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The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For?


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#1 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 01:05 AM

Title: The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For?
Author: Rick Warren
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 0310205719
Pages: 334
Price: $14.95
Links: http://www.amazon.co...e/dp/0310205719
Description: A Protestant Christian understanding of the purpose of life.

#2 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 01:14 AM

A friend gave me The Purpose Driven Life book/journal set for Christmas one year (2006 to be exact), and Since the book is such a big sensation in Protestant Christian circles, I thought I would like to share my impressions from an Orthodox viewpoint.

#3 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 01:24 AM

It all doesn't just "start with God", it all IS God! Life is really about communion with God. St. Seraphim of Sarov said, "the purpose of the Christian life was to acquire the Holy Spirit."
It is through this acquisition that Orthodox Christians become deified. Life is about God's greatest gift to us - "God became man, so that men could become gods." This is what the Church proclaims. Christ came to open eternity to us so that we could becom sons of God by grace. There is no being outside of God - God is being & reality - our purpose is to attain being through communion with God. Christ established in His teachings, & within His Church, by His life, death, resurrection, & ascension,, & the sending of the Holy Spirit, all that is needed for our transformation to children of God if we choose to be transformed. Then we follow the Way. Nothing is more exciting than the plans God has made for us. What an adventure! It is difficult at first, but with Perseverance, God brings us, by His grace, to a life we could never have imagined!

Edited by Maria Mahoney, 11 September 2008 - 02:02 AM.
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#4 Owen Jones

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 01:51 AM

The book is an application of Peter Drucker's management theories to pop religion. There is some decent stuff in there, as there is in Protestantism generally. But the book assumes that the spiritual life can be driven by the right management principles, and that's bogus. It's the way the author has developed his whole ministry -- applying management techniques designed for large corporations.

#5 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 02:00 AM

I am not an accident... Even more amazing & astonishing - I am made in the image of God! And God became man to show us the way to become like Him! I, we, all of us, were born into a world that is marred by sin. With flesh that gravitates toward sin & self-centeredness. We were commanded to become perfect - like our Father in heaven. No one can achieve this goal by his own strength or will. Only by God's grace - the indwelling Holy Spirit - will we ever become like God. But we must co-operate in the process. Jesus offers us the gift - the gift He died to give us. He became a man to show us by example what God is like; and to teach us the Way. God created everything for us - His children, and commanded us to care for it - tend it. Our work is not only to be perfect like our Father in heaven, but to restore all of fallen creation to its spiritual purpose through the contemplation of its inner essences. God established the Church even before He formed the world, and in Christ the Church became empowered to bring all of creation to its holy incarnation. God has a plan for our deification. A glorious plan for all creation!

#6 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 02:29 AM

My love & desire for God is the driving force in my life, by the grace of God. A fire burns in my soul and is transforming it, purifying it, making it holy, and strong. When the fire burns I am consumed by zeal. Then comes the test.... Like a little child learning to walk, I either stand or fall. I can't stand on my own... I turn to God and He helps me back up.

The ungodly forces that drive people are called passions. In Orthodoxy the spiritual struggle against the passions is the first part of the process of deification.

The first step is to consciously choose to work with God in this warfare. To recieve the weapons & armor of our warfare - Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Holy Communion, prayer, fasting, alms, and ascetic practices.... the purpose of the warfare is to prepare the soul for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

As one continues on the Way, one gets to know himself as God sees him. There are many tests of character that God in His providence allows. This is so that we may learn who we are, our weaknesses; but also to learn who God is, His strength & power within us, so that we learn to trust and depend on Him only. For only by His grace will we ever be deified. Only when the Holy Spirit lives within us can we be transformed.

Knowing my purpose gives me contagious enthusiam that infects other peoples' lives, and fills me with joy and peace. It makes me more than a conqueror, richer than rich, it gives me life abundantly. It helps me discern between good and evil... focus on the things that deify me... to set proper goals. It gives me hope in a world that revels in evil and materialism. It helps me choose my values and create boundaries which serve to help me towards my goal. It shows me how I am to live and to relate to others.

Edited by Maria Mahoney, 11 September 2008 - 02:32 AM.
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#7 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 12 September 2008 - 12:21 AM

Although our lives in this present world are very short in comparison to eternity, what we do during that time is of the utmost importance! This life is where we choose what eternity will be for ourselves. This life is where we repent from our evil inclinations. Once we die, there is no longer any opportunity to repent. We either accept or reject God in this life.

Now is the time to develop unbreakable bonds of love with God that will last eternally! Now is the time to develop spiritual strength & endurance. Now is the time to learn to focus on God, to trust God. Now is the time to learn to reject what is evil and grow in virtue. Now is the time to put on the Holy Spirit, the wedding garment of incorruption. Now is the time to prepare our bodies and souls for the Wedding Feast and Eternal marriage. Now is the time to begin union with God, so that God may begin our deification.

Eternal life begins here and now, in this present world... Eternity begins now....

"Some seek to discover what the state of perfection of the saints in the kingdom of God is like. Does it involve progress and change or is it a fixed condition? In what way must bodies and souls be thought to exist? Speaking conjecturally, one may suggest a parallel between the life of the body and that of the soul. In the case of physical life the reason for taking food is twofold: first for growth and second for sustenance when we have already grown up. Until we reach physical maturity we feed ourselves in order to grow; but when the body reaches its full stature it is fed no longer for growth but for sustenance. In the same way the reason for nourishing the soul is also twofold. While it is advancing along the spiritual path it is nourished by virture and contemplation, until it transcends all created things and attains 'the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ' (Eph. 4:13). Once it has entered this state it ceases from all increase and growth nourished by indirect means and is nourished directly, in a manner which passes understanding. Having now completed the stage of growth, the soul receives the kind of incorruptible nourishment which sustains the godlike perfection granted to it, and receives a state of eternal well-being. Then the infinite splendours inherent in this nourishment are revealed to the soul, and it becomes god by participation in divine grace, ceasing from all activity of intellect and sense, and at the same time suspending all the natural operations of the body. For the body is deified along with the soul through its own corresponding participation in the process of deification. Thus God alone is made manifest through the soul and the body, since their natural properties have been overcome by the superabundance of His glory." Second Century On Theology; P. 160; St. Maximos the Confessor; Philokalia Volume 2.



"The Ladder of Divine Graces
Which experience has made known to those
inspired by God

The first step is that of purest prayer.
From this there comes a warmth of heart,
And then a strange, a holy energy,
Then tears wrung from the heart, God-given.
Then peace from thoughts of every kind.
From this arises purging of the intellect,
And next the vision of heavenly mysteries.
Unheard-of light is born from this ineffably,
And thence, beyond all telling, the heart's illumination.
Last comes - a step that has no limit
Though compassed in a single line -
Perfection that is endless.
The ladder's lowest step
Prescribes pure prayer alone.
But prayer has many forms:
My discourse would be long
Were I now to speak of them:
And, friend, know that always
Experience teaches one, not words.
A ladder rising wondrously to heaven's vault:
Ten steps that strangely vivify the soul.
Ten steps that herald the soul's life.
A saint inspired by God has said:
Do not deceive yourself with idle hopes
That in the world to come you will find life
If you have not tried to find it in this present world.
Ten steps: a wisdom born of God.
Ten steps: fruit of all the books.
Ten steps that point toward perfection.
Ten steps that lead one up to heaven.
Ten steps through which a man knows God.
The ladder may seem short indeed,
But if your heart can inwardly experience it
You will find a wealth the world cannot contain,
A god-like fountain flowing with unheard-of life.
This ten-graced ladder is the best of masters,
Clearly teaching each to know its stages.
If when you behold it
You think you stand securely on it,
Ask yourself on which step you stand,
So that we, the indolent, may also profit.
My friend, if you want to learn about all this,
Detach yourself from everything,
From what is senseless, from what seems intelligent.
Without detachment nothing can be learnt.
Experience alone can teach these things, not talk.
Even if these words once said
By one of God's elect strike harshly,
I repeat them to remind you:
He who has no foothold on this ladder,
Who does not ponder always on these things,
When he comes to die will know
Terrible fear, terrible dread,
Will be full of boundless panic.
My lines end on a note of terror.
Yet it is good that this is so:
Those who are hard of heart - myself the first -
Are led to repentance, led to a holy life,
Less by the lure of blessing promised
Than by fearful warnings that inspire dread.
'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'
You who have written this, hear, then, and take note:
Void of all these graces,
How have you dared to write such things?
How do you not shudder to expound them?
Have you not heard what Uzzah suffered
When he tried to stop God's ark from falling?
Do not think that I speak as one who teaches:
I speak as one whose words condemn himself,
Knowing the rewards awaiting those who strive,
Knowing my utter fruitlessness."
The Ladder of Divine Graces; P.P. 67 - 69; Theophanis the Monk; Philokalia Volume 3.


Edited by Maria Mahoney, 12 September 2008 - 12:32 AM.
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#8 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 12 September 2008 - 01:26 AM

Life is much more than a test. Life is transformation - a small mustard seed into a giant plant, a caterpillar into a butterfly, a human into a god! But testing is certainly a major part of life. Testing is not for the purpose of God to know us, for He knew all things before we were born. Testing is God's way of instructing us; The mirror He holds up and invites us to look into and know ourselves by. In life a man may look at himself and perhaps get spiritual understanding and turn to the Divine Physician for healing.

In Orthodox monasticism the monk enters this arena with full intention. The monk calls down tests on himself with a strict ascetic life; the Spiritual Father is obligated to test those under him and offer guidance and encouragement. Orthodox life is a life of testing oneself, knowing oneself, and turning to God for the grace to transform him into the likeness of God. No one can stand without God, for without Him we can do nothing!

Everything is a test for those who continually watch themselves with a spiritual eye. The Orthodox Christian is called to a life of watchfulness (nepsis) and stillness (hesychia).

"Let us go forward with the heart completely attentive and the soul fully conscious. For if attentiveness and prayer are daily joined together, they become like Elijah's fire-bearing chariot (cf. 2Kgs. 2:11), raising us to heaven. What do I mean? A spiritual heaven, with sun, moon and stars, is formed in the blessed heart of one who has reached a state of watchfulness, or who strives to attain it; for such a heart, as a result of mystical contemplation and ascent, is enabled to contain within itself the uncontainable God."
Texts On Watchfulness; P. 26; St. Philotheos of Sinai; Philokalia Volume 3.



"It is very rare to find people whose intelligence is in a state of stillness. Indeed, such a state is only to be found in those who through their whole manner of life strive to attract divine grace and blessing to themselves. If, then, we seek - by guarding our intellect and by inner watchfulness - to engage in the noetic work that is the true philosophy in Christ, we must begin by exercising self-control with regard to our food, eating and drinking as little as possible. Watchfulness may fittingly be called a path leading both to the kingdom within us and to that which is to be; while noetic work, which trains and purifies the intellect and changes it from an impassioned state to a state of dispassion, is like a window full of light through which God looks, revealing HImself to the intellect." Texts On Watchfulness; P. 17; St. Philotheos of Sinai; Philokalia Volume 3.


Edited by Maria Mahoney, 12 September 2008 - 01:30 AM.
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#9 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 01:38 AM

What we do in life is of the utmost importance, for it determines our place in eternity. The Orthodox Church has a cure for the Epicurean materialism that we enslave ourselves to ~ the cure is: daily remembrance and meditation on death. The first few steps of monastic life are detachment and living a life of exile. With these three weapons, the monk is well prepared to live the life of an angel on earth. Materialism in its essence is an addiction, a maddening disease! The Christian must accept what God has given as all that is needed. Accept, trust, and be content and thankful for what is given! If something else is needed, our attitude needs to be one of Faith that our heavenly Father will provide it.

Daily meditation on death will put everything into proper perspective. We will remember Who it is we will stand before for Judgment. We will be zealous to turn away from sin. We will be zealous to nurture a loving relationship with God and each other. We will become meek, gentle, generous, merciful, loving, caring, and humble. Death is a gift that will set us free from sin, and bring us to the wedding feast of eternal life with our Bridegroom.


"Whenever possible, we should always remember death, for this displaces all cares and vanities, allowing us to guard our intellect and giving us unceasing prayer, detachment from our body and hatred of sin. Indeed, it is a source of almost every virtue. We should therefore, if possible, use it as we use our own breathing." On Watchfulness and Holiness; P.P. 189 - 190; St. Hesychios the Priest; Philokalia Volume 1.



"The hour of death will come upon us, it will come, and we shall not escape it. May the prince of this world and of the air (cf. John 14:30; Eph. 2:2) find our misdeeds few and petty when he comes, so that he will not have good grounds for convicting us. Otherwise we shall weep in vain. 'For that servant who knew his lord's will and did not do it as a servant, shall be beaten with man stripes' (cf. Luke 12:47)." On Watchfulness and Holiness; P. 190; St. Hesychios the Priest; Philokalia Volume 1.


Edited by Maria Mahoney, 14 September 2008 - 01:45 AM.
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#10 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 01:40 AM

Glory ~ 1. Great honor, praise, or distinction accorded by common consent; renown. 4. Adoration, praise, and thanksgiving offerred in worship.

Gods' desire is for us to open our eyes and ears to perceive spiritual truth. Before we can give God glory, it is necessary for us to perceive who God is! We know God as Creator ~ when we just look around a little we are overcome by awe at the beauty and splendor that surrounds us; and a deeper examination reveals an order within creation that staggers even the scientific mind.

There is another eye and ear we must open ~ the spiritual eyes which can perceive the spiritual essences which are hidden in everything. We were created to understand and to contemplate these things. When our mind finally understands, we praise, thank, and adore God for His greatness.

Then there is the eye and ear that only God ~ through His Holy Spirit ~ can open to see the things which 'eye has not seen and ear has not heard.'

People are created in the image of God, we become like Christ and obtain the likeness of God - He deifies us! When people see such an icon of God in another human - this inspires great praise, thanksgiving, and adoration, for this is what God has invited us all to become!

Murderers, whores, thieves, the worst of the worst are invited to be transformed! How amazing is that! Yet, God does not desire the dues of a slave to a master, God desires the love, admiration, and gratitude of a son to a Father.

"At every hour and moment let us guard the heart with all diligence from thoughts that obscure the soul's mirror; for in that mirror Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God the Father (cf. 1 Cor. 1:24), is typified and luminously reflected. And let us unceasingly seek the kingdom of heaven inside our heart (cf.. Luke 17:21), the seed (cf. Luke 13:19), the pearl (cf. Matt. 13:45) and the leaven (cf. Matt. 13:33). Indeed, if we cleanse the eye of the intellect we will find all things hidden within us. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ said that the kingdom of heaven is within us, indicating that the Divinity dwells in our hearts." Texts on Watchfulness; P. 25; St. Philotheos of Sinai; Philokalia Volume 3.



"Until the intellect has seen God's glory with 'unveiled face' (2 Cor. 3:18), the soul cannot say from experience of that glory: 'I shall exult in the Lord, I shall delight in His salvation' (cf. Ps. 35:9. LXX). For its heart is still shrouded in self-love, so that the world's foundations - the inner essences of things - cannot be revealed to it. And it will not be free from this shroud until it has undergone both voluntary and involuntary sufferings." Gnomic Anthology III; P.P. 48 - 49; Ilias the Presbyter; Philokalia Volume 3.


Edited by Maria Mahoney, 14 September 2008 - 01:51 AM.
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#11 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 12:54 AM

This post was Day 7... oops...

#12 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 12:55 AM

We were created to worship God.

Worship begins with purification - repentance and humility - the fear of God. The recognition of God as God, as our Creator and Provider. Man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that image and likeness has been perverted by sin .... mingled with evil inclinations. The worship of God requires a pure soul, so the soul must go through purification, like gold being refined. Only then can we offer true worship.

The process begins with our Baptism and Chrismation, like the planting of a garden ... then it is necessary to tend the garden by the practice of virtues, living a holy life as taught by our Lord, and going to Confession ... then we can enjoy the fruit of our labor, Communion and true prayer, Worship.


"Unless a man hates all the activity of this world, he cannot worship God. What then is meant by the worship of God? It means that we have nothing extraneous in our intellect when we are praying to Him: neither sensual pleasure as we bless Him, nor malice as we sing His praise, nor hatred as we exalt Him, nor jealousy to hinder us as we speak to Him and call Him to mind. For all these things are full of darkness; they are a wall imprisoning our wretched soul, and if the soul has them in itself it cannot worship God with purity. They obstruct its ascent and prevent it from meeting God; they hinder it from blessing Him inwardly and praying to Him with sweetness of hear, and so receiving His illumination. As a result the intellect is always shrouded in darkness and cannot advance in holiness, because it does not make the effort to uproot these thoughts by means of spiritual knowledge." On Guarding the Intellect; P.P. 24 - 25; St. Isaiah the Solitary; Philokalia Volume 1.



#13 Maria Mahoney

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 04:16 AM

God smiles when He sees us doing anything towards our salvation (deification), acquiring the likeness of God; Doing anything that moves us closer to Him and that breaks down the barriers to Him (sin). He smiles when we turn our hearts back to Him, "I say unto you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance" (Lk. 15:7).

Orthodox Christians practice the prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer: Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. The prayer is said continuously until it unites to the heart, then, the prayer continues without ceasing in the heart.

God smiles when we practice being like Him - when we practice the virtues with an intense desire to be like Him. He smiles when we love what He loves: goodness, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, love, caring for the poor and needy, peace. He smiles when we hate what He hates: pride, arrogance, idolatry, and all disgusting and abominable sins.

Prayer and practice of the virtues brings us into relationship with God, and also prepares us for the most intimate relationship we can have with God - to eat His very Body and His Very Blood - in Holy Communion. This is the most profound relationship we can ever have and nothing makes God smile more!

Holy Communion was the highest commandment that Jesus gave before His Crucifixion, the second highest was that we "love one another" - these two commandments correspond to the commandments to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" and to "love your neighbor as yourself."


"Therefore, in order that we may become of His Body, not in desire only, but also in very fact, let us become commingled with that Body. This, in truth, takes place by means of the food which He has given us as a gift, because He desired to prove the love which He has for us. It is for this reason that He has shared Himself with us and has brought His Body down to our level, namely, that we might be one with Him as the body is joined with the head. This, in truth, is characteristic of those who greatly love.... Moreover, Christ has done even this to spur us on to greater love. And to show the love He has for us He has made it possible for those who desire, not merely to look upon Him, but even to touch Him and consume Him and to fix their teeth in His Flesh and to be commingled with Him; in short, to fulfill all their love. Let us, then, come back from that table like lions breathing out fire, thus becoming terrifying to the Devil, and remaining mindful of our Head and of the love which He has shown for us." St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on St. John the Evangelist, Homilies 1 - 47, Homily 46, pp. 468 - 469.






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