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MESSAGES OF WARNING
From The Loving Heart of God
Speak a word, O Lord of hosts, to your servant for your Orthodox Church in this last hour - a church that "has a name that it lives but is dead" (Revelation 3:1). I will heed with trembling, to what I hear, ready, as your messenger, to carry your end-time message to your covenant Orthodox people.
I can hear you, Lord, as you speak to me: "Cry aloud. Spare not. Lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show my people their transgressions and my house their sins." As your prophet, I will sound the trumpet of warning. I will sound the Wake Up call. Your charge to me is to declare what the Spirit is saying to the Orthodox Churches today.
Oh, God, tear open the heavens and come down. Send your Holy Spirit fire. Melt away all flesh and manifest Your presence. Flesh has replaced the Holy Spirit in the church. Most church members function in the flesh or simply in the natural. They are carnal. Though upright decent family people, they are souless (Gk. psychicoi), living in the natural, devoid of the Holy Spirit.
How can professing Orthodox Christians claim to be the Bride of Christ, while they languish in a carnal or soulish state?
Where is the Orthodox Church that is vigilant, waiting, yearning for Jesus? The need of the hour is for the Father to come down with the presence of His Holy Spirit and melt those hearts in the church that have been hardened by self-righteousness. They have conditioned themselves to be contented with the minimum of God's involvement in their lives.
The desire burns in the Bride's heart to cry out to Jesus, Come! But only when joined together with the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit in the Bride that releases that constant longing and heart cry, Come! The Spirit is infused into the Bride to draw her into a more perfect union with Jesus. He causes her to cleave unto the Lord that she might become one Spirit with Him in a nuptial Love for the Beloved and finally for an indissoluble bonding.
The all-consuming desire of the espoused and betrothed one is to put on the mind, as well as the heart of our Sweetest Jesus, Beloved so dear.
When the heart is inflamed with a holy passion, then the soul can testify, like St. Paul: "We have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16).
This is not an expression of spiritual pride. Indeed, it is the necessary confirmation we need to make of our position in Christ and of the spiritual inheritance to which we are entitled. The Bride of Christ is simply affirming that her thought world is identified with that of her divine Lover.
Flesh of My Flesh
In the beginning God created woman by "taking one of Adam's ribs and closing up the flesh instead thereof" (Genesis 2:21). Then Adam said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh...and man shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh" (v. 23f).
But in the Dispensation of the Incarnation, "the last Adam" becomes not only one flesh with His spouse, but, alas! One Spirit. Our Blessed Redeemer came to renew the initial infusion of the Holy Spirit into fallen man and thereby change him into "a new creation (creature)." Once the believer by faith becomes a new creature he is declared a son of God, "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). The word of God makes it crystal clear that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Cor. 15:50).
In His sovereign plan God makes a special provision for the corruptible body of the believer to be admitted into the heavenly Wedding Chamber. He provides for the earthly body to secure access into the celestial hall together with the soul for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. That supreme provision is the resurrection. "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body" (v. 44).
The resurrection involving the reintegration of body and soul is revealed by St. Paul in First Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 51-58. He reduces the process simply to one of "change", though he introduces this awesome doctrine as a "mystery". Then he teaches that the believers will be translated from earth to heaven in their resurrection bodies. Only those saints who already departed in the past will be resurrected.
Those still alive will not experience a resurrection. "We shall not sleep, but we shall be changed" (v. 51) At that appointed moment those who are still alive will undergo a supernatural change. The dead will rise first and then the living will, together with the risen, go through this transformation. "We shall all be changed."
The Mystery of the Rapture
St. Paul leaves us with a stunning description of this awesome event which he calls a "MYSTERY." The change will be sudden and instantaneous. It will take place in a fraction of a second, before you can even blink your eye:
"Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall all be changed."
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed" (v. 51-52).
To complete the picture we must fast forward to First Thessalonians, chapter 4, verses 13-17. Here St. Paul zeros in on the translation of the living and the dead now changed in the twinkling of an eye:
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
"Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
go to the Archive Library of Pastoral Messages.
As I move on in the 41st year of Renewal Ministry, I'm increasingly conscious of the reality of aging. It brings with it a combination of blessings and discomfort. When aging is viewed in the background of 41 years of Renewal Ministry, you cannot compare it with the ordinary aging to which we are usually accustomed.
It does not resemble the familiar aging pattern of a man or woman who is in retirement. Retirees are carefree, as a rule, spared of pressures and worries, whether in a nursing home or in a private residential setting. They usually have more time for traveling, for recreation, and entertainment.
At the time of my retirement the only change that occurred was the fact that I began receiving financial assistance on a monthly basis, known as social security. Remember that from the time I embarked on the Renewal Ministry in 1968, I was not on the church payroll, indeed on anyone's payroll.
For a period of several years it was strictly a walk of faith. It was the Lord's supernatural provision that kept body and soul together. I keep praising Him for His miraculous intervention and for His faithfulness to His unfailing promises.
When I was in my seventies, I felt like a twenty year old pushing myself from morning till night without feeling any particular fatigue I can remember. I was doing the work of two or three people. But the moment I turned 80, a sudden new sensation startled me: my energy level had lowered to the point I could unquestionably feel it. Nevertheless, it has not kept me from staying up until 2 A.M. with no naps during the day.
Since I turned 84 this past summer, I can certainly say that I easily reach the limits of my endurance with the minimum of exertion. Only two kinds of activity never tire me: writing and ministering the word of God from the pulpit or in a Bible study.
I thank the Lord He has enabled me through the years to write a large number of books on Orthodox Renewal and Evangelism. What is disappointing, however, is that we lack sufficient staff help and the initiative of faith-partners to meet the needs of necessary distribution and generally marketing of our sound recordings, as well as publications.
Like the psalmist, I delight in crying out repeatedly to Jesus: "Keep not silence, O Lord, be not far from me." Then I feel blessed, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord has heard me and is starting to respond to my cry, not necessarily in an audible voice, but in the form and direction the circumstances and people around me are shaping.
I want to share with you also, dear reader, what expression of thanksgiving I direct to the Lord each and every day: "I offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to you, O Lord, for sparing me from degenerative diseases of cancer, strokes, Parkinson's, diabetes, dementia that surround me on every side."
The Spirit of the Lord has taught me not to wait to get sick so I can then start praying for healing. That pattern of prayer betrays taking for granted God's blessing of divine health, general well being, and victory in Christ over the Adversary. A pre-emptive attack against Satan is far more effective than waiting to deal with him after he attacks us. Perhaps, that is what was meant in the familiar verse of scripture: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).
Spiritual warfare is part of my daily devotional life. It includes self-deliverance without which I could not function in the Spirit. To begin with, I renew my deliverance from family inherited curses on a daily basis. It goes something like this: "I declare broken any lingering family generational sin, guilt, or curse of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, dementia in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, for Christ was made curse for us that we might receive the blessings of Abraham" (Galatians 3:13).
Another type of self-deliverance that is routine for me each and every day is related to "binding spirits". It's another illustration of a pre-emptive attack against Satan. Instead of waiting to get afflicted with arthritis or disc problems so I can pray for healing, I beat Satan to the draw and confront him with these words: "I loose myself, Satan, from your binding spirits of arthritis, disc disorders, scoliosis, osteoporosis in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, for it is written, "For this cause was the Son of God manifested that He might loose the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8, Luke 13:16) and "A Stranger Unto My Brethren" (Psalm 69:8)."
But let me get back to what I was saying about the solitude the Lord has secured for me here in the Florida panhandle. The Orthodox in this part of the state who are primarily of Greek origin have no taste for Renewal and Evangelism.
God bless them. They are happy with religious routine, as most Orthodox are here and abroad. Spiritual revival is not a popular cause in our church. You would normally think they would visit St. Symeon's Center out of sheer curiosity just to find out what this controversial priest is up to and what makes him different from the average priest. But that motivation is not there, despite that many of them over and over again drive past our large sign on Coastal Highway 98 at the intersection where you turn for 1/4 mile to reach the Center. So, obviously the Lord is teaching us how to live and minister in isolation here on the panhandle.
I used to be called upon occasionally to fill in for the priests in the neighboring parish churches. But my exposure and contacts that would come with such opportunities did not make any difference. Neither did my flanking our local Metropolitan Bishop at the altar on his periodic appearances in the area help at all.
However, now even those occasional invitations are no longer forthcoming on the part of the local vacationing priests. They prefer to spend substantial money to fly in some retiree priest from a distant town rather than call upon me to fill in for them.
The Lord has showed me that His Orthodox people in this area can't take my sermons anymore. I ruffle their feathers and convict them in the Spirit, because I don't preach "in the eloquence of human wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power". I don't offer sugar-coated sermons. My sermons are unsettling to them " thank God " and they don't like that.
The bottom line is that I am fired up with a desire that burns in my heart to disciple men and women, to bring them into a life-changing relationship with the Divine Savior, but I cannot find them. Let me share with you, dear reader, a few lines in this regard from the anointed writings of our patron St. Symeon the New Theologian who in the following lines is hearing from the Lord Jesus: "Those who malign Me and heap Me with reproaches, how will they obey you. Or how will they eagerly accept you as teacher, tell Me. How will the wolves recognize you as their shepherd. Or how would the wild animals follow your voice. Leave, flee, and disappear from their midst and if you can save yourself, yes it should be enough for you!" (Hymns of Divine Love, 45)
Here is my response to the Lord's counsel: "Lord, thank You for sparing me from the trouble of running away from their midst. You have already taken care of that. They themselves are disappearing and fleeing from me. They avoid me like the plague as if I were a leper. Thank You, Lord, for Your comforting word."
"I do not wish you to be shepherd for anyone who is unwilling. I am their Creator and God by nature, but I am not all their King, nor their Ruler, those who have not taken up their cross and followed Me."
You will remember when Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews: "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also" (John 8:19). If I were to rephrase this saying of Jesus, He could very well be saying to my Orthodox neighbors: "If you had known Me, you would have known this priest whom I have chosen to declare my counsels to you."
My calling is to lead souls to the redeeming knowledge of Christ. If they really know Christ they would find Him in my Renewal messages. Obviously, they are unable to recognize the Savior that they presume to believe in. They lack a personal relationship with Him and a testimony of how He changed their lives.
Far from me to judge them, but I cannot refrain from warning them that it is the last hour and the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Time is running out!
The bottom line is that the institutional church, theoretically the Bride of Christ, no longer recognizes Her divine Spouse, the soon coming Bridegroom. She does not see the "friends of the Bridegroom" who are laboring to infuse a nuptial love into the Bride, indeed a divine eros.
I wonder sometimes and ask myself if the Church is any longer the Bride of Christ. How could she possibly be, when she despises and treats as troublemakers those sent by God to help prepare her for her entry into the Wedding Chamber for the consummation of her eternal union with her divine Lover? Could she possibly be the predicted Harlot Church that will ultimately be bonded with the Christ-impostor, as predicted in the book of Revelation?
You are not only an instrument that the Lord is using to prosper this labor of faith, but you are especially the channel for confirming it, that truly it is of God, that He is working out His divine purposes through it.
That's why I thank Jesus for you and, by doing that, I am thanking you, too, for being obedient to the leading of His Holy Spirit. Do you know, beloved, that you are a part of a great army of faith-warriors that the Lord Jesus Christ is raising up in this last hour in order to counteract the powers of darkness that are flooding the world and even infiltrating His historic Church?
Your prayers and financial help, dear friend, make it possible for me to get the Gospel out to our Orthodox people. They have religious respect for Christ, but most lack a personal experience of "knowing Him and the power of His resurrection."
Then there is also the "fellowship of His sufferings." There is a price to pay for going all the way with Christ. "For unto you," says the apostle Paul, "it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Phillipians 1:29). In this last hour God is speeding up the building up of the Body of Christ with the spiritual gifts and fruits in that extraordinary outpouring of His Holy Spirit "upon all flesh," according to the prophecy of Joel. He is reequipping His Body and infusing it with a fresh measure of supernatural power. What is a joy and a privilege to be part of what God is doing for the preparation of Christ's return in glory!
Thank you, precious friend, for standing in the breach with me before the Lord "in this sinful and adulterous generation." I know that what joins us together in this outreach of faith is the special burden that the Lord has laid upon our hearts for spiritual awakening in our Orthodox Church.
Did you know that when you share with your financial support and intercessory prayers you are in effect saying, "I want to help take Jesus Christ out of obscurity and to give Him His rightful place of preeminence in His Body, the Church."
I want to announce a new, urgently needed book is ready for the press: An Orthodox Look at the Restoration of Israel. I'm believing God to raise up a donor to provide the printing cost: $5200 for 2000 books. Printing costs have increased considerably May our loving Father multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness according to the riches of His grace.
Yours for Jesus and Orthodox Renewal,