Monday, February 27, 2012

Want to turn water into wine?

"Water You turned into wine, opened the eyes of the blind.  There's no one like You, none like You" - Our God, Chris Tomlin

Yes, the good ol' miracle that we've heard of that seems so beyond us and our abilities.  As recorded by the Gospel according to St John, this was the first miracle performed by Jesus Christ.  A small summary of the story - Jesus was at a wedding in Galilee and they had run out of wine. His mother, St Mary, kinda put Him on the spot to do something about it.  He had people bring jars of water, He turned it into wine, and the people loved it - asking "Why didn't you bring out this good stuff before?!"

     According to the customs, the 'good' wine was always brought out first so people can be impressed with the wine.  Then, when people had a little too much to drink, the host would replace it with 'bad' wine because the guests were already getting a little buzz, so they wouldn't be able to tell the difference. There was something about this 'transformed' wine that was like no other they've tasted before.

     Now, I have a question for you.  When was the last time YOU had that impact on someone? As an Orthodox Christian, we believe in the sacraments to allow us a more complete, clear, and true understanding of the Fullness of Christ. In each of the 7 sacraments, or mysteries, something cool happens.  There is a divine power from God that 'transforms' something.  In the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become Body and Blood, in a wedding the 'two become one flesh', etc.  There is a transformation.

     Fr Alexander Schmemann, in his book Liturgy and Life, emphasizes the fact that we should integrate 'Liturgy' (symbolizing all the sacraments) and Life.  That we should live a Sacramental Life to live to our fullest potential, that Christ has designed for us.  So, we understood that in a sacrament, there is a transformation going on. Mother Teresa understood this, and said "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better or happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness"

When is the last time your life transformed somebody's? When is the last time YOU turned water into wine?

Monday, February 20, 2012

"I want real food" - Peter Pan on Lent


"Lent is fasting for the body, but feasting for the soul." - another good quote I read that one of my friends tweeted.

Do you guys remember the movie "Hook" with Robin Williams? For some reason, the beginning of this lent, this scene popped into my head and wouldn't get out! If you don't remember, check out the clip up top before you continue to read.

I never thought I would say this, but for this lent season, we should all be like the 'lost boys'.  They had it right! In this little clip from the movie, we see the 'lost boys' eating like they've never seen food before.  'Peter Pan', is looking around all confused, because he doesn't see any food on the plates or in their hands, but he sees them pigging out and enjoying everything around them! He seems to be the only one missing out.

Does this happen a little too often to us? In our spiritual lives, do we see others partaking of something great, and we feel like we are missing out? We can try so hard to 'get in the zone' by reading more, praying more, fasting more, etc., but at the end it seems like we're grabbing for bread out of an empty bowl.

It seems ironic to take an approach to lent from a Peter Pan movie, but that's the way I'm going! I really want to FEAST during this FAST. I want to be able to pig out on things that don't seem visible to the common eye. I want to be in a focused mind set, where regardless of the food we abstain from, I see the opportunity for a huge feast in front of me, that I only would have seen by putting the other things away! Take a minute to think of how much of your time is spent eating, thinking of where to eat, or having the -itis from eating, its a lot of time! Minimizing this time will allow us to focus on other aspects of our life, that God is ready to take to the next level, if you allow Him!

So, join me this Lent season to be able to put down the common things to us - food, idle time, entertainment (except the NBA and March Madness, of course) - so we can start to elevate those great things - prayer time, spending time in the Bible, service, things we maybe didn't see before! Are you ready to feast during this long period of fasting?.. I AM!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Want to be as strong as God?

" I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty!... My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength is made perfect in your weakness" -2 Cor 12:7-10 (MSG)

I read a really nice quote the other day that one of my friends retweeted - "He who kneels before God can stand before anyone".  This is a great motto and sounds very nice and we would highly recommend it to others, but is it something we would do?

St Paul understood this idea, and the moment he finally did, God responded to his cry and said, "My strength is made perfect in your weakness".  Its so easy for us nowadays to talk about doing things and and ways to live life, but thats all thats happening - talking! How many times have we heard friends say 'A healthy way to eat is..' or 'A good way to fix this problem is..' or 'you know what we should really do about..', and then it stops there.

The problem is that we have an image of ourselves as the know-it-all who thinks we can sit back and 'tell' others what to do, when we're sitting in our own misery.  It is only when we, like St Paul, realize what is going on, that something is stopping us from going further, and that there is a God who loves me and has me in the palm of His hands, that we will fix ourselves.

It is a very thin line to tread on, and the devil seizes the opportunity right away! He loves to blow our head up, thinking we can do it all - rely on our strength, social status, income, etc. Let's make sure we catch ourselves before he does!

The devil loves to make strong people weak, and God loves to make weak people strong.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thoughts down - Spirits up!

In light of following many blogs recently, I've decided to revive my own! As you can tell, my last post hasn't been for about two and a half years - but i plan to be a little more consistent!

A lot has happened in my life since then, from graduating college with no direction, to having a God-sent job which does not hinder me from serving Him at all.

Blogs are a great thing to have! Like i mentioned in my first post, I am not sure that anything I share will be of much value, but it helps me in many ways.  If I put my "thoughts down" it brings my "spirits up"! It is a great way to express what has been going on in my life and the world around me. (It also helps prioritize, especially after realizing many thoughts are just about me, myself, and I). 

If you don't know me - I'm usually not the most organized, structured, future-planner-er there is.  I'm more of a "lets figure it out when we get there" kinda guy.  I'm hoping this blog will help me to organize myself a little more, in my spiritual reading, my daily routine, and my alone time.

So here goes to a fresh start - if you're coming along the journey... hold on tight!

Special thanks to a few bloggers who have inspired and encouraged me back: