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Armenian Pastor

A Christian Witness Since 301 A.D.

Marriage Covenant: 1+1=1

“Jesus replied, but at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”-Mark 10:6-8

The concept of the soulmate is selfish. If you think you can complete someone else, that your very existence is required to make another person whole, this isn’t love but arrogance. It is pride, the very opposite of love. The idea of the soulmate is selfish because it implies a specific person is required for your happiness. This places ridiculous expectations on a partner, which no person can fulfill. It also means that you are an inadequate human being unless you are in a relationship with a specific person. This is awful news for anyone who is single, widowed, or in a difficult marriage.

The soulmate myth is a monstrous lie. Seriously, a monster is involved. The soulmate myth comes from Plato’s Symposium, in which a group of men attempt to answer the question, “What Is Love?” One of the philosophers shares the creation myth of a four-armed, four-legged, two-faced creature with two different genitals. Zeus, the thunder god, feels threatened by this powerful creature and decides to split this beast in two, creating male and female. Each person has a counterpart they are in search for, distracting them from threatening the gods. Today, the idea of the Soulmate threatens our understanding of love and marriage.

Love is not self-seeking. It is not arrogant. Nor is it needy or demanding. Love is giving without expecting anything in return. It is continual acts of love that make relationships last. Sacrificial love is the foundation for all types of healthy relationships. You don’t need a specific person in order to love but rather you need to be a loving person. You can be a loving person whether you are single or in a difficult marriage. The choice to love or not is always in our control despite the circumstances we face.

Love is an action, not a feeling. Falling in love is a trap. It’s buying into the soulmate myth. Rather we need to be people who walk in love. Walking in love is a lifestyle. You can choose love at all times regardless of relationship status.

The equation of marriage with a soulmate worldview is ½ + ½ = 1. The biblical understanding is 1+1=1. There is a big difference between the two views. The biblical understanding is one of love. The soulmate perspective is one that undermines Christian love. Jesus reveals to us perfect love that casts out all fear. It is love that cost our Jesus Christ his very life, a life that he willingly gave up for his bride, the Church. Let us walk in love as Jesus walked. Let us rely on Christ’s grace to find our completeness rather than looking for it in other people.

Buddy Jesus

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. -John 15:12-15

Can one be buddies with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords? Can one call the Prince of Peace a pal? Can one be amigos with the Alpha and the Omega? The answer, according to the Risen Savior himself is yes! We can be friends with Jesus.

To enter into a friendship with Christ, we must first trust him. We must trust everything he has said and accomplished on our behalf. Another way to speak of trusting Jesus, is having faith. When we have faith in Christ, we are trusting him to connect us with God. When we have faith in Christ, we are allowing God to guide and lead our lives. The Good News is that Jesus is trustworthy. His love is the only constant in this world and his love is for everybody. But the love will not be given, if there is not trust on our end.

It is said, you are the reflection of your three closest friends. When we have Jesus as our closest friend, our character begins to change. We be become more like Jesus when we obeying his teachings. The greatest of Jesus’ commands is to love others as he loved us. The ultimate example of this love is the willingness to die for another person. Jesus Christ is a trustworthy friend who died for us. His death on the cross has given us the forgiveness of sins and access to God the Father. He gives us this gift freely to his friends. But Jesus will never force a friendship with him.

How can we be friends with someone we cannot see? Also, how can Jesus be friends with so many people? The answer to this conundrum is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us before he went to the cross, that it was good for him to go back to the Father because in doing so we will receive God the Holy Spirit (John 14). It is by receiving the Holy Spirit that we become friends with Jesus Christ. It is through the Holy Spirit work in our lives, in which we understand the plans of God the Father. It is through the Holy Spirit that we become more like His son. So, how does one get the Holy Spirit? By trusting in Jesus Christ and asking God the Father for his presence. It is by making our relationship with Jesus the ultimate priority.

To be friends with Jesus we must live life with God the Holy Spirit. We must not get into the mindset of doing things for Jesus but rather with Jesus. We also must not do things for Jesus in order to get things from him either. This isn’t true friendship, it called using someone. Our motives for our friendship with Christ must be pure. We want the friendship because Jesus is good.

Authentic Christianity is simply a genuine friendship with Jesus Christ. It is trusting in the one who is trustworthy and true. Faith is obeying what Jesus teaches because he knows what is best for us and for the world. The Christian faith is living life with Jesus Christ, who is our Lord and Savior, and most importantly our friend.

The Reason for the Seasons

“In the beginning was the Purpose, and the Purpose was with God, and the Purpose was God. Jesus was with God in the beginning. Through Jesus all things were made; without Jesus nothing was made that has been made. In Jesus Christ was life, and that life was the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness,and the darkness has not overcome it.” -John 1:1-5 (Pastor Haig Translation)

Jesus is not the reason for the season; he is the reason for everything! Yes, I said everything! Simply, referring to Christmas as Jesus’ birthday and not the fulfillment of God’s plan for creation undermines the reason why we celebrate Christmas. I love that in the Armenian tradition we do not greet people with a Happy Holiday or a Merry Xmas but rather we have a call and response that helps us understand the magnitude of the birth of our Savior:

Քրիստոս ծնաւ եւ յայտնեցաւ (Christ is born
and revealed). The response is: Ձեզի Մեզի Մեծ
Աւետիս (Good news to you and to us!).

This is amazing news because Jesus Christ’s birth reveals God to us, reveals humankind to us, and he reveals God’s plans for us.

The Son of God Reveals God

I have come to the understanding that when people speak about God, they often have various understandings of what or who God is. This often leads to confusing conversations. As Christians, we need to make sure that the starting point for speaking about God must be the God-Man. Jesus reveals who God is to us in a personal way. The Good News is that God is love. God’s love is not some theoretical concept, but one of sacrifice and redemption that took place in history. Christmas marks the beginning of God suffering with us. The cross is where God suffered for us. The resurrection of Christ is God telling us the suffering will one day come to end. God the Father is love and that love is found in his only Begotten Son who was born on Christmas day.

The Son of Man Reveals Man

Jesus’ shows us our potential as humans. His life is the example in which we must all follow. The new command of Jesus is to love others as he loves us. Christ sets the standard in which we are to live. When we look to his life we look to one who was always obedient to the Father’s command. When we see Jesus we see perfection walking on earth. The Good News is that God does not just want to forgive our sins but wants us to be a part of his family. With the Grace achieved by Jesus on the cross, with the help of the Holy Spirit to guide us, and with the willpower to want to do the Father’s will, our lives will start looking like Jesus. When the world starts acting like Jesus, the world will become a better place.

The Alpha and Omega Reveals God’s Plan

Christ reveals God’s plan for creation from beginning to end. The Good News is that we are not left alone in the viscous cycle of sin and death. On the cross, we have God saying an eternal “no” to everything wrong with our world. On Easter Sunday, God gives us the eternal “yes!” Jesus reveals that death is not the end but a doorway to new creation. God is not done with us, but is in the business of redemption by sending his Son to save us.  Jesus, our Risen King, arrived on Christmas to reveal God, humankind, and the purposes of God. This is Good News for us!

Love Destroys Pride and Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. –1 John 4:18

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. –Philippians 2:2-4

Nik Wallenda is the world’s greatest tightrope walker. He accomplished two historic feats of waking across the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. Nik wanted to tightrope by the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York by going across the Chrysler Building to the Empire State Building, but the city did not give the permit to allow for it to take place. Nik is a Christian and when he is tight-roping he is in worship mode. He is constantly thanking and praising Jesus Christ as he is walking through the air. If Nik were struck by fear, he would fall. If he became prideful and did not take the necessary caution required to walk on thin rope, he would also fall. Likewise, to be a Christian we must be in a continuous state of worship to avoid the pitfalls of fear and pride.

The Christian life is one of walking down the narrow path of loving others as Jesus loves us. Two of the great enemies of love are pride and fear. Pride says: I am better than others, therefore I can do whatever I please. Fear says: I am not good enough to act in love; therefore, I do nothing. Fear and pride are alike in that they focus on the self and not the other. When we are self-absorbed, we are living in sin. Pride leads to the sin of commission, doing the things we should not do. Fear leads to sins of omission, not doing what we are supposed to do. When we lose sight of the Gospel of love, we will fall into ourselves; we will fall into sin.

Fear holds us hostage by telling us that we are not good enough, that we will not get through life’s challenges. Living in fear creates a toxic victim-mentality that questions the love of God. But when we receive the perfect love of God, fear is uprooted. Jesus is victorious over sin and death! We are victors not victims! Fear becomes irrational in light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even if you were to die right now as you read this, your eternity can be secured in Him. Fear not, church, God is with us.

Pride is the opposite of love. Pride ignores the needs of the other people, and privileges the service of self. When we seek what is best for others, we move from being self-centered to becoming God-centered. Salvation is not something we can earn. Rather, salvation is a free gift achieved by Jesus’ death and resurrection. This removes pride because it is by grace that we are saved – not our own doing.

When we receive the love of God, fear gets eliminated. When we give love, pride gets destroyed. We must commit to loving God and others. This is not an option for the body of Christ, but is our duty. Let us purpose to do acts of love so that pride and fear get annihilated. Let us love!

Ten Soren Kierkegaard Quotes That Capture His Life Philosophy

  1. Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
  2. Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.
  3. Most people are subjective toward themselves and objective toward all others, frightfully objective sometimes–but the task is precisely to be objective toward oneself and subjective toward all others.
  4. The most common form of despair is not being who you are.
  5. And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith.
  6. For without risk there is no faith, and the greater the risk, the greater the faith.
  7. The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
  8. How can it be that Christ does not exist since I know that he has saved me?
  9. God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.
  10. What the age needs is not a genius—it has had geniuses enough, but a martyr, who in order to teach men to obey would himself be obedient unto death. What the age needs is awakening. And therefore someday, not only my writings but my whole life, all the intriguing mystery of the machine will be studied and studied. I never forget how God helps me and it is therefore my last wish that everything may be to His honor.

Ten Spiritual Disciplines That Create Intimacy With God

Below are ten Spiritual Disciplines that create intimacy with God. Try them and see which one is a good fit for you.

  1. Solitude: Refraining from interacting with other people in order to be alone with God and be found by Him. Just like any relationship, you must put time and effort to deepen the bond. Create your own Fortress of Solitude, where there are no distractions so you simply sit still before the Lord.
  2. Prayer: A conversation with God. The Lord’s Prayer is the best template to use to understand how to pray. When we pray we must see God as our loving Father, we can talk to Him like we talk to our own parents when we were children. Having a specific time each day and using a prayer journal can help cultivate a prayer life.
  3. Fasting: Abstaining from eating food for a while (drink water).  Fasting can be as short as skipping a meal for one day to being as long as forty days (see medical professional before attempting). From personal experience, fasting enhances prayer.
  4. Study: Understanding the revelation of God found in Holy Scripture (Luke 2:46). If you are reading your Bible correctly, it should help you understand who Jesus Christ is and what he has accomplished for us. The more you understand Jesus Christ, both your self-awareness and your awareness of who God is will increase.
  5. Reflection: Paying attention to our inner self in order to grow in love for God, others, and self. Journaling is a good way of reflecting on the past to help your future. Asking the Holy Spirit to help with reflection is extremely important. Also processing your discoveries out loud with someone else is crucial.
  6. Secret Service: Being a ninja with your good deeds. It’s doing good things like donating your money to good causes with the motive of serving God rather than serving your own personal brand. It’s the love language of giving your time and money without expecting anything in return.
  7. Sabbath: No work! Say no to consumerism and the love of money once a week by resting in what God has accomplished for you in Jesus Christ.
  8. Confession: If you hold on to secrets with a significant other it will destroy intimacy with that person. The same principle holds true with God. We must acknowledge our sin to God and live in the freedom God’s forgiveness provides. It is important to Confess with another brother or sister in Christ.
  9. Worship: Enjoying the arts that give glory to God. We are made in the image of the Creator who gave us creativity to use. Whether it is music, dance, painting, graphic design; we can connect to God through the beauty of the arts. The most common one is enjoying worship music.
  10. Celebration: Taking joy in what God has done. Jesus Christ’s first miracle was open-bar at a wedding. It’s important to know how to party (without breaking commandments) to be thankful to God for milestones in history, and for our personal and community lives.

Mesrob Mashtots’ Trinitarian Prayer

Mesrop Mashtots was a monk that created the Armenian alphabet in A.D. 405, so that Armenians can read the Bible and worship God in their own language. The invention of the alphabet ushered in an intellectual renaissance that anchored Armenian culture in Christianity. Below is a Trinitarian hymn that Mesrop wrote that focuses on the economic justice theme found in the Gospel of Luke. 

Christ, God of gods, have mercy on me. In iniquity did my mother give birth to me. I beg you, Savior, have mercy on me.

Wounded in sin, I fall down before you, Savior. Do not overlook me. Have mercy on me. 

Sighing, the tax-collector received forgiveness in the temple. In his very words I too call out, “have mercy on me, God” (Luke 18:9-14).

The thief cried upon the cross: “Remember me, Lord.” In his very words I too call out, “Have mercy on me, God” (Luke 23:39-43).

Pleading, the prodigal son begged you, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.” in his very words I too call out, “Have mercy on me, God” (Luke 15:11-32).

With the poor, Lord, grant us sobriety, by the example of Lazarus, so that in voluntary poverty we might be worthy with him of the kingdom of heaven. Hear us and have mercy on us, Christ God.

In the place of bread of deprivation, you granted him the bread of immortality. And contrary to the uncompassionate rich man, you received Lazarus into the Bosom of Abraham. Hear us and have mercy on us, Christ God (Luke 16:19-31).

Enlighten the eyes of our heart so we may receive the mercy that comes from you, Lord of mercy, lest like the rich man in the fiery furnace, we ask to be refreshed with a fingertip of water. Hear us and have mercy on us, Christ God together with the wakeful ones in heaven, glorify the almighty Father, God who has no beginning!

With angelic voice, glorify the Only-begotten Son, begotten of the Father! And with joyous sounds, glorify the Holy Spirit, the Restorer, with unceasing voice!

God without beginning and heavenly king, glorified by the immortal heavenly hosts, we bless you, O Father without beginning. You humbled yourself from the heights for our salvation, O Liberator of bonds and Healer of our souls. We praise you, Only-begotten Son. Consubstantial with the Father and glorified with the only-begotten, distributor of gifts and bestower of mercy, You we glorify, true Holy Spirit.

O Wisdom of the Father, who shined the divine light of your Word upon the darkness of ignorance enclosing the world, enlighten us also. You signified in the rich man and Lazarus an example of the universal judgement by handling them the contrary fates they received. And so we shall ask you, Lord, to save us from the fire of sin and suffering, that we might rest in the bosom of the righteous patriarch.

With him, we too join the voice of the choirs of angels singing glory in the highest to the indivisible Holy Trinity!

Stop Speaking Satan

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jesus Christ 

The language of Satan is lying. God’s language is sharing the truth in love.  Satanic language leads to distrust, condemnation, slander, and destruction. Godly language builds people up in love. The problem with the human condition is that we are bilingual. We speak both the language of God and the language of Satan. But, we are all called to become illiterate in Satan’s language and become literary scholars of God’s love language. We become illiterate in Satan’s language when we stop lying to others, stop lying to ourselves, and stop hiding from God our Father, who knows everything.  We become experts in the language of God when we hold on to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, obey His commandments, and confess our dark secrets in the light of God’s grace.

Everyone hates being lied to. Why lie to others? We need to tell the truth to others just as we want to hear the truth. Plus, God hates it when people lie. “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:22). We must share the truth in love. This is not an option but a command. The truth is always to love. And love must always have the truth in it.  

The lies we believe about ourselves shape our identity. What lie do you believe about yourself? The biggest lie you can believe is that God does not love you. God is Love and God loves you (1 John 4:8). No matter what you have done and no matter what has been done to you, God’s love in Jesus Christ is the ultimate truth. That loving truth covers us in righteousness.We do not need to seek our value from our own performance, but we must find it in the finished work of Jesus Christ. We no longer need to seek approval from others; instead, we should live freely in the enjoyment of the acceptance that we already have in Christ Jesus.

Confession means to speak the same thing. In other words, confession is acknowledging what God already knows. As the late Carrie Fisher said, “you are as sick as the secrets you keep.” We must expose our secrets under the divine spotlight of grace by confessing them to God and others. When we confess, there is always forgiveness at the end of the tunnel.  

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1:5-9

We must be witnesses to the truth—we must not bear false witness. We must delight in the reality that God is a loving Father who is quick to forgive because of Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross. We must rely on the Spirit of Truth to illuminate and guide us into all truth (John 16:13). This is how we can eliminate Satan’s vocabulary from our minds and speak the language of God.

A Letter To My Beloved: Hrant Dink Eulogy

This eulogy of Hrant Dink was delivered by his wife Rakel Dink on January 23, 2007. The funeral service turned into a demonstration of thousands of people gathering in the streets of Istanbul demanding free speech in Turkey.   

I am here today full of immense grief and dignity. My children, my family, you and I are in mourning. This silent love bestows upon us some fortitude. It enables us to experience within us a sorrowful calm.

In the Bible, the Gospel of John 15:13, states, “there is no greater love than for a person to give up his life for the sake of his friends.”

My dear friends, today we send off half of my soul, my beloved, the father of my children and your brother. We are going to conduct a march without any slogans and without showing any disrespect to those around us. Today we are going to generate immense sound through our silence.

Today begins the moment when the darkness of the valleys rises towards brightness.

Whoever the assassin may be, whether he was 17 or 27 years old, I know that he was once a baby. My brothers and sisters, one cannot accomplish anything without first questioning the darkness that creates an assassin from such a baby…

My brothers and sisters,

It was Hrant’s love for honesty, for transparency, for his friends that brought him here. His love that challenged fear made him great. They say: “He was a great man.” I ask you: “Was he born great?” No! He too was born just like us. He did not come from the heavens; he too was created from earth. But what made him great was his living spirit; his deeds, his style, and the love in his eyes and his heart. It was what he did, the style he chose, the love in his heart that made him great.

A person does not become great naturally; it is through his deeds that he becomes great… Yes, he became great because he thought great things and pronounced great words. You too all thought great things by coming here. You talked greatly through your silence; you too are great.

But do not let this suffice; do not be content with this alone.

Hrant marked the birth of a new era in Turkey and you have all been his seal. With him changed the headlines, dialogues, and bans. For him, there were no taboos or forbidden topics. As it is stated in the scriptures, it all sprang from his heart. He paid a great price. Futures for which great prices are paid can only be accomplished through such love and belief; not with hatred, insults, by holding one blood superior to another. This rise is only possible if one sees and respects the other as oneself, if one assumes oneself to be the other.

They separated him from the heaven of his home he had created with the help of Jesus. They made him spread his wings to the eternal celestial heavens – before his eyes tired out, before his body had the chance to age, before he could become sick, before he could spend enough time with his loved ones.

We too shall come, my beloved. We too shall come to that matchless heaven. Love and love alone enters there. Love and love alone that is superior to the speech of humans and angels, to prophecy, to mastery of all the mysteries, to faith that moves mountains, to sharing all one possesses, even to giving up one’s body up to flames.

Only that love will enter heaven. There we shall live together forever in true love. A love that is not jealous of anyone, a love that does not covet the property of anyone else, a love that does not murder anyone, a love that does not belittle anyone, a love that holds one’s brother and sister more dear than oneself, a love that abandons one’s own allocation, a love that demands the rights of one’s brother and sister. A love that is found in the Messiah. And a love that has been poured into us.

Who could forget what you have done, what you have said, my beloved? Which darkness could erase them? Could fear? Could life? Could injustice? Could the temptations of the world? Or could death have them forgotten, my beloved? No, no darkness is capable of having them forgotten, my beloved.

I too wrote you a love letter, my beloved. Its cost was dear to me too, my beloved. I owe it to Jesus that I was capable of penning this, my beloved. Let us give his due to Him, my beloved. Let us give back everyone their due, my beloved.

You departed from those you loved; you departed from your children, your grandchildren. You departed from those here who came to send you off. You departed from my embrace. You did not depart from your country, my beloved.”

 Translation by Fatma Müge Göçek.

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