Thursday, June 21, 2012


The Holy Scriptures are filled with unbelievable acts and stories that have captured our imagination for thousands of years. Ever since God first shared His story of Creation mankind has wondered, “How in the world did He do that?!” And over and over we are told by angels, “Do not be amazed…” because the power of God is beyond our understanding. It’s why we call it faith and not fact after all…

In the opening verses of the Gospel of Luke we read, “That you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” (Luke 1.4) Luke begins this way, unique to his Gospel, by acknowledging that not only did other versions of the Gospel exist but that many did not fully understand or believe what they had been told. Saint Luke, a doctor by education, could be trusted in his description of the story of Jesus Christ.

One such unbelievable story is told about the conception and birth of John the Baptist from elderly parents. John’s father, Saint Zacharias, was told, “’Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John’….And Zacharias said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.’” (Luke 1.13,18) This was unbelievable even for Zacharias who was made mute because he doubted God’s power.

We know the rest of the story….John was born and his father received his speech after obeying the commandment to name his son John. Zacharias doubted the power of God but eventually turned around after witnessing the power of God in the birth of his son.

God has a story for us too. He desires for us to believe in Him, follow His commandments, love and serve our neighbor and to love God will all our might and live in Communion with Him and each other. Sound unbelievable? Just follow Zacharias’ example and live the life Christ has established and witness His power….and you’ll believe too!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fatherhood and Faith - A Divine Partnership

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.” (1 Timothy 3.2-5)

Summer comes along and the thought of spending time outdoors with our families and friends brings a warm feeling to our hearts. It’s no surprise that in June, then, the beginning of the “official summer season” we take time to honor our fathers since grilling and outdoor activities have come to symbolize men in general but fathers more specifically. For weeks leading up to Fathers’ Day, advertising seems to center around dad, mom and kids around the grill enjoying quality family time. My memories of spending time with my father enjoying the outdoors still bring a smile to my face. But is that all there is to honoring fathers on Fathers’ Day? Sadly, for many families, this is the limit to Fathers’ Day.

We cannot speak about fathers without also speaking of our Heavenly Father, Who loves us so much that “He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3.16)  His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then established His Church as “His Body” (Ephesians 1.23) to be the Ark of our salvation. We were baptized into His Body becoming one with the Lord Who gave us “the right to become children of God.” (John 1.12) Our real, albeit mystical, union with God is what leads us to understand, or at least appreciate, the connection between family, church and heaven. When one is united to God, one cannot help but discuss every aspect of life from the perspective of union with God…whether we are grilling in the back yard or receiving the Eucharist in Church on Sunday.

When Saint Paul outlined the requirements for a bishop, he was expressing this truth; that leading the Church was not a separate function of men, but a function of fathers and husbands leading their families to God. Although today our bishops are ordained from within the celibate clergy, this was not always the case, but we’ll leave that topic for another day. There is much more to understanding Church polity that is beyond the scope of this article. How then is it that our fathers, physical and spiritual, lead us to God? Let us begin with the first statement of Saint Paul, by replacing the word “bishop” with “father.”

A father then must be blameless – Saint John Chrysostom said, “Every virtue is implied in this word. [The father’s] life should be unspotted so that all should look up to him and make his life the model of their own.” Rather than asking whether or not our fathers are unspotted, since nobody is without sin, maybe we should ask, “Are they striving to be blameless?” The true role model for families is a life of repentance and confession when we don’t always live up to the standards God has for us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5.17) In Christ our fathers are constantly becoming blameless.

A father then must be the husband of one wife – In an era of “no fault divorce” and “common-law marriage” this requirement may seem antiquated or out of touch. It goes without saying that divorce has become too prevalent in our society AND Church, but “From the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19.8) Divorce, while being unavoidable at times, and then only for certain reasons, cannot and should not become the norm in our Churches. We must strive for marital chastity and a father must be dedicated to healing and building a marriage and family whenever possible. In fact it reveals greater character to repair a marriage than to flee from it, which serves a greater model to our children and families.

A father then must be temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach – How our fathers relate to others reveals the condition of their hearts. “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7.17) Our actions reveal our nature. In fact the fruit of our behavior indeed teaches our children and others. We are all able to teach. The real issue is WHAT we are teaching in our actions. If we desire our children to be temperate, sober-minded and of good behavior, fathers must model this in their own lives and their children will follow.

These are the character traits that fathers must possess. Saint Paul then includes what fathers “must not” possess in their character.

A father must not be given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, not quarrelsome, not covetous – I have never met anyone who desires a drunk, violent, greedy, feisty, selfish father. And yet, I have met many people who are all or some of these. What happens between what we desire and what we receive? As Saint Paul reminds us that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3.23) We each are engaged in a battle to subdue our passions. Some are more successful than others, but all fall short….all. If all continue to fall short, is there any hope for fathers and families?

A father must rule his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence – What makes a father great isn’t whether or not he has always succeeded in keeping Saint Paul’s commandments. What makes a father great is his willingness to lead his family (and therefore the Church) toward God with all reverence.

The only true model of a father is The Father, Who even though His children and His Bride (the Church) disobeyed Him and continue to disobey Him, has never faltered in His dedication to leading us toward Heaven. Since that first moment in the Garden, God has been working to restore us to Himself. Our Father in Heaven is blameless, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence…of course God is perfect…

If we, as fathers, strive to live these traits in our lives, then we shall be perfect, just as our Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5.48) And that is something worth honoring this Fathers’ Day.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Transfiguration Radio Daily Program Schedule

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Monday, June 4, 2012

The Holy Spirit + Truth = The Church

And Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20.22)

And Jesus said, “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16.13)

More than two thousand years ago, “When the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2.1-4)

My dear brothers and sisters this is the month of Pentecost so it seemed only appropriate that I offer some assurance as to the claims by the Church to possess the fullness of the Truth as revealed by God. On the first Christian Pentecost, after Jesus had returned to His Throne in Heaven on the Feast of Ascension, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort the Church. This was anticipated since on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost (prior to His Passion) Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture [Old Testament] has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7.37-38) The Gospel continues by stating, “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 7.39)

It is clear from the evidence of Scripture that Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within the Church and guide and comfort the Church. This historical reality should not be taken lightly. When we speak of the Apostles and the earliest Church Fathers (those we refer to as the Apostolic Fathers) we MUST (if we are to trust Scripture and Christ’s guarantee) believe that the Holy Apostles taught from by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and not their own opinions. We must have faith that they spoke the truth…the fullness of the truth.

And what did the Holy Apostles teach? (See The Teachings of the Holy Apostles to the Nations)

1.      We must believe in Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Word of God – fully God and fully Man

2.      We must be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

3.      We must receive Holy Communion (at least) every Sunday

4.      We must fast Wednesdays and Fridays

5.      We must live according to the Commandments to love God and our neighbor

6.      We must avoid sinful actions and confess our sins when we fail

7.      We must care for the poor

8.      We must avoid false teachers

9.      We must be obedient to our Bishops

10.  We must financially support the ministers and the work of the Church

Most importantly the Holy Apostles taught: “Watch for your life's sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord comes.” This is the Truth of Orthodox Christianity and our entire Orthodox lifestyle from the Holy Sacraments to daily spiritual disciplines reflects these ten points.

I invite you to join me in a journey toward God living the Orthodox Lifestyle…the rewards of living this journey are eternal.