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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

JAILBIRD- A NOVEL BY REBECCA LEWIS

What do John Gotti, Timothy McVeigh, and Karla Faye Tucker 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.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Can Lay Persons Be As Holy As Clergy? Part Two

"But the power belongs to the priests, they say. I know it, too... But not simply to priests as such, but to those who serve in the priestly ministry of the Gospel [That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:16] in a spirit of humility and who live a blameless life. 

Such first present themselves to the Lord [Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Roman 6:16] and offer themselves as a 'perfect, holy and well-pleasing sacrifice,' as their own pure act of worship [I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1- Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27] in the temple of their own bodies [What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?1 Cor. 6:19], inwardly and spiritually.

They are accepted and appear on the altar that is on high [For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us... Heb. 9:24], offered by Christ the High Priest as a perfect sacrifice, changed and transformed by the power of the Spirit. They have been transformed into Christ, who died for us in the glory of His Godhead." (St. Symeon the New Theologian. Discourses, XXVIII, 9. B#74, p. 302)

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Sign Of The Jezebel Spirit

A BRIEF SUMMATION OF A JEZEBEL SPIRIT

The controlling Jezebel spirit (Hebrew אִיזָבֶל ('Izevel/'Izavel) is most often displayed in women. These women seduce and deceive their way into a positions of authority that are neither given nor earned. They maneuver, lobby or manipulate their way into communication with men - especially, the clergy. The Jezebel spirit must have a voice - she must have influence and position and has an insatiable desire for affirmation and recognition. Jezebel does not desire equality with men, she desires to dominate them. Her desire to dominate is demonically borne of Satan's goal of nullifying and destroying the church, and in particular, the man of God. Her tool is to gain the confidence of the man of God in order to do him harm, if not openly, then by subterfuge. Jezebel's greatest threat on her way to domination is the prophet (or seer). The prophet/seer is particularly equipped to discern this spirit at work and its cunning devises. The Jezebel will initially attempt to deceive the prophet/seer as she would any man, however, when she realizes she is thwarted or exposed, she will viciously attack or resist the prophet/seer (1 Kings 19) and attempt to diminish his voice. She may contradict him at every turn, and try to rally others to resist him as well. She works behind the scenes with gossip couched in religious language and feigned concern for the church, but her real motivation is to remove what she perceives to be an obstacle to her mission of domination. Jezebel may be a married woman, but she is usually the mouthpiece and spiritual leader in the relationship. She may also be a single woman and more often than not, a woman with one or more divorces or failed relationships in her history.

A TOOL OF JEZEBEL

Jezebel's reach today is expansive and rapid due to modern communication technology, in particular, social media, blogs, and mass e-mails. With the click of a button, Jezebel can speak into the life of the church and communicate with numerous men and clergy at one time. But her preferred method is not blatancy or obvious words- it is a methodical and slow dissemination of information and influence, which she hopes will gain the confidence of the hearers. With a Facebook account or a presence in a chat room, Jezebel, in effect, sits in counsel and discussion with the clergy as an equal, giving her opinion and advice. 

A SIGN OF JEZEBEL

I have recently become aware of a recurring theme in regards to Jezebel's work in targeting Genuine Orthodox Churches. She will often promote the idea that the group is "small", a "remnant", and are the only ones who know what is going on. In truth, no one should take pride in the fact that the remnant of true believers is small,  as it indicates a weakness in the mission of the church to bring salvation to all the world. But, Jezebel will work to cast dispersion on other groups and point out their failures, often calling out groups and people by name. In this, she entrenches herself as a part of this small group so as to exercise her influence. The aim is to subconsciously plant the idea in others that she is "one of us." In truth, her goal is to keep the true believers "small" by causing division and preventing unity both in the church and in the lives of individuals. Jezebel hates unity, works to undermine it at every turn, and works to keep things stirred up.

A PERSONAL ENCOUNTER

The Jezebel spirit will single out a man and try to make her way into his confidence. I once had a woman contact me by Facebook message. I am selective about who I "friend", but Jezebel spirit is cunning and usually not obvious. The woman told me who she was and that both she and her husband use the Facebook account, so I would get to talk with both of them. I accepted her friend request and also her request for my JTO e-mail. The woman began to send me a group e-mail bashing other jurisdictions. I asked to be removed from that list. She did so. Then, she e-mailed me personally, "sharing" information about another Orthodox brother. I immediately put a halt to it, telling her that what she was doing "bordered on gossip" and "frankly, I do not want to hear it."  I de-friended her on Facebook, but have subsequently seen the woman doing the same in conversations with others. I also saw the Jezebel spirit at work when I was discussing a matter on Facebook with a group of priests where she was participating. Her response to my words was to warn all (but directed toward me) to respect the words of our priests. This Jezebelian tactic is designed to be a wedge of divisiveness. With that statement, she publicly presented herself as the devoted servant and me as the rebellious independent. This, on the heels of our private e-mail where I rebuffed her for her tendency to gossip. I have yet to hear from her husband by e-mail or message, nor have I seen him in any social media forum. Left unchecked, this Jezebel-influenced woman will cause harm to the church. The question that should be asked of such a woman independently involved in this activity is, "Woman, where is thy husband"? 

A PERSONAL ENCOUNTER - TWO

I endured a three year period of time when I was publicly maligned, via the internet,  by a woman Jezebel. The viciousness of the attack included the posting of my name and the public accusation that I only had "partial salvation", was in prelest, was deluded, and was deceived by demons. This Jezebel rallied a few others- men whom she controlled - to publicly accuse me with words of, "false prophet", "enemy of the church", "liar" and even likening me to an ape. This Jezebel was an "orthodox" woman who ran an "orthodox" blog. The catalyst for her attacks was the fact that I had rebuffed her numerous attempts to become my counselor. She offered unsolicited correction to me based on her false perceptions of me. When the Jezebel spirit became convinced that she was exposed and could not control me (I, having rebuked the spirit by saying, "I have a priest and you are not him"), she turned to another tactic- trying to gain the confidence of my wife. When she learned that my wife had broken her wrist, she mailed a gift package to her. My wife, being very aware of the Jezebel spirit and knowing, as do I, her ploys and tactics, and that the woman had publicly denounced her husband, joined me in refusing the package and mailing it back, unopened. 

A WARNING FOR THE CLERGY

Discern the spirit of any woman, who independent of a husband, mingles with or converses on a regular basis with clergy, if she has not been recognized by a Bishop as having a particular grace (charism) which would warrant such a relationship. Take greatest caution in the arena of Social Media.

A DETERMINER

Women of wisdom, virtue, and holiness will read this article and not take offense nor feel it is directed at her nor misogynistic in its message. The woman with the Jezebel spirit will be angered, feel exposed, and be compelled to lash out.

A FINAL NOTE OR TWO OR THREE

1. One woman may only be influenced by the spirit of Jezebel and be acting in self-deception. Another may be controlled by Jezebel- a Jezabel - and, having stepped into a mode of witchcraft, be a more powerful tool of satan. These must be discerned.
2. Men can also be influenced by the spirit of Jezebel and unknowingly be doing her bidding. Other men may be under the control of the spirit of Jezebel and act as her emissary- her eunuch. This, too must be discerned.
3. The tell-tale sign for each is rebellion, for "rebellion as the sin of witchcraft...".

A LIST OF OTHER LINKS ON JEZEBEL

(click to read)
Who Is Jezebel?
How To Recognize A Jezebel Spirit
How Jezebel Spirits Make Eunuchs
The Jezebel Spirit
Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Blaspheming- One Step Away From Judging

Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is one step away from judging a brother. A fine and perilous line. Can one blaspheme without knowing it? Yes, if one does not know what blasphemy is. 

"Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is to attribute His operations to the opposite spirit, says Basil the Great. How does one do this? Whenever one sees miracles brought about by the Holy Spirit or any of the other divine gifts in any of his brethren- that is compunction of tears, or humility, or divine knowledge, or word of wisdom from on high (Cf.I Cor. 12:8, Jas. 3:15,17), or anything else that is bestowed on those who love God (Cf. Rom. 8:28) - and says that this comes from deceit of the devil. But he also blasphemes against the Holy Spirit who works in them (Cf.I Cor. 12:11, Eph. 2:2) who says that those who as sons of God are led by the divine Spirit (Cf. Rom. 8:14), and perform the commandments of their God and Father, are being deceived by demons. This is what the Jews of old said against the Son of God... Like unbelievers and those completely uninitiated into the divine mysteries when they hear anything about divine illumination, or of enlightenment of the soul and mind, or of contemplation and freedom from passion. or of humility and tears poured out by the working and grace of the Holy Spirit, straightaway the eyes of their hearts are darkened rather than enlightened... They audaciously aver [def: state or assert to be the case] that these things come from the deceit of demons... To deny that at this present time there are some who love God, and that they have been granted the Holy Spirit... that they have become gods by knowledge... and contemplation, that wholly subverts the Incarnation of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:13)! It denies the renewal of the image that had been corrupted and put to death, and its return to incorruption and immortality."  [Saint Symeon the New Theologian. The Discourses XXXII, 1,2. B#74, pp.335-336]

I have upon occasion trembled at the ease at which brethren blaspheme in this way. On the JTO blog I have experienced this. People whom I have never met- only corresponded with briefly through the comment section or e-mail, step over from doctrinal discussions to blasphemy when they attribute the work and gifts of the Holy Sprint in me to that of demons. This is no exaggeration. I have been denounced by "orthodox" people with clear phrases such as "I proclaim you a false prophet", "you are deceived and need deliverance", you are in prelest and deception", "you are an enemy of the church", and more. 

I tremble also when I see in Social Media, the Heretic Hunters who go far beyond the propriety of speaking against heresies, and attack the character and spirituality of individuals, attributing even their good years devoted to the things of God as "false all along", "a demonic plant", or an "agent of the devil". It is a perilous thing to make such statements. It is dangerous, and should it blaspheme- there is no forgiveness. Blaspheming is one step away from judging. We must all watch where we step.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Does Our Haughtiness Separate Us?

"For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone." [Saint Paul to the Romans] 

"Great is the power of the medicine and the force of this illustration for correcting the disease of haughtiness. Why [he means} do you think highly of yourself? Or why again does another utterly despise himself? Are we not all one body, great and small? Then as we are in the total number but one, and members of another, why do you by your haughtiness separate yourself? Why do you put your brother to shame? For so as he is a member of you, so are you also of him. And it is on this score that your claims to honor are so equal...So too, when he touches upon the gifts, he does not say that one received more or another less, but what? Different. And what if you are not appointed to the same office? Still the body is the same...

It requires a very noble soul, not only to keep from envying, but even to feel pleasure with the person who is in esteem...When your neighbor is ill-treated, you ought to make that calamity your own. Share then in his tears...Has a poor man come into your house?...There is no rich or poor in Christ. Be not ashamed of him because of his external dress, but receive him because of his inward faith." [Saint John Chrysostom]

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Power Of "You" In Interpersonal Communication

Recently, in opening up my FaceBook to include a larger scope of "friends" (outside my own family members), I have noticed some who fail to understand the interpersonal communication dynamics involved in use of the word, "you". The use of this word, directed at another, has the effect of diverting the communication from the subject matter and making it a personal assessment of another's character, motives, emotions, or whatever the "you' perceives the person is saying. At this point, all communication is shut down and offenses arise. In any case, "you", directed at another, should be avoided in a public forum, at all costs. "You" has the power to cause offense and is readily interpreted as a personal judgement from the user. It can also cause public embarrassment and humiliation. The FaceBook user should remember that the FaceBook timeline is not a private chat room. If a more personal communication is needed the Message Tab should be used to privately talk to another. But, even in private communication, one should be aware of the negative dynamics involved in the use of "you".

From Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. in Communication Success

1. “You” language plus directives

Ineffective communication is often characterized by the use of certain types of “you” language, such as “you are...,” “you should...,” “you need to...,” “you have to...,” “you’d better...,” and “you people...”. Directives are statements that either pass negative judgment, or order another person around. Some examples of “you” language plus a directive include:

“You are not good enough...”
“You should pay attention...”
“You need to do this now...”
“You have to understand my position...”
"You better get it right...”
“You people should behave...”


Most people don’t like being judged or told what to do, and when we use “you” language plus directives, it’s easy to arouse in others feelings of resentment and defensiveness. This type of communication is also problematic in that it tends to invite a “no” response, resulting in disagreements and conflicts.

I have recently had the word "you" directed toward me. In the course of discussions, I have heard, "You are too tense" and "You are nitpicking". The first temptation that arises from one so singled out is to defend themselves against such accusations. But, to do so would be pride and a sin. "You" has the power to tempt someone to sin, and defeats our responsibility to "as much as is possible be at peace with all men." Apostle James tells us, " The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body."

We are to guard our hearts and our mouths, especially in interpersonal communication with a fellow believer. Knowing that  "you" has the power to burn another, is a good start.

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Forgotten Fourth Verse

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war's desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Public FaceBook Discourse

To all of my FaceBook friends- especially my fellow Orthodox Christians: FB is not a private chat room. Please use wisdom in your discourse. Asking about, discussing, or commenting on personal details about another individual is NOT appropriate and borders on gossip and rumor mongering. If you must discuss such things, use the private message feature. In this way your sin is just between one other and not instantly spread to countless others. Pray for me, a sinner.