Saturday, March 22, 2008

Unorthodox Guitar Playing

This post has nothing to do with the faith, but being a musician, I had to post it for all to enjoy. I stumbled across this on YouTube and thought that everyone would appreciate some really good and unconventional guitar playing. As you can tell by my picture on the right, I favor the guitar - it is how I misspent my youth - trying to become a rock star. Once I lost the hair, then the whole rock star image and dream disappeared too! Hope you enjoy this little piece:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How Do We Know What Jesus Looked Like?

A Messianic Jewish friend of mine and I were talking about icons. He has a big problem with them. I told him that the Jews were forbidden to make an image of God because no one knew what He looked like. Since God became flesh in Jesus Christ, we know exactly what He looks like, as Jesus is the image of God and the exact representation of His being. I asked him, "Do you think that of the thousands of people that saw Him, not one person drew or painted His picture?" His response was surprising since I consider him an intelligent and articulate individual. He said, "Don't be so sure of it."

But, for the sake of argument, let's say he is right. Supposing no one ever painted a picture of the actual Jesus, does this mean that His image is still not captured in the icon? People who knew Jesus well didn't recognize him after His resurrection until the Lord decided to "reveal" Himself by breaking bread. People who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty and visit the sick also don't recognize Jesus either. Does this mean His image is not in the world? Does the mean we have no point of reference to the God-man, the one made flesh for all to behold?

I think the truth of the matter lies in the icon image itself. It shows this man to be the Word of God, the Great I Am, the Almighty, the one who was humiliated, crucified, risen and ascended. The one who blesses and teaches us. He is our healer, our portion and our cup, the One Who Is and Who Was and Who is to come. My friend would certainly never deny these truths about Christ, and yet, despite any particular artistic detail regarding the accuracy of His physical features, the icons proclaim all of these realities and more - the Spirit of Truth rests upon them.

The same can be said for all of the other icons - they represent the truth of the Faith and the reality of the Kingdom of God, of a life that never ends, and of the living stones that make up the heavenly temple. It has been said so well before by many others, but Paul says it best when he says in the book of Hebrews that we have come to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect. Our icons help us keep this focus - on things above and not on the things of the earth.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Orthodox Lent

Fasting is hard. No matter how you look at it, fasting is hard. It requires a good deal of sacrifice to do the fast right. You not only have to look at your internal motivations and attitudes, but you also have to maintain the Church prescribed diet in obedience to God.

But, with that said, I want to offer a up a public thanks to God and to all who peruse here - it would be much more difficult for me to keep the fast if it weren't for my wife making me special meals. I have heard of other converts whose spouses did not convert with them (as is my case) who were on their own when it came to the fasts. My wife is first to admit she dislikes cooking, and she thinks God has a grand sense of humor to place her in a situation where meal-making is yet more challenging. She not only does this during Great Lent, but also during the week on Wednesdays and Fridays. So, as I have told her and now broadcast to the world, thank you! Thank you for your service to God in my spiritual journey and for understanding this is where I need to be.

Like all good, God-fearing Protestants, she has issues with some of the Orthodox ways, yet she still supports me in the fasts, the feasts, the extra services during Lent, and in going to separate churches. Certainly not an ideal situation while raising two pre-teen daughters, but the peace is kept in the household, and my prayers go up for her and for them.

If you feel so inclined, I would love more than ever to have them join me on the Orthodox path, so please keep them in your prayers.

May God's profound peace and enriching grace be yours during this most holy of all seasons.

(For all of those who are Orthodox seekers, there is no better time to check out Orthodox services than during this period when many extra services are done throughout the week - I especially like the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy on Wednesday nights.)