Saturday, October 31, 2015

Your Salvation is Outside Your Door

In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazaros (Luke 16.19-31), Jesus tells of an opportunity for salvation that goes unnoticed by the rich man. Day after day he stepped out his door passing over his salvation, an unnamed and unknown poor man “desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.” (Luke 16.21) Day by day the rich man was sealing his fate for an eternity of torment and grief, while the fate of the poor man rested firmly in the bosom of Abraham. Both men died, and both men met their fate.

Just outside your door, if you are choose to notice, is your salvation waiting for you. Every time you step out your front door is an opportunity to meet your salvation face to face. The rich man in the parable was so focused on his own comfort that he didn’t even know the name of the man lying across his front steps. When you step out your door you leave behind the comfort of home, but you also leave behind the chains of torment and grief. Every person you meet, rich or poor, is your opportunity for salvation.

Your salvation isn’t about rich or poor. It isn’t about names. It is about bread crumbs and dogs. It is about being able to see the person just outside your door, not as a burden or inconvenience but with compassion and love. Salvation is about love.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Don’t Pick the Pigs over the People

When Jesus healed the man with legion demons, He used a
heard of pigs from the nearby town for the demons to enter. We all remember the
story; the pigs went running off the cliff and died. The town folk, not wanting
to lose the investment of the pigs, could not bear to see their resources taken
away from them, just for some poor demoniac. They were so greedy; they chased
Jesus away from their town. Many times, we find ourselves chasing Jesus away by
refusing to allow Him to use OUR resources for the ministry of His Church. We
would rather see the Church limp along; barely able to keep the doors open than
to go without cable television. This story isn’t just about healing a demoniac;
it is about stewardship, and whether we pick the pigs over the people.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Don’t Allow your Greed to Send Christ Away

After Jesus cast out legion demons from someone, the demons entered a heard of swine. As a reaction to having the demons enter, the entire heard ran off a cliff and drown. The demons were so violent and oppressive, the swine just couldn’t handle the presence of so many demons. Demons have a nasty effect on people, but there is always a limit to their abilities.

During the exorcism prayers of every baptism, the Church recalls this Gospel story, as the demons are cast out of the new infant or adult who is seeking to join themselves to Christ. The demons are obligated to obey the Church and depart, just as they were obligated to depart from the young man in Gospel. So if demons have been cast out of our lives at our baptism, why does the Church offer this Gospel story? In the story, the man from whom the demons were cast out glorified God, but the same cannot be said for the owners of the swine, and the town folk.

“Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.” (Luke 8.37) For the town folk, it was easier for them to witness the young man completely tormented by demons, than to lose the money they had invested in the swine. They had grown comfortable with their fellow citizen being tormented, but could not tolerate losing their investments. They had become so greedy; the presence of God was more of a torment for them than the torment of demons on their fellow human being. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Put Your Trust in the Church

In a world with more than 43,000 denominations of
Christianity, it is ever more crucial that we learn to discern the truth among
the many partial truths spoken in the name of Jesus Christ. The Orthodox
Christian Church, loyal to the truth as taught by the Holy Apostles, has been
the caretaker of the wholeness of the truth for more than 2,000 years. Jesus
Christ said, “He who hears you hears Me.” When we hear the voice of the Church,
we hear Jesus Christ. If you truly desire to live united to God, then put your
trust in the Church.

Friday, October 16, 2015

He Who Hears the Church, Hears God

Words are nothing if they are not spoken with authority, and authority is given, not taken. In the Gospel of Luke we hear Christ give authority to the Church to speak and preach on His behalf. Jesus said, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” (Luke 10.16) Then the seventy apostles whom Jesus had sent out to preach the Kingdom in advance of His Passion, returned saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” (Luke 10.17) The mission of the Seventy was to prepare others to encounter God. They healed the sick, they cast out demons, they spoke on behalf of God. Despite all these blessings the Seventy experienced, Jesus said, “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10.19-20)

The mission of the Church has not changed in two thousand years. Jesus Christ has given the Church authority over the power of the enemy. He who hears the Church, hears God, and He who rejects the Church, rejects God. He has given the Church authority, not so people could rejoice in earthly blessings, but that their names (OUR NAMES) might be written in Heaven. This responsibility is taken very seriously by the Church, which is why our teachings MUST BE loyal and consistent with the teachings and way of life of the Holy Apostles, to whom Jesus first gave the authority. This is what we mean when we say, “One Holy Catholic and APOSTOLIC Church” in the Creed. The way of life and teachings of the Church are the same as the Apostles.

The words spoken by the Church are for our benefit, not for earthly blessings, but that our names are written in heaven, and they are words spoken with authority given directly from God. It was Jesus Christ who said, “He who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” Do you want to hear God, listen to the Church!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pluck Out the Thorns from Your Heart

Using the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8.5-15), Jesus taught
that there are four conditions of the heart. Either the heart is hardened and
the Word of God cannot penetrate, or the heart is shallow and the roots cannot
grow deep, or the heart is filled with thorns which chock the heart, or the
heart is rich fertile soil which produces fruit a hundred fold. Most of us
spend most of our time surrounded by thorns, so God has given us His Church to
assist with plucking the thorns from our heart. Without proper care, our heart
will never grow deep roots and produce the fruit of faith, but by using the
life of the Church you can pluck out the thorns from your heart and produce
fruit a hundred fold for the glory of God. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

True Diversity Requires True Tolerance

I was recently appointed to serve for one year on a "Faith and Values Advisory Board" for our local newspaper. We meet once each month to discuss life in the community and how people of faith might be "view the issues" facing our community. This month was my first column, and I thought I would share it with my fans here as well.... I pray my words are a source of comfort and hope to anyone in our city who might read them....and you never God's grace maybe someone will be inspired to Live A New Life In Christ by the column.

For the past four years I have been blessed with the opportunity to participate on a diversity panel along with several religious leaders from the Pee Dee area. The panel is part of the Building Bridges program sponsored each spring by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. Each of the four years, I was asked to speak about what was needed to build bridges of diversity for the greater community, and each of the four years, I have responded with the same answer. “We need to be OK with allowing each other to be who we genuinely are.” The reality of being genuine requires something that, quite frankly, goes against our immediate impulse.
(continue reading...)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Receive a FREE GIFT!

In appreciation of YOU, our fans, we will send you this FREE cup for every donation of $50 or more we receive by October 14, 2015. This promotion is available for shipping within the continental United States only, and half of every donation will be forwarded to our partners at the Orthodox Christian Network. Thank you for your continued support of Be Transfigured Ministries.

CLICK ON "DONATE TODAY" and help us grow our ministry to bring the hope of New Life In Christ to others.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Are the flood waters of life beating you down?

As I celebrated our weekly Wednesday Orthros/Matins this morning, I was especially thankful to God for keeping our community families safe during the recent flooding. The Gospel for this morning was especially appropriate to the past week...
Luke 6:46-49, 7:1 "The Lord said, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great." After he had ended all his sayings in the hearing of the people he entered Capernaum."
We are thankful that our homes are safe, and the storm is behind us. Many noticed possible weaknesses in their properties, and will make improvements to ensure flooding is less damaging during the next storm.......but what improvements are we making to protect our soul for the DAILY storms that face our soul?
If you are interested making improvements to your soul for the storm, find your local Orthodox Christian Church and begin attending services, Bible Studies, and community gatherings as soon as you can.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Simply Because We Want to Love

Jesus said, “Just as you want men to do to you, you also do
to them likewise.” (Luke 6.31) Jesus also said, “But if you love those who love
you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.”
(Luke 6.32) God doesn’t want us to love simply because He said so; He wants us
to WANT to love. When we are forced into love, it isn’t love at all, but an
obligation. Sinners love those who love them because they want something in
return, but we are called to be better than sinners. We are called to love
simply because we want to love. It’s better that way.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Why is Love Such a Challenge?

When Jesus gave us the Golden Rule, He gave us something much more than a commandment. He gave us a challenge. It seems Christ knew that we enjoy a challenge. He said, “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6.31-32) With these words Jesus challenged us to look at others as if we are looking in a mirror, and that is a great challenge.

Because of our fallen nature, we tend to look at others with a sense of comparison. “At least I don’t look like that.” “At least I don’t behave like that.” “At least I’m smarter and richer than that.” When was the last time we looked at someone else, as if we were looking at ourselves and said, “I know they are struggling with something nobody else knows.” “I know they feel like they can’t seem to catch a break.” “I know they just want us to trust them.” The point is, we all struggle with living our Christianity according to God’s commands. The only true comparison is “which” sin we have committed that someone else has not. We all sin, so why place our right to be loved ahead of anyone else?

Christianity was not the first to understand the concept of treating others the way we want to be treated, but that is the easy part. The challenge – what makes the rule ‘golden’ – is to place ourselves in someone else’s situation and love them. The challenge – what Christians are uniquely called to live – is to love even whom we think we know to be the most sinful. Sin is sin, and nobody is without sin – except God – so why not love. Are you up for the challenge?