Category Archives: God

Christ is Risen!

Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.
For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.
Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!
You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!

Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

The Easter sermon of John Chrysostom (circa 400 AD)

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The Burden Of Iniquities

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Who has believed what we have heard?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
    and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him;
    he has put him to grief;
when he makes himself an offering for sin,
    he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand;
11     he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous;
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out his soul to death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

(Isaiah 53)

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Happy Thanksgiving

I hope all my American readers have a Happy Thanksgiving.

I give thee thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
    before the gods I sing thy praise;
I bow down toward thy holy temple
    and give thanks to thy name for thy steadfast love and thy faithfulness;
for thou hast exalted above everything
    thy name and thy word.
On the day I called, thou didst answer me,
    my strength of soul thou didst increase.

All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord,
    for they have heard the words of thy mouth;
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
    but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    thou dost preserve my life;
thou dost stretch out thy hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and thy right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    thy steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever.
    Do not forsake the work of thy hands.

(Psalm 138)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord is God!
    It is he that made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures for ever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

(Psalm 100)

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Prayer, Anger And Peace

In my recent Tradition Thursday post, reader Pedat Ebediyah left this comment:

This is hard.

If we plant truth in our hearts, but see evil men sowing their wares, how can we NOT be angry?

In this wicked generation, when we peruse the landscape, how can we not feel some kinda angst in the face of what we see?

Can I pray and STILL be pissed off?

Elspeth then replied with this comment:

I was thinking the same thing when I read that part. I have prayed and asked God to help me NOT be angry about a thing anymore. Is it better when angry not to pray at all? And what about the command to:

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Eph 4:26-27

Emotions, anger especially, are a dangerous thing. They are often but not always one and the same as feelings. Whether separate or not, they are dangerous because they are associated with our Body. Thus, they are tied to the material plane and the effects of sin. Emotions, if we let them control us, take us away from God.

This is why Jesus told us to let go of our anger. If we go to bed angry then that anger will fester within us, and like a rot it will grow. Over time it will consume us. The same goes for any emotion.

It may be shocking to hear for some, but our faith is one that should eschew emotionalism. Emotions cloud the reason, and thereby allow the Evil One to slip past our defenses. They are a weakness, not a strength. Sure some of them can feel good, such as happiness, but again that and any emotion can be deceptive. Plenty of evil works evoked happiness in their makers.

Instead we should be experiencing/demonstrating the fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity. These are things not of this world, but of the spiritual world. Thus, they are both safer and more fulfilling.

Now, to the specific questions:

Can I pray and STILL be pissed off?

If you are praying earnestly, then your anger should abate. You should not aim to be angry after praying. If you are, then your soul is not stilled, and your prayers ineffectual. I recommend praying aloud this part of Psalm 37:

Fret not yourself because of the wicked,
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass,
    and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your vindication as the light,
    and your right as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off;
    but those who wait for the Lord shall possess the land.

(Psalm 37:1-9)

As for this question:

Is it better when angry not to pray at all?

The answer is no. Quite the opposite, in fact. You should pray when you are angry. You should also pray when sad, or afraid, or experiencing any emotion. We cannot overcome the weaknesses of our flesh on our own. Only God can do this- if we allow him, for He never forces his healing/mercy/love on us. Prayer is an important component of this. You should pray to your Father in Heaven that He give you peace; that you might no longer be troubled.

The Psalms are an excellent source of such prayers. Another that I might recommend would be Psalm 62:

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved.

How long will you set upon a man
    to shatter him, all of you,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his eminence.
    They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah

For God alone my soul waits in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah

Men of low estate are but a breath,
    men of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no confidence in extortion,
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

11 Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God;
12     and that to thee, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For thou dost requite a man
    according to his work.

(Psalm 62)

Finally, remember these words of our Savior:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

(John 14:27)

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Starting With The Right Question

I want to begin this post with a little bit of scripture:

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

(Luke 10:25-37)

Here we have the classic parable of the good Samaritan. I’m sure most of my readers are quite familiar with it. My purpose in mentioning this parable is to examine the lawyer.

You see, the lawyer asks two questions. The first one is good, and I think, honest. The second question is an entirely different matter, however.

When the lawyer asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?”, what do we think his purpose was?

Was the lawyer trying to ensure that he lived out God’s law to the fullest? Did he ask the question ensure he didn’t miss anyone?

Of course not. Scripture tells us that he was looking to justify himself. The lawyer wasn’t asking Jesus that question in order to get what I suppose you could call an “expansive” answer. Rather, the lawyer was trying to use whatever criteria that Jesus mentioned in order to limit those whom he would treat as a neighbor. He didn’t want lots of neighbors, he wanted as few of them as possible. Hence the question.

His goal was to restrict the amount of love he had to show his fellow man. In other words, the lawyer wanted to be miserly with love. And he was counting on Jesus to help him out with this (boy was he in for a surprise).

In short, the lawyer’s heart wasn’t in the right place from the very beginning. And so his question was wrong from the very beginning. A better question, rather than “And who is my neighbor?”, would have been “How can I live out the law to the fullest?” Such a question comes from a heart that is aligned to God.

Whenever we ask a question which concerns living out our faith, we always need to ask it when our heart is in the right place. If God is not first and foremost there- if serving and loving him totally is not our aim and purpose- then our endeavor is corrupt from the start. Whatever comes of it will invariably be twisted in some way.

I mention all of this because Deep Strength has a couple of recent posts concerning submission in marriage: The problems with intelligent submission being the first, and Wifely submission is easy being the second. Both of these posts draw as their origin a simple enough question: “When should I obey my husband?”

It is my belief that this particular question, just like the question of the lawyer, comes from the wrong place in the heart (perhaps intentionally, perhaps unintentionally) . Its purpose is not “How can I live out the law to the fullest?” Rather, the purpose is to limit obedience, to limit that which must be rendered to another. Much in the same way that the lawyer wanted to limit how much love he had to render to his fellow man.

A better question, one arising from a heart aligned with God, would be more along these lines: “Which action now available to me would be most pleasing to God?” Otherwise stated, “What action would be most loving?”

 

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Thoughts On Love In Marriage

[My post Background on the Nature of Man will be helpful to understanding this post.]

I have had a long-standing theory about how love works within marriage, although I am not sure that I have ever devoted a post to it on this blog. I doubt it is a new or novel theory, in fact I would be surprised if it was. All the same, I think it is finally worth getting down.

My theory is simple: the best marriages are those which encompass all three major types of love- Eros, Philos and Agapos. When all three are present in marriage- when both husband and wife  express all three towards their spouse, I believe that a marriage is at its healthiest.

To me, this makes sense because the relationship would then extend to all aspects of our being. Eros is connected to our Body. Philos to our Soul. And Agapos is the love of our Spirit. When all three are present, the fullness of our nature is in play.

At the same time, when one of these loves is not present, it is a sign of serious trouble in a marriage.

No Eros? Well then, that means no passion from one of the spouses (or both). [The phrase “I love you but I’m not in love with you” is a sign of a marriage where Eros is gone.] That can mean denial of sex, and the frustration inherent in it. An absence of Eros also leads to greater temptation and danger of leading to all kinds of immorality.

Philos not present? Well, that means there is no friendship and amity in the marriage (or at least from one side of it). Both spouses will likely quarrel, and if not, it will only be because the other is trying to preserve harmony. There will be a lot of hot and cold in this marriage- it will move from moments of great passion to indifference or even enmity.

Agapos missing? Well, for one, that means that the marriage is no longer Christian. Without the self-sacrificing nature of Agapos the marriage will not be able to endure all the trials and tribulations of the world. At least, not unless society gives the spouses no choice on the matter. But in our present age? Without Agapos it will fall apart, sooner or later.

Of all three loves, Agapos is the most important. Only it can withstand everything the world has to throw at a married couple. But just because a couple stays together doesn’t mean the marriage is as healthy as it could or should be. All three loves should be present for a marriage to be as strong as God intended it.

At least, that is how I see it. I invite my readers to offer their own thoughts.

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Never Enough

I was in a conversation recently at church in which the discussion turned towards Christians who held (what those present) considered to be pretty obviously heretical beliefs. Several of the men present (it was an all male conversation) expressed a belief that ignorance was the biggest problem. They felt that if people were better educated it would got a long way towards solving the problem.

I disagreed. In my opinion it isn’t a lack of received truth on most people’s part. The problem is found in the heart, not the mind. No amount of proof will work for them. Case in point:

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24 He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

(Luke 16:19-31)

You can tell people the truth, you can show them the truth, but if they don’t want to accept it, and its implications, they will simply reject it, and choose a more preferable interpretation. That is not to say that ignorance is good- it isn’t. We are called to tell the Truth, even if we know people will reject it. Sometimes error really is a product of ignorance- that was my case for much of my life.

The key is not to be disheartened when people do reject the Truth (in whatever form and case it may be).

Naturally enough, this also applies to the “Red Pill.” Of course, the Red Pill isn’t really “truth” per se. Rather, it is merely an exposure to the fact that one has been living a lie. (NSR has a good write-up on that here.) But all the same- plenty of folks will choose the lie, even after they have been told (and shown) it to be a lie. For them, there is never enough evidence to support your argument (whatever it may be). All you can do is carry on.

14 The mind of a fool is like a broken jar;
    it can hold no knowledge.

(Sirach 21:14)

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