Why Do Non-Christians Say Christian Things?

Have you heard people who say they are not Christians say things which sound Christian? There is a precedent for this.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. (Acts 10:44-46)

Recently I was talking with someone who was not a Christian. It was easy for me to assume that I could teach her a thing or two. I was wrong. I was the one needing the lesson, because as she began to share how she views the world I realized that she had a real grasp on what she needed. Even though she is not ready for Orthodoxy, she realizes her need for truth and spiritual medicine. I realized my need for humility.

Truth is pervasive. Every person has a piece of truth within them. If we pay attention, then we can see how every person was made in the image and likeness of God. That is where these Christian sayings comes from.

Do We Really Need Deacons In The Orthodox Church?

The epistle reading this morning at my church was from Acts 6 concerning the first ordination of deacons. Some think that deacons are no longer needed. However please consider this passage from Fr Alexander Schmemann.

“We can already note that if in our day the presence of a deacon in every church community has ceased to be perceived as necessary and self-evident, as one of the conditions of the fullness of church life…then is that not because the experience of the Church herself as the love of Christ and the liturgy as the expression of fulfillment of that love has been weakened in us, if not entirely dissipated?” (p. 108, The Eucharist)

In short, if we do not see deacons as a necessary part of the liturgical life of the Orthodox Church, then Fr Schmemann wonders if our love for the body of Christ has weakened or dissipated.  Do you have a deacon at your church? Is he doing the work of the ministry according to Acts, or is he just a liturgical helper?

More often than not, deacons who have been reduced to the sole function of liturgical helpers are usually being held back by their priest. Prayer is probably the best answer in this scenario. On the other side, not all deacons are ready and equipped for the type of ministry a particular parish needs help with. Again, prayer is the answer to discern God’s will for that deacon.

St Stephen the Protomartyr, the first deacon of the Orthodox Church

New Study On Orthodox Evangelism In America

Last year I was approached by Alexei Krindatch, the Research Coordinator for the Assembly of Bishops, to be a part of the first national study on evangelism and outreach in Orthodox churches of the United States. The study was initiated and sponsored by the Committee for Agencies and Endorsed Organizations (Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, Chairman).

We collected data from about from several jurisdictions, ten parishes each. I was also asked to write a special chapter evaluating the evangelistic nature of the parish websites.

Click here for the summary: http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/assets/files/docs/research/ExecSummaryShort.pdf

Click here for the full report: http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/assets/files/docs/research/EvangelizationStudyReportFinalRev4.pdf

If You Know Me, You Know How Playful I Am

My kids say I am silly, but I like to call it good old fashioned fun. I inherited it from both sides of my family. Both of my grandfathers were kidders.

In part 1 of 2 of this interview with Fr Joseph Huneycutt of the Antiochian Archdiocese for a new podcast called “The 153”, you catch glimpse of what my family has to deal with on a daily basis.

Click HERE to listen.

Most People Missed This One Thing On Pascha

Most people miss the epistle reading on Pascha. That’s okay, I miss a lot myself during services. The epistle reading was about something called the Great Commission. In a nutshell, it means that if I really care about Orthodox Christianity, then I must help others care. Here is the end of the epistle reading:

“Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)

Are you an Orthodox Christian? If so, then “the Holy Spirit has come upon you” and God expects you to be His witness.  In the next post we will talk about what this looks like in life and why it was read at Pascha.

I Found Out I Was Contagious

When I found out I was contagious, I had to start rethinking all my actions, words, and thoughts. Not contagious with a virus or bacterial infection, but rather my attitude.

This week we are called to be contagious with our joy. Jesus has risen from the dead, conquering death by death. Is my joy over this feat contagious? Or, am I still going through the motions? We are all contagious, all sharing different attitudes. Is your apathy showing, or are people seeing your joy? This week above all others, your joy should be contagious. Looking for an easy way to get started? If so, then try on more smiles for the next few days.

New Episode On Parenting, “Respect, Reverence, and Worship”

Adam continues the parenting discussion in this episode with Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth, pastor of Holy Transfiguration in Warrenville, IL. In this episode, they discuss respect, reverence, and worship. Listen in as we hear some theory and theology behind the claims made in the previous episode and also how we can teach these three words to our children.

Click HERE to listen.

The Myth Of “Come and See”

When we read the gospel of John, some if us have come to believe that when Philip said, “come and see, ” that this equates to our responsibility to invite people to church. But Philip was not doing that. Let’s talk about Philip’s invitation and how it applies to us.

Two Peas In A Pod

We know from church history that these two were close. We can read in the scripture that they shared an thirst for the Messiah. Another look and apparently there was some trust and credibility because Nathanael embraces the invitation, coupled with some doubt.

They were two peas in a pod. The pod was their thirst for the Messiah. Unlike many of us, they saw each other as equals. How many people see us as equals when we invite them to church? Or rather, how much have we shared in their pain and longing?

Pain Connects Us

What if we translated Philip’s invitation this way, “I have found that which we have been laboring over together. My thirst is quenched, and I want you to experience the same, because you know how much I care about you.” Nathanael knew that Philip shared in his pain. They were connected through their pain, almost like a support group.

Connecting with someone can only happen when we are fostering relationships. I admit it is difficult to foster relationships in today’s society of shallowness, selfie’s, and regular status updates on social media about how awesome my life is (especially when it’s not). I’m not saying that selfies or social media are bad in and of themselves, but if we are not careful they can replace relationships instead of enhance them.

We Are All Becoming

Sometimes I wonder what Philip and Nathaniel sat around and talked about. Did they gaze into the stars and talk about God and the meaning of life? Do you think they laughed together and had fun, and shared in each other’s tears? How often do I discuss the meaning of life with others (not talk at them, with them)? Am I there for people in their sorrow when they need someone to show them God’s love?

It is easy for us to come across as “having arrived” because “we are Orthodox” and they are not. However, the truth is that I am a fellow human on the search for that which makes me whole. The next time I tell someone to “come and see, ” I hope it will be from common ground.

 

New Episode “St. Thomas House, Franklin, TN”

Adam visits the St. Thomas House in Franklin, TN. The St. Thomas house is a new ministry for young adults (ages 18-25), which will take place in the former home of Fr. Gordon Walker. Fr Gordon, who departed this life in 2015, was a great missionary priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Brian Short, the director of the St. Thomas House, shares the background, the goal, and a special message for Orthodox parents. Learn more at www.stthomashouse.org.

Click HERE to listen.

New Parenting Episode “Learning To Love And Obey”

This is the first of a several talks between Adam and Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth, pastor of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church in Warrenville, IL, on parenting. In today’s talk, they discuss the relationship of love, faith, obedience, and different ways we could interpret some popular scriptures on parenting.

Click HERE to listen.