Evil called good

iconforbabies
Icon of aborted and miscarried babies.

To my utter horror, persons masquerading as ‘faith leaders’ have created an ad campaign in support of Planned Parenthood and abortion. This has all been done under the deception of supporting marginalized women in need of health-care. What a load of lies, deceit and non-sense. Here in my city, we have an organization that helps unwed mothers deal with an unwanted pregnancy without abortion. Do I hear the same kind of support for that organization? NO. ANYONE who claims to be a ‘faith leader’ who supports abortion is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. ANYONE. Yes, my words are strong and they are intended to be so. No one who calls themselves a follower of Christ could support abortion. We as Christians must acknowledge the sanctity of the soul and respect for life. We are not the ones who give life, God is and only God can determine when it is time for a soul to return to heaven.

The ‘faith leaders’ who spoke out in this advertisement did so while spouting the lie of women in need of health-care need Planned Parenthood. Abortion is not health-care. I’ll say it again… ABORTION IS NOT HEALTH-CARE. People who support abortion and claim to be ‘of faith’ rarely come right out and say they support baby-murder. Some part of them deep down knows that this is wrong so they skirt the issue and make it sound like there is a noble purpose to their madness and if the rest of us do not join up in the false crusade, we’re the evil ones not those who support Planned Parenthood. Do not be fooled. You are NOT evil for not supporting Planned Parenthood.

Stick to your convictions. support those who oppose Planned Parenthood. Speak out for those who have no voice, the unborn babies. Do not allow yourselves to be hoodwinked into supporting the mass murder of unborn children. Not just in America, but in other nations as well. Oh yes… Planned Parenthood has their evil, blood-stained claws in the wombs of women in other nations as well.

The above photo is of an icon representing the innocents who have died. Not just aborted babies but also babies lost to miscarriage or infant deaths for any reason. Jesus is there looking over them… and offering comfort. Comfort for the babies and for the mothers. Yes, comfort for the mothers. We must remember that as Christians, God also loves the mothers who, under the spirit of deception, aborted their babies. These women are suffering, and will most likely continue to suffer until the day they die, for what they have done. The act of abortion creates two victims, not just one. This is what PP and others who support it do not tell you. This is why it is especially heinous that so called ‘faith leaders’ are supporting such an insidious, and evil organization. Have none of these people ever counseled a woman post-abortion and seen the horror she goes through?

I strongly believe that anyone, anyone at all, who calls themselves a ‘faith leader’ who verbally supports or gives money to Planned Parenthood should immediately be removed from their position on grounds of abuse of power/authority. Any organization that calls itself a church or synagogue that receives tax exempt status should have that status removed. See, there is a certain criteria that should be met and followed before an organization should be allowed to classify itself as being linked to Christ. The major one should be NOT advocating the murder of unborn children.

Wolves In Sheeps Clothing Quotes. QuotesGram

We must no allow ourselves to be drawn into the culture of death that has grown in our society. The beginning and end of life is when we are the weakest and most vulnerable. This is where evil lies in wait for those unable to defend themselves. When murder is advocated from the pulpit… who will protect them from harm? Lord have mercy.

My sister’s new cross?

 

 

 

My sister has been going to church with me for a little over a month now. I sent her a photo of this cross as a lark with these words, ‘maybe this should be your cross so the demons can see it and leave you alone!’. Her response? ‘I want it!!’.  She’s been through hell and is still here with us. I think she deserves a big cross to ward off evil.

Christ is risen!

St. Peter & Paul fast

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles – Sunday, June 29th
St. Peter (on left) & St. Paul

 

We begin our Apostles’ Fast today and it continues to June 29th. Here are some bible verses to help carry you along:

These are taken from the Orthodox Church in America website. I’d like to focus for a moment on the first scripture listed: 1 Peter 1:3-9. In it we find a promise from God. A promise of eternal salvation. Not a promise to have our best life now full of health, wealth, and beauty. No. Those things are temporary trappings of this world. Such false promises, twisted out of scripture like a corrupted thread from a bundle of wool, entrap people and prevent them from being able to cope when trials come their way.  Writing about such lies as if they were truth sell books. Many, many books but that is all they do, unfortunately. they do not feed believers what they need to grow and mature in Christ. This is the true promise of God; 3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Verse 6 paints a more mature and accurate picture of life on earth; In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,

We are not grieved by various trials because we have done something wrong or because God does not love us. We live in a fallen world and things happen. We must remember to always put our hope in Christ and not in the things of this world which rust & decay and which we cannot take with us when we die.

People often times get so wrapped up in praying for ‘things’ that they forget to pray to ‘The One’. The most important aspect of prayer is to develop a close relationship with God that nothing, and no one can steal from us. Almost 1,000 people died during Ramadan this year. Ramadan is the bloodiest holiday in Islam. A bus load of Christians were shot, one-by-one when they refused to denounce God and their faith.  This was done on their way to a monastery to worship God. God is still good. He is still loving. People are corrupt but if we keep our eyes, and prayers fixed on God, the corruption will not overcome us. What corruption? The temptation of temporary things that appear to be what will save us but in the end, will be our ultimate doom.

We just don’t realize how good we have it right now as Christians in America. No one died yesterday in church just because they were in church. But those days are quickly coming to an end and we are the instruments of our own destruction.

Pray for the safety of Christians around the world and in America.

Pray that the freedom of religion is not further corrupted and that true religious freedom is restored in America.

Pray for the restoration of true family structure and true sexual identity as God made us and not as we remake for ourselves.

If one person in every household were to pray, and refuse to be offended (they became the peacemaker in their homes, offices, schools, etc.) the world would begin, and continue to change for the better. I’ve paraphrased this from the book by Elder Thaddeus of Vetovnica.

These are just a few suggestions of possible prayers during this fast. A fast is not just about the food… it’s about prayer and conversing with God in hopes that we, and the world around us, will begin to change.

Christ is risen!

 

C.S. Lewis: The Great Divorce

Why You Should Read C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" | Catholic World ...

I’ve been attending my local Orthodox parish since September and I’m looking forward to my upcoming baptism into the Orthodox Church. I’ve ventured out a bit more into the social aspects of the church by attending the Lady’s Group. It’s a study group in a book club type format. Presently we are reading The Great Divorce written by, C.S. Lewis. For me, it is a refreshing change from the fill-in-the-blank bible studies I’ve become accustomed to, but never really liked. Some, like me, enjoy this format while others struggle with the lack of traditional structure and conformity of read and answer ‘here’ type studies.

Conviction from an Orthodox brother in Christ.Kind of sounds like something Piper or Spurgeon would say...or what Jesus clearly demonstrates in the Word...hmm...:

As I said, I am enjoying the study but it is sad to read about people unwilling to give up their passions for the Ultimate Passion… Christ. Also, because I am going to be baptized soon, as I read the book, it is helping me to remember items that need to be added to my life confession I will be doing with my priest soon. Believe it or not, little memes I run across on Pinterest, as well as reading books on the lives of the ancient fathers and their experience with confession, sin, and temptation are helping me not to be too panicked about baring my life’s dirt to a priest. This concept is unheard of in protestant churches and is very new to me. As a protestant, I would confess to God, or my husband and hope no one else ever caught wind of what I did because people, especially Christians, can be incredibly judgmental. I have also been judgmental, and it is something I work on everyday. It is something I work on with the help of; the writings of the ancient fathers, (a resource not available in protestant churches sadly), my priest, the weekly opportunities for prayer & worship in my temple, and my at home prayer life.

As I said, this is all very new to me because in protestant churches, especially evangelical and charismatic churches, sin seems to be encouraged as a way for the grace of God to move in our lives. I call it ‘The Chili Dog Gospel’. Why? Because I have heard many pastors say that since scripture tells us we can tread on poisonous things and not be harmed, we should also be able to eat ‘poisonous’ things, like chili dogs, and not be harmed. ‘Go ahead and eat that chili dog and watch God move mightily in your life!!’. Um, no thanks I’d rather not eat it, fast & pray and see what happens when I move in obedience. There is very little talk, at least that I ever heard in the churches I attended, about giving things up for our sanctification. Sanctification was not something openly spoken about or encouraged. What does all this have to do with, The Great Divorce’?  This is a book that talks about the things that people do that they are unwilling to give up in ordered to be perfect as Christ is perfect. From homosexuality, to one’s intellect, to one’s ‘rights’ (the right to be offended, angry, greedy, respected, etc.) to people not wanting to give up what they perceive as security even though it keeps them in hell. Lewis lays it all out for examination by the reader. ‘Pick one or all that apply.’, he seems to be saying. Even now, over 70 years since its writing and publication, it is relevant in the life of, Believers.

St. Seraphim of Sarov:
Is being judgmental of others your passion?

People these days like to think they are, ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’. What do these words mean? If you are not willing to give up whatever sin you are justifying with these words, they are just as much a chain holding you back from heaven as they’ve ever been. We are not the first generation to use those words, or to try and talk ourselves out of giving something up we love… our ‘pet sin’. Is the need to always be seen as being right important to you? Is it so important that you are willing to give up the blessings that come from being a peacemaker? Trust me, there are more blessings from God for those who are peacemakers than those who are willing to assassinate relationships in order to be right. Interestingly enough, I don’t know of a single person who was argued into the kingdom of God…do you?

One of my favorite quotes from Saint Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox
St. Seraphim of Serov Orthodox has a word of knowledge for you if you love to stir things up and cause strife in your life and the lives of those around you.

Our passions are creating a spirit of disunity within our churches and our communities. Not only do they separate us from God, but from one another as well.

People’s passions against icons keep them out of the Orthodox Church.  Here is one that you might enjoy. You’re welcome.

Creation of the sun:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Here we see, Jesus or the Word of God, creating the universe.) This is an Orthodox icon.
Christian Art: Thomas Blackshear and Thomas Kinkade
This is a protestant icon. Just in case your passion is iconoclasm.

This bit about icons is a bit off track but not too much as there are those who are passionately against icons and yet are ok with nativity sets, Easter eggs, crosses, etc. All of which, including our bibles, are icons. I just wanted to show those who are passionately against icons and point fingers at the Orthodox church that protestants also have icons. They just call them ‘Christian art’. This iconophobia is just an example of a passion that needs to be given to the Lord. The passion that only fill-in-the-blank bible studies are real bible studies is another passion that can be given up. We all have them. Some people refuse to try anything new unless it was their idea first and they were able to lead their friends and family to it. This passion causes them to lose out on so much!

I hope this partial review (more to come possibly) has given you food for thought about the passions you hold on to that are holding you back from a more mature, complete, and fulfilling relationship with God. Oh, how I wish this book was read in schools all across America! Would people, ‘get it’? Would it help us to be more unified and to let some things go that we needlessly hold on to that are killing us and our communities? Or would most people read it and think it is for someone else but not for them?

If you’re looking to change your community, you must first be changed. How? How do we transform our communities, our places of work, school and worship through ourselves?

May I recommend asking God to show you right now your passions that are interfering with your sanctification? Then, if you’re Orthodox, take them to your priest and confess before Sunday and enjoy a Liturgy and Eucharist free from hidden passions/sins. What a weight will be lifted from your shoulders! If we do not kill our passions, they become our idols. They interfere with our sanctification, drawing nearer to God and our quest for perfection. I’m actually looking forward to my life confession. With appropriate trepidations of course. It’s not going to be fun, but it will be freeing.

I’m working on it. Lord have mercy.

 

How to behave at a monastery

monasticclothing

Unless they make a study of it, most protestants have no clue about what goes on inside the walls of a monastery. As our society becomes more and more casual in everyday encounters; people wearing their pajamas out in public, or wearing sweat pants to the opera and calling strangers by their first names instead of, ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ visits to holy places (and this includes your local Orthodox temple) can easily become places where etiquette faux pas abound and flat out rude behavior may be acknowledge, by the offender themselves although not corrected, while the offender is in the midst of said behavior.

Before you head out to the local monastery, here are some things to keep in mind that will make your intrusion into the quiet lives of those within the hollowed walls easier for the monks and nuns you visit to endure. If you are not in a place in your Orthodox journey to where you can submit yourself to all of these rules, please refrain from visiting any monastery until you can be respectful enough to fully submit.

  1. Dress appropriately. Long skirts and closed toed shoes, ladies. Also, headcoverings are mandatory as are long sleeves and high necks on your collars. Men, wear slacks not shorts and closed toed shoes. Long sleeve shirts, please. also for men and women, please no printed t-shirts with offensive words. Remember, just because it doesn’t offend you doesn’t necessarily mean it is not offensive to those around you.
  2. BE QUIET! Speak in low tones. Think golf tournament announcer and then try to speak in softer tones than they do. 2b. SILENCE YOUR CELL PHONE. There is nothing more important going on in your life than what is going on around you when you are in the presence of God.
  3. Call before you go to the monastery to see if your visit is coming at a good time for the residents of the monastic community.
  4. Bring gifts; leave money. Monasteries run on outside support as well as what they can sell. many raise and grow their own food but they still need cash to pay their utility bills just like you do. On a side note; in December of 2016, I wrote an article; Leave Your Protestantism at the Door.  It was originally intended for the protestant convert new to Orthodoxy but after a conversation with the Mother at the monastery, I’m addressing it to former protestants who find themselves in leadership and or priestly roles in Orthodox Churches. When I was a protestant, I sat through MANY sermons on tithing. One main themes was’ give bread where you’re fed’. Okay… for an Orthodox Christian, that can also mean tithing to a monastery, not just to church. You see, the bible never states to which institution one is to tithe, only that we are to tithe. The Lord may, and often does, move a perosn to tithe to a monastery. Monasteries, as I said, are a foreign concept to protestants so we may not always understand how important of a role they play in the development of a Christian’s spiritual life. IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT PARISHIONERS SUPPORT THEIR LOCAL MONASTERY AS MUCH AS THEY CAN!! Go to the monastery on work days and help out. Go when it’s not a work day and help however you’re asked. But whenever you go to the monastery, LEAVE SOME MONEY WITH THEM WHEN YOU LEAVE! Go with the intent to give a financial blessing. If there is a bookstore, buy something. You don’t always have to buy books off the internet. Call ahead and ask if you can bring any food or supplies. Be a blessing, not a burden.
  5. Be obedient. Do what your told and ask permission always.
  6. make sure your children are well behaved enough to be in a monastic setting. Many children are not taught to be quiet and respectful these days. parents let them get away with much too much. Churches and monasteries are holy places. Children learn how to behave in special settings from their parents. it begins by praying at home and making sure children understand that this is something different… something special. Children want to please those around them, especially their parents and they are eager to learn. Help them fit in a to be welcomed in new settings by teaching them how to behave properly right at home. Set a side a prayer time with your children where they must be quiet. In crease the time they must be quiet and SIT STILL. Reward and punish as appropriate.
  7. Do not touch the monks or nuns. (I did this today and learned it’s a MAJOR no-no to hug a nun!) oops!
  8. Don’t stay too long. Remember, monks and nuns live where they live to serve God, live in peace and quiet and to pray (they are even praying for you!). So make sure you do not take up too much of their time when you visit.

You may have come from a protestant background but that doesn’t mean your mind must stay there. Lay people as well as priests must put aside their protestant ways and fully embrace Orthodoxy if it is to work in their lives as it is intended. If you became an Orthodox Christian to ‘fix’ the Orthodox system, you’ve come into it for all the wrong reasons. You will most likely fail as an Orthodox Christian and if you’re in leadership, you will also fail your parishioners, as well as the monastery your church is supposed to be supporting.

When converting from Protestantism to Orthodoxy,  I decided I would be, ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’. I would embrace it fully or not even bother. You cannot serve two masters. Trying to be a Protestant Orthodox Christian will not work. Your attempts at ‘kicking at the goads’  is not going to change a system that is over two thousand years old. They have come across tougher opposition than American Protestants… and won. Time and again they have won.

Visit the monasteries, tithe where the LORD tells you to tithe and be at peace with your decision no matter what opposition you face.

My 1st Great Lent

... : Saint Theophylact of Ochrid-Meatfare Sunday, The Last Judgment
Mural of the Last Judgment.

Kondakion (Tone 1)

When You, O God, shall come to earth with glory,
All things shall tremble
And the river of fire shall flow before Your judgment seat;
The books shall be opened and the hidden things disclosed!
Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire,
And make me worthy to stand at Your right hand, righteous Judge!

I think that perhaps if more non-Orthodox Churches had awesome murals such as this, showing the Last Judgment, more Christians would take their faith serious.

I made my first Koliva for the memorial service our church held on Saturday. I started on Thursday, and finished up decorating them on Saturday morning.

Today is Meatfare Sunday. Then, starting Monday, it’s time to begin fasting. Our first fast category is meat, but eggs and dairy products are permitted, even on Wednesday and Friday.

Here is a fasting schedule taken from the website: http://www.abbamoses.com/fasting.html

First Week of Lent: Only two full meals are eaten during the first five days, on Wednesday and Friday after the Presanctified Liturgy. Nothing is eaten from Monday morning until Wednesday evening, the longest time without food in the Church year. (Few laymen keep these rules in their fullness). For the Wednesday and Friday meals, as for all weekdays in Lent, meat and animal products, fish, dairy products, wine and oil are avoided. On Saturday of the first week, the usual rule for Lenten Saturdays begins (see below).

Weekdays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: The strict fasting rule is kept every day: avoidance of meat, meat products, fish, eggs, dairy, wine and oil.

Saturdays and Sundays in the Second through Sixth Weeks: Wine and oil are permitted; otherwise the strict fasting rule is kept.

Holy Week: The Thursday evening meal is ideally the last meal taken until Pascha. At this meal, wine and oil are permitted. The Fast of Great and Holy Friday is the strictest fast day of the year: even those who have not kept a strict Lenten fast are strongly urged not to eat on this day. After St. Basil’s Liturgy on Holy Saturday, a little wine and fruit may be taken for sustenance. The fast is sometimes broken on Saturday night after Resurrection Matins, or, at the latest, after the Divine Liturgy on Pascha.

Wine and oil are permitted on several feast days if they fall on a weekday during Lent. Consult your parish calendar. On Annunciation and Palm Sunday, fish is also permitted.

We are not only to fast during Lent, but also we are called to increase our prayer life. Prayer and fasting are often mentioned together in the bible as powerful tools against The Enemy, as well as tools intended to draw us closer to God. Lent is not intended as a time of suffering. We are to use it as a time of purification and sanctification. There is a divine, and mystical, purpose to Lent. It is a waste of Lent to merely fast and ‘suffer’ because one is not able to enjoy ‘regular’ eating which I’m sure involves some sort of glutton as we in America are prone to do.

In the churches I grew up in and worshiped in as an adult, protestant churches, not much emphasis was placed on overcoming fleshly desires.  I want to overcome my passions, and food is one of the things I need to overcome. I hope that this Lenten season will be the transformative tool I have been looking for that sets me free. I love that the Orthodox Church provides us with the tools we need to obtain whatever level of sanctification, or asceticism, the Lord has placed within our hearts as our personal goal. Each person’s spiritual walk is individualized but all are pointed toward the same target, sanctification for Eternity with God.

1 Corinthians 10:31English Standard Version (ESV) 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Escaping the gospel of Pollyanna

One of the reasons why I ran away from contemporary (read: heretical) church, was to escape the fakey-happy-happy Pollyanna gospel. If you’ll recall, Pollyanna is a fictional girl who saw the sunbeams & rainbows in every situation, and if there were none to be had, she’d make them up. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing to do unless it creates within the person, and those around them, a total disconnect from reality.

Case-in-point. In the Pollyanna gospel, you cannot risk saying anything negative or you might curse yourself. This is NO WHERE in the bible. In fact, that sort of thinking is narcissistic and stinks of witchcraft. Jesus came to help us overcome our superstitions, and said not to practice magic and yet, here it is being taught right from the pulpit as a, ‘name it and claim it’ gospel. Or as I like to refer to it; The Pollyanna Gospel. In the Pollyanna Gospel, no one is ever sick (if they are they cannot tell anyone or they curse themselves and possibly the person to whom they are speaking) really? Is the holy spirit so weak within them that they cannot say, ‘oh, this is what is really going on in my life and I need help’ for fear of being completely overcome by their words? That is so deadly. It binds people and keeps them in prisons which is exactly what the enemy wants. He wants people to be isolated and afraid to talk about what is going on in their lives. This keeps people from praying for one another, and lifting one another up which is the true way to overcome any situation.

In this fakey-Pollyanna gospel church, no one is open and honest with each other. Everyone puts on their fake smile, lies to everyone around them for fear of condemnation & judgment, then goes home to battle their demons alone, and greatly diminished. If they had felt free to talk about their trials they could have received the help they need… with greater speed and efficiency.

The church is supposed to be a hospital, not a courthouse. Can you imagine walking into a hospital emergency room for help but then you are told by the staff that you cannot talk about your symptoms? Or, you do some how manage to talk about what is going on but then you are blamed for your medical situation because you dared to speak about it instead of keeping quiet because, ‘words have power’. Some hoe by speaking about your problems, you are laying claim to them, adopting them, and allowing them to become your demonic pets. You feed them with your words of acknowledgment. This Pollyanna gospel says that just telling someone you have a pain in your shoulder manifests it more and gives it a deeper foothold into your shoulder making it worse. Really? No, not really. This is a great example of just a taste of the heretical thinking and twisting of scripture that has occurred in modern churches over the last 2000 years. Unfortunately, this crap is preferred by many over the truth.

Galations 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of, Christ.

How can we bear each other’s burdens if we’re not allowed to talk about our burdens? I feel as though I cannot be myself around such people. If I did have a burden, how could I tell anyone? How would someone who does not understand suffering, and its purpose in the life of Christians pray for one who is suffering?

There are at least 100 verses in the bible about suffering. Not one of them says ‘don’t talk about suffering because we are not here to suffer’. No, not one.

Therefore, I continue to withdraw form the Pollyanna’s. I cannot offer them comfort by explain the purpose suffering has in their life because they are clinging to false teachings that have made them weak. They cannot help me because, I’m supposed to constantly have a smile on my face no matter what sort of trial or tribulation is going on in my life. I can’t be like that. I’m not talking about wallowing in suffering. I’m talking about being a real Christian. One who has dark days and does not have all the answers. One who does not lean on their own understanding, or that of heretical teachings.

If you have burdens that you cannot talk about with those around you, let me know. If you want to go into details you may but if you don’t that’s ok too. I’m letting you know, I’ll pray for you if you would like me to. Just put in comments, ‘pray for me’. If you want to pour out your heart, you may email me. blessings house of prayer at g mail dot com

Lord have mercy.

Leave your protestantism at the door

Christ Almighty, Orthodox Mini Icon - at Holy Trinity Store

In September, at the new year according to the Orthodox calendar, I started visiting my local Orthodox church. Exhausted by heretical teachings of churches whose pastors had never seen the inside of a seminary, pastors and congregants who embraced anything written as long as it contained the proper buzzwords, and fed up with, ‘movements’ I needed something more but I wasn’t sure what it was… until I found the Orthodox church.

What I found, what I did not realize I was looking for until it was in front of me, what is lacking in so many ‘modern’ churches, is dogma. I already believe in miracles. I’ve seen miracles, I’ve seen angels. Even witches believe in angels. What’s the dogma? Who does your church say Christ is? How does your church approach, Christ? How do they approach the worship of the Uncreated One? Do they even worship Him or do they entertain the flock then have a ‘rah-rah meeting’, also known as a sermon? After almost 50 years of sermons, I’m all sermoned out. I need to be at the feet of God worshiping Him, loving on Him and being loved back.

I believe that the best way for I, or anyone one else for that matter, who is interested in exploring the Orthodox church, is to do so wholeheartedly. Yes, it can be a bit daunting at first to enter an Orthodox Church and to see all the icons, candles, murals, to hear the chanting and watch the deacon cense the icons and people. it can be especially unsettling if the last church you attended before coming to an Orthodox Church was barely identifiable as a church. One, puny cross against a large, bare white wall (so that the announcements can be played while people find their seats no doubt) no more hymnals- who reads music anymore? No vestments. Nothing really to make it stand out from the other cubes/stores in the strip mall with which it shares space. Do I sound snobby? I don’t mean to, I’m just over the blending in that so many churches do so as not to offend. To be inclusive. However, we as Christians are not to be one with the world. We are to be one with God. Set apart and different with a purpose. Purposefully different. I no longer wish to worship in a space reminiscent of office space. I don’t want to pray in a white cubicle that looks worldly. I wish to pray in a space that looks ‘other worldly’. A space that looks like something God would occupy. A space that is grand and opulent. A space that prepares me for an eternity in the presence of God.

When I’m having a difficult time focusing in prayer, looking at a saint’s icon helps. The candles help. My beloved prayer rope helps. Keep your prayer closet. I need a prayer temple. Quiet… mostly. Reverent. A temple which engages all five sense in prayer, and worship of God our king.

One thing that I’ve noticed that I cannot do while in an Orthodox Church is, I cannot look at it through protestant eyes and understand the importance of the mystery set before me in the form of vespers or Div. Liturgy as being a mystery and letting it be a mystery.

It’s ok for us not to understand everything that is going on around us in a spiritual setting. Spiritual things are supposed to be mysterious. God is suppose to be mysterious. In my church travels through the years, I’ve noticed that many protestants believe that they have God all figured out. They do not seem to understand that the moment you think you have God figured out should be the moment you realize whatever it is you’ve been studying was not God or else you would not be able to understand Him. How can you understand His uncreatedness? His wonderment? His divinity? And it is HIS divinity not ours.

When walking into an Orthodox Church, one is to have the sense of leaving the world behind them, and walking east. East toward God, His divinity, and worship of this divine, uncreated Being in the most spectacular, colorful, and reverent way humanly possible. I, for one, am grateful it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as a protestant. ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’ is my current motto. I am walking out my Orthodox Church experience one service at a time. One prayer at a time, and doing my best to experience it with child like wonder and not pick it apart through protestant intellect. That’s not to say that the Orthodox mind is a simple mind. Not at all! I’ve met many amazing and intelligent people at my church. What I am saying is that I’m not going to go into this experience thinking I know all the answers. I am a stranger in a strange land. Just as I would not go to France and expect everyone to be an American, nor have I come to this new-to-me church expecting everyone to change for me and sing all my favorite hymns, paint over the icons, and stop lighting candles. If I wanted a protestant experience, I would not be attending an Orthodox church. I came to this particular church to have this particular experience. To learn what they know. To look at God through the philosophical eyes of the writings of ancient fathers. To learn about tradition (a word scorned in many protestant churches), to learn about saints and martyrs. To hear new prayers. To see the bible written on a wall in the form of an icon or mural. To have this ‘thing’ called Christianity show respect for our Creator and not take important ideas such as an eternity in the presence of God so lightly as I have seen some churches, and many Christians do. If being a Christian is suppose to change us, why are so many of us still the same year after year? Why is it becoming a crime to point out the need for repentance, the need to stop sinning, the need to forgive?

If you have come to the Orthodox Church because you were looking for something different, then BE different! Participate as much as possible. Learn how to venerate an icon. Light a candle, say a prayer, cross yourself and bow down. Submerge yourself in the wonderment, traditions, and the divine mystery of the Orthodox Church. If you end up thinking that it is not for you, at least you can say that you gave it your best shot. If, however, you’ve been attending an Orthodox Church all the while refusing to fully participate, how can you know whether or not it was where you were supposed to be if you were never able to fully put aside your protestant fears and doubts?

How about the next service at your church whether it’s vespers or Div. Liturgy, you fully participate? How about lighting a candle, venerating an icon, or asking Mary to pray for you before the throne of God? You never know, maybe you’ll find out that this is where you were supposed to be all along but you didn’t know because you were holding back? Christmas is just around the corner. What a great time to get over yourself and enjoy some genuine wonderment.

Lord have mercy!

‘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.