----- "Let your light shine before men" (Matthew 5:16) -----

 
   
 
Internet Edition No. 66 --- November 2008 ---
Cover Page of print edition
Table of contents
Title Author
   Editorial
      Man - created for eternity
Johnson K. Samuel
   A reality check of our life and actions:
      Ten golden rules to follow
Pastor Shibu Cherian, Atlanta, USA
   The "entrusted" faith Pastor Shibu Joseph, Mumbai
   "Christian living" in this generation - Part I Annie mathew, Coimbatore
   Meditation:
       Share life - not just the "Word"
Saju Mathew
   News & Views Johnson K. Samuel
   Personalities encountered by Jesus - 10: Martha Selected
   "Children's corner" "Shiny Aunty"
   Malayalam section:
      Aaraadhanayil deivam prasaadikkunnundo?
Paul Mathulla, Houston
   Malayalam section:
      Kudumbamaayulla Aaraadhanayudey
      praadhaanyatha
Pastor Veeyapuram Georgekutty, Dallas
   Malayalam section:
      Graama suvisesheekaranam thozhiladhishtthitha
      maargathiloodey
Dr. Mathew Finni, Kottayam
   Malayalam section:
      Kaalaghatthathintey aavasyam - 2
Varghese Kollakompil
   Malayalam section:
      Kavitha: Ruth
Sabu Kaarammelil
   Malayalam section:
      "Promoted to glory"



Editorial
Man: created for eternity

Johnson K. Samuel

A few obituary columns appear elsewhere in this issue. Some of our beloved ones have been called to rest. They have gone to be with their Lord and Saviour whom they loved and served during their lifetime. Many of us have participated in the funeral services of our loved ones during the past years. Their lifetimes were 50, 60, 70 or 80 years. There appears to be no fixed dead line set for anybody.

King David may have gone through similar situations like the sudden passing away of his friends and he put down his thoughts in the form of a song. He sang in his inimitable style: "You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it" (Psa. 39:5,6). As we busily go about our activities and enjoy our good health and other good things of life, we tend to forget the reality of the transient nature of our life. It must have happened in the busy, tumultuous life of David also as he administered his kingdom in times of peace and war. Hence he asks God: "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life" (Psa. 39:4). When we learn about the passing away of our dear ones or attend their funeral services, the Lord is reminding us again and again what we often forget, the fleeting nature of this life. But we have our hope in the LORD who is eternal. Moses said: "Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God". So David assures himself: "But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you" (Psa. 39:7).

Bible begins with the declaration about an eternal God: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). The creation of the universe marks the beginning of a finite, measurable TIME. But the eternal God was there even before the beginning of TIME. He created the universe and He also created a small planet called earth with water, plants, animals and an atmosphere with conditions conducive to life. He created man in His own nature, clothed in glory to live on the earth with creative intelligence, power of discernment and freedom of choice. Man was created for eternity to be companions of the Creator and to rule over the earth. But the devil tricked him into making the wrong choice and man lost his glory and companionship of God. God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ is to bring man back to the purpose intended for him. That purpose is for man to be with the Lord for eternity. The Bible ends with the beautiful picture of man eternally living with God: "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev. 21:3,4).

Man is created for eternity. When we consider eternity, the lifetime of 50, 60, 70, 80 or 100 years is only like a passing moment. Let our prayer be as Moses prayed: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psa. 90:12). Wisdom is to secure our future eternity and live each day we get on earth in sweet fellowship with our Lord and our fellow brethren.

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A reality check of our life and actions:
Ten golden rules to follow

Pastor Shibu Cherian, Atlanta, USA

The writer describes ten golden rules that our Lord asked His disciples to follow.

When Jesus Christ called out 12 men from their professions and asked them to follow Him, he promised them that He will make them 'fishers of men'. In order to transform their outlook & priorities, He gave them elaborate instructions regarding every aspect of their lives so that they have clear directions for their lives ahead. He commanded them to seek the kingdom of God & His righteousness first & foremost in their lives, so that everything else (that they would need) will be added to their lives (Matt. 6:33). In fact, Jesus Christ said that He had come to fulfill the law not destroy it (Matt. 5:17). So, what are the specific areas that Jesus Christ has taught so that we are different from the worldly people around us?

Let us examine our lives and actions through the lens of Jesus Christ's commandments and look into the 10 'golden rules' that He gave in His inaugural address popularly known as "The Sermon on the Mount":

1. Be poor in our spirit (Matt. 5:3): This means to be humble & emptied in our human spirit and to receive the guidance that the Holy Spirit is giving us every step of our way. Our ideal Jesus Christ, God's own Son humbled and emptied Himself taking on the form of a slave. (Phil. 2:7)

2. Mourn about man's continuing rebellion to God's plan (Matt. 5:4): Our world is still under Satan's dominion. Sin, self, worldliness and pride still rule human lives. God's will is rejected, Jesus Christ is vilified, the Holy Spirit is frustrated, the church is desolate, humans are corrupt and the whole world is in darkness. A sincere child of God will mourn regarding this situation and pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers to the field.

3. Be meek in our attitudes (Matt. 5:5): We need to be willing to suffer the world's opposition willingly and consider others greater than ourselves. (Gal. 6:2-4)

4. Seek (hunger/thirst) after righteousness (Matt. 5:6): We need to seek earnestly to be right in our behavior towards others and discern through God's righteous standards.

5. Be merciful towards others (Matt. 5:7): To be righteous is to give others what they deserve, but to be merciful is to give others better than what they deserve. When we are merciful to others, God will be merciful towards us (James 2:13)

6. Be single in purpose ~ pure in heart (Matt. 5:8): We need to have the single goal of accomplishing God's will for His glory alone. Being pure in heart and purpose, Christ can grow His influence in our life.

7. Strive to make peace in our sphere of influence (Matt. 5:9): Our God is an author of peace and not confusion (1 Cor. 14:33). As His children, we must spread peace around us in this turbulent world.

8. Be willing to suffer for Christ (Matt. 5:10): When we attempt to do the will of God and seek after God's kingdom and His righteousness, we will be persecuted by others who are under the sway of the devil. We should be willing to pay the price for our life choice.

9. Be willing to be insulted and accused falsely (Matt. 5:11-12): It is highly probable that we will be insulted and reproached by the religious people, who will hold to religious traditions over the will of God. If we rejoice in these circumstances, our reward will be great in heaven.

10. Influence others as the 'salt to the corrupted earth' and 'light to the darkened world': As healing salt (referring to our good nature), we must keep the earth from being corrupted by sin. As shining light (referring to our good works and behavior), we must attract people to Christ who is the "Light of the world".

Needless to say, if we can strictly follow these 10 rules in our lives and actions, this will result in our lives becoming an example to others in word, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Tim. 4:12). Many will be attracted to the kingdom of God through our lives. May God enable us to do a reality check of our lives and actions in the light of Christ's commandments to His followers. Let us be 'true' followers of Christ in these last days. May God bless us as we strive to live for Him.

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The "entrusted" faith
Pastor Shibu Joseph, Mumbai

The writer emphasizes the fact that Christian faith is not based on allusions and events, but concerned with facts of realities.

Introduction

The term faith has been enormously and frequently used by the all religions of the world in diverse ways. Even in the secular world the word has been carrying remarkable importance. It has a constitutional coverage in all sorts of enterprises and relating between the people. The word faith has a vital role both in the polytheistic and monotheistic beliefs when it matters their relationship with Deities. However, apart from the Christianity, other religions may not have explicit teachings and theological ground for faith. At the same time one cannot ignore or reject the place of faith in other religions, because they do use it for their material and physical gains and in some cases even for their spiritual needs and improvement. For example, anyone who pays a visit to holy shrines or temples to have a 'darshan' of their deities is with a certain amount of faith. Then how can we Christians differentiate and distinguish the biblical faith?

Most of the time, the faith of non-Christians is surrounded with physical and material blessing, not for the salvation of their soul and spirit. For the salvation, or 'moksha', they follow other paths, which normally a common man is unable to reach out and touch. Such doctrines are mostly very complex and even sometimes contradict. Moreover there is no idea of entrusted faith but rather 'acquired' or earned faith through various 'upasanas' and religious rites.

Biblical faith

The Christian perspective of faith is rooted and built in the revealed logos or word. As we do enhance the superiority of the revelation, it is the word of God that must be taken into par excellence. The Bible never tries to prove that there is God, but rather, it unveils with a glorious declaration of the self existent eternal Almighty who is the creator of all universe (Gen. 1:1) St. Paul the great apostle added his revelation into this declaration with a great assurance. He writes: "Without faith it is impossible to please God; he that comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6 AV). To this St. Jude profoundly knitted another revelation, i.e. "I urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." (Jude v. 3)

The New Testament root "PISTIS" (faith) and verb "PISTEUO" (to believe) occur more than 240 times each. Christian faith is not based on allusions and events, but concerned with facts of realities. These roots signify the living and abiding faith. It is not only important what we believe but WHAT we believe and even WHY we believe. Faith is not simply a state of mind, but exclusively focusing on the active truths that is revealed in Jesus Christ. The biblical faith never rests on a good idea and emotional experience we come to confront with. Faith inhabits on the declared word and revealed work in Christ Jesus, who is the embodiment of all perfections and fullness. Here, now we can draw a definition - "Faith is the attitude whereby we abandon all our self efforts to obtain salvation, and to trust completely in and on Christ, who is the eternal son of God. Christian faith is not based on allusions and events, but concerned with facts of realities (John 8:24). Individually we have to confess these facts. The most exciting fact here is that our God is alive and active. To have faith is having active God. What a tremendous and dynamic experience that is! The most amazing and fascinating truth about faith is, according to Jude's own words, "it is entrusted". This significantly throws upon us a great responsibility. We have been called into faith that is not traditionally acquired but entrusted upon us. Christian faith is not something we discovered for ourselves. Of course there could have been a traditional influence and impact of faith through generation to generation. But until God entrusts the faith unto us we would never be capable to reach its nucleus - that is Christ Himself . Definitely the entrusted faith has something to talk to us, something to work out, something to motivate, something to enrich us, something to defend, something to stand for, something to contend for.

Faith is entrusted not on unsaved but upon those who are consecrated, the saints. It is an honour, gift given by the Lord. This faith opens up to a capability and potentiality to overcome sin, Satan and the world. This faith is faith which overcomes the world. By this faith that is delivered, we have to contend for the purity of doctrine and life. The philosophy of faith is not to preach, but live withstanding the enemies of the Kingdom of God. Faith has something to say, in every situation. Faith always stand against the principles of flesh. Faith has to become worthy to please God. If the Christianity is counted as religion it is a religion of faith, it is a way of faith, it is the pinnacle of faith, it is ship of faith that takes us to the other shore from earth to eternity.

Conclusion

If we are not solidly grounded on faith, we would surely feel the bankruptcy in Christian living. We have to recognize our responsibility more than ever before towards the entrusted faith. We cannot lead dormant and lethargic life. It is high time that we develop a revelational ground in the given faith, for a dynamic vital and effective ministry and life. When we stand at the verge of Jordan, we must be able to raise our heads as St. Paul had exclaimed behind the bars of Roman prison. May the Almighty give His strength to lead a responsible living towards the entrusted faith.

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"Christian living" in this generation - Part I
Annie Mathew, Coimbatore
Part I of an extensive essay written by Annie Mathew, a student of Karunya University, Coimbatore, on the awesome responsibility of young Christian men and women of this generation to present a Christ-like image to the outside world and live a victorious Christian life. Part II will appear in the next issue.

What is Christianity? It is a very difficult question to answer as well as an important one. There are clear implications for Christians themselves: unless they have some sort of definition in mind, how can they distinguish who is and is not an adherent of their religious faith? But it is also difficult for those who criticize Christianity because without a proper definition in their mind, what can they tell about those, whom they are criticizing!

Christianity is best defined by the deeds of Christians. Therefore, Christianity is loving and good as long as Christians are loving and good; Christianity is savage and furious as long as Christians are savage, brutal and evil. In short, Christianity reflects the deeds of Christians.

Who are Christians? In Bible, Acts 11:26 says, "disciples were first called Christians in Antioch". From these words we get the answer for this question, "who are Christians?". In short, Christians are disciples. According to Oxford dictionary, 'Christian' means, "of Christ or his religion showing character consistent with Christ's teaching, of genuine piety". Every Christian should have allegiance or be loyal to Christ, otherwise the word 'Christian' would not make any sense. According to Bible, only the disciples are Christians. To be known by a Christian name or to be born and brought up in a Christian family doesn't mean that he is a Christian. A true Christian should have the quality and character of our master, the Lord Jesus Christ. He who is a Christian will walk with Him, will love Him and love others too and his concentration in every walk of his life will be upon the Lord Almighty.

Who are disciples? A disciple is a personal follower of Christ and he will be adherent to Him. A true disciple will never turn either to right or left from the will of his master and his desire is to become like his master, and surrender his life totally to the master.

Jesus, the Master (Guru): Jesus Christ is the master or guru of a Christian. Let us see what His character and qualities are. Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). He also said to His disciples: "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14). It means that a true disciple of Christ must be a way for others in their journey to eternity, must be able to bring others to the truth so that they can overcome sin and unrighteousness, and should be light for those who are going to end their life in the world or those who are going to hell and etemal disaster. Further, a disciple should become a light for those who Iive in darkness. These are the high values our Master expects from His disciples. How is it possible for a Christian to achieve these high values in his Iife? A Christian should present his body as a Iiving sacrifice and be closer to God. This daily process in our Iife is what matures us as true disciples and equips us to become an instrument of righteousness, ready for master's use. Our Master wants His disciples to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16: "Be holy, for I am holy'). The only way we can be holy or righteous is through relationship with God. We are made holy by faith in Jesus Christ and we are saved by faith in Christ. This relationship with God is what frees us from the grip of sin and death. This also liberates us from being slave to sin, in our flesh, for whosoever the Son sets free is free indeed.

Jesus did not give the name "Christians" to His disciples but He called them "friends" (John 15:15). The general public by Iooking into the character and quality of life of the disciples called them "Christians". Therefore, in the present time also, those who watch us should certify and call us as true

Christian. It is the responsibility of every Christian to Iive in a way that gives evidence that something has taken place in their Iife by Holy Spirit. As we walk with the Lord and commune with Him, our actions, motives, and mindset should progressively become more pure and holy and stand as evidence.

Bible says "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). Therefore when a person becomes a new creation in Christ the old nature must be totally surrendered. Then he spends a good deal of time, may be years, learning what is expected from him, and also what is promised to him. Hopefully, our guide is the Bible, illuminated by the Holy Spirit as we dwell in His presence.

Most of the Christians, usually read the Bible every day as a routine, pray, go to church and worship. But they do not know what their calling is, who they are and what are the promises that our Lord has given to them. We are living in this world moving along with its flow. Sometimes, people cannot differentiate between a Christian and a non-Christian. David in Psa. 19:14 says: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, 0 Lord, my strength and my redeemer". Do we practice this in our daily life? Are our thoughts and the words of our mouth always glorifying His name? It is a fact that all of us cannot do the preaching ministry but our Christian life should be practical, whatever we preach or say should reflect in our practical life. It is not good to say something and do something else. Christian life founded in the grace of God in itself is gospel work. It will enable others to come to Jesus through our spiritual life. Simultaneously, God's plan for our life will be fulfilled as it happened in the first century through His disciples. If we are not leading a Christian life according to the Word of God, the mighty name of God will be defamed by our acts and God's plan to save people through us will not be fulfilled. If so, we will be answerable and accountable to God. How serious Christian life is!

Experiences of living as a Christian: I am proud of being called a Christian. I did not have any uncomfortable moment till this day as a Christian in my school life, friends circle or social life and I am appreciated by people. Whenever I get time, I share the gospel and tell my friends to lead a sinless life, which our Lord Jesus Christ expects from us. Our parents, Sunday school teachers and elders in our church play a very important role in shaping our life as youths in a way acceptable to God. Therefore I suggest to my young sisters and brothers to make a commitment to God that the words of our mouth and meditation of our heart will be acceptable in His sight. After making this commitment, we have to renew this commitment in the presence of God every morning, and at night before going to bed we should review the commitment and when we try to figure out whether any unpleasant incident, which is not according to God's will happened that day we would get an opportunity for repentance and to reconcile ourselves with God. If we make this process as a routine practice, nobody can question our youth and we will be under the control and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The present condition of the Christian World:

Jesus predicted that the true state of the present Christians will be as follows:

a) "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men" (Matt. 15:8)

b) "They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:43)

c) "You have left your first love" (Rev. 2:4)

d) "You have name that you are alive; but you are dead" (Rev. 3:1)

e) "You are neither cold nor hot; you are lukewarm" (Rev. 3:15)

Suggestions for a victorious Christian life:

Readers should look back into their life and recognize whether they are in any of the categories mentioned above. Bible reminds us through an example how we should be. Jesus said "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone but if it dies it produces much grains". My dear young friends, unless and until we die for Christ (meaning, leaving all the fleshly thoughts and worldly attractions) we cannot do anything in our life for our savior Jesus Christ. A simple, humble and surrendered life in Jesus, only can earn others for Christ. That's why Jesus said in the Sermon on Mount: "Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). Do we have such a thirst in our life to save the perishing souls for the Kingdom of God?

Everywhere in this world we find heartache, strife, sickness, unhappiness, strain, tensions, poverty, injustice and a host of other illnesses. Why can't men live in peace and enjoy the good things in this earth? Nobody in the earth can answer this question except Bible. God tells us in His Book that all troubles in the world are due to sin. Bible further says all the mankind is sinful, thus separated from the holiness of God. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

What exactly is sin? When we ask people to define sin, we get different answers. But Bible gives the correct answer for what exactly sin is. Bible says that sin is a heart condition. It is a condition of rebellion against God, the Supreme, which stems from pride. Bible clearly indicates pride as "real sin". God created us to be like Him, but our pride and rebellious nature make us fall far short of that purpose. Our outward actions reflect our true inner condition. God is concerned with our true inner condition. He knows us exactly better than we know ourselves because He knows the "inner man" in us. Heb. 4:13 says: "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (NIV).

Since sin is the root cause of all our troubles, we must deal with our sin first, to have less troubles and to be with Him always. The question is, how do we get rid of sin? Bible says "by nature we are --- dead in trespasses and sin" (Eph. 2:1) and that "we are alienated from the life of God" (Eph. 4:18). Just like a body without life is declared as physically dead, so is anyone who is separated from God is described as spiritually dead, in the Bible. As long as we remain spiritually dead, we cannot know God, we cannot enjoy the immense presence of the Omnipotent God.

Therefore we all need a new life. We need to be cleansed from sin and its penalty (i.e. death) and be restored to fellowship with God who made us all. That is why Jesus Christ said in John 3:7: "must be born again". Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). A birth is the beginning of a new life, which has the nature of its parents. When we were born physically, we were made partakers of the nature of natural man. But when we are born again, we become the partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). God becomes our heavenly Father.

God sent Jesus Christ, His only son to this sinful world, so that we might have everlasting life. Bible tells us: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3: 16). By His death and resurrection, Jesus paid for our salvation. He broke the powers of sin and death, making it possible for us to have an everlasting life.

In the present age, all are running after the world, name and fame. This is the age of computer, scientific development, electronics, fashion and busy life. Christians are overlooking themselves and their responsibilities. All are living in the competitive age; nobody is caring about the greatest name that they are privileged to call upon. All are trying to copy others. But we should realize that Christian life is not a life to replicate but it should be a life of spiritual experience. A Christian life-style should develop in such a way that whoever watches us should see Lord Jesus Christ through our life and whoever hears us should hear Jesus through us. What happens, otherwise, is that the name of the Lord Jesus will be blamed and defamed by us.

(To be continued in the next issue)

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Meditation:
Share life - not just the "Word"

Saju Mathew
Reading Passage: 1 Thess. 2:1-12

"So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us" (1 Thess. 2:8 NKJV)

Paul had to suffer very badly in Thessalonica. But that was less to compare what he suffered in Philippi (1 Thess. 2:2 cf. Acts 16:16-24). Paul could spend only three weeks in Thessalonica and he could win many Jews and devout Greeks for the Lord (Acts 17:1-5). However, the new believers were ready to take much risk for Paul in Thessalonica. Jason, who opened his home for the missionaries was dragged and put under custody, because he helped them (Acts 17:5-10).

What was the attitude of Paul, when he was in Thessalonica? Our reading passage says a lot of things. They - Paul and Silas - were God pleasers, hard working... with gentleness of a nursing mother and with the affection of a father! But, he says, he was there not just to preach Gospel, win souls, and retreat! Of course he wanted to see souls are redeemed. But he did it because he loved them. In fact he said, he was reluctant to leave Thessalonica because of the persecution. He was so sad to see that Jason, who gave him a home to stay, was persecuted by the authorities. He says, he would have given his life for him.

In these days we hear a lot of 'success stories' from the mission field. Millions heard gospel, thousands accepted Jesus, hundreds got baptized... Good, but why we share Gospel?

Paul loved the people to whom he preached gospel, more than his life. Do we have that kind of love to people to whom we minister? What motivates us to preach Gospel? Is it the 'burden' of the great commandment, or the urge of the pure love we have towards the people? One thing is of sure. We fail many times because we do not love people more than our lives. Remember, if you do not love a person, we have no right to share gospel with him.

Prayer: "Lord, many times love for people is not my motivating factor in sharing gospel. Help me to understand that I become your disciple only when I love. AMEN

Further readings: Acts 16:16-22; Acts 17:1-10

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News & Views
Johnson K. Samuel

An 'Indianised' Bible!!

'The Times of India' reports publication of The New Community Bible, an 'Indianised' Bible with references to the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Manusmriti and drawings of a turbaned Joseph and sari clad Mother Mary with baby Jesus in her arms. According to Catholic church spokesperson Fr. Paul Thekekat, this is an attempt to make contextual reading and understanding. It also has references to Meerabai, Mahatma Gandhi, and Rabindranath Tagore in the interpretations of biblical passages. The text of the Bible is the accepted Catholic version and the interpretations are given at the bottom part. There are 24 line drawings, including those of mosque, temple and church with slippers outside.

Some examples of interpretations:

1. 'Treasure in Heaven of Mat. 6:19-21': This concept is found a classical expression in the Bhagavad Gita's call to disinterested action: 'Work alone is your proper business, never the fruits it may produce'.

2. Appearance of Jesus to disciples on the shore of Galilee (John 21:1-14): 'The Lord ever stands on the shores of our life every moment and every age, every day and every night he comes, comes, ever comes' (Gitanjali XLV).

3. The Flood of the Book of Genesis: Interpreted with reference of such stories in Mesopotamia and Mahabharata.

Over such 70 references to non Christian texts have been made in the Bible. Fr. Thekekat adds: "An attempt has been made to give a Bible which is more relevant for India". The preface to the Bible says: "A unique feature of the new Bible is that it has many references to the spiritual message and biblical references to that of spiritual message and biblical values found in the scriptures of other great Indian religions".

So what is the uniqueness of Bible, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit - inspired Scriptures? Nothing, as far as Catholics are concerned! It is on the same level as the fictions like Gita and Mahabharata and the writings of Tagore! Can we accept such demeaning interpretations? Is the good news of salvation different for different countries and cultures? Certainly not. Satan is making a last ditch attempt to devalue the Bible. But the Word of God has stood unscathed throughout the centuries.

Greater use of Internet by protestant churches in USA

As the world is widening through the Internet, churches are enlarging their technical efforts as well. A recent survey in USA finds that while in 2000, only one-third of churches (34 percent) had a Web site, 57 percent had one by 2005 and 62 percent have one now. Pastor David Mabry argues that Internet is immensely useful for communicating with the audience of today. It has also been found that 91 percent of larger churches (more than 250 adults attending per week) operate a Web site and the number drops to 48 percent for small churches (less than 100 members). This variation is partly age related, as smaller churches tend to attract older attendees who do not feel as comfortable with the Internet.

Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago keeps its estimated 23,000 attendees connected through e-mails and podcasts and blogs. E-mails keep everyone feeling cared for and blogs give voice to all as they get opportunities to express themselves. Churches are installing video screens in the sanctuary or using satellite feeds to feature off-site events from other far away places. "The Internet has become one of the pivotal communications and community-building tools of our lifetime", says one researcher with the Barna Group which conducted the survey. He adds: "Churches are well-advised to have an intelligent and foresighted Internet strategy in order to facilitate meaningful ministry".

Even though perverts can misuse Internet, its usefulness in communication cannot be ignored. If it enhances the way in which the gospel of salvation can be spread to people, let us make good use of it.

Megachurches continue to grow!

A survey of 1,250 congregations has concluded that megachurches continue to grow, about 50 percent in attendance in the last five years. The special feature of their growth is that the expansion is occurring through satellite campuses (branch congregations) and not larger and larger buildings. The churches, with worship attendance of 2,000 or more each weekend, are increasingly using satellite locations. The researchers find that on average, megachurches surveyed this year are offering four services at each of two satellite locations while some churches have six or more locations, where between one dozen and two dozen services occur each weekend (Saturday/Sunday). 100 largest churches in the U.S. are attended by more than 7,000 people.

People seem to be getting attracted by the numbers. Are they getting pure, undiluted, unadulterated, spiritual food for their growth, one wonders. How many sheep can be taken care of by one shepherd?

Scientists say: Faith in God can ease pain

A team at Oxford University conducted an experiment in which 12 Christians and 12 atheists participated. The participants were asked to study two Christian devotional paintings for half an hour while they were inside an MRI scanner, receiving a series of 20 electric shocks in four sessions. For each electric shock, they were asked to rate how much it hurt on a scale of 0 to 100 as they looked at the paintings. The scientists found that the Christians seemed to be able to block out much of the pain. Using the latest brain-scanning techniques, they also discovered that the Christians were able to activate part of the brain associated with conditioning experience of pain. There was no such brain activity among the atheists whose pain and anxiety levels stayed roughly the same throughout the experiment.

"Religion is the opiate of the people", Karl Marx had famously said. He was making fun of religion. But the Oxford scientists are not joking!

Church growth in Iran

ASSIST News Service reports that a major crackdown against house church Christians is proceeding in Iran. But the Islamic government is finding that it is incapable of reversing the rapid spread of Christianity there. Less than one half of one percent of the Iranian population is Christian. Todd Nettleton of 'Voice of the Martyrs' says: "The church is exploding in terms of numbers, but it is coming with a price. The people are arrested, they're harassed, they're persecuted, in some cases they are beaten severely".

Persecution of Christians is happening in many parts of the world. Devil is working hard as he knows, his time will soon be over.

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Personalities encountered by Jesus - 9:
Martha

"Selected"

"But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me" (Luke10:40)

Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary, who lived in the village of Bethany, personifies the kind of devotion that expresses itself in service. Because she loved Jesus, she wanted more than anything else to minister to His physical needs. So the moment the Master crosses the threshold of her house, she rushed about to see that He is comfortable and well fed. He is surely tired from His journey and would like to wash. He must have a good meal, too, and refreshment. She sets about at once with household chores - lighting the fire, preparing food, laying the table. When her sister Mary does not stir a hand to assist her, but merely sits at Jesus' feet, transfixed as she listens to His every word, Martha complains to Jesus.

It seems to her that if Mary loved Jesus as she does, she would surely want to serve Him. But Jesus tells her: "Martha, Martha, thou are careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her".

Nevertheless, Jesus understood Martha's attitude, and He loved her for her devotion and response to Him. Gradually, as time went on, and Martha came to have a deeper understanding of the Truth embodied in Jesus, she lost to some degree her impatience and anxiety. Later, at the supper in Bethany, after her brother had been raised from the dead by Jesus, it is still Martha who serves the table. But from the brief glimpse we have of her on this occasion, it is clear that she has been freed from her former preoccupation with household cares. She is no longer cumbered, no longer "troubled about many things".

For her devotion and service have led her to a realization of "the one thing that is needful" - love made calm with trust.

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Children's corner:
Our heavenly Father

"Shiny Aunty"

There was a wealthy man. He had two grown up sons. One of them was very close to him so much so that he always wanted to do what his father said and was very obedient. Therefore he became much favoured in his father's sight. This son's name was Pramod. The other son was a lazy person and hence he did not care to help his father or keep in touch with him. The father equally distributed the property and money among his sons. Pramod invested that money for a flourishing business. The lazy son used up all the money his father gave and ultimately became a pauper. Unfortunately their father died and hence he could not get any more help from his father.

Dear children, we too have a rich Father in heaven who is eternal. His resources are inexhaustible and He is willing to give it to His children who care to take it for themselves. God's promises are many, but do we care to find out what they are and fulfil the conditions to get hold of those promises. If we obey His word and live a pleasing life before Him, then we will be entitled to His riches in glory. His word tells us in Prov. 3:1-5 (NEB): "My son forget not my teaching, but guard my commands in your heart; for long life and years in plenty will they bring you and prosperity as well. Let your good faith and loyalty never fail, but bind them about your neck. Thus you will win favour and success in the sight of God and man...." Take time to read and meditate God's word. Spend time talking to your heavenly Father so that you would grow in your relation with Him and also be blessed. Also read Prov. 2: 1-11.

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Malayalam section:
Aaraadhanayil deivam prasaadikkunnundo?

Paul Mathulla, Houston, USA

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Malayalam section:
Kudumbamaayulla Aaraadhanayudey praadhaanyatha

Pastor Veeyapuram Georgekutty, Dallas, USA

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Malayalam section:
Graama suvisesheekaranam thozhiladhishtthitha maargathiloodey

Dr. Mathew Finni, Kottayam

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Malayalam section:
Kalaghattathintey aavasyam - 2

Varghese Kollakompil

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Malayalam section
Kavitha: Ruth - Part 6

Sabu Karammelil

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"Promoted to glory"

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Sponsor's page:
Radhakrishnan Family
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Bro. Radhakrishnan's conversion reminds us of Apostle Paul. Born in an orthodox Hindu family in Palakkad district in Kerala in 1960, trained as a tough RSS worker from school days, put in charge of the Sangh's activities at the Panchayat and Taluk levels and angry with Christians as a whole, Radhakrishnan was drawn towards Jesus Christ in Mumbai.

He was afflicted with a skin disease while working in Mumbai and lost his peace of mind as medical treatments, visits to temples and churches, offerings to deities, etc. could not cure him. He turned to alcohol and drugs to get peace. Finally, on his way in a local train to commit suicide, Bro. Joy from IPC Dadar, met him and invited him to a prayer meeting. He got salvation message there from Pastor Y. Georgekutty and accepted the Lord as his Saviour.

As he was struggling to choose between his ancestral faith and Christian faith, he heard the message from the Lord sounding clearly in his ears: "Leave your people and your father's household" (Gen. 12:1). His family arranged a marriage for him with a Hindu girl, Vijayalaksmi, to turn him away from his faith. But, thanks to God, his wife stood with him and accepted his faith in Jesus. His uncle with whom they were staying turned them out of his house. They moved into a small house with great difficulty, but that gave them freedom to receive believers and pastors to their home.

The Lord is faithful in His promises. Bro. Radhakrishnan presently owns several houses in Mumbai and elsewhere. He has helped many who are struggling in their lives for jobs and accomodation. He says that he is now entrusted with projects which are usually done by much more technically qualified people. God has prospered him much more than all his kith and kin and made him an object of wonder among them.

God has given him a true helpmeet as his wife. They have two daughters, Reshma and Roshni. They worship the Lord as members of IPC, Vasai.

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