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These are just a few examples that show how the apostles reminded congregations to ensure they were doing their part to ensure the purity of doctrine and the preservation of the gospel in the church. In a healthy church, the relationship between elders and church members will be characterized by trust. Both members and elders extend trust to one another knowing full well they are fallen sinners who need grace. Therefore, members along with elders, labor under his gaze, longing for his approval.

This loving intimacy can only be achieved when we set aside ourselves, and put forward the agenda of Christ and his church. He and his wife Christie have six children. He blogs at Ordinary Pastor. You can find him on Twitter at erikraymond. Our work is possible by the generosity of our readers. Give Today. Where Satan is, there I will be. He saw with his soul that the tap root of sin is pride, that curse of mankind that tore people from God and thrust the world into endless sorrow and suffering; pride was that true seed of death that had enveloped mankind in the darkness of despair.

From this moment, Siluan, now a spiritual giant, turned all his energies toward acquiring the meekness of Christ, which he was given to witness during his first Vision, but which he had not then been able to keep. Now the monk Siluan stood firmly on the path of righteousness. Why have You deserted me? Grace does not desert him as before. And though he is no longer as foolish as before, and though he has emerged wiser from the long and arduous struggle, though he is now a great spiritual wrestler, yet still he suffered from the inconstancy and mutability of human nature, and his heart cried with an inexpressable sorrow when he felt grace slipping from him.

And this continued for fifteen more years, until one day he acquired through one sweeping exercise of the mind, invisible on the outside, the ability to vanquish that which had for so long defeated him. By way of clear internal prayer, the ascetic learns the great mysteries of the soul. Entering his heart with his mind, first he finds his human heart, within which he sees, deeply hidden, the heart whose essence is not human at all.

He finds this deeper heart, this spiritual, metaphysical heart, and discovers that the being of humanity is not something alien or external to him, but is organically connected to his own personal being. The commandment to love your neighbor as you would yourself, he begins to understand as something other than a mere ethical norm; in the word "as" he sees not an indication of the level, or measure, of love, but a sign of the ontological commonality of being.

This Son of man, the Great Judge of the world, on Judgement Day will proclaim that "the one among the smallest of these" is Himself; in other words that the being of each individual is held in common with Him, and is included in His own personal being. All of humanity, "all of Adam," he has taken into himself and has suffered for all of Adam. But he prayed also for the living and for future generations. His prayer, which was not bound by temporal limits, erased any trace of the transient features of human life, and of enemies.

He was given in the sorrow of the world to distinguish between those who experienced God and those who did not. It became unbearable for him to consider that people could languish in the depths of darkness. Once a hermit-monk said to him that "God would punish all atheists. They will burn in an eternal flame. But Elder Siluan, with some worry, asked, "Tell me please, if you are placed in Heaven, and from there you see how others burn in hellish flames, would you remain detached?

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The Elder, filled with sorrow, answered, "Love cannot accept that Everyone must be prayed for. And indeed, he prayed for everyone; to pray only for himself became a foreign concept. For Siluan, having been exposed to the glory of God and having been denied it, the very thought of such denial was too heavy to bear. His soul languished in the consciousness that people live without knowing God and His love, and he prayed with great prayer that the Lord through his inscrutable love should allow them to know Him.

Till the end of his life, despite waning strength and sickness, Siluan continued to sleep for only brief spells. He had much time for individual prayer, and he remained in prayer constantly, changing its form to fit circumstances. He prayed especially strongly at night, before the matins. That was when he prayed for the living and the dead, for friends and enemies, for the entire world. Contents : On the condition of man.

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The will of God. A word on prayer. On humility. On the world of the soul. On grace. On love. On pastors. On thought and vainglory. On obedience. Final word. People, until they come to know something greater, are satisfied with the little that they have. Man is like a village rooster who lives in a small enclosure with few people and farm animals about, who knows his ten hens and is content with this life, because he knows no more.

But an eagle, who circles high in the clouds, and sees great distances with his sharp eyes, who hears the sounds of the earth and revels in its beauty, who knows many lands, seas and rivers, and sees a multitude of animals and birds, would not be content to live in a small enclosure with a rooster. It is the same in spiritual life. Whoever has not known the grace of the Holy Spirit is like the rooster who does not know the flight of the eagle; he cannot comprehend the sweetness of tender emotion and love of God.

He knows God from nature and from Scripture, he is satisfied with the law and is content with his lot as is the rooster, and does not feel sorrow that he is not an eagle. We are all suffering on this earth and searching for freedom, but few know what freedom is and where it can be found. The Lord gives the repentant His peace and the freedom to love Him. Oh, my brothers, all the earth, repent while you still have time. God awaits our repentance with mercy. And all the heavens, all the saints await our repentance.

As God is love, so the Holy Spirit in the saints is love. Ask, and the Lord shall forgive. And when you receive absolution from your sins, then your soul will be joyful and happy, and the grace of the Holy Spirit will enter your soul, and you will say, "Here is true freedom: it is in God and of God. The grace of God does not hinder freedom, but only helps to keep the commandments of God. Adam was in grace, and his will was not fettered. So too the angels are in the Holy Spirit, but their free will is not taken away.

The Lord wants us to love each other; this is the essence of freedom — love for God and for your neighbor. This is both freedom and equality. But in earthly titles there can be no equality; this is of no concern to the soul, however. Not everyone can be a king or a prince; not everyone can be a patriarch or an abbot, or a leader, but no matter what your title you can love God and serve Him, and that is all that matters.

And whoever loves God more on earth shall be in greater glory in the Kingdom. When you have no kind mentors, then you must submit humbly to the will of God.

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And then the Lord will make you wiser with His grace, for the Lord loves us more than words can describe. It is a great goodness to submit to the will of God.

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Then your soul is filled with the Lord only, and it has no other thought, it prays to God with a special purity, and feels the love of God, even though the body may suffer. When the soul has submitted wholly to the will of God, then the Lord Himself begins to lead it, and the soul learns directly from God, where before it had learnt from teachers and Scripture. But it is very rare that the Teacher of a soul should be the Lord Himself through the Holy Spirit, and few know of this, except those who live according to the will of God. The proud do not wish to live according to the will of God, they prefer to direct their own lives, and they do not understand that man lacks the capacity to direct his own life without God.

And when I lived in the world and did not know the Lord and His Holy Spirit, I did not know how much the Lord loved us; I only depended on my own abilities. The most precious thing on earth is to know God and at least in part understand His will. The soul that has felt God must submit to his will in everything and live before Him in fear and love. In love, because the Lord is love.

In fear, because it must be afraid to insult God by some evil thought. How do you know whether you are living according to the will of God? Here is a sign: if you long for some thing, then you have not submitted to the will of God, even though you may think that you live according to His will. Whoever lives according to the will of God does not concern himself with anything. And if he needs some thing, then he submits himself and that thing to God; and if he does not receive it, then he remains content as though he had received it.

The soul which has submitted to the will of God, fears nothing: neither storm nor bandits; nothing. Any soul that feels burdened by doubt must appeal to the Lord, and the Lord shall answer it. But in general, this should only be done in an hour of crisis and confusion; ordinarily, one should appeal to a confessor, for this is an expression of humility. The Lord has provided for the Holy Spirit to be present on earth, and those in whom He lives feel Heaven in their hearts.

Perhaps you ask, why do I not feel such grace? Because you have not submitted to the will of God, but live according to your own. We must always pray, so that the Lord will tell us what we must do, and the Lord will not leave us in confusion. Adam was unwise not to ask the Lord about the fruit brought to him by Eve, and so lost Eden. David did not ask the Lord, "will it be good if I take for myself the wife of Uriah?

And so all the saints who have sinned, sinned because they did not call upon God for help and spiritual guidance.

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If you speak or write of God, then pray and ask the Lord for help and guidance, and the Lord will aid and teach you. And if you are bewildered, bow three times and say, "Merciful Lord, You see that my soul is confused, and I fear falling into sin, guide me, oh Lord. If you doubt this, then you will not receive that for which you ask.

Thus the Lord said to Peter, "Why did you doubt, you of little faith" Matthew , when Peter began to drown in the water. It is the same with the soul that begins to drown in evil thoughts when it enters into doubt. And so, only the Lord knows all; as for us, whoever we are, we must pray to God for enlightenment and turn to our spiritual confessors, so as not to make mistakes.

Whoever loves the Lord remembers Him always, and this memory of the Lord gives birth to prayer. If you do not remember the Lord, you will not pray; in the absence of prayer the soul languishes without the love of God. For it is through prayer that we feel the grace of the Holy Spirit. Prayer saves man from sin, for a praying mind is busy with God and stands in humility before the Lord, whom the soul recognizes.

Prayer is given to those who pray, as the Scriptures say, but prayer offered only by force of habit, without heartfelt sorrow for sins, is not pleasing to the Lord. A loving soul cannot abstain from prayer, for it strives to reach Him through the grace which it feels by means of prayer. For prayer we have been given churches, in which services are conducted according to books, but you cannot take a church with you, and even books are not always available, whereas internal prayer is with you always and in all places.

Holy rites are performed in churches in the presence of the Holy Spirit, but the soul is the best church of God, and whoever prays in the soul knows the world as his church. But this is not for everyone. Many pray aloud and like to pray from books, and this is good, and the Lord accepts their prayers and has mercy on them. But if someone should pray to the Lord and be thinking of something else, this prayer will not be heard. Whoever prays through habit has no change in prayer, but whoever prays with feeling has many changes: there is a struggle with the enemy, a struggle with oneself, with passions, a struggle with others, and one must remain hearty.

Many like to read good books, and this is commendable, but prayer is best. If your mind wishes to pray in your heart and cannot, then read the prayer aloud and keep your mind on the words of the prayer, as the "Ladder" recommends. In time, the Lord will give you prayer of the heart without interfering thoughts, and prayer will become easy. Some have damaged their hearts by forcing their minds to pray in their hearts and have even reached a point where their mouths could not say the words. Know the order of religious life: gifts are given to a simple, humble, attentive soul.

Whoever is obedient is sparing in everything: food, words, acts; to these the Lord gives prayer, and it repeats easily in the heart. Unceasing prayer derives from love and is lost through passing judgment, idle talk and intemperance. Whoever loves God might think about Him day and night, because no activities can stand in the way of loving God. The Apostles loved God and the world did not stand in their way, though they understood the world, and prayed for it, and preached.

It is a great sign of grace to learn Christian humility: it becomes easier to live, and everything becomes dearer to the heart. Only to the humble does the Lord show himself through the Holy Spirit, and if we are not humble, then we cannot see God. Humility is that light, by means of which we can see the Light of God, just as we sing "In Your light we see the light.

There is a great difference between the simplest person who has felt the Lord through the Holy Spirit and the person, though he may be prominent, who has not felt the grace of the Holy Spirit. There is a great difference between believing only that God exists, experiencing Him only through nature or the Scriptures, and experiencing Him through the Holy Spirit. If one has experienced God through the Holy Spirit, his soul burns with love for God day and night, and it can no longer be tied to anything earthly. The soul which has not felt the sweetness of the Holy Spirit, feels joy in the vanity of earthly fame or wealth, but the soul that has experienced God through the Holy Spirit, desires only the Lord, and places no value on wealth or earthly glory.

If we were humble, the Lord in His kindness would show us everything, reveal all secrets, but we are not humble, we are proud and vain over all details, and in this we suffer ourselves and torment others. The Lord does not reveal Himself to proud souls. The proud soul, even if it has read all the books, will never understand the Lord, for in its pride it does not allow any room for the grace of the Holy Spirit, and God is only experienced through the Holy Spirit. Pride does not allow the soul to enter on the path of faith. I give this advice to the unbeliever: let him say, "Lord, if You exist, then enlighten me, and I will serve You with all my heart and soul.

The Lord, though He is merciful, tests the soul with hunger and does not bestow grace until it learns humility. The proud person fears reproach while the humble does not. Whoever has acquired the meekness of Christ is always prepared to reproach himself and welcomes abuse, and sorrows when he is complimented.

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But this is only the first step in humility; when the soul experiences the Lord through the Holy Spirit in His humility and meekness, then it sees itself as worse than all. The Lord has taught me to hold my mind in hell, and not to despair. And this is how my soul becomes humble, but this is not yet real humility, which is indescribable. As the soul moves toward the Lord, it becomes fearful, but when it sees the Lord, then it becomes immensely joyous from the beauty of His glory, and it forgets everything earthly in the face of the love of God and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit.

Love will surround everyone, and from the humility of Christ they will be glad to see others above them. The humility of Christ exists in the lowly: they are happy in their lowliness. This was given to me to understand by the Lord. The Lord said, "Learn from Me to be meek and humble of heart.

You can be obedient and reproach yourself in everything — this is a form of humility. Another can repent his sins and count himself the lowest before Christ — this is also a form of humility. But when a soul sees the Lord through the Holy Spirit in all His meekness and humility, then it also becomes humbled to its limits. This is a special sort of humility which cannot be described, it can only be experienced through the Holy Spirit.


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And if people could experience the Lord through the Holy Spirit, they would all change — the wealthy would despise their wealth, the learned their studies, the powerful their glory and authority, and all would be humbled and would live in great peace and love, and the earth would be filled with great joy. He who has experienced God through the Holy Spirit has a different understanding and taste.

The Lord loves people, but sends them sorrows, so that they can understand their weakness and be humbled, and for their humility they can accept the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit all is good, all is joyous, all is wonderful. One might suffer greatly from poverty and ill-health, yet not be humbled: and so suffer in vain. But whoever is humbled is happy with any fate because the Lord is his wealth and joy, and all people will be amazed at the beauty of his soul. You say, "I have great sorrow. And should you even remain alone in poverty, joy will not leave you because there is the peace in your soul of which the Lord said, "I give you My peace.

The soul of the humble person is like the sea: cast a stone into the sea, and for a moment it will disturb its serenity, and then sink to the depths. Sorrows sink in the heart of the humble because the power of the Lord is with them. Previously I thought that the Lord performed miracles only in response to the prayers of saints.

But now I know that the Lord will perform a miracle even for a sinner as soon as his soul is humbled, for when a person learns humility, then the Lord shall hear his prayers. In their inexperience, many believe that one or another saint performed a miracle, but I have learned that it is the Holy Spirit residing in a person who performs the miracle. The Lord hopes that we will all be saved and be with Him eternally, and for that reason He listens to the prayers of a sinner for the good of others and for the one who prays.

Where do you reside, humble soul; and who resides in you; and what can I compare you to? You shine brightly, like the sun, and you do not burn out, but give warmth to all around. You are like a flourishing garden, in the midst of which stands a beautiful house, where the Lord likes to live. Judging by what is written in the Scriptures and by the character of the people surrounding us, we are living in the final days. However, as that great holy man of Russia, Saint Serafim of Sarov, said, we must seek to keep safe our inner peace, because without this salvation is impossible.

He loved the people and prayed continuously for them: "Lord, I wish that Your world would be in all Your people, whom You love so boundlessly that You gave Your Only Son to save the world. Maintain a calendar in the home with all appointments, caregiver schedule, family visits. They allow adult children to spend more quality time with their parents and therefore make better use of the time. Schedule family visits to an elder to give all much needed relaxing time together at ideal times for the elder. Preparing meals and taking walks as able are great ways to keep connecting.

With cell phones turned off. We need to slow down to connect with elders who are moving more slowly. It is good for everybody and gives elders something to look forward to. Monitor elders for memory loss and new symptoms and stay in touch with the Care Team to compare notes and treat symptoms early to avoid issues. Call an elder frequently to check in. Especially when they are starting a new medication, on anniversaries, when you know they have not been feeling well or are more confused than normal. Never hesitate to call a doctor for advice. This keeps the elder well and makes the Care Team work i.

Make sure an elder has enough caregiver services. Best home care agencies and Geriatric Care Managers can help with this assessment. Keeping an elder informed is the best way to combat resistance to care. Get therapeutic support for this life change from a GCM or through a referral to a counselor who can best support you. Make sure their financial portfolio is in order. Ensure good bill pay services are in order. Power of Attorney for Finance is in order. Set up weekly budget for an elder and caregiver expense method.


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This takes the stress out of money for the elder and the Care Team so they can focus on receiving services, care. Make sure their health care directives are in order.