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Grace ‫النعمة‬ i s s u e

# 3

... the ultimate expression of God’s love.

“I have

Loved YOu with An Everlasting Love

Jeremiah 31:3


‫لو بتحب تكتب وعندك فكرة عايز‬ ‫ت�شارك بيها جوا املجلة‪ ,‬ابعت لنا مقالك‬ ‫على الإمييل بتاعنا و�ساعدنا نن�رش احلق‬ ‫اللي بنعرفه كل يوم ‪ ..‬مع كل النا�س ‪..‬‬ ‫هنحب ن�سمعك ون�س َّمعك!‬

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To all the God-like heroes who spared their lives so we might see a better tomorrow. To all the martyrs of our revolution.


contents ‫محتويات‬ My Christianity ‫مسيحيتي‬

• What Does That Tell Us About Him? • ‫ هل كان هناك “آخَر” بالنسبة ليسوع؟‬:‫يسوع واملواطنة‬

Life with the Savior ‫املخلص‬ ‫احلياة مع‬

6

10

• God Promises: The Holy Spirit

Know your ‫إلهك‬God ‫إعرف‬

16

Know ‫كلمته‬ His Word ‫إعرف‬

18

• Holy; A Life Changing Encounter

• ‫املسيح يف سفر الخروج‬

• His Name was Me-Phi-Bo-Sheth

God's people ‫شعب الله‬

24

Words of‫حكمة‬ Wisdom ‫كلمات‬

28

• Ruth: A Story of Redemption

• Grace Expressed

Beautiful Creation ‫خليقة جميلة‬

32

Keeping Company ‫العالقة مع الله‬

34

• 15 Facts You Should Know About Your Brain!

• The Struggle for Intimacy • The Art of Shutting 200 Airports

Now Available at: El Manar Bookshop St.Mary Ardelgolf Bookshop Marashly Zamalek Bookshop Everyman’s Bookstore Vinebookstore.com

+NEW!

Weekly devotionals every FRIDAY on our blog! gracemagazine11.wordpress.com

PS: Articles with doctrinal concepts are based on the writer’s own personal interpretation of scripture, while keeping with our foundational Christian, biblical beliefs. We highly encourage you to read and seek persistently what God wants to reveal to you.


My Christianity ‫مسيحيتي‬

What does that tell us about Him? by Peter Zaki

6

“If God is here but does not move a finger when we suffer the worst ends, what does that tell us about Him?” That question is from a novel written by Elif Shafak, it is from a fictitious conversation. The question is presented by an innkeeper to Shams El-Tabrizi, who is a famous Muslim Sufi teacher. Now, have you ever been presented with this question? Have you ever considered it yourself? How would we respond to this? I think some of our modern teaching would suggest that God does move a finger, only that finger is invisible, and in many cases people would also suggest that it is undetectable. Others would suggest that this very suffering is God’s finger. Perhaps to punish, perhaps to test, and perhaps because: “God works in mysterious ways”. Now I would like to suggest a different – and I would say a more Christian – response to that question. But first I’d like to ask another question. What do you think God should do? What would you do if you were God? Here’s the problem: your loved ones are surrounded by all sorts of unpleasant things, sometimes by bad things, sometimes even by horribly, devastatingly evil things. There is so much pain and sadness in their world that at many times it is hard for them to see anything else in that world but that pain. It then makes sense to them to have their guard up, to be protective and even hostile, even towards you. And here’s another problem within that problem: In many cases, it is your loved ones that cause that pain and sadness. They cause it to themselves, and they cause it to other people - who also happen to be loved ones to you.


Sometimes they cause pain without really meaning to, sometimes they cause pain in hostile, defensive response to what they are going through, and sometimes they don’t have a choice… other times they do, and choose to cause pain. And although the reasons may differ, the pain is similar, and neither good intentions nor justifications can make them go away. And here’s one more problem: Your loved ones are beautiful, complex creatures, and their motives, emotions and thoughts can be so intertwined; their loves and hatreds have common roots, or rather their hatreds prey on the roots of their loves, and you can’t forcefully remove one, or you’ll damage the other; it’s like weeds growing in the midst of good wheat. So, what would you do? I’ll tell you what I know God did, and does still: He decided to share our life, and He became us. Here’s how: With his beloved he had a child, the first of many. Through that child – as through any child – He was united with his beloved. And so came to the world a new Life: a divine and a whole Life that is neither divided nor lacking. And He said: I’ll go through everything you go through, with you. I’ll be your brother, your friend, your mother, and your child, and not figuratively, but actually, in person. I’ll fight your daily battles with you and go through all the suffering and the pain and the sadness, and in all that I will offer you strength, solace and relief. In war, don’t look to the sky and wonder how I’ll intervene, rather look around you and watch me work, watch me as the nurse on the battlefield, as the correspondent on the field and as the soldier holding the line. In the novel quoted from in the beginning, the writer says these words through Shams El-Tabrizi’s character: “God is not some place far up in the sky. He is inside each and every one of us. That is why He never abandons us. How can he abandon Himself?” I think that is a wonderful thing to say, especially in light of the Incarnation. Christ is born. God is inside each and every one of us. That is why we say that God never abandons us. How can he abandon Himself?

7


‫‪New Ear th‬‬

‫‪My Christianity‬‬ ‫مسيحيتي‬

‫ذلك نجد أن يسوع كان ينادي بحلول امللكوت وأن ادراك علّم يسوع يف مثل السامري الصالح أخطر ما ميكن تعليمه‬ ‫امللكوت يعني قبول املهمشني (الحرافيش ‪ the little ones‬ليهودي يعبد يف اورشليم‪ ،‬وهو أن السامري ليس بآخر‪.‬‬ ‫وهم الطبقة األعرض من اليهود العاديني والذين كانوا يُس ّمون‬ ‫ثم جاء الوضع مع العدو الرئييس‪ :‬قيرص! يهوذا الجلييل علّم مع‬ ‫بالعربية عام ها اريتز أي شعب األرض) (مرقس ‪ )42 :9‬بل وأن‬ ‫الثوار أن دفع الجزية لقيرص (حرام) ألنه (كافر)‪ .‬العملة حينها‬ ‫كرامتهم من كرامته‪.‬‬ ‫كانت تحمل عبارة (قيرص‪ ،‬اإللهي ‪ .)Divus‬وكان عىل اليهود‬ ‫حتى عىل املستوى الديني‪ .‬فإن الخطاة امل َعيبني ‪ blemished‬أن يتعاملوا بتلك العملة التي تخالف مفهومهم عن الله‪ .‬لذلك‬ ‫(يعني متعلّم عليهم) ألنهم ليسوا أطهار‪ ،‬لهم نفس املكانة التي كان الحل هو أن يعمل الفريسيون والهريوديون كغاسيل أموال‬ ‫ملدّعي القداسة والطهارة‪ .‬فالعشارين والزواين يسبقون األطهار (هذا أدق توصيف جاء به جريد تايزن رصاحةً) بأن يكونوا‬ ‫املنتمني للطبقة اإلجتامعية العليا كالفريسيني والهريوديني من الوسيط بني اليهود واألمم‪ .‬حينها ُجرب يسوع فقال أعطوا ما‬ ‫أصحاب األمالك إىل امللكوت! (متى ‪ )31 :21‬وامللكوت‪ ،‬مرة لقيرص لقيرص وما لله لله‪ :‬لقد صار الحاجز بني اليهود وقيرص‬ ‫أخرى‪ ،‬ال يعني إطالقاً ذلك الكيان املستقبيل الذي نسحل بسبب الخالف الديني يف عرف امللكوت غري موجود‪ .‬وظيفة‬ ‫نفسنا عىل األرض من أجل دخوله بل اإلميان بأن الله ميلك عىل غسيل األموال وتطهريها عىل يد أولياء الله من الفريسيني والتي‬ ‫حياتنا هنا واآلن بحسب رجاء ارسائيل وتعليم يسوع‪ .‬لذلك تفصل اليهود عن روما غري موجودة‪ .‬ليس هناك آخر وال داعي‬ ‫فلام “الكتبة والفريسيون رأوه يأكل مع العشارين والخطاة إلكرام آخر‪ .‬يف ملكوت الله املرأة الفينيقية تنال نصيبها من‬ ‫قالوا لتالميذه ما باله يأكل ويرشب مع العشارين والخطاة‪ ”.‬نفس املائدة كاليهود‪( .‬مر ‪)29 -24 :7‬‬ ‫(مر ‪ .) 16 :2‬هذا يعني أننا أمام واقع حايل يتطلب رؤيا غري‬ ‫الخالصة‪ :‬هل هناك من آخر؟‬ ‫مستقبلية للملكوت بل حالية هنا واآلن‪ .‬كتابات الفريسيني‪ ،‬كام‬ ‫اإلجابة ببساطة شديدة‪ :‬إن كنت تؤمن بحلول امللكوت الذي‬ ‫يرينا الباحث األملاين العظيم أولريخ فيلكنز‪ ،‬توضح أن ملكوت‬ ‫أعلنه يسوع إذا ً ال‪ .‬فامللكوت الذي أعلنه يسوع ال يكرس‬ ‫الله كان بالنسبة لهم ميكن بلوغه بالحفاظ عىل التطهريات‬ ‫صناعة دين جديد وال قديم بال عضوية للبرشية كلها تحت‬ ‫والناموس‪ ،‬بعكس يسوع الذي استخدم القالب ال ‪paradigm‬‬ ‫مظلة أب واحد للبرش بأخياره وأرشاره‪ ،‬هل هناك أكرث من‬ ‫املعروف عند الفريسيني يف زمانه ليك يريهم أن الواقع مختلف‬ ‫اإلنقسام بني الخري والرش؟ ومع ذلك اآلب هو أب للجميع‪.‬‬ ‫(أما أنا فأقول لكم)‪ .‬إنه اآلن وما علينا إال إدراكه عن طريق‬ ‫بطاقة عضوية البرش يف امللكوت ال تشمل خانة ديانة أو‬ ‫الكف عن أي تقسيم واإلجتامع حول نفس املائدة‪.‬‬ ‫جنسية أو جنس‪ .‬وألنه ليس هناك آخر فليس هناك أساساً‬ ‫مفهوم املسيح عن انتهاء الزمن واإلميان بحرضة امللكوت حديث عن إكرام له بل الكل ينتمي لنفس العائلة اإلنسانية‬ ‫جعله ال يدخر جهدا ً يف املسائل الزمنية كالطاهر والنجس الواحدة‪ .‬يف مجتمع قبيل بطريريك كاليهود‪ ،‬حينام سألوا يسوع‬ ‫(مت ‪ )26 :23‬بل موقفاً حالياً يتطلب قرارا ً فاصالً‪ .‬حينام قام من هم اخوتك‪ ،‬اجاب بالكلامت التي تتصدر هذا املقال‪.‬‬ ‫يهوذا الجلييل يف حوايل العام السادس للميالد بقيادة ثورة ال تسأل ملاذا الله غري حارض بيننا بل اسأل إن كان الله حارض‬ ‫عىل الكتيبة الرومانية الحاكمة للمنطقة ضد سياسة الرضائب يف كل وقت كيف أعلنه ملكاً؟ ليس برشذمة مامرسات‬ ‫حينها ‪ ،‬كان الشعار “ال ملك إال يهوه” هو شعار حركته‪ .‬تطهريية بل مبامرسة املواطنة يف ملكوته‪ .‬مواطنة املحبة‬ ‫عىل إثرها اكتسحت القوة الرومانية مدينة الجليل أحرقتها املطلقة ومشاركة مائدة واحدة للجميع‪ .‬وألننا كمجتمع ال‬ ‫عن بكرة أبيها‪ .‬يسوع ترىب يف تلك األجواء املرعبة وتعلم من نقوم بذلك فسنظل عبيدا ً لألديان بأرسارها وطقوسها التي‬ ‫ذاكرة املنطقة أن قضية امللكوت واآلخر مرتبطتان ببعضهام‪ .‬ترتكز عىل تطلعاتنا األنانية يف التمييز “بيننا وبينهم …”‬ ‫‪8‬‬


‫يسوع واملواطنة‪:‬‬ ‫هل كان هناك َ‬ ‫“آخر” بالنسبة ليسوع؟‬

‫مينا منري‬

‫“‬

‫فجاء واحد من الكتبة و�سمعهم يتحاورون فلما ر�أى �أنه اجابهم ح�سناً �س�أله �أية و�صية هي �أول الكل؟ ف�أجابه ي�سوع �أن‬ ‫�أول كل الو�صايا هي ا�سمع يا ا�رسائيل‪.‬الرب الهنا رب واحد‪ .‬وحتب الرب الهك من كل قلبك ومن كل نف�سك ومن كل فكرك ومن‬ ‫كل قدرتك‪.‬هذه هي الو�صية الأوىل‪.‬وثانية مثلها هي حتب قريبك كنف�سك‪.‬لي�س و�صية �أخرى �أعظم من هاتني‪ .‬فقال له الكاتب‬ ‫جيداً يا معلم‪.‬باحلق قلت لأنه اهلل واحد ولي�س �آخر �سواه‪ .‬وحمبته من كل القلب ومن كل الفهم ومن كل النف�س ومن كل القدرة‬ ‫وحمبة القريب كالنف�س هي �أف�ضل من جميع املحرقات والذبائح‪ .‬فلما ر�آه ي�سوع �أنه �أجاب بعقل قال له ل�ست بعيدا عن ملكوت اهلل‪.‬‬ ‫(مرق�س ‪)34 – 28 :12‬‬ ‫ومل يج�رس �أحد بعد ذلك �أن ي�س�أله‪.‬‬

‫“‬ ‫“‬

‫“‬

‫فجاءت حينئذ اخوته و�أمه ووقفوا خارجاً وار�سلوا �إليه يدعونه‪.‬وكان اجلمع جال�ساً حوله فقالوا له هوذا �أمك واخوتك‬ ‫خارجا يطلبونك‪ .‬فاجابهم قائ ًال من �أمي واخوتي‪ .‬ثم نظر حوله �إىل اجلال�سني وقال ها �أمي واخوتي‪ .‬لأن من ي�صنع م�شيئة اهلل هو‬ ‫(مرق�س ‪)35 - 31 :3‬‬ ‫�أخي و�أختي و�أمي‪.‬‬

‫يف هذه األيام نسمع اصطالح اآلخر والتسامح‪ ،‬يكون الخالف هو‬ ‫يف مناقشة كيفية التعامل مع ذلك اآلخر‪ .‬تعبري “اآلخر” يشمل‬ ‫املخالف “لنا” يف الدين أو الطائفة أو اإلنتامء السيايس أو العرقي‪.‬‬ ‫يف املسيحية مثالً نجد آخر ال ينتمي لطائفتنا‪ ،‬فهو أرثوذكيس أو‬ ‫كاثولييك أو بروتستانتي‪ .‬البعض يستخدم اصطالحات مثل (الغري‬ ‫مسيحيني) أو (اليل برة)‪ .‬ولكن يسوع تحدى مفهوم اآلخر نفسه‬ ‫وليس كيفية معاملته‪ .‬كان اهتامم يسوع يف ظل إميانه مبلكوت‬ ‫الله وحلوله عىل األرض يف خدمته وحياته أن يهدم كل انقسام‬ ‫أو تصنيف عىل جميع املستويات‪ :‬الطبقية‪ ،‬العرقية‪ ،‬الدينية‬ ‫والسياسية‪ .‬والسبب يف ذلك هو أن ذلك امللكوت الذي حل يف‬ ‫خدمته (لو ‪ )20 :11‬انتهت معه كل الحواجز وصار اإلميان بأبوة‬ ‫الله يحرر من كل ظلم أو كراهية أو تصنيف‪.‬‬ ‫حاول يسوع أن ينادي بأن العامل امليلء بالظلم انتهى واإلميان‬ ‫مبلكوت الله ينتفي معه قبول عامل الظلم الذي صنعناه‪ .‬يف‬ ‫كل تفصيلة واجهها يسوع حاول اثبات ذلك‪ .‬فعىل الصعيد‬ ‫الطبقي‪ ،‬كان انجيل امللكوت ينادي الفقراء واملهمشني واملنتمني‬ ‫ألبسط الطبقات اإلجتامعية للجلوس عىل نفس املائدة الربية‬ ‫مع األسياد‪ .‬يسوع علّم أن ملكوت الله يُط ّوب فيه الفقراء‬ ‫والجياع الذين مألوا شوارع وأزقة أورشليم واملدن املجاورة‬ ‫بينام الكهنة ينعمون يف أموال وذهب الهيكل التي تُجمع‬ ‫‪9‬‬

‫سنوياً وتودع يف خزائنهم حتى أن ظاهرة تعدد الزوجات‬ ‫تفشت فيام بينهم دليالً عىل الوجاهة‪ .‬حينام رسد لوقا نشيد‬ ‫مريم (بالطبع هو نشيد يعكس تعليم يسوع نفسه وليس‬ ‫حدثاً تاريخياً) “ألن القدير صنع يب عظائم واسمه قدوس‪.‬‬ ‫ورحمته إىل جيل األجيال للذين يتقونه‪ .‬صنع قوة بذراعه‪.‬‬ ‫شتت املستكربين بفكر قلوبهم‪ .‬انزل األعزاء عن الكرايس‬ ‫ورفع املتضعني‪ .‬أشبع الجياع خريات ورصف األغنياء فارغني‪”.‬‬ ‫(لو ‪ )51 -49 :1‬فإننا نرى كيف أن اإلستغالل املادي الذي‬ ‫قسم الناس إىل مجموعتني كل منهام ترى األخرى (آخرا ً) ال‬ ‫مكان له يف ملكوت الله‪ .‬فقد علّم يسوع بأن الدين ‪debt‬‬ ‫يجب أن نصفحه وجعله مركز الصالة الربية‪ .‬اإلميان بحضور‬ ‫ملكوت الله إذا ً يتم ادراكه فقط حينام يكون الغني والفقري‬ ‫عىل قدم املساواة‪.‬‬ ‫عانت ارسائيل أيضاً يف القرن األول من الظلم الطبقي عىل‬ ‫أسس اجتامعية‪ .‬لقد كان هناك ارسائيليون محرومون من‬ ‫الحقوق اإلنسانية األساسية ملجرد أنهم مجهويل النسب أو‬ ‫من أصول أممية أو حتى لديهم قرابة ألناس تعاملوا مع األمم‬ ‫اجتامعياً (زواج أو نسب)‪ .‬يسوع كان ينتمي ألسوأ طبقة‬ ‫يف قاع الهرم اإلجتامعي وهو طبقة أبناء الزنا وكان اليهود‬ ‫يسخرون منه يف أكرث من مناسبة (مر ‪ 3 :6‬و يو ‪ )41 :8‬ومع‬


Life with the Savior ‫املخلص‬ ‫احلياة مع‬

P ro m i s e s of a Faithful God

The Holy I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Spirit “And Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of 101 truth.” - John 14:16

Back in 2009 I was involved in a group of friends that decided to cruelly fight sexual sin in their lives. After almost a year of restless, tiring battles, precisely on April 28, 2010, I deliberately wrote and signed the following: “I hereby confess and admit that sin has a higher power than mine, and that it would force me to do it whenever it wants to. No matter how many times I tried to defend, and no matter how strong I resisted, it will eventually get me back to it. As long as it is in the dark, as long as no one is around, I am weaker. I can’t choose the days of my freedom or the times of my slavery. I do not choose the duration of my freedom either... I might endure for a day or two, may be a week, a maximum of one month if lucky… But if it happens to be that my real true freedom – the life free from even a quick lustful look – endures more than that, I hereby confess, and sign 100% convinced and believing, that this freedom is totally from God…” Not so long before that time, my questions about the position of the Holy Spirit in my life, my irritation of never experiencing Him, and my disappointment of not even knowing how to feel His presence inside me, all reached the level of triggering my anxiety and doubt of whether in the first place I should be called a believer with such a huge part missing in my life (you know, it’s like going to a Math exam without studying what the ‘+’ sign is). So I started asking God to open my eyes on what

10


the Holy Spirit is, what He does, and how I can experience Him. And like in every prayer we ask in Jesus name, He graciously listened and added on His tasks list: “Lessons for My son about My Holy Spirit”. And the lessons began… A Follower Anyway One of the earliest lessons lies inside one of the Bible’s most treasure-like, precious chapters – Romans 7 & 8 (Precisely the passage 7:14 8:17). I have always read this part, I almost memorized it. But reading it once again after asking the Father to teach me about the Holy Spirit was very different. The passage states the following: “There is good news and bad news. The good news is: I am not that bad. When I sin, it is not me who sins. And the proof is this: Many times I want to do something but I find myself pushed to do another thing. This is perfectly wrapped up in verse 7:20, this amazing verse that has put an end to a 24-year-old feeling of guilt in my heart. It says that, since I am forced to do what I hate and find myself unhappy after doing it, therefore it is not me who did it; it is the sinful nature inside me who did it. Now comes the turn for the bad news. I have always thought that there are three entities inside me that I can follow: God, Satan and me. So sometimes I can be good and do what God wants, sometimes be naughty and do what Satan wants, but most of the time just be myself and simply do what I want. And that was the biggest lie ever. The bad news is: There is no ‘me’ inside me that I can follow. There is just a ‘me’ that belongs to either the sinful nature or the renewed one. So whenever I want or do something, it is not really I who wants or I who does; it is either what my sinful

11


Life with the Savior ‫املخلص‬ ‫احلياة مع‬

P ro m i s e s of a Faithful God

state who wants and does or what the Holy Spirit living in me wants and what He does. No other options. Yes, it means that in all cases I will be following someone else. In all cases I will not want what I want or do what I want to do but I will always want what one of these two wants and will always be doing what one of these two does.” What got me sure that there is no such thing as ‘following myself’ – beside that the Bible didn’t mention otherwise – is that, only after learning this truth, Romans 8:117 now made sense. It is a long comparison between living according to the Holy Spirit and living according to the sinful nature. In the past, when I read these verses, I usually got the impression of “Well, a nice theoretical comparison between the good and the evil”. But now I understand why I wasn’t able to relate to this passage. The reason is that I used to unconsciously classify myself into a fake third category called ‘living according to myself’. Thinking to be a part of this deceiving, fake, nonexisting category has always made me feel unaddressed by Romans 8:1-17 which only talks about the other two categories. But now I understand that there are only two categories, only two choices, and now this passage makes perfect sense. The implication of this lesson led to one of the most wonderful news I’ve ever got: it means that, in the past, whenever I really wanted to follow God, whenever I truly wished to glorify Him, whenever I sincerely wanted to praise Him without any selfish motive, and whenever I was indeed able to do what pleases Him just for His sake, it wasn’t really me who wanted or did these things; it was the Holy Spirit living inside me who wanted and it was Him who did. That was God’s lesson #1 for me about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not as complicated as I thought it would be; in fact it is as simple as this: The source of any genuine God-glorifying will or action issued from me is not me, my goodness or my gentleness but simply the Holy Spirit. The 98 Steps Living according to God’s heart is an everyday effort, a 100-step road to be walked every single day. Many times I have tried walking the whole 100 steps. I never succeeded – NEVER! But when I realized the above truths I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I learnt that all my past failing attempts were not entirely down to me being a poor performer; but the main reason was simply this: I was playing the wrong game. I did not understand how the system works. I did not know that it takes God to be able to please God. In other words, I was dropping out the most precious of facts that in the 100-step road, every single day God walks 98 steps for me, graciously leaving me only two steps to walk: the first and the last.

12


To further explain what is meant by the first and last steps of the 100-step road, here’s another example taken from our daily life (which I’ve heard in a lecture for the psychiatrist Dr. Awsam Wasfy): When I wish to have a certain program or software running on my computer, there are two important steps which I should follow. First, I need to download the software (i.e., to get the source file usually called ‘setup.exe’). This is the first step, which is never enough. If I stop at this step, I will never be able to have the program running on my machine. The second equally important step is to install or setup the software, which is usually done by double-clicking the ‘setup.exe’ file and then following the installation steps. This example showcases the beauty of equal responsibilities. Without the developer that created the software, I would have never had it running on your computer. But equally important, without me downloading and installing the software, I cannot use it on my machine. Getting to the moral of both examples above, I say: Walking the 100-step road and getting the software running on my computer correspond to the target that I daily fight to reach: living according to God’s heart. The first step in the 100-step road and downloading the software on my machine signify the daily process of asking the Holy Spirit to dwell inside me. Jesus once said something like “If you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children…” This story was told twice: once in Matthew 7:11 and was completed by “… how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” The other time in Luke 11:13, when Jesus went on “… how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” For me, this difference in telling the story suggests that, first, the Holy Spirit is the best of good gifts as well as that God is very willing to give us the Holy Spirit to the extent that He wishes this even more than we do. Back to the interpretation of the examples, the 98 steps and the ‘setup.exe’ file embody the key point here. They represent what I can never ever do, no matter how many times I try, no matter how many years I live, no matter how religious I get, and no matter how brutally I fight against sin; they represent the Holy Spirit that I have asked from the Father, which guides me to be, know, and do the very desires of the Father. Last but not least, is the 100th step: the installation of the software. They symbolize the act of activating the Holy Spirit inside me, which means to let the Holy Spirit do the work it came to do. This last step is very important because believe it or not many times I ask for the Holy Spirit but then I don’t let it do its job. Next time I will focus on what God taught – or will be teaching – me about letting the Holy Spirit do its job.

13


My Christianity ‫مسيحيتي‬

What about... Success? topics examined from a Christian point of view...

I have always struggled with some verses of the Bible: the ones that talked about denying yourself or not wanting anything in life besides God (Psalm.73). No matter how much I appreciated the presence of God in my life and His work in me, I couldn’t say any of these verses with a full heart. I told God: “I love you and I want you with all my heart but I also want other things; I want SUCCESS, I want friends, I want love from others. I don’t see how someone can say that they do not want anything or anyone but you.“ by Farah Hany Years later, I came across a psalm that set things straight for me. I am still not living it to the fullest, but at least I made my peace with the concept. It is psalm 16. David talks about choosing God as a Master and that he has no good besides Him. He calls God “my portion, my cup” and then He introduces a very interesting metaphor: “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places”. One explanation for this verse is that in old Jewish customs, when they divided land, they used some sort of ropes, throwing them on the land as landmarks to define portions. David used this example to show that God is his portion. He then adds that it is a pleasant portion. Imagine David saying this: If they are dividing everything good and valuable in this world: one gets money, one gets power, one gets love and I get God. Then. I definitely have the better end of the deal. I am the winner. God is my winning ticket! Blessed is He who has Jesus as his portion, blessed is he who chooses God. For not only will he enjoy God’s presence in His life - which is the ultimate prize- he will also have a winning ticket in every situation. He will have God as a partner in every decision, as a helper in every test. He will have grace in the eyes of the people that meet him. He will be blessed and multiplied in everything he does. In other words, Jesus will be his “atout” in life, his upper hand, his winning ticket. So yes, if I do choose Jesus, I may not be successful in the world’s terms. I may not live for success in various areas of life, but by choosing Him, I am definitely a winner.

14


‫ا ْل َ‬ ‫كِل َم ُة‬ ‫ار‬ ‫َص َ‬ ‫ً‬ ‫جسدا‬ ‫الكلمة صار‬ ‫لألب متى املسكني ‪ -‬من كتاب املسيح‪ :‬حياته‪ ،‬أعامله (‪)1998‬‬ ‫لبَ ْينَنَا‬ ‫ح َّ‬ ‫و‬ ‫ليك يأخذ ابن الله ”الكلمة” جسدا ًليظهر فيه كان البد أن يتخىل عن أمجاد الهوته التي َ َ‬

‫ج َس ًدا‬ ‫َ‬

‫ال تحتملها أعني البرش وال إدراكهم ‪ .‬فالحواس البرشية وقوة اإلدراك عند اإلنسان محصورة‬ ‫يف محيط املاديات ‪.‬لذلك فحينام كان الله يتكلم مع األنبياء كانوا يدخلون يف حالة غيبوبة‬ ‫أو إغامءة ليتخلصوا من حدود الجسديات وإدراكًا العقلية؛ ليك يتسنى لهم أن يروا ما‬ ‫هو فائق عن حواس النظر ويسمعوا ما هو فائق عن حواس السمع‪ ،‬وأن يدركوا ما هو‬ ‫أعىل من إدراكات العقل والفكر البرشي ‪ ..‬وهكذا كانوا يتقبلون إعالنات الله وتوجيهاته‬ ‫ووصاياه ليوصلوها للشعب‪ .‬ولكن الله هذه املرة أراد أن يتصل هو بالناس بنفسه‪،‬‬ ‫ويكلمهم ويفتح مداركهم‪ ،‬ويقنعهم بأمور الله أي أموره الخاصة بال واسطة؛ فكان البد أن‬ ‫يكون عىل مستوى حواسهم وإدراكام‪ ،‬وله كل ما لهم حتى ال يستغربوه أو يرتعبوا منه‪.‬‬

‫َم ْج َد ُه‬

‫َو َرَأ ْينَا‬

‫َم ْج ًَدا‬

‫لِو ِ‬ ‫حيد‬ ‫َ‬

‫ٍك َما‬

‫ن‬ ‫ِم‬ ‫َ‬ ‫ِ‬ ‫اآلب‪،‬‬

‫فكان أهم وأخطر عمل قام به “الكلمة” قبل التجسد أنه أخفى أو تخىل عن كل مظاهر��� ‫ألوهيته ‪.‬وكان هذا التخيل عن أمجاده الظاهرة التي ترعب اإلنسان هي البداية الحقيقية‬ ‫الرسمية يف رسالة الله بواسطة ”الكلمة” املتجسد أي املسيح ‪ ..‬إذ جعلته للتو قادرا ً أن يأخذ‬ ‫جسدا ً ويحل فيه بكامل كيانه وطبيعته اإللهية دون أن يكون ظاهرا ً يف يشء من الهوته‬ ‫وهكذا ظهر “الكلمة” ابن الله الروح الكامل املطلق يف جسد إنسان وصار إنساناً كامالً دون‬ ‫أن يلحظه إالَّ الذين اشرتكوا يف أرسار ظهوره بامليالد‪ .‬ودور اإلخالء هذا الذي أكمله ابن الله يف‬ ‫نفسه من وضعه اإللهي الروحاين الفائق إىل حالة قابلة للتجسد كان هو ‪ -‬كام قلنا ‪ -‬بدء عمل‬ ‫ يو ‪14 :1‬‬‫الله يف السامء يف الخفاء لخالص اإلنسان‪.‬‬ ‫ُ‬ ‫وعندنا آيتان رائدتان تحكيان عن هذا العمل اإللهي العظيم ‪ ..‬اآلية األوىل ‪ :‬تكشف عن تصميم الله اآلب عىل بدء خالص اإلنسان‬ ‫بعملية فدية عظمى يتحملها كل من الله اآلب واالبن دون تكليف اإلنسان بأي جهد‪ ،‬وفيها تظهر محبة الله للعامل كله واآلية واردة‬ ‫يف إنجيل القديس يوحنا عىل فم املسيح‪“ :‬ألنه هكذا أحب الله العامل حتى بذل ابنه الوحيد‪ ،‬ليك ال يهلك كل من يؤمن به ‪،‬بل‬ ‫تكون له الحياة األبدية‪ - ”.‬يو ‪17 - 16 :3‬‬ ‫اآلية الثانية ‪ :‬وردت بالوحي اإللهي عىل لسان بولس الرسول‪ ،‬وتكشف بوضوح وباستعالن عن عمل”الكلمة” قبل أن ينزل إىل‬ ‫العامل كيف أخىل ذاته‪“ :‬فليكن فيكم هذا الفكر الذي يف املسيح يسوع أيضاً الذي إذ كان يف صورة الله مل يحسب خلسة ان يكون‬ ‫معادال لله لكنه اخىل نفسه اخذا صورة عبد صائرا يف شبه الناس‪ .‬واذ وجد يف الهيئة كانسان وضع نفسه واطاع حتى املوت موت‬ ‫الصليب” ‪ -‬يف ‪8-5 : 2‬‬ ‫واضح هنا أن الله اآلب بذل ابنه الذي تجسد‪ ،‬بأن قدمه للموت بسبب حب الله للعامل‪ ،‬حتى يخلص ويفدي كل إنسان يقبل‬ ‫الفدية الشخصية التي ُقدمت عنه من أجل نفسه وحياته ‪ .‬أما االبن فأطاع مشيئة اآلب َوقب َِل أن يبذل نفسه عىل الصليب وميوت‬ ‫من أجل خالص العامل حبا يف اإلنسان‪ ،‬كل إنسان‪ ،‬كل من يقبل؛ إذ قدم االبن نفسه يف طاعة اآلب حتى املوت موت الصليب من‬ ‫َقبل تنفيذ املشيئة‪ ،‬الذي عىل أساسه بدأت األرض تتحرك‬ ‫أجل كل من يؤمن‪ .‬وذا انتهى دور السامء ‪ :‬اآلب واالبن؛ اآلب شاء‪ ،‬واالبن َ‬ ‫الستقبال هذا الحدث اإللهي العظيم‪.‬‬

‫وءا‬ ‫َم ْم ُل ً‬

‫نِ ْع َمةً‬ ‫ح ًقا‬ ‫َو َ‬

‫‪15‬‬


Know your ‫إلهك‬God ‫اعرف‬

Holy

Isaiah’s Vision: Isaiah 6:1-7 (NIV) 1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”  6Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

A Little Background The book of Isaiah was written by Isaiah the prophet in Jerusalem. The first set of chapters (1-39) were written in 700 B.C approximately and their main focus is calling God’s people to repent by explaining to them the nature of God. The following chapters (40-66) were written around 681 B.C and they are prophecies on God’s salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ. by Nour Magdy

A Life Changing Encounter “Holy, holy, holy!” In ancient Jewish times, when someone needed to emphasize something during writing or speaking, he used to repeat it more than once. In the entire Bible, the only aspect in the character of God that is repeated three times

16

when said is His holiness. We don’t find any passage that says God is “Love, love, love” or “Kind, kind, kind”. This is not because God’s holiness is more than His love or kindness; God has absolute equality in all the attributes in His character. The rea-


son behind this triple repetition of God’s holiness is due to it being the core of God’s utter separation, distinctiveness and elevation above all creatures in Heaven and on Earth. He is incredibly holy that, even angels, who are considered purer than men, cover their faces and legs in the light of Him sitting on His throne. God simply defines holiness itself. What Isaiah felt in this vision is hardly describable. He was, undoubtedly, in a state of absolute awe and amazement! He had never seen anything like that before in his entire life. The glorious, magnificent sight of God on His huge, shining throne in the midst of angels chanting “Holy, holy, holy!” (Isaiah 6:3) and the temple being filled with smoke, brought him down on his knees and made him shiver with his face to the ground, to say the least. He saw a side of God he had never experienced in such a vivid way. He was faced by God’s holiness and purity: “My eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5). At that point, Isaiah felt like the most defile human being on planet Earth!

in front. In the previous five chapters, Isaiah spoke to the people about God’s punishment if they did not repent. But, here, for the very first time, he speaks about his own sin, and his first words were a woe against himself: “Woe to me!” (Isaiah 6:5). He suddenly realizes that he was never excluded from the words he said to his people. His generation was unfit for God, and he was no better! It’s like a light emerging from the holiness of the Almighty Lord spotted Isaiah’s dark heart that was filled with sin and impurity. Finally, Isaiah confessed where his sin was mostly concentrated: His lips. And the angel cleansed it with a burning coal. That is what happens when we are in the presence of God: Sin is no longer a vague concept. On the contrary, the Holy Spirit directs us to specific areas in our lives where sin is mostly concentrated. This is where the cleansing fire must be applied.

God’s holiness is absolute. He is exalted above every authority, He is high above all kings and His glorious presence leaves us, all, in complete awe. I pray that we could experience our own An Intense Shock! life-changing encounters with God, in Isaiah was shocked. He was unable to which we are confronted by our own fully grasp the scene he was standing corrupt hearts in light of His holiness.

17


‫كلمته ‪Know‬‬ ‫‪His Word‬‬ ‫اعرف‬

‫قام فرعون مرتنحاً من رضبة األبكار فأراد أن يلحق بشعب الله يف بداية رحلتهم كام يطارد دوماً أوالد الله يف كل حني‬ ‫طول حياتهم عىل األرض‪ ،‬وانحرس الشعب بني فرعون والبحر‪ .‬وبدأ واضحاً أن هالكهم آت ال محالة‪ .‬وإذ باملعجزة تحدث‬ ‫وينشق البحر أمامهم ويعربون عىل األرض وسط البحر‪ ،‬األمر الذي ملا رشع فيه املرصيني غرقوا غرق فرعون وجنوده‪ .‬خرج‬ ‫الشعب حرا ً كأنهم جميعاً منتشلون من امليا ‬ه‪‪.‬‬ ‫وهنا يبدأ الجزء الثاين من الرحلة‪ ،‬وهي رحلة الرعاية والحامية‪ .‬فكام حام الرب اإلله شعبه من عدوهم فرعون وجنوده‪،‬‬ ‫حامهم أيضاً من ظروف الحياة يف الصحراء القاسية‪ .‬فكان لهم‪“ :‬خبزا ً نازالً من السامء” ليشبع جوعهم‪“( :‬أنا هو خبز‬ ‫الحياة‪ .‬اباؤكم اكلوا املن يف الربية وماتوا‪ .‬هذا هو الخبز النازل من السامء ليك ياكل منه اإلنسان وال ميوت‪ .‬أنا هو الخبز‬ ‫الحي الذي نزل من السامء‪.‬إن اكل أحد من هذا الخبز يحيا إىل األبد‪ .‬والخبز الذي أنا أعطي هو جسدي الذي أبذله من‬ ‫أجل حياة العامل” ‪ -‬يو ‪“ .. )٥١ -٤٨ :٦‬وماء ينبع من الصخرة” لريوي عطشهم‪“( ،‬وجميعهم رشبوا رشابا واحدا روحيا‪‪.‬‬ ‫‬ألنهم كانوا يرشبون من صخرة روحية تابعتهم والصخرة كانت املسيح” ‪ 1 -‬كو ‪“ .. )4:10‬وشفاءا ً من املرارة” (الذي‬ ‫بجلدته شفيتم‪١ - .‬بط ‪)٢٤ :٢‬‬ ‫ورأوا جميعاً الرب اإلله يهديهم و يقودهم بعمود الغامم نهارا ً وعمود النار ليالً إىل أن أعلن الرب أنه سيلتقي بالشعب يف‬ ‫مواجهة حقيقية ‪ ..‬وإذ أدرك الشعب خطورة هذا اللقاء وصعوبة الظروف املحيطة به‪ ،‬طلب إعفاءه من هذه املواجهة‬ ‫“فالله مل يره أحد قط‪ ..‬اإلبن الوحيد الذي يف حضن اآلب هو خرب” ‪ -‬يو ‪١٨ :١‬‬ ‫‬”‪‪‬ألنكم مل تأتوا إىل جبل ملموس مضطرم بالنار واىل ضباب وظالم وزوبعة وهتاف بوق وصوت كلامت استعفى الذين‬ ‫سمعوه من ان تزداد لهم كلمة‪ .‬ألنهم مل يحتملوا ما أمر به وإن مست الجبل بهيمة ترجم أو ترمى بسهم‪ .‬وكان املنظر‬ ‫هكذا مخيفاً حتى قال موىس أنا مرتعب ومرتعد‪ .‬بل قد أتيتم إىل جبل صهيون وإىل مدينة الله الحي أورشليم الساموية‬ ‫وإىل ربوات هم محفل مالئكة وكنيسة أبكار مكتوبني يف السموات وإىل الله ديان الجميع وإىل أرواح أبرار مكملني وإىل‬ ‫وسيط العهد الجديد يسوع وإىل دم رش يتكلم أفضل من هابيل‪ - ”.‬عربانيني ‪‪‪‬ ٢٤-١٨ :١٢‬‬ ‫صعد موىس إىل الجبل ليلتقي بالله‪ ،‬وإذ بالشعب يعود إىل عبادة آلهة مرص القدمية الوثنية ألن القضية أنهم يحتاجون إىل‬ ‫إله يحسون به وال يخافون منه‪ ،‬و لكن كيف تحل هذه املشكلة؟! بخيمة اإلجتامع التي حلت املشكلة ظاهرياً فأشارت‬ ‫إىل بيت الله وسط الناس ولكن حل املشكلة جوهرياً كان يف تجسد املسيح الذي أىت وحل بيننا “أقام وسطنا” ‪ ..‬لذا جاءت‬ ‫خيمة اإلجتامع يف ختام سفر الخروج تشري بالرمز واملثل إىل تجسد الرب يسوع وعمله الفدايئ وشخصه اإللهي العجيب‬ ‫الذي فيه حل كل ملء الالهوت جسدياً‪ ،‬فهو اإلله الذي رأيناه بعيوننا‪ ،‬الذي شاهدناه وملسته أيدينا‪ ١( .‬يوحنا ‪)١:١‬‬ ‫فرصنا دامئاً شاهدينه نخرب بخالصه العجيب‪.‬‬ ‫‪18‬‬


‫املسيح في سفر اخلروج‬ ‫سفر الخروج هو الحرية والحياة ‪ -‬اإلنطالق من أرض العبودية واملوت‬ ‫والصحراء إىل كنعان أرض الراحة وتحقيق الوعود‪ ،‬يف رحلة توازي متاماً رحلة‬ ‫االنسان املسيحي من األرض إىل السامء‪ .‬ولقد لخص العهد الجديد تدبري الفداء‬ ‫كله يف كلمة واحدة‪“ :‬خروجه” املزمع أن يتم يف أورشليم‪ ،‬فاملسيح هو قائد‬ ‫رحلة اإلنسان الروحية إىل كنعان الساموية‪.‬‬ ‫وألنها ليست رحلة عادية فالبداية فيها ليست من األرض بل من املياه‪ .‬وموىس‬ ‫هو‬”‪‪‬املنتشل من املياه” أي املولود من املاء والروح الذي رأى باإلميان لنفسه‬ ‫طريقاً مختلفاً عام كان معداً له من الراحة واملنصب‪ .‬أىب موىس أن يدعى ابناً‬ ‫البنة فرعون‪ ،‬مفضالً باألحرى أن يذل مع شعب الله‪ ..‬حاسباً عار “املسيح”‬ ‫غنى أعظم من كل خزائن مرص‪.‬‬ ‫هاين جورج‬ ‫وبداية الرحلة كانت إعالناً جديدا ً يف العليقة عن إله ظن الشعب أنه تركهم‬ ‫للذل ونسيهم ‪ ..‬وإذ به يعرف نفسه ملوىس أنه “الكائن” أي الحارض وسط شعبه‪‪‬‬ ‫منذ األزل ‪ -‬إله ابراهيم واسحق ويعقوب‪ ،‬الذي يدري متاماً ويشارك شعبه‬ ‫آالمهم ومشاكلهم‪ .‬وهكذا أىت املسيح إلينا مشاركاً الطبيعة اإلنسانية صفاتها‬ ‫وآالمها (ماعدا الخطية)‪ ،‬إذ قد شارك األوالد يف اللحم والدم اشرتك هو أيضاً‬ ‫فيهام ليك يبيد باملوت ذاك الذي له سلطان املوت‪ ،‬لعتق أولئك الذين خوفاً من‬ ‫املوت كانوا جميعاً كل حياتهم تحت العبودية‪.‬‬ ‫وألنه خالص وتحرير‪ ،‬تربز يف املشهد شخصية العدو “فرعون” املعاند‪ ،‬املتحدي‬ ‫لله‪ ،‬اآلمر باملوت‪ ،‬املشتيك عىل شعب الله ويطارد شعب الله ليك يخفي رعبه‬ ‫من هذا الشعب الذي يتكاثر وينمو برس عجيب رغم الظروف واآلالم‪ .‬يحاول‬ ‫فرعون أن يسيطر عليهم بأثقال العبودية القاسية امل ُرة وينسيهم أنهم مدعوون‬ ‫دامئاً للخروج‪ .‬وتتصاعد املواجهة بني العدو والشعب إىل أن تأيت تلك الليلة‬ ‫العجيبة ‪ -‬ليلة الفصح‪ -‬حني كان فرعون وشعبه ينوحون من ثقل موت األبكار‪.‬‬ ‫فكان الشعب اإلرسائييل تحت حامية وسرت دم خروف الفصح الذي ذبح وقت‬ ‫املساء وتم شوائه عىل عمودين متقاطعني ومل تكرس منه عظمة واحدة وأكلوه‬ ‫مع فطري مع أعشاب مرة‪ .‬وألن فصحنا ايضاً املسيح قد ذبح ألجلنا‪ ،‬فلنعيد ال‬ ‫بخمري الرش بل بفطري اإلخالص والحق‪.‬‬ ‫‪19‬‬


Know ‫كلمته‬ His Word ‫اعرف‬

Insights

His name was Me-Phi-Bo-Sheth

by Nader Osama

He was lying on his bed, feeling the same numbness in his feet he had felt for as long as he could remember. He lied there, on the same bed he had been lying on day and night. Even his daily meals were brought to him on trays! He had never placed his feet on the ground, except when he needed to make a visit to the bathroom, which was a troublesome trip that he could not have done independently. He spent most of his days wondering about his grandfather’s reign, which ended so tragically in his early infancy, to which his disabled, poor, unfortunate self was the only remnant of the royal line. Just as he was in the middle of his thoughts, he heard a knock on the door, and predicted that it would be his son, Micah- for no one often visited except him. “Who’s there?” cried the Cripple. “Allow me to enter. I have a message for you” answered a voice from behind the door. “Who’s there? Who would send a message to an impaired man like me?” “The king of Israel” His heart throbbed in surprise, confusion and anxiety. He didn’t know how to respond to that. He remained silent. The messenger entered. “Pack your bundle, Son of Jonathan, the king has summoned you to his palace!” Cinderella stories don’t capture our interest anymore. The rags-to-riches ascent up the social ladder have lost their glamour and charm; the rise from poverty to wealth, from obscurity to stardom, from illness to health, from shame to honor; we just deem them too unrealistic, dreamy and ambitious to be taken seriously today. But this particular story just stands out; it’s not our typical Cinderella story. It’s a foreshadowing of a real story that can happen to anyone, not just a lucky spiritual lottery winner among the crowds. It’s your story and mine.

20


Psalm 23: 5, 6

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overf lows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Four guards carried the Crippled in his chair to the King’s hall. They lowered it to face a royal chair garnished with diamonds and emerald. “You’re in the presence of His Majesty, David, the Anointed King of Israel” proclaimed one of the guards, and followed him a blow in the horns. The King entered through a curtain behind. He looked at the Crippled, then sat down to his chair. “Mephibosheth!” he exclaimed. The Crippled stood there, in awe, fear and trembling. “Please, my lord, forsake me. I’ve lived my whole life in seclusion to escape this fate. I know my grandfather has caused you great harm, and his disgrace and curse have been passed down to his offspring. Kindly your highness; forsake my son, and me and spare us from a retribution we cannot endure. Have mercy upon your servant, we plead”. The Crippled wept, raising his eye to meet the king’s face, and moved his palms in the air. The King, sitting on a leveled-up chair, holding a glittery rod, wearing a crimson silk robe, had a tear drop from his eye in sympathy. He made effort to contain himself, but spoke gently, “You never saw your father. When we used to play with slings and stones, he was always the stronger shooter, but I was the better aimer. We used to spend days running around in fields, wrestling or chasing wolves.” He laughed, and then smiled. “I miss those days. His company was precious. My best friend, your father was to me. Loyal and supportive, no matter how difficult your grandfather was at times.” He paused for a moment, looked upwards, then resumed, ” What do you think I can do as a return of the invaluable friendship he gave me?” The Crippled was held silent, not knowing how to answer.

21


Know ‫كلمته‬ His Word ‫اعرف‬

“Here’s what I’ll do. You come to live with me here, in my palace in Jerusalem, with your son. My servants will be under your command, so will my doctors. You’re invited to come eat at my table everyday. This is for the sake of my best friend, who was loyal to me till the end. Rejoice, you lame man, for today, the King adopted you to delight in living with him. Do you accept my invitation?” asked the King, excitedly. The Crippled sat up straight in his chair, his face froze, concealing all kinds of feelings or thoughts he might have had. His eyes narrowed in bewilderment. “What? Please, your majesty, don’t trick me. I’m a poor, unfortunate man with a broken spirit and a hopeless life. Why would you notice a dead dog like me?” The King stood up, moved forward to the Crippled in his chair, and knelt down to get his face closer to him. “Don’t be scared, for I’m an honest man. Accept my invitation. It’s for my pleasure. Your family will carry no curse from this day. Only blessings and honor and glory” To read the story, go to: 2 Samuel 9.

22

Insights


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23


God's people ‫شعب الله‬

Ruth: A Story of Redemption

Name: Ruth, means “Friend” or “Companion” Known For: David’s ancestor Her life took place between: 1011 and 931 B.C (in the period of Judges) The story is mentioned in: The Book of Ruth. (The fact that the book is named after Ruth (the Moabitess, the non-Hebrew) and not Naomi or Boaz, shows how God’s kindness extends beyond the Israelites). Reputation: A virtuous woman, Kind, Loving, Redeemed Key verses: “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” - Ruth 1:16 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” - Ruth 2:12 Lessons learnt: Genuine love at times may require uncompromising sacrifice. God’s grace extends beyond who we call “God’s people”. Kindness of Ruth to Naomi and kindness of Boaz to Ruth reflects the kindness that the LORD shows to His people. Story: A famine in Judah, foces Naomi and Elimelech, her husband, to leave Israel and move to Moab, where their sons marry two Moabite women; Ruth and Orpah. Elimelech later dies in Moab, and ten years after, the two sons also die. Left with no husband or children, Naomi decides to return to her home in Bethlehem in Judah, knowing that the famine is over. Orpah decides to stay behind, but Ruth insists to go with Naomi. In Bethlehem, Ruth goes to glean in a field that belonged to a relative of Elimelech, Boaz. Naomi knows he is an eligible kinsman-redeemer* and tells Ruth about her daring plan which Ruth agrees to follow. In a midnight encounter at the threshing floor, Ruth boldly asks Boaz, as a redeemer, to marry her. After a closer redeemer refuses to take her, Boaz decides to marry Ruth. They have a son together, Obed, who becomes the grandfather of David, making Ruth an ancestor of Christ. The story clearly shows how God’s grace and redemption extend beyond the Israelites, and those we classify as “God’s people”. It also reflects God’s kind and loving nature. Watching Him provide for two widows with little prospects for a future, we learn that He graciously cares for His people, just as He asks us to do. *A kinsman is a blood relative who can only redeem his own kind; hence Jesus Christ is the redeemer of Israel.

24


Feb 1 Rom 1 2 Rom 2 3 Rom 3 4 Rom 4 5 Rom 5 6 Rom 6 7 Rom 7 8 Rom 8 9 Rom 9 10 Rom 10 11 Rom 11 12 Rom 12 13 Hos 1-2 14 Hos 3-4 15 Hos 5-6 16 Hos 7 17 Hos 8 18 Hos 9 19 Hos 10 20 Hos 11 21 Hos 12 22 Hos 13 23 Hos 14 24 Ps 22 25 Ps 13 26 Ps 90 27 Ps 113 28 Ps 48

Mar 1 Is 1 2 Is 2 3 Is 3 4 Is 4-5 5 Is 6-7 6 Is 8 7 Is 9-10 8 Is 11 9 Is 12 10 Is 13 11 Is 14 12 Is 15-16 13 Is 17-18 14 Is 19-20 15 Is 21 16 Is 22 17 Is 23 18 Is 24 19 Is 25-26 20 Is 27 21 Is 28 22 Is 29-30 23 Is 31-32 24 Is 33-34 25 Is 35-36 26 Is 37 -38 27 Is 39-40 28 Is 41-42 29 Ps 122 30 Ps 139 31 Ps 118

Partial Bible Reading Plan Jan 1 Jn 1 2 Jn 2 3 Jn 3 4 Jn 4 5 Jn 5 6 Jn 6 7 Jn 7 8 Jn 8 9 Jn 9 10 Jn 10 11 Jn 11 12 Jn 12 13 Jn13 14 Jn 14 15 Jn 15 16 Jn 6 17 Jn 17 18 Jn 18 19 Jn 19 20 Jn 20 21 Jn 21 22 Gal 1 23 Gal 2 24 Gal 3 25 Gal 4 26 Gal 5 27 Gal 6 28 Ps 23 29 Ps 25 30 Ps 34 31 Ps 63

Abbreviations:

Apr 1 Is 43 2 Is 44 3 Is 45 4 Is 46 5 Is 47 6 Is 48 7 Is 49 8 Is 50 9 Is 51 10 Is 52 11 Is 53 12 Is 54 13 Is 55 14 Is 56 15 Is 57 16 Is 58 17 Is 59 18 Is 60 19 Is 61 20 Is 62 21 Is 63 22 Is 64 23 Is 65 24 Is 66 25 Ps 145 26 Ru 1 27 Ru 2 28 Ru 3 29 Ru 4 30 Ps 123 May 1 Acts 1 2 Acts 2 3 Acts 3 4 Acts 4 5 Acts 5 6 Acts 6 7 Acts 7 8 Acts 8 9 Acts 9 10 Acts 10 11 Acts 11 12 Acts 12 13 Acts 13 14 Acts 14 15 Acts 15 16 Acts 16 17 Acts 17 18 Acts 18 19 Acts 19 20 Acts 20 21 Acts 21 22 Acts 22 23 Acts 23 24 Acts 24 25 Acts 25 26 Acts 26 27 Acts 27 28 Acts 28 29 Ps 51 30 Ps 33 31 Ps 117

Jun 1 Jas 1 2 Jas 2 3 Jas 3 4 Jas 4 5 Jas 5 6 Eph 1 7 Eph 2 8 Eph 3 9 Eph 4 10 Eph 5 11 Eph 6 12 Heb 1 13 Heb 2 14 Heb 3 15 Heb 4 16 Heb 5 17 Heb 6 18 Heb 7 19 Heb 8 20 Heb 9 21 Heb 10 22 Heb 11 23 Heb 12 24 Heb 13 25 Phil 1 26 Phil 2 27 Phil 3 28 Phil 4 29 Ps 119 30 Ps 1

(Gn) Genesis - (Ex) Exodus - (Lv) Leviticus - (Nm) Numbers - (Dt) Deuteronomy - (Jos) Joshua (Jgs) Judges - (Ru) Ruth - (1 Sm) 1 Samuel - (2 Sm) 2 Samuel - (1 Kgs) 1 Kings (2 Kgs) 2 Kings - (1 Chr) 1 Chronicles - (2 Chr) 2 Chronicles - (Ezr) Ezra - (Neh) Nehemiah - (Est) Esther - (Jb) Job - (Ps) Psalms - (Prv) Proverbs - (Eccl) Ecclesiastes - (SS) Song of Solomon - (Is) Isaiah - (Jer) Jeremiah - (Lam) Lamentations - (Ezk) Ezekiel - (Dn) Daniel - (Hos) Hosea - (Jl) Joel - (Am) Amos - (Ob) Obadiah - (Jon) Jonah - (Mi) Micah - (Na) Nahum - (Hab) Habakkuk -

Jul 1 SS1 2 SS 2 3 SS 3 4 SS 4 5 SS 5 6 SS 6 7 SS 7 8 SS 8 9 Eccl 1 10 Eccl 2 11 Eccl 3 12 Eccl 4 13 Eccl 5 14 Eccl 6 15 Eccl 7 16 Eccl 8 17 Eccl 9 18 Eccl 10 19 Eccl 11 20 Eccl 12 21 Eccl 13 22 1 Pt 1 23 1 Pt 2 24 1 Pt 3 25 1 Pt 4 26 1 Pt 5 27 2 Pt 1 28 2 Pt 2 29 2 Pt 3 30 Ps 82 31 Ps 6

Aug 1 Dn 1 2 Dn 2 3 Dn 3 4 Dn 4 5 Dn 5 6 Dn 6 7 Dn 7 8 Dn 8 9 Dn 9 10 Dn 10 11 Dn 11 12 Dn 12 13 1 Jn 1 14 1 Jn 2 15 1 Jn 3 16 1 Jn 4 17 1 Jn 5 18 2 Jn 1 19 3 Jn 1 20 Jude 1 21 1 Tm 1 22 1 Tm 2 23 1 Tm 3 24 1 Tm 4 25 1 Tm 5 26 1 Tm 6 27 2 Tm 1 28 2 Tm 2 29 2 Tm 3 30 2 Tm 4 31 Ps 91

Sep 1 1 Sm 1 2 1 Sm 2 3 1 Sm 3 4 1 Sm 4 5 1 Sm 5 6 1 Sm 6 7 1 Sm 7 8 1 Sm 8-9 9 1 Sm 10 10 1 Sm 11 11 1 Sm 12 12 1 Sm 13 13 1 Sm 14 14 1 Sm 15 15 1 Sm 16 16 1 Sm 17 17 1 Sm 18 18 1 Sm 19 19 1 Sm 20 20 1 Sm 21 21 1 Sm 22 22 1 Sm 23 23 1 Sm 24 24 1 Sm 25 25 1 Sm 26 26 1 Sm 27 27 1 Sm 28 28 1 Sm 29 29 1 Sm 30 30 1 Sm 31

Oct 1 2 Sm 1 2 2 Sm 2 3 2 Sm 3 4 2 Sm 4 5 2 Sm 5 6 2 Sm 6 7 2 Sm 7 8 2 Sm 8 9 2 Sm 9 10 2 Sm 10 11 2 Sm 11 12 2 Sm 12 13 2 Sm 13 14 2 Sm 14 15 2 Sm 15 16 2 Sm 16 17 2 Sm 17 18 2 Sm 18 19 2 Sm 19 20 2 Sm 20 21 2 Sm 21 22 2 Sm 22 23 2 Sm 23 24 2 Sm 24 25 Col 1 26 Col 2 27 Col 3 28 Col 4 29 Ps 8 30 Ps 29 31 Ps 121

Nov 1 Rv 1 2 Rv 2 3 Rv 3 4 Rv 4 5 Rv 5 6 Rv 6 7 Rv 7 8 Rv 8 9 Rv 9 10 Rv 10 11 Rv 11 12 Rv 12 13 Rv 13 14 Rv 14 15 Rv 15 16 Rv 16 17 Rv 17 18 Rv 18 19 Rv 19 20 Rv 20 21 Rv 21 22 Rv 22 23 Hab 1 24 Hab 2 25 Hab 3 26 Zep 1 27 Zep 2 28 Zep 3 29 Hg 1 30 Hg 2

Dec 1 1 Cor 1 2 1 Cor 2 3 1 Cor 3 4 1 Cor 4 5 1 Cor 5 6 1 Cor 6 7 1 Cor 7 8 1 Cor 8 9 1 Cor 9 10 1 Cor 10 11 1 Cor 11 12 1 Cor 12 13 1 Cor 13 14 1 Cor 14 15 1 Cor 15 16 1 Cor 16 17 2 Cor 1 18 2 Cor 2 19 2 Cor 3 20 2 Cor 4 21 2 Cor 5 22 2 Cor 6 23 2 Cor 7 24 2 Cor 8 25 2 Cor 9 26 2 Cor 10 27 2 Cor 11 28 2 Cor 12 29 2 Cor 13 30 Ps 92 31 Ps 103

(Zep) Zephaniah - (Hg) Haggai - (Zec) Zechariah - (Mal) Malachi - (Mt) Matthew - (Mk) Mark (Lk) Luke - (Jn) John - (Acts) Acts - (Ro) Romans - (1 Cor) 1 Corinthians - (2 Cor) - 2 Corinthians - (Gal) Galatians - (Eph) Ephesians - (Phil) Philippians - (Col) Colossians - (1Thes) 1 Thessalonians - (2 Thes) 2 Thessalonians - (1 Tm) 1 Timothy - (2 Tm) 2 Timothy - (Ti) Titus - (Phlm) Philemon - (Heb) Hebrews - (Jas) James - (1 Pt) 1 Peter - (2 Pt) 2 Peter - (1 Jn) 1 John - (2 Jn) 2 John - (3 Jn) 3John - (Jude) Jude - (Rv) Revelation

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‫عن االنتقام‬

‫لديرتيتش بونهويفر‬ ‫ترجمة‪ :‬أنتوين عصام‬ ‫“سمعتم أنه قيل عني بعني وسن بسن‪ .‬وأما أنا فأقول لكم ال تقاوموا الرش‪ .‬بل من لطمك عىل خدك األمين فحول له‬ ‫اآلخر أيضاً‪ .‬ومن أراد أن يخاصمك وياخذ ثوبك فاترك له الرداء أيضاً‪ .‬ومن سخرك ميالً واحدا ً فاذهب معه اثنني‪ .‬من‬ ‫سألك فأعطه‪ .‬ومن أراد أن يقرتض منك فال ترده” (متى‪)42 - 38 :5‬‬ ‫املسيح يصنف مقولة “العني بالعني و السن بالسن” مع بقية الوصايا العرش عىل أنهم “رشيعة الله الحقة”‪ ،‬هذا القانون‬ ‫و بقية الرشيعة لن ت ُلغى بل سوف تحقق بالكامل‪ .‬املسيح لن يؤيد املذهب الذي يقول بأن الوصايا العرش أسمى من‬ ‫بقية العهد القديم فبالنسبة له العهد القديم هو وحدة واحدة و يرص عىل أنها سوف تتحقق بالكامل‪.‬‬ ‫يف العهد القديم هناك منظومة تقوم بحامية الحقوق من خالل املجازاة‪ .‬فكل رش البد أن يجازى و هدف املجازاة‬ ‫هو ايجاد مجتمع صالح و ايقاف و ادانة الرش من جسد شعب الله و ازالته ‪.‬املسيح أكد عىل قدرة املجازاة عىل ادانة‬ ‫الرش و التغلب عليه و عىل أن اتباعه سوف يصبحوا هم ارسائيل الحقيقية وذلك من خالل الشكل السليم للمجازاة‪.‬‬ ‫فطبقاً للمسيح الشكل السليم ملجازاة الرش هو عدم مقاومت ‬ه‪‪.‬‬ ‫قول املسيح هذا ينزع الكنيسة من محيط السياسة و القوانني‪ .‬الكنيسة ليست جامعة قومية مثل ارسائيل‪ .‬و لكن‬ ‫جامعة املؤمنني من دون رباطات قومية أو سياسية‪ .‬فارسائيل القدمية كانت االثنني‪ :‬شعب الله املختار و جامعة قومية‬ ‫و لذا فقد كانوا يواجهون القوة بالقوة‪ .‬ولكن مع الكنيسة فاألمر مختلف فلقد تم هجر السياسة و القومية و لذا أصبح‬ ‫من الواجب احتامل العدوان بصرب‪ .‬ففيام عدا ذلك سوف يرتاكم الرش فوق بعضه و فقط من خالل ذلك ميكن لجامعة‬ ‫الله أن تنشاء و تنمو‪.‬‬ ‫الطريقة املثىل لهزمية الرش هي أن أدع الرش يصل اىل طريق مسدود و ذلك عندما ال يجد املقاومة التي يتوقعها‪.���‬ ‫املقاومة ببساطة تخلق رشا ً أكرث و تضيف املزيد من الوقود للنريان‪ .‬و لكن عندما ال يقابل الرش مقاومة و لكن فقط‬ ‫تحمل صبور فان شوكته تنكرس و يف النهاية يقابل خصم أقوى منه‪ .‬هذا يحدث عند هجر املقاومة بالكامل عندها ال‬ ‫ميكن للرش ايجاد هدفه او املزيد من الرش‪.‬‬ ‫ً‬ ‫نحن ال نهتم بالرش يف املطلق بل باالنسان الرشير‪ .‬املسيح يسمي الرشير رشيرا برصاحة‪ .‬ان اعتدى عيل أحدهم فأنا‬ ‫ال اتغاىض او أبرر االعتداء‪ .‬احتامل الرش ال يعني االعرتاف بحقوقه‪ .‬هذه عاطفية بحتة وال عالقة للمسيح بها‪ .‬االعتداء‬ ‫املشني وفعل العنف واالستغالل ال يزالوا أفعال رشيرة‪ .‬يجب عىل املسيحي أن يدرك هذا ويشهد له مثلام فعل املسيح‪،‬‬ ‫فقط ألن هذه هي الطريقة الوحيدة ملالقاة و مواجهة الرش‪ .‬مجرد حقيقة أن الرش الذي القاه هذا االنسان ليس له‬ ‫مربر‪ ،‬تجعل من الواجب عدم مقاومته بل يهزمه من خالل احتامل الشخص الرشير‪ .‬فاملعاناة بصرب وإرادة أقوى من‬ ‫الرش‪ ،‬بل وتحكم عليه باملوت‪.‬‬ ‫إن آالم املسيح هي انتصار املحبة اإللهية عىل قوى الرش‪ .‬إن املسيح يدعو أتباعه لحمل الصليب معه‪ .‬كيف نقنع العامل‬ ‫بحمل الصليب ان كنا نتهرب من حمل صليبنا الخاص؟ الصليب هو القوة الوحيدة يف العامل التي تثبت أن املحبة التي‬ ‫تعاين قادرة عىل إبادة الرش‪ .‬عندما دعى املسيح التالميذ مل مينحهم سوى مشاركته يف حمل الصليب‪ .‬و هم يدعون‬ ‫مباركني بسبب مشاركتهم يف حمل الصليب التي رآها الجميع‪.‬‬


Words of‫حكمة‬ Wisdom ‫كلمات‬

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV) 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” 28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36 Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 30

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

37

28

Painting by Rembrant Harmensz, 1633

Parables of Jesus; the Good Samaritan


Grace Expressed!

In the self ish world we live in, people are concerned with their own personal matters. We think of ways to expand our pleasure, indulge ourselves and live the comfortable lives we’ve always wanted to live. Consequently, anyone who interrupts our comfortable living becomes our enemy, and this is when we speak up and f ight for ourselves, rashly classifying a person as being “bad” or “wrong”. You may disagree with me or think this is an extreme, but generally, we humans tend to have less tolerance to accept people who hurt us or, simply, make mistakes that affect us directly (or indirectly)- as if we, ourselves, don’t make mistakes of our own. As believers and children of God, we have received grace to conf idently call ourselves Christians. It was totally free of charge and Jesus paid all the expenses. The least we can do to show we’ve received this wonderful gift is to treat others in the same gracious way we, ourselves, have been treated. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8,9) by Cindy Emad

Crucial Point There is a crucial point that needs to be comprehended since it has been misunderstood over the years and misinterpreted by many: Grace is not weakness. Let me say it again: Grace is not weakness. In fact, it is strength in its purest form. We read passages like “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your

cloak as well.” And another passage like “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And a huge question mark rises and we come up with the false conclusion that “God wants us to be weak”. We fail to understand why we’ve been asked these things. We simply look at the passage and at the condition from where it would affect us rather than how it would affect the person we’re

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Words of‫حكمة‬ Wisdom ‫كلمات‬ dealing with. We need to dig deeper and ask ourselves “what is it that I’m really concerned with? Is it myself that I pity or do I really want to use every situation, even those that personally offend me, to reflect Jesus through my actions that others may see Him? What if that means that I have to leave my comfort zone?” Do not forget, that acting in such an unexpected way causes the other person to wonder why in the world you acted this way. Jesus was always very gracious with the people He met; yet He had a very strong character and people respected Him, including those who had authority. Little Acts of Grace Grace can be expressed in various ways. It is not merely about forgiving others. And it does not have to be huge. The American lexicographer, Noah Webster, defined “gracious” as favorable; kind; benevolent; merciful; disposed to forgive offenses and impart unmerited blessings. And it really is that. Grace is completely about others: doing little things to please others, doing things that do not have to be done but that will truly bring happiness to another. It starts with little words of kindness and encouragement to offering help and doing favors happily and gener-

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ously. It includes listening to whom we classify as “boring people” who just need someone to talk to. Grace is having the sensitivity of Jesus’ heart and His compassion. Grace does not humiliate others or embarrass them. It does, however, choose to say the words carefully and with appropriation. Grace yearns to make people feel important, just like Jesus values us and listens to our prayers with our inarticulate, obscure words. It tolerates the wrongs of others, remembering, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Being gracious should come out of us naturally as an automatic result of our walk with Christ. Our main purpose should be His glory, even if that will cost us our “dignity” and our letting go of our ego, then that’s what it will take. To be gracious to others, a very important step must be done: we must break our pride. We will not be able to give graciously and generously if we think we are indispensable and the most important people in the world. Let us go back to the grace God gave us through the cross and the resurrection that we may be humbled, once again, and that we may realize where our value truly lies. Then, and only then, will we be able to be gracious to others and genuinely seek their interest.


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Beautiful Creation ‫خليقة جميلة‬

Facts You 15 Should Know About Your Brain!

• Your brain weighs about 1.3 kilograms and consists of 40% grey matter (responsible for muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, and speech) and 60% white matter (the tissue through which messages pass between different areas of the grey matter). •You were born with about 100 billion nerve cells in your brain (equal to the number of stars in our galaxy)...

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By the age of three, each brain cell is connected to around 10,000 other cells, which equals around 1000 trillion connections, about twice as many as adults have. At around 11 years, the brain begins to cut back unused connections. Connections that are used repeatedly in the early years become permanent; those that are not are eliminated. Hence, the saying: “use it or lose it.”


• While an elephant’s brain is physically larger than your brain, your brain represents 2% of your total body weight (compared to 0.15% of an elephant’s brain), meaning humans have the largest brain to body size. • A stimulating environment can affect the child’s ability to learn by 25%. • The capacity for emotions as joy, fear, and shyness are already developed at birth. They grow, however, depending on the specific type of nurturing the child receives. • Children who learn two languages before the age of five alter the brain structure and have a much denser grey matter as adults. • Information travels at different speeds that vary from 0.5 meters/ sec to 120 meters/sec. • While awake, your brain generates up to 25 watts of power, which is

Psalm 139:13

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

enough energy to power a light bulb. • A yawn sends more oxygen to the brain, therefore working to wake it up. • A small area in your brain called the amygdala is responsible for your ability to read someone else’s face, knowing how they are feeling, without any words. • Your brain uses 20% of the total oxygen in your body and 20% of the blood circulating in your body. • 75% of your whole brain is water. • Your brain contains around 400 miles of blood vessels. • Differences in brain weight and size do not equal differences in mental ability. • Your brain also regulates your heartbeat, monitors oxygen levels, detects hunger and thirst, and controls hundreds of other activities throughout your body.

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Keeping Company ‫العالقة مع الله‬

The Struggle for

Intimacy

For the majority of genuine readers to whom God is more than a mediocre, distant person, but up-close and personal, extending beyond the average set on a journey they don’t understand the magnitude of it, but have been captivated by the God of the Universe. To those who have been wounded with the wound of love for the triune God, and feel that they have been so consumed with longing that they can’t go back in the journey. To those of us who are simply in love with God but don’t know what intimacy is about. What is it to be in a relationship with “I AM”? Why is the struggle so intense? How does it really work when all that’s in me screams with longing, yet is faced with one discouragement after another, of a relationship that doesn’t seem to happen? To those of us who feel this way: This article is for you, for us. by Marian Rizkalla By no means do I propose a solution, for I, myself, am a struggler. Though this does not qualify me to propose any remedies, it qualifies me to at least navigate through a topic I’m well acquainted with. I know its aches, its long hours of crying out in the night, its desperation at times and, at other times, the seemingly loss of interest (which, in itself, is another way of expressing the urgency inside our hearts). It is haunted by memories of glorious encounters in the past, when God seemed so near that every

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other attraction faded away. And, at times, when divine visitations overwhelmed our lives, we couldn’t help but become God-chasers, sick with love-- just like the bride in the Song of Solomon who chases her beloved in her sleepless night. What intensifies the struggle is to look around and find those people who seem to have landed from outer space, always spiritually “high”, always stable, and don’t seem to have any problem whatsoever. They preach and talk about a distant reality that leaves us even more perplexed about our own pitiful situation with the God we love. Merciful, Gracious and Longsuffering Grace has empowered me to walk this journey one year after the other. And, while I still face hard-hitting struggles and still get provoked by those who look so stable and problem-free, I have come to know a God who sees things differently: A God who appreciates weakness and is abound in mercy! I remember watching a psychiatrist on a Christian TV show explaining how the struggles we have with our relationships with other humans are those we have with God… Thinking about what he said, I arrived to the realization that, while it is true that the struggles are the same: The same boredom, the same sins, the same sense of inferiority, rejection, and inability to continue consistently in the relationship. Yet, the major difference between my

relationship with another human and my relationship with God is basically the member at the other side of the relationship is not the same. He is not man, He is God! Because He is God, we are meant to play the game according to His rules, not ours. The one thing that can truly sustain us, as we come out of one struggle only to find ourselves in a new one, is to know and understand how God values our relationship with Him even in its downs and lows. If our relationship is with God, then His opinion is the one that really matters even more than our own.  If we are to play according to His rules, then what really is His opinion? To many of us, the thought of this idea alone is frightening because we tend to picture God through the eyes of a distant father, a punishing mother or a critical teacher. We picture God as an apathetic, cruel being with a rod in His hand ready to smack us at any minute. When Moses asked God to show him His glory, He passed before him and said “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Exodus 34:6) Why would a God so holy, so great, choose to talk about these attributes as His glory? If any of us were God we would probably talk about our power, our holiness or our greatness, but God chooses to tell weak and broken humans that this is who He is; this is His glory. It is not in the number of angels that bow before Him nor are

35


Keeping Company ‫العالقة مع الله‬ in His omniscience, but in how He deals with the human race. He is merciful, compassionate and slow to anger! When the God whose name is Love, chooses to partner with humans, these are the rules He chooses to govern the game: His mercy, His graciousness, His longsuffering.

fishing. If this is what Jesus did with Peter whom had lived with for three years, face-to-face and Peter still denied Him, then He is probably doing the same with you: Interceding for you not to give up despite any failures. More importantly, He sees in you one that can strengthen others around you who stumble on the journey! Power Made Perfect While we are so focused on those times God really knows our frame even more we fail to be intimate, God looks at those than we do. He seems to be totally time we do! Because He is love and alright with the fact that we are dust. As His beloved Son has paid it all on the a matter of fact, He chose to have a rela- cross, He doesn’t look at the times we tionship with dust-made beings and His fall but at the times we rise. He is proud delight is with them (Proverbs 8:31). The of those times we stayed in the room fact that God cannot be fooled or lied to, and pressed through, even though the is meant to encourage us, not frighten us circumstances were deadly. He sees the because He really sees us inside out. He cry in our hearts and honors them even really knows our weaknesses, our inner before they are complete and mature. He darkness, and He is not shocked even sees our longing to be with Him and it when we fail Him because He knows pleases Him, even when we still fail to sit that we really are dust. He chooses before Him. He is the One who will not mercy and compassion as the rules of break a bruised reed nor quench a dimly the game and not perfect performburning wick. (Isaiah 42:3) ance! Luke 22: 31-32 is remarkable in portraying how the God of the universe A Story Like No Other deals with us. Jesus was hours away from What about the non-strugglers? I must the cross and knew that Peter was about ask first, why have we turned our spiritto deny him. Yet He told him, “I’ve prayed ual journey into a competition? Yes, the for you that your faith would not fail, and Bible speaks of a race set before us but when you have returned back, strengthen we are to run the race together hand your brothers.” It really is remarkable that in hand, not in competition with one Jesus didn’t disqualify him. As a matter another. I wish I could lay aside all my inof fact, He later met him and restored securities and vulnerabilities and be like his life after Peter quit and went back to those “strong” believers. But, this I know:

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God doesn’t despise a weak heart. I equally know that those weaknesses are opportunities for encounters. The Bible, in the amazing chapter about the heroes of faith, in Hebrews 12, talks about “those who, by faith, were strengthened from weakness.”  More importantly, the chapter talks about men and women of faith, each facing different struggles and different weaknesses with varying degrees. God doesn’t seem to compare them with one another. On the contrary, He acknowledges them all as men and women of faith. For that same reason, we are not meant to belittle our lives by comparing it to other people, for one simple reason: they are not us! Their history is not our own. Their personality make-up is not the same, and the purposes God has for their lives is not the same as ours. While I don’t know what makes some so stable in their walk, I know that God wants me to be me and not someone else. He wants me as I am; with the same struggles, failures and weaknesses. This is what simply makes a story with God. I don’t know a 3-step program that makes intimacy happen. But I know of a God whose love casts out fear. This includes fear of not being able to love Him back, fear of present and future failures, and fear of struggling with intimacy. I know that He who is called “Love,” sees my struggle for intimacy as steps into intimacy with Him.

“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” - 1 John 4: 17,18 37


Keeping Company ‫العالقة مع الله‬

The Art of Shutting

200 Airports

by Samer Zakhary

A girl readily packed her bags. Ready for the bus that would take her back to Reykjavick, the capital of Iceland, to catch the plane to her dear Egypt overnight, so that she could attend her finals at university. 52 to be exact… 52 items in her list had to be packed into a bag. In a mini-van between the streets of the countryside, Leena flipped through her phone inbox to reread an SMS that kept her awake all night. It was that boy from college who used to send her sweet messages until she got caught up, asking her to attend his engagement ceremony in 3 days. “How immature! I should’ve never believed that senseless dork. Just look at that mountain! God doesn’t care about how this hurts me just as He doesn’t care about that mountain over there”, she murmured to a friend as she stood looking at a mountain at a distance with tears in her eyes. “You’re a fake!” She screamed as she looked up to the sky, “that’s as far as you’ll ever go!” “My dear, for the love of God, you NEED to stop.” her friend started. A blast… At least 300 tons of molten rock thrown into the sky, forming a magnificent ray of crimson red surrounded by endless whiteness, in a way that nature had never seen before. Fast plumes of ash were thrown out and instantly formed a black cloud amidst the cotton-white clouds. The red ray of fire reached higher to unprecedented heights above the blackness. She stopped. Blue streaks of lightning started to appear under the ashes، creating a blue ring of electricity around the lava. Like a raging lion، a roar was heard. It shook the ground and everyone on it. Thick lightning hitting from nowhere, began circling the volcano in a series of hits forming a thick belt of dark blue in sparks of millions of volts that came out of nothing but ashes. A hit. Another hit. A roaring sound that shook her to her core. She takes out her ringing cell phone and presses the green button and puts it to her ear without a word. “Ma’am, your flight is cancelled until further notice, we are told of dangerous ashes in Iceland’s airspace, please keep your cell with you for any further updates… Ma’am can you hear me?” She hesitated: “I can see Him.” “Who?” asked a puzzled airport employee. “God. He’s proving that I’m special.”

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God stopped the Earth once, so Joshua could finish a war. In the same way, God reaches out to His creation in unimaginable ways to send us the simplest of messages. Just stop and see how He reaches YOU.


I am a 24 year-old girl who knew about Jesus when I was 17, but I really got to know and follow Him a year ago. I am writing this to believers who cannot fully comprehend the beauty of living with Jesus for so long. I am also writing this for non-believers who do not know what they are missing out on. I am the type of girl who thinks too much and never takes anyone’s word without looking for proof. So when it came to my eternal life, I had to do my research.  I grew up to realize that the God my family serves is an autocratic, irrational God who, most probably, does not know who I am and could not care less about my problems. I was 16 by the time I started travelling on my own. I met some interesting people who introduced me to different faiths. I decided to keep my mind open and started to study different religious aspects. I studied some of the Bible; I never read the entire book, but I became interested in the overall story and the consistency of the narrative. Throughout these long desperate years of searching for the truth, I have always believed that there is a higher authority. Again, I am a rational person, so believing in something that I cannot see or touch is not something I would normally do. But because I am a rational person, I had to believe in a higher power. I had to believe in a Creator of my complex body and of a magnificent planet. I had to believe in the cause of everything; this world had to start somewhere! Even the Big Bang had to be caused by something! So I did believe in a god. But which god to believe in, was the reason for my research.

My

I kind of had an idea about the God I wanted to worship, just like the man I want to marry. I wanted a God who knows me by heart and cares for me. I wanted a friendly and forgiving God. But, above all, I wanted an understanding God.  In my head, I said, “Okay, so I believe that there is a God because He created me so wonderfully and there is no way my ancestor was a fish. But this God who created me must know me inside out, must understand my needs, and must care for me so much. Because, if I am His most successful project, and it seems like everything around me is created for my pleasure, I have to be the most important creation He has ever made.”  So, when I saw that no god in any form of any religion is more understanding than the One I am enjoying right now, I realized that this was exactly the proof I needed. Do you know how hard it is to worship someone knowing he doesn’t even hear you? Or to have hope in a god that seems like he doesn’t like you or, even, created you by mistake? When I  read about Jesus, His life on earth, the temptations He faced, and how He had gone through a lot because He cared  (no, because He cares), it was something else! It was words of love; His holiness combined with His modesty reflected in His love to… me. “It’s really hard to find your prince charming,” said a friend of mine, “You have to evaluate and observe his actions and reactions, his family and background, his faith and habits. But when you find a God as charming as mine, you won’t have a hard time comparing Him to any other. You’ll fall in love head first and you’ll regret every moment you didn’t share with Him.” My friend said this, not knowing that I needed this type of relationship with my Creator more than anything else at the time. Throughout the years I spent searching, I sometimes used to pray. Not to a specific god, or even a form of a certain creature, but I just prayed to anything that’s out there that might hear me. I told you, I believed in higher powers, I just didn’t know who that Power was. Sometimes I said stuff like, “If you can hear me, please give me a sign. I am trying to find you. I really need to find you.”  But nothing happened for a long while.

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Keeping Company ‫العالقة مع الله‬

Testimony

However, that night, I talked to my friend. I wanted to pray to Jesus. I didn’t know how or what to say. I tried standing up, and kneeling down. I didn’t know if He’ll judge me for praying the wrong way, or might not even listen to me if I didn’t say the right words. So I called my friend again and asked her to teach me how to pray. She told me to just say what’s on my mind and what’s in my heart, believing that there is Someone out there listening and wanting to help me. I still didn’t get what she meant by saying “what’s on your mind”. I repeated, “Should I stand? Should I call him, ‘Jesus,’‘Holy Spirit’ or ‘God’? “She said, “He doesn’t care, just be sincere,” And she prayed as a demo for me. I learned two things about Jesus that night. 1) He is not insecure; He is a real God who doesn’t need all the propaganda, He knows His worth. 2) He is a good God, not an evil God, not a demanding God. He is a good God who wants good stuff to happen to me and who will help me lead a happy life.

The reason why I wanted to pray was, first, to introduce myself to God. I knew He had known me already but I wanted to let Him know that I accept being under His command. Secondly, I wanted to pray so I could experience the act of praying to a real, living God. I knew about Jesus before, I studied him. My friends spoke about His loving and beautiful nature but I was eager to know Him in person. I prayed just like my friend told me to. I read the Bible and kept praying. Two months passed. I didn’t stop praying but I felt my faith starting to fade. I liked that God a lot; His description matched everything I wanted. But I thought, “ Maybe He doesn’t want me. Maybe I was away for too long that it might be too late for me.” I felt like that because I kept praying and praying for that good feeling of being loved and taken care of but found nothing. There was an absolute silence. I was angry at my friend, and at that God. However, to my surprise, that very day that I had a serious talk with my friend about how her God is bad and picky, He revealed Himself to me. No visions, no fire, no angles… but peace. I know many of you would understand what I am talking about. I had no peace in me. I was scared of tomorrow. I was scared of hell. I was scared of my sins. I was scared of my past. I was scared all the time! But Jesus’ sign to me was peace; He brought me great inner peace that I have never experienced in my life.  From that day on, He revealed to me a lot about Himself. The more I open up my heart to Him, the more He opens His to me. The more I let Him in, the more He blesses me. The more I trust His ways the more He surprises me with indescribable gifts. It started with baby steps. It started with shallow dates. But it ended up with a great love story that I can’t stop talking about. I know some of what I am saying might not seem rational to you if you have never experienced this type of relationship. But, as a rational thinker, I am telling you, if you took this leap of faith and trusted that He will catch you, you will gain a peaceful life here and a great after life, as He promises. If you know you don’t want to go to hell but you’re not 100% sure you are going to heaven, this is sufficient evidence that you are in need of a change. I promise you, those who search for a real living God always find Him. He wants you more than you want Him and He will reveal Himself to you only when you are willing and ready to surrender everything to Him. Life with Jesus is all about adjusting your life to meet His standards, not by your power (because you can’t anyway) but by His. You will be faced with a crisis of belief when He assigns you with a godly-sized task. You will have to stay strong because it is not you who will do the work, it is God through you.  I can’t emphasize enough how much I regret all these years I spent away from Him. My life now is meaningful; it makes sense. This open door policy we have, the easy and direct interaction with our Creator, is amazing! However, I never said my life became easier; it is way harder! I have to face my parents every day and tell them I will never be the same. I left my old friends and you don’t want to know what they are saying about me behind my back or, sometimes, in my face. Even if I didn’t have all the pressure of changing my “religion”, I still struggle with Jesus’ high standards. He wants me to never lie, or swear. He wants me to love everyone, even those who insult me. He is asking a lot from me, but He is there with me. He is making out of me something much bigger than I could have ever imagined. I am His masterpiece and He is literally shaping me like a piece of clay. And I just can’t be any happier!

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Unknow If I would unknow you I would unlive a life If I would unmeet you I would un-mend a fight If I would un-see you I would un-find a hope If I would unsound you I would ungive a mind If I would un-tie you I would unbreath eternity If I would un-answer you I would miss out a smile If I would un-tear you I would un-find my breath If I would undig you I would unbe myself If I would untouch you I would unsense my skin If I would unsmile you I would ungain a charm If I would unrisk you I would unhave it all If I would unfail you I would unloose it all If I would unlong you I would unfeel no more Unloose me - and fuse me unleave me - and cleave me Your name is LOVE, you are love. You make love and all that’s in it. In you is love and without you there is no love. There is color with love and no color without it. Unlove is one thing that will always unknown you. Unknown you will remain to the un of you. LOVE consume. Consume the all in all. Consume the un and in. Become the love of all. You make all flourish and bring all truth. What is truth without you and what will stand against you. Others wonder would you remain when all else prevail, would you untear the heart , would you make it your home? - an unknown to a known

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. Psalm 63:1-3

by Nadine Nashed

ً ‫اسقاطا لضعفي‬ ‫إلهي ليس‬ ‫ليديا عادل‬

‫ إن كا�� هذا فقط بسبب أنني مل أبحث يوماً عن‬،‫لن أقول أن إلهي حرية‬ !‫الحرية أو أين فشلت يف أن أجدها‬ ‫ إن كان هذا فقط بسبب أين عجزت عن أن أجد من‬،‫لن أقول أن إلهي حب‬ !‫يحبني‬ ‫ إن كان هذا فقط ألين كنت‬،‫لن أقول أن إلهي ح ّنان ورحوم ومحب للخطاة‬ ‫ أو ألنه كان هناك من‬،‫بحاجة إىل من يرحمني ومل أجد من يتفهم ضعفايت‬ !‫يحتاج إىل الرأفة وأنا مل أُقدم له سوى الرفض‬ ‫ فقط ألين مل أستطع‬،‫لن أقول أن الهي جميل واألبرع جامالً من كل بني البرش‬ !‫أن أدرب عيني عىل رؤية حسنات البرش حويل‬ ‫ فقط ألين فشلت‬،‫لن أقول أن الهي سوف يسكنني سامءا ً كل شيئ فيها جديد‬ !‫يف أن أستشعر خلقة جديدة تولد كل لحيظة يف هذا الزمن الحارض‬ ،‫فإلهي ليس إسقاطاً لضعفي وفشيل‬ ‫إلهي يريدين أن أحيا وأن أخترب الحياة التي أعطاين إياها‬ ‫إلهي يقبل أن أجرب وأن أفشل وأن أعيد التجربة ألنجح‬ ‫إلهي يقبل أن أسقط وأن أقوم‬ ‫وهو لن يكون داخيل حرية ومحبة ورحمة وجامل وتجديد حقيقي ما مل‬ ،‫أخترب كل هذا بحق وبصدق يف هذه الحياة‬ ‫واإلختبار يعني إمكانية النجاح وأيضاً إمكانية الفشل‬ ‫ بل من أجل التمرن والتقدم‬،‫فاإلختبار ال يوضع من أجل النجاح والسقوط‬ ‫لألحسن واألفضل‬ ‫من أجل أن ينمو الثمر ويزداد من ثالثني إىل ستني وإىل مائة‬ ‫ أنا هنا من أجل أن أمترن ليك أستطيع يوماً أن أصل ألن‬.. ‫أنا هنا ألحيا وألخترب‬ ‫ أُقدم َلك سيدي مشورة حريتي‬:‫أقول لله بأمانة‬

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Book Review

Redeeming Love is a historical, romance novel set in the 1850s in California. It is the first novel Francine Rivers wrote after her conversion to Christianity, and considers it to be her statement of faith. Based on the book of Hosea, this skillfully written novel is about a girl, Angel, who due to a series of illfated events, ends up in a brothel and works as a prostitute. One day, however, Michael Hosea, a man of God, sees her and a voice within him tells him that she is the one God intends for him to marry. Being a practically enslaved, beautiful girl, one would have thought that Angel would embrace this opportunity with arms wide open. To the audience’s surprise though, Angel fails to see how she could trust yet another man! After all, he was not the first man who had asked to marry her. All Michael had ever wanted to do was to offer her his genuine love, but she just wouldn’t let him. Despite her rejection, Michael follows his heart and continues pursuing her with such zeal, tearing down the lies she’s been told and breaking down all the walls that she had built over the years. If you want to lose yourself in an epic love story, this is the book for you. Michael’s love for Angel is so strong and does not relent, even when she doesn’t deserve it. Prepare yourself to finally grasp God’s undying, unwavering and relentless love. This novel portrays His love in a way that leaves you humble, awestruck and filled with gratitude that you are loved this much by a God that good. by Mireille Louis

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... because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14


Issue #3