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Showing posts from September, 2012

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION
I John 1: 1-10
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Has confession lost its teeth in purging our sins and purifying us?
St. Augustine realised that sacrament is only meaningful when it is ‘an outward sign of inward grace.’ It is worth pondering whether our sacraments have this intimate relationship. The Council of Trent defined seven sacraments; confession or penance is a sacrament in itself and also has a central place in other sacraments. Cardinal Manning was once asked what he thought of the sin of Judas consisted of; he said, ‘Judas allowed himself to become too familiar with all-holy Lord and he was not made holy by the holiness of Jesus.’ I feel this is our problem today as well, we are too familiar with holy things, sacraments, and take everything for granted and not realise the importance of confession in our daily living.

Confession is at the heart of Christian living: When…

The Journey 272:How did we manage to stay for the last 50 years?

Read: Luke 19:1-10

Money and Marriage. There are normally number of reason that may cause rift between husband and wife. Reasons for these rifts could be flimsy while some serious. In a study that was conducted by Utah University, many marital couples had issues even on reason like who gets to hold the TV remote control, who has the maximum time watching TV, or who takes the trash to the waste bin, who irons the clothes and so on. But one of the major issues that has brought about marital breakdown and ultimately leading to separation is the fight over money. It is the battle over money that is causing havoc in many families. What is strange in the battle over money is that it cuts across all income groups. Most people think that fights over money happens only among people coming from low income group, but talk to people who come from the higher income group– sometimes the fights that happen over money in these homes can be worse than the fights in the lower income groups. Two individu…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION
John 16:7-13
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (16: 13) The United States Treasury has a 'Conscience Fund'. It was created for those who have stolen, cheated or lied and who now wanted to clear their conscience by returning the money to the owner. This fund was
established in 1811 when an anonymous donor who had committed fraud sent five dollars to the Treasury Dept.

We believe that the sacraments are means of grace. In our church, as in many other churches, the Sacrament of Confession is part of the Holy Communion. But do we take confession seriously? Do we open our hearts before God and really feel sorry for all our sins? In some parishes there are people who do not give the kiss of peace to their neighbors even after reciting the prayer of confession. The passage for today is part of the final discourse…

The Journey 271

Read: Luke 2:41-52

Justin Bieber: The famous pop star Justin Bieber is a household name. But what are the values that this pop star upholds and how was he nurtured in life and what does it take to raise to raise Justin Bieber?. The answers to all these questions has been answered by the mother of Justin Bieber, Pattie Mallette. She recently released a book titled “Nowhere But Up” where she recalls the trauma that she went through her life and the bitter but wise lessons that she learnt in life and how she consciously raised and nurtured Justin Bieber in true Christian faith. Pattie recounts in her book horrors of how she was repeatedly abused as a child and later in life and finally comes to a stage where she felt that abuse was normal. That is when addiction takes over and she resorts to petty crime to sustain her. At the age of 17, she becomes a mental wreck. Later as she starts dating Justin Bieber’s dad, and she is slowly brought back to normalcy by her friends and the community. …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

REPENTANCE LEADING TO FORGIVENESS Jonah 4:1-11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city? Have we the right to become frustrated with the Lord? Seems like an odd question, but often are we not frustrated with the results of the work we do with the ministry? When we teach Sunday School and, children
continue to misbehave, aren’t we frustrated? When we outreach to those less fortunate, and they seem more interested in “free stuff” then the gospel, aren’t we frustrated? When we pray at prayer meetings, and see the same people over and over again not participating, aren’t we frustrated?

No right to be frustrated: The answer as we all know is that we have no right to be frustrated with Lord as Jonah learned in today’s passage. In Jonah 4, we read about Jonah being unhappy that the Lord did not destroy Nineveh. Imagine that, Jonah sowed the seeds of …

The Journey 270: Daring, different & dignified

Read: Luke 23: 33-49

Who are role models in life?. Role models are ordinary people but with an extraordinary sense of purpose and vision in life. Yesterday, many news agencies reported about an ordinary woman who did an amazing and extraordinary feat, in the most dignified way. Meet Balpreet Kaur, who can be a role model for the people of the world today. Who is Balpreet Kaur?. She is a Sikh woman studying at the Ohio State University, aspiring to be a neurosurgeon. As she was waiting in a queue at the airport, a stranger took her image and posted in Reddit without her consent and placed her image in the funny category because Balpreet sports her facial hair. Instead of being embarrassed and agonized, Balpreet took a proactive, dignified and also an assertive stand by explaining on the web page, that mocked her, to the reason as to why she grew her facial hair. She asserted that she belongs to a Sikh religion, which has five important tenets. They are Kanga [comb], Kara [bracelet], Ka…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY
Romans 5:6-11
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8) Maxmilian Kolbe was a Franciscan Priest. During the World War II, he provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland. He hid 2000 Jews from Nazi Gestapo’s. On February 17, 1941 he was arrested and imprisoned at Pawaik prison. Later he was transferred to Auschwitz as prisoner #16670. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe’s barrack vanished, prompting the deputy camp commander to pick 10 men from the same barracks to be starved to death in Block 13 (notorious for torture), in order to deter further escape attempts. One of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, “My wife! My children! I will never see them again!" At this Maximilian Kolbe stepped forward and asked to die for him. His request was granted. During the…

The Journey 269: Inter-related? Subscriptions and holy communion

Read: John 4

No Subscriptions– Then No Holy Communion. Strange Isn't it? News Agencies report that day before yesterday on Monday, September 24th, a strange and unique decision was taken by the Catholic Church in Germany. The Catholic Bishops Conference have issued a new decree that those who do not pay church tax will be denied the following sacraments. They will not be allowed to participate in Holy Communion, Confession, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick. One cannot also become a God Parent too in the sacrament of Baptism. This moves seems to be taken because the Catholic Church was worried about its dwindling numbers and wanted to take certain steps to stem the rot and the drop. In Germany, every individual have to officially declare their religion and pay church tax which could be about 8-10% depending on where he lives, or be classified as Non Religious, thus being exempted from church tax. If a religious burial is needed then the person has to display regret for leavin…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

FORSAKE ME NOT O LORD
Psalm 71
Verse From birth I have relied on you;
  you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you. I have become a sign to many;
 you are my strong refuge. (Psalm 71:6-7)
Psalm 71 is recognized as a prayer for God’s help and it is viewed as an anxious cry of King David in his old age when enemies threaten him and his strength is fading. It is also a confident confession of hope, and a vow to praise God in anticipation of His deliverance.
Anxiety a grave disease that destroys the whole person: Human beings have the tendency to get anxious – anxious that something unpleasant is going to happen. We may have heard that ‘anxiety is not just worry, it is needless worry’ and that ‘anxiety is worry that is looking for a cause, rather than arising from a cause’. It drives personalities to become weak and feel threatened. It has the potential to destroy relationships as well as the individual. To overcome anxiety, society has either developed chemicals to …

The Journey 268

Read: John 16:21-33

Last Sunday night we had a fantastic and a close game between Ravens and Patriots in the National Football League match. That match was memorable for both the Baltimore Ravens and one of the Baltimore Ravens player– Torrey Smith. Memorable for Ravens because they beat Patriots by a close margin of 31-30. One of the key players who made this victory possible was Torrey Smith who played a fantastic game, with two touch downs and 127 yards on six catches. But CNN news reports that, behind this spectacular showing by Torrey Smith, that day was one of the most agonizing day for Torrey. He had lost his younger brother in a motorcycle accident in the morning hours of the game and he did not know how to deal with this sudden death of his brother, who was everything in life and now he had also a game on hand. The news agencies reports that Smith slept for a few hours and then with a heavy heart decided to play the Sunday match. Smith decided to play for the honour of his de…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

NEITHER DO I CONDEMN YOU
St. John 8:1-11
Verse Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11) In this chapter of John, we see two prominent groups of Jews, who join together to put Jesus in a trap. It is evident that, those who committed to maintain the Jewish religious traditions, (the Pharisees)
and those who have the pre knowledge of the Jewish religious works and oral traditions (the scribes) come together, to Jesus, with a negative intention to trap him. However, the response of Jesus resulted in a miraculous over-turn of the whole situation. It is true that any situation that is brought to the attention of Jesus, will have a wonderful ending, beyond human imagination.

Distortion of Justice: Scribes and Pharisees were scholars of scripture and traditions. But they neither imbibed the Mosaic Laws nor followed its statu…

The Journey 267

Read: Genesis 41

Unconditional is a new movie that has was released last Friday, September 21. It is a movie directed with a cause and is based on the life of a person named “Papa Joe” and his organization called Elijah’s Heart, an organization aimed at bettering the lives of underprivileged children. Who is Papa Joe?. Papa Joe is name fondly called by children when they see a native of Nashville, Joe Bradford. It is a story of a how a person who encounters the wrong side of the law, finds himself in prison and then freed, tries to live in a society where you are condemned because of your past. Joe was an ex convict whose childhood and his youths days was that of images of poverty and no one caring for him, since he never saw his father. After his release from prison he got married to Dennis and they both loved music. But soon Joe realized that he had contracted a kidney disease. The treatment and the recovery later put a lot of financial burden on the family. With his past, he found …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

CONFESSION: A CONTRITE HEART
Psalms 51
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalms 51: 17) This Psalm attributes to David, when the Prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. We use this Psalm as a prayer of confession in our order of worship for all Sunday
morning. This Psalm emphasizes the importance of heart that directs and controls our life. OT. teaches that emotions, consciousness and decisions all are the creation of heart, hence morality and ethics emerge from the heart. Wisdom, talents and attitudes are seated in the heart. Deuteronomy 9:5 says faithfulness, righteousness and uprightness are springing from heart. The Psalm emphasizes the importance of a contrite heart when we make our confession.

1. Man cannot transform his nature by himself, therefore turn to God. (Jeremiah 3 : 22): Though God created human in his own image (likeness), with freedom to choose, to think and to make de…

The Journey 265: essential Apps in Christian Life

Read: Luke 1: 5-7

I Phone 5 was released yesterday, and as I driving to New York I saw huge line in front of the apple stores of people both young and old waiting to get hold of the new Apple product. Whether it is the Apple I Phone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3, these phones have totally revolutionized human life. When the mobile phone first hit the market, it was a device of communication, later it became a device for high speed web browsing, but of late these phones have become a utility tool in taking care of ones life– in every realm and in every aspects concerned. Yesterday one of the news agencies brought out a feature as to how one can track the way our body functions, with help of different apps in our phone. In this news feature, the news correspondent reveals as to how the applications in these mobile phones are used by individuals to literally take care of their health, since getting an appointment and then going to a doctor consumes too much of a one’s time now. The new correspo…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

HOW GREAT IS YOUR WORKS O LORD!
Psalms 92
For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts!

(Psalms 92: 4-5)

Did you know that the total length of your circulatory system, including blood vessels, stretches an amazing nearly 100,000 miles (161,000 km) in an adult? The diameter of the earth at Equator is around 25,000 miles that mean if the blood vessels of an adult were lined up end to end, they would circle the earth four times!! This is just one minor example of the wonders of God’s amazing works in our universe? And as we know more and more we will understand God’s powers and acknowledge that all beings must be loved equally by us.

1. We need to Experience the power of God’s creative powers

The famous poet William Wordsworth beautifully writes about god’s signature mark in cosmic creation -“In all things, in all nature, in the stars this active principle abides, from link to link it circul…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

CHRISTIAN NURTURING
Luke 2:41-52
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:51-52) This passage; the trip to Jerusalem for Passover when Jesus was 12 Years old; clearly shows how Joseph and Mary nurtured Jesus to develop a strong faith and a desire to do more then what the “letter of the law
required.” Only men were required to attend this festival, but Mary chose to go. The passage even states that they would go every year. The distance from Nazareth to Jerusalem was over 65 miles. Some scholars think that the route these pilgrims may have taken could have been over 100 miles to avoid potential problems. This means that it would have taken them at least one week to travel to Jerusalem to attend the festival. The festival itself lasted seven days, and then it would have taken them another seven days to journey home.

So overall, this…

The Journey 264: Jesus Christ, a Celibate?

Read: Mathew 19:1-12

The marital status of Jesus Christ is the topic that theologians, historians, biblical scholars are now discussing. This discussion has come about when Professor Karen King, while speaking at the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies in Rome, unveiled a fragment of papyrus containing a phrase in Coptic which says that “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife’. According to King, who stressed repeatedly that the text does not prove that Jesus had a wife. According to the news agencies like Christian Post, the aim of this analysis which King is going to publish in the January 2013 edition of Harvard Theological Review, the author states that her intention is not to reconstruct the historical Jesus nor to argue whether Jesus had a wife or was a celibate but on the contrary to bring new voices within the diverse chorus of early Christian faith tradition about Jesus Christ, where some Christians use to argue that Jesus was married. According to certain biblical scholars …

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

ONE THING YOU LACK Luke 18: 18-32 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18: 22)Remarkably our selected passage is bracketed by stories of related theme. As prelude, Jesus said one ought to receive the kingdom of God like a child, and in the epilogue, we see a blind man received sight and followed  Jesus. But, we see the rich ruler refused to follow Jesus, because he lacked loyalty, the virtue of faithfulness. Consequently he ended up with dead deeds. Discipleship is costly and requires loyalty. Therefore, it is imperative to understand that loyalty to Jesus must be rooted in faith and devotion. Jesus teaches us two important facets of loyalty through this incident: loyalty to the redeemer and to the neighbor. Loyal to Jesus: In order to be loyal to Jesus, we must believe and accept that “God has a plan to prosper us,” and give up our own plan. The…

The Journey 263: Difference between school and life?

Read: James 1: 1-6

While studying in High School I remember studying the lesson about Robinson Crusoe written by Daniel Defoe, in the English subject class. It was all about a sailor who gets shipwrecked and is lost in seas and then survives after going through different ordeal both in land and sea. Fox News and the music station K Love broadcast yesterday a news similar to Robinson Crusoe. It was about woman who got lost in Nevada wilderness but survived on sheer power of faith. This is a wonderful testimony about Rita and here husband Albert Chretian who were driving from their home in British Columbia, Canada to Las Vegas for a trade show. In the middle of the journey they wanted to take a stop at a small town and when they directed their GPS to that route, the route that GPS took them was to a remote forest road, a treacherous mountain range which was very unfamiliar to them. Soon the vehicle also got stuck and Mr. Chretian set out on foot after staying three days in the vehicle t…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

REMEMBERING GOD’S MERCIES
Joshua 4:1-10
"The men followed Joshua's orders. As the Lord had commanded Joshua, they took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, one for each of the tribes of Israel carried them to the camping place…” (V. 8) Memorial Stones are set up.
Joshua Chapter 4 gives an account of the miraculous passage of Israel
through Jordan. Although they were busy in passing over Jordan, Joshua and the people were obedient to the commandments of the Lord. As instructed, they took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each of the tribes of Israel carried them to the camping place, and set them up there. It is pertinent to see that God allowed all the tribes of Israel to participate in this venture to set up the memorial, and not the Levites alone. Joshua also set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan where the priests carrying the Covenant Box stood, as another monument, in obedience to God's order. Very explicitly God has told the…

The Journey 262: Life in early church

Read: Romans 12

Going for Family Oriented Movies, and Family theme Parks. There are certain aspects that people would want to do things together as a family. One of the famous destination of the people all over the world is the Disney World. But recently the Disney World has courted a controversy. The reason for the controversy is the decision to sell wine and beer in this family park. According to the news agencies, the announcement to this effect was made on the Disney Park Blog by the Beverage Director of the Disney Parks and Resorts that as a part of enriching the overall experience of the park, the guest will also be treated to French inspired cuisine which includes wine and beer. For this they have earmarked three separate restaurants. The decision to open up beer bars and serving wine has cause mixed reaction among the people here. People who are for this decision of serving alcoholic drinks, argue that since other parks serve alcoholic drinks, there is no big issue in Disney p…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

HARMONIOUS LIVING Colossians 3:12-17 "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17)

St. Paul's letter to the Colossians clearly draws pictures in our mind about the uniqueness of life pointed towards Christ -- the supreme way for salvation. Those who are saved are new 'in Christ'. So put off all worldly orders of the old life and live according to the guidelines that are nurtured in the principles and teachings of Christ. The apostle gives a new ‘self’ consciousness. This passage teaches about the need for putting on love, appropriating the peace of Christ and being thankful. As we are concentrating on this portion for meditation let’s focus on three aspects:

1. As chosen persons it’s our duty to put on the new qualities/new clothing. In Vs.12, 13

St. Paul lists new characters that are expected from a person born above in Christ: kindness, humility, meekness, patience…

The Journey 261

Read: Luke 22:

Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year. According to the tradition of Jews, this is the celebration of the anniversary of the creation of the world, a day when God takes stock or judgment of all His creation including human beings, and this judgment determines the course of the coming year. Translated from Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year”- “Rosh” means Head while “Hashanah” means Year. This celebration is has both festivity and seriousness associated with it. One of the important observance of this holiday is the blowing of the horn in the synagogue. According to the Jewish tradition about 100 notes are sounded each day. The observance of Rosh Hashanah is also a time of spiritual renewal done through prayer and deep personal reflection. This is also a time when families and friends get together, seek each others forgiveness and take a decision to make the new year better than the last. It is these decisions and realizations th…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

GROWING INTO THE MATURITY OF CHRIST
Colossians 1:24-29
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28) Christianity is about life transformation. It is God’s purpose to transform our life world into God’s kingdom. For that we should become more mature in our faith, more like Christ in our being. The epistle to Colossians
states the purpose of our Christian life. Clearly, Paul’s purpose is to “present everyone mature in Christ.”

Meaning of Growing into Maturity
What is Paul talking about? When we become a believer we become a new creation in Christ, but we are not perfect yet. We begin a process of growing more and more to become like Christ. There is a beginning and there is an end and we are on a journey or pilgrimage between these two points. The church uses several different words to describe this process of becoming like Christ: discipleship, sanctification, mentoring, growing into…

The Journey 260: Seek Gof First

Read: Amos 5

Every person who uses a mobile phone or other electronic devices knows that when a phone a jammed or a device does not function properly there is a small button in the device that helps the device to function again properly. This button is called as the “Reset” button. If we touch the reset button on the device, the electronic device like the phone, or media player automatically reverts itself to the original factory setting. Anugrah Kumar, a Christian Post Contributor recently cited a speech by the well know actor and producer Kirk Cameron, who was speaking at the Values Voters Summit at Washington DC last Friday. The whole gist of the speech made by Kirk Cameroon was that if United States had to get out of the mess that this country is finding itself in, then it has to return to the original factory setting. What he meant was that one should listen to the principles set by the founding fathers of this great nation, who relied on wisdom that comes from faith in God and H…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

THE BLESSEDNESS OF GOD-FEARING LIFE
Psalms 128
Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; 
blessings and prosperity will be yours. (Psalms 128:1-2)
Choice matters
Blessedness is a state of life which is the lasting fruit of our choices. It is not a transient feeling or an emotional festival either. Therefore, the choices we make in our life define and determine the
meaning and fullness of our lives. Choices are more than just saying “yes” to some people or some choices. It is not choosing one of the best options. On the contrary, it is an unswerving commitment to a person, Jesus, who taught us the importance of making choices that are eternal, even at the face of death, and what it means to be committed to the will of God. Jesus chose not death, but to live meaningfully unto death. If it were otherwise, Jesus’ death would have been nothing but a suicide. So, by choosing to live, we choose life itself; not death. When we choose…

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

OLD AGE WITH GRACE
Psalms 71
Even when I am old and gray,
 do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. (Psalms 71:18)

Today (Sept 16, 2012) we celebrate Senior Citizen’s Sunday. We are focusing on Psalm 71 and the theme selected is “Old Age With Grace.” We recognize our Senior Citizens who are sixty years and over and pay our respects to them. A historical perspective enables us to see the key role that other members have played in Ancient societies. With the emergence of Modern Period in history, the relative importance shifted to childhood and adolescence (or youth hood). It marks a radical change in social relationships, institutions and in various styles of living. After childhood and youth hood, there are the stages of adulthood and old age.

We shall continue our meditation of Psalm 71 by raising couple of questions and selecting relevant ideas from related books. The book is The Virtues of Aging (1998) wri…