Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Orthodox Churches have many rich prayers.

Here's part of the Akathist to St. Joseph the Betrothed (Jesus's foster-father):

O holy, righteous Joseph!
Whilst still living on earth, thou hadst great boldness before the Son of God, Who was pleased to call thee His father, as thou wast betrothed to His Mother, and to obey thee: we believe that now, taking up thine abode with the choirs of the righteous in heavenly habitations, thou wilt be heard in thine every request to our God and Saviour.

Therefore, taking refuge in thy protection and help, we ask and humbly entreat thee, that as thou thyself wast delivered from the storm of doubtful thoughts, so too deliver us who are beset by the stormy waves of our troubles and passions; as thou didst guard the all-pure Virgin from human slander, guard us likewise from all false witness; as thou didst keep the incarnate Lord from all harm and evil intent, keep also His Orthodox Church and all of us from all malice and harm.

Thou knowest, O Saint of God, that the Son of God too in the days of His incarnation had need of bodily things, and thou didst serve Him; for this cause we pray thee: aid us in our temporal needs by thine intercession, granting us all good things needful unto us in this life: and especially we ask thee to pray Him Who was called thy son, Who is the Only-begotten Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant us remission of our sins, that we may be worthy of inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, so that, taking up our abode in the higher habitations with thee, we may alway glorify the God Who is One in the Holy Trinity: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and unto ages of ages.


Let us add the further petition:

"St. Joseph, pray for the unity of the Church. May the Armenian, Catholic, Coptic, Oriental Orthodox, and Orthodox Churches share the accord we had in the beginning of the Church. By your intercession, grant us that unity of life for which Jesus prayed, the unity of truth as God knows the truth to be, and eternal life with each other in Your Presence. Amen."

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Young Turks tend to hold views with which I strongly disagree...

...but this video is certainly worth seeing, both because of the hilarious reasoning of "minister" Cindy Jacobs and the spot-on humorous response of the Young Turks hosts.

I don't have a problem with Cindy Jacobs preaching that homosexual acts are sinful, but I do have a problem with the fact that she's using stupid logic (Beebe, AK + Governor Mike Beebe + former Governor-turned-President-introducing-"Don't ask, don't tell" + repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" = God's message by dying birds!), and the fact that if there are any people attending this "church" who experience homosexual attractions, they are not going to feel welcomed to share what they probably think of as a burden with the "pastors" or other "church" members because of the way in which she spoke during this talk.

When I used to attend Fundamental and Evangelical "churches", I rarely heard positive statements about persons who experienced same-sex attractions (I think I can recall two occasions in 23 years in which I heard statements of God's love for homosexuals. Also on both occasions, Christians were encouraged to love gay friends and relatives, even in spite of whether or not the gay friends were committing homosexual acts). I heard many stupid, homophobic,* and condemning statements, however. As a result, I wouldn't acknowledge that part of myself for many years, and to this day struggle with shame because of it.

I wish more Christian leaders would think before they speak!

*I mean literally homophobic. For example, an evangelist who preached at the Fundamental Baptist "church" I grew up in stated that he was afraid to let an obviously gay flight steward touch him lest he catch something. Puh-lease!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Letting people be.

Back in the day, I used to think if I was talking to people about God, I had to try really hard to get them to ask Jesus into their hearts as their personal Savior. I'm glad I've grown out of that! God knows where people are, and He works with them there.

And I used to think I had to have all the answers for anyone who asked a question about God, or the Bible, or why evil exists, etc. But I don't. And I don't have to. And I don't know nearly as much as I thought I did then, nor as much as I think I do now, anyway. And that's okay.

And I used to think that my faith should be invincible because true faith is invincible--nothing can cause it to waver or be destroyed. But that's not reality. It's what we pray and hope and reach for, but it's not where we're at. Not most of us.

And I used to believe that I had to be the perfect Christian, never letting other's know I was less than perfect, and certainly not letting them know I have faults of character and faults of virtue. I'm glad I've grown out of that, too! It's okay for people to know my faults and sins. Many, perhaps most, of them are obvious, anyway!

And sometimes I don't whether God exists at all, and sometimes I don't know why I believe in Him, and right now I can't answer those questions, although it may be it's that I just can't find Him, or maybe I don't want to find Him. It's not a comfortable place to be. And that's okay because uncomfortable places in our lives make us move out to places we're afraid to go. Or to places we never thought of going. And we ask questions we never asked before. And God, if He exists, won't leave us to ourselves, if we really don't want Him to. And He will find us, and He will answer us, even if we cannot articulate the answers or even the questions we were asking.

The Doubter's Prayer
By Anne Bronte (1820-1849)

Eternal Power, of earth and air!
Unseen, yet seen in all around,
Remote, but dwelling everywhere,
Though silent, heard in every sound;

If e'er thine ear in mercy bent,
When wretched mortals cried to Thee,
And if, indeed, Thy Son was sent,
To save lost sinners such as me:

Then hear me now, while kneeling here,
I lift to thee my heart and eye,
And all my soul ascends in prayer,

Without some glimmering in my heart,
I could not raise this fervent prayer;
But, oh! a stronger light impart,
And in Thy mercy fix it there.

While Faith is with me, I am blest;
It turns my darkest night to day;
But while I clasp it to my breast,
I often feel it slide away.

Then, cold and dark, my spirit sinks,
To see my light of life depart;
And every fiend of Hell, methinks,
Enjoys the anguish of my heart.

What shall I do, if all my love,
My hopes, my toil, are cast away,
And if there be no God above,
To hear and bless me when I pray?

If this be vain delusion all,
If death be an eternal sleep,
And none can hear my secret call,
Or see the silent tears I weep!

Oh, help me, God! For thou alone
Canst my distracted soul relieve;
Forsake it not: it is thine own,
Though weak, yet longing to believe.

Oh, drive these cruel doubts away;
And make me know, that Thou art God!
A faith, that shines by night and day,
Will lighten every earthly load.

If I believe that Jesus died,
And waking, rose to reign above;
Then surely Sorrow, Sin, and Pride,
Must yield to Peace, and Hope, and Love.

And all the blessed words He said
Will strength and holy joy impart:
A shield of safety o'er my head,
A spring of comfort in my heart.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Father John Harvey, the priest who founded Courage, passed away on December 27th.

I love Father Harvey. He was a good man. I miss him. I've cried several times thinking about his death. He signed my Bible at the 2007 Courage Conference. (I'll never get rid of that Bible!)

At the Courage 2008 Conference, he and I had the following conversation:

Me: "Father Harvey. My name is Woodrow. I'm a member of Courage."

Father Harvey (FH): "I'm glad to meet you!"

Me: "Thank you for forming Courage. It has meant a lot to me."

FH: (I don't remember his response to that.)

Me: "Father Harvey, may I give you a hug?"

FH: "Of course you can!"

We embraced.

Me: "Father Harvey, you're probably going to get to Heaven long before I do. I don't ask you to remember my name here on Earth, but remember to pray for Woodrow when you get there."

FH: "I will! I will!"

Then we hugged again.

I trust he is indeed praying for me and for all of us Earth-bound sinners!

Let us pray for the repose of his soul.

"Eternal rest grant unto Father John Harvey, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through Thy mercy, O God, rest in peace. Amen."

And now, good news and bad news.

H/t: Mark Shea.

God bless these Muslims! May their example shine throughout the world and show terrorists the wrongs of terrorism!

Let us pray:

A Prayer for Persecuted Christians
(C) by Star Ferdinand. Used by permission.

Thank You, O Lord, for redeeming us from the hand of the adversary and gathering us from the far corners of the earth. We bow before You now, asking that You have mercy on Your people who are persecuted and afflicted around the world – those who have heeded the call of Jesus to take up their Cross daily and follow Him. Their path has been difficult, full of trials and hardships. Yet they refuse to deny their Lord. As they partake of the sufferings of Christ, we know they are also partaking of the comfort You provide. Please work out Your will in their lives. Stand by them and strengthen them as You did Paul, so they can earnestly say, “Your will be done.” 

We have read of the rescue of Peter from prison and know that You can turn the heart of any government official, including those with authority to release Your people from prison. Father, You rescued Peter in response to the prayers of the Church. We now ask You to do the same for Your disciples everywhere who have been imprisoned because they preach Christ. Deliver Your messengers from the hands of the executioners so that through them, Your message will be fully proclaimed to every people group on earth. 

We have also read of Your servant, Stephen, who was stoned to death. We know that many others since that day have been executed because they would not deny their faith. For those in our generation who will suffer this same fate, we ask, Lord, that You will strengthen their faith so they can say with Paul, “To die is gain.” Expand their vision, O God, so that they see what Stephen saw: Jesus standing at Your right hand. Let those of us who now pray to You follow the lead of Your persecuted ones, pick up our Crosses daily, and follow Your Son, in Whose precious name we pray. Amen.

It's been awhile... let me catch up.

Merry Christmas!

The Nativity Story, from Luke chapter 2 (KJV):

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee,out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with Child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people! For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace good will toward men!"


Feast of St. Stephen! (December 26, Latin calendar)

and Feast of St. Joseph the Betrothed! (December 26, Eastern calendar)

Happy Feast of the Holy Family!


Solemnity of Mary Theotokos!

and New Year!

Happy Feast of the Epiphany!