Spiritual Teaching & Discipleship

“Fulfilling the Great Commission as we pass along the Faith in Christ through Holy Scripture as taught by His Church”

christ the true vine 2

By His Name: Part 10 “Jehovah Shammah”

The last Name God gives of Himself to His people in the Old Covenant is found near the end of the Book of Ezekiel. The Name is Jehovah Shammah which means “The LORD is There” or “The LORD is Present.” In this session we explore the constant presence of God with His people from the Garden of Eden, the various periods of God dwelling with His people Israel such as the Exodus/Wilderness and Babylonian Exile, and finally culminating in the Incarnation and Pentecost. How would our lives change if we truly lived as though Jehovah Shammah: The Lord is Present?

By His Name: Part 9b “Jehovah Rohi”

This is the second of the two weeks spent reflecting on the Lord my Shepherd. In this session, we cover the second half of the 23rd Psalm which includes clearing up the misconceptions about the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” as well as look at what the Early Church Fathers had to say about the table prepared for us in the midst of our enemies.

Great Lent Through the Liturgy: Part 4 “For His Name’s Sake”

We tend to think of the reason for God going to such great lengths to save us stems from His incredible love for us. And, this is absolutely true. But we find throughout the Masses for the week following Lent 4 that there is another reason. He saves us for His Name’s sake. Our reflection, then, is on what it means that God works on our behalf for His Name’s sake; a reality that brings us great joy and comfort.

By His Name: Part 9a “Jehovah Rohi”

The Name of God Jehovah Rohi means “The Lord my Shepherd.” We will be spending two weeks going through Psalm 23 in order to understand the nature of God as our Shepherd. In this first week we look at the first three verses: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” We discover that when we live in and under our Shepherd, we know and enjoy a peaceful and content life; a life never wanting for anything. And when we experience true contentment, there is never room for covetousness or greed; there is never a need to wander away from our God to chase after anything outside of Him.

Great Lent Through the Liturgy: Part 3 “The Journey of Faith”

Looking at a number of Scriptures from the Masses in the week after Lent 3, we reflect upon the idea that our walk with Christ in a relational journey. It is in this journey with Christ that, bit by bit, we find restoration in our lives as He heals our soul.

By His Name: Part 8 “Jehovah Nissi”

In Exodus 17 we see the Name attributed to God as Jehovah Nissi, “The Lord My Banner.” But what is this term banner as attributed to God. As we explore Exodus 17 and other passages, we find that it is the Lord who wars and battles for us and on our behalf. It is He who is our victory. Have a listen and let us together discover how to best know God as our banner.

Great Lent Through the Liturgy: Part 2 “Fearing and Loving God”

There is an appropriate tension between fearing God and loving God in the Masses that follow the Second Sunday of Lent. In this session we reflect on the Orthodox understanding of these two necessary elements of our relationship to the Holy Trinity. We also find that from this tension we come to see and know God as our perfect Father in Heaven who is set to make us whole as He joins us to Himself.

By His Name: Part 7 “Jehovah Shalom”

In this week’s session we reflect on the Lord’s Name Jehovah Shalom, which means “The Lord is Peace.” Notice it is not “The Lord gives Peace” or “The Lord spreads Peace”, but “The Lord is Peace.” As we look at both Old and New Testament passages, we find that the only true peace comes from a life lived in invited union with God. This peace is never from anything offered through this present life nor can it be taken away by anything that occurs to us on this side of eternity. Our peace is a natural result of being made whole through the experience of the Divine.

Great Lent Through the Liturgy: Part 1 “Hear Us & Regard Us, O Lord”

In this series, we draw from the teachings of the Church found in each daily Mass through each week of Great Lent. This session deals with the daily Masses between Ash Wednesday and the Saturday after Lent 1. Here we find a theme in this first week of Lent. Through the Scriptures and Prayers we are given a framework of how we are to approach God. We come to Him with appropriate cries for deliverance. And, in the Scriptures given we find that the very Nature and desire of God is to rescue His people from all that wars against their soul.

Pre-Lent Retreat: Part 1 “About Lent & Repentance” – Father Barry Thibodeaux

Father Barry Thibodeaux begins our retreat with an indepth teaching reminding us of the activity of God among us in the season of Great Lent. He helps us remember that our journey through Lent together is a corporate journey of individual beloved of God, but never a private journey. And, we are reminded that it is a time set apart to awaken us to the reality of God’s presence with us at every moment. It is a season wherein, by His presence with us, we are drawn to the repentance God desires that brings healing to the soul.

Pre-Lent Retreat: Part 2 “Repentance as an Awakening” – Father Barry Thibodeaux

I this second session of our retreat, Fr. Barry helps us understand that repentance is a coming to our senses, an awakening where we see things clearly as our Lord sees them in our lives. It is through this awakening that we, enabled by the grace of the Holy Spirit, join in the synergistic relationship between God and man that saves us.

Pre-Lent Retreat: Part 3 “How Shall We Live in Great Lent” – Father Barry Thibodeaux

In the third and final session of our retreat, Fr. Barry shares very practical ideas of how we are to live in the season of Great Lent. Here he emphasizes walking in the very kindness of God; kindness defined not just as emotions but, rather, as actions and expression of the love of God to all those around us. Our Lord did not simply have kind feelings toward the suffering. He acted on their behalf out of such profound kindness. In Lent, we more purposefully set ourselves to live as Christ among one another in the Church and toward those who are outside of the Ark of Salvation. By His Spirit, we become that which we do.

By His Name: Part 6 “Jehovah Mefalti”

Jehovah Mefalti means “The Lord our Deliverer.” The Nature of God is to deliver His people from the oppression placed upon us at the fall of mankind and bring them to Himself that they may enjoy every benefit of life in Him and in His Kingdom. Do we really get just how far God goes to deliver us? This is the question we examine in this session. For if we knew His Nature in this manner, we would all the more rapidly cry out to Him with the authentic prayer for deliverance; a prayer He longs to answer on our behalf.

By His Name: Part 5 “Jehovah Rophe”

Jehovah Rophe means “The Lord Heals.” In this session we examine Old Testament passages that reveal to us the reality that God’s very nature is set for the healing of mankind. We are reminded of our true illness inherited through the fall of Adam and Even from Paradise; that is the illness of the soul as a result of our separation from God Who is the source of all life. We also take a look at four New Testament narratives of Christ demonstrating the nature of God by His healing work among men. As we reflect on these passages, we are encouraged as to how we are to posture ourselves at all times before the Lord that we might know Him as Jehovah Rophe.

The Great Commission Dialogues Part 1: “Why Fulfill the Great Commission?”

At St. Peter Orthodox Church, we are beginning monthly dialogues regarding our fulfilling of the Great Commission. Here in Part 1, Fr. Mark shares some thoughts by Metropolitan John of Albania who recently led a Clergy Brotherhood Retreat on the topic of “The Church’s Mission to the World.” In this session we seek to just begin answering the deep question, “Why are we given to fulfill the Great Commission?”

By His Name: Part 4 “Jehovah Jireh”

The Name of God Jehovah Jireh means the Lord will provide or the Lord our provider. More often than not we associate the word provision with finances. While it is most certainly true that our Lord provides for our financial needs, this idea barely scrapes the surface of understanding and knowing God as our provider. In this session we explore how vast and wide are the provisions God makes on man’s behalf. Here we also come to understand all the better the very nature of God towards man as Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our provider.

Fulfilling The Great Commission as Partakers of the Divine Nature

Today was the Annual Parish Meeting of St. Peter Orthodox Church. On this day, Father Mark provided the Parish with some direction as we head into 2017. Have you ever considered that The Great Commission is fulfilled through a people growing in the very nature and likeness of God? This session helps us understand the connection between becoming more like our Father in Heaven and the natural result of such transformation. That is, we see lives pulled from the chaos and disorders of the world into the peace and order of God within the Ark of Salvation; His Holy Church.

By His Name: Part 3 “Adonai”

When God reveals Himself to mankind as Adonai, He shows us that all things created by Him belong to Him. We are a beloved possession of God. His Name Adonai reveals to us that He is indeed Lord and Master of all things. In this session we reflect on what this means to us that He is this great Lord and Master. Knowing God as Adonai presents an unavoidable question that is always before us, “Is He Lord and Master of our lives, or are we?” The reality is that we will never know and experience God as our complete sufficiency until we submit to His Lordship in our lives.

By His Name: Part 2 “Elohim”

As God creates all things from nothing, He gives us His Name in the very first verse of Holy Scripture from Genesis 1:1. The name He gives is Elohim. In this teaching we explore just how God is revealed through this name and what this revelation tells us about His nature and His character. In light of who He is as Elohim, we bring into question who we are and how we must live according to His design and His order.

By His Name: Part 1 “The Importance of a Name”

In the Old Covenant, one of the ways that God would reveal Himself to His people was by sharing various names by which they could come to better know Him. In this series we seek to draw nearer to God as we endeavor to study and more clearly understand the nature of God expressed by His Name. Today in Part 1, we must be reminded of the importance of a name and how the name tells us something regarding the origin, identity, or nature of an object or person.

Advent Through the Liturgy Part 3 “The Cry for Deliverance”

The Introit that begins the Mass of the final Sunday in Advent is taken directly from Isaiah 45. It is the cry for deliverance offered up to God as His people were enduring the Babylonian Captivity. In this teaching we explore all that God’s people had lost while in captivity and why they cried out for a deliverer. For in their cry we come to, what should be, the cry of our own hearts; that the Deliverer would come to us and free us from all oppression within our soul, redeem us, and restore all that is broken within us.

Advent Through the Liturgy Part 2 “Redeem and Quicken Us, O Lord!”

The Second and Third Sundays of Advent draw from Psalms 80 and 85 to give us our focus for these liturgies. Today we see that the posture of the Christian during Advent is to cry out for deliverance, redemption, and God’s quickening in our lives. To understand the posture our Lord desires so that we might experience His salvation in this present reality, we explore the meaning of the words “redeem” and “quicken” as they are given in the Psalms; for in their meaning reveals the nature and activity of God within and among us.

Advent Through the Liturgy Part 1 “To You, O Lord, Do I Lift Up My Soul”

In the liturgy of the First Sunday in Advent, the choir sets the tone at the very beginning when they sing the first three verses of Psalm 25 which begins, “To You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.” But what does this look like in our practical lives to lift our soul to God? Each Mass we answer this question when we say together the words of St. Paul found in Romans, “And here we offer up ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto Thee.” This lesson explores the realities of abandoning ourselves to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 11 “Spiritual Warfare in the Life of the Christian”

Continuing on the subject of spiritual warfare, we look at the spiritual warfare prayers found in the liturgy, prayer services, and hours of prayer in the Orthodox Church. It is very easy to see that living from the authority over the powers of darkness that Christ has shared with His people is a consistent theme in the Christian life. In this session we also look at one of the greatest weapons given to Christians toward overcoming and overthrowing our enemy; the Sign of the Cross.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 10 “Introduction to Spiritual Warfare”

In this session we look at the history of Spiritual Warfare over the human soul beginning with Satan’s temptation of mankind in the Garden of Eden. We then look at the Second Adam and the Spiritual Warfare done through the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Christ our enemy was undone and thrown down; and, it is He who has shared His authority with all of the Living Stones that make up His Church. This teacing is an overview of how we, as the Body of Christ, are to continue the very ministry of Christ in the overcoming of our enemy.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 9 “Holy Scripture”

Reading Holy Scripture must be a part of the rhythm and order of every Christian’s life; however, it is equally important to understand the appropriate approach to the divine reading of the inspired words of God. This session seeks to aid us in a better understanding of how to prayerfully read Holy Scripture in order to experience God as we fellowship with Him in the reading of the sacred page.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 8 “Praying the Hours of Prayer”

Having discussed in the last session the origin and consistency of God’s people praying the hours of prayer in both the Old and New Covenants, we now move on to look at a suggested pattern of praying Morning, Noon, and Evening prayer. As we look at these prayers, we remember that liturgical prayer is not and end to itself. Liturgical prayer is a means to and end; that end being continuous communion and fellowship with God.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 7 “The Hours of Prayer”

In this session we turn our attention from the order for corporate prayer to the order of our daily prayer as individuals and families. We once again set our minds on the consistency of God throughout time that He has set forth regarding the rhythm and order for our lives that brings us into contact and fellowship with God Who is our salvation. The hours of prayer were kept in the Old Covenant and fulfilled in the New Covenant through the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in this session that we also look at why we are to pray the consistency of the hours so that prayer might be a means to our true end…unity with the Holy Trinity.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 6 “The Order for Matins”

Having reflected on the Vespers service, we now turn our attention to Matins as we discuss the second of the prayer services in the weekly cycle of corporate prayer. Matins is prayed just before we ascend the mountain to worship God and to commune with Him there in the Mass. In this session, we see how within Matins there is both a profound call to worship and the beginnings of that very worship offered up to God by the people of God.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 5 “The Order for Vespers”

This session is the first of two weeks in which we will cover the weekly cycle of corporate prayer including Vespers and Matins. At Vespers, the Body of Christ gathers to pray at the setting of the sun which is the beginning of the new liturgical day. Join us as we examine the meaning and purpose of each part of the Vespers service.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 4 “An Introduction to Prayer”

A consistent life of prayer is one of the most difficult areas of the Christian life to maintain. In this session we discuss the definition of prayer given to us throughout the history of the Church. We also seek to better understand the reasons that a prayer life of communion with God is so hard for us to experience in our lives.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 3 “Rhythm & Order for Life”

God has always set a rhythm and order for the lives of His people. In this session we examine the rhythm and order of worship and prayer God established in the Old Covenant. We then take a look at its continuation and fulfillment through Christ in the New Covenant. The God who created humanity knows how to bring humanity back to Himself. Therefore, we must strive to submit our lives to the rhythm and order He has given us out of His love for us.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 2 “The Christian Life as an Ascension”

The Christian life is a a constant ascension where we are both unbecoming and becoming. It is through communion with God who is always present with us that we are transformed from glory to glory. In this teaching we look at both Old and New Testament imagery regarding ascending the mountain to be with God and the results that come from such a time. We also reflect on the icon of The Ladder of Divine Ascent based on the teachings of St. John Climacus. For it is in the icon that we see clearly the true picture of the Christian existence.

Orthodox Spirituality Part 1 “What is Orthodox Spirituality?”

The Orthodox Spirituality series is designed to make practical to the believer the rhythm and order of life God has revealed through His Church as the way of life for His disciples. It is through this order of life that we best experience the life-giving Holy Trinity to the healing of the human person which is our salvation. This week, we attempt to understand Orthodox Spirituality as this very rhythm. We focus on Orthodox Spirituality as the means by which we return to the Garden of Eden existence where mankind communed with their Heavenly Father. And, it was through this actual time spent with God that they were set to mature into the likeness of their Father.

Adult Sunday School: Beyond the Resurrection Part 3

The Beyond the Resurrection series seeks to cover the events of the Resurrection of our Lord through just prior to His Ascension utilizing both Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Early Church Fathers.  In this week’s lesson we reflect on the encounter of our Risen Lord by the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus and how it presents to us the framework of the worship of God through Liturgy. We then discuss our Lord’s appearing to His disciples behind locked doors, His breathing on them the Holy Spirit, as He would commission them with the authority to forgive sins. Next we find our Lord revealing Himself to His disciples at the Sea of Galilee as He did when He first called them. And, finally, we see how our Jesus Christ so lovingly restored Peter from the sin and result of his betrayal of Christ just before His crucifixion. 

Adult Sunday School: Beyond the Resurrection Part 2

The Beyond the Resurrection series seeks to cover the events of the Resurrection of our Lord through just prior to His Ascension utilizing both Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Early Church Fathers.  In this week’s lesson we reflect on Mary Magdalene’s experience of both the empty tomb, the Angels, and the revelation she receives of her Resurrected Lord.  We also look into the account of Sts. Peter and John as they witness the empty tomb and the linen cloths therein.