‘Works’ shaming

... Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers - Orthodox Church in America
Christ surrounded by Archangel Michael and other bodiless powers of heaven.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, Matt 6:3, NIV

Works, like many biblical concepts, can be quite a controversial subject. Some people live their whole live sin an attitude of continual piety. Being so very careful so as not to cause others to sin, they even consider dressing plain to be an active part of their faith,or ‘work’. Giving to the needy is a work and one that is emphasized during the Nativity Fast which is currently being observed by those of the Orthodox faith.

Other people refuse the idea of Christians needing to do any sort of ‘work’ as part of their salvation beyond receiving, Jesus as their savior. Some of these same people will go so far as to sin thinking that deliberate sin also helps the grace of God to abound in their life. this is rank heresy but not what this post is about today.

Today, I’m writing about those people who post their ‘good deeds’ on Facebook and other forms of social media and then chastise their readers for not being as wonderfully kind heart and generous as they and if we were we’d all get along so much better so why can’t you be more like me… huh??? And breath.

If you are doing a good work and then talking about that good work in order to brag about yourself, or to shame other people, you are completely missing the point about ‘works’. Works, much like forgiveness, is about your heart. Not your neighbor’s heart. The good works you do are completely destroyed when you use your experiences to beat other people over the head about what you do vs. what they do, or do not do.

Acts 5:12-16

12The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people, and with one accord the believers gathered together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13Although the people regarded them highly, no one else dared to join them. 14Yet more and more believers were brought to the Lord—large numbers of both men and women. 15As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16Crowds also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and all of them were healed.

Oh, to have a shadow that heals! It would be far better for us to pray for gifts (the gift of healing is a work) of which we are not aware so that we cannot boast, than it is to do good works and boast of them to others, and still worse yet, use those gifts/works to shame other people.

I pray this message sinks deep into your hearts. Shaming people is bad enough but to do so using biblical doctrine on the concept of works is just plain slimy.

Here are 100 bible verses about, ‘works’. Go… read… be enlightened.

Lord have mercy.

What I’m reading this month

Orthodoxy is a wild journey with a beautiful destination; Eternity in the Presence of God.

For someone who did not grow up in the Orthodox Church, I have a steep learning curve. As I mentioned before HERE, I did not grow up venerating icons and Mary was especially taboo. I’ve been listening to podcasts about, Mary on the Ancient Faith website and it’s helping quite a bit. I’ve also requested several books from my local library and from the Inter Library Loan system or, ILL. One that came in recently is: The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God. Another book I checked out from my local library is; Sacred Doorways: A Beginner’s Guide to icons, and lastly; Thirty Steps to heaven.

I also have coming a couple of books about the Orthodox teachings on psychology.

If you were not aware of it, there is a system for checking out books from other libraries around the US if your library doe snot carry a particular title. Your library may or may not have it, you’ll need to ask them about the ILL system.

It’s always a good idea to do your own research whenever possible and within reason. What’s ‘within reason’ mean? There will be times when you’ve reached the end of the research road. When that happens, one must trust in the knowledge of those who have gone on before down the same road. Western minds believe in reinventing something when they feel it no longer applies to them or their lifestyle choices. Heresy in the church comes form within the church and not from outside the church. It comes when we try to convince ourselves we can conform God to our will and not ourselves to His. When reading and researching the ancient church and church fathers, try not to talk yourself out of the wonderment of God. Be childlike. Be in awe of the One who created you.

Lord have mercy.

The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Divine Mercy Icon | reinkat
Jesus ‘Divine Mercy’ icon.

Jesus said; ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through ME!’ (Emphasis mine.

He said this in response to the many, false, eastern religions… the PAGAN religions that had infiltrated His culture and community much as they have today. I’m bringing this up today because you don’t have to look at pagan religions to be deceived these days. You can get that sitting right in church or going to Christian book stores who carry the latest ‘trendy’ book without using discernment (asking God) if they should put it on their shelves to sell). One such trendy book that was super popular a few years ago was, ‘The Shack’. Unfortunately this heretical book has been made into a heretical movie. Shake my head.

I’d say, ‘prayerfully consult the Lord on whether or not you should see it’ but people say God tells them to do all kinds of crazy things all the time (Because they don’t consult the Lord. They talk themselves into doing whatever they want to do.) so I’m just going to say, ‘DON’T go see this movie!’. It’s messed up and you could very well walk out of the theater messed up and in need of deliverance. Seriously. Don’t waste your money on this movie. Buy a bible instead and start attending your local, Orthodox Church. This will help you to build a relationship with God. In developing a personal relationship with God, you will see His true nature instead of someone misleading you about His identity and character. Can you imagine dating your spouse and all you get to aid you in making your decision pf whether or not to marry that person was what other people told you about them? No! So why do this with these kinds of books and movies?

That’s all for now. God bless.

What happened last night

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Angels | TOM PERNA

The last couple of weeks have been rough. A dear family member was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. I have had strep throat. My husband does not like it that I’m going to an Orthodox Church but praise God, he has not asked me to stop going. On the way to church last night for vespers, I prayed and asked God to give me a sign if I was supposed to stop attending this church. I was so excited to get there as it had been two Wednesdays since I had walked through those blessed doors. I picked up some candles in the narthex. a big red glass candle for the person with cancer, a small beeswax taper for myself, and hubby. Approaching the icons and lighting the candles, I start crying. Softly at first then, by the time I reach the large icon of Mary to the left of the holy doors, I’m sobbing. If she had been in physical form, I would have collapsed in her arms. What a blessing it was to be in the presence of such good friends. The love, the comfort, the peace. I make it to the back of the sanctuary and collapse into one of the tiny chairs that line the wall. I fumble in my purse for an unused tissue. A lady I had said, ‘hello’ to in the parking lot ambles up to me (she must use a cane to walk) and hands to me several tissues she had clutched in her hand. She asks me if I need anything, ‘prayer’ I say. While we talk, the parish priest, Fr. Anthony comes up to us. He squats down in front of me. ‘Melissa?’ he asks to confirm my name. I’m new there and we have spoken a bit over emails and in passing but there are over 200 people at this church. ‘Yes.’ I reply. ‘Did you still want to be a catecumen?’ he asks. (I had mentioned it to him in an email that I had wanted to make it official, then I came down with strep so it had not yet happened.) ‘Yes!’ I confirm with enthusiasm. In my mind I’m thinking; Yes, I want to be part of this church. Yes, I want to make it official! Yes, I want to, I want to, I want to!

Last night, standing at the back of my church, I officially became a catecumen.

... Victorian Religious Print Simply to Thy Cross I Cling Large | eBay
This is how I feel these days about going to the Orthodox Church. Clinging to it in the midst of the storms of life. It is my refuge.

So, it’s official. I’m walking that path facing East. What an interesting answer to prayer. Lord have mercy.

Get back to church

Extreme Humility Icon Orthodox
Icon of Extreme Humility. No one forced Jesus to go through the trials of the cross. He humbled Himself for us. Can we not humble ourselves for Him?

‘I love God, it’s His people I have a hard time being around!’ I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard this phrase spoken from the lips of Christians. going to church is hard. It’s so hard in fact that it’s not a suggestion, but a directive. here is a small collection of bible verse on the topic of assembling together.

Hebrews 10:25 – Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Matthew 18:20 – For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Exodus 20:8 – Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Romans 10:17 – So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Acts 2:42 – And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you.

Also (taken form another website)

Benefits of going to church regularly:

  • During Holy Mass, receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord regularly, brings us into continuous reminder that God is with us and in us. If we believe that, then it has a huge affect on our behavior and mind set.
  • Being with a community of believers is extremely encouraging. When I see fellow believers humble themselves by kneeling or going to receive the Eucharist or giving each other the sign of peace, I feel immense joy and peace. And experiencing this on a regular basis must surely be good for your soul.
  • Hearing the Word of God on a regular basis helps us to obtain the mind of Christ and a healthy Christian worldview.
  • Regular attendance (especially when you don’t feel like it) is like spiritual exercise, training to submit your will to Christ.
  • Consistent attendance makes you more comfortable with the local community of believers and makes it easier for you to fellowship with them.
  • It is a benefit to others because they might find joy in seeing you there.
  • The grace of God trains us to “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives”.
  • It brings peace and guidance.
  • Regular church, means regular worship, and regular communal prayer.

When we neglect to go to church (especially when we feel that the other people at church are in someway ‘doing it all wrong’) we tend to become our own gods. When we refuse to go to church, we are telling ourselves, and those around us, that we know better than God what is good for us. “I don’t need to go into a building to worship God, I’ll just spend some time in nature. That’s all the ‘god’ I need.’ Well… as lovely as nature is, it is only the created, not the Creator. We are called to worship the Creator in His house. In His temple. Going to church shows obedience to God. It humbles us to be in His presence with other believers. It gives us hope. It strengthens us. It illuminates the dark places  in our hearts & minds, and light chases away darkness. Going to church builds community. Going to church heals. Going to church takes us from the darkness of this world and puts us in the presence of the Lord without distraction. God made us with the need to be with others in holy worship of Him. We are family. We are the body of Christ. Part of your spiritual identity (a large part) is going to church. We cannot be unified in Christ if we never go and fellowship together. If it has been a while since you’ve been to church, it’s time to humble yourself and go back.

Lord have mercy.