Today’s JAR: What God Wants You to Know

Today’s JAR. just a reminder.

Do not fall for the random comment “Today, God wants you to know…”  Is the writer a prophet? An angel?  A “messenger from God?”  These types of introductions always leave me cause to be suspicious.

It’s better to say, “we have experienced that…” or “we have been taught that…” and then let the reader/listener discern.

We are all called to engage in a personal, vulnerable, intimate relationship with God. The Orthodox Church offers us examples of healthy and trusted tools to make this possible; tried and true expressions to grow the relationship.

Look at the Liturgy… the priest is often telling us what to do: bow your head, give thanks, lift your heart. He tells us what to pray for: good weather, a Christian end to our lives, for the bishops and clergy.” And he even instructs us how to pray and approach communion: in peace, in fear, in faith and love…

In my experience, I have heard a priest speak on God’s behalf in the context of confession when he says “you are forgiven.” But at the moment I can’t think of an other time.

I’ve heard clergy explain what God is teaching, doing and saying and what we should do to be better listeners… but rarely are we instructed on what God is thinking.

Imagine the level of intimacy we must have with someone before we know what they are thinking. And still we never really know.

So if you are reading something that starts off with “Today, God wants you to know…”. Ask yourself how such a random comment can be true and look up to God and simply pray, “Lord, what do you want me to understand today?” And then listen for His reply.

In my experience, He always has something to say. We just have to sit quiet enough to let Him speak for Himself.

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Today’s JAR Truth, History and the Eraser.

Today’s JAR   Just a Reminder

We can’t allow truth to be erased because we are only thinking of our temporary part of history. 

If we allow people to erase historical connections by removing them, we might try to rewrite history from our limited perspective. We lose the thread that keeps us anchored in the truth of what was vs. what we want to hear.

Years ago I mentioned to Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh that the Patriarchate of Constantinople should move to a safer location like the US and that I didn’t understand why they insist on staying planted where they are.  I’ve never seen him disappointed in me before that moment. He looked so sad that I didn’t get it.

But today I read a headline regarding the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and I think I’m beginning to get it.   It’s still not completely clear, but the fog is lifting.

In the Washington Post article titled, “Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name stripped from children’s book award over ‘Little House’ depictions of Native Americans”  they report that “Now, after years of complaints, the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, says it voted Saturday to strip Wilder’s name from the award… It’s now the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.”

Laura seems to have written an honest description of life and perceptions from a certain era, a specific moment in time.  And since this perception is no longer the norm… we’ve grown as a society since then… we should no longer honor her for her previous accomplishments.

Taking her name off the award seems to be a small step to burying a truth about ourselves we want to erase.

The Orthodox Church deals with this mentality all the time.  Society is constantly challenged with “modern day” issues and only looks at the current times to make decisions.  The Church on the other hand constantly looks looks back to see the bigger picture by referring to the Early Church and the writings of the Fathers.  this allows us to stay connected to the mission and vision of what Christ instructed His Apostles.  And although the Church has grown (enlightened by the Holy Spirit) over the centuries, She struggles to always keep a line connected to the truth of God’s Will and the Church’s place in history.   Even more so today as the topics of gender and marriage (and the Patriarchate of Constantinople) are discussed.

What happens to our perceptions of the Early Church if the Patriarchates are no longer in their Sees?  It’s bad enough the a majority of the New Christian Religions already think the Church established by the Apostles no longer exists?

So I ask you, what are the dangers of seeing reality through the lens of our temporary part of history?


And I am thankful I was able to get a post about the Apostles for the Apostles Fast ends on Friday.  


Today’s JAR

Once in a while a like to post a JAR   It’s “Just a Reminder” of something you probably already knew and forgot.  It’s rarely anything brilliant.  And it’s usually something your Orthodox Grandmother would have told you (if you had one.)

Today’s JAR

February 19 doesn’t start a 40 Day Diet. It starts the Lenten Season. Part of it means we follow the discipline of the Church in choosing what we eat. The other part is we use the time for self reflection, prayer, and repentance.

Many people say “What comes out is more important.”

There is no “More Important.” If you can’t control what goes in, how will you control what comes out…. We shouldn’t be Pharisees but we still need to follow the discipline of the fast to the best of our ability.


Today’s JAR: Experiencing the Fast

Once in a while I write JARs, which stands for “just a reminder.” It’s the stuff you probably already know, but might have forgotten. For example, what is the difference between experiencing the fast and just fasting?

We are about to finish Great Lent and enter Holy Week, and I am wondering if I did a good job fasting. I followed the fasting guidelines in what I did and didn’t eat… Not sure I can say it was to the “best” of my abilities… but now I am wondering if I experienced the fast or just fasted? Meaning, did I let the fast do what it was supposed to do? Did I offer my will to God more during this season? Was I gluttonous? Did I let the food become a distraction? Did I recognize what hunger means and that my souls should hunger for God in the way my tummy grumbled?

But it goes even a little further.

Last week I noticed something interesting during the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy that had to do with experiencing the fast.

Experiencing the Fast

Confession time. Last week I wimped out and chose to eat a late lunch instead of prepare to receive communion for Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. I attended the service all the same. I thought that if I was at least in the church for the service I would receive a blessing via osmosis. Maybe?

Participating in the service on a semi-full stomach changed the experience. First, it was strange because I wasn’t tired. I was actually quite refreshed. What’s wrong with that? It made reading the Psalms a different experience.

In the service we read:

Psalm 129/130 Out of the depths I have cried out to you: Lord, Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my plea. If you retain sins, Lord, O Lord, who can stand? With you there is forgiveness. For your name’s sake, O Lord, I have waited for you. My soul has waited for your promise, my soul has hoped in the Lord. My soul has trusted in the Lord, from the morning watch till night. Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is steadfast love and in him is full redemption, and he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

On the other Wednesday nights, when I properly prepared for communion, by the time the service started, I was tired and hungry. I moved slowly and carefully. I could more easily relate with these words.

But my experience of the fast went a little further.

Waiting on God

Even the verse, “O Lord, I have waited for you. My soul has waited for your promise, my soul has hoped in the Lord.” has a different connotation when we are waiting for communion. When we fast and prepare, we are experiencing what it’s like to wait for God to satisfy our physical hunger, and even our spiritual hunger.

It’s not too late

It’s not too late to experience the fast. Holy Week in coming. The fast continues and there are lots of services offered. Don’t wimp out. Enter into the experience of what the Church is offering.