June 30, 2018

Increasingly I find myself losing interest in politics, especially as the volume gets louder. This is fresh on my mind because I just voted in the Colorado primary back on the 26th. I see a steady trickle of articles implying violence and similarities between our time and the 1850s just before the Civil War.  No matter what side of the aisle you find yourself on, politics is problematic and frustrating, angering even. Right now the thoughts of so many are destructive, focused on destroying the Red or the Blue side. The nihilism or meaninglessness of our age has helped fuel a destructive politics that has only now to live to for.  When you have only now to live for you have no patience and certainly no time to change yourself before worrying about others.  Didn't Jesus say something about seeing the speck in our brother's eye while we ignore the log in our own?

But the problem isn't just "out there", now is it? We also tend to focus on evil or destructive thoughts in...

June 25, 2018

This post is part of our No Longer Sola Series.

"The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant. It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman. It isn't non-denominational - it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the Faith of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago."

- Steve Robinson and Bill Gould

Today is the anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession. On this day 488 years ago the reformers presented their confession of faith to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the city of Augsburg.

What is the Augsburg Confession (Augustana)? It is similar to the Declaration of Independence in that it is a foundational document for Lutheran Identity. Today you would find it as the second document in the 1580 Book of Concord. To an extent it is fair to say that every other writing in the Book of Concord is commentary on what was confessed in 1530 during the Imperial Diet.

The first 21 articles of the August...

June 19, 2018

This post is part of our No Longer Sola Series.

One of the most prolific arguments against praying to the saints is this idea that they are a distraction from Christ.  That if we spend our time asking for the help of intercessors other than Jesus Himself, we are not putting all of our trust in Him.  We are not focusing on Him.  We are being distracted by lesser things.  Most Protestants, in fact, seem to have this mentality that we should be in a spiritual hermitage of sorts.  The only people who should be in my soul are me and Jesus.

It’s funny, when I think about it, because most of those same Protestants are totally against the idea of a physical hermitage, of isolating ourselves from others in order to seek Christ.  And yet, spiritually, this is exactly what they think we should be doing.  So which is it? Is isolation a good thing or is it not?  It’s probably a good idea to point out here that, in Orthodoxy, novices and amateurs in monasticism are not to become he...

June 16, 2018

“If you want to serve God, prepare your heart not for food, not for drink, not for rest, not for ease, but for suffering, so that you may endure all temptations, trouble and sorrow. Prepare for severities, fasts, spiritual struggles and many afflictions, for “by many afflictions is it appointed to us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Acts 14,22); ‘The Heavenly Kingdom is taken by force, and the who use force seize it.’ (Matt 11:12) - St. Sergius of Radonezh

Many of the saints talk about the importance of being prepared for suffering and struggles in this life. The quote above is so very different from American cultural Christianity and the prosperity Gospel that infects our thoughts like a disease. We largely see suffering and loss as a sign that we've lost God's favor, that nothing good can come from it.  It seems almost impossible that suffering could be turned to something good.

Fr. Roman Braga, a survivor of torture in Communist prisons, shows us in this short clip from a talk he gave...

June 15, 2018

Christine is about 4 months old now and although she's not talking yet, I love talking to her and for her. Yes, I said for her! You only have so long before they start talking for themselves!  One of the unique things I've always done is talk for the babies, eventually Amelia and older kiddos have adjusted to the little game I play and now they even expect it!  Sometimes the other kids will talk to Christine and ask me to "make her talk". It's one of my ways of playfully engaging between the baby and others.  Baby says some outlandish things sometimes, but it's all in good fun!

Baby talk.  It's adorable for any parent when the baby finally says "momma" or "dada" or whatever else they manage to get out.  We make a big deal out of those first words, we're so proud!

Babies talk, babies grow into toddlers and learn more words. I've always enjoyed this part of being a dad - word play with my kids. Silly songs, stream of conscious nonsense - it's fun! Naturally this tr...

June 13, 2018

Have you ever wondered what lead up to the Reformation?  It's a question I obviously thought about a lot.  While I still believe there are legitimate complaints by the Reformers of the 16th century about the state of the Church in their day,  I also see the Reformation as tragic. In my view, the way things unfolded was not necessary but between corruption in the Papacy and Luther's scruples tragedy came about.

The video I'm sharing today is part of the story that culminated with Luther that wasn't talked about very much in my experience as a Lutheran.  I had read here or there in biographies that Luther was influenced by a guy named William of Ockham, but I didn't really know what that meant.  This talk by Roman Catholic theologian, Scott Hahn, is helping me to learn more about how influenced Luther was in his reading of the Bible and how he conceived of God Himself by the philosophy that came to be called "Nominalism".  

Lutherans today...

June 9, 2018

This is one of my favorite stories. It is indicative of how Orthodoxy handles pastoral care and besetting sins. Also highlighted is a caution I've seen many times in Orthodox literature against judging others. May it be a blessing to you today!

"Once on Mount Athos there was a monk who lived in Karyes. He drank and got drunk every day and was the cause of scandal to the pilgrims. Eventually he died and this relieved some of the faithful who went on to tell Elder Paisios that they were delighted that this huge problem was finally solved.

Father Paisios answered them that he knew about the death of the monk, after seeing the entire battalion of angels who came to collect his soul. The pilgrims were amazed and some protested and tried to explain to the Elder of whom they were talking about, thinking that the Elder did not understand.

Elder Paisios explained to them: "This particular monk was born in Asia Minor, shortly before the destruction by the Turks when they gathered all the boys. So a...

June 8, 2018

A couple months ago our parish had a visitor, a monastic, Fr Seraphim Aldea.  He told us about his vision for bringing Orthodox monasticism back to the British Isles. 

While at our parish he told us that there might be three nuns joining him at the Mull Monastery of All Celtic Saints.  He was cautious about the opportunity but he recently posted to the Monastery Facebook page that it has come true and the monastery has grown from only one monastic to now four.  

If you know anything about the history of the Church you'll know how important Celtic Christianity was to preserving the faith when the lights went out on continental Europe in the "dark ages".  (Here's a good book on that.)   So, I'm fascinated by the growth of the Celtic Orthodox monastery as it seeks to preserve and bring the Orthodox faith back to Celtic lands.  May God give the growth!

"I don't know how to share this with you all. When I think how important this is for the Monastery, my heart stops. If we...

June 1, 2018

This is part of our No Longer Sola Series.

I used to say and believe that there is nothing in the Bible about asking the saints in heaven to pray for us. I've realized that was the case because I read the Bible with the glasses given to me by the Lutheran Church. The problem with those spectacles is they weren't strong enough to see everything on the page clearly.

Today's resource shows how the Bible says an awful lot on the intercessions of the saints. The difference is that the Reformation represents a break, a new way of reading the Bible, rather than the return that Luther and the Reformers sought something new emerged in the 16th century. 

Most Lutherans and Protestants today do not read the Bible in a way that they can see the ever Virginity of Mary.  Why?  Christians today do not read the Bible the same way their forefathers in the faith did because they received Reformation tradition and the principles unleashed by Luther.  

Another example would be in...

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