Friday, June 12, 2009

Lets get it started!

No.. I didn't mean the Black Eyed Peas song lol

I meant our spiritual life. I am reading "The Orthodox Way" by Bishop Kallistos Ware. I read bits and pieces of it a while ago, but never really sat down to read it. What better introductory book ''gives a general account of the doctrine, worship, and life of Orthodox Christians".

We need to take our spiritual life seriously. Be responsible and take it into your own hands. My favorite quote so far says "God has children, but He has no grandchildren." This really opened my eyes. We can't rely on others or advisors or anything, even though they are all necessary. "The Creed does not belong to you unles you have lived it" - Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow.

We need to have a direct, personal relationship with our Creator. I am the first one who should take my own advice. I am stuck on this fence, this lukewarm fence, that only God can help me to make the jump over. I think I'm okay because I go to church, serve, take communion, etc. "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach wil be judged with greater strictness" - James 3:1 So being in the position that I am, am writing this mostly for my own benefit, and anyone who may be in the same boat as me.

So to start, we need to make God our friend, our best friend. As I stated in an earlier post, we need to stop thinking "what would Jesus do" and start doing it. Many people look to pray and ask God for help on decisions and choices, but if we make Him our best friend, we will already know what choice He wants us to make, and He will just guide us there.

Look at the book of Psalms, how many times does David say Praise Him, Praise God, Give thanks to the Lord.? There needs to be a reason to Praise Him so much, there must be something special about Him right? I attended a retreat entitled WOW, whose focus was to make us understand how much God appreciates us, then we will learn to be appreciative of Him, proud of Him.

One thing I learned was a great meditation on how much God loves us, to make us realize it, and LOVE HIM BACK. Matthew 13:44 "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sels al that he has and buys that field." I always thought that we are the ones who would sell all that we have and obtain the kingdom of heaven. The other meditation I heard about this parable says that God is that 'someone'. He sold all that He has (Giving up His life for us on the Cross), and bought the field. WE ARE HIS HIDDEN TREASURE.

So now lets take a second thought on how we should view our relationship with God. Look at how much He loves us, let us make Him our personal Friend, Father, EVERYTHING!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Set Free our Hearts

St Basil the Great says "One cannot approach the knowledge of the truth with a disturbed heart. Therefore we must try to avoid everything that disturbs our heart, that causes forgetfulness, excitement or passion, or that awakens unrest. We must free ourselves as much as possible from all fuss and flutter and ado over vain things. Yes when we serve the Lord we shall not be 'troubled about many things, but always keep in mind that one thing is needful' Luke (10:41)"

Tito Colliander, author of Way of the Ascetics, comments on this by saying "In order to bathe, one must first undress. So it is with the heart: it must be set free from the world's outer covering in order to be accessible to the Cleanser."

What are we holding onto that is so important where it stand between us and God? Some people may struggle with material things, careers, friendships (attachments), etc. I feel that these are problems that need to be addressed, but can be dealt with. The bigger problem is not the outside attachments to any of these, but underneath the shell, where the heart lays, is the most delicate, yet dangerous tool of all. Material things and all entailed are not the problem. "For the love of money is the root of all evil..." 1Timothy 6:10.

It is rooted deep in our hearts our most precious love. That is why St Basil says that we need to free what it is in our hearts before approaching God. Not only to empty our hearts, but to be honest with ourselves about our passions.

When we approach God, with a full heart, black heart, open heart, closed heart, etc.. He will always be willing to accept us. It is up to us to be willing to "take off the old man and put on the new one".

How is it that we struggle so much to give God so little, and He has worked all of time to get us back to where we were originally supposed to be, with Him.

This cleansing of the heart is not only going to help us spiritually, but in everyday life. I heard an old saying that goes ''You may hold my hand for a while, but my heart forever." We cannot expect God to just be there when we need Him, to hold our hands to get us out of a mess (even though He will anyway). But we need to learn to give Him our heart forever rather than a temporary fix out of a problem.

As Ruth said to her mother, we must be willing to do so to God.
"Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you will die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts you and me"