Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 29, 2015

Understanding a person's heart from their way of reasoning.

Sirach 27:4-7

When a sieve is shaken, the refuse remains;
So a man's filth remains in the way he reasons.
As a furnace tests a potter's vessels,
So the test of a man is in the way he reasons.
As fruit reveals how a tree is cultivated,
So a man's reasoning process reveals his heart.
Do not praise a man before he reveals the way he reasons,
For this is the way a man is tested.

Personal Challenge

We live in the age of reason and logic. Long before this age Jesus ben Sirach very wisely admonished his followers, and therefore us, to very carefully assess how a person applies their reasoning to situations in life because by observing this we can better understand the true condition of someone's heart. It is not necessarily how a person dresses, nor the language that they use that points our where they are coming from, but how they reason through things that speak volumes. As an Orthodox believer, I am taught to not judge others, which definitely leads to giving grace more than scorn or correction. However, we are also taught to be discerning so that we can more fully serve Our Lord. I too must watch my own reasoning and make sure that it is based on God's Wisdom and not on man's intellect.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28, 2015

Working for Him.

James 2:26

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Personal Challenge

My salvation is found in Christ alone. However, the evidence of that salvation, the evidence that I truly do have faith in Him, will be the works that I do throughout my life. What kind of works? Living a life filled with love for my God and my neighbor will generate all of the opportunities that I will ever need to do good works for my Lord. Glory be to God!

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015

Standing up to temptation.

James 1:13

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

Personal Challenge

It is so easy to blame my sin on someone, or something, else. This is a lie of the enemy. My sin comes from my choice to sin. Sure, the world is full of temptations, none of which come from God, but it is my own responsibility to not allow these temptations to take hold in my mind or my heart and then grow into sin. Jesus has given me the power and the authority to say "No!" to temptation and therefore not to sin. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26, 2015

So, I want to be righteous?

James 1:19-20

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Personal Challenge

It is easy to allow my emotions and my self-centeredness to take over control of me and respond to offenses quickly and with anger. This is ungodly. I am admonished to slow down and listen to all sides of the issue, to hold my tongue so as to not add to the offense, and to hold my wrath and judgment for these are not mine to give out. Oh, how much I need the Holy Spirit to do this within me!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 24, 2015

Remembering a saint...

Sirach 14:12-14 LXX

Remember that death does not delay,
And the covenant of Hades has not been shown to you.
Before you die, do good to a friend,
And reach out and give to him based on your ability.
Do not let a day go by without doing something good,
And do not let any of your desire for doing good escape you.

Memory Eternal

I love the tenderness and compassion that my Lord has for me, His child. Today we remember the repose of my father one year ago. This passage was in the middle of my daily reading today. This was my father. I remember so many times that dad would go without in order to meet the need of another. He was always doing good things for those around him because he loved his Father so deeply. Thank You, Lord, for this precious reminder. We love you dad and look forward to seeing you again someday. Glory be to God!

April 23, 2015

Seeking forgiveness!

Wisdom of Sirach 7:32-36 LXX

Stretch forth your hand to the poor,
That your blessing may be complete.
Let the kindness of giving be shown
In the presence of all the living,
And do not withhold kindness from the dead.
Do not withdraw yourself from those who weep,
And mourn with those who mourn.
Do not hesitate to visit a sick man,
For by such visits you will be loved.
With all your words, remember the time you will die,
And you will never sin.

Personal Challenge

I am reminded and humbled by these words from Jesus ben Sirach because I know that I do not hold the poor, the sick, and those who mourn properly in my heart. God forgive me for not caring more for those around me who are in need...which ultimately equates to every human being. Forgive me for not putting the needs of others before my own desires and wants. Forgive me for not desiring the salvation of the lost greater than my own salvation. Create in me a new heart that beats in unison with Yours with a love for all of mankind and creation. Lord Jesus christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 22, 2015

Honoring my is not an option!

Wisdom of Sirach 7:29-31 LXX

Fear the Lord with all your soul
And honor His priests.
Love Him who made you
And do not forsake His ministers.
Fear the Lord and honor His priests,
And give them their portion as commanded:
The firstfruits, the trespass offering,
The gift of the shoulder offering,
The sacrifice of sanctification,
And the firstfruits of the holy things.

Personal Challenge

One of the errors that the reformed way of thinking has brought into our faith practice in the West is the elimination of the role of the priest in the church. We have ministers, pastors, teachers, elders, and even people called priests, but we have changed our view of them, and most importantly, their role in the Body of Christ to just being a job or an occupation. I am coming to value and deeply cherish the role, and, therefore, the person filling that role, of the priest in the Orthodox Church. These men are not in their positions without much teaching, scrutiny, prayer, and oversight. They are ordained by the Church with a lineage that goes back to the first days of Christianity. They are deeply committed to their flocks, usually spending many hours of preparation for every hour that we see them at church. I am extremely humbled by this passage in Sirach as I am not only reminded, but commanded, on how to treat my priest. As I learn more about Orthodoxy and continue to pursue "being Orthodox", I find that I am moving farther and farther away from those around me that desire to be "modern Christians". Glory be to God!

April 21, 2015

Breathing Christ!

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Personal Challenge

If I am truly trying to live my life the way that Christ would then I will be tempted. Christ was tempted! Christ was confronted and challenged! He even told us that if we are His followers then we should expect, even look forward to, being treated as He was. He also gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us through this life I must strive to capture every thought before it takes root and leads me to sin. I must work at turning my eyes and ears away from those sights and sounds of the world that will try to draw me away from my Lord. I must learn to breath the Jesus Prayer with every breath so that my very life is filled with His presence. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 20, 2015

For those who have given their all for our Lord!

Wisdom of Sirach 2:1-6 LXX

My son, if you draw near to serve the Lord,
Prepare your soul for temptation.
Set your heart right and be steadfast,
And do not strive anxiously in distress.
Cleave to Him and do not fall away,
That you may be honored at the end of your life.
Accept whatever is brought upon you,
And in exchange for your humiliation, be patient;
Because gold is tested in fire
And acceptable men in the furnace of abasement.
Believe in Him, and He will help you;
Make your ways straight and hope in Him.

Personal Challenge

Today, I dedicate this entry to the new martyrs in the Middle East. May they be blessed as they now share eternity in our Lord's presence. May their persecutors be touched by the love of our Lord Jesus Christ for he died for them.

As I hear more and more about the activities that are going on in the Middle East and the persecution that is being wrought upon our brothers and sisters in Christ my heart becomes more and more broken for those who do not know Jesus for who he really is. He is God Incarnate! He gave up His throne in heaven in order to become man and dwell amongst us. He gave up His physical life after healing those who were sick, raising to life those who had died, and loving the unlovable. He died for the wealthy and the poor, the clothed and the naked, those with many friends and those lonely and downcast. He died for me! And as I read through the teachings of Wisdom that Jesus ben Sirach captured and wrote down in this book I am reminded that following Christ is the only source of true joy, but also a commitment to a life of trials and tribulations, temptations and distresses, because the world does not want to see God magnified. As I pray for these new saints in our modern world, I ask that I will be able to stand firm in my projection of the image of Christ and humbly be the person that He would have me to be.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 18, 2015

Saint of the Week...

St. Antony the Great

April 17, 2015

Being protected and uplifted!

Psalm 55:22-23 (54:23-24 LXX)

Cast your care upon the Lord,
And He shall support you;
He will never allow the righteous to be moved.
But You, O God, will bring them down into the pit of decay;
Men of blood and deceit
Shall not live even half their days.
But I will hope in You, O Lord.

Encouraging Words

Our Lord is always protecting and uplifting His children. Even in the midst of trials and tribulations He is there with us. And just as Jesus did not avoid His trials and tribulations but endured them, we too sometimes need to run the full course of our trials and tribulations believing that God is using them to refine and shape us into the image of His Son. Glory be to God!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

April 16, 2015

Living as a Gentle Warrior!

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Encouraging Words

Just as Moses charged Joshua, "Be bold and courageous!", we are given the spirit to be bold and courageous in our Christian lives. The powerful thing here is that the spirit of power here also comes with the spirit of love and sound mind so that our boldness is applied appropriately. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15, 2015

Imitating God? Big shoes to fill!

Ephesians 5:1-2

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet- smelling aroma.

Personal Challenge

The rich young man asked Christ who his neighbor was and how to love him. Here I am reminded that if I am to walk in Christ then I am to love my neighbor as He loved us and gave Himself up for us on the cross. Therefore my neighbor and his or her needs should always come before mine. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 2015

Power through adoption.

Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Encouraging Words

Is it all worth it? Is what worth it? The challenges in life that we suffer by trying to live our lives for Christ. The threats and eventual deaths that our brothers and sisters in the middle east are enduring for their faith. Yes! Why is it worth it? Because through Christ we have been transformed from slaves to the law, which ends in death and judgment, to being adopted as children of God and joint heirs with our Lord. We are set free from the law, the tyranny of death and sin, and ways of the world. Glory be to God!

April 13, 2015

Living with dual citizenship!

Isaiah 9:6

Great shall be His government, and of His peace there is no end. His peace shall be upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order and establish it with righteousness and judgment, from that time forward and unto ages of ages. The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall perform this.

Encouraging Words

Wait a minute! Who says that we cannot be a citizen in two countries at the same time? Since I am still living in this fleshly tent I am still a citizen of the earthly realm. However, since Jesus became incarnate, lived the life of a man (a citizen of this same earthly realm), gave up His life for me on the cross, entered into Hell and destroyed death and sin, and rose again victorious over the powers of darkness, I am now a full-blown citizen of heaven today, not someday in the future after I die. He opened the doors of heaven so that I can live in both realms at the same time! Christ is risen!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 11-12, 2015

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

As the thief on the cross, I cry out, "Remember me in your kingdom!" and You pull me into eternity!

As Adam and Eve, and all of the others who were dead and trapped in Hades, I cry out, "Save me!" and You break down the gates forever setting all of mankind, throughout all of eternity, free from death and sin!

As I call out to You to come again, You cry out, "I am with You always, even to the end of the age!" Your work is completed and I dwell in Your house forever! Glory be to God!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

April 10, 2015

Oh, the possibilities!

Mark 10:27

But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

Encouraging Words

Jesus' response to His disciples regarding their amazement of the difficulty of those who love riches entering into heaven is one that I can apply to my life today. There are issues and challenges that I deal with every day of my life. How do I deal with, and love my neighbor? How do I show my love for Him every moment of my life? How do I avoid sin? His promise here is that it is impossible for me to do any of these on my own. But I don't have to because God can and will, do them within me. Glory be to God!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April 9, 2015

Avoiding the eye of the needle.

Mark 10:24-25

And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Personal Challenge

It is not the riches themselves that keep me from serving God and entering His kingdom. It is my desire for riches, my desire for what the riches might bring me in this life, that cause me to take my eyes off of Jesus and focus on the world. This is what keeps me from following Him. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 8, 2015

Does it really have to be this hard?

2 Timothy 3:12

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Personal Challenge
Who is the prince of this earth? Satan. So, if I am trying to live my life for Christ while living on this earth won't he do whatever he can to thwart me? Yes. This means that the more I desire to live for Christ, the more I do for Him and His kingdom, the more persecution I should expect to receive. If the apostles, the saints, the martyrs, and our Lord Jesus Christ, all suffered persecution then I should cherish it for it is a sign that I am becoming like them. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

April 7, 2015

The fires we start with our tongues.

Titus 3:9-11

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self- condemned.

Personal Challenge...

Divisiveness comes in many forms in a community. The worst kind is gossip and rumor mongering. It is so easy to start talking about someone and set aflame a fire that ruins peoples' lives. We are called to flee this behavior and event to put out members of our community that continue this behavior after admonition. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 6, 2015


Mark 9:49-50

"For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another."

Personal Challenge

Sometimes I find myself relaxing in my walk as a Christian and then realize that I am failing my Lord for not keeping my guard up and living a godly, righteous life. Our calling as Christians is to be in constant struggle with the world as we live as citizens of heaven in this foreign land. Living this way puts us in the fire that seasons us as a blacksmith uses fire to season, or harden, the sword. Life really should always be a struggle if we are living the way that Christ would want us to. We also must live our lives as salt and light so that those who do not know Christ will taste the sweetness of His gospel through our actions and have His light shown upon them by His presence in our lives. Glory be to God!

April 5, 2015

The language that I use.

Colossians 3:8-10

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

Personal Challenge

We all have our pet peeves. What we often forget, however, is how we can sometimes, if not often, behave, in the same way, that we don't like others to behave. One that pops out of this list for me is the "filthy language out of your mouth" one. It is not so much that I am concerned about foul language. What bothers me is what I have come to call, "Seinfeld Mouth!" It is that way of speaking in a condescending and diminutive way about someone and then following it up with a flippant, "Just kidding!". Seinfeld perfected the art of put-downs and insults, and now this way of speaking has become pervasive in our culture. Are we not called to be edifying of our fellow man or woman who is created in the image of God? Am I not taught that if I don't have something good to say about someone that I say nothing at all? And then, just as I pick up a stone to throw at these offenders I am reminded that I too judge people. I too am guilty of saying things about others, or worse yet, thinking it. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Monday, April 6, 2015

April 4, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

How fitting as we walk through our Holy Week on our way to Pascha.

April 3, 2015

Death to death and sin.

Colossians 3:5

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Personal Challenge

Growing up reading the scriptures I was always taught to ask the question, "What is the "therefore" there for?" when it comes to reading Paul's letters. In verses 1-4, he describes for us the true mysticism of Christians having received Christ's exalted resurrection life in our baptism. Through Christ and His work, death in our lives has been put to death. Therefore, since Christ has put to death death in our lives, this means He has also put to death sin. This means that I too must focus my energies, my desires, on putting to death sin in my life as well. This is the act of asceticism that I am called to participate in throughout the remainder of my life...killing old sinful desires and passions before I act upon them. I can only do this through the power of the Holy Spirt whom I received within me during my baptism and chrismation. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April 2, 2015

A time to mourn and a time to weep.

Matthew 2:18

"A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more."

Personal Challenge

I wonder what kind of burden Jesus carried on His heart throughout His life knowing that Herod slaughtered many innocent children in an attempt to kill Him as well. I am sure that He wept often for these innocents just as Rachel did in Jeremiah's prophecy. We have in our generation many innocents that have been slain through abortion and being slain through ongoing abortions and child trafficking. Do we weep for them? I know that I do not and that is shameful. Let us weep and mourn for them and strive to be there for those who are at risk of following in their footsteps. Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

April 1, 2015

How should I be living my life?

Titus 2:6-8

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Personal Challenge

What kind of life does God want me to live? One whereby no one around me can call out anything evil in my life and where my enemies would feel ashamed to be my enemy. This is both a high expectation and an honor to strive for. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

March 31, 2015

Size doesn't matter!

1 Maccabees 3:18-19 (LXX)

Then Judas said, "It is easy to hem in many at the hands of a few, and it makes no difference before heaven to save with many or with few. For victory in battle does not come from the size of the army, but from the might of heaven."

Encouraging Words

Life is filled with battles, both temporal and spiritual. It is so easy to set our focus on the size of our army as well as the enemy's, or the strength that we do not have, and get discouraged about the overwhelming size of the enemy. But this is not what matters. What matters is that we have the hosts of heaven on our side and if we fight our battles under our Lord's guidance then the enemy is defeated. Glory be to God!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

March 30, 2015

Fighting the battles of life.

Psalm 46:11 (45:12 LXX)

The Lord of hosts is with us,
The God of Jacob is our protector.

Encouraging Words

Life is filled with battles, both temporal and spiritual. It is so easy to set our focus on the size of our army, or the strength that we do not have, and get discouraged about the overwhelming size of the enemy. But this is not what matters. What matters is that we have the hosts of heaven on our side and if we fight our battles under our Lord's guidance then the enemy is defeated. Glory be to God!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March 29, 2015

Running the race

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Personal Challenge

I can never hope for, or desire, and easy, cushy life, if I am to live my life as a godly, righteous man. This does not mean that my life will not be filled with joy or rewards. The life of a Christian who is desiring theosis is a life lived as a marathon. Every thought, every action, every breath taken is part of our training for the race of life. Am I thinking rightly? Am I acting righteously and in the image of Christ? Am I breathing in His Spirit and breathing out the distractions, temptations, and sins of this world? And just as in a marathon there is the prize at the end of the race, there are also the waypoints along the race where I am given that bottle of water to sustain me, or that pat on the back and the encouragement to keep pressing on. Praise God for these times, like this past weekend spending time with some of my children and grandchildren. What an awesome reminder that the race is worth it and the prize indeed is good and worth the sacrifices along the journey to get to the end. Glory be to God!

March 28, 2015

Saint of the Week
St. Basil the Great