Volume 2 No. 57 February 23, 2012
Second Week of Great Lent 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 (Feb 26)
3. Sermons for This Sunday (Feb 26)
Sorrow shall be turned into joy. - Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. ...
5. Featured This Week: Why Great Lent? What's the purpose? How do I take part? by George Aramath, Malankara World Board Member
The season of Great Lent is an opportunity given for spiritual growth, but this exclusively depends on whether we are willing to partake of it. It should not be understood as mere symbols and customs. Ultimately, to take Great Lent seriously entails that we will consider it on the deepest level possible: as a spiritual challenge to draw closer to Christ, which requires a response, a decision, a plan, and continuous effort. ..
In the Christian life, there are three great stages of experience. The first, that of the new-born child, with the assurance and the joy of forgiveness. The second, the transition stage of struggle and growth in knowledge and strength: young men growing strong, God's word doing its work in them and giving them victory over the Evil One. And then the final stage of maturity and ripeness: the Fathers, who have entered deeply into the knowledge and fellowship of the Eternal One. ...
Jesus' healing miracles speak to us of His power to heal. They also speak of His power to save. When we read about Jesus, the Healer, we learn also about Jesus, the Savior. ..Jesus lived a busy life yet He still found time to pray. This is a challenge to us. Are we too busy to pray? If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we need to pray! ...
I meet so many people today who are scared of that word repent. In fact, they're so scared of it that they avoid using it altogether! Yet, very few actually understand what that little word means.
Don’t journey alone, it is dangerous. Find a parish, get involved and live in real communion with others who can lift you up if you fall, encourage you when you are faint of heart, instruct you when you wonder, and complete in you what is lacking. ...
Christian humility surpasses all other virtues. Expressing itself as more than acting in a humble fashion, it consists of an inward habit of self-abasement, showing consideration to all others. ...
While busyness in the pursuit of doing good things is often worn as a badge of honor, unfortunately, behind that badge we typically find a damaged spiritual life, a damaged family life, and a damaged career. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re exempt from the consequences that typically follow an unrelenting lifestyle of busyness.
Adolescence is difficult in the best of times. It's doubly stressful for kids today; they're experiencing the same worries and insecurities as adults in this troubled economy, and with far fewer coping skills. .. More than 2 million teens attempt suicide each year in the US. ..
Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things-things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. ...
We are well into the first week of the Holy
Lent. The lent is designed by the church to prepare us to partake on
the sufferings of the Christ during the Passion week, participate on
his trial, crucifixion, death and burial on Good Friday and the
eventual victory of Jesus Christ over death and over Satan on Easter
Sunday by His triumphant resurrection.
During lent, we meditate on the major miracles performed by Jesus while he was on earth. Last Sunday, we discussed the Marriage at Cana, the first reported miracle of Jesus. This Sunday, we meditate on the healing of the leper as described in Luke 5:12-16. As we read the various sermons and bible commentaries given in Malankara World, we will find that the healing of leprosy has more symbolism than just healing a sick person. Leprosy is a terrible disease that keeps you separated from the community. Lepers are treated as outcasts. Lepers suffer from emotional pain in addition to physical pain. So, leprosy is like sin. Sin separates us from God. Adam has committed the first sin that resulted us from being kept away from the God. Jesus came to correct that. Jesus, shows by healing the leper, that he is the savior with compassion. He touches the leper to heal him emotionally. Leprosy is highly contagious and anyone takes a big risk by touching a leper. Mosaic law required that anyone who comes in contact with a leper should be kept in segregation for several days to be assured that he/she hasn't contracted the disease. Jesus, by touching the leper, shows again that he is the Lord and is above the human law.
One of my favorite prayer is the prayer by St. Francis of Assissi, "Make me an instrument of your peace."
There is a big cathedral in Santa Fe, New Mexico with lot of memorabilia about St. Francis. The Franciscans, an order in Catholic Church, has its origin in St. Francis. (This is not the same St. Francis buried in Goa.) There is an interesting story told about St. Francis:
"St. Francis, met a leper on the road as he journeyed towards Assisi. 'Though the leper caused him no small disgust and horror, he nonetheless, got off the horse and prepared to kiss the leper. But when the leper put out his hand as though to receive something, he received money along with a kiss' (from the Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano).
Francis did what seemed humanly impossible because he was filled with the love and compassion of Christ. The Holy Spirit inflames our hearts with the love of Christ that we may reach out to others with compassionate care, especially to those who have been rejected and mistreated. The love of God impels us to do as Jesus did – to love the unlovable, to touch the untouchable, and to forgive the unforgiveable. Do you allow the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with the love and compassion of Christ for others?" (courtesy: Don Schwager)
We all know about the work done by Mother
Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity in taking care of the sick
and poor in the slums of Calcutta. Perhaps, less known is the work
done by our own Paulose Achen (Rev. Fr. V.V. Paulose who is a
Malankara World Board Member in Toronto, Canada.) Paulose achen
spent many years taking care of the sick and poor in the slums of
Chennai (Madras). He has built a hospital for them staffed mainly by
volunteers. Before I personally knew achen, my sister, who lives in
Chennai, described achen to me as "the Mother Teresa of our church."
Whenever I talked to achen, I feel the sense of the compassion and
love flowing from him. These are occasions when I learn first hand
one of the themes in Malankara World that 'Christians should be
shining the light of Jesus Christ.' When others see us they should
"See Christ reflected on us." The leper who had the encounter with
St. Francis on the way to Assissi, all the sick and poor who came in
contact with Mother Teresa and Paulose Achen saw and experienced the
same compassion and love that the leper described in Luke 5:12-16
saw and experienced from Jesus Christ in person on that day. This
lent is an opportunity for us to evaluate ourselves and ask the
question, "Are we reflecting the light of Jesus on us?"
This Sunday in Church
Second Sunday of Great Lent Garbo (Lepers' Sunday)
Before Holy Qurbana
Second Sunday of Great Lent Garbo (Lepers' Sunday)
Please read the in-depth sermons, bible commentaries, Gospel analyses in Malankara World.
This Week's Features
|Inspiration for Today|
Thou art my hope in the day of evil.
There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. - I will sing of thy power; yea I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning; for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.
In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD: and unto the LORD I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with ever-lasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. - Sorrow shall be turned into joy. - Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
JER. 17:17. Psa. 4:6. Psa. 59:16. Psa. 30:6,8 10. Isa. 54:7,8. John 16:20. Psa. 30:5.
by George Aramath, Malankara World Board Member
Is it possible to observe the Great Fast/Lent in our current culture? What's the point of it anyway? It seems like an ancient practice irrelevant today.
First of all, the season of the Great Lent is far different today. In rural communities of the past within an organically Orthodox world, the very rhythm of one's life was shaped by the Church. But now Lent is hardly visible outside the Church. So has Lent lost its meaning?
In fact, Lent is oftentimes viewed in a negative context. It's a season when different material things such as animal products are given up. The popular question, 'What are you giving up for Lent?' is a good summary of that negative approach. It’s easy to reduce something spiritual to something formal.
So what’s the idea behind Lent? Let’s look at three possible answers with the guidance of Fr. Schemman’s book "Great Lent".
First, the importance of Lent is a matter of salvation! The "breaking of the fast" by Adam began our history; he ate of the forbidden fruit. Christ, the New Adam, begins His ministry with fasting. Adam was tempted and he succumbed to temptation; Christ was tempted but He overcame it. So this practice is not mere obligations; it is connected with the very mystery of life and death, of salvation and damnation.
Second, during Lent we are asked the question, what does it mean to be alive or simply, what’s the meaning of life? Christ showed that life is meant to be in communion with Him. Life is not just dependent on "bread alone" (Luke 4:4), whatever form(s) this bread may take in your life. For Christ Himself says, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).
Lastly, hunger is that state which helps us to realize our dependence on something else. Our need for food shows that we have no life in ourselves. Therefore, fasting is our entrance and participation into the experience through Christ by which He liberates us from total dependence on food, matter, and the world. Christ Himself instructs us that Satan cannot be overcome but by fasting and prayer (Mark 9:28-29).
The above three ideas bring us to a vital point. Physical fasting is meaningless if it is disconnected from spiritual growth. When we fast by giving up animal products, our negative state of hunger is transformed by prayer and meditation into His positive presence.
Now let’s turn to practical side of Great Lent. Why should I observe Lent, and how can I take part in it? Let’s look at four possibilities.
First, Great Lent builds self-control. As we sacrifice food, we control our temptations by building disciple and control of self day-by-day. Just think about the many times we have been tempted to break Lent! But it does not stop here; this negation is only the starting point.
Second, it’s about prayer, prayer, and prayer. One cannot overemphasize it. But this exercise should not merely be seen in the context of the hourly/formal prayers of our Church. Brother Lawrence goes further in his book entitled "The Practice of the Presence of God". The title reveals the content: we are to continually think about God in our daily repetitive tasks of the day. This requires a change in mindset. He writes of how he prays and converses with God when washing dishes, brushing, bathing, etc. It's an age-old practice spoken by St. Paul of "praying unceasingly" (1 Thess. 5:17).
It must be mentioned here that modern technology has brought with it certain challenges. Our lives have been altered by television, internet, etc. It’s no longer a luxury, but oftentimes seen as a necessity. Therefore, today's Christians have to make a special effort to recover a dimension of silence which puts us in contact with higher realities. This means that the use of TV, internet, instant messaging, music, etc. should be reduced during Lent. This does not necessarily mean that we need to completely remove it. There is nothing wrong in watching intellectually or spiritually enriching programs, for example. But our regular schedule should, at minimum, be tweaked during these 50 days.
Here also, absence or reduction is not sufficient; it must have a positive counterpart.
Our third practical advice is the need to build a habit of reading God's words. This exercise is also a form of prayer. The youth of our American diocese has, for example, created a Gospel Planner for the 50 days of Great Lent. What better way to live the life of Christ than reading the four Gospels? You'll read about the life of Christ each day, taking about 10-15 minutes. I especially like this planner because it's set up with Sunday's as catch-up or free day. Print it and start your disciplined journey: Great Lent Gospel Planner [Editor's Note: This planner is incorporated into the Malankara World Daily Meditation and Bible Reading Resources. You can read the bible online.]
Lastly, let’s examine how Lent can transform the long hours we spend outside of home – commuting, sitting at desks, taking care of our professional duties, studying, meeting our colleagues and friends. As Brother Lawrence reminds us, we should continually think about God in our daily repetitive tasks. As a practical example, we can repeat and mediate upon a specific verse we read from the above Gospel Planner for that day.
As an extension to the last practical idea, Lent is also an ideal time to measure the extent of our relationship with others. We are called to deepen our relationships beyond the artificial level of "what’s up". This reorientation begins with the sacrament of confession offered by our church. But confession is a starting point, not the end. As we confess to a priest, we are thereby more willing to be 'real' with others. Of course, this is not easy to do, but what better time than during Lent? We should develop intimate friends to whom we can share everything. Many terms are used for this, such as an accountability partner or spiritual father. In the end, the purpose of all these options is the same: to draw closer to Christ.
In summary, the season of Great Lent is an opportunity given for spiritual growth, but this exclusively depends on whether we are willing to partake of it. It should not be understood as mere symbols and customs. Ultimately, to take Great Lent seriously entails that we will consider it on the deepest level possible: as a spiritual challenge to draw closer to Christ, which requires a response, a decision, a plan, and continuous effort.
Lesson 25: The Holy Spirit and Prayer
|[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.]|
The words of John (I John 2:12-14) to little children, to young men, and to fathers suggest the thought that there often are in the Christian life three great stages of experience. The first, that of the new-born child, with the assurance and the joy of forgiveness. The second, the transition stage of struggle and growth in knowledge and strength: young men growing strong, God's word doing its work in them and giving them victory over the Evil One. And then the final stage of maturity and ripeness: the Fathers, who have entered deeply into the knowledge and fellowship of the Eternal One.
In Christ's teaching on prayer there appear to be three stages in the prayer-life, somewhat analogous. In the Sermon on the Mount we have the initial stage: His teaching is all comprised in one word, Father. Pray to your Father, your Father sees, hears, knows, and will reward: how much more than any earthly father! Only be childlike and trustful. Then comes later on something like the transition stage of conflict and conquest, in words like these: 'This sort goeth not out but by fasting and prayer;' 'Shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night unto Him?' And then we have in the parting words, a higher stage. The children have become men: they are now the Master's friends, from whom He has no secrets, to whom He says, 'All things that I heard from my Father I made known unto you;' and to whom, in the oft-repeated 'whatsoever ye will,' He hands over the keys of the kingdom. Now the time has come for the power of prayer in His Name to be proved.
The contrast between this final stage and the previous preparatory ones our
Savior marks most distinctly in the words we are to meditate on: 'Hitherto ye
have asked nothing in my Name;' 'At that day ye shall ask in my Name. 'We know
what 'at that day' means. It is the day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The great work Christ was to do on the cross, the mighty power and the complete
victory to be manifested in His resurrection and ascension, were to issue in the
coming down from heaven, as never before, of the glory of God to dwell in men.
The Spirit of the glorified Jesus was to come and be the life of His disciples.
And one of the marks of that wonderful spirit-dispensation was to be a power in
prayer hitherto unknown—prayer in the Name of Jesus, asking and obtaining
whatsoever they would, is to be the manifestation of the reality of the Spirit's
Read the rest of the lesson in
by Charles Cameron
Jesus' healing miracles speak to us of His power to heal. They also speak of His power to save. When we read about Jesus, the Healer, we learn also about Jesus, the Savior. Here, we read about a leper being healed by Jesus. Leprosy is a horrible disease. It ruins the lives of those who suffer from it. There is, however, another disease which affects every one of us. Sin is a horrible disease. There is only one cure from this deadly disease – Jesus, our Savior. Jesus' healing miracles point us to another healing, which every one of us needs. It is the healing of His salvation. Jesus heals broken hearts. Jesus puts broken lives back together again.
There is a spiritual sickness which comes into our lives when we refuse to pay attention to what God is saying to us concerning the way He wants us to live. When we have turned our backs on God, He does not abandon us. He continues to call upon us. He calls us to turn around, to turn back to Him. Turning back to the Lord will involve listening attentively to what He says to us in His Word. It will involve taking time to pray to the Lord. This turning to the Lord will involve both public worship and private prayer.
In Luke 5:16, we see the importance of private prayer in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ
"He withdrew to the desert and prayed" (RSV), "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (NIV). "Often" – Over and over again, Jesus spent time, praying to God. This was not an occasional thing in Jesus' life. This was the regular pattern of His life. As we see Jesus praying, we are challenged to make prayer a central feature of our own lives:
Jesus lived a busy life yet He still found time to pray. This is a challenge to us. Are we too busy to pray? If we are too busy to pray, then we are too busy. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we need to pray! Jesus prayed, and the power of God flowed through Him. May God help us to make prayer the great priority of our lives. May God help us to be the kind of praying people through whom God can work in mighty power as He brings the healing power of His salvation into our congregation and community.
Here, we see Jesus engaging in private prayer. On other occasions, we see Jesus gathering with other worshippers in the synagogue. Jesus knew that, in promising to bless the gathering together of His praying people, God had placed special emphasis on "the prayers offered in this place" (2 Chronicles 7:14-16). We also see Jesus gathering His disciples around Him. They receive instruction from Him. He teaches them to pray.
When we see Jesus in the synagogue and Jesus with His disciples, we understand that His withdrawal to lonely places was very different from the loneliness of those who keep themselves to themselves, refusing to commit themselves to worshipping and praying with others. That kind of loneliness is very different from His "being alone with God" we see here in Jesus. There is nothing spiritual about the attitude which says, "I don't need other people." There is a great deal of pride in those who refuse to give themselves to one another within the fellowship of God's people, gathered together for worship and prayer. As well as learning about the need for regular private prayer, we also learn, from Jesus, about the importance of worshipping and praying with God's people.
For Jesus, being alone with God was a vital part of His life. It is to be a vital part of our life. We must find time for being alone with God. Jesus had a busy public ministry. He needed to take time to receive strength from His Heavenly Father. We need the strength which comes from being alone with God. Jesus said, "Come apart and rest awhile." We might add the comment, "If you don't rest awhile, you'll come apart." We can learn a great deal about prayer as we follow Jesus, learning from Him in the school of prayer. We learn from the times that Jesus prayed. we learn from the way in which Jesus prayed.
(1) Praying to God the Father
Jesus didn't pray to a faraway God, a God who didn't care. Jesus prayed to His loving, Heavenly Father. When Jesus prayed, He was speaking to the God of perfect love. This is the God to whom we pray, the God who loves us. He is our Father, the Father who loves us with the greatest love of all. When we come into God's presence, we must remember this – He is our loving Father.
(2) Praying at all times
Many people only pray when they're in trouble. Jesus was not like this. He prayed in the hard times. He prayed in the good times. He prayed at all times. Let's follow Jesus, remembering to give thanks for God's goodness when things are going well as well as asking for His help when things are not going so well. If we are to learn to follow Jesus, we must learn to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). Let's pray at all times with joyful thanksgiving. In our prayer, let there be thinking and thanking. Think about what God has done for you and thank Him for it. Let this be our "everyday" prayer.
(3) Worshipping the Lord in our prayers
Some people think of prayer in terms of asking for things. They bring a "shopping list" with them – This is what I want. For Jesus, prayer was much more than that. He worshipped God – "Hallowed be Thy Name." He entered into God's presence, enjoying fellowship with God. He was more aware of God, learning what God wanted – "Thy will be done" – rather than being preoccupied with Himself – "This is what I want." How can we learn to worship God in our prayers? How can we bring our lives into line with His will? We must learn to spend time listening to God as well as speaking to Him. He speaks to us through His Word. We speak to Him in prayer.
by Dr. Jack Graham
I meet so many people today who are scared of that word. In fact, they're so scared of it that they avoid using it altogether! Yet, very few actually understand what that little word means.
You may be surprised to learn the word repent in the Greek New Testament simply means to turn around. It was a military term that described a soldier marching in one direction and then doing an about-face. And when it's used in a spiritual sense, it means to change your mind.
So really, repent is a perfect description of what happens when you come to Christ. You no longer reject Christ, but now you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. You do a spiritual about-face, which in turn changes everything.
And not only do you change your mind about Christ, but you change your mind about sin as well as you discover what it really means to honor God. You realize that it's no longer about performance. It's about a heart attitude that confesses Christ and seeks to honor Him in every aspect of life!
So should you be afraid of the word repent? No! Instead, embrace the idea of doing a spiritual about-face, turning to Christ and away from sin in your life!
DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE WORD REPENT. INSTEAD, EMBRACE THE SPIRITUAL REALITY THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TURN TO CHRIST AND AWAY FROM SIN IN YOUR LIFE!
Source: Powerpoint Devotional
by Fr. Msgr. Charles Pope, Washington
There is a line from the Book of Hebrews that says this: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb 10:24-25). The teaching is clear, we must come together each week for Mass and learn to live in deep communion with one another. We are not meant to make this journey alone. We need encouragement and exhortation, food for the journey, company and protection.
In the days of Jesus its was almost unthinkable for a person to make a lengthy journey alone. Once a person left the relative safety of the town the journey got dangerous. There were robbers lying in wait along the roads just looking for vulnerable targets. For this reason people almost always made journeys in groups.
This is a good image for the spiritual journey we must all make. Alone we are easy targets. We are vulnerable and without help when spiritual demons attack.
The Bible says: Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:11) Belonging to the Church and faithfully attending and being formed by her in a deep and meaningful way, has a powerful and protective influence.
There are many dangerous influences lying in wait for us on our journey. Frankly, without the teaching of the the Church and her Scriptures I would have made some pretty dumb mistakes and been mightily confused. As it is, I have communion not only with the current members of the Church, but I make the journey mystically with billions who have gone before, with Apostles, saints, and preachers and teachers of old who have handed on a glorious and wise Tradition, the Scriptures, and teaching; the cumulative and God-given wisdom of centuries and millennia. I do not walk alone, I walk with those who have made this journey before me and know the pitfalls as well as the good paths, the true and the good from the false and fraudulent.
The Words of an old hymn speaking of the Church come to mind:
And I also make this walk in deep communion with those here present. Yes, in my twenty-three years as a priest I have taught the people of God the Word of God, but I have learned far more from them than I ever taught them. Yes, I have learned from the people I serve what it means to have faith, to persevere. I have experienced correction when necessary, and encouragement in the struggle. And I will say that it is impossible to fully recount how my membership in the Church has blessed me. I could not begin to count the ways. I know my parishioners have prayed for me and that their prayer and example has put a hedge of protection around me. I pray for them too, and who knows what power my prayers have been for them?
Ah, but what of the sins of the Church? Even here I will say we have learned from our failures and struggles. Yes, in the Church, if we are faithful, we learn not only from good example, but even from the difficulties that inevitably arise in any community. We learn to be more patient and forgiving. We learn from the mistakes others make as well as from their gifts.
Don’t journey alone, it is dangerous. Find a parish, get involved and live in real communion with others who can lift you up if you fall, encourage you when you are faint of heart, instruct you when you wonder, and complete in you what is lacking. Alone, I am lacking, but together and with the Lord, we have all the gifts we need to get to the Promised Land of Heaven: Companionship for the Journey! And what a companionship: those here present, and mystically but very truly, those who have gone on before, all one in Christ Jesus.
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
The Greek word usually translated humility occurs seven times in the New Testament, implying self-abasement and suggesting a meekness of spirit. In Greek literature, it was used to describe a slave's demeaning of himself before his master--an outward prostration, not an inward character trait.
The idea that a master would set aside his status and voluntarily become a slave was probably incomprehensible to the world of Jesus' day. Yet we are enjoined to "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who . . . took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8). He defined humility by His actions, as in our text, and now we are to voluntarily take up His attitude and "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith |we| are called, With all lowliness |humility| and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Christian humility surpasses all other virtues. Expressing itself as more than acting in a humble fashion, it consists of an inward habit of self-abasement, showing consideration to all others.
This characteristic in God's eyes is seen as one of great value. "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:5-6).
Source: Days of Praise
by Doug Fields
For about the first month of my marriage, I made the same mistake every night. I was coming home late for dinner.
My wife, Cathy, was (and still is) very patient. During our first weeks of marriage, she would call me in the afternoon and ask about my arrival time and dinner desires. She was always cheerful and flexible and didn’t mandate a time to be home. I was always given the chance to pick the time. Typically, I’d say something like, "I’ll be home at 6, so why don’t we eat at 6:30?"
Things would have gone really well had I arrived home at 6 p.m. like I said I would. Instead, as I was leaving the church office I’d get a phone call from a student who wanted me to drop by his house and see his new drum set. "What a great ministry opportunity!" I’d think to myself, "And it’s on the way home." Or, as I was preparing to leave the office, a parent would stop by and ask if I had "just a minute."
Anyway, all of these distractions captured my attention, and I was always late coming home. But I really didn’t think it was a big deal since Cathy was asking me what time was convenient for me. It seemed to be no big deal because I could justify all the extra time as part of my youth pastor job.
One night while we were having dinner, I politely asked, "Do you mind if I heat this up in the microwave for a minute?" Little did I know that a simple question could lead to tears, screaming, silverware flying, words I hadn’t heard her say before (to this day I still believe it may have been tongues), and a quick exit from the table. I thought, "What was that all about?"
When I pulled the fork from my neck, it became clear to me that it wasn’t about my question; it was about my nightly decisions to make everything and everyone in my youth ministry more important than my bride. I wish I wasn’t so stupid then, but I’m thankful that I learned at an early age that some things (ministry add-ons) just aren’t as important as other things (my marriage).
So while busyness in the pursuit of doing good things is often worn as a badge of honor, unfortunately, behind that badge we typically find a damaged spiritual life, a damaged family life, and a damaged career. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’re exempt from the consequences that typically follow an unrelenting lifestyle of busyness.
God has given you the privilege to conduct your own life. You have the freedom to make choices that can lead to God’s blessing and favor, as well as painful consequences. Today, take a look inside to make sure your choices align with your priorities. Don’t just prioritize your schedule. Choose and schedule those things that matter most.
1. How have you seen busyness in your life detract from your relationships?
2. What steps do you need to take to schedule for what matters most?
James 4:13-14; Romans 12:10; Job 3:25-26
Source: Homeword Devotional
Spot Early Signs Your Teen is Struggling – Before It Gets Bad
Adolescence is difficult in the best of times. It's doubly stressful for kids today; they're experiencing the same worries and insecurities as adults in this troubled economy, and with far fewer coping skills. From families struggling with joblessness and foreclosure to increasing competition for college admissions to the normal fears associated with impending adulthood, they're particularly vulnerable.
"Teens who are overwhelmed by stress often are unable or unwilling to ask for help," says noted psychologist Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, (www.drgregoryjantz.com), author of 'When Your Teenager Becomes…The Stranger in Your House.'
"But the longer they continue to flail and struggle emotionally, the greater the chance they'll develop more serious problems like clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, dependence on alcohol or drugs and, sadly, suicidal tendencies," Jantz says. "It's up to parents and other adults to recognize when a teen is struggling and intervene."
So how do you know when typical teen characteristics, such as moodiness, have moved beyond "normal?" Jantz offers these tips:
• Arguing is normal; constant anger is not. Sometimes teens argue just to argue. It allows them to let off steam, express their displeasure about life in general and test boundaries. The occasional dramatic meltdown is to be expected. But it's not normal for a teen to be angry and hostile all the time, constantly fighting and yelling.
• Withdrawal from parents is normal; pulling away from family and friends is not. Expect your teen to start pulling away from you – unless she wants something – and occasionally from their friends, as well. Sometimes, they just need to pull back for a few days, even from friends. But when they appear to isolate themselves for weeks, spending weekend after weekend alone in their room, they may be struggling with depression. Socializing with friends is one of the first things to go as depression sucks the joy out of life.
• Anxiety is normal; feeling constantly overwhelmed is not. Teens have a lot to be anxious about – the prospect of independence is both exhilarating and terrifying, so some worrying is to be expected. But a teen who seems to be, or says he is, struggling daily with stress needs help. Two types of kids are especially vulnerable to developing generalized anxiety disorder, a heightened, constant state of anxiety: The worker bee perfectionist who crams his schedule with activities, responsibilities and tasks, and the kids who worry so much over anything, they can't get anything done.
• Being upset for days after a bad experience is normal; more than two weeks is not. Teenagers tend to react dramatically when things go wrong – their boss chews them out, they fail a test, they get in an argument with their sweetheart. Adults know from experience that these things aren't the end of the world and all will be well again, but teens lack that perspective. It's normal for them to be in a bad mood about it for a few days, but to dwell on the problem for more than two weeks indicates they're struggling.
The most recent data available, which is about 3 years old, puts suicide as the third-leading cause of death for teens after unintentional injuries (such as car accidents) and homicide, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. More than 2 million teens attempt suicide each year.
"I suspect new data will put suicide as the second and possibly even the leading cause of death for that age group, because depression is the biggest risk factor," Jantz says. "We're seeing more teenagers suffering from depression in recent years because of the economy and overstimulation by technology."
Visit www.aplaceofhope.com for an online survey to see if you or your teen is showing signs of depression (click "Depression" and then "Depression Survey" in the drop-down menu)."
About Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D.
Gregory Jantz has more than 25 years experience in mental health counseling and is the founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, near Seattle, Wash. He is the best-selling author of more than 20 books on topics from depression to eating disorders.
by Oswald Chambers
The angel in this passage did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable. He simply told Elijah to do a very ordinary thing, that is, to get up and eat. If we were never depressed, we would not be alive—only material things don’t suffer depression. If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression.
When the Spirit of God comes to us, He does not give us glorious visions, but He tells us to do the most ordinary things imaginable. Depression tends to turn us away from the everyday things of God’s creation. But whenever God steps in, His inspiration is to do the most natural, simple things-things we would never have imagined God was in, but as we do them we find Him there. The inspiration that comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression. But we must take the first step and do it in the inspiration of God.
If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone. As soon as we arise and obey, we enter a higher plane of life.
God summons President Barrack Obama, Chinese Leader Hu Jintao and French
President Nicolas Sarkozy to a meeting. He then tells them that he has decided
to end the world in 3 days and orders them to tell their people.
President Obama has a television speech to America and says, "I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there is a God. The bad news is that he will destroy the world in 3 days."
Leader Hu has a television speech to the Chinese people. He tells them, "I have bad news and worse news. The bad news is that there is a God. The worse news is that the world is going to end in 3 days and you're all going to hell."
President Sarkozy goes on television and tells the French people, "I have good news and better news. The good news is that there is a God and he spoke to me! The better news is that the European economic crisis will be over in 3 days."
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