May 29, 2018

Yesterday was a bit of an introduction post to today.  Often times Lutheran pastors like Will Weedon and others, have alleged that Orthodox prayers to the Theotokos are idolatrous.  I shared a small part of my journey with you, and today I wanted to post a series from the priest who served as our spiritual father and guide as we made our way to the Church.  His name is Father Gregory, and he is an Orthodox priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

Fr Gregory was a pastor and seminary professor in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod for 22 years before coming to Orthodoxy.  He serves as a priest at Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He was also interviewed in 2007 on Ancient Faith Radio's program "The Illumined Heart.  You can hear him talk about his own journey here: From Wittenberg to AntiochAnd you can read his posts over at his blog: Pillar and Ground of Truth.

Fr Gregory's insight's on the Theotokos and prayers to her are pr...

May 28, 2018

This is part of our No Longer Sola Series.

This series details my investigation of Orthodoxy and comparison to the doctrine of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod as they understand it from the Book of Concord. This post is but one on a journey that lead me to conclude that Lutheranism, for all it's strengthens, is not the fullness of the Church.

Readers are invited to check out the other posts in this series (found at the link above) for a fuller view of the journey.

The most serious struggle I had with Orthodoxy surrounds the question of idolatry.  Indeed, it was the last serious wall to fall.  My Lutheran catechesis had taught me quite well that Christians are absolutely not to ask departed saints for their prayers or help. Prayer goes to God alone and to ask saints in heaven for their help was at best sending mail to the wrong person and at the worst idolatry, worshiping the saints.

When I talk to Lutherans who worry about the way we Orthodox venerate icons or the way prayers t...

May 24, 2018

Christine received the Holy Mystery of Baptism on May 22, 2018.

"In Your Name, O Lord God of Truth, and in the Name of Your Only-Begotten Son, and of Your Holy Spirit, I lay my hand upon Your servant Christine, who has been accounted worthy to flee unto Your Holy Name and to be sheltered under the shadow of Your wings."

"God, the Holy, the Fearful, and the Glorious, Who concerning all His works and strength is incomprehensible and unsearchable, Who Himself has ordained for you O devil, the retribution of eternal torment, through us His unworthy servants, commands you and all your cooperating might to go forth from her that is newly sealed in the Name of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ."

"Have you joined Christ?"

"I have joined Him."

"And do you believe in him?"

"I believe in Him as king and as God."

"Sovereign Master, Lord our God, call this Your servant Christine to your Holy Illumination, and account her worthy of this great Grace and Your Holy Baptism."

"You sanctified the streams of t...

May 19, 2018

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
    is God in his holy habitation.
 God settles the solitary in a home;
    he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
    but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. - Psalm 68:5-6

There is shame attached to being poor and having no family. Even those who choose to help are often judged, persecuted or ostracized for being "irresponsible" or having "misplaced" generosity.

God's Word and His saints have always been examples to me of how we should think and live in mercy and compassion for those in need.  We are called to serve those who are vulnerable due to their lack of means or family.  We are called to do this even to the point of appearing foolish to the world around us, even to the point of sustaining ridicule for those choices.

St. Paisios (learn more about him here and here) is a modern saint who is close to my heart and his life often inspires me.  I read...

May 18, 2018

Every Spring when I see the Dandelions pop up I'm reminded about my dear Grandmother who passed away in 2012, but I can still hear her voice and I remember her smile.  She would always send me things, one of them was this poem on Dandelions.  As a kid I pulled maybe millions of dandelions and I thought of them as a terrible weed to be exterminated.  My Grandma thought they had an unfounded bad reputation. For that Godly woman they reminded her of the resurrection of Christ.

 Here is something cool I saw on Facebook with a couple facts about dandelions:

The topic of flowers always makes me think of bees.  One of my favorite books to read the kids is In the Candle's Glow. The bees do their work. The beekeeper does hers. And little Felicia, with the honesty and faith of a child, takes the fruit of the bee and the beekeeper's efforts and lights her candle and prays. She prays once, she prays twice, she prays three prayers, then watches the breeze from the window carry her pray...

May 16, 2018

This is part of our No Longer Sola Series.

If we desire to feel the warmth of the sun, we must make the physical effort to walk outdoors and expose our skin to its rays, perhaps shedding some of our clothing. After being tanned by the sun's rays, we would claim not that our tan came about as the result of our own power, but rather that we desired it and put ourselves in a position to receive it. 

And if there are clouds covering the sun, we do not say, "The sun is angry with me." The sun has not changed in any way nor have the sun's rays ceased to shine. Rather, we acknowledge that the clouds are obstructing the sun's light and power, keeping it from having its natural impact. - "Know the Faith" by Fr. Michael Shanbour

This whole concept was revolutionary to me. It's a very different way of understanding works and grace from what I had known for most of my life. 

Even though my Lutheran tradition technically upheld a positive view of God's Law (the so called "Third use" of the law) it was...

May 11, 2018

What an interesting week!  Besides some of the fascinating things I discovered there are also a few kiddo pictures at the end.  Enjoy and happy Friday!

World News - I bet the Police were smiling a little bit at the scene of this accident for a change as a semi truck carrying 12 tons of liquid chocolate spilled on a Polish Highway.

St. Spyridon

By far the most fascinating thing I learned this week is that about the relics of St. Spyridon who also happens to be the patron saint of the parish we attend. More details about his life can be found here.

The body of St. Spyridon has a constant temperature of 36.6 degrees. His hair and nails grow. And what is most surprising is that the clothes that are worn on him are changed every six months, because it wears out, as if he does not lie, but walks around. The keeper of the relics said that there have been cases when the key simply can not open the lock on the reliquary. And then the priests know that the saint is not in the reliquary but walk...

May 10, 2018

This is part of our No Longer Sola Series.

A stumbling block for me on the road to Orthodoxy was miracles.  You can’t investigate Orthodoxy seriously without encountering the lives of the saints; they’re everywhere, and most of them involve miracles. There is even a designated title for those saints who are given the gift of performing miracles.  They are called “wonderworkers”.  

While I certainly never took issue with Biblical miracles I was always a skeptic about miracles happening today. I wanted to believe that God could still work this way, but the churches I grew up in gave me the impression that miracles were limited to the Biblical times and now God only wants to deal with us by reading the Bible.

In Orthodox writings about God’s grace I encountered a way of understanding a couple of Biblical texts that I was aware of previously but had simply read as a records of miracles, not as texts that teach anything profound. The two texts I kept coming across were Acts 19:1...

May 8, 2018

Today's post is a public service announcement.  Over the last several days I have been googling like crazy and have not found one person who has written about what happened to me on the Ketogenic Diet.

I had been planning to write a post on how incredible I felt, my philosophy about Keto and why I think it's a good medicinal approach for healing severely damaged metabolic systems.  And maybe there will be time for that eventually.  But right now I need to talk about something way more important - how terrible Keto made me feel.

The first few days were ok.  I was expecting the "keto flu", "low carb flu", "detoxing" symptoms (whatever you want to call it really).  Sluggish, headache, body aches, nausea... but about Day 4 things started to shift a bit.  I wasn't really tired or sluggish anymore, and I felt overall fine... except for those pesky body aches.

I was doing everything by the book.  I was taking extra minerals and salt for electrolytes and staying hydrated.  I would...

May 4, 2018

May the 4th be with you.

Today I wanted to (mostly) take a break from theology and talk about different topics of interest to me.  The main thing I wanted to share, however, is related to health care because it was something I didn’t know before.  Amelia and I are starting the Keto Diet based on her doctor’s recommendation and have been doing a lot of reading about it.  I’m already starting to feel a little better!  (Amelia says she'll post more about it soon.)

One thing that jumped out to me in my reading this week was a reference to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia related to diabetes.  I had two grandparents growing up who had type 2 diabetes and I’ve known people with type 1, but I had never heard of what I read this week.

"Alzheimer’s disease is often referred to as type 3 diabetes. It is a metabolic syndrome of the brain. Insulin resistance is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. When Alzheimer’s sets in, the brain can no longer use glucose for energy, so it must use a...

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