All is Sacrifice and there is No Cost

“In view of God’s mercies, therefore, I urge you, present your bodies as living sacrifices to God, holy and acceptable, which is your reasonable act of worship.”

“In Him, let us, therefore, continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess His Name.”

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like man who was ploughing in a field, and he came upon a buried treasure. In his joy, he buried the treasure, and went and sold all that he had, and bought the field. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant who was searching for fine pearls, and finding a pearl of great price, in his joy he went and sold all that he had and bought the pearl.”

“Whoever loses… for My sake… will not fail to receive a hundred times as much in this life, and in the age to come, eternal life.”

“What man, if he wishes to build a tower, will not first sit down, and calculate to see if he has enough to finish, lest he should lay the foundation, and be unable to finish, and all should mock him, saying, ‘He has started what he was not able to finish?’ Or what man, if he has an army coming against him, will not first sit down to see if he is able, with ten thousand men, to come against twenty thousand, and if he is not, will he not send for terms of peace? In the same way, you, if you do not give up all you possess, you cannot be My disciple.”

In Jesus, we ourselves are to be a sacrifice to God: a victim, consecrated to God and transformed in the Divine fire from Heaven. All we do, and all we experience, is also to be sacrifice: consecrated to God, and offered to Him in love and thanksgiving, in adoration and worship, in willingness and praise. Continue reading “All is Sacrifice and there is No Cost”

A Request for Obedience to Jesus’ Command of Baptism

Before Jesus ascended into heaven after His resurrection, He gave this command to His disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them for the remission of sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

It could not be clearer. Baptism is a command of the Lord given to His Church, and it has to do with identification with Him and participation in His death, burial, and resurrection. “Do you not know that as many of you have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death? And, if you have been buried with Him through baptism into death, then, as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, you too shall walk in newness of life.” Baptism is also associated with receiving the Holy Spirit, with participation in the life of the Blessed Trinity. Continue reading “A Request for Obedience to Jesus’ Command of Baptism”

The Heavenly Priesthood: The Son in Creation and the Father in the Son

In the beginning was the Word, the Eternal Son, the High Priest of all creation. Being the Word through which the Father created and sustains everything, He is the fitting Priest, the fitting Mediator between God and Creation, through whom God reveals Himself to Creation, giving her being and life, and in whom she adores God and gives herself back to Him in glad worship and joyous sacrifice.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He was like us in all ways, sin excepting, having been tempted in every manner just as we are, but without sin, and so He is able to be a fitting High Priest to His brethren, able to make those who have sinned to be without sin just as He is without sin.

Mankind was created, both man and woman, in the image of God – in the likeness of the Word Continue reading “The Heavenly Priesthood: The Son in Creation and the Father in the Son”

Election is About You and God, Not Your Neighbor

“I will show mercy on whom I show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So, then, it depends not on him who runs nor on him who wills, but on God who shows mercy.”

“Who are you, a man, to argue back with God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why did You make me thus?’”

Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.” And, Peter followed him along the shore, but looking back he saw another disciple following, and he said to Jesus, “But, Lord, what of him?” and Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.”

“And the disciple whom Jesus loved reclined with his head on the Lord’s breast.”

God is Personal, and He relates to us personally. I believe that Jesus’ response to Peter, “What is that to you? You follow me,” is applicable to far more than questions about the length of life and manner of death of other people. We know God personally; we know God as He relates to us, as He reveals Himself to us; we know God in His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of St. John bears witness to the fact that we stand alone before God. Throughout it, the author refers to himself, never by name, but as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” This is further accentuated when Jesus says, “What is that to you? You follow me.” This same Gospel also records these words, “I call My own by name, and they follow Me,” and the interaction between the Risen Lord and Mary of Magdala outside of the tomb, where He says, “Mary!” and instantly she recognizes Him and says, “Rabboni!” Continue reading “Election is About You and God, Not Your Neighbor”

The Resurrection, Christian Death, and Prayer

Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and we shall rise with Him.

As Christians, this is our hope and our confidence. This is what we mean by living. This is our life in living and in dying.

Because of this, there is no reason for us to fear or avoid death. There is no reason for us to try to do whatever we can to put death off for as long as possible. For Christians, death is the consummation of life, the fulfillment of life, the entry into an experience of life more full and abundant. It is an event to be greeted with joy, to which to look forward. If we truly believe that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, that we shall see Him upon death, and that we will be raised with Him to live forever with Him, then there is no reason for us to want to defer death, to escape death for the present moment, to flee from death.

This shapes our entire lives. Continue reading “The Resurrection, Christian Death, and Prayer”

Christian Marriage and Virginity (or Single Life): Glorious Privilege

I do not understand why some Christians think that the married life is inferior and less glorious than certain other vocations. I do not understand why some Christians think any life without marriage is, well, inferior to marriage, less happy than marriage, less fulfilling than marriage, and so forth.

Marriage is – like martyrdom – a glory, a blessing, and a privilege of which no one is worthy except through the merits of Christ. It is ordained by God and cannot be broken or dissolved. It is one of God’s illustrations of the love of Christ for His bride, the Church, all of God’s people, and His union with her. Continue reading “Christian Marriage and Virginity (or Single Life): Glorious Privilege”

Waiting on God

“Wait for YHWH; wait patiently for Him.”

“You watchmen over the house of Israel, give YHWH no rest until He establishes peace for Jerusalem.”

“We yearn for You, more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

“O God, You are my God, I shall seek You early. My soul yearns for You, my body thirsts for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

A mother is cooking a dessert. Her child goes over to the oven every half-minute and asks, “Is it done yet, Mom?” In exasperation, the mother says, “Be patient!” When the dessert is removed from the oven, the child asks, “Can I eat it now?” to which the mother responds, “It has to cool still. Wait, please, will you?”

When God says, “Wait for Me,” or “Wait patiently,” He does not mean what the mother in this story means by patient or wait. Continue reading “Waiting on God”

The Faithfulness of Christ: Why You Don’t Have to be Brave or Strong to be a Witness (Martyr)

“If we died with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”

“But do not worry about what you are to say or how you will answer, for it will not be you who is speaking, but the Spirit of your Father who is speaking through you.”

“For no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit, and no one speaking by the Holy Spirit can say ‘Jesus is cursed.’”

The Christian’s very confidence is that Jesus Christ is the Faithful and the True. It is because Jesus Christ is faithful that we can confess Him and not disown Him, not because of any faithfulness in ourselves. Continue reading “The Faithfulness of Christ: Why You Don’t Have to be Brave or Strong to be a Witness (Martyr)”

Have You Ever Heard of God?

“God is in heaven and you are on earth; therefore, let your words be few.”

“YHWH is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.”

When Moses approached the burning bush, God said to him, “Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” The presence of God demands reverence: fear, holy fear, is not too light a word. This reverence, this holy fear – joyful and wonderful only because, in Christ Jesus, we know God as our Father, but not the less holy, or the less fear, or even the less terrible, for in Jesus Christ, God, in all His magnificent holiness, is our tender and loving Father: Jesus’ death and resurrection did not change God, it changed us and our relationship to God – this reverence and holy fear must be present when we approach God, when we are in His presence. Continue reading “Have You Ever Heard of God?”

The Death By Which Peter Would Glorify God: Grace, Forgiveness, and Gratitude

After Jesus rose from the dead, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, three times he asked Peter, who had denied Him three times during His trial, “Do you love Me?” The third time, Peter was grieved because He asked Him the third time, and said, “Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You.” Jesus said to Him, “Feed My sheep.” Then He said, “When you were younger, you girded yourself and went where you pleased. When you are older, another will gird you and stretch out your hands and take you where you do not want to go.” He said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then He said to him, “Follow Me.” Peter followed Him, and turned to see John also following. He asked Jesus, “Lord, what of him?” The Lord said to him, “What is that to you?” Continue reading “The Death By Which Peter Would Glorify God: Grace, Forgiveness, and Gratitude”