Bucket List

BucketListDo you have a bucket list? If you don’t know what it is, it’s a list of things you want to do/accomplish before you pass away. It seems everyone is talking about them these days, from celebrities to television shows and movies. This year we had two people pass through our area working on their bucket lists, one was cycling through all of the lower 49 states, the other wants to visit every major league baseball park in the US.

Do you have a bucket list? If so, is God on it? If not, why not?

Too many times we put God’s desires after everything else, intending to get around to it some day. Then, like Ebenezer Scrooge, we find that our time is short and our life may be required that night…too late for all of those bucket items. What God requires of us, and what should be first on that bucket list, really isn’t all that much.

  • Show God that you love Him. You show it to your spouse or loved one on those “special” occasions…how do you show God you love Him? Do you do it with just an offhanded remark, maybe during prayer, (“oh, and God, I love you too)? Or is it visible in what you do? Jesus tell us that in everything we do, do it for God.
  • Love your neighbors. No, not the person in the house/apartment next to yours (although there is nothing wrong with that), but your true neighbor. Last year there was a story about a group of Muslims who were riding on a bus with Christians. The bus was stopped and everyone was ordered to identify themselves if they were Christian or Muslim. To a man the Muslims on the bus refused to identify themselves, preferring to die with their Christian neighbors. So, think about the people in the Mosque down the street from you, are they your neighbors? Have you shown them your love? His love?
  • Give alms in Jesus’ name. Without all the glitz and glory of showing off about it. There’s a show I watch in which one of the characters is a professed Roman Catholic, in one episode his colleagues wondered why he was being so secretive, was he sick? Was he having problems? Later in the episode it was revealed that he organized a fair for a group of sick children, he did it without any fanfare, without letting anyone (except those necessary to bring it all about) what he was doing. Alms isn’t just about money, it includes any type of giving of yourself to others, in a quiet and private way. Do you show God your love by helping His less fortunate children? We were put here to help each other as His representatives on earth.

My favorite church saint is Seraphim of Sarov. In a conversation with a man seeking his wisdom in living right Seraphim said:

“Prayer, fasting, vigil and all the other Christian practices may be, they do not constitute the aim of our Christian life. Although it is true that they serve as the indispensable means of reaching this end, the true aim of our Christian life consists of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, and vigils, and prayer, and almsgiving, and every good deed done for Christ’s sake, are the only means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. Mark my words, only good deeds done for Christ’s sake brings us the fruits of the Holy Spirit. All that is not done for Christ’s sake, even though it be good, brings neither reward in the future life nor the grace of God in this life.”

So, is God on your bucket list?

Glory to Jesus Christ

12 thoughts on “Bucket List

  1. Acquisition of the Holy Spirit? Or BY the Holy Spirit? Bucket list – do what He says do. May be Eat breakfast. Call friend. Study book of Mark. Pray for pastor. Take a nap. Read email. Write comment… Thanks for the thought-provoking post. 🙂

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  2. Thanks for the book recommendation. Just downloaded it on Kindle.

    “the true aim of our Christian life consists of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God.” I believe in large part this is true. We already have the Holy Spirit in us, yet we don’t rely on Him, don’t allow Him to lead us, don’t abide in His wisdom or let His power reign in our hearts. Without the Spirit, we can’t possibly embody His fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control). It is that fruit which empowers us to walk out our faith in maturity and in the image of Jesus.

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    • It does require some understanding of Eastern thought, because it is not the same as Western. For example, some Western theologians have equated Passions to Sins, and that is not entirely true. While the Passions do have a sinful side, they also have a Grace side. Sin is not thought of in the same way in the East, it is looked at as using the “sinful” side of the Passions.

      An example, gluttony is a passion, and if used wrong it leads to eating in excess, but used properly it prevents us from falling into anorexia or bulimia. Make sense? The passions were given to man to be used to help man, and for man to help his fellow man. It is through the Fall of Adam that the passions gained a corrupted side to their nature.

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        • It is this type of thing that needs instruction. Even for the Orthodox it is suggested to read it with the help of a Staretz – a learned guide. Many parts can be quite challenging. The Philokalia was originally written for monks as a guide to asceticism (caution here as well, Eastern asceticism is not Western, there was never self-abuse or mortification as with Opus Dei).

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  3. It’s not an easy read because the Philokalia isn’t a book as you would think. It is a collection of saying with only a mild organization. It comes in five volumes, but only four have been translated into English. Here is an excerpt from Vol. 1:

    On Guarding the Intellect: Twenty-Seven Texts

    I. There is among the passions* an anger of the intellect, and this anger is in accordance with nature. Without anger a man cannot attain purity: he has to feel angry with all that is sown in him by the enemy. When Job felt this anger he reviled his enemies, calling them dishonourable men of no repute, lacking everything good, whom I would not consider fit to live with the dogs that guard my flocks’ (cf. Job 30: 1: 4. LXX). He who wishes to acquire the anger that is in accordance with nature must uproot all self-will, until he establishes within himself the state natural to the intellect.

    2. If you find yourself hating your fellow men and resist this hatred, and you see that it grows weak and withdraws, do not rejoice in your heart; for this withdrawal is a trick of the evil spirits. They are preparing a second attack worse than the first; they have left their troops behind the city and ordered them to remain there. If you go out to attack them, they will flee before you in weakness. But if your heart is then elated because you have driven them away, and you leave the city, some of them will attack you from the rear while the rest will stand their ground in front of YOU; and your wretched soul will be caught between them with no means of escape. The city is prayer. Resistance is rebuttal= through Christ Jesus. The foundation is incensive power*.

    3. Let us stand firm in the fear of God, rigorously practicing the virtues! and not giving our conscience cause to stumble. In the fear of God let us keep our attention fixed within ourselves, until our conscience achieves its freedom. Then there will be a union between it and us, and thereafter it will be our guardian, showing us each thing that we must uproot. But if we do not obey our conscience, it will abandon us and we shall fall into the hands of our enemies, who will never let us go. This is what our Lord taught us when He said: ‘Come to an agreement with your adversary quickly while you are with him in the road, lest he hand you over to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer and you are cast into prison’ (Matt. 5: 25). The conscience is called an ‘adversary’ because it opposes us when we wish to carry out the desires of our flesh; * and if we do not listen to our’ conscience, it delivers us into the hands of our enemies.

    4. If God sees that the intellect has entirely submitted to Him and puts its hope in Him alone, He strengthens it, saying: ‘Have no fear Jacob my son, my little Israel’ (Isa. 41: 14. LXX), and: ‘Have no fear: for I have delivered you, I have called you by My name; you are Mine. If you pass through water, I shall be with you, and the rivers will not drown you. If you go through fire, you will not be burnt, and the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, who saves you’ (cf. Isa. 43: 1-3. LXX).

    5. When the intellect hears these words of reassurance, it says boldly to its enemies: ‘Who would fight with me? Let him stand against me. And who would accuse me? Let him draw near to me. Behold, the Lord is my helper; who will harm me? Behold, all of you are like an old moth-eaten garment’ (cf. Isa. 50: 8-9. LXX).

    6. If your heart* comes to feel a natural hatred for sin, * it has defeated the causes of sin and freed itself from them. Keep hell’s torments in mind; but know that your Helper is at hand. Do nothing that will grieve Him, but say to Him with tears: ‘Be merciful and deliver me, 0 Lord, for without Thy help I cannot escape from the hands of my enemies.’ Be attentive to your heart, and He will guard you from all evil.

    7. The monk should shut all the gates of his soul, that is, the senses, so that he is not lured astray. When the intellect sees that it .fs not dominated by anything, it prepares itself for immortality, gathering its senses together and forming them into one body.

    8. If your intellect is freed from all hope in things visible, this is a sign that sin has died in you.

    9. If your intellect is freed, the breach between it and God is eliminated.

    * Practice = of the virtues.

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