Good Soil

In Jesus parable of the farmer scattering seeds, he describes the good soil at the end saying “And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it and patiently produce a huge harvest.” Lk 8:15 NLT.

Something bothered me about that parable. Continue reading “Good Soil”

What did Jesus do on the Cross?

Icon-CrucifixionThe question makes me think of someone asking me “how do you love your wife?”  Well, I can’t answer that in a simple statement, or even in logical terms at all.  We have poetry to help us understand questions like this and you can see it most in what I do and how I treat her.

The same can be said for the question “What did Jesus do on the cross?”.  It can’t be adequately described or understood in words.  Not that we shouldn’t try, but ultimately all the doctrinal statements to describe what Jesus did, while they may be true, although I would disagree with some of the common statements, they fall short, and not just a little short.  They fall short by lightyears.  Just like saying I love your mother a lot falls short of describing our bond. Continue reading “What did Jesus do on the Cross?”

The Importance of Freedom

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…”  Galatians 5:1

Maybe I am showing my American bias towards the centrality of freedom, but I don’t think so.  I think the idea is much deeper than America, or The Constitution.  The Bill of Rights even says that these truth’s are self evident.  They come from God, not from men.  In fact it is a gift given by God twice, both involving a tree.

The first tree was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  At this tree, the first Man (and Woman), was given the freedom to choose his own destiny and, ironically, in exercising this freedom, he chose slavery.

The second tree was an instrument of torture and death, the Cross. At this tree, the second man, the God-Man, was given the freedom to choose all of Man and God’s destiny and, ironically, in giving his life over to death, he gave life to all of creation.  For death was too greedy, and in swallowing up a man, he found he had taken in God and he was overwhelmed, because death could not hold him.  The bonds of slavery that en-shackled men were broken and he was set free.

But, I digress.  When considering all of the evil that freedom brought, why was this freedom so important?  If you don’t think freedom was that big of a deal, think of this. Before the fall, were their any wars?  Before Adam chose to follow his own desires, were there any Hitler’s, or Stalin’s, or Mao’s, or Napoleon’s, or Xerxe‘s?

Without freedom their is no poverty, there is no holocost, or slavery, there is none of the mass horrific pain, suffering and death throughout the centuries.

Since God is good, he takes no pleasure in the suffering of his creation, when we hurt he hurts, as can be seen on the cross.

I leave you with this one, “why?”  Why is freedom so important to allow all of this?

Backsliding? Or Learning to Swim?

Sometimes when we are making spiritual progress and then it seems like we are backsliding for one reason or another, it may not be backsliding. It may be that God has just stepped back so you can see who you really are without his full support. He doesn’t actually leave, no he is still just as close and just as ready, like a father teaching his son to swim. The son may start to think he is really swimming on his own, and may even exclaim, “look daddy, I’m swimming”, so the father lovingly loosens his grip and maybe even let’s his hands down so his son can see what it is like to really swim, and maybe they can. But you will never know until he let’s go. And just like a father would never let his son drown in a pool, neither will our heavenly father let us drown in our life.

By holding us up he shows us what it is like to swim; this way you can know what the goal is. But even that is nothing like what the real freedom of swimming on your own is like.

Our hearts are like onions and have layers, but as you peel back the layers with God, you find diseased parts that need removing, because, like yeast will works it’s way through an entire batch of dough, the disease portions can spread and hurt, corrupt or kill the good and living tissue of who we are.  Once that layer is clean, we think all is good.   But if you peel it back, there is more underneath.

You think you are swimming, you think all is good in your heart.  What may seem like backsliding, may actually be our father just pulling back his hands so we can see what our real “aquatic skills” are, or he may just be peeling back another layer and exposing more diseased portion.

Ultimately it is all part of growth, it is all part of healing and learning to swim.

He Is Risen

The Resurrection of Jesus2 Millennia ago a pebble was cast into a pond creating a ripple affect that rather than fading and diminishing over time has been amplified to spread and grow endlessly throughout all of creation.  God became man and lived among us.  He ate and drank with us, he grew up with us, He taught, He healed, He bled, He died, and on this day, He rose again.

The ripple from that day spreads, mostly unseen, through the hearts of men and women as they trust and believe in this risen savior, the God-Man.

As the God-Man, he was completely and utterly God and completely and utterly Man.  Just as the Trinity is a mystery beyond human understanding, so is this perfect unity and completeness of God and Man.

When Christ rose from the dead he became the first of many brothers and sisters to be reborn.  First we are made new in our spirit and we look ever forward to that day when we will be made new in the flesh, just as he is.

But it is not only us that will be healed and made complete, it is all of creation that groans under the weight of sin and separation from it’s creator, that will benefit eternally from his resurrection.  Not only is Jesus the first among Men, but when he arose, all of creation is being pulled out of the grave with him.  Everything is being made new.

This is why Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, or of Heaven, being close at hand or even arriving, but of course it is not yet complete.  But like the ripple in a pond it is ever spreading, ever widening, and will someday be all encompassing.

So the resurection of Jesus is the conquering of death, the forgiveness of sins, the salvation of mankind, the firstborn of all creation, the initiation of the Kingdom of God.

Father, let your Kingdom come and Your will be done on Earth, just as it is in Heaven.

Below is an early Paschal sermon from  St John Chrysostom which I would like to close with.  It should be read with much fervor and excitement for it proclaims the most important and happy truth’s known to man.

 

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.

If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.

If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.

If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.

If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.

If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.

If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first.

He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other He is gracious.

He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.

O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!

O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!

The table is rich-laden: feast royally, all of you!

The calf is fatted: let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.

Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!

He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!

He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions“.
It was embittered, for it was abolished!

It was embittered, for it was mocked!

It was embittered, for it was purged!

It was embittered, for it was despoiled!

It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!

It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!

It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting?

O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!

Christ is risen, and life reigns!

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that have slept.

To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.

Amen.

John Chrysostom Icon

Lent

Lent is a time of reflection upon the suffering of Jesus leading up to and including the cross.  During these six weeks we fast as a small way to share in his suffering. This is the first time I have participated in the fast in the last 2 years. Rather then be draining or consuming like I feared, it has been the opposite, filling and empowering.

Here are some of my lenton fast reflections.

1. Shows how weak I am.  It is amazing how grumpy going without those small daily comforts can make me

2. Has helped me breaks  bad habits for filling needs with stuff. Or feeding our passions. I can distract myself from feeding on the word of God, Jesus, by eating or drinking or reading or watching a show…  I end up  entertaining my spirit to death.

3. Gives a sense of anticipation for what I do not have but know will come. How I look forward to the Sunday feast day is a small shadow of how I can anticipate the fulfillment of Gods Kingdom

4. It makes me thankful for even the small things. We often don’t notice things until they are gone and we miss them.

5. I have found that I can let go of other small things that I have come to rely on rather than God.

6. The small victories give me strength for larger challenges.  If I can go all week without something I am used to having on a daily basis then maybe I can tackle those larger issues in my life.

Rather than filling myself with physical things, Lent has served to remind me that Jesus is the bread of life, and I should be filling myself with Him.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:35-40, 45, 53-58 NIV)

A Fresh Start

Jacob, Ethan, and Samuel,

I started The Good God blog several years ago to discuss my thoughts on God, faith and the Church, but I never added more than a few random posts.  At the time I didn’t have a well defined audience.  I have now cleared out the old posts so I can start anew.  This time I have a very specific audience in mind, it is an audience of exactly three; the three of you, my three sons.

Over the last few months, your mother, wrote a small booklet for you to help solidify some of the truths of our faith leading up to your baptisms.  It inspired me to further her idea by using this blog to continue writing about our shared faith, sort of as a journal… or “web log”, if you will.  🙂

So I make no promises to be consistent in writing, or even right for that matter, but I hope through these web pages to put into words what I hope my life will be a witness of, and that is this simple truth:  everything in this world that comes from God is good, and everything in this world that is good, comes from God.

And so I hope to share with you, my relationship with our Heavenly Father, The Good God.