The headlines read like a series of horror stories to many. Ebola and other infectious diseases make the news and we wonder about our own health and safety. In fact, many hospitals around the country are preparing for a flood of people who think they have some grave disease because the flu season is upon us! War rages in the Middle East and a group calling itself The Islamic State is ethnically cleansing the Christians and other minority groups, even killing children because "they may grow up and seek revenge against us." Religious citizens in America are confronted with the reality that they are growing more and more the despised minority because of the society shifting away from traditional morals. Why even the city of Houston is considering passing an ordinance to inspect the sermons of churches in the city to make sure they don't violate the new "don't say anything that might make me feel bad" attitude in the country!
I've heard this all my life "God will provide." I remember hearing it when me and my brother and my mom were near poverty when I was young, and He did. I remember hearing it when I watched my family go through a shattering crisis, and He did. I remember hearing it again when I was terrified at the consequences of leaving the religious world of my youth, of leaving the stable income, retirement benefits, and health insurance for the unknown world of our Orthodox Church, and He did.
In fact, I remember saying it to people in similar situations facing the scary moments when life offers up challenges.
But is it a "good" saying?
What was so shameful to me was I didn't even notice him! I walked right by him and didn't see him. So when he called out after me "Hey Fr. Barnabas?" I turned around and saw him. At first it was hard to recognize him, but then he said his name, and a flood of images and memories came rolling in. He had been a part of our spiritual journey early on but had hit a rough patch in his life and drifted away.
What about icons? Are they essential to our Christian faith? Is venerating an icon idolatry? These questions and more are discussed on the latest edition of Faith Encouraged LIVE with Fr. Barnabas. Here's a link to the show. I pray it's helpful to you!
Today, a picture is worth a thousand words! Why is this true? Because our Uncircunscribable Creator became visible for our sake; because our God said “Let there be light, and there was light.” Today, do you really see? Listen on to Faith Encouraged LIVE tonight at AncientFaith.com at 8 PM Eastern
Today's Guest blog comes to us from our dear Fr. Stephen Freeman. Fr. Stephen has written his past few articles on the subject of the Holy Scriptures in the Orthodox Church. His valuable insights, rooted in the historic and consistent wisdom of our Orthodox faith, offer what I believe is one of the best and balanced instructions on how to view and properly value the Holy Scriptures.
My very best friend in all the world died of a brain tumor several years ago. I know, a weird way to begin a devotional, but I wanted you to know the end of the story so you will value it as much as I do.
You see, Rod was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war, but he went and served anyway as a medical corpsman. He rarely spoke about his experiences there but the few times he did, the stories stuck with me forever! Remind me to tell you sometime about "No sweat, GI!"
One of Rod's favorite sayings that he picked up during his time in the military was "No life is a total waste. It can always serve as a bad example!" Great, huh? This has become something of a warning sign for me in my own life. My choices, my attitudes, my actions, and my reactions are never done in some kind of vacuum. They always affect others, even if it is the ripple effect through the universe of my own negativity. I am not an island unto myself and my choices touch everyone around me to one degree or another.
"Daddy, when will the leaves change colors?" With that, I knew I was entering into the time when my 8 year old was beginning to understand the changing of the seasons. "Do they call it 'Fall' because the leaves fall on the ground?" Wonderful!