H.G. Bishop Moussa

               All verses are quoted from the New King James Bible
                              Thomas Nelson, Inc.
                                   USA, 1983

                             H.H. POPE SHENOUDA III
                    Pope (117) of the Holy See of St. Mark


     + Your future
     + No barrier, No contradiction
     + The present proceeds from the future
     + A future and another future
     + An analogy

     + Repentance as a resurrection
     + Repentance as a regeneration
     + How can my body share in repentance?

     + Devotional character
     + Communal character
     + Ritual character

     + The apostles & fellowship
     + A story
     + Fellowship with the brethren
     + Fellowship with the heavenly beings

     + Good news
     + The importance of preaching the word
     + Channels of conveying God's word

     + Conditions of approaching the word
     + How to read God's word?
     + Your body
     + Before your friends
     + Before the people of the world
     + Before others
     + In the Diakonia

     + An ordinary believer
     + All are workers
     + Can I serve?

     + All continues as it is
     + The Lord's impending coming
     + Advent is a responsibility
     + Mid-night prayer


                                   YOUR FUTURE

Dear Friend,



Confinement to time is a dreadful danger threatening man's life. It means that
man does not care but for what is temporal, materialistic or  earthly. This is
really awesome, for man is essentially spiritual, eternal and heavenly.

Therefore, worldly concerns alone throw man and humanity down  to earth as man
is essentially a divine being,  a  soul originated from  the Almighty,  placed
temporarily in the earth, left to dust and  matter.  But soon man will restore
his heavenly, divine and spiritual nature in an everlasting Kingdom.

Hence, any trial to confine man to time  is not but an  awesome suppression of
man's eternal potentialities. Similarly, focusing on what is  earthly alone is
a burial to the eternal  spirit within man.   Though man has a body  moving in
the  earth, and lives on  tangible food  produced by The earth, yet  he has an
everlasting spirit  that looks forward  to the heavenly,  surpassing  time and
matter, towering up towards divinity and eternity.


Our concern for eternity is never to mean that we  are  to neglect our bodies,
worldly affairs, history  and the issues of  human injustices whether domestic
or social. On the contrary, revealing man's authentic essence as a holy breath
that surpasses its  humanity and materialism,  and  recognizes the Lord as the
real Origin and heaven as the homeland, makes out of him not only a mere human
being but  a  true man: an  image of  God; a  divine  man; heavenly in nature;
surpassing all temporal ambitions;  beneficent as God;   self-sacrificing; and
giver of unlimited practical  love. Moreover,  man's care  for eternity shines
with special light on his life giving it meaning  and value, as  he recognizes
his position as a representative of heaven among  earth dwellers,  as Christ's
messenger of love in a world missing love.

Time is entirely  contained into eternity,  no barrier,  no  contradiction but
sanctification, sublimity and revival. Therefore,  by caring for the  heavenly
Kingdom we  serve ourselves, our beloved  ones and the  world as a  whole. The
Kingdom is not a far   off future: "The Kingdom  of  God  is within  you"  (Lk
17:21). The Kingdom begins in heart,  gradually  grows and eventually leads to
eternity, an endless eternity for we will be in God.


There is a wrong concept that the future is the outcome of the  present: "What
is sown today  shall be reaped  tomorrow." In fact,   this concept contradicts
reality, for man actually takes present steps in light of certain attitudes in
the future. The  future exists in  man's mind  as  an  option, a direction,  a
vision and  a hope. While the  present  is  successive steps towards achieving
this hope. Having a prospect for the future is the only proper means towards a
promising future and a pleasant and a happy present.


There is  surely a great difference  between planning for  temporal future and
planning for eternal future. Temporal future  is confined to time. It deprived
man form his right in eternity and fellowship  in divine nature.  On the other
hand, eternal future elevates man up to his real origin as an image of God, as
a son of heaven living in it, in a unity with the Everlasting God.

Dear Friend,

You are not to   blame  when you   are  concerned with  your  study,  artistic
faculties or  social and administrative talents  and skills which can help you
to establish a happy family  self-sufficed financially. A youngman/ youngwoman
is expected to care for all  these matters. What is  dangerous is to lose your
eternity, to be confined to time, choked up  to death  into the dust of earth.
We  are  rather to  care for eternity  and immortality,  not to focus  only on
worldly affairs. "For what is a man profited if he gains  the whole world, and
loses his own soul?"  (Mt 16:26).


There is a nice simile to  differentiate between communities  of ants and that
of cockroaches.  Having  a prospect  for the  future,  ants  store food.  This
outlook generates   a plan for the  present  accompanied by hard  work.  While
cockroaches,  short-sighted as they are, have  no such outlook.  This may form
the  major  difference between advanced   and underdeveloped  countries: it is

The point is to plan for  the  future  in its wider  and immortal concept, not
only in the temporal and narrow one.

Now, we come to  the  Milestones  of Kingdom Way  out of  which seven will  be

        1. Repentance
        2. Worship
        3. Fellowship
        4. The Word
        5. Testimony
        6. diakonia
        7. Advent

                                                          Bishop Moussa


                               1. REPENTANCE

Dear Friend,

Repentance is the first step in the Kingdom  way. Christian repentance denotes
a shift in  the way  of thinking, which  leads, through  Christ's  grace, to a
change in one's whole being.

   As sin starts with thought
         Repentance also starts with thought!

A purely  intellectual  dialogue occurs between Eve and  the Serpent. "Has God
indeed  said, 'You shall not eat  of  every tree of  the garden'?"  (Gen 3:1).
This  is a captious question,   for the Serpent   is  acknowledged with  God's
commandment and by posing such  a question  he  designs at charging Eve's mind
with doubts. Moreover,  he  also knows that  God has only prevented  Eve  from
eating  of one specific  tree, not from  all  the  trees. Then,   at what this
sophism aims?

Eve answers correctly, declaring the unfortunate end  "You shall surly die" as
a  wage for eating  from "the tree  of the  knowledge of  good and  evil" (Gen
2:17). "You will not  die" comes  the Serpent's reply,  as  if God has lied to
Eve. God forbid!

As knowing Eve's confidence  placed in God and  His genuine words, the Serpent
starts talking delicately and in a swindle way: "For God knows that in the day
you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good
and evil" (Gen 3:5).  Doubts start to creep into  Eve's mind hand in hand with
corruption capturing all her senses: "the woman saw that the tree was good for
food, and that it  was a delight to  eyes." She  has  fallen and her   fall is
followed by that of Adam's.

Hence, repentance stands for a "new thought", best representative of it is the
Prodigal Son who  "came  to himself"  (Lk 15:17)  and   said "How  many  of my
father's hired servants  have bread enough and  to spare,  and I  perish  with
hunger!"  (Lk 15:17).  He thought, decided and carried out.

Repentance is simply a spiritual and intellectual consciousness enlightened by
the Holy Spirit Who - through the light of God's word -  reproaches us for our
sins, leading  us to Christ's  cross, His open heart and  satiating home. This
can be supported by our punctual honest confession before the spiritual father
who provides daily guidance towards  the   media of  God's grace  and  solving


St. Paul's appeal echoes in our ears, "Awake, you  who  sleep,  arise from the
dead, and Christ  will give you  light."  (Eph 5:14).  Sin  is  a "grave" that
entraps  man into the fists  of death "for   the wages of  sin is  death" (Rom

In the  Old Testament,  the  lust   has led to  death. As  a response  to  the
Israelite's strong craving for  meat, God   sent  them quails  from  the  sea.
"While the meat was yet between their teeth ... the Lord smote the people with
a   very great  plague.   Therefore  the  name   of   that place  was   called
Kibroth-hattaeva" (which means graves of lust).  That is why later in Ezekiel,
the Lord promised the Israelite saying, "Behold, O My people, I will open your
graves ... I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live" (Ezek 37:12-14).

Hence, repentance stands for "the first resurrection", "Blessed and holy is he
who has  part  in the first  resurrection! over such  the  second death has no
power" (Rev 20:5).


On  coming  back to   the  Father's heart  and home, Christ's  blood,  and the
believer's tears of repentance wash him of the filth of sin. He is  dressed in
"the first vestment of  divine  piety" to cover  his nakedness and conceal his
sins as  an atonement  offered by the  Lord on behalf of  man. Notice that the
Arabic term Kuffarra (atonement) = cover for the  Lord covers us  and conceals
our sins. Then, the repentant reigns in the Kingdom with a ring  in his finger
that  represents  a new covenant  of love.  He   puts  on "shoes" of peace and
holiness as starting to lead a pure life in  which he is satiated  by "fats" -
the Holy Body, and lives in a fellowship with the saints and the  community of
God's  house. It is  a comprehensive renewal that includes   one's whole life,
one's whole entity, time and eternity, man and humanity.


Church  tradition  magnificently   refers  to  repentance, conveying  all  its
significance, bearing even its Coptic name the  metania (Kneel). The repentant
or the  struggler daily performs the  metania  according to a spiritual system
under the  spiritual   father's  direction. Except  for    Saturdays, Sundays,
Eastertide and holy feasts, the metaniae are performed. In them, the worshiper
beats his chest regretting his sins, and with hands grasped, with his front to
the  ground,  he kneels before  God  in humiliation  and  submission. Then, he
stands up, as  if arising from the dead,  and recites  in  each metania  "Have
mercy  on me,   Jesus  Christ   my Lord!" in   order  to be gratified by   the
life-giving Lord.

            Shall we - you and me - renew our repentance?
                      Shall we shortly confess?
                   Shall we perform the metaniae?


                             2. WORSHIP

Besides being a conscious response to the Lord's commandment, "Watch and pray,
lest you enter into temptation" (Mt 26:41), worship  is an essential character
of Orthodox life whose church is characterized by:


Orthodox worship  fundamentally aims  at  consecrating the heart    to Christ,
devoting  all man's  potential energies of love to   the Lord - their original
source - by Whom they  are sanctified and used for  the glory of His holy name
as well as for man's salvation, happiness and growth, and for the expansion of
Kingdom work and diakonia. Hence, worship in our church extends and varies:

a. Eucharist

The Lord is the core  of the liturgy, with Him  we are in unity during liturgy
celebration, and of His immaculate and holy Body and Blood we communicate, His
Holy Spirit flows and His divine grace  is poured inside us.  In  partaking in
the liturgy, especially when participating in its service,  have  not you been
overcome  by a feeling  that you were  in heaven? Have  not  you observed that
church used to assemble at evenings for Vespers  Raising of  Incense, which is
followed by Mid-Night Psalms?

Then "the door  is  closed" for the  Bridegroom  has already come, to  Whom we
start praising   till morning.  After   that the  liturgy is celebrated    and
eventually we communicate Him into our depths, as sanctity and redemption, as
satiety and comfort.

b. Psalms

Through the canonical hours, we are united  to the Lord  all the day long.  We
rise with Him in Matins, receiving His Holy Spirit at the Third  Hour, sharing
His crucifixion passions at the Sixth Hour, supplicating  for the death of our
carnal  parts  with His own   death at the   Ninth  Hour.  Then,  we  practice
self-introspection with the taking down of His body from the Cross in Vespers,
with  Him  our sins are buried in  grave when praying Compline.  His advent we
await with the Mid-Night sleep.

It is a consecrative union with  the  Lord all the  day long, through selected
psalms, passages from the Gospel, and gratifying reverent petitions.

c. Constant Prayer

As hearing David's "How I love Your law! It is my  meditation all the day" (Ps
119:97), church holds to  practicing constant silent  prayers. We daily recite
short prayers hundreds of times, for example "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on
me, the sinner!", or "Be pleased, O God, to deliver me! O Lord,  make haste to
help me!". Such prayers are said by the holy fathers to equal a "dozen host of
angels"  besides their effectiveness in bestowing  inner peace on  man's life.
Have you experienced these types of prayer my dear friend?

d. Spontaneous Prayer

It  provides a  chance for the  soul to practice its state  as  it is, through
simple  direct and unsophisticated words,  which  may  reflect  full humility,
regret for past  transgressions, submission in beseeching,  or  express  love,
joy, delight in the Lord, or otherwise recite a petition for a needy person.


The Greek term "liturgia"  is employed as  congregation worship, provided that
the word congregation here denoted the community of believers in Christ, which
includes both the earthly and heavenly dwellers.  It is a  community extending
through time and place, the visible and invisible,  strugglers and conquerors.
Moreover,  even earthly  dweller cannot  celebrate a liturgy  but  in  a group
(priest + deacon + congregation), as it is not permitted for any individual to
celebrate the liturgy alone by himself. Even the liturgy anthems and hymns are
predominated by a communal feeling:

+ "Through the  intercession of the  Mother  of God ... O   Lord grant us  the
   forgiveness of our sins."

+ "Amen, Amen, Amen, Your death, O Lord, do we preach!"

+ "We praise You,  we bless  You, we thank  You,  O   Lord, and  we supplicate
   You, O our God."

It is a feeling of one community united  by the Spirit, a  feeling of one body
for we are "members one of another" (Rom 12:5). "The  body is one and has many
members" (1Cor 12:12).


Orthodox worship involves  rituals, (ritual =  system) "Let all things be done
decently and in order" (1Cor 14:40). Therefore, the same liturgy is celebrated
everywhere as well as the same anthems and daily  readings of Kutamurs (Kuta =
according, murs = share, i.e. every day has its share of planned, well-studied
and constructive readings). Moreover, feasts, fasts  and  different occasions,
such as the Holy  Week and  the Praise of Kiahk, all  have one specific system
and ritual, in Egypt as it is in America and Australia: one  organized church.
The ritual itself has its own spiritual implications, and its  significance in
explaining different concepts  and meanings, in  addition to its efficiency in
controlling, community to which the One Working Spirit gives one rhythm of one
body, for the glory of Christ - its Head.

Let's experience Orthodox worship with  all its different satiating aspects to
devote our life to the Lord, in order that  our hearts rejoice with Christ, be
sanctified  by  the Spirit,  and  gratified   by the  community  of believers,
interceding the triumphant heavenly hosts.


                            3. FELLOWSHIP

Fellowship  is  a  most important milestone   of Kingdom way. The  Coptic word
Ekkeklicia  (church) means a  community. Hence, fellowship not only represents
an  urgent need but equally a  natural feature of  church life.  The church is
the embodiment of the mysterious body of  Christ: its head  is  Christ Himself
while its parts are the Lord's believers  throughout the  ages.  The believers
include those   who departed  triumphantly  to  heaven   forming the Invisible
Church, or the Triumphant Part and those who  still live on  earth forming the
Visible Church, or the Struggling Part, to whom will be added those who are to
be born yet  exist from  the beginning in our loving   God's  mind and  in His
compassionate heart.

Hence, fellowship is a natural expression of this organic  unity between parts
of one body.


At the beginning of Christianity,  the apostles  placed fellowship  as a basic
principle and a milestone of church life.  St. Luke  reflects, "They continued
steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread,
and in prayers." (Act 2:42). "Now all who believed were  together  and had all
things in common, and sold their possession and goods, and divided  them among
all, as anyone had need."  (Act 2:44, 45).

Fellowship here stands for:

1. An everyday life practiced regularly.

2. One of the four basic elements of the church.

3. Not merely pure emotions, but a concrete fact, as the rich gives the needy
   not from his  own hand  but from that  of  the Church, the   compassionate
   mother, Christ's bride.


A poor Christian was once asked:

- Are you happy?
+ Very happy!
- How come! Aren't you poor?!
+ In my heart lies an infinite treasure: faith in Christ, and in heaven
  another awaits me.
- How do you feel being poor yet surrounded by all these rich people? Is
  it fair?
+ God's fair and loving. He's recommended me to my rich brethren, some
  obeyed and others didn't.
- Then you envy them!
+ Never! I'm richer, "as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing,
  and yet possessing all things." (2Cor 6:10).
- Don't you aspire richness?
+ No, for "those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare,
  and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men into
  destruction and perdition." (Tit 6:9).
- Then, you refuse to be rich!
+ No, if the Lord wishes, it'll be His gift to which I'll act as a
- You're really strange!
+ That's true!


How miserable is the egocentric selfish person!  For man is social by nature,
and is never to have comfort or rest but inside a community: in offering, and
in  love. "Remember the words of  the Lord Jesus,  that He said   'It is more
blessed to give than to receive'" (Act 20:35). This is  not for preaching but
for experiencing. Have  you  experienced the happiness of giving  and  giving
happiness? Our sole  task and mission  in life is  to rejoice in the Lord and
make   others rejoice  in  Him.   The  Lord is  love,   a pure, generous  and
sacrificing love.

+ Let's have a fellowship of love, prayer and diakonia within family!
+ Let's have the same fellowship with friends!
+ Let it be the same with our compatriots!

Love  is always triumphant,  it never  fails.   Beware  egocentrism  in taking
decisions, for most of these decisions will  be wrong  being based on: limited
reason  +  egocentric  desires  +  one  opinion.   Rather   try  to experience
fellowship in taking decisions: fellowship with  God  + others + the spiritual


In  front of us, the church  places the iconstasis  on which are hung icons of
Christ, the Holy Virgin, John the Baptist, angels,  saints ...  etc.   All are
looking to us as if appealing to follow them on Kingdom  way.   Yet how can we
do  that unless we  study  their lives  to  "follow  their faith" (Heb  13:7).
Hence, the Church surrounds us with "a cloud of witnesses" (Heb  12:1), not as
mere icons but as presence in person, for our God is "not God of the  dead but
of the living."

Dear Friend,

+ Do you have a patron saint?
+ Have you experienced this type of fellowship?

I wish you could get into this fellowship for you will see marvels.

         'God __
        /       |                                Ego-Centric Mind
      /         |                                        |
     (       People                              Ego-Centric Life
      \         |                                        |
   Spiritual ___|                               Ego-Centric Desires


                             4. THE WORD

A most important milestone of Kingdom Way is the  Word. On this  point we have
to differentiate between two things:

1. The   Word  Within: the Self-existent   Word, the Second   Hypostasis,  the
   Logos, the Divine Wisdom.

2. The Word Without:  the vocal,   legible   or   written  word,  referring to
   word when heard or read or in a book.

Therefore,  the Word in  the first case is   male: "In   the beginning was the
Word, and the  Word  was with  God, and  the  Word was   God.  He  was  in the
beginning  with God." (Jn  1:1,2).  Here,  the Word of God =  Logos, while the
latter refers to mere utterances  explaining something,  not referring to  the
Logos or one of the Hypostases.


Preaching the Word in church is essential for two reasons:

  + "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word  of God" (Rom  10:17). To
     believe, man must hear the  Bible's  good news. Therefore, no faith comes
     without  preaching  Christ - God's good news,  or without ministering the
     word, or  without  instructing in  different ways. St.  Paul  the Apostle
     reflects, "How  then shall  they call  on  Him  in whom   they  have  not
     believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have  not heard?
     And  how shall they  hear without a  preacher?  And how shall they preach
     unless they are sent?"  (Rom 10:14,15).

  + "My people are destroyed for  lack of knowledge." (Hos  4:6).  The word is
     essential for knowledge, and sound knowledge is  essential for salvation.
     Any deficiency  on our  side on conveying  God's word to people  leads to
     their destruction.


The  importance of  preaching the Gospel proceeds  from the fact that the good
news - the news of salvation thorough Christ -  must reach every  soul. People
must  be  acknowledged with the   Kingdom   Way and  its  milestones even  its
obstacles as  well  as the encouraging  elements.  They have  to know  what is
required to go through peacefully and safely.

Therefore, church  exerts every effort  to instruct  believers  after they are
spurred   to   repent.  Preaching  and    then giving  instructions   are  two
complementary and inseparable tasks.  In church, the  congregation are spurred
to repent, to  come back to God's bosom   and His  open  arms.  To  them,  the
milestones of the Kingdom Way are  revealed and  explained which helps towards
following a sound spiritual line.

Preaching   precedes  giving  instructions,   concerning  a  believer's needs.
Preaching  brings   the  believer  back    to the  Father's  realm,  while the
instructions show how to go on. But this is not to deny man's  daily  need for
preaching and  self-exhortation:  "Exhort one   another daily" (Heb  3:13), in
order not to  be lost in  a dilemma  of hidden and  apparent wars,  or  to  be
lifeless due to love of sin or spiritual lukewarmness.


One  may wonder:  "How  God's words  can  be conveyed  to brethren?"  This  is
available in numerous channels, out of which are:

1. The Vocal Word

It  is preaching  the Gospel in  spiritual  meetings or  domestic  visits   or
through individual work  with  full   confidence that God's  word  "Shall  not
return to Me  (God) void" (Is 55:11),  for workers' preoccupation and duty  is
to preach.

2. The Audible Word

The service of  cassette records is  equally excellent and effective as people
can listen to at any time, such as while changing clothes, or  having  a rest,
or driving ... etc. Bear in mind that listening to liturgies,  church anthems,
sermons and hymns actually sanctifies soul and mind together.

3. The Legible Word

It is available in spiritual books, pamphlets, leaflets and  magazines.  It is
a vitally important   method   though  contemporary generations abstain   from
reading, which is a regretful phenomenon the fruits of which will be reaped in
forms of spiritual and mental shallowness and in  weakness in human creativity
in fields of   literature,  art,   culture, and particularly  in the religious
domain. Therefore, young people should be encouraged to develop  their faculty
of  reading gradually,   starting with a   leaflet,  then a  magazine,  then a
booklet, then a book then move  to read references.  This system of developing
the faculty of reading will make young people  give up this stagnation of mind
resulted  from T.V.,  a  stagnation  that  afflicts  all  the world  mentally,
psychologically and spiritually.

As a scientific experiment, turning off T.V. proved basic for:

+ Consolidating ties between family members.
+ Establishing social relationships with other families.
+ Promoting the faculty of reading in people.
+ Establishing new constructive friendships.

4. The Visual Word

It is available in video and projector. It is a  method of the  age  which the
church can use constructively in establishing a healthy life for young people.
It  is a compromising element that  can  retain  balance against the flood  of
obscene and destructive video films.

BUT ...

All this is useless unless being accompanied by the Spirit of God the Word  to
penetrate into the depths of heart, to make the  word of the  Gospel, the word
of God,  "Living and powerful and sharper  than any two-  edged sword piercing
even  to the division of soul  and spirit and of joints  and  marrow, and is a
discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb 4:12).

What a horrible danger that threatens our life if we neglect reading the Bible
in  a  spirit of prayer  and  need,  asking for "understanding",  which  means
"standing under" the level of God's word, enabling it to examine us, revealing
our depths and showing us the way! But those who study the Bible as if it were
an ordinary  book will be forsaken  from both  God's Spirit  and the  power of
salvation. For it is the Bible that studies and examines us. At this point one
may wonder "How to approach God's Word?"

                     HOW TO APPROACH GOD'S WORD?

The holy Gospel is the extended word  of God. When  the Holy Spirit uttered it
through the Apostles,  it was meant  to have  actual "presence" and  perpetual
"action", as being the word of the Perpetual Immortal God.

To approach the Gospel, some  fundamental  conditions are  required, so as  to
benefit from  the word, giving  it the  chance  to   disclose  its mystery and
effectiveness: "The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."

+ Spirit : The word is uttered and written through God's Holy Spirit.

+ Life   : The word gives life to all whoever hear or read it. Blessed
           are they!


Two  basic  conditions  for  reading   the  Gospel are  reflected  in  the Old
Testament: as the Lord demanded of Moses and the people a special condition of

a. Personal Sanctification

That  is  purification of body + mind  + soul +  spirit. In  short, it is full
devotion of  heart to  God, for sanctification  does not mean  not to sin, but
rather to devote heart to God. It is man's struggle with all  his power not to
sin, even when sinning, returns soon to the Lord.

b. Observance of the Holiness of the Speaker

That is to listen in full submission, filled with God's fear. It is submissive
reading "God speaks, listen in full submission!" Hence, spiritual struggle and
humility  before God are  two basic  conditions to  benefit from  reading  and
studying the Gospel. But  for every self- conceited  person who approaches the
Bible with no  intention to repent,  the  Gospel will turn into  reproach  and
condemnation in his  life.  However, if   this person responds  and returns to
God, he will   benefit from the word   of God.  But  if he    proceeds in  his
intellectual  pride, intentional impure  way,  and indifference, the word will
condemn him.


Many methods are followed in  reading  God's word: all  are based on spiritual
benefit designed at our salvation. Unless I open my mouth and quench my thirst
in the barren desert of life, no avail knowing the site of the source of water
or  analyzing its  water  concerning  quantity, geological  origin, source  of
proceeding, streams ... etc. The point is to drink, to  quench thirst, then to
study. The following are some of the methods:

1. The Personal Method

It is God's personal message to me.  The  Gospel is daily opened preferably at
the early morning. A chapter is read regularly through which I listen to God's
voice as a letter in  my mailbox.  His  message may be  a comforting verse, an
encouraging promise, or a miracle stressing God's infinite potentials.

2. The Method of Experience

The  Old Testament  reveals     God's  work   for  man   throughout successive
generations.  This helps  towards  acquiring  experience, for  the  Bible is a
school of experience. If you read the Old Testament (I wish you can read three
chapters  per day to finish  the  whole Bible once a  year), you will  acquire
successive experiences:

+ Eve's fall due to listening to the Serpent.
+ Adam's fall due to his easy surrendering to Eve.
+ Father Abraham's triumph under the sole guidance of God.
+ Joseph's triumph as determining the situation.
+ Samson's and David's falls due to their indifference.
+ Solomon's degradation to idolatry as preoccupying himself with lust.

3. The Method of Study

It is a very rich  and  gratifying method. You  can study a  Biblical book per
month, with  the aid of  an exegesis book  that provides sound explanation and
reveals  the spirit of the  holy fathers,  and  their  method of comprehending
God's word.

This method requires patience,  exerting mental  effort, and perhaps  learning
languages  both  archaic   and in-use, holding  comparisons  between different
explanations, drawing tables and recording abridged notes.  Yet,  it is surely
a very gratifying method capable of occupying mind with  constructive thoughts
and  ideas, providing  material for diakonia  and establishing life on a sound
Biblical basis.

If You ...

+ read a New Testament chapter per day in a personal method,
+ read three Old Testament chapters to acquire experience,
+ read a Biblical book per month with the aid of an exegesis book,

You Will ....

+ read the whole Bible once a year,
+ study twelve Biblical books.

How gratifying! The Gospel is a gratifying bread  "Man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mt  4:3). It is
a water that washes, "Your word  I have hidden  in my  heart, that I might not
sin against You" (Ps 119:11). "Your word is a lamp  to my feet  and a light to
my path" (Ps 119:105).  Let's always  remember   H.H.  Pope Shenouda III  when
saying: "Keep the Bible, the Bible keeps you!"


                            5. TESTIMONY

"My pledge of perfect love for Lord Jesus Christ cannot  be fulfilled unless I
shed my blood for Him. I fear your charity lest it prejudice me, rather suffer
me to be the food  of wild beasts  through whom  I may  attain  unto God. I am
God's grain and I am to  be ground by the teeth  of wild beasts  to  become my
sepulcher that they may leave nothing of my body,  that when  I am  dead I may
not be troublesome to any man... Now  I am  invisible  to the world,  I become
thus a sacrifice offered to God."

                                                 St. Ignatius Theophorus

On their giving testimony, both living and enlivening,  our fathers so bravely
faced death that when we  contemplate their lives - ashamed  of ourselves - we
wonder:  "Can we  attain unto   the  Lord as   martyrs?"  St.  John Chrysostom
replies: "Is crucifixion an only way  for martyrdom? If it  were so, Job would
be denied his crown though his  sufferings  exceeded that of many martyrs. His
sufferings and pains were great  enough to include  property, children and his
own body, moreover, to include humiliation from wife, friends and enemies even
from his servant. For all this I would say that Job was a martyr."

I'd introduce you - my  dear  friend - some  stands of testimony to introspect
ourselves on their light:


Struggle - my  dear   friend  - against body and   its many wars as  a martyr.
Deprive it joyfully from  the pleasures of  sin and  food,  pommel it  to keep
vigil and pray, subdue it  many times to kneel, raise  hands  up to heaven and
beat chest as a repentant sinner who has  come back to  the Father's house. If
you do all this, you would be on the way of martyrs.   Therefore, St. Paul the
Apostle appeals to us, "I beseech you  therefore, brethren,  by the mercies of
God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice,  holy, and acceptable
to God, which is your reasonable service"  (Rom 12:1). "You  were bought  at a
price.  Therefore glorify God  in  your body  and in  your  spirit, which  are

When St. Paul's slogan is made foremost in our lives, "Now the body is not for
sexual immorality but for the Lord,  and  the Lord for the body"  (1Cor 6:13),
when we live as true  repentants constantly and daily  entreating God to grant
us His grace, we  become "temples of the  Holy Spirit" sanctified in both body
and senses  with a blessed  purity.  Yet attaining  this state depends  on our
honesty, industriousness, persistence and keeping alert  as well as particular
stands in which we witness against body and its lusts whether  in  our private
or public life.

In summer, sometimes we come back from our club-services so exhausted  that we
cannot stand for   prayer. In fasts  we  escape  pains of thirst   and hunger,
moreover, we  frequently   rebel against the idea  of  fasting  itself and its
effectiveness  as   a purifying  love sacrifice. We  do  not   want to exhaust
ourselves in kneels or beating  chest.  Let's  start struggling  against  body
offering it up to God as a sanctified sacrifice.

St. Peter introduces us to a way of purity, "Therefore, since  Christ suffered
for us, in the flesh, arm  yourselves also with the  same mind, for he who has
suffered in the flesh  has ceased  from  sin." (1Pet  4:1).  Let's follow  the
example of the  Crucified Lord offering Him our  bodies  slaughtered  upon the
cross of love, with an iron will for purity.


A secondary school youngman  suffers many pressures  whether  from  school and
street atmosphere  or  from  the  group of friends  with  whom  he has already
established strong  relationships.  An adolescent is easily   drifted  by such
group, particularly, if he senses  some  sort of inferiority  due to a  defect
whether congenial, social or psychological or rather due to  failure in study.
Hence, he compensates for his defect through trifling whims either on the path
of sin,  profanity and  indifference or by imitating those  who  attained long
goals   in sin.  Fascinated  by their   personality,  he  starts  to   acquire
deeply-rooted habits that turn to  destroy his life,  such as: lustful habits,
smoking,  perversive  conduct at  streets,   shameful hair style and  dressing
fashion ... etc.

Starting a new life of repentance, this youngman is immediately encountered by
his old  group and their   perversive   ways. He  finds it difficult  from the
beginning to witness for his new way. But if he successfully gets through this
exam, persisting and insisting on Christ's  way, the youngman would be granted
great blessing in every  sphere. He will surly  attain triumph over sin, inner
peace, and  spiritual  growth  in  an integral   personality, psychologically,
socially and spiritually.

On  the  other  hand,   a hesitant youngman  is coward   before   friends. His
retreating  intention is always  prepared for escape. Terrified from criticism
and ridicule, he is diffident to declare his  new intentions; worse  still, he
flatters on account of Christ. Such  a youngman will  not but  fall back if he
does not determine to   go  on his  new way,   making  out the traits  of  his
Christian personality in an enduring testimony, confident of Christ's glories.

Moreover, alienated from Christ, these friends are  in a bad need of  a strong
example of triumphant and steadfast life. How do we need to live  according to
St. John the  Apostle's words, "I  have written to  you, youngmen, because you
are strong, and the word of God abides in you,  and you have overcome the evil
one." (1John 2:14). Why  do we escape testimony  before  perverse  friends? To
escape a soiree that does not glorify God, why do we excuse for being busy and
never try to  testify to  Christ obviously? Why do  we timidly avoid seeing an
exciting obscene film  on T.V. without  revealing  God's  view concerning  the
matter? When do we testify as daringly as right holders and children of light?


Primarily, we need to bear witness for Christ before the group of friends with
whom we had  once strong relationships in  the land of  sin; then before other
people  whose different principles   were  violently undermined  in the   20th
Century world.

In  this century everything has  become confused: moral  and  religious values
have been  swept away  in front  of  a  flood  of human  assertion,  extremist
liberalization, materialism, moral  laxity  and atheism, the matters of  which
St. Paul the Apostle knew by the Spirit  and prophesied they  would take place
in our days, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,
but according to their own desires, because  they have  itching ears they will
heap up for  themselves teachers."  (2Tim 4:3). "You  should no longer walk as
the  rest  of  the Gentiles  do in the  futility of their minds, having  their
understanding darkened, being alienated  from the life  of God, because of the
ignorance that  is in them,  because  of hardening of  their heart; who, being
past   feeling, have given   themselves over  to licentiousness,  to  work all
uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ ...  Therefore
do not be  partakers with  them ... walk as children  of light"  (Eph 4:17-20;

Nothing is new under heaven. All worldly perversions and wrong principles have
been in God's foreknowledge. "Where  sin abounded,  grace  abounded much more"
(Rom 5:20). But a youngman  who is drifted   in the going  of  evil  needs  to
introspect himself frankly  before  his conscience, before  God and before the
instructions of the word.

Here  lies testimony  and  saints' patience, "For   that righteous  man (Lot),
dwelling among them, tormented  his righteous soul from  day  to day by seeing
and hearing their lawless deeds." The Apostle resumes, "The Lord  knows how to
deliver the  godly   out  of temptation, and   to   reserve  the  unjust under
punishment for the day of judgment"  (2Pet 2:8,9). Let's  witness for the Lord
before predominant  perversions,  abstaining from  and  condemning the  barren
deeds  of  darkness,  never  to overlook  faults anywhere  but rather  attract
brethren's attention  to  the  deficiencies in  love rather  than primness and
pride nor passivity and introversion.

Numerous are the stands of testimony before perversive  attitudes. Let's adopt
the  Apostle's slogan,  "All who  desire  to  live godly in  Christ Jesus will
suffer persecution" (2Tim 3:12). We are not to  interact with perverse fellows
in the evil world.  We are not to overlook  faults  but rather testify  to the
right whatever be the loss.


As children of  Christ, we   need a careful  study of  the facts of  Christian
faith,  particularly  what  concerns: the  Holy   Trinity,   Incarnation as  a
Necessity,  Redemption,  the Evidences  of  Christ's  Crucifixion,  the Lord's
Resurrection, the Authority  of Bible ...  etc. To prepare ourselves to answer
inquiries aroused, as Christian young people we need to comprehend fully these
subjects so that our reply  can reflect  meekness and fear  of God rather than
partiality and adversary.

Through godly life, meekness, love and sacrificing diakonia, we can testify to
Christ before everyone, in meek and calm words. We must avoid barren arguments
which lead to disputes,  rather give an answer to  clam questions which design
at  constructive  knowledge. In  love  and  group  sprite  we can    establish
harmonious  relationships with  our   brethren of other religions  rather than
being confined to ones of  our own religion.  "Let  your light so shine before
men" (Mt 5:16).


Contemplation in Lord Jesus' life and service and in the lives of His Apostles
and Church Patriarches set us striking examples. One of the Apostles  has sold
himself as a slave to enter a city and  another disguised  to get into another
city.  Greatest  of  these is    St.  Paul's example who   wandered  out  over
continents, establishing  numerous churches, seeking out  souls  in sufferings
and vigils,  in dangers  of sea  and desert, in  hunger  and thirst, suffering
coldness and  nakedness, beaten, put  to  chains, confined,  exposed to  death
whipped and stoned.

This might  record of suffering for   diakonia shows us that  we  have not yet
become  workers.  A true  worker is  fully   and heartily  prepared  to endure
sufferings as a "tax" of diakonia. These sufferings  fill him with  ecstasy as
he  looks forward   to the  glory    that accompanies  and   follows   sorrow.

+ Do we sacrifice and shed our blood for diakonia??

+ Do we offer the Lord a part of time we need, or some of indispensable
  money, or rather some of our faint and weak effort??

Here lies testimony, for a worker who is satisfied  with  the luxuriousness of
the diakonia and its external aspects and glories must offer himself up to God
as a crucified and slaughtered love sacrifice.

God grant us to sacrifice ourselves in the various fields of testimony so that
the Holy Spirit may testify that we are bloodless martyrs.


                             6. DIAKONIA

A most important Milestone of Kingdom way is the diakonia:


In church, believers are not divided into working believers and ordinary ones,
for Christianity  does not admit  ego-centrism.  All forms  of  Christian life
whether  monasticism,  monachism,  and  eremiticim  reject such  an  idea   of
idleness. Being an integral part of the church - Christ's invisible body - the
believer is never  to  remain idle,  for Christ  has  never had  any idle part
except a dispensable appendage.

A difference may lie between a believer  of church orders and a  layman who is
wrongly called secular, being related to the  world, for  even such a believer
is not of the world, "They are not of the world" (Jn 17:16).  A believer loves
all who  are in the  world  but hates all what  is  in  the world. Hatred here
denotes  detestation for  sin  and evil   as well as   complete  weaning  from
materialistic and worldly property. On the other  hand, the believer of church
orders is a part whose tasks are determined by the Holy Spirit, such as:

+ Psalmist   : Leading hymns and religious anthems in church.
+ Ighnustus  : Reader, reading and instructing in church.
+ Ebeziacon  : Visitation and attending on the Holy Sacrifice.
+ Deacon     : Managing the affairs and work of Ebeziacons.
+ Archdeacon : Managing the affairs and work of deacons, and assisting
               the bishop in managing church affairs.


All  are workers  in  God's house,  whether believers  of  church orders whose
diakonia are confined to certain tasks, or ordinary  ones,  each has a talent,
each offers his sacrifice to the  Lord. Any attempt to escape responsibilities
of the diakonia is  an escape from  Christ Himself, rather from Christianity -
the symbol of  infinite giving. Christ  works in  heart to make a preacher out
man. Look:

 + The Samaritan Woman preaches a whole city!
 + Matthew preaches tax collectors!
 + Zecchaeus sets a striking example that spurs many to believe in Christ!
 + The woman with hemorrhage tells of God's marvels!
 + The Paralyzed Man takes up his bed announcing that the  Beloved has healed
 + After being healed, the Mad Man wants to follow and hold to Christ, but he
   is to hear the Lord's commandment, "Go home to your friends, and tell them
   what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion
   on you" (Mk 5:19).


Sure, you can participate in many fields of diakonia:

1. Prayer

It is a most important, glorious  and impressive of  all types of diakonia for
it inflames the spirit in church, in both  the word and  the souls. It changes
others' feelings and circumstances. Remember that whoever prays for himself is
granted a blessing which is only doubled when praying for others. Do  you feel
other's pains and sufferings  whether being  beloved ones or  even enemies? Do
you pray for them? "Pray for those who spitefully use you" (Lk 6:28).

2. love

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one
another" (Jn  13:35).  "Through  love  serve one another"  (Gal  5:13). Love's
profound effectiveness  exceeds all for love  is God Himself. Seek out persons
who are in need of a touch of compassion  and love, or in need  of any private
service  whether educational, health, materialistic, financial,  psychological
or spiritual. Give them sacred, genuine and practical Christian love.  Be sure
that you will see the fruit of love reflected on both of you.

3. Proclamation

Do you think that  Christ can ever  accept our suppressing the proclamation of
the holy Bible, i.e. the  work of God's grace for  the salvation of  our souls
and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit within man?

There are glorious and joyful news that many of your beloved ones know nothing
about!  Tell them once in a  friendly talk, another  time  by  leaving  them a
pamphlet, and a  third time by reading over  them some verses of  the  Gospel.
"The generous soul will be made rich. And he who  waters will also  be watered
himself" (Prov 11:25).

4. Visitation

Is there an  organized  and  planned visitation  in  our meetings? Study  this
matter with  the brethren. Isn't it important  to seek out  souls before Satan
seeks them out  for their destruction? Why  don't we  arrange an  alphabetical
index for Christ's children? Divide them into  approximate dwelling areas then
distribute each group of names on two workers to visit them. These two workers
should  be followed-up by  experienced  workers  in the   field of  individual
diakonia. All can be done regularly and according to arrangement through using
tables and timings. When do we stop chaos?! We have  to  bear in mind that the
Holy Spirit's blessing is that of discipline, and it calls us to do everything
"Decently and in order" (1Cor 14:40).

Dear Friend,

Have a look on the  aforementioned types  of diakonia. Pray God  in submission
and calmness and consult your  godfather  in choosing a type  of diakonia. You
have to know that all the types of diakonia are essential  and fundamental for
your salvation and spiritual growth.

                           God bless you!


                              7. ADVENT

All man's toil ends at this point: the harvest,  at Lord Jesus evident return,
"He is coming with the clouds, and every eye  will see Him,  and they also who
pierced Him. And all tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him" (Rev 1:7).

Unlike His first concealed and humble coming which aimed at our salvation, the
Advent will be "with great glory" (Mt  24:30). It will  be a dazzling presence
of the Lord, "the brightness of His coming" aiming at judgment.


As an extension of some old deviant  beliefs, eschatological facts are  put to
be mere religious fables, for all continues as it is. On this point, St. Peter
reflects, "Scoffers will come in the last days walking  according to their own
lust, and saying, 'Where is the  promise of His  coming? For since the fathers
fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the  beginning of creation'
... But beloved, do not forget this one thing that with the Lord one day is as
a thousand  years, and a  thousand years as  one day.  The  Lord is  not slack
concerning His promises as some count slackness,  but is longsuffering towards
us, not willing  that any  should perish but  all should  come to  repentance"
(2Pet 3:3,4,8,9). At the end,  he exhorts  us, "Account that the longsuffering
of our Lord is salvation" (2Pet 3:15).

As a religious fact, the world will perish and heavens will pass away  "with a
great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both  the earth and
the works that are in it will be burned up"  (2Pet 3:10).  Scientific theories
emphasize that  the cosmos will  either explode by heat or  contract by severe
coldness. Any way, it will pass away.  Philosophy also supports this fact, for
eternity contradicts    change:  the  cosmos  is    changeable,   consequently
perishable, as it has a beginning it also has an end.


Unlike the belief proclaiming that divine Advent tarries  which  can be a real
endowed chance for repentance,  some first-century believers thought that "the
Kingdom  of God would  appear  immediately"  (Lk  19:11).    Expressing  their
inability to imagine the world without Jerusalem,  these believers interpreted
the Lord's prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem as being the end of the

The Bible tells of the Thessalonians, who believing in the impending coming of
the Lord, they gave up every work and occupation  and waited for the Advent in
idleness. St. Paul the Apostle reproached them, "Not to be soon shaken in mind
or troubled with by spirit or by word or by letter,  as if from us,  as though
the day of Christ had come ... for that Day will not  come, unless the falling
away comes first ...  If anyone will  not work, neither shall  he eat" (2Thess
2:2,3; 3:10).

Though yearning for  the Lord's  coming and though sharing   St.  John's  call
"Amen.  Even so, come, Lord  Jesus!" (Rev  22:20), we hold  to our  mission in
life, a mission of diakonia and preaching  and of Christian life  and worship.
We hold to earthly order, to work, to struggle, and to be honest.


The Advent is in  fact  every believer's responsibility,  the aspects of which
are the following:

a. A Prospect for the Future

The  believer  that  places his  treasure in heaven,  looking  forward  to the
Kingdom and feeling it within (Lk 17:21),  thinks, moves, occupies himself and
struggles on one  sole basis: eternal life,  by which he is overwhelmed, never
permitting worldly affairs to distract him from the heavenly ones.

b. Renewed Repentance

Preparing  himself for heaven,  man  must be on  the image of the  dwellers of
heaven. Therefore, St. Peter the Apostle instructs us, "Since all these things
will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in  holy conduct and
godliness, looking and hastening the coming of the day of God" (2Pet 3:11,12).

c. Abidance in the Lord

The believer drops and fixes the  anchor (anchor =  hilpis = hope) of his life
on the shore  of the  heavenly  Jerusalem,  the Holy City, alongside  seawater
holding eternal life, abiding in Christ, sailing in his ship till reaching the
safe harbor. Therefore, St. John appeals, "Now, little children, abide in Him,
that when He appears we may have confidence and  not be  ashamed before Him at
His coming" (1Jn 2:28).

d. Proclaiming the Lord's Death and Resurrection

It is the believer's purpose of life "As often as you eat this bread and drink
this cup, you  proclaim  the Lord's death  till He  comes"  (1Cor  11:26). The
diakonia is the  believer's mission of life  which gives meaning and  value to
his existence "to remain  in the flesh  is more  needful  for you ... But if I
live in the flesh, this will mean fruit for my labor" (Phi 1:22,24).


The church  believes that "The day of  the Lord  so  comes as a  thief  in the
night, when people say 'There is peace and security', then  sudden destruction
will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with a child, and there will
be no escape" (1Thess  5:2). Hence, the  church calls us  to keep vigil for we
"are  all sons of  light and  sons of the day" (1Thess  5:5), in order that we
would not be surprised  with the Lord's   coming,  but rather to   prepare our
hearts for this  glorious day.  Notice  that the  church system reflects  both
bodily and spiritual vigil.   Bodily vigil is  reflected in the three services
of Mid-Night Prayer, while spiritual vigil strands for constant inner waking.

The Advent will be a glorious day witnessed by two groups of people: one group
would say to the mountains and rocks "Fall on us and hide us  from the face of
Him Who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the  great day
of His wrath has come, and who  is able to stand?"   (Rev  6:16,17). While the
other group, playing on lyres of repentance, love  and  joy, would say, "Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20).

               O' my soul! With whom shall you stand?