Fr. Michael’s Midweek Reflection–Three Ingredients to a Good Prayer Life (Part 3 of 3): Love for God
Each Wednesday, Fr. Michael shares an encouraging message, hoping to bring light, clarity, and peace into our challenging lives
October 20, 2022
LOVE FOR GOD Today’s reflection is the third of three which supplement our five-part series (Seven Minutes to Live) on the importance and urgency of becoming more prayerful in our lives. Amid the many motivations and reasons to pray, none can compare with the power of our love for God. Simply put, if we love Him, we’ll pray. And we’ll pray because we love Him. To view this week’s video (6:38), click [Love for God].
October 13th, 2021
THREE INGREDIENTS TO A GOOD PRAYER LIFE (Part 2 of 3) As a supplement to the five part sermon series on Prayer entitled “Seven Minutes to Live,” in this week’s Midweek Reflection we look at the second of three qualities we need to foster in our lives in order to be disciplined in prayer, or in anything in life for that matter. That quality is discipline itself. Rather than the burden we typically feel discipline to be, it is the opportunity to become the people we really do want to become. We will run to our disciplines rather than avoid them once we understand that elemental truth. Click DISCIPLINE to watch this week’s video (5:45).
September 29, 2021
PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR Living in the times described by so many as “fearful,” it’s crucial that we Christians keep fear to a minimum and eventually work to cast it out of our lives. We reflect this week on LOVE as the antidote to fear and specifically who the object of that love should be. To view this week’s visit, click here.
September 22, 2021
SEVEN MINUTES TO LIVE If we only had seven minutes to live, we would know the importance of using some, if not all that time, to pray. In this series we will explore the motivation and methods to make sure that we spend at least that amount of time every day connecting with the God Who is waiting to connect with us, and providing us with a life worth living, the life He intended us to live. To view this week’s visit, click here.
September 15, 2021
TRAINING OURSELVES IN THE ORTHODOX FAITH Even the amateur astronauts scheduled to go into space today on a self-flying rocket have gone through extensive training. Why do we think living our Christian faith needs any less training? We reflect on this in this week’s video. To view this week’s visit, click here.
September 8, 2021
BREAKING OUT OF SUNDAY MORNING ONLY We all want to grow in our faith but struggle to make that a reality. The most important thing we can do in that regard is to attend church more often. On this day, the Nativity of the Theotokos, a day that most people are completely ignorant of, I reflect on the importance of celebrating days like today by participating in worship together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. To view this week’s visit, click here.
August 25, 2021
THANK GOD FOR VISIBLE LANE MARKINGS! We all know how important lane markings are to safely drive down the road, but we too often struggle with our commitment to live within the “lane markings” of God’s commandments and moral guidelines. More and more people are bidding Christ and the Church behind because they can’t accept these guidelines, which have been given to us by God Himself. All of us can reexamine our views on true Christian morality and work to see God’s Will as the blessing from Him that it is. To view this week’s video click here.
August 18, 2021
SOMETIMES YOU JUST HIRE SOMEONE We know from every aspect of our life (including plumbing repairs) that sometimes you just need to hire someone, when the job is too important and you don’t have the right skills and resources to do it on your own. This week, our parish takes the big step of bringing on a full-time Youth Ministry Director to address the most important issue we face as a parish: keeping our young people connected to Christ through His Holy Church. To watch this week’s video, click here.
August 11, 2021
OUR HOMEOSTATIC, PEACEFUL GOD Going through the storms of life can lead us to the perception that life is stormy and tumultuous. The fact that we return to calm after every storm and that lakes settle into flat calmness can remind us that our God is a stable source of peace and calm, even if life brings storms from time to time. Click here.
August 4, 2021
JUST STOP! Most of us experience the world at a pretty rapid pace. As I enjoy some family time on vacation this week, I’m also reflecting on the importance of slowing down to a full stop. This is how we really experience the depth of the present moment, in which we encounter both the closeness of God and our own true selves. Click here.
July 21, 2021
“GOD, THIS IS FUN!” We cannot escape God. Sometimes, we only think of God in a crisis; however, He is not far from any of us. Our Creator has placed His seal upon our lives. To view this week’s video (3:27), click here.
June 23, 2021
UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER! We can all be frustrated when a weather forecast ends up being horribly wrong, but another approach is to find the humility to celebrate the fact that we can’t predict–let alone control–very much. This can really be reason to celebrate because all that happens does so under God’s Providence, which we can rest in, instead of frustration with our own limited abilities. To view this week’s video (3:54), click here.
June 16, 2021
FAILURE TO YIELD After being in yet another car accident this week (thank God, everyone was fine), the driver with whom our car collided was given a citation for “failure to yield,” which is ticket-speak for the guy was distracted and made a left turn right into our line as we traveled in the opposite direction. While sounding so mild compared to the damage inflicted on two wrecked vehicles, I reflect this week on the much more damaging “failure to yield,” when we don’t yield our time, attention and deference, both to the people around us, to God Himself. To watch this week’s video (4:33) please click here.
June 9, 2021
As we take leave of Pascha for 2021, we reflect on endings in general. In our modern lives, we tend to glaze over endings, but when we celebrate them, we elevate the importance of both the time that draws to a close AND the time about to begin. To view this week’s video (3:05), click here.
May 26, 2021
THE NEW LIFE OF THE RESURRECTION
On this Feast of Mid-Pentecost, halfway between the Feasts of Pascha and Pentecost, we reflect on the new life offered to us by the Resurrection of Christ, and our empowerment in that new life, given by the Holy Spirit, Who comes to us at Pentecost. To watch this week’s video (4:33), click here.
May 19, 2021
COPING WITH CHANGE The change in CDC recommendations last week which removed in large part the requirement of wearing of masks was a change that was long-awaited by many, yet still resulted in confusion and disruption. We all just have a hard time with change, even when we see the change as good! This week we reflect on change, and how to deal with it much more positively and effectively. To view this week’s video (length 3:33), click here.
May 12, 2021
NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT! On a picture-perfect day here in West Michigan, it’s an ironically good day to talk about how easily we all find things to complain about. This week we reflect on just why that might be and what each of us can do to complain a whole lot less. To view this week’s video (length 5:24), click here.
April 21, 2021
THE TRUE TEST OF HOLY WEEK Orthodox Christians who strive to participate in Holy Week often see the time as a true test of faith, to endure lots of long services, etc. The truest test of Holy Week, however, is the test of God’s love for us. Jesus will face all of the difficulties, yet never turns away from them. By the end of Holy Week, we can see that God’s love has been tested to the utmost, yet His love never wavers and we can see it more clearly than ever. To watch this week’s Midweek Reflection (<4 minutes), click here.
April 14, 2021
WHERE WE GET THE STRENGTH
With the best of intentions we Christians can try to live the lives Christ has invited us to live, but we don’t seem to be able to find the strength to do it. We reflect on where we get the strength to do that, and that He is both the source of our strength and the means to receive it. To watch this week’s Midweek Reflection (<7 minutes), click here.
March 31, 2021
FITTING IN AS A CHRISTIAN IN AN UNCHRISTIAN WORLD We all feel the struggle of living “in” the world but trying not to live being “of” the world. We reflect on this topic as we try to live one life while dealing with two very different perspectives, motivations and goals. To watch this week’s Midweek Reflection (5 minutes, 3 seconds), click here.
March 24, 2021
Ask, Don’t Tell This week I share a lesson I learned from my Google Assistant, of all things. Learning to ask questions instead of just telling someone something invites reflection, communication, and shows love and respect, all things our world could use a lot more of these days. To view this week’s video, click here.
March 17, 2021
Are You Hungry? In our culture of abundance, we rarely experience hunger, but if we fast, we will! Our physical hunger then parallels our spiritual hunger as we make the spiritual efforts of Great Lent. The Church seeks to satisfy that hunger with the additional offering of Holy Communion through the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. In Christ, we are filled with all that we need and our hunger is eliminated! To view this week’s video, click here.
March 10, 2021
The Debt is Fully Paid! One month ago, we reflected on the burden of both financial debt and the “spiritual debt” that stems from a lack of forgiveness. As we make an important announcement regarding our parish’s mortgage, we reflect on one of the most powerful ways to clear out all debts of the past that we hold on to through a lack of forgiveness, and find our way to full and complete forgiveness of everyone for everything. The debt can be truly and fully paid! To view this week’s Midweek Reflection, click here.
February 24, 2021
Constant Expectation The Early Christians struggled when our Lord did not immanently return as they expected Him to after His Ascension to His Father. You are I struggle not with the confusion of His delay in returning, but perhaps by living as if we don’t even expect it. We are all invited to return to a state of expectation of our Lord’s return, to judge the living and the dead, to usher in His Kingdom, and to joyfully reunite with all those who love His appearing. To view this week’s Midweek Reflection, click here.
February 17, 2021
The Blessing of Fasting Unlike the time when having to fast for Lent was too often seen as a bad thing, the world has caught on to the blessing that fasting is. In today’s video, I reflect on this a bit, and invite everyone to join us for a deeper exploration of the topic in an online event held this Sunday (information at stnicholasgr.com/fasting). Let’s not miss out on the blessing of fasting! To view this week’s Midweek Reflection, click here.
February 10, 2021
The Burden of Debt As our parish works hard to pay off the two-decade old debt of our mortgage, we reflect on the burden debt has in its many forms, and the importance of shaking it off whenever possible. To view this week’s Midweek Reflection, click here.
February 3, 2021
Failure Is Not An Option When we hear that “failure is not an option” we think we have to eliminate it from our life. Actually, it’s not an option because–like it or not–we are going to fail, and the best we thing we can do is accept that and learn from each failure, trusting in God for His love for us, even in the midst of our failure. To view this week’s Midweek Reflection, click here.
January 20, 2021
The Most Important Transfer of Power On this Inauguration Day, the words “peaceful transition of power” describe this important element in our nation’s governance, but there is an even more important “peaceful transition of power” that God invites us to everyday, and that is the transition of power from our own “self-governance” to our willing obedience to be governed by Him. Click here to see this week’s Midweek Reflection.
January 13, 2021
What Purity Really Means We tend to think of “purity” in relative terms of goodness and badness, or guilt and innocence. In St. James’ Epistle, he shares a different view, which can both challenge us and inspire us to rediscover the purity with which–and for which–we were created. This is the purity that will lead the world toward what God wants for us all: to be “peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). Click here to see this week’s Midweek Reflection.
January 6, 2021
True Refreshment In our challenging lives today we often seek refreshment, but too often from things that don’t refresh, namely escapes and sinful pursuits. On Holy Theophany, we reflect on the true refreshment Christ offers us, symbolized in the Blessing of the Waters. God always brings true refreshment. Click here to see this week’s Midweek Reflection.
December 30, 2020
All Things New One of the last things we hear Jesus say in the entire Bible is “Behold, I make all things new!” We can be reminded of this newness with every snowfall, every new day, every Confession, every New Year. May we receive the blessing of newness from our loving God. View this week’s Midweek Reflection here.
December 23, 2020
Making Sure There’s Room At the first Christmas, there was “no room in the inn” for Christ to be born. In this week’s Midweek Reflection, we consider how to make sure we don’t make the same mistake and have no room for Christ in our lives and hearts, this Christmas, in the New Year and for all our days. View this week’s Midweek Reflection here.
December 16, 2020
Asking for Help In one last reflection on a bike trip I took a few months ago, I reflect on the fact that for all kinds of reasons, most of us are reluctant or even unwilling to ask for help when we need it. Yet if God provides us everything we need, then we really should be willing to ask for help from the people He has placed in our lives. View this week’s Midweek Reflection here.
December 9, 2020
The Certainty of Uncertainty Among the many challenges of 2020 has been uncertainty on many levels. The hard truth is that many things we think are certain are not, but the one thing that we need to be certain about is the one thing we can be certain about–the love of God and the restoration of all that is good that He offers us. View this week’s Midweek Reflection here.
December 2, 2020
Time Travel, Jesus, and the Bishop It’s no small fact that Jesus chose people to carry His “Way, Truth and Life” through time, from the time of His earthly life and ministry until the present. Sacred Scriptures also “travel through time” bringing to us directly the words and life of Jesus, but He entrusts people with being the main conduit of the life He brought us 2,000 years ago. The bishops of the Church are those people, so when we have the opportunity to be in their presence, it’s no small gift. Watch Fr. Michael’s Midweek Reflection here.
November 25, 2020
Thanksgiving, No Matter What It’s easy to be thankful when things go our way, but if we’re only thankful then, maybe it’s not gratitude, but just satisfaction. In 2020, some are feeling like there’s not a lot to be grateful for, but if God is good, He’s good all the time, and there are blessings from Him, even in the midst of suffering. Real thankfulness to God comes from the heart, in good times and tough times alike. To view this week’s Midweek Reflection, click here.
November 18, 2020
Are you a Democrat or a Republican? More than just a grammatical choice in saying, “I am a Democrat,” or “I am a Republican,” we Christians have only one identity, and that’s as Christians. We may “vote” with a certain party or make all kinds of choices, but we should not elevate any of those choices to the same level as our one and only identity as followers of Jesus Christ. This is a great gift we Christians can offer a world in great need. To watch the video, click here.
November 11, 2020
We hear “It’s 2020” and we know it refers to things being BAD!! But…does it? In this week’s Midweek Reflection we begin to examine how much of the angst and pain we experience is actually from what happens all around us–as bad as it has been. Instead of looking OUTSIDE of us, we can begin to look INWARD at our inner life–the life of our mind, our heart, our soul–and find there the remedies from God for all that ails us. Even if it is 2020! To watch the video, click here.
November 4, 2020
Don’t be Fooled by the Mirage A mirage is what you see that you think is real but is really more of what you expect to see, hope to see, or sometimes, even what you’re afraid you’re seeing. In a world where there are so many mirages that can fool us into accepting lies and thinking they’re truths, we are invited to see not just a truth, but Truth Himself, Jesus Christ. To watch the video, click here.
October 28, 2020
Slowing Down to a Stop
In this week’s reflection, I continue to share some things I learned on a recent two-day bike trip. This week I reflect on the sanity–both mental and spiritual–we regain when we slow down our frenetic pace…all the way to stop. And there, we find the Eternal God, Who is always ready to meet us at the only time we can meet Him: now. This video can be found here.
October 21, 2020
Regaining Perspective Most of us severely underestimate the amount of influence on our perspectives of the world come from the screens that we think are only helpful. In today’s video I reflect upon a recent two day biking trip I took, and how it helped me regain some perspective of the reality of the beautiful world around us. This reflection can be found at [Perspective].
September 23, 2020
THANK YOU, PRESIDENT TRUMP AND FORMER VICE-PRESIDENT BIDEN! (TALKING ABOUT TALKING ABOUT RACE, PART 3)
Using the first “presidential” debate as an illustration on what NOT to do when having a productive conversation. we finish this series on talking about race by holding up two important virtues: respect and humility. These provide the framework for us to have conversations on important topics that actually lead to productive actions. Fr. Michael continues this topic in today’s Midweek Reflection, found on his YouTube page at youtube.com/c/fathermichael.
September 16, 2020
THE MISSING PERSPECTIVE ON RACE, PART 1
Views on race and racial discrimination seem to be bound for an increase in conflict for which there does not seem to be a resolution. This tension is wreaking havoc, even in the spiritual lives of many. So-called “Christian” perspectives seem to be just those who use their Christian teaching to support their chosen political view, even if disguised as a moral view. I hope this week’s reflection will set the stage to explore what a true Christian perspective on the issue would be. This is the only way we can not find lasting solutions in this life, but that those solutions would lead us toward the Kingdom of Heaven, and not away. Video will be posted today at noon on Fr. Michael’s YouTube page.
September 10, 2020
Our modern “wisdom” frequently discards traditional mores and values and replaces them with so-called “enlightened” ideas. And yet these new ways often lack any critical examination, and certainly place adherence to the Christian Faith anywhere but the top of the priority list. Among these is the common practice of a couple living together before they are married. Fr. Michael will discuss this topic in this week’s Midweek Reflection, found by clicking here.
September 2, 2020
THE NEWNESS OF REPENTANCE
For this week’s Midweek Reflection, we think about September 1st being New Year’s Day in the Orthodox Church each year. This gives us an occasion to focus on BOTH realities of repentance: its long, difficult road of making the effort, and the blessed joy of realizing the goodness of it. Click here for the video.
August 26, 2020
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
For this week’s bit of mid-week spiritual refreshment, we hear from our beloved Father in Christ, His Grace, Bishop ANTHONY. In this beautiful talk, His Grace offers a “prequel” to his previous “Reflections on the Spiritual Life” by focusing on the knowledge of God as what precedes our spiritual efforts. Our knowledge of God is nothing less than the purpose of our life, and you will be refreshed by His Grace’s words, which you can hear by clicking here.
August 19, 2020
FORGED BY ADVERSITY
No one has to tell anyone that 2020 has been a tough year. For most of us, the difficulties are fodder for our discontent, discomfort and dismay. But what if this difficult year could be seen as the very thing we’ve needed? We don’t wish tragedy on anyone, but maybe there’s another side to see our current circumstances. In this week’s Midweek Reflection, I’ll share some thoughts on this important perspective. Join me live on my YouTube page at 3 pm today at youtube.com/c/fathermichael, or see the video posted on our Parish YouTube page at youtube.com/c/stnicholasgr or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stnicholasgrandrapids/.
August 12, 2020
Dating in the Age of Covid…and When NOT in the Age of Covid
After a few conversations with young adults concerned about how to date in a age of no gatherings, I’ll tackle the issue from a perspective that was just as important before Covid as it is during. And the principles work the same in all relationships. I’ll go live at 3 PM today, or see it archived, both at our St. Nicholas YouTube Channel at youtube.com/c/stnicholasgr.
August 5, 2020
ARE YOU INFECTED??
And no, I’m not talking about coronavirus (isn’t it nice to take a break from that topic once in a while?). No, this is a different epidemic, and sadly, I think it’s much more destructive. It has an interesting name which I only heard recently: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, or MTD for short. What is this terrible disease ravaging our world today? Tune into my MidWeek Reflection to hear more about it, and thankfully, how to get the vaccine! I will be live on our parish livestream at 3 pm today at youtube.com/c/stnicholasgr, and the recording will be available on that page following the talk, as well as our parish Facebook page (which you somehow don’t need to be on Facebook to get to: facebook.com/stnicholasgrandrapids.