Friday, January 30, 2015

Translations in Serbian

We are honored that a group of volunteers have chosen to translate several of our blogs and videos for the faithful in Serbia. I don't have ANY knowledge of the Serbian language, and therefore do not "certify" the translation (so-to-say) but wanted to share this news with our fans. Glory to God for all things!~

Be Transfigured! in Serbia

A Story of Two Visions

In the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, we hear the story of two visions. Each man had a vision, but only one man had the proper vision. Each man was in Church, but only one man had the vision to see God. Each man was a sinner, but only one man had the vision to see their own sins. One man could see the sins of others, but it was the other man who went away justified. It was the Publican who had the vision to see his own heart needed to be healed by God. It was the Publican who had the vision to beg God for mercy.

Life is about vision; not physical vision, but vision of the heart. The Pharisee, the righteous man who obeyed the law, used his vision; but he could only see the sins of others, even thanking God that he was not like all those other sinners. The Publican, a man of sin, also used his vision; but he was able to see his own sin. Two visions; one saved the sinner, while the other condemned the righteous.

You also have vision? Do you use your vision to see the sins of others, or do you use your vision to see your own sins? Do you use your vision to look into your heart and beg God for mercy, or do you use your vision to look into the lives of others, and thank God you’re not like “all those other” sinners? You also have two visions; one will save you, while the other will condemn you.

Which vision will you use?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I can only dream

Since it is “house blessing season” I have been spending a great deal of time in the car driving from house to house, and therefore listening to more news than normal. It isn’t that I avoid the news, although there are many evenings I do just that since the news can be so depressing. But in the car, I tend to have the radio on, so every “top of the hour” no matter what station I have tuned in, I hear the news. Today’s news, beside the unfulfilled snow storm that was less than expected, featured a regularly updated and repeated blurb about the “sell off” in the Stock Market.

Now I’m no financial guru mind you, so hearing about bulls and bears is lost on me, but I sensed a bit of urgency in the news reports of the large “sell off” of stocks. Coincidentally
(?) since it is “tax season” I also hear more than my fair share of tax services and “wealth management” commercials during the news. That’s when I decided I wanted to blog today. As a society, we are consumed with wealth! Everywhere you turn, wealth is either the goal or the benchmark of success.

  • Is the news about politics? Then a solid economy and surging stock market are supposed to be indicators that our nation is “doing well” and the government is to be commended.
  • Is the news about the decay of the family? (as we Orthodox Christian would understand) The “real” strain isn’t teens having babies out of wedlock, but families losing the homes they couldn’t afford in the first place.
  • Is the news about global climate change? Then the affect of high oil prices is supposed to be inspiration for Americans to change their habits.
  • Is the news about retails sales during Christmas? Then, in direct contradiction to the climate change reports, we supposed to be happy for LOW oil prices which allows for more discretionary spending during the holidays.

In the midst of “all this” talk of wealth and economic stability, we are neglecting our souls as a nation. We are more wasteful of our communal resources and less generous with our personal finances than a so-called “Christian Nation” ought to be, to which I can only ask, quoting our Lord, “What will it profit a man if he gains [or saves in a 401K for distribution to his heirs] the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8.36)

What if you turned on the evening news and heard, “The State of the Union is good. People are attending Church more than ever before; more families are getting the guidance they need to remain together; and we finally learned that Christmas isn’t about the presents under the tree, but the “baby in the manger...” I can only dream....

Can You Hear God Calling?

The world is filled with distractions, from busy street sounds to hectic lifestyles, many of which can stop us from hearing God’s voice. The story of Zacchaeus teaches us the benefit of filtering through all the commotion in our life so we can focus on God. Until we can eliminate the clutter from our lives, we will continue to be lost, unable to hear God calling us to safety. The Orthodox Christian way of life offers us an opportunity to learn to filter through these distractions of wealth and comfort, and welcome God into our hearts.

Friday, January 23, 2015

God is Calling You....Are You Coming?

Every parent knows the call and call but your children never seem to appear from around the corner. It isn’t because they’re hiding. Most likely, they are either listening to music and can’t hear you, or they are so engrossed in what they are doing; they’re not paying attention to the sound of your voice. So you call and call, and eventually go looking for them. “Didn’t you hear me?” And so the story of every parent-child relationship goes...

One day Jesus was calling a young man named Zacchaeus, who like so many others, spent many hours each day going about his work. “He was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.” (Luke 19.2) But unlike typical children, he immediately ran to see God and welcomed Him into his house joyfully. As a result of his immediate response to God’s call, he received a great gift.

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19.10) If Zacchaeus had not been paying attention, he would not have heard God calling him; and if he didn’t hear God calling, he would never have received his blessing. He received the gift of salvation simply because he answered God’s call and responded.

God is calling you.....are you coming?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Nobody is Turned Away by God

Do you sometimes feel that God won’t listen to your prayer? Do you sometimes feel that your sins are keeping you from coming to Church? Then this week’s episode of Be Transfigured! is for YOU! In the story of the Ten Lepers, Christ reveals that there is nobody who will be turned away from God.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Warning for Christians

If you have followed my blog for a while you might know I try to avoid commenting on politics. I have found little common ground when discussing politics, especially when melded with religion. But today is different. With all the talk last week about Radical Islam, and the recent attack and resulting protest in France, I have decided to offer my “two cents” into the debate.

Christians Beware!

I think we have come to time when Christians must be extra vigilant, but I might not mean what you think I mean. I believe it is a dangerous partnership when Christians allow, or even encourage in some circles, the government to classify any religion or any faction of a religion as radical. To bestow upon the government the ability to determine which form of a religion is the correct or incorrect form, while you might personally agree with its classification, leaves open the door to a very dangerous precedent. Such classification leads to legislation which leads to persecution.

I dare say Christians would not be so supportive if the government suddenly classified Southern Baptists as Radical Christians and declared Evangelical Christians as the moderate “true” believers of Christ. In fact, I suspect any of the more than 40,000 denominations of Christianity would be not a little bent out of shape. But, when we, as Christians, encourage the government to make such classifications about Islam, we are only setting the groundwork for future more intrusive actions by the government against Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism etc. There is no end to which the law will take such precedent. If you think otherwise, you do not understand United States juris prudence.

Now, before you comment about the violent atrocities taking place in the “name of Islam”, don’t think for a moment that I condone any of these actions. I do not. In fact, I believe Islam to be wrong and spiritual dangerous for every human’s hope for eternal peace with God. That being said, I am not in a position to declare, especially as a Christians myself, which form of Islam is the “real” Islam. That classification must remain an internal one, even if most Muslims choose not to offer their opinion. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Everyone is Welcomed by God

We live in world consumed by prejudice. Our children are sometimes treated as outsiders by other students in school. Our friends are sometimes viewed as strangers at work by their coworkers. Our family is sometimes feels unwelcomed in the very neighborhoods in which we have lived for years. Feeling unwelcomed can be a crippling reality that forces many families to remain isolated and separate from even the closest human being. Eventually, the constant feeling of being unwelcomed can fool us into believing that even God won’t welcome us in His Church. But still we come because in our heart we know that God can help us, if only He could see past our faults.

I imagine these were the exact emotions share by ten men who approached Jesus Christ to be healed. In the story of the Ten Lepers, we witness the effect of God’ never-ending love on the lives of ten outcasts of society. Ten men who we unwelcomed by their fellow town-folk came to God, begging for mercy, and they were each healed by Jesus Christ. Ten men who were courageous enough to “tune out” the words of others and approach God were given a new chance at life.

It didn’t matter that these ten men were shunned by other “more respectable” members of the city. It didn’t matter that these men were foreigners rather than local insiders. Each was healed by God. But we learn one additional and more important lesson from this story. It was the ONE man who returned to worship God that was “made well” and honored by Jesus. And he was a foreigner! Just goes to show you, EVERYONE is welcome by God.....but not everyone will take the time to worship Him and give Him thanks. Which one are you?

Monday, January 12, 2015

We Have Seen the Light

During every Divine Liturgy we sing the words, “We have seen the Light,” but it is what we do AFTER the Divine Liturgy with the Light that really matters. Many who have received the Light of Christ, fail to make good use of the Light in their lives. Some even reject it. Just as with any gift we receive or plan we make, it requires more than just good intentions for us to be successful and for the Light of Christ to grow within our hearts. All good intentions aside, if we do not make good use of the Light that has been given to us at our Baptism, Jesus will take it away and give it to someone who desires for it to grow. What have you done with the Light you have received?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

More than one way to Be Transfigured!

Did you know Be Transfigured! is a syndicated weekly video AND audio ministry? That's right. You can watch or listen to Be Transfigured on the web or in the car.

WATCH Be Transfigured!

LISTEN to Be Transfigured!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Every Great Fire Begins with a Small Flame

During the Feast of Epiphany we sang, “When you were baptized in the Jordon, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest. And the words of the Father bore added witness, naming You His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of that word. O Christ, You revealed Yourself as God, and brought Light into the world. Glory to You!” Jesus Christ is called “The Light of the World” which is also why Epiphany is also known as The Feast of Lights.

On the Sunday following Epiphany, the Gospel also speaks about Light. “, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” (Matthew 4.16/Isaiah 9.1-2) As we are still celebrating the Feast of Epiphany, the Feast of Lights, we also receive the same blessing. Light has dawned in our darkness. We no longer have to walk in the darkness of sin. But there is more...

The Gospel also tells us of how the world immediately fought against God, first by arresting John the Baptist. “Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee.” (Matthew 4.12) As Jesus brought the Light into the darkness, it immediately began to grow bright with the calling of the Disciples and spreading like wildfire with the public teaching of Jesus. What began as a single Light in His Baptism has become a great Light in His Church over the centuries. But it all begins here at His Baptism and spreads through our hearts.

Monday, January 5, 2015

We are not Worthy of God’s Love

The first sermon of St John the Baptist, as he was preparing to baptize Jesus Christ, he commanded his followers, “Repent; For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” When he spoke about Jesus directly he admitted he was not worthy even to untie Jesus’ sandals. YET....many of us declare ourselves worthy of every blessing. However unless we admit that are not worthy, and that we must repent, we cannot truly welcome the appearing of Jesus Christ into our lives. Without repentance, there is no Kingdom of Heaven.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Saturday, January 3, 2015

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Child Prodigy

When a young child shows promise in a sport or art, parents invest great effort into building upon that early talent. Parents always want their children to excel, and when there is evidence that some pure talent is hidden, every effort is made to hone that talent for future success. Nobody, me included, would fault a parent for such efforts.

But....what if that same child showed promise in their spiritual life? When young children are regularly brought to Church, the rich expression of the Divine Services captures their vivid imaginations. Many young children find the outward practices of Orthodox Christianity exciting, and desire to practice them. Many young children can be seen, pretending to clergy, censing imaginary icons and people. Many young children reverently bow during the Divine Services of the Church. Many young children show promise for deep spirituality. And how do most parents react?

Unfortunately many parents, desiring for their children to live a so-called normal life, discourage their children from being “too” religious. I guess there is a fear their children might somehow be considered strange in a world that more and more has rejected Godly blessings in exchange for material burdens. In fact many parents, when they witness spiritual promise in their children, react quite opposite from those parents with artistic or athletic children. I have often heard parents, as a defense of fanatic commitment to sports practice schedules and dance recitals, argue in favor of a “well balanced” life, as if being spiritual somehow is unbalanced. And making things worse, in a society that focuses so much upon college education, the thought of scholarship offers fill parents’ minds.

If a child prodigy in music was discouraged from practicing, parents would be shunned by their peers. But when those same parents discourage their children from being “too religious” they are praised by their peers as well balanced and good parents.

What might God think?
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. – John 12.42-43

Something to think about in the New Year.

Friday, January 2, 2015

There is ignorance and there is foolishness

By definition, “ignorance” is a state of unknowing. The term is devoid of characterization when used, as I say, “purely” to indicate the level of knowledge one has in a particular setting. There is a great deal of ignorance in spirituality, especially Orthodox Christian spirituality.

On the contrary, by definition, “foolishness” is a lack of good sense or judgment. The term implies more than a lack of knowledge caused by a lack of intent. There is a great deal of foolishness in spirituality, especially Orthodox Christian spirituality.

Both can be dangerous if left unchecked, but one is definitely more offensive than the other. Whereas ignorance can be “cured” with a bit of education, foolishness cannot. I have noticed a great deal of both within “Orthodox Christian circles” on the internet lately, but I have little patience for foolishness when it comes to spirituality.

One example is in regard to the date of Christmas. MANY are ignorant to the ACTUAL historical timing of how the Church came to celebrate the Birth of Christ on December 25th. There are many websites that offer a well researched and appropriate timeline of how the Church “chose” December 25th as the date for the Feast of the Nativity. These sites are more than enough to “cure” the ignorance on the matter. The foolishness on the subject is another matter all together. Those who CHOOSE foolishness reject the historical treatment, in favor of mythology such as, “The Church chose December 25th to compete with solstice celebration.”  Even worse are those who reject December 25th in favor of January 7th for the Feast of Christmas, when in reality they are the same date, albeit on different calendars.

Since this blog is dedicated to education, especially in terms of living the Orthodox Christian Faith, ignorance is preferred over foolishness for our readers and fans. I welcome comments and questions from those who seek the truth about Orthodox Christianity. I invite the foolish to read, but if you do not have the desire to cure your ignorance, please refrain from posting comments, as they will just be ignored.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 - The Year of Repentance!

Today is another day to be thankful to God that you have been given another day to repent. Here at Be Transfigured we are declaring 2015 as, "The Year of Repentance" so let's get started!

Jesus' first sermon was "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 4.17)
John the Baptist began his public ministry crying out, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3.2)

So I suppose we are in good company. What are you waiting for!?