Dialogue with a Messianic Jew

I will comment below in between your comments and have italicized yours differentiate between mine.. Also when I refer to “Orthodox” I am referring to the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church and not any particular jurisdiction/diocese (i.e. Greek, Russian, etc…) and not the Catholic Church. When I discuss the early church teachings I am referring to the disciples and followers of Yeshua along with the 2nd generation of disciples and not something more modern… usually teachings that were established in the 1st through 3rd centuries and by the 7 ecumenical councils that the entire world of Christendom followed up until the split between Rome and the rest of the Christian world and before the dark ages.


Well, its like this …


At the time our Messiah was alive he came from a poor family, albeit he was of the line of King David ( on his mom’s side ) … this fulfilling the professy that he will be a son of David.  I don’t know the way it was practiced in the time of the Messiah, but now you have to attend a college called a Yeshiva in order to become a Rabbi.


Rabbi simply means teacher in hebrew.  This is why I find it so interesting that during his ministry these college trained Rabbis were calling him Rabbi. They clearly much have known his background.


Perhaps I am mistaken and he did got to Yeshiva, but either way, it doesn’t matter.


Re: Messiah as a rabbi – did he or did he not go to yeshiva? From the earliest writings of the disciples of the disciples & jewish historians, messiah did not go to school… The Bible mentions that many people were astonished at his wisdom (even as a child) having been a “carpenters son”. It is understood that the pharisees did not like Messiah, he was a threat to them, however, he was popular among the “regular folks”, so they used the term rabbi mostly out of respect to appease the people. Many times throughout scripture, it is mentioned the pharisees would do something so as not to make the people upset. At that time, the land of Israel was occupied with the Romans, there were many zeolots & rabble rousers and the area was a hotbed of trouble, so the pharisees & sadduccees wanted to keep the peace & the status quo.


Now, he hung out with the woman at the well alone, who was a samaratan and quite the harlot it appears.  First of all, this gives the appearance of impropriety, yet he did not care.  Yeshua saw the big picture.  Yet he hand picked her to tell her that even though she wasn’t Jewish the gift was still for the samaratins or the gentiles or anyone who could accept a message so simple a child could understand it.


Yes, Yeshua did see the big picture and this is even evident throughout the old testament, especially when it even comes to the lineage of Yeshua when you see Ruth the Moabite, and rahab a Canninite and a harlot. The Jewish people were set-apart to be God’s chosen people, but not to be exclusive but to share the message of the one true god and to bring others to the true faith of the one true god. Unfortunately, especially at the time of Yeshua, they had become isolationist or exclusionist. So Yeshua was restoring that mission because as part of the holy trinity, being the son of God, the God-man, from the time of our father Adam until the time of our father Abraham, God was reaching out to all men. Even at the time of Abraham, there was Melchizidek who was already worshipping the one true God. At the time of the holy prophet Moses, Moses’ father was a worshipper of the one true God and yet was not part of Israel & Moses married his daughter. Moses’ wife became a subject of controversy concerning his leadership and even Moses’ sister was upset, however God disciplined her by giving her leprosy & after Moses prayed, she was cleansed, verifying his authority from god. There was also the case of the holy prophet Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, and the holy prophet Elisha and Naaman, the commander of the king of Syria. The other example is the holy prophet Jonah sent to the wicked city of Nineveh. This is an example of the mindset that had set into the Jewish people & how God wanted them to be a “light to the world” & God’s desire that all men might be saved & come into relationship with him.


“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)


These words were spoken by Jesus to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well as He taught her the truth concerning worship to God. He taught that there would no longer be just one place to worship God (such as Mt. Gerizim or the temple at Jerusalem) but that from the “hour” of the establishment of the New Covenant, the true worshippers of God must worship in a definite way and according to a fixed pattern indicated by this statement of Jesus, “in spirit and in truth.”


Yes, Yeshua made it clear that worship was no longer going to be in one place… God had made it clear that he could meet with people anywhere at any time in any situation, one only needs to look at how Moses met God at the burning bush, Abraham, Elijah, and the children of Israel wandering through the desert having only a tent to worship God in. However, God did give the plans for the temple in Jerusalem, he did give the plans for the tent in the wilderness, he did specifically spell out how we were to worship him & if one looks at the layout of the tabernacle & the temple, with the coming of Yeshua… All of these things are symbols of the eternal and of Yeshua himself – for He is the way, the truth, the life. I could go on for hours about the symbolism in the temple and the comparisons to Yeshua being the fulfillment of all things… The bread, the lampstand, the alter, the washing basins, etc… However, Yeshua did say that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Yeshua did attend and worship in the temple and made his trips to Jerusalem and so did his disciples. The pattern of the service, the articles and structures in the temples/churches are supposed to point us to Yeshua & not be objects of worship or “legalism” but to draw us closer to God, along with being spiritual beings we are also physically sensory beings with sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. The incarnation of God, becoming man was more than just bringing us into right relationship with God, it was bringing the whole world including the physical world into perfect union with God, bringing back the Garden of Eden, the state of perfection. Yeshua was a man and was God in the flesh – Immanuel – God with us. In the traditional early christian church even with the first disciples of Yeshua, a pattern of worship was set based on the pattern set forth in the old testament, except that all would point to Christ and the new covenant. With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, this sealed the new covenant that truly God not only was with us as Yeshua and God the Father, but now, for those who would follow Yeshua as their Messiah, then had the promise of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell with them, inside their spirit.


All this is to say that worshipping in “spirit & truth” means that we should have a right “spirit” independent of where we are – the orthodox teachings often say that you can be baptized orthodox and be in church and still not know God… And there are those outside of the church that can truly know God independently of the church – for God does not look at the outward man, but on the inward heart. This does not mean that the liturgical life & church are negated. In other words Yeshua did not negate the law and the way we worship, he wanted to expand it to beyond “legalism & trappings” and remind us to return to our “first love” worshipping Yeshua with our whole hearts and lives. Applying this to modern day living, too many christians live compartmentalized lives and church/christianity is in one compartment, and the rest of their lives is segregated into compartments as well. Yeshua wants us to be whole and every aspect of our lives he is to be Messiah & Lord over all with us being in complete union with him, so we too can say, I only do what the father says. I, of course, have a long way to go.


Yeshua also said to worship in “truth”, implying there is many falsehoods in the ways we worship. Again he did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it & he himself said “I am the truth”. The orthodox teaching says, Yeshua is the truth, the scriptures & holy tradition are the truth about the truth (Yeshua), mans theology is the truth about the truth (scriptures), about the truth (Yeshua). Yeshua said that all scripture (meaning the old testament) was about him and pointed to him. Orthodox teaching says the old testament was about Yeshua, pointing to Yeshua. The Gospels are about Yeshua and his life, teachings, miracles, death & resurrection. The books of the Acts of the apostles and the epistles of the apostles are about Yeshua & the Holy Spirit establishing the “Church”, the “Body of Christ”, to be a witness to the entire world. One last thing on the temple in Jerusalem, Yeshua showed honor and respect to the temple calling it the house of God. God wanted that temple built. Yeshua twice in his ministry here on earth went in to cleanse the temple to reestablish it as a place of prayer and worship. He never said that the temple and the liturgical way of worship was wrong. And in the book of the Apocalypse/the Revelation of the Apostle John, the “new jerusalem” and the holy temple will come down once again as a place for Yeshua to once again be enthroned on the throne of David. Orthodox teaching is clear that all of our churches are reflections of this eternal truth & preach the message of the eternal kingdom, which was & is & is to come. Again, i could go on for hours on this subject as well. But I will stop at this point because i’ve probably gone on way too much already.


Leading children to the Messiah is a powerful thing.  I have had the honor of participating in that capacity at least once in my life. They are so humble and pure and I feel like a greazy rag sitting next to them while we discuss the path to the Holy City.


I totally am with you on this one!!! I feel the same way! It is such a humbling and honoring experience to lead one to the messiah. It is not something like a “badge to be worn” or another “notch” in someones belt on “how many people they got saved”, it is a very personal, very honoring, very humbling opportunity to be broken vessels used and poured out by god to bring someone into right relationship with the Messiah.


Our Messiah Yeshua, hung out with harlots and tax collectors and anyone, including nicodemeous ( a pharasee ) who was willing to hear his message.  He only wanted to communicate to people that we need to drop our perspective about everything and revise our thinking to constantly commune with God in prayer.  Beyond that he wanted to shun things that was distance yourself from God.  Plain and simple.  So easy a child could understand.


Man has made up most of the rest of the trappings of our religion and liturgy.


Anything can cause us to distance ourselves from God, even Abraham was tested with Issac, the promised child to make sure that God was first in all things. Much of what we see today in christianity is people putting “God in a box”, making a “golden image” of what they think God is. Yeshua is always wanting us to break out of the “box” – after all God is holy, God is beyond our comprehension (simply because he is God) and if we could know everything or understand everything about God, then he wouldn’t be God… And yet at the same time, even a child can understand, because most importantly along with God being truth, spirit, life, he is love. But without truth, even love can become distorted.


Yeshua did hang out with harlots, tax collectors, burly fishermen, ordinary people, low lifes, but he never lowered his godliness, his holiness… He just made himself reachable even in his death reaching out to the thief, the centurion, and renting the temple veil in two, signifying that we now have access through Yeshua to holiness and God himself.


“Nicodemus (Greek: Νικόδημος) was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, who, according to the Gospel of John, showed favour to Jesus.” — wikipedia


Yes, even someone like Nicodemus, a pharisee, became a follower of Yeshua as well as Joseph of Arimethea (a very wealthy person)… Both later became witnesses of Yeshua to the uttermost parts of the earth, suffering much for their beliefs in yeshua!


God bless you dear brother. I hope I have not offended you, please forgive me if I did. I hope I did not overwhelm you either. I am a history fanatic and especially when it comes to church history, biblical history, etc… I have studied this I think most of my entire life, including as a child, I was the “sunday school” child who questioned everything & fortunately my parents if they didn’t have an answer, would send me off to the library or buy me books to find the answers. My whole family were nominal christians and did not have a true faith, but over the years, things have drastically changed. My sister now teaches at a christian college & my father is now a pastor. And if you had known my family… You would say this is a huge change! Yeshua Messiah Immanuel truly has come and visited myself and my family even though we were afar off, living in slime pits, believing in off the wall stuff, he wooed us, drew us, loved us – in spite of our whoring, idolatrous ways and brought us into his sheepfold.




Blessings of Orthodoxy

At times, the Orthodox way of life seems so difficult. The Orthodox Church even gets the blame for the path being so difficult and we might even be tempted to question why the Church demands so much.


I have to remember a few basic reality checks about God. God is holy and God is perfect. The scriptures teach us that God says, “Be ye holy, even as I am holy.” Moreover, “be ye perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.” God’s standard is holiness and perfection and sinless. His standard is not because He is a “perfectionist” or a hard taskmaster. The reality is that God is Holy, God is perfect, and God is sinless and therefore because of Who He is, anything imperfect, impure, and with sin cannot be in the presence of God. This is because of the nature of God’s holiness is such that whatever is impure cannot abide, survive or live in God’s presence.


This is where the blessings and gifts of the Orthodox Church come to our aid. The Orthodox way of life and its sacraments help us to be holy, be perfect, and be without sin so we can be one with our Creator and be in His presence. It is through the way and life of the Orthodox Church that helps us to strive towards this perfect, pure, and sinless state of being, becoming like God, made in His image, and be with God for eternity. Without this perfection, holiness, and sinlessness, we are cast into outer darkness and torment eternally separated from all that is good, holy, perfect, and all that is God.


When we fail to achieve this perfection, holiness, when we fall short, and sin, once again there are the blessings and gifts of the Orthodox Church coming to our aid. The Orthodox way of life and its sacraments bring down grace and strength for the healing of both our soul and our body. The Orthodox way of life and its sacraments restore us to communion with God and His Holy Church.


Before joining the Orthodox Church as a Protestant, I would make the decisions on when and what to pray, when and how to fast, when and how to worship. These decisions were based on what I felt or believed or wanted to do at a particular moment or season in my life.


If I didn’t go to church, didn’t pray, didn’t fast, or when I would get caught up in sin, I could justify and rationalize it away with bumper sticker slogans like, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” I could also find the particular preacher or teacher that could give me bible verses to soothe my conscious with phrases like, “I don’t need to go to church to worship God, and I can worship Him anywhere.” I did not have to confess my sins to anyone only to God, He will forgive me for everything, and I do not have to be accountable to anyone. I could have communion whenever I wanted and however I wanted. This kind of faith is all about how “I” want to do things or “feel led” to do things.


The Orthodox Church gives us a different way of life to help us humble ourselves and let go of how “I” want to do or “feel led” to do things.


The cycle of prayers of when I am supposed to pray, help me to remember God throughout the entire day. All of the Church’s prayers I find prayers for everything in life. I do not have to search and find the right “formula” to get God to answer my prayers. The prayers of the Church remind me of who I am and who God is and show me that I am in need of mercy.


The Orthodox Church tells me when to fast, when NOT to fast, how to fast and for what reasons to fast. Fasting roots out the sin in me, draws me closer to God, helps me to remember to not be driven by my feelings or desires, which go up and down and fluctuate every moment.


The Orthodox Church gives me the gift of the sacrament of confession to help me further root out the sins in my life, to be accountable, to truly repent and become more like God, living a more perfect life. Through confession, I am able to get closer to God, because less of sin dwells in me and I find true healing, freedom and forgiveness.


The Orthodox Church gives me the sacraments of Communion, the sacraments of Holy Unction, the gifts of Holy Oil, Holy Water, Holy Antidoran, and Artos. Through these sacraments and gifts, I find healing for both soul and body. I receive grace and strength for all the times I have failed or am in need of God. I receive Christ God Himself living and dwelling and abiding in me and I am transformed into more of His likeness.


Therefore, the Orthodox Church and its sacraments help us to live and give us strength to live a holy, perfect, sinless life and the Orthodox Church and its sacraments give us grace for when we fail to obtain healing for both our body and soul.

Goals & Dreams

Do I have goals and dreams for my life? Dreams and goals are two different things. Goals are something I can realistically work towards. Dreams are what I would like to have happen, but may or may not happen. Sometimes dreams and goals don’t meet on the same path. Goals change. Dreams change.


My goal is to be in the center of God’s will; to become like Christ as much as is possible during my lifetime; to be content, in abasement or abundance, prosperity or poverty, storms or calm weather, persecution or peace. I want to be “always in heaven” even if my circumstances are in the “midst of hell”. I want to have peace passing all understanding, joy overflowing in the midst of chaos, destruction, loss, grief and death. This is my goal permeating everything. I fail too many times, but keep “pressing on toward the mark…” eradicating sin in my life and preparing for heaven, so my crown may be worthy to lay at His throne. I want to hear, “well done thou good and faithful servant, enter ye into the joy of the Lord.” I want to know the Kingdom of God in my heart, here on earth as in heaven. I want to be set free from sin now and not on my death bed. I want to know the depths of God’s love, grace, mercy so when people see me, they see Christ himself. I have a very long way to go.


This goal can be reached in simple things… getting up every day, making my bed, take care of my animals, my home, my chores; meeting with God before I start my day, throughout the day, calling on Him every step of the way, closing the day, with God, confessing my sins, asking for His grace to start again every day. It is through the mundane everyday tasks, through obedience to God’s will already known in His scriptures, to purge the “leaven” out of my life; to be vigilant over my thoughts, my words, my actions, my appetites (whatever those appetites may be), so I might not be a “slave” to anyone or anything but Christ.


Six years ago, becoming disabled, unable to work and feeling extreme loss was a severe blow. I mourned and cried out to God the night before I put my dog down, “God, you have taken my brother, my mother, my grandmother, my job, my ministry, my car, my finances, my health… must you take my dog also?” I will never forget that night as I felt helpless, broken, stripped and empty. It was the turning point in my life. I grieved all the losses and began to heal.  I saw a need to change in my personality and life. I was a purpose driven, goal driven person. My life had meaning if I had a goal, if I had a purpose, something of worth or meaning. Now my life had no goals, no purpose, no meaning. Wasn’t I supposed to be “fulfilling the great commission”? All those years of “preaching” about the “sanctity of human life” – we have worth even as a quadriplegic, an elderly person, in a nursing home, as an unborn, took a whole different meaning when it came to me. I had no energy, no health, unable to do anything. I was brought very low, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I questioned my value, my worth, the purpose of my life. I had heard, “The whole purpose of man is to worship God and enjoy Him forever”. But what did this truly mean?


For now my health is improving… what does the future hold… I am not sure, my doctors are not sure. I’m taking it one day at a time. I sent out letters to various groups to pursue being a speaker, worship leader or business consultant; except for a few responses the doors closed for now.  I threw my “talents” out and asked God what did He want me to do? I’m a web designer, I help small businesses. I’m also a dog trainer. I’ve seen God’s hand pointing in this direction for this “season”. I enjoy what I do, I’m helping others, and I’m “planting seeds” for God in the people I meet. Is this the plan for the rest of my life? I have no idea… it is where God has me in this season of my life.


I still have dreams… of being an author, a speaker, a worship leader; someone who would inspire others to follow Jesus and draw closer to Him; someone challenging people to live pure and give their lives to something worth living and dying for. I think of worship songs that should be sung to draw people into deeper fellowship with God. I think of traveling and being part of reconciliation, healing and revival in other lands. How, when, where, if? Only God knows.


I am reaching my ultimate goal. I can look around me and instead of looking at the past, the deaths and losses, I can be so very thankful. I have a nice home, wonderful friends and pets. I still have family full of love. I have found my relationship with God deepened far more than I could imagine. I’ve found once again my worth is based on “whose” I am, a child of God, created in His image, being transformed into His likeness. Along the way, my dreams may fit, they may not, my heart is at peace. I am blessed.


We all need to hear God’s heart and know we are loved and accepted. We must humbly come before God and surrender all our goals, dreams, and all our lives. God is our purpose, our goal and the answer to all our dreams.

Is Orthdoxy the True Church?

(my simplified and humble thoughts)

Sometimes doubts come into my mind of whether the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church is “The True Church” or is this just a bunch of legalism and authoritarian domination, or a cult, or am I being led astray. How do I know this is the right path? How do I know they are right and not someone like Billy Graham, Max Lucado, John MacArthur, or James Dobson? Especially when Orthodoxy stresses not to try and rationalize or think things through but to trust and have faith in the Traditions of the Church, in the Holy Elders, and in God. Orthodoxy is an “eastern way of thinking” and I’ve been raised my whole life in a “western culture” with a “western way of thinking”. Orthodoxy does not discourage this just not over-emphasizing this in all things.


It helps me to look back at the history of the Church and the beginnings of Christianity. I know this is rationalizing and thinking things through. For now, I will work on reassuring my faith in the Church with my “western way of thinking” and hopefully, someday, move on to an “Orthodox way of living”.


Before there was the Holy Canon of Scriptures (the Bible), there was Christianity, Christians, and the Church for at least 200-300 hundred years. Christianity came because of Christ. I know that sounds simplistic, but it was because of Jesus the Christ, the God-man that Christianity came into existence. Followers of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch, one of the main centers of the beginnings of Christianity. They were called Christians, because they were known as followers of Christ or imitators of Christ, ones who followed the teachings and living as Christ lived. The Holy Apostles, along with the 70 Apostles that were sent out (mentioned in the Gospels), and the growing new believers established “places of worship”. Because Christ was Jewish, and the Disciples were Jewish and because Christ did not come to abolish the “law” or the Old Testament, but to fulfill it in all ways, Jesus and the early believers practiced the style of worship as laid out by God. Jesus taught His Holy Apostles many things that were not written in the Gospels, but what was written in the Gospels were written so that we who followed in later generations might believe that Jesus is the Christ.


The Apostles were taught by God – Jesus Christ, and then later by the Holy Spirit. These same Apostles taught others and had disciples. These are the Traditions that Peter, John & Paul talk about following in the Epistles of the New Testament… exhorting us to follow the Traditions and teachings of the Apostles and not to follow “strange doctrine”. This was before the New Testament or the Bible was “canonized” and made into one book.


When I think about the Priests and the Bishops and the formalization, structure and organization of the Church, I need to remember that this was established first by the Holy Apostles, the direct disciples of Christ. These Apostles appointed Bishops, Priests, Deacons and organized the Church so that it could not be some organization, but for the Holy Sacraments to be performed with holiness, humility and sanctity.


It was the apostles who appointed the leadership of the Church and the requirements and ways for Christians to receive Holy Communion, Holy Baptism, Marriage, and Burial. It was the Apostles who taught us how to do the “laying on of hands” for the anointing of those who were called into the ministry. We see some of this in the Bible in the Acts of the Apostles, when they appointed Deacons and how they would lay hands on others to go into other parts of the world to establish “churches” or communities of believers and places of worship. It was the Apostles who laid the foundation of what is today our Liturgy. The original Liturgical service was written by James the brother of the Lord, who wrote the epistle of James. The Liturgical services we have today are shortened versions by St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil and St. Gregory. In the Orthodox Church, we can trace our Priests and our Bishops all the way back to the Apostles, so there is a direct chain of a “laying on of hands” passed down from generation to generation… keeping the same Traditions as set forth by the Apostles.


The Church went on for 300 years without the Holy Bible as we know it today. During these first few hundred years the Church endured great persecution but continued to grow. It wasn’t until the time of St. Constantine the Great, when Christianity ceased for a time to be persecuted. Then there began to appear the many letters (epistles) and gospels circulating around and some of which were heresies began to spring up. It was at the first of the seven Ecumenical Councils that the Holy Canons were decided upon, including the Holy Canon of Scriptures based on the septuegaint and included the apocrypha.


The Church throughout the years that followed, had a total of seven of these Councils. The entire Christian world was represented and discussed, often in disputes and disagreements, what was Truth and what was heresy, by God’s grace and the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Traditions of the Church, the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Canons were established and were verified by God through various signs and wonders.


The basic doctrines of the Church were established and the Church was one Holy Catholic (meaning Universal) Apostolic (meaning handed down from the Apostles) Church (meaning all were of one body, the body of Christ). The doctrine of Mary, the mother of Jesus, was established as the Most Holy Theotokos, the Mother of God, her sinless life, her virginity that continued even after the birth of Christ, her death and miraculous disappearance of her body as a sign of the resurrection of us all. The doctrine of the Theotokos was more about establishing the two-fold nature of Christ than it was about disputing her. The Church had no questions about her life and all that I’ve mentioned already. The Church was debating the question of the nature of Christ and was it right to call Mary the Mother of God, not just the Mother of Jesus. The debate was on Jesus being fully God and fully man, undivided.


Other questions were on the nature of the Trinity and the Holy Spirit. The Church for a thousand years declared that the Son was begotten of the Father, and the Spirit proceeded from the Father and that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit yet were still One God. The Early Church believed that God was Mystery and that although we may know God in His attributes, He is unknowable in His essence. We cannot fully understand God, the mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of the God-man Jesus Christ, how the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, yet is sent by the Son. The eastern way of thinking does not try to figure things out or rationalize these things. They leave it alone, and in humility recognize that His ways are higher than our ways, and are past finding out. But God in His great mercy allows us to see through Jesus and through the acts of the Holy Spirit His attributes. We know that He is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful. We know many things about God, but to understand His being, His essence is a mystery.


In the Old Testament, it was often mentioned that no one could look upon God nor see His face. Even Moses, the friend of God, could only see the backside of God and the Holy Angels around the throne covered their faces. God also declared that Israel was to have “no graven images” of God. However, in the New Testament, we read that Christ has shown us the Father, God has become man. This is the incarnation of Christ and the revelation of God where we can behold Him face-to-face and see His glory. Even the Apostles Peter, James & John saw Christ transfigured right before their eyes, the veil was lifted and they could see the glory of God in Christ the man. Christ not only blessed mankind by becoming a man, but He blessed all of creation by becoming the created. Fulfilling the Old Testament, and allowing us to “see” God and all of creation then can become sanctified. This is the reasoning behind the Holy Icons.


The first icon was from Christ himself. There are two very similar stories of the very first icon. The first is from the Eastern traditions and the “image made without hands” and we have replicas of that today, the other one is the story from the western traditions of St. Veronica while Christ was on the road to Golgotha. The second icon was written by Luke, the Physician and writer of the Gospel of Luke and the book of the Acts of the Apostles who wrote the first Icon of Mary the Mother of God, which we also still have replicas of today. There is a Russian Icon which celebrates that first icon and shows St. Luke painting that first icon. The Church Councils settled this debate and much blood was shed in defense of those very icons.


Icons we must remember were around before the scriptures were circulating. Even after the Canon of the Holy Scriptures was established, the printing press still had not been invented, and very few people knew how to read or write or were literate. Pictures were painted – rather Icons were written… this was the term the Holy Fathers used because they were written to declare the message of Christ. Christ in creation, Christ in His saints, Christ in all things, so that all might see and worship Christ. The Holy Fathers explicitly reprimanded and condemned the worship of Icons. They declared that they were “windows to heaven”, to transcend this earth and allow us to look into heavenly things. All Icons have a story that has been written to lead us to Heaven, to lead us to Christ. When I look upon an Icon, I must not see it as an expression of art, I must look into it as if I am looking into heaven itself and I need to examine myself and see if I am measuring up to the message contained in the written testimony. I need to see if I can grasp the spiritual meaning contained in the image. The Icons of the Saints are to show not an exact picture of that person, but of Christ in that person revealed. So that when we see that Saint, we are seeing an attribute of Christ revealed and it leads us to Christ. The Icons of the Theotokos, point us to Christ. The Icons of Christ through it’s many interpretations, reveal various attributes of Christ. All of these Icons, should lead us to see heaven before us and how to live a heavenly life.


This was the Church for over one thousand years until the time of the great schism, the split between east and west, the split between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. The Church was one and believed all of these things and more than I’ve written here.


The One True Church established ways of worship, ways of prayer, ways of fasting, the way we make the sign of the cross, the calendar, the feasts and festivals, the sacraments and the services. There were allowances made for the weak and the old, allowances and some diversity for cultural reasons. So the liturgy was translated and the scriptures were translated into other languages and the style of music reflected the culture, but the doctrines, the canons, the liturgy, the scriptures, have remained the same. The Church determines what is Holy Tradition and has also determined what are cultural traditions in some places called rubrics.


The Church makes it clear that this is NOT to be a legalistic way of obtaining or earning our salvation. The Church gives us these Canons so that we can achieve salvation not only in heaven but have heaven here on earth in our present lives, so like one of the holy fathers has said, that they could be in the midst of hell and as long as the presence of God was with them, they would be in heaven. The Church wants us to work out our salvation so that we can go through the process of deification – becoming like Christ, more God-like in all aspects and areas of our mind, body and soul. That we might be one with God even as the Holy Trinity is one.


I need to constantly remind myself of these things… that this Holy Catholic Apostolic Church is the Church that Jesus Himself and the Holy Apostles established and their disciples, the Holy Fathers, have given us these things that we may know God, have strength through our sufferings and obtain the resurrection and life eternal. This is the One True Church, and although at times doubts creep in, I can stand on the Church that the Gates of Hell cannot prevail against it, because it is the Church Triumphant, the Church Militant, the body of Christ. May I have the grace and mercy of God to stay faithful through the prayers of the most Holy Theotokos and all the Saints. Amen.

Religious Experience or Truth?

In an editorial in our local newspaper a former Military Chaplain was quoted, “I realized so many innocent people are dying again in the name of God…I just decided I’m done. … I will not be part of any church that unleashes its clergy to preach that particular individuals or faith groups are damned.”

Ancient Celtic, Norse, Druid, Witchcraft has historically been about blood sacrifices, including human sacrifices at the feasts and seasons of the year to appease the gods and goddesses. Even the Celts, Norse & Druids were fierce and feared people for their brutalities.

This Chaplain may be fed up with violence, the lack of peace, the discord, the hate, but ALL religions have displayed discrimination against those that would oppose their “brand” of religion or faith.

TRUE CHRISTIANITY or better put the CHRISTIAN GOD is not guilty for the sins of man. It does not make Christianity invalid or not true. How many Christians were murdered, children, pregnant women, infants and monastic, by the ancient Celts, Norsemen, Vikings, and even Ancient Muslims?

Just because violence exists amongst mankind does not make one religion valid over another. Both Gandhi & Jesus Christ walked difficult, peaceful, loving paths in this life, both were persecuted and suffered, both showed us examples to live by.

The real questions are “What is Truth?” “Who is God?” “What is my relationship to Truth and to God?” In our society of relativism, there is no longer a standard of truth. We craft our own truth to fit our own needs. So my truth may not be your truth. This may sound reasonable, but it is illogical. My truth may actually conflict with your truth therefore true peace does not exist unless we can agree on Universal Truths. Even Wicca’s make their religion to fit their needs, calling on ancient gods or goddesses to meet their own particular need or desire. Most don’t want to harm others and want to follow the “Reed” (their creed), however, there are always those that can justify using the spells and gods, goddesses to actually do harm to others.

Often we don’t like Truth when it comes face to face. Often we don’t like God when we come face to face. Rather we try to make something “fit” to which we are comfortable with rather than deal with Truth and aligning our lives to that Truth no matter how hard it may be. If we seek real Truth, we will find. If we truly want to seek God or the ALL, then we must truly be willing to let go of our own agenda, our own self, and our own pre-conceived ideas. We must be historical, accurate, honest and logical. We must realize that we are only human beings amongst a very small earth in a vast universe. If there is a God, this God is certainly bigger than us and can not be controlled by our whims and wishes. I restate: What is Truth? Who is God? What is my relationship to Truth and God that is beyond my control or power? This is the heart of an honest seeker of the meaning of life.

Do All Roads Lead to the Same Mountain Top?

Is Christianity the only way to God & Heaven?  To begin with there are many scriptures to consider:

·     “Hear oh, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

·     “’You are My witnesses,’ says the Lord, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He.  Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no Saviour.” (Isaiah 43: 10-11)

·     “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father except by me.’” (John 14:6)

·     “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)

·     “Jesus said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber… I am the door. If anyone enters by Me he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’” (John 10: 1, 9)

·     “Jesus replied, ‘before Abraham was, I am.’” (John 8:58)

·     “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His gory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:1, 14)

·     “’I am the Alpha & Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ sayeth the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelations 1:8)


Jesus plainly taught that the only way to God and to Heaven was to believe in Jesus, Himself… there was no other way.  In fact, Jesus said that anyone who denied Jesus Christ would have no part in the kingdom of God that in fact, if a person denied Jesus then God the Father would deny that person.  (Luke 12: 8-9, Matthew 10:32-33)The only way to heaven and to be a child of God, is to believe in Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son and Word of the Father.  Jesus said unless a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.  (John 3:5) Therefore, only in Christianity is salvation found… scripture says again, “there is no other name by which men can be saved, but only in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 4:12)


Not all faiths that claim to be “Christian” are truly Christian.  There are many false doctrines and heresies that have been around since the very beginning of the Church.  The Church has faithfully for 2,000 years proclaimed the Divinity and the Humanity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity, one in essence and undivided: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


There are a number of false “Christian” faiths in our American culture.  Jesus said that we needed to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves.  He warned that there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing and there would be false prophets, false teachers, false shepherds and “anti-christ’s” tools of the devil to try and deceive people and lead them astray.  (Matthew 7:15, 22-23; Mark 13:21-23; 2 Peter 2:1,10-22; 1 John 2:18-19, 22-23 4:1-3) Two false “faiths” are the Jehovah’s Witness and Mormonism.  The Jehovah’s Witness Church teaches false doctrine and heresies.  They deny the “deity” of Christ, deny that Jesus was “the only begotten Son of God”… they changed the Holy Scriptures and say that Jesus was “a” god, one of many gods.  Mormonism also teaches false doctrine and heresies.  They deny some of the same things related to Christ’s deity and humanity and His uniqueness as the only begotten Son of God, they have added to scriptures, they deny the Trinity, they believe in many gods and that someday we will become gods and create our own worlds and have spiritual children of our own.


Our response to those who do not hold to the teachings of the Bible, the Apostles, and the Traditions of Historic Church is by following the commandment to love people, because each is made in the image of God and God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.   Clearly Christ teaches us to love others and by our example and our faithfulness to the Word of God, be light and salt in this world.  We are also told to hold fast and firm to the teachings of the Apostles and the Word of God and to proclaim it boldly.


If someone is of another faith, is this person going to hell?  Christ tells us it is not up to us to judge another person.  We are to judge right from wrong, truth from lies, wrongful actions are to be condemned and consequences given out for the wrongs committed.  Someone recently said to me, it is not for us to judge whether a snake is good or evil, but rather is it poisonous or not and to be discerning so that deadly venom does not enter into our hearts and cause death.  We are in no place to judge another person’s heart.  Only God sees the heart of each individual.  There are many people that are in the “wrong” religion however, only God knows their heart and we cannot be a judge, only God is the judge.  Jesus does command us to go and “preach the gospel” to everyone so that they may come into the truth and have Christ enter into their hearts, to worship Him not only in spirit, but in Truth and enter into relationship with Him that He might transform our lives for His glory and we can eternally worship and be with God in heaven.


Ultimately, truth is not only scriptures, teachings, or doctrines, but Truth is a Person, that Person being Jesus Christ the Son of God.  If one wants to find Truth, that person must turn to Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, a part of the Holy Trinity.  If one denies Jesus, they deny truth and are deceived and in bondage to a lie.  If one is deceived and in bondage, that is one who should not be condemned, but prayed for and helped until brought into truth and freedom.  It is appropriate then to pray for and be kind to those of other faiths, and at the same time, to hold firmly to the “True” church and the “True” Christian faith, and pray for the opportunity to lead others into that Truth.