Category Archives: Bible

Sunday Devotional: Do not be a lip-service Christian

1 John 2:1-5A

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
his commandments.
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.

Christ crucified

AN EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

1. I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.
Do I accord more importance to creation — to people and things? Do I idolize entertainers or politicians, idealizing and placing them on a pedestal? Am I my own god — grandiose, arrogant, and do as I will? Do I subscribe to a self-serving moral relativism– that what is right depends on the situation and on what benefits me? Do I practice humility by serving others? Do I ask for forgiveness when I have wronged another?

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Have my words denied, devalued, or insulted God? Do I use His holy name as a profanity, or as an emotional outburst?

3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
Do I avoid, when possible, work that impedes worship to God, joy for the Lord’s Day, and proper relaxation of mind and body? Do I look for ways to spend time with family or in service on Sunday? Do I say “Thank You” for all that He’s given me — my body, mind, work, family, friends, and for life itself?

4. Honor your father and your mother.
Do I show my parents due respect? Do I seek to maintain good communication with my parents where possible? Do I criticize them for lacking skills I think they should have? Do I blame them for my own flaws and problems? Do I honor that to which they gave birth, by treating my body and mind with respect, and refraining from impairing and corrupting myself with drugs, sloth, gluttony, and pornography?

5. You shall not kill.
Have I killed the body, no matter how small, of another? Have I injured another’s body, spirit and emotions with my actions and words?

6. You shall not commit adultery.
Have I stayed true to my marital vows? If unmarried, have I honored another’s marital exclusivity? Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself, and of the institution of marriage?

7. You shall not steal.
Have I taken or wasted the possessions, resources or time that belong to another? Have I dis-respected God’s creation by being wasteful and profligate?

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Have I told lies or embellished stories at the expense of another?

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse.
Have I honored my spouse with my full affection and exclusive love? Have I, instead, longed for or lusted after another, including fantasy figures like celluloid celebrities and in pornography?

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Am I content with what I have, or do I compare myself to others, and feel envious, resentful, or entitled to what others have?

white clematis and yellows

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~Éowyn

From Chains to Glory

The Rescue

chains_square_view

This is a scene of spiritual violence, and an act of angelic valor in the rescue of a family who has committed their lives to Jesus Christ. It is a look into the reality of the spiritual darkness that has taken over our society.

chains_pyramid_view

In the distance we see hordes of people chained and led around by demonic principalities and powers, in a bleak landscape of stepped pyramids (emblems of human power and achievement) under a rusting iron sky with a black sun.

chains_explosion_viewIn the foreground we see a demon falling backward toward us from the explosive impact of a flaming sword cutting though the chain he was using to hold the family captive.

The angel wielding the sword is standing on the chest of another demon he has subdued.

Another angel, with his back turned toward us, is holding off a demonic prince on horseback (admittedly a little bit of Tolkien influence here).

chains_angel-2_view

Just beyond that we see a family rushing into the waiting arms of the Lord Jesus Christ. Surrounding them is beautiful white light indicating that they are escaping the kingdom of darkness and entering into the liberty of the children of God, a world filled with light and color and beauty.

chains_heaven_view

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
– John 8:12


Happy Orthodox Easter!

orthodox_icon_of_christ

HE IS RISEN!!!

To our Orthodox brothers and sisters
we express our love and solidarity at this
most holy time of the year.


Divine Mercy Sunday

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked,
where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came
and stood in their midst
and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
When He had said this,
He showed them His hands and His side.

-John 20:19-20

Jesus-Christ-The_Lord

Although you have not seen Him
you love Him;
even though you do not see Him now
yet believe in Him,
you rejoice
with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith,
the salvation of your souls.

-1 Peter 1:8-9

Jesus, I trust in You

The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion

The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us — all of us. And, he wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy.

The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC:

A – Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.

B – Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.

C – Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.

This message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.

This is the Divine Mercy prayer that concludes the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (From the Diary of St. Faustina, 950):

“Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen”

When I encounter great difficulties and find myself greatly overwrought, I turn to Him with a child’s simple faith, and whisper: “Jesus, I trust in You.”

See also “Religious faith is most powerful non-medicine against pain.”

~Eowyn

The Triangle of Freedom

America is missing the most important component of freedom

guinnessIn his book, “UNSPEAKABLE – “Facing up to Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror,”  Os Guinness lays out a clear minded view of this moment in time. Of particular importance to Americans is the following section of his book, focusing on the “American Experiment.” He points out that we have forgotten an ingredient of our system that is more important that all the others. The following is directly from his book.

http://www.amazon.com/Unspeakable-Facing-Up-Challenge-Evil/dp/0060833009


“The Framers’ Forgotten Issue

The second grand erosion concerns the contemporary dismissal of the American Framers’ solution for the problems of freedom. For the brilliant generation that devised what George Washington called the “great experiment,” the hardest problem to solve was the transience of freedom. Not only is it harder to be free than not to be free, but freedom never lasts. In politics, as in all spheres of human endeavor, no success is forever. Success finally fails. The challenge therefore is not just to win freedom (the achievement of the revolution in 1776), or even to order freedom (the achievement of the Constitution in 1787); the challenge is to sustain freedom⎯an achievement that is never finished because it is the challenge not of years or even decades, but of centuries.

The Framers’ realism in tackling this task was born of their knowledge of history, and in particular their intimate knowledge of the classical understanding of why freedom never lasts. They used history to defy history, and the roots of their wisdom are the key to understanding the revolution of their solutions.

For such writers as the Roman statesman Cicero and the Greek historian Polybius, there were three menaces to sustaining freedom: external menaces from other powers, and two internal menaces⎯the corruption of customs and the passing of time. The American experiment was designed to counteract all three.

If asked today what the Framers’ solution was, most Americans cite the distinctive seperation of powers in the Constitution, and this is indeed a crucial part of the solution.

But in fact, the ingenius American system of checks and balances is only half of the framers’ solution, and in the framers’ view, it would be inadequate without the other part. The forgotten part of the framers’ solution may be called the enduring triangle of freedom: freedom requires virtue, virtue requires faith of some sort, and faith requires freedom. Only so can a free republic hope to remain free.

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom,” Benjamin Franklin said in support of the first assumption, and the framers’ unanimity on this point is a powerful chorus in his support. At the same time they were equally clear that law alone is not enough to restrain evil and sustain freedom. As John Adams put it⎯and the support was again overwhelming⎯”We have no government armed with powers capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The force of the framers’ declaration of this triangle of freedom is undeniable. But it is equally undeniable that many American leaders dismiss or overlook it today. On the one hand, the majority of believers in America have a faith so privatized that it has become “privately engaging and publicly irrelevant”⎯too amiably innocuous to serve the strenuous cause of freedom. On the other hand, the educated elite have espoused a different vision of public life, one in which faith, character and virtue are to be inviolably private and the public square⎯a neutral arena of competing interrests⎯is to be inviolably secular.

The framers’ arguments can be dismissed in one of several ways. Some argue that their views were only a matter of rhetoric and cant, though they themselves denied this. Others argue that they were children of their times, but a study of other republicans of their day shows this was not so. Finally, still others argue, we moderns have discovered some sustaining power for freedom that does what the framers thought the triangle of freedom was needed to do.

This last possibility is the most plausible, though people that make this claim should openly declare what the substitute is. Most people have nothing convincing to say at this point and fall back lamely on the answers of law and technology. A moment’s thought, however, would show that reliance on law without faith or virtue only produces more laws and greater regulations, just as reliance on technology without faith and virtue produces tighter and tighter systems of surveillance. In either case, freedom is steadily undermined.

It is also possible that the framers were not indulging in high-flying rhetoric better suited for the Fourth of July but were in fact correct⎯soundly, solidly correct with all the realism and wisdom of history and political theory on their side. For America to “work,” Americans must cultivate the virtues necessary for freedom and ensure that they are passed from generation to generation. This is the political challenge of our times. Without this triangle of freedom, freedom cannot and will not last. If we celebrate freedom but remove from it all virtue until no good remains, we will not only lose freedom but ensure that what is left is evil. Thus, if the framers were correct, the contemporary adulation of their genius that ignores the heart of their realism and brilliance is a fateful neglect that tips the scales toward some future evil that no checks and balances will be able to stop.

– by Os Guinness – Copyright © 2005


(Note: 2005 was before America elected Barack Obama)

To clarify my point, if our culture continues into moral ruin, with LGBT, 50 Shades of Perversion, abortion on demand and every other sin, we cannot continue to be free. Our freedom will surely and soon be taken away from us unless we repent and call out to God for forgiveness.

When the righteous stand up and fight…

magnificent-seven

Do you remember the old westerns, where the battle between good and evil was settled by a few good men and women who stood up to fight? These movies were called morality plays, an old art form that reminds us of the honorable choice to do the right thing even at great cost.

seven-samurai_500px

These stories are told by parents to their children to instill courage and valor  equal to the threats they will face in their generation.

fellowship-of-the-ring_500px

timegiventousEvil is a restless thing. It’s source, the devil, is constantly working on plans to motivate horrors and atrocities in the earth. We need to be ready to stand against wickedness in its various forms.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” –Gandalf

In my reading yesterday (Easter Sunday) I found in the book of Isaiah a description of something like God’s own Magnificent Seven. I don’t pretend to understand specific times and dates of the fulfillment of this prophesy, but I do see its universal applicability (and of course the identity of the King). It is a call to all of us to stand up and become a shelter in this weary land.

The Kingdom of Righteousness

Jesus-IconSee,
a KING will reign in righteousness 

…and rulers will rule with justice. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.

Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.

No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected. For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the Lord; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just.

But the noble make noble plans,
and by noble deeds they stand.

– Isaiah 32:1-8


FOTR_500

The Empty Tomb

John 20:1-9

It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved.

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,” she said, “and we don’t know where they have put him.”

So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb. They…saw the linen cloths lying on the ground…and…believed. Till this moment they had still not understood the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 

Below is a reconstruction of what happened from the book The Truth About the Shroud of Turin (Regnery, 2010), pp. 189-191, by my friend Robert K. Wilcox. No matter how many times I read this, it never fails to move me to tears.

The tomb, a rocky chamber carved out of a hillside, a stone rolled against the door, is dark and silent. Lying on a slab is a long, rectangular cocoon, the hills and valleys of which are clearly the contours of a human body. The body of Jesus lies there, face up, a ribbon around the head and chin to keep the mouth closed, packed on all sides with bags of spices.

At some unknown moment in the dead of night, the air in the tomb becomes electric.

At first the vibrations are minute, the sort that could be detected by sensitive twentieth-century instruments; then they dramatically increase until they shake the ground and blow the boulder from the door.

A glow, faint at first, emanating from the shroud suddenly intensifies until rays of light shoot through the threads, star-filled golden rays filling the tomb and pouring out the door.

For thirty seconds — no more — the blinding, pulsating movement continues.

The source of the activity is the corpse, the body, somehow being revitalized, dematerialized, its mass being converted into energy, pure energy, which in the material world is radiant white light.

The body rises from the slab through the cloth, hovers for a moment in midair, then disappears.

The cocoon collapses. Darkness returns. Shouts of “Earthquake! Earthquake!” diminish as the guards run for their lives. And in the air, the distinct odor of scorched linen.

When dawn comes, the women in Jesus’ life draw tentatively toward the tomb, look in the opening, and see the shroud unopened, still wrapped, but definitely deflated. The body is gone. At sunrise the disciples come. John enters the tomb, puts his hand on the cloth, and presses it to the slab. Jesus is there no longer. The disciples and the women quickly gather up the burial garments — the chin band is still in the shroud — and the spice bags and leave before the Romans can return.

At another time, in another place, when they have a chance to gather their wits, they will discover the figure of their master imprinted on the inside of the shroud. The images would be faint, probably not as dark as the passage of time and exposure to air have made them; and the images would be negative ones, a phenomenon that would also become clearer with the passage of time. Regardless, they would view these images as holy — imprints of their precious Lord. The disciples would pay more attention to the images on the shroud if they weren’t already waiting, with the greatest anticipation, for Jesus himself, who, before his death, had promised to visit them after he rose from the dead.

lilies

Our Lord is Risen!

A Joyous Easter to all!

~Eowyn