Think about Christ’s words again. Why else would Jesus talk about hell in the same breath that He talks dealing with sin? If He didn't mean that our eternal destiny hangs in the balance, then the passage makes no sense. Clearly, the way that one deals with sin (or not) shows what the heart prefers. If Aron Ralston had just given up and stayed there on the canyon wall, he would have most certainly died. But he was willing to kill his hand so that his life could be saved.
This is not to say that in our relationship with God we somehow “save ourselves” by our own righteousness. No. But neither should we think about salvation as a one-time decision. Christ doesn’t call us to a mere decision of “inviting Him to be our Savior,” He calls us to a life of trusting Him and walking with Him. The way we deal with sin simply shows what we value. Do we prefer the world or Christ? Colossians 3:5 says, "Put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
The world may tell us to laugh about sin, to lighten up about it, to tolerate it, and just let it be… that it's not idolatry; it's not an issue of worship.
God says the opposite is true.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Usually, sin doesn’t appear to us as an ugly, painful boulder that crushes us against a rock wall. What are the pleasures of sin that tend to pin you down? What is it that keeps you from treasuring God above all things? Ask God for grace and strength to amputate sin—today and every day.
Source: Crosswalk.com - The Devotional
by Joel Richardson
With all of the chaos, bloodshed and now the openly acknowledged presence of chemical and biological weapons within Syria, many students of prophecy are wondering if Isaiah's oracle concerning Damascus is about to be fulfilled. Many believe Israel might actually utilize nuclear weapons against its neighbors to the north. One prophecy teacher recently stated, "the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons makes the destruction of Damascus predicted in Isaiah 17:1 entirely possible."
With all of the chaos in Syria continually growing more and more unstable, it is certainly understandable that many students of Scripture are looking to Isaiah 17 and asking if its fulfillment could be imminent. But if we simply examine the actual text a bit more carefully, then we will see that this view is simply not what Isaiah was speaking about.
First, it is important to understand exactly what many within the prophecy community are expecting. According to this emerging popular view, there are three major prophetic events that are about to be imminently fulfilled, each one in succession. According to this popular scenario, the order of prophetic events is as follows:
Concerning Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 and 39, in other articles, I have discussed some of the problems with the above view.
Now, let's consider the actual text of Isaiah 17 to examine why a looming Israeli nuclear strike is not what the prophecy is speaking of.
The oracle concerning Damascus.
According to the text, there are a few things this judgment will bring about. All of them must be taken into consideration.
First, Damascus will be removed from being a city as well as all of "Aram." Aram speaks of the greater region of southern Syria.
Second, "the cities of Aroer" will be so adversely affected by the Isaiah 17 judgment that they will be "forsaken." A survey of the opinions of commentators, biblical scholars and Bible atlases tell us that Aroer is a reference to the region of northern modern-day Jordan. This would include the capital city of Amman.
Third, "Ephraim," which speaks of the ancient northern kingdom of Israel, or simply modern-day northern Israel, will also become virtually desolate:
The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim. … Now in that day the glory of Jacob will fade, and the fatness of his flesh will become lean. … Yet gleanings will be left in it like the shaking of an olive tree, two or three olives on the topmost bough, four or five on the branches of a fruitful tree," declares the LORD, the God of Israel. … In that day their strong cities will be like forsaken places in the forest, Or like branches which they abandoned before the sons of Israel; and the land will be a desolation. – Isaiah 17:3-7
Beyond northern Israel, the text is also clear that the "glory of Jacob will fade." "Jacob," of course, is simply a reference to all of Israel. So Israel's glory will fade to the point of being sparsely populated. Isaiah likens Israel to the fields after harvest. He then says that Israel's "strong cities will be like forsaken places in the forest."
Yet despite the fact that the prophecy speaks not only of the destruction of Damascus, but also of a major desolation of all of Israel, in none of the popular discussions of this text does anyone ever bring attention to Israel's desolation. It is as if they read only the first verse and ignore the remainder of the passage!
For those sensationalists who are predisposed to believe that Israel is about to hit Damascus with a nuclear bomb, the question must be asked: How wise would it be to drop a nuclear bomb on a city that lies less than 50 miles from your own border? The city of Damascus is only: 60 miles from Safed, 90 miles from Haifa, 133 miles from Tel Aviv, 135 miles from Jerusalem. The following map shows the region that would be adversely affected by the radiation fallout if Israel were to "nuke" Damascus:
If one is convinced that Israel is about to do this, they must also think that Israel's military strategists are rather suicidal. But there are deeper problems with the "nuclear view" that never seem to be considered. For what else does the text say? It says that after these regions are desolated and sparsely populated by humans, they will become pastures for flocks to lie down. Does this sound like a region that has just been thoroughly radiated by nuclear weapons? Simply put, if these regions were abandoned by humans, then domestic cattle and grazing animals would fare no better.
But most importantly, for those who believe the whole Isaiah 17 – Psalm 83 – Ezekiel 38, 39 succession of events scenario, if Israel is as sparsely populated and desolated as the passage states, how in the world would she be in the position not only to repel an attack from several other Arab nations, but also to occupy them? According to this text, after the judgments of Isaiah 17, there are barely enough survivors to inhabit Israeli cities, never mind all of the surrounding Arab nations! Once again, this entire popular view that so many seem to be embracing is a view that simply cannot be reconciled with the Scriptures.
In conclusion then, this passage is not speaking of an imminent nuclear attack. Isaiah 17 is simply one piece of the larger section of Isaiah's prophecy (Chapters 13-23) that speaks of judgment not only against Israel, but all of her adversarial Gentile neighbors.
When will all of this occur? If one examines this larger portion of Isaiah's prophecy in its proper context, rather pulling out a single verse here or there, then it is clear that its ultimate context is the Day of the LORD, the judgment against the nations and the return of Jesus. On this point, I find myself in full agreement with Dr. Tommy Ice:
It appears to be an event that will occur at the end of the seven-year tribulation as the Lord not only judges and destroy Damascus, but all of Israel's historic enemies that surround her. If one examines the broader context of Isaiah 17 and takes account of the section where it is located, it becomes clear that it is a section in which the Lord prophesizes (sic) judgment upon all the Gentile nations that have opposed Israel. This will all happen at the end of the tribulation in conjunction with the second coming of Christ to the earth.
About the Author:
Joel Richardson is the author of "Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist" and "Why we Left Islam" and is the co-author of "God's War on Terror." His blog is www.Joelstrumpet.com.
In a new book, currently available only in Italian, Cardinal Angelo Amato,
prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, writes that it's easy to
understand how people can question the church's holiness when they see the
sinful behavior of some of its members. But the good, loving and charitable
activities of other members are the best evidence that the church truly is the
holy body of Christ, he says.
"The holiness of the church is not the sum of the holiness of its children, but is a spiritual gift received from the spirit of the Risen Christ," he writes. "Throughout history, the church carries the treasure of its holiness in earthen vessels. Being aware of that, the historic church can do nothing other than continually convert to the cross of Christ."
The saints and martyrs officially recognized by the church are the "demonstration that the church, even if it is not already perfect, given the misery of many of its sons and daughters, is not less holy, but continues to produce the fruits of holiness and always will."
Individual Christians and Christian communities thus have an obligation to pursue holiness "to counterbalance the humiliations" Christ's body suffers because of the sins of its members, he writes.
Source: Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
by Fr. Roger Landry
A few weeks ago, when I began this miniseries on St. John Vianney as a confessor, I asked why so many men and women from throughout France made enormous sacrifices to get to the barely accessible hamlet of Ars to go to confession. I replied at the time with the words of one of the several hundred thousand reconciled sinners who had made such a pilgrimage: they came to Ars because there was something truly special about the confessor. They believed they were encountering "God in a man," someone whose radiant holiness gave them a glimpse of the irresistible beauty of God's merciful love.
That explanation is no doubt true from the subjective perspective of many of the penitents. But I don't think it's an exhaustive explanation. While only God knows all the reasons why St. John Vianney's confessional was teeming while so many other confessionals in France were vacant, it seems plausible that the fundamental reason was that God himself was drawing them there. I like to think, moreover, that one of the reasons God was moving his sons and daughters to confess to this simple priest in a tiny village was because St. John Vianney "earned" and "deserved" them far more than other priests.
God, who cannot be outdone in generosity, seemed reward the constant prayers and heroic sacrifices of St. John Vianney for the conversion of others. Just as no other confessor in history has heard so many confessions for so many years as the Curé of Ars, so probably no other priest prayed and sacrificed as much for the conversion necessary to bring sinners to the confessional.
As I've noted in previous columns, when the future patron saint of priests arrived in Ars, the practice of the faith was quite weak. His confessional was, for the most part, dormant. Rather than deter or discourage him, this absence of fidelity on the part of others spurred him on. He would spend most of the night in his Church alone with the Lord, begging, "O my God, grant me the conversion of my parish! I consent to suffer whatever you wish for as long as I live." He would fast and do other types of bodily penance in prayerful reparation to God for the sins others were not confessing. He would wait patiently in his confessional, praying for those who should be on the other side, but who, for one reason or another, had not yet come to conversion. He did this for a decade before there was a steady flow of penitents.
Even after he began to be overwhelmed by the number of penitents, however, he kept praying and doing sacrifices for the conversion of others. While in most matters he was reticent about his own interior life, in terms of his praying for sinners, he was very open, because he wanted to enlist others in the effort to imitate him in praying for those in need of God's mercy.
"I can't stop praying for poor sinners who are on the road to hell," he once said. "If they come to die in that state, they will be lost for all eternity. What a pity! We have to pray for sinners!" He said that praying for sinners was the "most beautiful and useful of prayers" because "the just are on the way to heaven, the souls of purgatory are sure to enter there, but the poor sinners" will be lost forever. He said that all devotions are good but "there is no better one" than such prayer for sinners.
"What souls we can convert by our prayers," he said on another occasion. Paraphrasing the Lord's words to the Prophet Ezekiel, he added, "The one who saves a soul from hell saves this soul and his own as well." He passed these truths on to all who would listen, because he knew that one did not have to be a priest absolving sins in God's name in the confessional to save sinners; by God's design, one could also do so through prayer.
When he talked about praying for sinners, he wasn't describing merely a short invocation, but a serious program of persistent supplication. When a parishioner asked him how more effectively to pray for sinners, the patron saint of priests responded with a list of things that seem to have an autobiographical tone to them. "One can offer himself as a victim for 8-15 days for the conversion of sinners. One can suffer cold, heat, deprive oneself of looking at something, go visit someone who would appreciate it, make a novena, attend daily Mass for this intention in places where it is possible. Not only would one contribute to God's glory by this holy practice [of praying for sinners], but one would obtain an abundance of grace."
To a brother priest who complained that his efforts to get his people to return to the Sacrament of Penance through his ministry in the pulpit had so far borne little fruit, St. John Vianney replied, with a response that likely featured much self-revelation, "You have preached, you have prayed, but have you fasted? Have you taken the discipline [a self-imposed penitential scourging]? Have you slept on the floor? So long as you have done none of these things, you have no right to complain."
Whenever someone he met refused to repent, the Curé of Ars redoubled his prayers and penances for that person's conversion. He would, moreover, do "preventative" prayer and penance prior to the scheduled debauched dances (the vogues) to beg God's grace to help people falling in sin. He would also do post-confessional prayer and sacrifice for reconciled sinners, giving them easier penances and doing the rest himself, so that no one would be afraid to return to the sacrament of God's mercy because of the fear of a harsh penance.
He prayed so much and so insistently precisely because he was convinced that the conversion of some from the state of mortal sin to grace was a true miracle that only God can work. "A great miracle is needed to raise a poor soul in that state," he taught in one of his catechism lessons. "Yes, a greater miracle than what the Lord did to raise Lazarus!" To resuscitate a dead body pales, he thought, to resurrecting a soul from death; every absolution is in fact a resurrection, when God the Father says to his prodigal son, "My son was dead and has come back to life again." St. John Vianney never lost the wonder of being God's instrument for these most important miracles. When his fame began to grow through his being the instrument for some miraculous bodily cures, he downplayed their significance, saying that the "body is so very little" and adding, "It is a beautiful thought, my children, that we have a sacrament that heals the wounds of our soul!"
St. John Vianney's existence, like Christ's before him, became one great prayer for the miracle of the conversion of sinners. "I am only content," he said, "when I'm praying for sinners." One of the reasons for his was that he knew, by what seems to be a divine intimation, that such prayer pleased God immensely. "The good God has made me see," he said to one of his friends, "how much he loves that I pray for poor sinners. … I don't know if it were really a voice I heard or a dream, but, whatever it was, it woke me up and told me that to save a soul in the state of sin is more pleasing to God than all sacrifices. For that reason, I do all my resolutions for penance."
His heroic praying for sinners was the prehistory for so many of the miracles of conversion that took place in his confessional. His confessional had the longest continuous lines in Church history because he prayed more than anyone in history that people would get in that line of salvation.
His example is an inspiration to all priests and faithful to imitate him in this prayer. The same Lord who was pleased to answer his persevering pleas so lavishly stands ready to respond to ours.
It's been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh, made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish... All before making a human. He made and provided what we'd need before we were born. These are best & more powerful when eaten raw. We're such slow learners... God left us a great clue as to what foods help what part of our body!
God's Pharmacy! Amazing!
A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye... And YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.
A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.
Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.
A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.
Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
Avocados, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods. Modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them.
Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm as well to overcome male sterility.
Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.
Oranges, Grapefruits, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.
Onions look like the body's cells. Today's research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, Garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.
By Diane Rossen Worthington
What could be better than a healthy, colorful breakfast that takes just minutes to throw together? In her latest book, "Sunday Brunch" (Chronicle Books, $20), Betty Rosbottom gives the reader plenty of creative ideas to put together a leisurely Sunday repast. The usual suspects are included, such as eggs, quick breads, stratas, pancakes, waffles, hash and beverages.
There are some nice surprises as well. Parfaits are showing up on menus everywhere, but this plum parfait that layers cooked plums, granola and yogurt is a cut above the coffee shop renditions. Clear wine or parfait glasses show off the vibrant purple and creamy white colors as well as the smooth and crunchy textures. Coffee or tea complete this relaxed simple summer menu.
The author recommends Greek yogurt, which has become widely available in the United States in recent years because it is much thicker, creamier and richer than American yogurt. Its consistency is just right for these colorful parfaits. Nonfat as well as reduced or whole-fat varieties of Greek yogurt work in this recipe. Use a good quality purchased granola, preferably one without dried fruits. Maple-flavored ones taste particularly good with the plums and yogurt.
Remember to leave enough time for the plums to cool off before assembling. The parfaits may be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 hour in advance. However, if you like your granola crunchy, you should assemble them right before serving. If you are having a big group, you can set out the ingredients on a table and have your guests assemble their own parfaits.
PLUM PARFAITS WITH YOGURT AND GRANOLA
2 pounds medium-ripe dark red or purple plums, rinsed and dried
1. Halve the plums lengthwise, and pit. Slice each half, lengthwise, into quarters. Then cut the quarters in half crosswise, if desired.
2. Place a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat until the bottom of the pan is hot. Add the plums and sprinkle with the cup sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves and becomes syrupy and the plums are tender when pierced with a knife, about 6 minutes for medium-ripe plums. (If plums are riper, the cooking time will only be about 3 minutes.) Watch carefully so that the fruit does not overcook and become mushy. Remove from the heat and cool the plums to room temperature. If needed, season with more sugar. (The plums can be prepared 1 day ahead; cook, cover, and refrigerate.)
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla.
4. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the plum mixture, including the juices, into each of six medium wine or parfait glasses and top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sweetened yogurt. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granola. Repeat this layering one more time in each glass. Serve immediately.
© 2012, Diane Rossen Worthington. Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.
Matthew 19:1–8 "He said to them, 'Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so'" (v. 8).
Though He has made a few excursions into Gentile areas (Matt. 8:28–34; 15:21–39), Jesus' roughly three years of public ministry have thus far been confined mostly to the region of Galilee (4:12–25; 9:1–7; 10:5–42; 17:24–27). But we see now that He has left Galilee for Judea (19:1–2), the place where His time among His disciples will conclude with His death, resurrection, and ascension.
Upon arriving in Judea, Jesus meets some Pharisees who, as we have come to expect (12:1–14; 15:1–20), seek to test Him once more. Now the issue is divorce, and the Pharisees' question (19:3) is rooted in the controversy over marriage in their day. First-century Jews interpreted Deuteronomy 24:1–4, which allows for divorce on the grounds of "indecency," in two major ways. Rabbi Hillel and his students understood "indecency" liberally, allowing a husband to divorce his wife for anything not up to snuff, even the quality of her cooking. More conservative were Rabbi Shammai and his disciples. They generally read the divorce-permitting ground of "indecency" as lewd sexual behavior. Even so, Shammai allowed those who divorced for other reasons to remarry. For reasons of their own, the Pharisees want to know whose view Jesus prefers.
However, the starting point for a marriage discussion cannot be the argument as to what constitutes lawful grounds for divorce. As Christ teaches, we must look first to God's original intent for marriage: a lifelong bond between one man and one woman (Matt. 19:4–6; see Gen. 2:24). The rabbinic debate was concerned primarily with how one may exit the marriage covenant. Both schools agreed that the old covenant law made a provision for divorce. Yet they differed as to what the provisions were. Divorce is permitted due to the fall, something the Father graciously allows in cases when sin has grievously shattered the union of husband and wife (v. 8). God permits divorce in select circumstances to help us endure some effects of sin and the broken relationships it produces. Had evil not entered the world, there would be no broken relationships, and hence, no divorce.
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
John Calvin says that God "did not lay down a law about divorces, so as to give them the seal of his approbation, but as the wickedness of men could not be restrained in any other way, he applied what was the most admissible remedy." Many of God's laws are concessions to contain the effects of sin, and we should be grateful that in His grace the Lord seeks to mitigate the damaging power of evil. May our deeds be pure so that their effects never need to be contained.
For further study:
Source: Tabletalk Devotions with RC Sproul; INTO the WORD daily Bible studies from TableTalk Magazine, Matthew Studies. Copyright © 2008 by Ligonier Ministries.
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