Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Middle East and Orthodox Meddling.

"We are the Church of the living God. We are to gather at his Holy Altar and not at our preferred ethnic flagpole. It is indeed true that "There can be no Jew nor Greek, there can be no slave nor freeman, there can be neither male nor female-for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Our heart of compassion in the current crisis in the Middle East should be for ALL who are victims and our criticism of ALL who are guilty regardless of nationality or race. Let us all agree with Shakespeare that, if warranted, "All are punished! All are punished!"

More relevant today than ever. Read the full article HERE.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Academy Awards Challenge for Churches

“Recently, as I've been speaking at conferences and events around the world, I've been urging Christians to stop looking at Hollywood as the enemy, and

start looking at Hollywood as a mission field,” 

Cooke wrote.” After all, what if Christians stopped just criticizing, and actually started praying for the most influential industry in the world? Something amazing might happen.” [Phil Cooke is a media consultant focused mainly on the Christian market, as well as a vocal critic of contemporary American and American-influenced Christian }

Read full article here.

JTO NOTE: Pray in particular for Orthodox Christians in the film industry.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

BREAKING NEWS! JTO Author Confesses To Being A Sinner

"I, a sinful soul, confess to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, all of my evil acts which I have done, said or thought from baptism even unto this present day.

I have not kept the vows of my baptism, but have made myself unwanted before the face of God.

I have sinned before the Lord by lack of faith and by doubts concerning the Orthodox Faith and the Holy Church; by ungratefulness for all of God's great and unceasing gifts; His long-suffering and His providence for me, a sinner; by lack of love for the Lord, as well as fear, through not fulfilling the Holy Commandments of God and the canons and rules of the Church.

I have not preserved a love for God and for my neighbor nor have I made enough efforts, because of laziness and lack of care, to learn the Commandments of God and the precepts of the Holy Fathers.

I have sinned: by not praying in the morning and in the evening and in the course of the day; by not attending the services or by coming to Church only half-heartedly, lazily and carelessly; by conversing during the services, by not paying attention, letting my mind wander and by departure from the Church before the dismissal and blessing.

I have sinned by judging members of the clergy.

I have sinned by not respecting the Feasts, breaking the Fasts, and by immoderation in food and drink.

I have sinned by self-importance, disobedience, willfulness, self-righteousness, and the seeking of approval and praise.

I have sinned by unbelief, lack of faith, doubts, despair, despondency, abusive thoughts, blasphemy and swearing.

I have sinned by pride, a high opinion of my self, narcissism, vanity, conceit, envy, love of praise, love of honors, and by putting on airs.

I have sinned: by judging, malicious gossip, anger, remembering of offenses done to me, hatred and returning evil for evil; by slander, reproaches, lies, slyness, deception and hypocrisy; by prejudices, arguments, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give way to my neighbor; by gloating, spitefulness, taunting, insults and mocking; by gossip, by speaking too much and by empty speech.

I have sinned by unnecessary and excessive laughter, by reviling and dwelling upon my previous sins, by arrogant behavior, insolence and lack of respect.

I have sinned by not keeping my physical and spiritual passions in check, by my enjoyment of impure thoughts, licentiousness and unchastity in thoughts, words and deeds.

I have sinned by lack of endurance towards my illnesses and sorrows, a devotion to the comforts of life and by being too attached to my parents, children, relatives and friends.

I have sinned by hardening my heart, having a weak will and by not forcing myself to do good.

I have sinned by miserliness, a love of money, the acquisition of unnecessary things and immoderate attachment to things.

I have sinned by self-justification, a disregard for the admonitions of my conscience and failing to confess my sins through negligence or false pride.

I have sinned many times by my Confession: belittling, justifying and keeping silent about sins.

I have sinned against the Most-holy and Life-creating Mysteries of the Body and Blood of our Lord by coming to Holy Communion without humility or the fear of God.

I have sinned in deed, word and thought, knowingly and unknowingly, willingly and unwillingly, thoughtfully and thoughtlessly, and it is impossible to enumerate all of my sins because of their multitude. But I truly repent of these and all others not mentioned by me because of my forgetfulness and I ask that they be forgiven through the abundance of the Mercy of God."  Prayer of Saint John of Kronstadt

Monday, January 26, 2015

Byzanfest 2015


Criteria: What is an Orthodox Film?

"Byzanfest is looking for films that express Orthodox Christian themes, beliefs, culture and values. 
However, an entry’s storyline does not necessarily have to be directly ‘religious’ or spiritual. Although the film may not appear to have ‘Orthodox’ subject matter, it can still be deemed an Orthodox film because it was created by an Orthodox Christian filmmaker who maintained an Orthodox phronema (‘mindset’) during the creative process, remaining faithful to their Christian sense of dignity, morality and self-respect."

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Orthodox KKK?

Christians: We must take great care in our public (and private) discourse toward one another. The world is watching, and in that world are lost souls whose eternity hangs in the balance. Discuss the faith, the doctrines of the church, and any errors in orthodox understanding of the truth, but refrain from ad hominem attacks [adverb; adjective 1.(of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining. "vicious ad hominem attacks" ].

Saint James, the brother of our Lord, calls it slander.
"Do not speak evil [*slander] of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother [*slander] and judges [**] his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law [***a judge], you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?"
So, what is the Orthodox KKK? It is those individuals or groups that practice the three K's that Saint James points out:

* Katalaleo; from kata, against, and laleo, to speak. To insult, defame, slur, slander. The word is rather broad in meaning, taking in every sort of defamation or verbal aspersion. The fundamental notion is that of speaking about a person in a manner which is aimed at maligning and discrediting him or injuring his reputation, roughly equivalent to the modern slang "to bad mouth" (Jas 4:11; 1 Pe 2:12; 3:16)

** Krino; to discriminate between good and evil, select, choose out the good. In the NT it means to judge, form or give an opinion after separating and considering the particulars of a case. To judge, try in a solemn manner, spoken of men, of God, of Christ as the God-Man; to judge, pass sentence, or give one's opinion in a private manner; to discern, form a mental judgement or opinion; to judge, evaluate, esteem, or perhaps to merely state a preference; to judge properly, determine; to condemn; to furnish matter or occasion for condemnation.

*** Krites; from Krino, to judge. A judge.

So, you see, even if we are right in our assessment of another, to give the assessment in a katalaleo, krino, krites way is not our right to do. We have become the Orthodox KKK and such is not orthodox at all. In fact, we are commanded to not conduct ourselves in such a way. Why? Because God is the judge of the individual, not us. This does not negate our responsibility to judge what is truth and what is not, (see: Quit Repeating "Judge Not!" We Are Supposed To "Judge"!)  but the focus should be on the truth and not on the person. Many JTO articles have been prompted by what I have seen others do or say, but the posts have focused on the subject, the topic, with an exposition on the truth, and have not been about the person who said or did it. But have there been exceptions?

In the nine years since the first JTO post, I have attempted to refrain from the "KKK's"  and ad hominem methods of discourse in both the posts and comments (See The Power Of "You" In Interpersonal Communication and Judging Others). Wherein I have not been faithful in that, I ask forgiveness. In discussing Ecumenism, I have used quotes from individuals. I have posted an e-mail exchange from a "messianic prophet" who said that if I was not on his mailing list I would not enter the Kingdom of God. And I have posted an article on two individuals, that I name, whose blogs and posts are the very epitome of the KKK's and ad hominems, focused on the personal destruction of individuals. Perhaps none of this was even my right to do? 

This blog reflects my Journey To Orthodoxy. I challenge all JTO readers, as I have multiple times, to help keep me on the straight path. But, in doing so, point out where I am wrong in my words, conclusions, doctrine, and orthodox mind, refraining from the KKK's and ad hominems directed toward my character, motives, and intent. Remembering always, that it is the Holy Spirit who ultimately guides us into all truth and that I have a Bishop, who is the chief shepherd of my soul. The objective of JTO has always been that others may learn from my ups and down, my rights and wrongs, my discoveries in truth, and that my arrogant soul may be tempered and humiliated.

CHALLENGE: Select anything I have written, not what you presume I believe, but, what I have actually written, and offer a rebuttal or correction, void of personal attacks, and I will post it. Many have done this throughout the years, and you will find those beneficial discussions in the comment section below the posts. I have also had many profitable exchanges via e-mail: A few of those beneficial exchanges have been posted as articles or prompted me to make corrections or clarifications of some posts or comments. I look forward to hearing from you... unless you are member of the Orthodox KKK.
"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:1-5

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Why People Leave The Church...Or Don't Come To Begin With

It feels like a big bait-and-switch sucker deal; advertising a "Come as you are" party, but letting us know once we're in the door that we can't really come as we are. We see a Jesus in the Bible that hung out with lowlifes and prostitutes and outcasts, and loved them right there, but that doesn't seem to be your cup of tea.

Church, can you love us if we don't check all the doctrinal boxes and don't have our theology [and ecclesiology] all figured out? It doesn't seem so.

Can you love us if we cuss and drink and get tatoos...? We're doubtful.
[Can you love us if we don't dress Orthodox, groom Orthodox, speak Orthodox, think Orthodox according to your jurisdictional idiosyncrasies? You make us feel as if we are the lesser in God's eyes.]

[Can you love us  if we are not Russian, Greek, Serbian , American, or any other culture that you prefer? We feel as if we will never pass your litmus test.]

[Can you love us if we associate with bishops whom you deem to be uncanonical? We feel that in your eyes we are the worse of all sinners, and you brand us as "enemies".]

From what we know about Jesus, we think he looks like love. The unfortunate thing is, you don't look much like him. 
That’s part of the reason people are leaving you, Church. These words may get you really, really angry, and you may want to jump in a knee-jerk move to defend yourself or attack these positions line-by-line, but we hope that you won’t. We hope that you’ll just sit in stillness with these words for a while, because whether you believe they’re right or wrong, they’re real to us, and that’s the whole point. We’re the ones walking away. We want to matter to you. We want you to hear us before you debate us. Show us that your love and your God are real. Church, give us a reason to stay.

Friday, January 09, 2015

"By Their Fruit You Will Know Them"

Are you a good fruit or a rotten apple?


I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Corinthians 1:10, NIV)
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18, NLT2)
You are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? (1 Corinthians 3:3, NLT2)
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (Romans 12:18, NASB95)
If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:15, NIV)
Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:26, NASB95)
Live in harmony with one another. (Romans 12:16, NIV)
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife. (Proverbs 16:28, NLT2)
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute. (Proverbs 15:18, NASB95)
A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood. (Proverbs 26:21, NLT2)
An angry person starts fights; a hot–tempered person commits all kinds of sin. (Proverbs 29:22, NLT2)
Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out. (Proverbs 17:14, NLT2)


The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts. (Proverbs 18:8, NIV)
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. (Proverbs 20:19, NIV)
A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence. (Proverbs 11:13, NLT2)
Gossip separates the best of friends. (Proverbs 16:28, NLT2)


Slandering others makes you a fool. (Proverbs 10:18, NLT2)
Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:16, NLT2)
I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. (Psalm 101:5, NLT2)
Thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:10, NIV)
Do not slander one another. (James 4:11, NIV)
Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. (1 Peter 2:1, NIV)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. (Ephesians 4:31, NLT2)
Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers … but to teach what is good. (Titus 2:3, NIV)


A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1, NLT2)
People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! (James 3:7-10, NLT2)
Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin. (Proverbs 17:19, NLT2)
When arguing with your neighbor, don’t betray another person’s secret. (Proverbs 25:9, NLT2)
What ails you that you keep on arguing? (Job 16:3, NIV)


And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. (Matthew 12:36-37, NLT2)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. (James 4:11, NLT2)


Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. (Matthew 7:1-2, NKJV)
Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,” when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5, NLT2)
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. (Luke 6:37, NIV)
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. (Romans 2:1, NASB95)
Why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. (Romans 14:10, NLT2)
Let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling-block or obstacle in your brother’s way. (Romans 14:13, NIV)
So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. (Romans 14:13, NLT2)
So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time–before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. (1 Corinthians 4:5, NLT2)
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. (James 4:11, NLT2)
God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12, NLT2)

Thanks to Biblical Counseling Insights for this compilation.