Monday, May 21, 2012

From John Chrysostom

Here then is a demand for a noble soul, and one which far surpasses my mediocrity, in order to chastise this unruly and profitless pleasure of the multitude, and be able to divert their attention to something more beneficial: so that the people may follow and yield to him, and not he be led by their likings.  This, however, can in no wise happen, except by these two means - by despising applause, and by power in speaking. 
From "On the Priesthood" by St. John Chrysostom,Book V., Chapter II. Sectons 453-454.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Our Favorite Sins

I have been reading Our Favorite Sins, the Sins We Commit and How You Can Quit by Todd Hunter.  Great read and practical applications to the sins we Christians and those we love so easily get hooked on: Anxiety, Overeating, Procrastination, etc.   He brings in a wonderful Ancient-Fruitful Practice to apply in one's life.  A few quotes...

Sin is basically stupid and repulsive.

Do you want to quit?  You can.

Every Monday night at bedtime I am delighted to see these two prayers during Compline.  The first I use to think about my heart, both on that particular day and in general.  The second I use to pray against evil: both what I can see within my desires and any stimuli coming at me from without.  Try this approach.  If it works for you, stick with it for a few days.      "Living God of the universe -- may the Light of Lights come to dark heart from Thy place; may the Spirit's wisdom come to my heart's tablet from my Savior."   "Circle me, Lord, keep protection near and danger afar... Circle me, Lord, keep peace within; keep evil out."

We live from the unseen depths of our being.  We behave from our hearts, our imaginations, our deep dreams, and of our fears.  What comes out of us in terms of attitudes, words, and deeds, or laziness, as we are considering here, come from what is often called, in common conversation, the spiritual portion of us.  But too often we try to deal with temptation by controlling our environment and our body parts.  These tactics are not without merit -- in a crisis.  But no one lives in crisis mode all the time.  You and I need a strategy for dealing with temptation that is doable within our ordinary life.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Have You Had Your Pentecost?

            On Sunday, May 27th, Christians all around the world will celebrate the Day of Pentecost.  This celebration is based on Luke’s account of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the followers of Jesus on Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.  The disciples had been gathered in Jerusalem praying in an upper room of someone’s home, and Jewish pilgrims had flocked to Jerusalem from all over the world.
            According to Acts 2 there was a loud sound and a wind.  Then tongues of fire descended upon the disciples and all were filled with the Holy Spirit (God’s Presence) and began to speak in other languages.  Those who had come from other parts of the world began to hear the Good News about Jesus spoken in their own language.  Of course, this created quite a stir and the people wanted to know what was going on.
            The Apostle Peter gives a sermon explaining what has happened.  He begins by quoting from the Hebrew Prophet Joel about how the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all people in the last days. He proclaims that what they had experienced and seen in Jesus was the fulfillment of this. Peter talks about Jesus’ life and ministry, speaks about how he died, explains about his resurrection, and how Jesus ascended to the Father.
            The people began to believe and were “cut to the heart” asking “What must we do?”  Peter replied:  “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call”(Acts 2:38,39).  Three thousand people responded and became believers that day.
            This is what the Church remembers and celebrates each year on Pentecost.  However, this is not just some historical remembrance and celebration like the 4th of July.  It is a time when the Church challenges its members to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the promised gift to the believer (John 14:15; John 16:7f). 
The Holy Spirit is the very Presence of God who will indwell the believer if there is a willingness, a yielding, a submission to the will of God. It is the Holy Spirit who brings love, joy, and peace into the believer’s life (see Galatians 5:22).  Without the Holy Spirit the Christian life is just legalism and ritualism.
            Have you had your personal Pentecost?  Does the Holy Spirit live within your life?  If not, why not ask God today to fill you with His Spirit?  Jesus said it this way in Luke 11:13 – “How much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”