Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merry Christmas

just wanted to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and to Remember what Christmas is all about and why we give gifts. One its a celebration of the birth of our Savior and because God gave us His son as a free gift so we too give gifts to others. Blessings upon everyone this Christmas season and in the coming new year!

Monday, December 3, 2012

New beginnings!

so hubby and I have been cleaning and organizing away these past couple of days. we got my laundry area all cleaned up and organized and we got our dining room are all cleaned organized and set up a coffee bar too! I just love the cafe feeling! here's a couple of pictures of what we did! this is only the beginning. we are putting our foot down and deciding that its time to get our house in shape and in doing so it will also help shape other aspects of our lives. I've always thought that how we live and leave our homes reflects how we are really doing in other aspects of our lives. We may say we are doing really great, but really we are just has disorganized and cluttered on the inside as our homes are. If we work on cleaning, decluttering and organizing our daily lives and our homes, it will reflect in other aspects of our lives. its all about  our attitude and how we approach each task. Lord have mercy on me and help me accomplish and become a good steward of what you have entrusted to my care.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Give above and Beyond to others!

So lately I've been reading different lives of the Saints and I have been learning that what I have isn't really mine its God's and he has given me what I have as gifts and that I should whenever I can go the extra mile and give to others. For example yesterday I got coffee at my favorite place and after paying for it I didn't have any $1 dollar bills and so I put a $5 in the tip jar and now my hubby this morning when i was sharing this with him thought that was too much, but as Christians we are called to go above and beyond for others no questions asked. Many of the Saints would leave their cells unlocked because they knew that what little they had wasn't their's to keep, it was a gift from God and if someone should walk in and take what was there the saints prayed that they would be blessed and I said to hubby this morning that if someone broke in to our house and took stuff they obviously needed it more than we did and I hope that they would be blessed. Christ taught us that if someone asked for your coat give him 2 and if you were asked to walk a mile go 2 miles. So with that said my challenge for you is go above and beyond for someone today if you are able to and may you be a blessing to those around you and may the Lord bless you as you follow Him!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thought Provoking Article!

Sharing from Holy Cross Monastery: ""There was a time when I found myself firmly in the conservative camp, dedicated like my fellows to defend the Bible against all comers. Like my fellows, I read the Scripture through the embattled lens of the polemicist. For me, the Bible was not just a sacred text, it was also a battlefield, and I had to tread carefully through it lest I step on any landmines and find myself blown up by liberal attackers. Though I scarcely knew it at the time, my way of reading the Bible had been dictated to me in advance by this struggle to the death between liberals and conservatives, and was conditioned by the liberal challenges. I was not a Bible reader so much as I was a Bible defender, and the awkward things pointed out gleefully by my liberal opponents summoned me to the confessional barricades. Though I would not have admitted it at the time (or even recognized it), polemics had replaced devotion. I was not so much a student of the Scriptures as its champion...." http://oca.org/reflections/fr.-lawrence-farley/withdrawing-from-the-wrestling-ring

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

asking, seeking, and praying

Today's Gospel Reading: Wednesday of the 6th Week

The Gospel of Luke 11:9-13:

"The Lord said to his disciples, "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Commentary from the Orthodox Study Bible: 11:9-13- In Greek, the verbs rendered ask, seek, and knock imply a continuing action and are better translated, "keep asking, "keep seeking," and "keep knocking." God responds when we persistently ask for things that are good. Bread, fish, and an egg are all images of life and symbolize the gift of the Holy Spirit. (See Jn. 14:13,14; James 4:3- " You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.")

John 14:13, 14: "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

Commentary: 14:13,14-To pray in Christ's name does not simply mean to attach the phrase "in Jesus' name we pray" to the end of prayers. Rather, to pray in His name means to pray according to His will. Just as an emissary of a king can only be said to be speaking in the king's name if he says what the king would want him to say, so also we can only be said to be praying in the name of Christ when we pray according to what He wants. The purpose here is not to get God to do our will, but for us to learn to pray properly, according to God's will (Mt. 6: 10-"Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.")

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

tour an Orthodox Church

this is a very neat tool for those who don't have a Orthodox Church near by or are just curious as to what the inside looks like and the meaning of icons and etc. http://www.acrod.org/prayercorner/church-tour

Monday, October 15, 2012

No question of the Belief of the Early CHurch

Justin Martyr was around 151AD. this was before the Bible was completed and what he says here is very clear that the Early Church has always believed that the Bread and Wine is the Body and Blood of Christ!.

Justin Martyr:

We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these, but since Jesus Christ our Savior

 was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus

(First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Belief of the Early Church

St. Justin Martyr
"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Sa

vior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus"

Justin Martyr was around 150AD and by him saying this shows that is how the early church believed and taught from the very beginning of the Church. The Catholics didn't invent this because they didn't split from the Orthodox Church until 1054.

Vespers Service

"About the Vesper Service...
In the Orthodox Church, the liturgical day begins in the evening with the setting of the sun. This practice follows the Biblical account of creation: "And there was evening and there was morning, one day" (Gen. 1:5). The Vespers service always begins with the reading of the evening psalm..."the sun knows its time for setting, Thou makest darkness and it is night..." (Ps. 103:19,20). This psalm, which glorifies God's creation of the world, is mankind's very first act of worship, for the human race first of all meets God as Creator. Following the psalm, the Great Litany, the opening petition of all liturgical services of the Church is intoned. In it we pray to the Lord, interceding for everyone and everything. Following this litany several psalms are read, a different group each evening. Psalm 140 is always sung at Vespers. It recalls Adam's lament as he stood outside the closed gates of Paradise. During this psalm the
 evening incense is offered. Toward the end of the psalmody, special hymns are sung for the particular day. If is is a Church feast, songs in honor of the celebration are sung. ON Saturday evenings, the eve of the Lord's Day, these hymns always praise Christ's resurrection from the dead. The special hymns normally end with a song called a "Theotokion" which honors Mary, the Mother of God. Following this, the ancient vesperal hymn, "Gladsome Light," is sung. If it is a special feast day or the eve of Sunday, the celebrant will come to the center or the church building with lighted candles and incense. This hymn belongs to every Vespers service. Christ is praised as the Light Who illumines mankind's darkness, the Light of the world, and of the Kingdom of God which shall have no evening. The prokeimenon, a verse from the Psalms, follows-a different one for each day, announcing the day's spiritual theme. If is is a special day, three readings from the Old Testament are included. Then more evening prayers and petitions follow, with additional hymns for the particular day, all of which end with the chanting of the Song of St. Simeon. After proclaiming our own vision of Christ, the Light and Salvation of the world, we say the prayers of the Thrice-Holy (Trisagion), ending with the "Our Father." We sing the main theme song of the day, called the "Apolytikion," and we are dismissed with the usual blessing. The service of the Vespers leads us through creation, sin, and salvation-the restoration of our true humanity in Christ. It leads us to meditate upon God's Word and to glorify His love for mankind. It instructs us and allows us to praise God for the particular events or persons being commemorated and made present to us in the Church on that day. It prepares us for the sleep of the night and the dawn of the new day to come."-Fr. Sava Leida, priest of Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

this is really good!

Prayer: "To describe it with the boldest expression, prayer is a conversation with God.
Even if we speak with a low voice, even if we whisper without opening the lips, even if we call to Him only from the depths of our heart, our unspoken word always reaches God and God always hears.
Sometimes, however, besides speaking, we lift our head and lift our arms to heaven. In this way, we are underlini
ng the desire that the spirit has for the spiritual world.
We are striving with the word to raise the body above the earth.... We are giving wings to the soul for it to reach the good things on high."

+ Clement of Alexandria +

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Bible in the Orthodox Church

Very interesting article on the Scriptures in the Orthodox Church. Its worth taking a few moments to read!
http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/scripturesinthechurch.htm

Feast day of the Life giving Cross

today is the day we celebrate and remember the Cross of Christ and here are some links to check to learn about today! Have a blessed Weekend!
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Elevation_of_the_Holy_Cross 
http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=205&type=saints&date=9%2F14%2F2012&D=F
Fr. Stephen Freeman from Glory to God for all Things on the Cross of Christ and the Way of Life and how the Cross is the sign of our Salvation. http://glory2godforallthings.com/2012/09/13/the-cross-of-christ-and-the-way-of-life/#comment-63562

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Prayer Requests

If anyone who follows my blog knows of any special needs children or adults and would like prayer for them please let me know and I will add them to the list in my prayer for special needs group. thanks!

Monday, September 10, 2012

God does care about how we Worship Him!

Based the evidence in the Bible, History and Tradition there is no way of getting around the fact that the Liturgy of the Orthodox is the right way of Worshipping. Since going to the Orthodox Church I can truly relate to the Song "Heart of Worship" and say that I have come back to the Heart of Worship and that it is truly all about Christ and not about me.http://orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org/2012/09/10/orthodox-worship-versus-contemporary-worship/

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sin is an illness


 Christianity came out of Judaism and the early Christians shared the Jewish mindset, much of which viewed sin as something that required healing and restoration, not merely forgiveness or absolution. For example: Isaiah 19:22 says, "And the Lord shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and HEAL it: and they shall return even to the Lord, and He shall be entreated of them, and shall HEAL them." Psalm 41:4 says, "I said, Lord, be merciful unto me:HEAL my soul; for I HAVE SINNED AGAINST THEE." Isaiah 57:15-19 says, "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and WILL HEAL him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I WILL HEAL HIM." Jeremiah 3:22 says, "Return, ye backsliding children, and I WILL HEAL YOUR BACKSLIDINGS. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God." Hosea 14:4 says,"I WILL HEAL THEIR BACKSLIDING, I will love them freely: for my anger is turned away from him."

The whole purpose of Christ's ministry was to heal people and restore them to the Father, it wasn't to judge. John 3:17 says, “For God sent not his Son to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” The Greek word sozo (translated here as “saved”) means “to save, protect, HEAL, preserve to make or be whole.” Thus, we seen in the Greek that salvation involves healing and restoration to wholeness. Matthew 9:11-13 it says, “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, “Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” But when Jesus heard that, he said to them. “THEY THAT BE WHOLE NEED NOT A PHYSICIAN, BUT THEY THAT ARE SICK. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” We can see this in Jesus' interactions with the woman caught in adultery in John 8, the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, and Zaccehaeus the tax collector in Luke 19, etc. In Orthodox thinking, Christ is the revelation of the unseen God. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared Him.” (John 1:17,18) and again “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by HIS SON, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” (Hebrews 1:1,2) Thus, the heart of the Father is revealed in the Son.

That the wages of sin is death cannot be denied, but where does this death come from? Is death intrinsic to sin, or does it come separately as punishment from God for sin? For the Orthodox, to say that death is punishment from God would be to say that Christ saves us from God since He saves us from death, and death comes from God. So, it is God who is changed by the Cross of Christ (i.e. he is appeased by the sacrifice of Christ), and not us. But who is God that He should change? It must be that death is intrinsic to sin, because sin is turning away from God who is LIFE, and the Cross of Christ saves us from sin and death. So, indeed the wages of sin really is death, not because God decided it should be so, but rather, because to turn away from God is to turn away from life itself. When God told Adam that “for in the day that thou eatest therof thou shalt surely die” it wasn't a decree of punishment, rather it was a warning that if he chose to turn from God, he would be turning from life itself. In the beginning God created man his own image and likeness. To be truly human is to be like Christ, the second Adam. To be in sin, is to be less than human, because we were created in God's image. That we sin (the works of the flesh in Galatians), is evidence that we are not whole, because we are not what God had created us to be. This is what the Orthodox mean when they say sin is a sickness. They do not mean that it is a physical sickness, like cancer, or a physical malady, like a broken bone, but rather that it is the condition of not being whole or sound, as God created us to be in the beginning.

Thus, everything that God does, He does for our healing, to restore His image in us. He smites the Egyptians, to heal them (Isaiah 19:22), and He chastens us for our benefit (Hebrews 12:10-13).
blessings,
Julia

Friday, September 7, 2012

Prayers for the Dead

I wanted to share with you a chapter from the book "Introducing The Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life" by Anothny M. Coniaris. I pray that you will find this chapter on prayers for the dead informational and will want research and get this book to learn and understand the beliefs and practices of the Orthodox Church.

"What We Believe About  Prayers For The Dead"

"A psychiatrist recently listed five of the most upsetting experiences people can have. They were as follows: death of a child, death of a spouse, a jail sentence, death of a relative, an unfaithful spouse. Three of the five were related to death. Some time ago an intriguing story appeared in one of our magazines. It was the story of a man on his way home from the office on a rainy Friday evening to face a cluster of minor problems involving the various members of his family. As he made his way home through mid-Manhattan, he happened to see a man who had just been run down by a car, lying dead in the middle of the street. This was only his second or third contact with death and it really shocked him. The conscious realization that he too was going to die one day hit him like a sledge hammer. It made a difference when he got home that night. The problems that he thought were so great were not as big as he imagined. The thought of death had given him a new perspective.

Refusing To Face Reality
One of the striking characteristics of our time is the absurd lengths to which we go to keep death out of sight and out of mind. Dr. John Brantner, A University of Minnesota clinical psychologist, said recently that American society "deals very badly with death and the dying...As a society we fear death and through our fear we foster it," he said. Studies have shown that dying patients want very much to talk about death. It helps them accept it and relieves anxiety, by few people are comfortable about bringing up the subject. Tolstoy, in his masterful tale, The Death of Ivan Ilyitch, describes the conspiracy of silence that we maintain in the presence of the dying. "Ivan Ilyitch's cheif torment was a lie-the lie somehow accepted by everyone that he was only sick, but not dying, and that he needed only to be calm." Simone de Beauvoir, in A Very Easy Death, writes of her mother dying of cancer, "At the time the truth was crushing her, and when she needed to escape it by talking, we were condemning her to silence, we forced her to say nothing about the anxieties and to suppress her doubts, she felt both guilty and misunderstood." In earlier days, along wit hthe other basic facts of life like birth, marriage, bearing children, and raising a family, death was openly accepted as a fact of life. The burial ground surrounding the church stood in the very center of the community. the body was not viewed in a funeral parlor; it was brought right into the living room of one's home. One could not evade the fact of death. One had to accept it and learn to live with it.

The Cause Of Morbidity
Please do not misunderstand. The intention is not to be morbid. It is quite the opposite. If there is anything morbid about death, it arises out of the refusal to face it and take it into account. Our Orthodox Christian faith is not morbid when it takes death frankly and openly into account. Our Church calendar provides many occasions when we are asked to face up to the fact of death. Easter is one such occasion. Sunday is another. Every Sunday is a "little Easter", celebrating Christ's victory over death. On our Church calendar every year, there are special Memorial Saturdays or "Saturdays of the Souls," which provide another opportunity for us to face up to death. On these Saturdays the Divine Liturgy is celebrated and special prayers are offered for our deceased loved ones. We pray for the dead especially on Saturdays since it was on the Sabbath Day that Christ lay dead in the tomb, "resting from all His works and trampling death by death." Thus, in the New Testament, Saturday becomes the proper day for remembering the dead and offering prayers for them. There are two questions often asked about the practice we have in the Orthodox Church of praying for the dead: 1. Why do we pray for the dead? 2. What can we expect of these prayers?

Why Do We Pray For The Dead?
Christianity is a religion of love. Praying for the dead is an expression of love. We ask God to remember our departed because we love them. Love relationships survive death and even transcend it. There is an inner need for a relationship with a loved one to continue to be expressed even after a loved one has died. Often even more so after a loved one has died since physical communication is no longer possible. The Church encourages us to express our love for our departed brethren through memorial services and prayers. The anniversary of the death of a loved one is very painful. The Church helps us cope with this pain by encouraging us to have memorial prayers offered in Church for the departed loved ones one the anniversaries of their death, i.e., forty days after the death, six months, a year, etc. This gives us the opportunity to do something for our loved one. It helps express and eventually resolve our grief. Death may take loved ones out of sight but it does not take them out of mind or out of heart. We continue to love them and think of them as we believe they continue to love us and think of us. How can a mother forget a child who has passed over to the life beyond? The same love which led her to pray for that child when he lived will guide her to pray for him now. For in Christ all are living. The same love makes her wish to communicate with him. Yet, all communication must take place in Christ and through Christ. No other communication with the dead is possible or lawful for the Christian. God is God of the living. Our dear ones live in Him. Only through Him is it possible for us to communicate with them. Every liturgy in the Orthodox Church contains prayers for the dead such as the following: Be mindful of all those who slumber in the hope of a resurrection to everlasting life. Give them rest, O God, where the light of Thy countenance shineth. The ancient Eucharistic prayers of both East and West intercede for the dead as well as for the living. Just as we pray for the deceased, so we believe they continue to love us, remember us, and pray for us now that they are closer to God. We cannot forget the example of the rich man in Hades asking Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers lest they, too, go to that place of torment. Though he had left his life he did not cease to be concerned for his brothers still on earth. The Orthodox Church prays for the dead to express her faith that all who have fallen asleep in the Lord, live in the Lord; their lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Whether on earth or in heaven, the Church is a single family, one Body in Christ. Death changes the location but it cannot sever the bond of love. "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matt. 22:32). He is "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" (Ex. 3:6). He is the God of persons who, though dead physically, are very much alive in His presence.

What Can We Expect Of Our Prayers For The Dead?
Since a person's eternal destiny is determined immediately after death (though one must wait for the General Judgment to receive the full measure of one's reward), we must not expect our prayers to snatch an unbeliever from Hades to Paradise. It is our present life that determines our eternal destiny. Now is the time to repent and accept God's grace. Death puts an end to that state and commits each person to his special judgment. This is why the Lord said that work must be done "while it is day" because "the night cometh when no man can work". "Day" means the present life, "when it is still possible to believe," writes St. Chrysostom, while "night" is the condition after death. What happens beyond the grave belongs entirely to God. He has told us as much as we need to know; the rest is covered with a veil of mystery which man's curiosity is incapable of piercing. The faithful have committed themselves to God for the duration of their earthly lives. Now, it is well and good for them to commit their departed loved ones to the mercy of God through prayer, for they have assurance that God in the riches of his mercy has ways to help them beyond our knowing.

Focus On Ourselves
Whether our prayers for our departed loved ones bring any benefit to them is a question we must leave to the mercy of God. But of one thing we are certain: such prayers do benefit those who pray for the departed. They remind us that we too are going to die; they strengthen faith in the life beyond; they nourish reverence toward those who have died; they help build hope in divine mercy; they develop brotherly love among those who survive. They make us more cautious and diligent in getting ready for that ultimate journey which will unite us with our departed loved ones and usher us into the presence of God. They remind us that now is the time for moral development and improvement, for faith, repentance and love; now is the time to strive for the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to those "who have fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith." In other words, the Lord never told us that after we die, somebody else's prayers will get us into heaven-no matter how may memorial prayers they offer in our behalf. Salvation is a personal matter between each person and his Lord to be achieved in this life.

Love Never Forgets
Dr. Tillich believed that the anxiety of having to die is the anxiety that one will be forgotten both now and in eternity. Burial means a removal from the face of the earth. This is what men cannot endure. Memorial markers will not keep us from being forgotten. One day they will crumble to dust. The only thing that can keep us from being forgotten is our faith that God knew us before we were born and will remember us for all eternity. In a lesser but still very real way, memorial prayers offered by loved ones serve to relieve the anxiety of being forgotten. The first child of Dr. Martineau, an eminient minister, died in infancy and was buried in the French cemetery of Dublin. Before they left Ireland for Liverpool, the father and mother paid a farewell visit to the grave of their first-born son. The years went by. Mrs. Martineau died. At the age of 87, Dr. Martineau was a lonely old man. But when he was at the tercentenary of Dublin University, he stole away from the brilliant public function to stand once more by the tiny grave that held the dust of his first-born child. No other living soul recalled that little one's smile or remembered where the child was sleeping. But the father knew and the little buried hands held his heart. A father's heart never forgets. Love always remembers. That is why the Orthodox Church has always encouraged us to hold special memorial prayers and services for the departed. And that is why we sing the hymn Memory Eternal at funeral services.

A Meaningful Custom
It is customary among Orthodox Christians from Greece to bring a tray of boiled wheat kernels to church for the memorial service. The wheat kernels express belief in everlasting life. Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (Jn. 12:24). Just as new life rises from the buried kernel of wheat, so we believe the one buried in Christ will rise one day to a new life with God. The wheat kernels are covered with sugar to express the bliss of eternal life with God in heaven.

Focus On Christ
When Orthodox Christians pray for loved ones, they focus not only on the departed, but especially on Christ who "by his death trampled upon death and to those in the tombs bestowed life eternal." Memorial prayer services which affirm the reality of physical death and also the reality of resurrection into life eternal play a vital role in the healing of grief. On Memorial Saturdays the Church prays universally for all the departed. However, a special litany is included to pray personally for departed loved ones whose names are submitted to the priest by parishioners. One of the great theologians of the Orthodox Church, Prof. Christos Androutsos, stated that memorial prayers should be offered only for those who have repented and not sinned deeply. It is not proper- he said- that they be offered for the impenitent sinner. Since, however, the exact moral state of those departing is unknown, in practice they are offered for all.*"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

good thoughts!

here is an mini article from my Orthodox Study Bible on the Eternal Kingdom.

"The Eternal Kingdom"

"Few saints have been blessed with a vision of heaven while still in this life. Isaiah saw heaven (Is 6:1-8), as did Ezekiel (Ezk 1:1-28), and the apostle John saw a new heaven-God's eternal Kingdom revealed as a city (Rev 21:1-22:5). When we read these passages, we note an abundance of mystical, apocalyptic imagery. But the strong similarities between these passages suggests an inspired consistency of reporting on the visions. The living creatures, the light, the cherubic beings, the throne, and the glory of the Lord all work together to unveil a Kingdom of celestial majesty and splendor. While confessing with the prophet Isaiah and the apostle Paul that "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Co 2:9), we nonetheless find, taking the Scriptures as a whole, that certain things can be said about the eternal Kingdom. 1. The saints who inhabit God's Kingdom live in active fulfillment of His eternal plan. In the Kingdom, humanity becomes all it is meant to be. There is nothing at all in Scriptures to suggest that eternal life means people passively afloat on huge white clouds strumming harps unto the ages of ages. Originally created to inhabit Paradise, our first parents chose to sin against God and were expelled from the Garden. The Kingdom of God was closed to mankind (Gn. 3:24). But God in His love called His creation back to Himself, speaking to us through the law and the prophets and ultimately through His incarnate Son. Through new life in Jesus Christ, we are brought back by God's mercy into the new creation, His everlasting Kingdom. As kings and priests we will reign with Him forever (Rev. 1:6). 2. We experience a foretaste of the Kingdom in the Church. The very first words of the Divine Liturgy spoken by the priest are, "Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever unto ages of ages." The Church at worship enters or ascends to the heavenly Kingdom. For it is in the Church that we are seated "together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:6) and are raised to "where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God" (Col 3:1). In worship we join the heavenly hosts-the saints and the angels-in giving praise to our God. As the body of Christ, we participate with that "great cloud of witnesses"(Heb 12:1) surrounding us as we come to "the throne of God" (Heb 12:2). We come liturgically "to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all" (Heb 12:22,23). With this heavenly vision, the Orthodox Church each Sunday remembers not only those in the parish but "all those who in faith have gone before us to their rest." 3. Knowledge of the Kingdom motivates us to live in complete devotion to Christ. In this life, we have a foretaste of the Kingdom that inspires us to seek its fullness. In Paul's words, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face" (1 Co 13:12). Worship is not a solitary act. Rather is is the Bride of Christ, the one Church-those on earth joining with those in heaven-giving thanks to our God and King who has made us citizens of His magnificent domain. The apostle John writes, "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 Jn. 3:2,3)"

Friday, August 31, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

God is awesome!

God is so amazing! Yesterday He was really revealing things to ben and I yesterday and I am so amazed and humbled by these profound revelations!
in the song "Sea of Faces" by Kutless there is a line that says "Your Body's the bread and your Blood is the wine because you traded your life for mine" and hubby and I were talking how in Hebrews it talks about the Priesthood of Christ is after the order of Melchizedek and the interesting thing is that Melchizedek's gift was bread and wine and so that is why Orthodox Christians bring gifts of bread and wine each Sunday to be blessed and for God to use and give back to us as His Body and Blood for the remission of our sins which the coal in Isaiah represents. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLHE4P-B2FA and here's Take Me Inhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kfua4nRKDEU its just so amazing how these two songs connect together!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Divine Liturgy

on the way home from church today, I was thinking about the song "Take Me In" here are the lyricshttp://www.metrolyrics.com/take-me-in-lyrics-petra.html. I realized that as a Protestant/Evangelical there was no way I could fully understand the meaning of this song because I had the understanding that everything was spiritual, but now that I have been going to an Orthodox Church I have come to fully understand this song and have realized that there is a physical aspect to Christianity and when I enter into the church and join in with the others in the Divine Liturgy, I am taken past the outer courts and crowds of people and ushered into the Holy place and there I find myself truly in the presence of God worshipping along side those that have gone before me. That is how the Orthodox Divine Liturgy is designed to do, to take us past the outer courts of this earthly realm and into heavenly realm to stand and worship in the very presence of God!! O how I wish more Protestant/Evangelicals could experience what the Orthodox experience every Sunday!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Faith without works is Dead

In this mini Bible Study Article we will see based on the Bible, Church history and Tradition we will see how the early Christians viewed faith and works. So get your thinking caps on and get ready to do some research for selves!

"Works" In Paul's Writing"
"St. Paul uses the term "works" extensively in his letters, especially in Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians. By this term, he means human activities which he generally classifies in two categories: 1. Dead works: These can be works that are evil, such as murder, adultery, idol worship, and robbery-which the Scriptures also call "works of the flesh" (Gal. 5:19) and obviously condemn. But in addition, dead works can be works-even good works-done for the wrong reasons. These are works that are good in themselves-such as fasting, giving money, and feeding the poor-but are done to call attention to oneself or to gain standing in the community. Selfish motivation turns good works into dead works. (The solution to this problem is not to cease fasting, giving, or helping, but rather to turn from the sin of self-glorification.) 2. Living works: These are deeds that are both good in themselves and done for a good purpose: the glory of God. Good works the Scriptures commend. Paul teaches they are an outgrowth of our salvation when he writes, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). They contribute to our faith, as James teaches, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only [or alone]" (Jam 2:24). When we do living works, we rely on the strength and grace of God, and we seek to bring glory to Him and not to ourselves through what we do. Some have erroneously interpreted Paul, particularly in Romans 4, to be condemning all works. A careful reading of Romans, however, reveals Paul is not putting down works in general, but dead works. St. Maximos the Confessor, writing in the seventh century, states clearly the view of the Church concerning dead works. "Many human activities, good in themselves, are not good because of the motive for which they are done. For example, fasting, vigils, prayer, psalmody [the singing of hymns], acts of charity and hospitality are by nature good. But when performed for the sake of self-esteem [vainglory, self-glorification] they are not good. In everything we do, God searches out our purpose to see whether we do it for Him or for some other motive...quite clearly He bestows blessings only when something is done for the right purpose. For God's judgment looks not at the actions, but at the purpose behind them." Thus, the Christian actively cultivates a habit of doing good works for the glory of God, and as a way of life. The writings of Paul are clear. If we are joined to Christ and cleansed from the dishonor of the past, we become "a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Tim. 2:21). God sets us apart to Himself so we will be productive and useful to Him. "Therefore, my beloved brethren," Paul tells the Corinthians, "be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58)."

Mary

Why are so many people today afraid to preserve and give honor to Mary, who is one of most important human beings on earth? She gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God who would save us from our sins. Based on the Bible, Church history and tradition we get a good idea of how the Early Church viewed Mary and we will see that its ok to remember, honor and recognize the role Mary played in Christians salvation more than just at Christmas time. Here's Bible Study article from my Bible to get your thinking caps going and help you get started in researching for yourselves!

"Mary"
  "For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed." (Lk. 1:48)
"For two thousand years the Church has preserved the memory of the Virgin Mary as the prototype of all Christians-the model of what we are to become in Christ. Mary was truly pure and unconditionally obedient to God. The tradition of the Church holds that Mary remained a virgin all her life (see note Mt. 12:46-50). While lifelong celibacy is not a model for all Christians to follow, Mary's spiritual purity, her wholehearted devotion to God, is certainly to be emulated. Mary is also our model of in that she was the first person to receive Jesus Christ. As Mary bore Christ in her womb physically, all Christians now have the privilege of bearing God within them spiritually. By God's grace and mercy we are purified and empowered to become like Him. The honor we give to Mary also signifies our view of who Jesus is. From early times the Church has called her Mother of God (Greek Theotokos, literally "God-Bearer"), a title which implies that her Son is both fully man and fully God. As His Mother, Mary was the source of Jesus' human nature; yet the One she bore in her womb was also the eternal God. Therefore, because of her character and especially of her role in God's plan of salvation, Christians appropriately honor Mary as the first among saints. The archangel Gabriel initiated this honor in his address to her: "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Lk. 1:28). This salutation clearly indicates that God Himself had chosen to honor Mary. Her favored status was confirmed when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was then six months pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth greeted Mary with these words: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Lk. 1:42,43). And Mary herself, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, predicted the honor that would be paid her throughout history: "For behold, all generations will call me blessed" (Lk. 1:48). In obedience to God's clear intention, therefore, the Orthodox Church honors Mary in icons, hymns, and special feast days. We entreat her, as the human being who was most intimate with Christ on earth, to intercede with her Son on our behalf. We ask her, as the first believer and the Mother of the Church, for guidance and protection. We venerate her-but we do not worship her, for worship belongs to God alone. In Matins, Vespers, and all the services of the hours of prayer, we sing this hymn, which expresses Mary's unique place in creation. "It is truly right to bless you, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim, without defilement you gave birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify you."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Confession

What is confession and why is it important to our spiritual health? Based on the Bible, Church history and tradition we get a pretty good idea what confession is and why it is important. Here is a mini Bible Study article from my Bible to help get your thinking caps on and to research more for yourselves.

"Confession"

"Perhaps the most misunderstood sacrament of the Christian Church is confession. How did it originate? What role does a priest play? Is there a special procedure for confession? The Scriptures hold answers to these questions. Concerning our sins, God's Word gives a marvelous promise: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" ( 1 Jn. 1:9). The faithful are to bring their sins to God in repentance and receive cleansing and forgiveness. The Early Christian community had a specific practice in this regard. People would stand and confess their sins to God in the presence of the whole congregation! Had not Jesus encouraged His followers to walk in the light together, to confront problems corporately, to "tell it to the church" (Matt. 18:17)? Thus, James writes, "Confess you trespasses to one another" (Jam. 5:16). But as time went on the Church grew in numbers, strangers came to visit and public confession became more difficult. Out of mercy, priests began to witness confessions of sin privately on behalf of the Church. Jesus gave His disciples the authority to forgive sin. "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20:23; see also Matt. 16:19). From the beginning, Christians understood that the grace of ordination endowed the shepherd of the flock with the discernment and compassion to speak the words of remission on behalf of Christ regarding the sins of those who confess and turn from sin. For God has promised to remove sin from us "as far as the east is from the west" (Ps. 102:12). "You did not choose Me," Jesus told the Twelve, "but I chose you and appointed [ordained] you" (Jn. 15:16). To these same disciples He promised, "It is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit" (Mk. 13:11). Whom God calls, He equips. Paul writes to Timothy, "Stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Tim. 1:6). It is the grace of the Holy Spirit that enables the priest to serve God and the people. Thus, the Church has encouraged her faithful: If you know have committed a specific sin, do not hide it but confess it before coming to the Holy Eucharist. St. Paul wrote, "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (1 Cor. 11:28), and "If we would judge ourselves, we would be judged" (1 Cor. 11:31). King David learned a lesson regarding his sin that is recorded for our benefit. For about a year, he had hidden his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband (2 Kg. 11:1-12:13). Then, confronted by Nathan the prophet, David repented from his heart and confessed his sin in a psalm that is used for general confession to this day (Ps. 50). The joy of Salvation was restored to him. People ask, "Can't I confess to God privately?" Certainly, though there is no clear Biblical basis for it. Even general confession occurs in the Church. In His mercy, God provides the sacrament of confession (more properly called the sacrament of repentance) to give us deliverance from sin and from what psychologists call denial. It is easy to pray in isolation yet never come clean. It is far more effective to confess aloud to God before a priest and benefit from his guidance and help. Thus, we come before the holy icon of Christ, to whom we confess, and are guided by our spiritual father in a cleansing inventory of our lives. When we tell God all, naming our sins and failures, we hear those glorious words of freedom that announce Christ's promise of forgiveness of all our sins. We resolve to "go and sin no more" (Jn. 8:11)."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Eucharist

Is communion time merely just symbol only or does that time mean more to us spiritually? Based on Scripture, Church History and Tradition we get a pretty good idea of how the Early Christians viewed Communion. here is a mini Bible Study Article from my Bible to get your thinking caps going and to get you started on researching more for yourselves.

"The Eucharist"
 
"For I have received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks (Greek eucharistesas), He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me" (1 Cor. 11:23-25). With these words-quoting the words of Christ in Luke 22:19,20-St. Paul instructs the Corinthians concerning the Eucharist, the giving of thanks. Some two thousand years after Jesus gave Himself "for the life of the world" (Jn. 6:51), there are in Christendom at least three different interpretations of His words. For the first thousand years of Christian history, when the Church was visibly one and undivided, the holy gifts of the Body and Blood of Christ were received as just that: His body and Blood. The Church confessed this was a mystery: The bread is truly His Body, that which is in the cup is truly His Blood, but one cannot say how they become so. The eleventh and twelfth centuries brought on the scholastic era, the Age of Reason in the West. The Roman Church, which had become separated from the Orthodox Church in 1054, was pressed by the rationalists to define how the transformation occurs. They answered with the word transubstantiation, meaning a change of substance. The elements are no longer bread and wine; they are physically changed into flesh and blood. The sacrament, which only faith can comprehend, was subjected to a philosophical definition. This second view was unknown in the ancient Church. Not surprisingly, one of the points of disagreement between Rome and the sixteenth century reformers was this issue of transubstantiation. Unable to accept this explanation of the sacrament, the radical reformers, who were rationalists themselves, took up the opposite point of view: the gifts are nothing but bread and wine, period. They only represent Christ's Body and Blood; they have no spiritual reality. This third, symbol-only view helps explain the infrequency with which some Protestants partake of the Eucharist. What do the Scriptures teach concerning the Eucharist? 1. Jesus said, "This is My body...this is My blood" (Lk. 22:19,20). He never says these gifts merely symbolize His Body and Blood. Critics have charged that Jesus also said of Himself, "I am the door" (Jn. 10:7), and He certainly is not a seven- foot wooden plank. The flaw in that argument is obvious: at no time has the Church ever believed He was a literal door. But she has always believed the consecrated gifts of bread and wine are truly His Body and Blood. 2. In the New Testament those who receive Christ's Body and Blood unworthily are said to be bring condemnation upon themselves. "For this reason many are weak and sick among you and many sleep" (literally, "are dead"; 1 Cor. 11:30). A mere symbol, a quarterly reminder, could hardly have the power to cause sickness and death! 3. Historically, from New Testament days on, the central act of worship, the very apex of spiritual sacrifice, took place "on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread" (Acts 20:7). The Eucharist has always been that supreme act of thanksgiving and praise to God in His Church."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Church Government

is there such a thing as proper church goverment? I think there is and based on Scripture, Church History and Tradition we get a pretty good idea of what a proper Church government should look like. here' is a mini Study Bible Article to get you thinking caps on and to get you started on researching things out for yourselves.

"The Four "Orders" In Church Government"
  "The New Testament teaches that all four "orders" which form the government of the Church-laity, deacons, presbyters, and bishops-are necessary to the proper functioning of the body of Christ. All four are clearly visible in Paul's first letter to Timothy. 1. The laity are also called "saints" (Rom. 1:7; 2Cor. 1:1; 1Tim. 5:10), the "faithful" (Eph. 1:1), and "brethren" (Col. 1:2). The laity (Greek laos) are the people of God, the "priesthood" (1 Pt. 2:4-10). Technically, the term "laity" includes the clergy, though in our day the word usually refers to those in the Church who are not ordained. It is from among the laity that the other three orders emerge. 2. The deacon, literally "servants," are ordained to serve the Church and must meet high qualifications (1 Tim 3:8-13). The apostles were the first to take on the service tasks of the deacons, and when the workload became too great they called for "seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business" (Acts 6:3). Besides serving the material needs of the people, deacons occupy a crucial role in the liturgical life of the Church. 3. The presbyters, or elders, are visible throughout the New Testament. Their ministry from the start was to "rule," "labor in the word," and teach true "doctrine" (1 Tim 5:17) in the local congregation. Paul "appointed elders in every church" (Acts 14:23) and later instructed his apostolic apprentice, Titus, to do the same in Crete (Titus 1:5). From the word "presbyter" came the shorter form of "priest," which finally became "priest." In no way is the ordained Christian priesthood seen as a throwback to or a reenacting of the Old Testament priesthood. Rather, joined to Christ who is our High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 5:6, 10), the Orthodox priest is likewise a minister of a new covenant that supersedes the old. 4. The bishop is the "overseer" of the congregation an clergy in a given area. Often the terms "bishop" and "elder" are used interchangeably in the New Testament (Acts 20:17,28), with the bishop being the leader of the elders. The qualifications for bishop listed in 1 Timothy 3:17 and Titus 1:7-9 underscore this role. Nonetheless, the bishopric is a specific office both in the New Testament and in the early Church. The Twelve were the first to hold this office (in Acts 1:20 "office" could literally be translated "bishopric") and they in turn consecrated other bishops to follow them. For example, Timothy and Titus are clearly of a separate order from that of elder (see 1 Tim. 5:17-22; Titus 1:5). Early records show James was bishop of Jerusalem by AD 49 and functioned accordingly at the first council there (Acts 15:13-22). Peter is on record as the first bishop of Antioch prior to AD 53, and later first bishop of Rome, where he was martyred about AD 65. Perhaps the strongest early reference outside the New Testament to the presence of the four orders in church government occurs in the writings of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch from AD 67-107, the very heart of the New Testament era. To the church at Philadelphia (see Rev. 3:7-13) he writes of "Christians [laity] at one with the bishop and the presbyters and the deacons. In the Orthodox Church, authority is resident in all four orders, with the bishop providing the center of unity. His authority is not over the Church, but within the Church. He is an icon of Jesus Christ, "the Shepherd and Overseer [literally, bishop] of your souls" (1 Pt. 2:25). Church leadership does not consist of one or more of the orders functioning without the others. Rather, the Church, with Christ as Head, is conducted like a symphony orchestra, a family, the body of Christ, where all the members in their given offices work together as the dwelling place of the Holy Trinity.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Imagery


this mini Bible Study Article will definitely get your thinking caps on and you will be wanting to research more for yourselves what Scripture, Church History and Tradition together have to say about the matter of icons and artistic representations of Christ and others.
"Images and Imagery"

   "Many people have been taught that the second of the Ten Commandments prohibits icons. However, if correct, all artistic representations of anything would be forbidden. The Lord Himself in the same book of Exodus commanded Moses to make two gold cherubim (angels), "of hammered work," and to place them at each end of the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant (Ex. 25:17-21). The Lord also stipulated that the ten curtains of the tabernacle be woven with images of cherubim on them (Ex. 26:1), and likewise the veil (Ex. 26:31). When King Solomon built temple, the huge basin, or "sea," was set upon twelve statues of oxen (3 Kg. 7:13,30). And upon the ten bases of the sea were cast or engraved "lions, oxen, and cherubim" (3 Kg. 7:16), as well as palm trees ( 3 Kg. 7:22). The Lord bestowed His blessing upon all these artistic representations first by filling the new temple with His Glory ( 3 Kg. 8:10,11), and then by declaring to Solomon, "I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually" ( 3 Kg. 9:3). Perhaps a most striking example of an image made at God's command in the Old Testament is the bronze serpent that God ordered Moses to make and put on a pole in order to protect the Hebrews bitten by the deadly serpents (Num. 21:4-9: see Jn. 3:14,15). Hundreds of years later, when the Israelites were offering incense to this same bronze serpent in a kind of idol-worship, King Hezekiah, who "did what was right in the sight of the Lord," had the serpent smashed into pieces ( 4 Kg. 18:3,4). So it is not the image itself which is faulty or prohibited, but rather its improper use. The prohibition in Exodus 20:4 is not against all artistic representations. Rather, it is against images, whether in human form or not, which would be worshipped as gods and goddesses-"gods of silver, and gods of gold" (Ex. 20:23). For the Lord knew that such images would tempt the Hebrews to depart from worshipping Him, the One true God (Ex. 20:3-5). Certainly, before the invisible and limitless Lord God of Israel became incarnate, it was impossible to make an image of Him. However, after God the Son assumed a visible and tangible human body, it was natural and beneficial for the Church to create artistic representations of Him-and of His holy Mother, and of the saints and angels-from the earliest times. According to tradition, St. Luke the Evangelist made at least three icons of Christ and His Mother. Every image, or icon, of Christ has significant theological content. For it proclaims anew the Incarnation of God, who "became flesh" for our salvation (Jn. 1:14). Recognized icons of our Savior, prayerfully made, provide us with inspired, trustworthy representations of Him. The Seventh Ecumenical Council, held in Nicea in AD 787, condemned the heresy of iconoclasm (the rejection, and even destruction, of icons). These Holy Fathers articulated the critical distinction between the worship reserved for God alone, and the veneration/honor/reverence given to the icons. In addition, this Council declared that "the honor given to the image passes on to that which the image represents." Through icons, Orthodox Christians are drawn closer to Christ. A hymn sung the first Sunday of Great Lent, which commemorates the restoration of icons in AD 843, declares: "the icons that depict Thy flesh lead us to the desire and love of Thee."

Baptism

is Baptism just symbol only or  was Jesus talking about something more? I think there's more to Baptism and based on the Bible, Church history and tradition we can get a pretty good idea of what baptism is and means for our salvation. Here's a mini study article from my study Bible to wet your appetite and get your thinking caps on and to research more for yourself!

"The New Birth"
"Early in His ministry, Jesus revealed the way to enter God's eternal Kingdom. We must be "born again" (Jn. 3:3), a birth from above realized by water and the Spirit. In His conversation with Nicodemus, Christ states, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God"(Jn. 3:5). From the beginning, the Church has recognized the "water" to be the water of baptism, "the Spirit" to be the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the new birth consists of being joined to Christ in the water of baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit through anointing or "chrismation." Salvation, then, is more than forgiveness of sins, more than a mental acceptance of Christ and His teachings. For in salvation we are given union with God through Christ, a right and full relationship with the Holy Trinity, and the restoration of our full humanity. All these things are accomplished through the Incarnation, the union of God and man in the Person of Jesus Christ. Salvation, then, is founded on a substantial union of the believer with Christ in His full humanity, a flesh-to-flesh relationship. Paul likens it to the joining of husband and wife (Eph. 5:23-32). Throughout their epistles, the apostles remind us the new birth is necessary for salvation. We die to sin, then, buried with Christ and risen with Him, we are united to Christ and to His body, the Church. We are cleansed, justified, and sanctified-all in baptism, "the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (titus 3:5). Without our repentance and faith, however, immersion in water would be of no effect. Some Christians bypass baptism and stress only faith. Why is the mystery of the water necessary? Because just as Christ actually died on a cross, was buried, and rose again-all through His faith and God's grace-so we must actually be immersed in the sacramental waters of baptism, made effectual through our faith and God's grace. The basic form of baptism is simple. The person to be born again, joined to Christ, is immersed in the water three times in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (see Matt. 28:19). The first-century Didache teaches, "If you do not have running water use whatever is available. And if you cannot do it in cold water, use warm. But if you have neither, pour water on the head three times-in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." In the new birth, a true mystery takes place. For in the sacrament of baptism, we die, going down into the water to be mystically united to Christ in His death, and we live again, rising up out of the water in His resurrected humanity. In short, we are born again."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

proper Worship

Is there such a thing as proper worship? I think there is and based on the Bible, Church history and Tradition we get a pretty good idea of what proper worship looks like and why we should keep to it today. Here's a really good mini study Article from my Study Bible to wet your appetites to get your thinking caps on and to research more for yourselves.

"Liturgy In The New Testament Church"
"Virtually all students of the Bible realize there was liturgical worship in Israel. Immediately after the giving of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17), instructions for building the altar were set forth (Ex. 20:24-26). Then comes instruction concerning keeping the Sabbath (Ex. 23:10-13), the annual feasts (Ex. 23:14-19), and the various offerings and furnishings in the sanctuary (Ex. 25:1-40). Following this, chapters 26-30 deal with such matters as the design of the tabernacle, the altar and the outer court, the priests' vestments and their consecration, and instructions for daily offerings. Liturgical worship is also found in heaven, which is to be expected, since God instructed Moses to make the earthly place of worship as a "copy and shadow of the heavenly things," (Heb. 8:5; see Ex. 25:40). Heavenly worship is revealed in such passages as Isaiah 6:1-8, where we see the prophet caught up to heaven for the liturgy, and Revelation 4, which records the apostle John's vision of heaven's liturgy. The key to comprehending liturgy in the New Testament is to understand the work of the High Priest, our Lord Jesus Christ, who inaugurates the new covenant. Christ is "a priest forever" (Heb. 7:17,21). It is unthinkable that He would be a priest but not serve liturgically: "forever" suggests He serves continually, without ceasing, in the heavenly tabernacle. Further, He is called not only a priest but a liturgist; "a minister [Greek leitourgos, lit., "liturgist") of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected" (Heb. 8:2). Christian worship on earth, to be fully Christian, must mirror the worship of Christ in heaven. Moreover, Christ is "Mediator of a better covenant" (Heb. 8:6). What is that covenant? In the words of the Lord, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood" (1 Cor. 11:25). Just as the blood of bulls and goats in the old covenant prefigured Christ's sacrifice to come, so the eucharistic feast brings to us the fullness of His new covenant offering, completed at the Cross and fulfilled in His Resurrection. This once-for-all offering of Himself (Heb. 7:27) which He as  High Priest presents at the heavenly altar is an offering in which we participate through the Divine Liturgy in the Church. This is the worship of the New Testament Church! Given this biblical background, a number of New Testament passages take on new meaning. 1. Acts 13:2: "As they ministered to the Lord [lit.,"as they were in the liturgy of the Lord"] and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ''Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul.'' We learn that (a) these two apostles were called by God during worship, and (b) the Holy Spirit speaks in a liturgical setting. 2. Acts 20:7: "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them." Communion was held each Sunday. 3. Romans 16:16: "Greet one another with a holy kiss." A kiss of greeting was common in this ancient culture. The "holy kiss," however, was an element of the Christian liturgy that signified the people of God were reconciled to one another, so that they might receive the Body and Blood of Christ in peace. 4. Ephesians 5:14: "Awake, you who sleep, /Arise from the dead, / And Christ will give you light." This is an ancient baptismal hymn, already in use by the time Ephesians, was written. Other examples of creeds and hymns of New Testament times are seen in 1 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13. 5. Hebrews 13:10: "We have an altar" reveals the continuation of the altar in New Testament worship. 6. Revelation 1:10: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day." Many scholars believe John saw his vision of Christ during the Sunday liturgy, as the Lord appeared to him "in the midst of the seven lampstands" (Rev. 1:13). Lampstands would be found in the Christian sanctuary just as they were in the Hebrew temple."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Excellent article!

this an excellent article on the Meaning of  Orthodox Icons. I hope you all will find it informational and useful!
http://troparia.com/icons.htm

Monday, July 30, 2012

something to chew on

Food For Thought from this week's Bulletin: "The marginalization of the Church which some find discouraging is actually a reason to be encouraged. There is no social advantage any more to becoming a Christian. Rather, professing faith in Christ is more likely to garner criticism and social disadvantage. This is all too good. The Church does not need multitudes to do its job, only dedicated souls willing to serve Christ and die for Him. Better a small and dedicated church, than multitudes of nominal believers. Better Bishops who serve the Church despite the fact that it brings no smile from the Emperor, than episcopal time-servers and men- pleasers. Better twelve men filled with the Pentecostal Spirit, than a thousand without zeal for God. Of the thousands that flocked around Christ when He did miracles and healed the sick, only a few stayed faithful to Him after the Cross. Of those thousands, only a hundred and twenty were found in Jerusalem's upper room at the end. But these one hundred and twenty had hearts that burned with love for Jesus. And that was enough."-Fr. Lawrence Farley

Saturday, July 28, 2012

thoughts on Headcovering

this is a beautiful thought by my friend and sister in Christ Charli on Headcovering.
"I've been thinking about headcoverings and husbands... When someone asked my husband once about making me cover, he cracked up laughing. We don't make each other do anything. 

But it's true that many churches that encourage or require women to cover have a low opinion of women. And it seems to me that churches that have a low opinion of women also have a low opinion of the Church! They justify their opinion of women by pointing out that men are like Christ and women are like the Church. The Church is human, Christ is God. The Church is weak, pitiful, sinful, in need of redemption. The Church, clearly, is subordinate to Christ. And so it is with women and their husbands.

But that position is based on an understanding of the Church that is foreign to Orthodoxy! The Church is the bride of Christ, unspotted, without blemish. The Church is also an icon of the Theotokos, the All-pure One, the one from whom our Lord took his body. The Church is, in fact, the very Body of Christ -- what Christ is, the Church is (by grace, if not by nature). 

The relationship between the Church and Christ is also understood to be like the relationship between Christ and the Father. Although Christ submits to the Father, Christ is not less than the Father. And the Father never, ever compels his Son to do anything. He never demands anything of the Son. He never uses any form of coercion or force. Even so, Christ never forces the Church to do anything, never demands, never coerces or forces. He stands at the door and knocks. He invites. He asks. So should a husband be with his wife.

Submission, subordination in the Church, and in a Christian marriage, is a free gift from one person to another who is equal in dignity, equal in honor, equal in every respect. It is not the submission of a slave to a master. Such submission in a marriage, according to John Chrysostom, shames the man who demands it. 

Paul Evdokimov says that the wife must be truly, absolutely free to say yes or no to her husband, just as the Theotokos was truly, absolutely free to say yes or no to God. Without the freedom to say No, it is impossible to say Yes. If your choice is taken away from you, and you can't choose, you can accept the situation with humility and grace. That's the way the confessors and passion-bearers responded to their situations. But that is not the submission of Christ to the Father, or the submission of the Theotokos to God. It is never the way it is meant to be in the Church, or in a marriage. 

So our headcoverings are not a sign that we've given over having our own opinions, and wait on our husband to make all our decisions for us. They are not a sign that we are less than our husbands. Our headcoverings can't be a symbol of that -- because that isn't true. The angels wouldn't ask for that.

So it's something else. St. Paul isn't entirely clear on what the something else is. A sign of our authority on our heads. Authority over what? Over the angels? Over our own person? None of those seem quite right. 

But I think that, whatever it is, we can joyfully reclaim the headcovering as something that is not a sign of oppression, but a sign of our own authority and our own freedom."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oldest Hymn!

this is so neat! this hymn is considered to be the oldest Christian non-scriptural hymn!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_m3C7-g7rM Justin Martyr mentioned this hymn in some of his writings back in 150AD so it is older than what is said on the video. this is the english translation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNEXeYShbsE&feature=related

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Good Documentary!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laHcgdE55Mo

Good Advice!

In all things that you find in the Holy Scriptures, seek out the purpose of the words, that you may enter into the depth of the thoughts of the saints and understand them with greater exactness. Do not approach the reading of the Divine Scriptures without prayer and asking the help of God. Consider prayer to be the key to the true understanding of that which is said in the Holy Scriptures.

(St. Isaac the Syrian, Sermon 1.85)

Monday, July 23, 2012

thoughts

Many Christians don't realize that the Jews sang and prayed the Psalms and keeping with their Jewish heritage the Early Church did the same. the Early Christians did not give up how they worshipped because they were Christians but added Christian elements to it because they saw Christ as the fulfillment and continuation of their way of life, practice and worship right up to the present day in the Orthodox Churches. this is an excellent source of learning about Jewish worship, Early Christian Worship and as you read them you will see what I am talking about.http://liturgica.com/html/lit.jsp the best way to know about Orthodox Theology is to go to Liturgy on Sundays and there you will see it being played out. "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8(NIV)

good thoughts on Modesty

sharing from my friend Kerri:

"Modesty Lovingly Puts Others First - Does not dress for self: 1 Corinthians 10:24; 13:4, Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3, 1 Peter 2:17; Avoids anything that is likely to encourage a brother to stumble or a sister to despair: Hebrews 13:4, Romans 14:13, 1 Corinthians 8:13, Matthew 18:6, Proverbs 6:25; 7:10; Considers those who are weak: Galatians 5:13, 1 Corinthians 8:9, Romans 15:1–3

- Modesty Communicates the Purity of Christ and His Bride and Honors the Marriage Bed – Honestly represents the Bride of Christ: 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:27; Honors the Marriage Bed (Our own marriage, as well as the marriages of others): Hebrews 13:4, 1 Peter 3:1-2, Malachi 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 4:4, Song of Solomon 2:7; Does not distract others from worshiping God, but points others to Jesus, especially during the worship service: Matthew 5:16, Ezekiel 36:23, 1 Timothy 2:9–10

- Modesty Helps to Protect Women (and Men!) Aside from Scripture, this one is just common sense: 2 Tim. 3:1-6, Prov. 2:11

- Modesty Promotes Humility and Discourages Pride, Vanity, and Self-Centeredness - Flirtation/Alluring: Proverbs 6:25, 2 Timothy 2:22, Obsession with Looks and Attention: 1 Corinthians 13:4, Proverbs 31:30, 1 Peter 3:3–4; Proverbs 11:22 and much more!

- Public Nakedness is Shameful: Isaiah 20:4, Isaiah 47:2-3, Revelation 3:18, Revelation 16:15

- Modesty Honors and Glorifies the Lord (Not ourselves) – 1 Peter 3:2, 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, Titus 2:4-5, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Timothy 2:9-10

- Modesty is Part of a Woman’s Call to be Chaste – 2 Cor. 11:2, Titus 2:5, 1 Peter 3:2 This post is via: Sister Stacy McDonald :o)"

Something to think about

its funny how Christians say Why can't we all get along? we are all part of the Body of Christ. But if we really thought about it we are not of one mind, one body or in unity because if we were then we wouldn't have 26,000 denominations all claiming to be right. just something I was thinking about today.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

excellent blog!!

this is an excellent blog page that bridges the gap between Protestant/Evangelicals!!
http://orthodoxbridge.com/tradition-family-friend-or-foe/

Sunday, July 15, 2012

good article

thought provoking! good article! http://orthodoxbridge.com/why-evangelicals-need-mary/

this is an excellent blog!

excellent blog on Communion!  everyone should take the time to read! http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2012/07/lords-supper-as-sacrifice-in-new.html

Friday, July 13, 2012

Good thought on marriage

“Marriage is the key of moderation and the harmony of desires, the seal of a deep friendship, the unique drink from a fountain enclosed, inaccessible to those without.
United in the flesh, one in spirit, they urge each other on by the goad of their mutual love. For marriage does not remove God, but brings all closer to Him, for it is God Himself who draws us to it.”
St. Gregory the Theologian