Monday, June 11, 2012

Making your misery your ministry

Have you ever watched those infomercials late at night that seem so genius, and applicable to the problems you have? Whether it be weight loss pills, a new blender, the SHAM-WOW!, or a snuggie - to me (and I know many will disagree, especially about the snuggie) its great advertising! Seriously, they get a Vanna White-esque person to tell you about a new pen with a voice recorder and a camera... and you buy it! (Because for some reason that night, you think you work undercover in the CIA). In the end, they all end up in a drawer somewhere.

I can't fall for those anymore - they never seem to do what they tell you they are for! To us, it is one of those "Man, I've been saying we should come out with one of those for the past ten years!" And the reason we are dissatisfied at the end, is that on the outside, it looks like something its not - yet we are so convinced that it is.

Sadly, no matter how much we try - we fall for things like this every single day on the other side of the spectrum. We see a fight in a marriage, a lost job, a sickness, a rape, a death of a loved one, as the worst things in the world. Rightly so, they can be the worst things in the world. Do you think God settles for the worst things to happen to us? Or more accurately, would God just leave us to our misery when we need Him the most? One of the many reasons I love God - is that no matter of a bad situation, or good situation, He can make the best out of anything. We hear Joseph telling his brothers "What you meant for evil, God intended for good." Gen 50:20. Did God want him to get thrown into a pit, sold, imprisoned, etc? Maybe or maybe not, but what we do know is that no matter what situation Joseph was in, God tried to make the best out of it.

People reciprocate better when they know how they are viewed. The same way we see something on TV and buy it, and it comes in ten times smaller than it actually is, is the same way we see a lay-off from a job as a financial chaos, while God sees it as an opportunity to work. If we understand how God looks at situations rather than how we look at it, our perspective on life will completely change. Two things I heard that I wont forget - "Turn your prison into a pulpit" and "Make your misery your ministry". If we see that God can make good out of us, we wont be throwing any more pity parties and then wonder why God isn't doing anything.

I PROMISE you that if we get this point, then our relationship with God will go to a new level. A priest told me once that I should desire to go from LOVE to LIKE. You know how if a guy or a girl has a crush on each other, in the beginning stages when you like them, and they like you, but you didn't formally tell each other yet - but you both kinda know anyway - there is always a little more thrill to that than seeing 40 years of marriage 'in love' and just going through the motions. The 'liking' stage can seem more lively than the 'loving' stage. I think its for this exact reason, St John reminds us that we have left our first love - losing our excitement or zeal. Sometimes we need to go 'backwards' to go forwards. Why else would God tell us that if we want to go to heaven we must go back to being like a child?

Finally, I read a great quote that if you think about, will get us to change our perspective and start seeing things for what they actually are.

"One day we will be old enough to read fairy tales again" C.S. Lewis

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Holy Spirit is here!! - now what?

“The Saviour and the Comforter, two Persons of the Godhead: the One ever saves from sins, and the Other comforts him who is saved. Their very names are taken from their deeds, and are always actually justified. He comforts! The Holy Spirit comforts the believing soul, as a mother comforts her child.”
St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

One of my favorite feasts, Pentecost! Comfort is one of most needed feelings this day and age. We had a great weekend serving in "Pentecost 3000" which you can read more about this week on my friend Mena Mirhom's blog. Anyway - everyone needs comfort in their lives. Whether it be because they lost a job, lost a loved one, going through a rough time, or need some encouragement - comfort is the greatest support. God knew this and for that very reason, sent us the Comforter (Paraclete), as St John of Kronstadt says that after Christ saves us from sin and death, the Holy Spirit comforts him who is saved - (not 'saved in a moment' - rather the Orthodox concept of 'was saved, being saved, and will be saved'). So I am thankful that Christ said "It is good for you that I am going away"-John 16:7

So now that the Holy 50 days are over - now what? We were all on our spiritual high during lent, and even more so in Holy Pascha Week, and celebrated new life with Christ during the Joyous 50 days of Resurrection and we're all kinda back to our normal grind, right? Are we the same person we were on Good Friday? or Resurrection Feast? I'm not - and Christ knew that also. I think that's why He waited almost 2 months and then wanted to send us a reminder.  We read in the 3rd hour of the Agbeya "renew Him within us" - and I think the Church in Her wisdom did it exactly for that. Some of us may have fell off that peak we hit during Holy Week and Resurrection, and we needed to be reminded - and the Holy Spirit did just that.

We need the Holy Spirit to renew our zeal so we see He is just as alive as He was in the book of Acts. Christ says that He wont leave us orphans - and says "because I am alive and you're about to come alive" (John 14:20, MSG). About to come alive! I love that translation. The Holy Spirit is come to make us alive and renewed - which is why St Paul says in Acts 20 (my FAVORITE passage in Acts) Speaking about him being compelled by the Spirit - to be crazy. He says "being led by the Spirit not knowing the things that will happen to me there. except that the Holy Spirit testifies that in every city chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me" vs 22-24.

That is the renewed Spirit I'm praying for - to be able to be so confident that the Holy Spirit is with us, comforting us, and on our side. So we can be just as bold as St Paul and not care whether trials or tribulations await us - and go big.