Tuesday, September 09, 2014

"Unity" Oh No...You Did Not Use That Word!

Call for unity today and you might be accused of being an ecumenist. Call for unity today and you might get a message or a call from a monk, a priest, a bishop, or a blogger, expressing concern that while they have as their goal, the exposing of heretics, you are not representing their mission. But that's the problem, isn't it - that anyone should have as their goal, the exposing of heretics? Key word: goal.

Yes, we should point out heresies in order to accurately present the truth, however, with very few exceptions, the Orthodox dialogue via blogs, websites, chat forums, and the like, do not have, as their goal, what Christ said the goal should be: 

"Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one... My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unityThen the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

In case you are wondering, "complete unity', in the original Greek, means, "complete unity."

"To complete by reaching the intended goal."

The goal is to be unified, so that the world may believe that God the Father sent God the Son for the salvation of the world because he LOVES all of mankind. Why has this become a novel idea? Why are the blogs, websites, "open letters" diocesan communications, chat forums, void of this goal? Why is vitriol, accusation, contention and strife among us?

The popular mantra is that we are not to be unequally yoked, that we are not to fellowship with non-believers, not to pray with heretics-- yes, all this is true, but, is the promulgation of this our goal? Is it not enough just to believe and practice this piety without championing it - at the very least, let the Bishops contend with these things?

"I thank thee, oh God, that I am not like that sinner over there."

The goal is unity, so that we may be champions of the love of Christ. Let's start with this:

"Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building."

Few would argue that if one espouses another way to heaven other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified, then he is not Orthodox at all. Few would argue that if one innovates doctrines that were not believed by all the church at all times, then one is not Orthodox. Few would argue that in these cases these have become heretics and from such we should turn away, but, most of the jealousy and quarrels have little to do with the foundation doctrines of the faith. They are Paul and Apollos issues and it sounds something like this:

"Did this Bishop do this at this time and where and with whom and was the grace of God really on the bishops who ordained him because they were connected with that one over there at the time and we all know that that one over there was in communion with that other one so he was not authentic and the autonomy was received but it was by those that we are not sure of so that bishop or that monk or that guy is not really Orthodox and we are because we did not experience any of that and therefore are pure and holy and Orthodox and all others are not and though we are small in number, narrow is the way and few there be that find it and we did - find it - and they didn't and we are the remnant and they aren't and we are because they are not, so they are the enemies of the church and we can treat them worse than heathens because they are - heathens - and we are not, but they are..."

We, the Orthodox Church, are acting like infants. We are worldly. And the Holy Spirit is grieved. 

A Personal Reflection
At times, as I have observed this, I have asked myself, where is the love of Christ in all of this? Where is the gospel being presented to a dying world? It seems, the World Orthodox have more unity than do the "True Churches". One can argue that their unity is at the cost of true faith and practice, but there is no doubt, they have a greater structure of unity. Within a few years, the Roman Catholic Church and the World Orthodox Churches will be one unified body. 

Are the True Churches fiddling while Rome is creating an orchestra? 

Every Bishop of a True Orthodox Church, who shares a contempt for Ecumenism and a love of true doctrine and faith, should lay down his ecclesiastical sword, pick up his episcopal staff, get together in a very large room with all other Bishops, and forgive one another and forebear one another. Even if a Bishop is not authentic, in one's eyes, or a jurisdiction is spurious, in another's eyes, cannot the unity of the whole make right these things? Is this not what Jesus prayed for? We are losing the battle for the souls of men... and the message of sharing the LOVE of Christ is obscured. People from the outside are looking in. They are trying to find Christ, but they can't see him. In our disunity we have become islands unto ourselves. The isle of Paul. The isle of Apollos. People are drowning near our shore and we hesitate to send out a life-raft because we fear the riff raff that might climb on board. Here's a novel idea: How about spending as much time rescuing the lost as you do recusing the heretics?

Are we rescuers or recusers?

The Great Commission
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' "

This can and will only be accomplished in UNITY.

The Challenge
Bishops, do you know where your church is? Do you know what your people are blogging? Do you know that your clerics are arguing in public, not just with clerics from other jurisdictions but among themselves? Shepherd us! Tear your clothes in mourning! Lay down your pride and humble yourselves before one another. Stop typing, and get on a plane. Sit with your adversary face-to-face. You may find, by the grace of God, that the adversary was you, and that the barrier to Unity was you, not your brother, and at the core of it all - the devises of Satan, to thwart the UNITY of the church for which Jesus prayed. If you will be in unity, we will. If you won't, we surely can't.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

How To Prove You Are A True Orthodox Church

The best way to prove you are a true Orthodox Church is not by offering public apologetics, historical ecclesiastical tracking, and attempting to discern the heart and intent of the actions of jurisdictional Bishops at a moment in time, so that you might compare yourself to them, saying, 

"I thank thee, oh God, that we are not like that Jurisdiction over there!" 

Rather, the best way to show you are a true Orthodox Church is to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God thus exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit and the dunamis power of ministry. 

"By their fruits you shall know them."  

In this way the presence of God among you will be noised abroad.

The lack of such demonstration is to

"Have a form of Godliness but deny the power thereof," 

thus proving you are not a true Orthodox Church.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Yes! A Quality Feature Film! Orthodox Subject!

As a film producer, I am thrilled to see such quality work. No subtitles available on this clip and no other information as to the producers, but the fact that a film based on the life of a Russian Orthodox Saint has been made, is VERY encouraging. 

If you have a desire to see these types of films produced and have the means to financially invest in projects with Orthodox subjects, please go to My company, Rocky Top Pictures, is entering the investment phase. 

Where are all the Film Investors?

UPDATE: Note: Films, such as those produced by Rocky Top Pictures LLC. including Moses The Black are NOT financed through donations. Only qualified investors who are able to show their fiscal viability are legally allowed to invest and that under contract. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

JAILBIRD - A Riveting New Novel By The Sister Of JTO Author- UPDATE

UPDATE: Doing brisk sales! Order yours today...

What do John GottiTimothy McVeighKarla Faye Tucker and Omar Abdel-Rahman (also known as the Blind Sheik) have in common? My sister, Rebecca Lewis, was their chaplain. Read this riveting novel from this 30-year veteran of the county and federal prison systems. Available now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five Reasons Demons Attack

"It is said that God allows the demons to attack us for five reasons.

The FIRST is that, through being attacked and fighting back, we should learn to distinguish virtue from sin.
The SECOND is that, having acquired virtue by struggle and labor, we should keep it firm and unalterable.
The THIRD, that progressing in virtue we should not think highly of ourselves, but should learn humility.
The FOURTH, that having experienced in practice, the wickedness of sin, we should hate it with a perfect hatred.
Finally, the FIFTH and most important is that having been freed from passion we should not forget our weakness and the strength of Him Who has helped us."

St Maximos the Confessor. Second Century on Love, Text #67. B#9.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What Does The Koran Say About Jesus?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Treat One Another

One should reflect first what one is going to say, and then give it utterance; be courteous when addressed, amiable in social intercourse, not aiming to be pleasant by facetiousness, but cultivating gentleness in kind admonitions. Harshness is ever to be put aside, even in censuring. -St. Basil the Great, PG, Vol 32, Epistolae, II

Or how canst thou say to thy brother: Brother, let me pull the mote out of thy eye, when thou thyself seest not the beam in thy own eye? Hypocrite, cast first the beam out of thy own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to take out the mote from thy brother's eye. -St Luke 6:42

Thanks to Father Joseph Gagliano of Saint Lawerence Mission - from his Sunday bulletin.

Monday, August 18, 2014

One Reason Why Rocky Top Pictures Exists

This is one of the main reasons why my Rocky Top Pictures exists. I loathe "Christian Films." By the way, Protestants still think they are the core of Christianity. They really need to get out more. 

Has anyone heard of Orthodox Christianity? It is the original Christian Church founded by Christ and His Disciples. It is still here. My apologies to Hollywood for the junk some have been presenting in the name of Christianity and for a pseudo-Christianity that is far removed the original in doctrine and practice. Rest assured, help is on the way!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Right Attitude Toward Those In The "Charismatic Movement"

"As for those caught in the web of the charismatic movement, 

under no circumstances are we justified if we condemn them. 

Those who imagine themselves saved by all of this are victims of a demonic arrogance which blinds them to true evangelical humility, which often serves certain personality deficits, and which, more often than not, convinces them inwardly of their own salvation—indeed, a dangerous thing. 

We must reach out to these people with charitable words, 

constantly assuring them that the Orthodox Church has a fullness which is not yet realized in America. Within that fullness, we must tell them, rests a true spiritual treasure, not a dull stone glimmering with the polish of deceit and emotionalism. And then, to be sure, 

we must set about restoring the fullness of the Church's traditions, admitting readily that WE, not the Church, have lacked fullness!"

From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. I, Nos. 4&5, pp. 29-32.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Were Saint Symeon the New Theologian and Saint John of Kronstadt Charismatics?

Both saints moved in the charisms. prophecies of the future, words of knowledge, visions and dreams, seers into the heavens, purveyors of the direct mysteries of God for specific current situations to individuals and churches. They are only two of the saints of God who did so. Were they charismatics? Is Christianity charismatic? The word charism is a greek word meaning "grace". "Mata" means "gifts", i.e., chrismata means "grace gifts." Does God gift his church with gifts that are beyond the natural realm? Is the church supernatural? Is the Holy Spirit limited to only the natural? Is the church? Is not all of the body Christ gifted with charisms? If not, then is Christianity just like any other idealistic philosophical belief system?

The word, charismatic, has been usurped by the modern Montanist-influenced movement predominately seen in the protestant world.  Unfortunately, some Orthodox believers fail to understand that the word belongs to the church. It is scriptural. It is Orthodox. To be charismatic does not mean that one is part of the Charismatic Movement, which inlcludes spiritualism, demonic influence, false prophets, satanic visions and manifestations, and false doctrines, promoted by men and women who are not under the authority or umbrella of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. To be charismatic means that the orthodox church is infused with the Holy Spirit and operates in the heavenly realms. In this way, and in this way only, will "the gates of hell not prevail against it."

First and foremost, salvation, being born again of spirit and of water, is charismatic. Indeed, all of the sacraments are charismatic. "The holy mysteries or sacraments in the Orthodox Church are vessels of the mystical participation in divine grace of mankind. In a general sense, the Orthodox Church considers everything which is in and of the Church as sacramental or mystical." 

So, too, the church, through it's individual members, operates in the charismatic gifts of ministry.

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines."

"For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness."

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:"

Were any of these charisms temporary? Are any of these gifts void today? Only if the following has been accomplished...

"...Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"

Some Orthodox believers, do wrongfully use the word, charismatic, as a curse word to indict other Orthodox Christians. They are uniformed and deceived, when they assume that because an Orthodox person is graced with one of the more demonstratively supernatural ministry gifts, that they must be part of the satanic Charismatic Movement, or are in prelest and deception. They unwisely resist and even attribute such works to the devil. Such knee-jerk reaction is a perilous thing akin to blaspheming the Holy Spirit Himself. Safeguards are given to the church through it's Bishops and those with the charism of Discernment of Spirits, to root out false gifts, but individuals who, out of ignorance, pride, or other such fleshly persuasion, speak such judgement, are in danger themselves of judgement. Saint Symeon and Saint John were subject to such attacks as were other saints. Even Christ was accused: 

"This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.”

He replied with this warning:

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."

If you are an Orthodox Christian, then, yes! You are charismatic, though it is advisable in the Western culture not to preface it with "I am a", lest the uniformed misunderstand. Rather, acknowledge that the Holy Spirit resides in you and it is through His charisms, indeed, in Him alone, that you live and move and have your being.

I am not permitted, nor do I desire to be identified with a specific ministry gift with which I am graced. I am satisfied, and so should you be, to know that He is the gift and all that He is is in you, and He has promised that "Greater things will you do than I have done."  I am also ever aware that I am a sinner and my soul is in constant need of redemption, healing and forgiveness. In my early days as an Orthodox Christian, I was ignorant of the ethos and culture which includes specific verbiage and semantics. I was surprised to learn that the words such as "Clairvoyant" and "Seer" were acceptable words when referring to related gifts, but the word "prophet", though it is as Orthodox a word as the former, carried with it connotations and provoked much misunderstanding. I was also unaware that such gifts are deemed by some to be rare. The rarity of these gifts may or may not be true. It is more likely that they are instead, rarely talked about by those who are thus gifted, because of contrition or fear of rejection. In any case, some have relegated these charisms to only cloistered monks and saints of old, and this is not true. My mistake came in creating a blog called Orthodox Prophets, as an outlet for those with such gifts to speak to the world. Rather than accomplish the intended purpose, the blog was perceived by some as a self-promotion. No one, bishop, priest, or laymen, friend or critic, ever spoke to the content of the posts because they could not see through the fact of the very existence of the blog. Out of deference to those to whom the blog was a stumbling block, I removed it from public view. God does not need me. He does not need you. He does not desire sacrifice, but a broken and contrite spirit, he will not despise. None of us are the saviors of the world. Salvation has already come and He is Christ Jesus. It is amazing, it is glorious, that He takes these mortal vessels, cleanses them, fills them with Himself, then pours out His ministry to the world. We have become partakers of His mysteries, His charisms, His charismata, for indeed, without his unmerited favor, none of us would subsist.

Oh... and yes, Saint Symeon and Saint John were charismatics!

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