Whom are you serving?

Our Orthodox Life: Acts 29 - Eucharist (Part 1)
Jesus with the Apostles eating the Mystical Supper

When Christians properly serve, God… they think not only of themselves, but of those around them as well. ‘How will my actions today effect those around me? Not only for today but in the years to come?’.

The word, ‘progress or progressive’ is bandied about these days as if saying it should be an automatic, ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card for bad behavior, for whomever utters those words. Taking away the income of millions of people who drive for a living is acceptable to many under the guise of ‘progress’ or environmentalism. Little to no thought has been given to how these people will manage to take financial care of their families once their jobs have been taken over by robots. ‘It’s their problem’ is the cry among those who work so hard to cast millions into unemployment. Has no one thought of the burden to the economy of each state when millions of drivers are left without work?

Legislatures must step up now and make laws to protect those who cannot protect themselves. If we create a society run by robots where no one can earn a living, then we must remove our current system of commerce and replace it with one that works for all people. Nothing has proven to work as well as capitalism. Few things in life bring as much satisfaction as putting in effort, seeing a job completed and being rewarded for doing well. So… what then? How do we continue to give people the satisfaction that comes from work when we replace them with robots? Not everyone is comfortable, or happy, working in an office. How do they glean personal satisfaction from life? Will society fall into more mindless entertainment to fill those empty spaces left open and unfulfilled by a lack of productivity?  Already many young men do not enter into the workforce. They prefer playing video games to working. With the increase of potential jobs they could have had being replaced by machines, and so much to distract them, ‘why bother’ has become the cry of the young instead of, ‘I can!’.

Everything we do as Christians must be tempered with thoughts on how it will affect those around us. An example of that, although it may seem quaint by today’s anything-goes standards is this; it used to be that newspapers would not print the Sunday comics because of concern it would cause children to become distracted and make them forget about going to church. Here is an example of a corporation thinking about the effect their actions might have on people they had never met.

I say, ‘Christians’ when talking about treating people better because it is what, Jesus advocated. We are to treat others as if they are better than us. Would you want someone to remove your employment in the name of ‘progress’? I’m certain you would not.

If we who call ourselves, ‘Christian’ would put on the real mantle of Christ and stop being mercenaries at the expense of those around us… THAT would be real and true progress.

Here is a LINK to an article about the ‘globalized’ and ‘universal’ person by, St. Paisios.

Sola scriptura does not exist

Could you be a Christian without the bible?

... keep silence or talk about ordinary things elder thaddeus of vitovnica

I am currently reading several books written by Orthodox ancient fathers. One of which is; Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by, Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica. An amazing man of God who details for us how to walk out the love of Christ in our everyday lives, to everyone around us. His words are loving, hard and yet easy. That is one of the beautiful things about Orthodox Christianity, there are multiple truths. It is hard to walk out love if we try to do it in our flesh, but so easy to do when we die to ourselves and let God truly take over and lead us. This is just a tiny blurb about his book which includes a mini biography of this incredible man who was so at peace the little birds would fly to his chest, land, and eat the crumbs out of his beard that ended up there after a meal. I want that kind of peace in my life. His book is a spiritual road map to the land of internal peace according to the word of God. How does this relate to sola scriptura? Keep reading, please.

One of the main (read tired old) arguments that Protestants try to use against Orthodox Christianity is that they believe we all should be able to read the bible without any outside assistance because Holy Spirit will illumine us and help us with anything we do not understand. If that were true for them, there would not exist; Mathew Henry’s Commentary or the myriad of Christian bookstores. Also; Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Joel Olsteen and a host of other Christian writers would be out of jobs. Some Protestant writers develop bible studies. Why? If they truely believed in sola scripture (which, ironically, is not actually IN the bible) there would be no need for any Protestant to write anything and yet they too have their own versions of ancient fathers and mothers. Corrie ten Boom, Smith Wigglesworth, Watchman Nee, etc..

The real truth is that, while Protestants have their writers, for some reason they think it is wrong that Orthodox Christians have our own. I believe they do not like it because our writers are not their writers, but also because our writers talk about this life, and the life hereafter in a way that does not line up with the heretical teachings found in Protestantism. The writings of the ancient fathers focus largely on our inner conflict between our flesh & the Spirit of God, which we will submit to and allow to lead us through life. when I read the writings of the lives of those who have gone on this path before me, I receive comfort and guidance knowing that although these people lived in like-minded communities, they still had to struggle through life & many of the same issues we as Christians struggle with outside of monastic life. Struggle with loving those around us, being obedient, living below our means, relying on God to fill our plates, keep us healthy. Some ancient fathers and monastics struggle with severe mental and physical ailments. One father in particular said, ‘if you can live with the pain and suffering, do not pray for God to deliver you from your affliction!’.  Quite different, and more difficult to hear, than the message from Protestant writers.

There is a part of me that wants to open a big orthodox Christian book store here in town. There is already a small one connected to a coffee shop that is also a missions. They serve coffee and ancient wisdom… love it! On Friday nights, our head priest is behind the counter slinging coffee & food. He sets the example for the rest of us on walking out the word of God.

If you are someone who has hopped onto the ‘sola scriptura’ band wagon, I challenge you to look around your house and count how many books about God and Christianity you have that are not the actual bible. Why do you have them and how have they enriched your life? As with anything we read, even the bible, it only works if we do what is written on the page. Love your neighbor, yes even the one that does whatever it is that upsets you. Speak kind words to everyone around you and consider others better than yourself. Forgive, forgive, forgive. I only have to deal with rude, inconsiderate people while some of the Orthodox writers have had to forgive those who tortured them and held them in prison for many years. Do you want God to forgive your sins? Then you must forgive the things other people do to you. True deep forgiveness. None of this, ‘I’ll forgive but I’ll never forget!’ nonsense. Jesus forgives AND forgets!! So too must we do the same.

Sola scriptura does not exist. It is a lie from the enemy to keep those who would become Orthodox Christians from doing so. It is such a feeble excuse. The bible came along 300-500 years after the Orthodox Church was started. Holy tradition, and the stories about those who went before them, was all the early Christians had to guide them on how to live a Christian life. Then, they wrote the bible and now modern churches claim to be based on the bible but they look nothing like the ancient, and original church.

BY M. D. TALBOT.       LETTER I. TO THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER. cont     4th. Luther with his Consubstantiation, setting aside tradition, wo...

If you would like to visit my Pinterest board for more Orthodox wisdom and humor you may do so by following this LINK but remember, it too violates the sola scripture fairy tale.

Lord have mercy.

 

 

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.

 

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.

Speculation is the thief of wisdom.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle,

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…come further up, come further in!”

romanianmaryicon

A favorite saying of mine is, ‘get your oats fresh’. This means to get your information straight from the horse’s mouth… from the source. Not through friends, family or well meaning lay people in the church.

Previously, in this POST, I wrote about my concerns regarding what I thought was, ‘Mary worship’. To better understand the Orthodox Church, I ordered, and received the book; Welcome to the Orthodox Church, an Introduction to Eastern Christianity written by, Frederica Mathewes-Green. Click LINK to purchase because if you’ve ever had any sort of question about Eastern Orthodox Christianity, I’m certain this book will answer it. I’m on page 55 out of 361 and already my eyes have been opened to the truth. Historical truths about the origins of the early church. Truths about the icons, Mary, and the saints. Wisdom casts out fear and ignorance. Two things about the Orthodox Church I had been unnecessarily carrying around. I’m so glad that I decided to investigate things further instead of just following the words of ex-Catholic friends and family who associate Eastern Orthodox Christianity with Catholicism.

As I read, Mrs. Green’s most excellent book, I feel as though I can ear her voice speaking to me with love and warmth about something dear to her heart. You can tell by her words, how she explains the ins-and-outs of Orthodoxy, that she truely has a deep, and abiding love for God, and His church; as well as a deep desire for others who are seeking to find the answers to their questions.

I’m new to the Orthodox ‘Way’. I grew up in churches without icons or murals. Yes, my childhood church had crosses on the walls and handmade banners commemorating feasts and holidays, but compared to an orthodox church it looked bare. I love that I can walk into an orthodox church and experience God without the priest saying a single word. There, on the walls are bible stories, and the saints we read about when we open our bibles. In this crazy world full of violence and death, the more time I can spend in the presence of God the better, and I’m not just talking about reading His Word, but experiencing it through visual reminders seen on the church walls and the icons presented on altars. His beauty, reflected back to me through the icons, candles, incense, etc., has given me a sense of peace and joy I have not felt in a long time. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there in need of some peace and joy. Some comfort please to help alleviate this deep set weariness that comes not from physical exhaustion but spiritual turmoil caused by what is going on in our world, in our nation, in our cities and in our neighborhoods.

If you are in need of spiritual beauty, perhaps it is time to turn off the news, go to church, and light a candle. While you are there, say a prayer for me? I’ll be praying for you.

Lord have mercy.

Catechism

angelsicon

God willing, and I can stay awake that late, I’ll be starting catechism soon. I don’t know how long it will take or if I’ll even want to join the church after taking the classes, but I figured I’d better get going on classes before it starts getting dark at 4 and snowing. I don’t know. I just don’t know. The Mary worship bothers me. Also, the bible says not to call anyone ‘Father’ and yet that’s exactly what the priests are called. Growing up protestant and hearing these things are evil… it’s not easy to let these conditioned thoughts go. However, I’ve been to many churches in my quest for… what? If not perfection then at least the church that comes closest to the truth. In my quest, I’ve seen a deal of error on behalf of the leadership in every church I’ve visited. However, so far the orthodox Christian church is showing itself to be the forerunner in theological truth despite my concerns of the icons and Mary worship. In protestant churches, we are taught that Mary is nothing. She carried Christ in her womb and as soon as she gave birth to him, her story ended. Yes, this is wrong, but there is a great deal of enmity toward women in churches. Because Christ is the king, the Son of God, the one to perform miracles, why DO Catholics and Orthodox Christians worship her or call upon her for anything? God gave us Holy Spirit on Pentecost so we can do everything Christ did and more, but once you’re dead, that’s it. Why does this not apply to Mary? I am concerned about Mary worship because of the spirit of the Queen of heaven. When Christianity began to impact people’s worship of pagan deities, the spirit that benefited from the worship of Diana was replaced by Mary as the  new female deity being worshiped in the church. See why I’m concerned? Pagans worshiped Diana, the church took that female deity away but then gave them Mary to worship. Nearly every world religion has some sort of female deity that is worshiped. No matter what she is called by the faithful of that religion, it all boils down to the Queen of Heaven. When Jesus was on the cross, women tried to exalt, Mary by calling her blessed for having given birth to the Christ. He stopped them and reminded them that the word of God was better than, Mary. This is not the only ‘nod’ to paganism in The Church. All of our Christian holidays are based in paganism, but by going to the orthodox church, am I replacing one inconsistency with another?

Despite my concerns, there is a theological truth in the orthodox church I have not found in any other modern church AND, many modern churches are actively engaging in witchcraft. Whether or not it is intentional remains to be seen.

This is where I am right now. A spiritual wanderer. I am tired of half baked theology from modern churches, but I do not want to become mired in orthodox errors either. UPDATE

Doing what you THINK is right

Whenever I read, or hear, people say the ‘just do what you think is right and I’ll respect you’ routine I cringe. Judges 21:25 is a cautionary tale about NOT doing whatever we think is right. The ways of people are wicked. Only God’s ways are just.
Matthew Henry Commentary- Judges
17:7-13 Micah thought it was a sign of God’s favor to him and his images, (pagan idols/gods-added by me) that a Levite should come to his door. Thus those who please themselves with their own delusions, if Providence unexpectedly bring any thing to their hands that further them in their evil way, are apt from thence to think that God is pleased with them.
Look around you. The world is in terrible shape from people doing what they think is right instead of following the examples put forth to them from God. No one is good. Only God can claim that. Jesus didn’t even claim that for himself. If Jesus didn’t think He was good, what makes you think you are so good? Our ways are not God’s ways. Many Christians claim that God cannot use, Trump. Really? Who are they to put boundaries on The One Who Created EVERYTHING?? This is a classic example of the clay telling the potter how things are going to be instead of listening to the potter.
Isaiah 45:9
Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
Matthew Henry Commentary
45:5-10 There is no God beside Jehovah. There is nothing done without him. He makes peace, put here for all good; and creates evil, not the evil of sin, but the evil of punishment. He is the Author of all that is true, holy, good, or happy; and evil, error, and misery, came into the world by his permission, through the wilful apostacy of his creatures, but are restrained and overruled to his righteous purpose. This doctrine is applied, for the comfort of those that earnestly longed, yet quietly waited, for the redemption of Israel. The redemption of sinners by the Son of God, and the pouring out the Spirit, to give success to the gospel, are chiefly here intended. We must not expect salvation without righteousness; together the Lord hath created them. Let not oppressors oppose God’s designs for his people. Let not the poor oppressed murmur, as if God dealt unkindly with them. Men are but earthen pots; they are broken potsherds, and are very much made so by mutual contentions. To contend with Him is as senseless as for clay to find fault with the potter. Let us turn God’s promises into prayers, beseeching him that salvation may abound among us, and let us rest assured that the Judge of all the earth will do right.
So I beseech you brothers and sister not to do what you think is right, but to do what you see in scripture. Do not just settle for being familiar with God, but rather develop a deep intimacy with Him and discover His true character.
Lord have mercy.