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Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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  DEVOTIONAL  
 
   
Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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  COUNSELING
 
Back to infancy -- they n
 
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a b  
     
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  DEVOTIONAL  
     
 
   
Fresh grace everyday
  By James Chacko  
  "I AM concerned about the big business deal that I have to close tomorrow."

"I am worried about tomorrow's job interview."

"My medical test results will be out tomorrow. I am afraid it won't be good."

These are just a few of the responses we hear daily in our communications with people around us and, perhaps, we ourselves make each day.

I was watching one of those 'Cops' reality shows the other day and there was a story of a disgruntled truck driver causing a disturbance in a local shopping centre. Furious and frustrated, he had to be forcefully detained by complex security guards as the police hurriedly made their way there. He was calmed down at the scene and escorted outside where he was asked to explain his actions. With tears escaping from this grown and gruff man's eyes, he painfully described the stress and strain that led him to breaking point ... a faulty mobile phone and the apparent apathy of the mobile phone store owner.

What was amazing was watching this seemingly sound and mature man totally deconstruct as he unloaded about the stress and turmoil this uncooperative piece of technology and its salesman had caused him. An ambulance had to be called to treat this truck driver!

Sustained stress does the most catastrophically damaging things to the human heart, mind and soul. I am not talking about the normal irregular stresses of life (unexpected bills, health crisis, work projects etc.), but sustained, habitual, always-on-my-mind, strung-out stress that is all too common in this ultra-high paced world we live in. The type of stress that has you rhetorically respond to the question "how are ya doin'?" with "busy and tired."

- The type of stress that robs your heart of peace and joy...

- The type of stress that robs your head of hair and sanity...

- The type of stress that robs your life of health and time...

Jesus said, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." God does not want you to worry about tomorrow. He wants you to know that He gives you all the help you need for today, and when tomorrow comes, so will fresh help from Him.

This is God's principle even in the Old Testament. When the children of Israel were in the desert, God gave them fresh manna from heaven every morning. They did not have to worry about tomorrow because when tomorrow came, there was fresh manna again. He was their provision every day.

Today, God's manna is the grace He gives you every day. If you are worried about a situation tomorrow, know that there will be sufficient grace for that situation when it comes. God wants you to simply rest in His ability to heal, deliver, protect and provide for you every day.

In the Old Testament, when the armies of Moab and Ammon came against King Jehoshaphat, God told the anxious king, "Do not be afraid nor dismayed... for the battle is not yours, but God's... You will not need to fight in this battle... stand still and see the salvation of the Lord..."

When the next morning came, King Jehoshaphat saw how God caused such confusion to come upon his enemies' camp that it brought about their own slaughter. Amid all that fighting in the enemy camp, God's people merely stood still and saw Him fight the battle for them just as He had promised.

My friends, when you see a problem looming in your tomorrow, don't be afraid or dismayed. Look to the Lord, and see His grace and salvation deliver you.

God wants you to live a stress-free life, not one filled with worries about tomorrow's problems. When tomorrow comes, His grace will be there for you as your help, protection, favour and enabling!
__________
James Chacko serves as the Senior Pastor of LifeBridge Worship Centre, Chandigarh and is pursuing a Ph.D. from the Centre for Religious Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala.

 
   
   
Worth the wait
  By Jonathan Abraham  
  WHEN I was a boy, every Saturday my father would take us to pick up our order at 'Ming's Takeaway' for our weekly family Chinese meal. This was by far my favourite time of the week.

I would often daydream during the weekdays about the taste of the succulent sweet and sour chicken in my mouth or try to recall the savory aroma of bamboo shoot tofu in spicy garlic sauce.

On Sundays just the thought of next Saturday's mandarin treat brought joy to my heart. On Wednesday it was only three days till 'Chinese food day' and I could almost smell the food. Come Saturday the anticipation had risen to such a level that when the food actually came I would wolf it down in such haste that it made me sick.

Saturday night, a pot-bellied (and nauseous) six year old, I was ready to brace the week ahead only through the hope of next week's feast.

Enjoyment and anticipation are regular bedfellows. The process of longing increases the excitement of any experience. For the younger generation, technology and a consumer culture geared toward instant gratification have shortened and deconstructed the waiting periods in our lives. We have less and less in life to anticipate and consequently, less joy.

According to the United States Postal Service, 'slow post' this year has seen the largest deceleration in its 234-year history. Our split second e-mails have made such services, in many ways, obsolete.

For my generation, posting a personal letter is now seen as creative and nostalgic means of communication; like listening to an old cassette tape. No longer are we running to investigate the postman's bundle, rather we are anxiously waiting for the 40 seconds that our computer needs to boot-up so we can check our inbox. In a couple of decades, we have gone from waiting weeks to waiting seconds.

Along with e-mail the Internet has made the distribution of knowledge free and fast. Forget the stroll to library in order to look through the Encyclopedia Britannica to find out how many districts Tamil Nadu has, I just found out online in five seconds: 32. Walks to the library for information aren't the only things going out of business.

As I write Google is digitizing hundreds of thousands of books creating a massive online book and reference system which many have coined 'The Library of Babel'; traditional libraries will soon be unnecessary. Since all and any information is now literally at our fingertips, perhaps the only true out-of-reach knowledge will reside in the questions created by the common domestic dispute (which, unfortunately, won't ever go away) such as "Why can't you understand me?" or "How many time do I have to tell you not to do that?" But generally, the waiting time for knowledge has evaporated.

It's not only technology that has made things instant. Our whole consumer culture is bent on delivering us services in the blink of an eye. Take fast food for example. The McDonald's company measurement for food serving times is done in seconds not minutes. Some McDonald's can dish out a McChicken Burger in an average of 27 seconds!

In Delhi, these days it seems like mega malls are springing up over night. Think about the concept of a mall, you go to one location and find any consumer item you need. The focus is on ease and convenience. The clothes store is 10 meters from the jewelry store which is 10 meters from the food court. Less movement means less time shopping or thinking about which market you will be going to next. Credit cards have allowed us to spend at any time on things we don't yet have the money for.

Withdrawing cash from a teller and counting our pennies are now too long a process. Fast, instant and plentiful information and consumption have made us spend more time fulfilling our desires and less time waiting for our desires to be fulfilled. We've skipped one of the main players in the equation: waiting, no wonder all the surveys show that we are actually less content and less happy in our new accelerated lifestyles.

In many ways our various Christian cultures have bought into this lifestyle. Unfortunately, we've learnt some bad habits form our Western Church family in this area. 'Hallmark' Christianity, where our Biblical exposition and devotion becomes a series of nice Bible quotes (such as Jeremiah 29:11), is not a true or complete expressions of faith.

It is so easy to hold onto God's good blessings but to completely miss both the liabilities and the beauties that come through living out one's faith. Like spending half a minute to order and eat fast food, we skip the daily and ongoing process of a relationship with Christ and munch directly down on God's juicy promises. This leads to hollow and discontented faith. Our hearts are pre-programmed to savor and enjoy the waiting in relationship and this carries into every arena of life.

I am currently engaged to a beautiful and godly girl. I will not see her until our marriage in four months and, although difficult, there is something both blessed and good in this time of waiting and preparing.

In the same way the Church (the bride) longs for and anticipates Christ's (the groom) return. This is one of the main meta-narratives of the Christian faith. We are preparing ourselves for the return of the Messiah, a practice of waiting, anticipating and growing in relationship. Says Philippians 3:20: "But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ".

My suggestion is that we try and savor more the process in our walk of faith. That we not look for fleeting gratifications or sound bite theology but rather find hope and joy in the wait for the return of the king. So next time you eat fast food... choose the longest line.
---
Jonathan Abraham is the Issachar Initiative Coordinator for Development Associates International, a leadership development group based in the US. He is currently finishing his postgraduate degree in Leadership at Denver Seminary. Jonathan has lived in India, China, England, New Zealand and the US.
 
   
   
Feast of Trumpets
  By James Chacko  
 
ALL over the world, Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Occurring usually in the month of September, this feast is celebrated with the blowing of trumpets -- the shofar or ram's horn. That is why it is also called the Feast of Trumpets.

The Jews observe seven feasts: The Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles.

The first four have been fulfilled literally through the incarnation of Jesus on the earth 2009 years ago. We read in the Bible that He was the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), the bread of life (John 6:35) and the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). And when Pentecost had come after His ascension, He sent us the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:14).

So, the next feast that we are waiting for Jesus to fulfil is the Feast of Trumpets. Why is this feast significant to us? Because when Jesus fulfils it, it means that we are going to meet Him in the clouds!

I am talking about the rapture of the church. When the trumpet sounds, 'in the twinkling of an eye', we who are alive will be changed. We will have new bodies that will be like Jesus! Those who are dead in Christ will rise and also receive new bodies. They will go up first, followed by us who are alive, and we will all meet the Lord in the air (1 Corinthians 15:5155).

This means that there is a possibility that you might not see death! The Bible says, "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thessalonians 4:17) It is one thing to be alive, but quite another to remain alive.

I believe that there is a generation of those who follow Christ and know the resurrection power of the Lord. They know how to walk in their inheritance and put off sickness and death until the coming of the Lord. My friend, may you be counted as one of them, as you take the Lord Jesus and His finished work as your victory over sickness and death.
___________

James Chacko is the senior Pastor of LifeBridge Worship Centre in Chandigarh and is also pursuing a PhD from the Centre for Religious Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala
 
   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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