Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Politically Incorrect Moment

...and now for a politically incorrect moment...

The fourth verse of the Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States of America: A special gift for the atheists, revisionist historians, progressive politicians, humanists, anarchists, and Muslims, who would like us to believe that there is no God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and that this country was founded on godless principals.

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!

...this has been a politically incorrect moment...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lights! Camera! Religious Pluralism!

I was recenty made aware of a video on You Tube being used to promote a Church of Christ.  This Church of Christ, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, ironically my old stomping ground, was using the medium of video to advertise to the general public. Being in the film and video industry, and having once served on the staff of several Protestant churches, including one in Jonesboro, I am very familiar with these cookie-cutter videos, available from several companies, and marketed as promotional pieces for use by local churches. At one time, my own former church was considering using one of the promotional videos. The usage fee was about 3-5000 dollars, with a guaranteed exclusive viewing area for a period of time. The videos were well-produced, and there were a variety from which to choose. The selected video would be customized to include the church's name, logo, and other contact info.  At first glance, I liked the video, as it seems heartwarming, and loving. On its face, the use of video to spread the gospel is a great idea. I have always advocated making certain that people know you exist as a local Church. Even as an Orthodox Christian, I see the evangelical value of such. I have even defended an Orthodox church's use of billboards when the Orthodox critics raised an uproar. I also push back against the tendency of some in the Orthodox Church, who seem to consider the use of media, to spread the gospel, somehow worldly, and unspiritual. I also share the concerns, of some, that such a tool should not be used as a substitute for individually bearing witness of the gospel, and by personal example of the exemplary Christian lives each should lead. The absence of this relegates the local Church to a social club, and such marketing-videos, as mere advertisement. In this way, churches can become mere business competitors. The competition centers around who can offer to the most people, family-oriented activities, the gym, the trips, the social groups, all under the name "ministries."

There is nothing inherently wrong with using the media in welcoming non-Christian, non-churched people to come to Christ, and become a part of His Church. The problem I have with this particular video is not its existence, rather, its content and compromising message. It presents a message that invites people to come as they are, to be a part of the Church, without presenting the prerequisite of becoming a Christian through repentance. It presents an easy, no strings attached, Christianity, which is foreign to the Faith of our Fathers.  This is what I posted as a comment on You Tube:

"Sorry, but this is the epitome of religious pluralism run amok, where Scripture and Tradition are irrelevant and must bend to whatever makes one feel comfortable. It is a dangerous blend of half truths. Frankly, I am surprised to see such from a Church of Christ, which typically holds to a standard of faith and practice. Attempting to become relevant, this particular church has become irrelevant by compromising with the world. Kinda makes you feel warm and fuzzy, though."

Watch the video below:

In the video, each excuse for not coming to church is raised by a presumed non-Christian, and then a response to that excuse is given. Let's look at both and evaluate the truth of each:

Excuse: "I can't come to church until I get my life together."
Response:  "Church is how I got my life together." "New Beginnings"
JTO: This is actually a good exhortation. It is likened to "the well do not need a physician..."

Excuse: "Church is filled with a bunch of hypocrites."
Response: "There is always room for one more." "Imperfect people welcomed."
JTO: The video makes a mistake in accepting the false premise of the excuse and attempting to answer it. The second part of the response, "imperfect people are welcomed", should be answered by explaining what Christ meant when he said,

"Be ye therefore, perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Perfect righteousness and obedience to the Lordship of Christ is the call of every man. An unchurched man may not understand the nature of grace, forgiveness, and the power of God to save and make righteous those whom He has saved. It is misleading to make a man think that imperfection is the excepted norm. And remember, the excuse was not about the unchurched having a sin or two, it was an accusation that even the righteous, the Church of Christ, are not, indeed, righteousness. "Christians are hypocrites", was the accusation. It seems that such an excuse-maker is also an accuser and has no desire to leave his unrighteousness. So, to appease his sin, by implying that "you and we are all the same" is a lie, and does nothing to bring him to repentance or into the Church.

The first part of the excuse, "there's always room for one more (hypocrite)", is an invitation that does not have a scriptural basis. What is a hypocrite, anyway?

Definition of Hypocrite:
1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

Now let's unravel the faulty premise: The Church is not "full" of hypocrites. Can hypocrites be found in a given Church? Yes, but for the most part, Churches are filled with sincere individuals who strive to be righteous, but always find themselves falling short. Saint Paul said,

"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."

Was Paul a hypocrite? No, but he  understood the sin nature. The false premise presented in the video and accepted by this local Church of Christ, confuses the sin nature of man with the state of  hypocrisy. All members of churches have a propensity to sin and do sin to varying degrees. There is not "room for one more" hypocrite, and an invitation that such conduct is acceptable, is not scriptural. When and where in the scripture did Christ or His disciples say, "come on into the Church as you are, hypocrites." In fact, the Church is told to cast out hypocrites, who leaven the whole loaf. Christ, himself, gives the order of Church discipline in the book of Matthew,
"And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell [it] unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."

Where in the world did we get the idea that all are welcomed into the Church, anyway? Yes, God desires that all should be saved, but the entire Church is made up of baptized believers who walk in community with one another, in a constant state of repentance, not on a come-as-you-are basis. It seems that this Church of Christ has forgotten that, 

"Many are called, but few are chosen".

Can an unrepentant person come to a Church service? Yes, if they will.  But are we to compel them and  accept them into community on a "come as you are basis"? No. This is not the gospel. Repentance and baptism is the prerequisite. The original Orthodox Church has always accepted catechumens, but catechumens come in a repentant state, already professing a desire to come into the Church. In the early days of the Church, the catechumens were not even allowed to remain for the entire Liturgy, for they were not yet baptized, and could not be present when the Eucharist was received. A prayer was said for them,

Deacon: Pray, ye catechumens, to the Lord.
People: Lord have mercy.
Deacon: Ye faithful, for the catechumens let us pray, that the Lord will have mercy on them.
People: Lord have mercy.
Deacon: That He will catechize them with the word of Truth.
People: Lord have mercy.
Deacon: That He will united them to His Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
People: Lord have mercy.
Deacon; Save them, have mercy on them, help them, O God, by thy grace.
People: Lord have mercy.
Deacon: Ye catechumens, bow your heads to the Lord.
People: To Thee O  Lord.
Priest: That they also with us may glorify Thy most honorable and majestic name: of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
People: Amen.

Then the catechumens were ushered out of the Temple.

Deacon: As many as are catechumens, depart; catechumens, depart; as many as are catechumens, depart; let none of the catechumens remain; as many as are of the faithful, again and again, in peace let us pray to the Lord.

Although the catechumens are allowed to stay in the Temple today, the prayer is still prayed aloud by the priest. This practice is not a rejection of the catechumens nor a way for one group to exhibit some kind of spiritual superiority, it was to protect the seeker, who, in his unbaptized state, does not dare come charging into the presence of God. This is the very reason people were warned,

"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."

The Church of Christ and many Protestant denominations, don't know what the Orthodox Church has known for 2000 years, that Christ, Himself, is actually present in the Eucharist.  It is this lack of understanding that allows this Church of Christ to treat, as common, the Body of Christ, making it a club where all can be members by just signing up. "There is always room for one more hypocrite and if you are willingly imperfect, you are just like us, so come on in!"  They have failed to see that salvation is not an event where one gives a mental or emotional assent to the truth, but salvation is a process that begins with repentance. In the original Orthodox Church, one first becomes a catechumen. This period can last a year or more. The Orthodox Church recognises that salvation is not served up on a plate like cookies, with the slogan "It's free, take one." In their effort to extend grace to the unchurched, this local congregation has mistakenly believed that Christ's commission to,
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature",
has been fulfilled by virtue of the fact that they have an edifice in a city with lots of stuff going on. They have flipped the commission to "go" by saying, "come", to the extent that they appeal to the base sin-nature of man who, in his desperately wicked heart, doesn't want to be told he is a sinner in need of repentance. Instead, this local Church, through this video, gives the message that the sinner can remain exactly as he is and still be a part. Again, this a false gospel. A person who points at the Church and yells, "hypocrites", is not repentant. They have presented a faulty and false premise as an excuse to remain in their sinful state. God has never welcomed hypocrites, He has always welcomed repentant hypocrites! A Christian response would be to tell such a person that they must repent of their sins, turn from their wicked ways, die to self, and follow Christ. Without repentance, there is no salvation. The Church welcomes repentant sinners, not willful ones.

The Rich Young Ruler is a case in point. Did Christ welcome him "as he was"? No. He challenged him to give up all that he had and, only then, could he follow Christ. Such a challenge was intended to reveal the true, unrepentant, heart of the young man. The Scripture says that he went away sorrowful, and Christ let him, saying,

"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of  a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven." 

Christ is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all. To compel anyone into the Church, under any other premise, is a false gospel.

Excuses:  "All they care about is your money".
Response: "They care about me." "People are priceless."
JTO: The excuse may be warranted, given the propensity for many churches to pour vast sums of their money into edifices, structures, buildings and grounds, while simultaneously giving only minor attention to the immediate financial and physical needs of individuals. The response does not seem to answer the excuse, but, rather, deflects it. A better response would be to tell them, "God loves a cheerful giver! It is the love of money, not money itself, that is evil. Our Church cares for the poor, the widows and the orphans, and the vast percentage of the money we have goes for that cause." The scripture says, '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.'" If a Church is not emphasising this, then they do give a valid reason for the excuse. I don't see, on the Church's website, any reference to widows and orphans. I do see a "Ministry Model", which is typical of modern church growth techniques, requires vast sums of money, and, of course, includes a gymnasium or recreation center. So, yes they do "care about" your money. It is necessary to raise vast sums to keep such an operation going.

Excuse: "Is there some kind of dress code"?
Response: "The code is. 'Wear some clothes'." "Come as you are."
JTO: Yes, it is good to welcome people of all economic classes and not reject anyone because of what they cannot afford to wear, however, to suggest that it is okay to wear any manner of dress is compromise with the world and diminishes the holiness of the worship setting. The inherent problem here, is the fact that the Church of Christ and other Protestant offshoots, do not have a narthex, nave, iconostasis, or sanctuary. Most just have an auditorium, where all are free to roam at will. There is no altar, for there is no Eucharist and no priest. What would be the altar, is simply a stage for speaking purposes. Apparently, Alexander Campbell did not have access to this part of the life of the Church when he attempted to fashion his new religion after the early Church. He assumed that all Christians sat around informally in homes and were equals-no priests. He overlooked the fact that early Christians also continued to attend the Temple services as well and were governed by Apostles, then Bishops. As the church spread and grew to the point of needing independent structures to house the worship of God, the buildings were patterned after the Temple and Bishops ordained priests to assist in the work and administer the holy sacraments.

Do we, or do we not, meet with the Holy God in worship? Is the worship building sanctified (set apart) or is it not? The original Orthodox Church considers the material world holy because God owns and sanctifies it. So, what one wears in the presence of God, in this Holy Temple, is important. This is why the clergy have always vested. How would you dress to meet the President or a King, or even for a job interview? And yet, the woman on the video is wearing a t-shirt, adorned with Native American artwork, seeped in subliminal pagan imagery, emblazoned across her bosom. In fact, did you notice she even shakes her breasts? Modesty is a scriptural virtue and has been lost in this western culture. My wife, in her post,  Where Is Your Gold Ring, says it best,

"'Let us glorify and bear God in a pure and chaste body, and with a more complete obedience; and since we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, let us obey and give furtherance to the empire of our Redeemer by all the obedience of service, that nothing impure or profane may be brought into the temple of God, lest He should be offended, and forsake the temple which He inhabits.  The body is God’s temple, and we are the priest of that body-temple! In a very real sense, we are as answerable to God in how we conduct ourselves in our body, as the priest is in how he conducts himself during the Liturgy! Just as the body is expected to be pure, the manner in which the body is displayed is expected to be pure."

Yes there is a dress code, in and out of church! To promote anything else is compromise with the world. If a person is in need of modest clothing and has no means of acquiring it,  then the church should provide it. This is the scripture and tradition of the Church, though maybe not this particular COC. 

Excuse: "Church just makes me nervous."
Response: "I was nervous at first and then I felt right at home." Right where God wants you."
JTO: The video actually gives a good first answer to this excuse. The reason for a person's discomfort can vary, but a person's comfort level is not the main priority of the Church. For instance, the revelation of sin in a person's life can make them uncomfortable. A Church that has a high priority to make people comfortable, in order to get them to Church, will compromise with the world in order get people to stay in the Church. Such a Church will find themselves eventually compromising truth, such as homosexuality is sinful, and Christ is the ONLY way to heaven. The book of The Revelation, in looking at the state of the Churches in the last days, gives this warning to those who would be a part of her,

"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."

Those aren't really words of comfort, now are they? I think Christ is more concerned for their souls. This local Church, through this video does not follow His example.

Since the buildings of the Church of Christ are not sanctified, then one can understand why holiness in dress has been denigrated to a substandard which says, "Dress code? Yes, just don't come naked."

Excuse: "I'm not sure I believe everything you believe."
Response: "But you can still belong." "Doubt welcome"
JTO This is probably one of the most glaring and dangerous half truths. No. A person cannot belong to the Church without believing the truth. The response confuses disbelief with doubt. It is one thing to be ignorant of the truth or question the validity of a truth, but disbelief is an act of the will. The scripture says,

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool",

but this was an invitation for one to receive forgiveness through repentance, not for one who refuses to accept or believe the truth.

The Apostles told Christians to separate themselves from those who did not follow the truth they were handed, not to make them "belong". To say one can still belong if he doesn't believe, is the height of compromise and negates the validity of the Church. Truth becomes relative and ceases to be certain. Yes, Jesus ate with the publicans and the sinners and was criticised for it, but he went to where they were to call them out of the world. He did not move the worldly conduct to the Temple.

A better response would be to invite the unbeliever to come to a Question and Answer class, on or off the church property, to discuss the matters. If the non-believer hears and believes, then you have won their souls, but don't tell them they can still belong, as a disbeliever. This is not the gospel.

Excuse; "Church is for wimpy, girly men."
Response: (Video shows two non-girly men flexing their muscles) One says, "You want to say that again?"
Saint Ignatius Killed By Lions
JTO: One wonders how these non-girly men, portrayed in the video, would fare when faced with the are girly men compared to the martyrs of the faith who were men and women of God and have a special place in heaven. I doubt that either of  these non-girly men, nor I, will ever match the faith of those saints and martyrs who have shed real blood. Unless a man is willing to lay down his life, deny himself and follow Christ, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.real persecution that is going on all over the world, and that may, one day, come to America. A better response would be, "Girly men? Tell that to the 80 million Orthodox Christians who were savagely annihilated in Russia by the Bolsheviks. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of Christians who are today being massacred in Indonesia, Iraq and throughout the entire Middle East and Africa, as we speak. Tell that to the Fathers of the faith who were tortured, beheaded, or ripped apart by lions, throughout the ages. Don't show them one obese man and one pierced-eared muscle man, trying to act tough, and call that, manhood. The men in the video 

"If you deny me before men then I will deny you before my father which is in heaven."

One who uses this excuse should be told that he is a girly man, if he does not follow Christ. He must be willing to literally die for Christ. It takes courage to do so. If he is not willing to die, then he cannot become a Christian nor be a member of the Church.

Excuse: "If you knew me and what I've done, you wouldn't want me."
Response: "If you knew me and what I've done, you wouldn't be worried." "Forgiven."
JTO: This excuse seems to come from a sincere heart, that is ready to admit that they are a sinner. This response is actually a good and redemptive one. We are all sinners and there is forgiveness for all...if one repents.

The final invitation of the video attempts to sum up the excuses and responses:

"You can come to my Church even if you were brought up Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, Lutheran Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, Southern Baptist, a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing. You see it's not about a religion, its about a relationship. So please come to my church where nobody's perfect, where beginners are welcome, where socks are optional, grace is required, forgiveness is offered, where hope is alive, and where it's okay to not be okay-really."

JTO: The only problem with the video summary is the fact that it does not sum up the content of the video! It also adds a different subject- One can come to their church no matter what their religious background. This sounds right initially, but then the video resorts to the old, "religion is a bad word" idea. For any Church of Christ to say they are not a religion, and that religion is a bad thing, is not honest or at least  shows a propensity toward political correctness. If the following definition of religion is true, then the Church is religious and should be unapologetically so! It is NOT just a relationship!

 re·li·gion  /rɪˈlɪdʒən/  [ri-lij-uhn]

1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
7. religions, Archaic . religious rites.
8. Archaic . strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one's vow.
9. get religion, Informal .
a. to acquire a deep conviction of the validity of religious beliefs and practices.
b. to resolve to mend one's errant ways: The company got religion and stopped making dangerous products.
1150–1200; Middle English religioun (Old French religion ) Latin religiōn- (stem of religiō) conscientiousness, piety, equivalent to relig ( āre ) to tie, fasten ( re- re- + ligāre to bind, tie; compare ligament) + -iōn- -ion; compare rely

This subject is akin to a dialogue I had with a local pastor concerning his Church's publicised motto, "The Spiritual But Not Religious Church." ( Read: Since When Is Religious A Bad Word? and Since When Is Religious A Bad Word? Part Two) As in that instance, this Church of Christ is conforming to the world and presenting a diminished Christianity. It certainly is not presenting the Faith of our Fathers. It is attempting to compete with the world by getting people to the property by any means, offering them an activity-based atmosphere and making them part of the club, with little or no strings attached.

"Well we must get them here first and then we can reach them", you may hear.

And then when you get them there, you spring the real faith on them? Let me know how that works for you, and when you find your church has become a revolving door of unrepentant sinners, in an out, in and out, which is typical of such a church growth method, you won't have to look far for the reason. The Scripture teaches us,

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Southwest Church Of Christ of Jonesboro, Arkansas: How wide is the gate and how narrow is the path that you have presented through this video? In case you don't understand:

WIDE is wrong and leads to destruction.
NARROW is right and leads to life.

By the way, I can admire Alexander Campbell for his attempt to "restore the church and "the unification of all Christians in a single body patterned after the church of the New Testament." The only problem is, he didn't go back far enough. The Church was here  all along, and is still here today. It never left- It is the Original Church, the Church of the Apostles- The Orthodox Church-since 33 A.D.

Other Related Articles:
Why I Left The Church Of Christ For Orthodoxy
Leaving "The Faith" to Get To The Faith
The "Church Of Christ"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In For a Penny

"In for a penny in for a pound?"  In the case of some Orthodox Church members  it is "In for a penny, and that's all I'm paying."

There are too many readily available teachings on the topic of tithing, so I will let you, the JTO readers, decide to which to adhere. My comments on the subject are Pauline in nature in that they are personal.

My wife and I grew up in a Protestant ethos where tithing was the law of the land, so to speak. To give at least 10% of one's income to the church, was a given, a natural part of Christian stewardship. Some pastors were not afraid to preach an annual sermon on the topic, not just because the church needed money, but for the edification and building up of the individual. To give was part of a full Christian life. To not give was to miss the mark.

Cynthia and I gave 10-25 % of our income for almost 25 years of our marriage. There were seasons where we had little income and our faith, at times, wained. It especially wained when we entered the charismatic movement, where every Scripture ever written was ten degrees of separation- where everything had to do with money. We were peppered with anecdotal manipulation such as, "Joe gave, and the next day a $1000 dollars came in the mail." "The Lord says it is the day of prosperity a double portion is yours! Just write the check out to..." There were times when I gave and my own family suffered loss. The natural outcome of that was to grow bitter at God for not fulfilling his promise. It took me a while to realize that I was following the hollow promises of charlatans and false teachers, not the promises of God. I grew tired of being manipulate and decided to put a stop-payment on the tithing. I figured if it was man jerking me round, then there was not much they could do to me, if I stopped giving. I also figured that God would honor my sincere desire to find the truth on the matter and perhaps could bear the financial loss if I short-changed him for a while. In either case, I stopped giving, cold turkey. In fact, I made an official announcement, of sorts, to my pastor. He was none too happy and met with me to compel me to change my mind. I would not budge. I needed time to allow God to renew my mind. It took a while, but, He did. My focus changed from man to God. I was no longer influenced by a charlatan's chiding, but by Christ's Church. I no longer wanted to give to receive, but I wanted to give because I believed.

One day, a traveling man asked me for gasoline for his car so that he could get to another state. I had the cash, so I was willing to fill his tank. He repeatedly told me that he would pay me back. I told him that it was a gift and that I did not expect him to do that. "But I will anyway," he said. I never heard from him again, but I was not disappointed, for I did not expect to be repayed. The same principle applies here. "Don't ask what your Church can do for you, ask what you can do for your Church." This is the Orthodox way. Having said that, God does bless a cheerful giver and his blessing are great for, "He owns the cattle on a thousand hills."

The Orthodox principle of tithing is very simple.

Second-Give with a joyful heart
Third-Give as unto the Lord
Fourth- Tithing is as valid a practice as is baptism. The Church, being Jewish, took the forms of the Mikvah (Jewish baptisms) and incorporated baptism into the life of the Church. The Church, being Jewish, took the forms of Tithing (which literally means "a tenth") and incorporated it into the life of the Church. If you buy in to the old line, "Tithing is just an Old Testament practice and is no longer in effect today," then so is baptism no longer in effect.
Fifth- Tithe 10% of your gross income in money. Gifts and other offerings are above and beyond that. In reality, 100% of what you have belongs to God. All that is asked is that you manage the 90% and He, through the Church, manages the 10%.
Sixth- If you don't accept any of the above as valid, then at least take the humanistic approach..."Pull your own weight!"  If you eat at the table, live in the house and receive of its benefits, why would you not help in paying for it?  Is this not the accountability and courtesy you would teach your child?
Seventh-If you find you cannot trust the clergy to rightly handle the money, ask who has the trust issue, the clergy or you?

What if?
What if there were just ten families in a Church?
What if there was an average of three wage earners per family?
What if the average annual wage of those earners was only $30,000?
What if all of the wage earners tithed?
The tithe to that church would be $90,000 annually!

If all tithed...

The Church Could!
The Church Could help the widows and the Orphans and others in need.
The Church Could give to missions.
The Church Could expand the Temple or make needed repairs.
The Church Could relieve the stress from the Priest and Matushka.
The Church would be blessed!

...and you along with it!

Frankly, tithing is not an option. It is the responsibility of every Orthodox Christian. What If you started tithing this week? The Church Could...

Monday, March 14, 2011

World Orthodox, Patriarch of Constantinople, Antichrist- An Unholy Trinity

My wife and I are currently looking for a house in a small Tennessee community so that we might be closer to our church. We have taken the time to meet some of the town folk. There is quite an assortment of modern people in the eclectic little town, a blend of artsy and rural, those who don't want things to change, and those who demand change. In talking with some of the business owners, I have discovered that it is not the regular folk, nor even the stronghold of Wiccans that oppress the people, surpress the economy, and attempt to get the community to adapt to their religious dogmas and way of life. It is the religious people, the prominent churches, in the area, controlled by the Freemasons. The thought struck me as I read the news release below, that it becomes clearer and clearer that it is not the pagans, the non-Christians, and the like, who are persecuting the Church in that last days, but it is the united world religious institutions that have become servants of Antichrist. What will it take for you to realized that World Orthodoxy, and its spokesman, the Patriarch of Constantanople, has become the tool of Antichrist? Will you remain a Frog In Boiling Water or will you come out of her?

"Yesterday Greek police stationed on Mount Athos arrested Fr. Gregory of Esphigmenou Monastery. He was then removed from Mount Athos. Fr. Gregory is one of the leading fathers of Esphigmenou Monastery.

He is the editor of the Monastery's bi-monthly publication, Boanerges (Sons of Thunders; Mark 3:17 ) that is read by True Orthodox Christians throughout the world. Boanerges is the best periodical published by the True Orthodox and the arrest of Fr. Gregory is an attempt to sever the bond that True Orthodox Christians all over the world have with the Monastery.

This violation of the basic human rights of the 107 fathers of the Monastery is perpetrated by the Greek Government on behalf of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The voice of the Esphigmenou fathers which boldly proclaims the Orthodox Faith becomes louder with each attack against the Monastery. Please keep all the fathers in your prayers.

In Christ,
+Fr. Panagiotes"

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Sodomy/Homosexuality, And The Good Law

Are some born sodomites/homosexuals? No. Are some born with a propensity toward that sin? Possibly. But one must realize that sodomy is something you do, not something you are. You are a sodomite if you are committing the act. When you stop committing the act and repent,  you are no longer a sodomite. Sodomy is as the act of adultery or any other unclean acts that defile the body and go against the nature that God created.

Does God hate homosexuals? No. God loves all of mankind, but hates homosexuality. Those who willfully live in unrighteousness, thus defying the will and love of God, put themselves at enmity with him. In this way, they become enemies of God and the consequences come as a result. Homosexuality is a sin  and sin separates us from fellowship with the Creator. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. The world was already condemned and homosexuality is a reflection of that state of condemnation. There is nothing "gay" about it. Jesus brings redemption from that condemned state. If one rejects the redemption, one can hardly blame the redeemer for the results. 

Political correctness is running amok. The question of righteousness should always be discussed in light of the scripture. Let the politically correct pundits push against the word of God, not against your opinion. Here are biblical texts regarding the act of Sodomy/homosexuality. Beware though, entire books have been written to discount every one of the scriptures you are about to read, on the premise that they don't really mean what they say, or at least, they are out of context and out of time.

The Origin Of The Term "Sodomite/Sodomy"
Genesis 19:1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
Genesis 19:2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.
Genesis 19:3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.
Genesis 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
Genesis 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
Genesis 19:6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
Genesis 19:7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
Genesis 19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
Genesis 19:9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.
Genesis 19:10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.
Genesis 19:11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
Genesis 19:12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:
Genesis 19:13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

Early Laws For God's People Concerning Homosexuality
Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
Leviticus 18:29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

How Homosexuality Affects Mankind
Romans 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
Romans 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

The Eternal Consequences of Homosexual Sin
1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
1 Corinthians 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

The Law Against Homosexuality Leads to Freedom Not Bondage
1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
1 Timothy 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1 Timothy 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;