Who Will Rescue the Lost Sheep of the Lonely Revolution?

Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd Helps the Lost Sheepby Anthony Esolen –
We do not have Pharisees who preen themselves for having followed the letter of the law and missed its soul. We have Pharisees who preen themselves for disobeying the law, even the most serious admonitions of the law, even your own clear words on marriage and divorce, while presuming to have discovered a soul-of-the-law whose existence has eluded two thousand years of martyrs, saints, popes, bishops, and theologians.

Forgive me, Lord, if I use your words for an admonitory parable. You said to the Pharisees, “What man among you, having a hundred sheep, and learning that one of them has wandered into the wilderness, will not leave the ninety nine and go after the lost sheep? And when he has found it, will he not call his friends and say, Rejoice with me, for I have found the sheep that was lost?”

That is why you came among us, to call sinners back to the fold. [Read more…]

Christians Must Reject a Worldly Mindset

Christians Must Reject a Worldly Mindset by Mike Willis –
We must ever be on our guard to keep our mindset different from that of the world in which we live. As we see our age becoming more secular and its morals changing, Christians will need to be reminded that we have really never lived in a Christian society and be willing to be different from those about us.

Every generation of men has its own “worldly mindset.” What is esteemed in one age differs from what is esteemed in another. The kinds of sin that become most predominant from one age to another may shift. Consequently, Christians must be aware of those things that are esteemed by the world, lest he conform in his mind to the spirit of the age in which he lives.

John wrote, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17). [Read more…]

Priest vs. Priest on Homosexual Orientation

St George Slays Dragon by Editors –
In an online exchange on the popular Monomakhos Blog, the topic of discussion focused on the views on homosexuality expressed by Fr. Alexis Vinogradov a priest in the OCA, rector of St. Gregory the Theologian Church in Wappingers Falls, NY. Fr. Hans Jacobse, a priest in the AOCA, rector of St. Peter Orthodox Mission in Naples, FL, challenged the presumptive opinions of Fr. Alexis and presented the truth from a proper Orthodox Christian understanding.

Fr. Alexis Vinogradov’s views were originally published in 2011 in an article titled New beginnings in community Gender issues and the Church on ocanews.org. Here’s the relevant excerpt that Fr. Hans responded to in the comments section of Monomakhos Blog:

“Homosexual persons did not decide to become homosexual. It was not the fruit of their supposed depravity or sin. That much we know today. There can only be a continuing conversation if we can cross that hurdle of blatant intransigence by those who refuse to acknowledge this fact. But homosexual persons, just as much as heterosexual ones, need to feel the warmth and love and nurture of other persons. God created them for that love, that love is the substance of our humanity; it is what constitutes all of us in bearing his image within us.” ~ Fr. Alexis Vinogradov

[Read more…]

The Heart of Worship is Surrender to God

Heart of Worship is Surrender to God by Rick Warren –
The heart of worship is surrender. Surrender is an unpopular word, especially in the American culture. Surrender means, to many, defeat. We love winning so surrender is unthinkable. But surrendering to God is the heart of worship. It is the natural response to God’s amazing love and mercy. We give ourselves to Him, not out of fear or duty, but in love, 1 John 4:9:10, 19. Paul urges us to fully surrender our lives to God in worship, Romans 12:1. There are three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride and confusion. We want to control our own lives so we misunderstand the meaning of surrender.

1. Can I trust God? Trust is essential to surrender. I won’t surrender to God unless I trust Him, but I can’t trust Him until I know Him better. Fear keeps me from surrendering, but love casts out all fear. The more I realize how much God loves me, the easier surrender becomes. How do I know God loves me? God says He loves me, Psalms 145:9. I’m never out of His sight, Psalms 139:3. He cares about every detail of my life – Matthew 10:30. [Read more…]

I Can Do All Things Through Christ, Who Strengthens Me

St. Isaac the Syrianby Fr. Matthew Jackson –
There is an article (a few of them, actually) making the rounds on social media right now which tries to make the point that the phrase “God will not give you more than you can handle” is not an accurate thing to say. Unfortunately, these articles themselves don’t quite have things right.

They refer back to the quote from 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able.” (This is where the quote ‘God will not give you more than you can handle’ originates). The point is then attempted: this verse doesn’t mean you won’t be given things that can’t be handled, only that God will not allow a temptation you can’t bear – that the verse doesn’t say anything about other experiences you may have within life. Pointing out difficult situations – Auschwitz, cancer, rape, etc. – the authors then say that these things crush people and are more than can be borne (cf. 2 Cor. 1:8-9 for their Biblical example – where Paul says they are at the *point* of breaking in order to learn to trust in God, Who then enabled them to handle their temptations). [Read more…]

Motivated by Fear

Christ Fear Not Calm the Storm Tempestby Fr. Basil Zebrun –
Following His Resurrection Jesus said to the apostles, “peace be unto you” (John 20: 19,21,26). Furthermore, He distinguishes the peace He bestows from that which is given by the world (John 14: 27). St. Paul describes it as, “…the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Christians experience this peace as not merely the absence of fear or strife, but the presence of Christ in the lives of the faithful.

Additionally, during a storm at sea Jesus offered His disciples these words of comfort, “fear not” (Matthew 14:27, Mark 6:50, John 6:20), and prior to raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead He said to the father, “Do not be afraid” (Mark 5:36). At the Annunciation and at the announcement of the Baptist’s conception, the angel also reassured both Mary and Zacharias that there was no need for trepidation (Luke 1).

The statements, “peace be unto you” and “fear not,” were meant to allay the personal anxieties of those whose lives were radically changed by divine grace, freely received. [Read more…]

Spiritual Warfare in the Pauline Epistles

Spiritual Warfare Full armor of God by Fr James Parnell –
Throughout his letters, St. Paul stresses a sense of urgency and vigilance that we have long since lost. This emphasis is based on the reality of a conflict described plainly as a war against evil. It can even seem foreign to us, as it is spoken of in terms far different from the culture wars in which the sins of others become the targets for our Bible bombs and canonical cannons.

No, the conflict he most often references is not that of public conflict with other groups/individuals, but of spiritual conflict. Even conflicts related to those who preached other doctrines (focus on circumcision, spiritual gifts, etc.) are viewed as but a manifestation and example of a spiritual reality:

“For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” [1]

[Read more…]

St. John Chrysostom on the Terrible Passion of Homosexuality

St. John Chrysostom virtue of faithby Fr. Sarantis Sarantou –

“Because of this did God give them up to dishonorable passions, for even their females did change their natural function into that which is against nature; and in like manner also the males having left the natural use of the female, did burn in their longing toward one another….” (Romans 1:26-27)

The Apostle Paul, according to the Holy Fathers, is the holy mouth of Christ, and divine Chrysostom is the mouth of the Apostle Paul. Commenting on the very important Epistle to the Romans of the holy Apostle Paul, the divine Father gives a divinely inspired analysis of homosexuality, among other issues.

All the passions are degrading to humanity, but especially the mania of men for men. He summarily characterizes homosexuality as an unforgivable passion, not because it really is, but because the entire male personality becomes so distorted that there is a chronic allegiance to this abomination, which is a difficult passion to restrain by the fallen.

The golden words of Chrysostom are remarkably balanced. His unshakable logic, which he uses to spiritually support his flock, is universally acknowledged to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. [Read more…]

True and False Spirituality: How to Deal With Fair-weather Friends

Job and Dealing With Fair-weather Friendsby Deacon Keith Fournier –
One of the most profound of biblical characters is the man named Job. The book which bears his name is rich with insights about real life. It is profound, disturbing, and yet incredibly helpful precisely because it reveals something of importance. Things aren’t always the way they seem – or feel.

Yet, – in the words of the Psalmist David – God “never sleeps not slumbers”. (Psalm 121:4)

This is a troubling and difficult time for many people. Over and over again, I hear the sad stories of financial setback as the U.S. economy struggles. People are watching their retirement funds, their homes and their savings, seem to vanish. When we look around us it seems our culture is in collapse as it rejects the moral foundations of a free society. [Read more…]

The Image of God and the Dignity of Work

The Image of God and the Dignity of Workby Art Lindsley –
The number one fear of the millennial generation is living a meaningless life.

In a recent informal survey of undergraduate students at Regent University, 27 percent of students asked expressed anxiety when considering their vocation. “Scared,” “uneasy,” “unsure,” “confused,” and “apprehensive” were common words in describing the way they felt about their future vocation.

But college students aren’t the only ones struggling with their calling. Many adults fail to discover their calling in life, too. Why is it so hard to find this thing we call our “vocation”?

When I use the words “calling” and “vocation,” I am referring to what Os Guinness calls our secondary calling. As Guinness points out, along with Luther, Calvin, and many other Reformers, our primary calling is the call to faith in Christ. Several secondary callings flow from this primary calling, including the call to work. [Read more…]

Calculating Christmas Not Based on Pagan Festivals

Nativity Christmas Starby William J. Tighe –
Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance. [Read more…]

Four Characteristics of Good Orthodox Preaching

Fr. Jonathan Cholcher

Fr. Jonathan Cholcher

by Fr. Jonathan Cholcher –
Orthodox preaching needs to be good preaching. To be good, Orthodox preaching must not only deliver good content, but it must strive to make the hearers good. Therefore, good Orthodox preaching is the Gospel (lit., good news) proclaimed and lived.

Four characteristics mark good Orthodox preaching:

  • Christ crucified and risen;
  • the language, or rationale, of Scripture;
  • plain discourse; and
  • attention to the experience of salvation through the Gospel.

All Orthodox preachers exhibit these traits beginning with Christ Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets. They only preach what they themselves have come to know.

First, Orthodox preaching is the Word, the Logos incarnate Who was crucified and raised to redeem the world from sin, death, and the power of the devil. [Read more…]

Cultivate That Quiet Light, Find Strength in God

Cultivate That Quiet Light, Find Strength in God by Protodeacon Leonid Mickle –
We are all given talents to be used to the glory of God throughout our journey toward salvation. If we exercise them to the best of our ability and to the glory of God, they become part of that light which enlightens the world. The enemy is tireless in his attempts to keep us from performing them. If he cannot sway us from performing the obviously important tasks, he works on the little things, the mundane, seemingly insignificant details of daily life. …

Many are perishing
I have often heard advice similar to that given by St. Seraphim of Sarov: Cultivate the quiet light of Christ within you, and with it you will enlighten those around you. At times, when contemplating the zeal which so many apostles demonstrated in their confession of the Faith before the world, I have wondered about that advice. We know that many are perishing, that many have either never even heard of the Orthodox Church, or are not aware that the Church is not an ethnic clubhouse, but a source of Living Water for all. Why are we not told to advertise, to go out with trumpets, drums, loudspeakers, bright lights, to make the Church more visible? God sometimes provides us with wonderful answers in unexpected settings. [Read more…]

What is the Meaning of Life?

Hieromonk Job (Gumerov)

Hieromonk Job (Gumerov)

by Hieromonk Job Gumerov –
Man has given thought to the meaning and purpose of life since antiquity. The Greeks had the myth of Sisyphus, king of Ephyra (Corinth). As punishment for his deceitfulness, in the underworld he had to roll an enormous rock up a mountain for eternity. But as soon as he reached the peak, an invisible force propelled the rock back down to the bottom – and then the same pointless labor began all over again. This is a striking illustration of the meaninglessness of life.

In the twentieth century, the writer and philosopher Albert Camus applied this image to modern man, judging the central feature of his existence to be absurdity:

“At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which become his fate, created by him, combined under his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling.” [Read more…]

Bible-era Earthquake Confirms Year of Jesus’ Crucifixion

Jesus Crucifixion Earthquake confirms yearby Jennifer Viegas –
Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was crucified on Friday April 3, 33 A.D.

The latest investigation, reported in the journal International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion:

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; (Matthew 27:50-52)

[Read more…]