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Fellowship or Communion?

November 26, 2009

Many years ago, while serving on staff as the main Worship Dude at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Glendora, California,  I got a chance to preach a Sunday sermon: A rare opportunity.  I chose to preach that day on the true biblical meaning of “Fellowship”, at least as it is rendered in the newest English translations.  My premise that Sunday morning was that we had reduced the true meaning of the word (more accurately rendered as “communion”) to merely our being together, to simply hanging out. I had caught a glimmer of something which at the time I saw as relating to our relationships within the churches. True Christian “Fellowship” was a topic I often climbed upon the proverbial soapbox to scream about. After all, I reasoned, we were called to one body, to be a part of one another, to something much more profound then simply sharing some time on Sunday mornings.  But my vision was still very myopic and I had a much deeper truth to dig out, a much more precious treasure.

I’ve had a recent post by Father Stephen Freeman  bookmarked for reading for a while now and today I finally found the time to read it. As I read it I was transported as I was reminded that THIS is why I became Orthodox. This is the truth that answered all my longings. This is the truth that all my dreams had envisioned. The truth that there is something more to this life in Christ then a mere decision of my wavering will, more than a one time emotional response not matter how heart-felt. Please, read this prayerfully, it is nothing less then the truth of fullness of the Gospel.

So here is my latest must read!

http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/a-relationship-with-god/

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The First-Born Among Many

November 3, 2009

Last friday was a momentous day for me, it was my 55 birthday.

Now, normally I would prefer to simply let another year pass into the abyss of aging the American way,  but how can you let the birthday upon which you officially become eligible for senior citizen discounts simply pass like any other birthday? Would that be right?  So what I decided to do this year to commemorate such a milestone as this was to have a Grand Daughter at the same time!  That’s right I arranged with My oldest Son David, his wonderful wife Nicole (and with a little help from God) for their brand new baby girl Violet Grace Feliciano to be born on 10/30/09 my 55 birthday!

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure how I was going to take to the title of Grandpa, or Pappito or whatever she decides to call me. At first all I could think of was the added stigma of old age that the title Grandpa has always carried for me. But let me tell you something, the feeling of holding the first-born child of my first-born child was something I was not prepared for. It was as profound a moment as I have ever experienced.  As I looked down at little Violet sleeping in my arms I was awash in memories and hopes, in dreams and regrets of loves thrown away, and the peace of loves new breath laying there in my arms. Here was the first child of my first child, I am filled with awe at the goodness of God.

And if there is one thing I know for certain it is this: If Violet is even half as precious, half as wonderful to raise as was David, then He and Nicole are in for such a wonderful life. A life full of laughing and crying, protecting and clutching and of letting go. And I know that those years will be over in what will seem like a single wave upon a shore and then my first-born will hold the the first-born of hers.

Drink it in!  With every fiber of your being enter every moment as if it could vanish in an instant because one day they will. Let it all seep deep and you will find that it is not only the good times that you will remember forever but if you let it, you will see it all as being from God’s good hand as he forms this new little flower of life into a beautiful hillside of blossoms for the world to enjoy.

God grant you all more grace then you think you need and the wisdom to know how to live it! I love you all and especially my little flower Violet. IMG_0978

 

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Pure Cane Sugar?

August 6, 2009


photoblog159, originally uploaded by Feliciano Imaging.

Times and places like this really make me question American marketing. I mean, come on, how pure can anything be coming out of this place?

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My New Biz Site

August 1, 2009

Hey, my new web for my photo business is now live. You can find it at… ready…wait for it… http://markfeliciaino.com. Let me know what you think.

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New Cards

June 11, 2009

These are my new business cards. Collect all ten!
newcards

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Ole’

June 10, 2009


Ole’, originally uploaded by mmlips.

I have a new photoblog up that went live a couple days ago. Sure would love it if you’d take a look and leave a comment or two. (Constructive please).

All my older shots are there as well as some new ones.

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Great Day Today

May 31, 2009

photoToday Barb and I went to St. Luke’s in Garden Grove and I had the privilege of doing a photo session with Father Michael and his Family. What a wonderful family the Lewis’ are. Father Michael, whom I have talked about before, is just one of the most humble and gentle men I have met, and his wife Kyra is one of the those people you just love the second you talk to her and hear the “Jersey” accent. Before the shoot she made sure I knew she wanted the centerfold space. You just gotta love that! His two daughters who I met for the first time today, are lovely, kind and helped me drag my gear around. But what struck me most about them was their smiles, they both share identical infectious smiles that just make you want to smaile back. To top things off  Father Michael’s Mom (who was a picture posing natural) was in town along with his Nephew Steve who was a budding photographer and was a blast to talk to. There were a couple times when I was laughing so hard I couldn’t take pictures. Here’s hoping they aren’t too shakey.

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Thanks Lewis Family for helping me out by letting me use you as guinea pigs….err, I mean subjects, and Happy Birthday to Father Michael  who, hear tell, was apparently cradle robbed by Kyra. God grant you many years, you already ave been greatly blessed with a wonderful family.

BTW, the photo’s are courtesy of my wife and extraordinary assistant for the day.

photo(4)

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Chicago Dusk

May 11, 2009


Chicago Dusk, originally uploaded by mmlips.

It had rained all day and I was only going to be in town for that one day. Right around 7pm the skies suddenly cleared and I almost didn’t notice it due to a really sucky hotel room view. Glad I did.

Don’t ask me why but my favorite part of the image is the FedEx truck.

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Rain in Fall

May 10, 2009


Rain in Fall, originally uploaded by mmlips.

This was shot along Lake Michigan on our recent trip to Chicago. I used very minimal post processing in Capture NX2. The rain and fog coming off Lake Mi was awesome.

You can see larger version on my Photoblog: http://www.lipsdigitaldesigns.com

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Images of Holy Week

April 24, 2009

Fr. Patrick asked Jason Zahariades and I to shoot some “high quality” images from the last few days of Holy Week. I’m not sure these would qualify, but they are my favorite images from my camera. The link below will take you to a short collage I put together. I hope you enjoy it.

CLICK HERE

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Arizona Glow

April 9, 2009


Arizona Glow, originally uploaded by mmlips.

New Photo posted to my Photoblog. http://lipsdigitaldesigns.com

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Hitting the Wall

March 24, 2009


Hitting the Wall, originally uploaded by mmlips.

I just added several new photos to my Flickr account and to my photoblog.

http://www.lipsdigitaldesigns.com/photoblog

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Get it, please!

March 18, 2009

greatlentLast year my Kids David and Nicole got me the book “Great Lent – Journey to Pascha” by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, who has quickly become one of my heroes. When I first read it I was still very unsure as to whether or not this was truly the road God was leading us down and honestly, I just didn’t get it. I don’t think my heart was ready to take in half of all that Fr. was trying to convey. So I read it but only half heartedly so. In flipping back through it I found a few tell-tale yellow highlights which is my sure sign that something struck me as important, but they are few and far between, but somehow I knew I would return to it.  So when Barb agreed to read through it with me this year I was really excited and expectant. Well, holy moly, you have got to get this book. If you are reading this and you are Orthodox, you have got to follow the link bellow and get this book. Read this book during Lent, it will transform your journey. If you are not Orthodox and you like me always felt that “Easter” in the Evangelical Church was just another Sunday with a bit of added color, you have got to get this book.  I am continually amazed at the wisdom graced to the Church Fathers by the Holy Spirit, at how multi-layered is the faith and experience of Christ’s Church. Last year Pascha was an amazing time for me, thanks to Fr. Schmeman’s opening up the riches of Lent I know that this year will bring even deeper and more lasting change, and that IS the Lenten expectation—New Creation! Glory to God for all things!

Get it at Amazon.

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My Baptism – part II

March 2, 2009

Part II please scroll down to read part 1 or this won’t make sense
Okay, tell me this picture doesn’t look like a Water Buffalo coming up for air! It does too!

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Once I had come to the place where I was ready to say yes to Orthodoxy, I knew I wanted to be baptized. Now, I’ve been in the church for over 50 years so this was no small thing for me. I awoke the morning of and I was full of anticipation and nervousness. I was looking forward to the fulfillment of what I had come to understand yet I was nervous because I knew my disability would mean I’d have to be helped in and out of the Font.  But more than that it meant everyone was going to see my skinny white legs! That’s right, all the truth of the history of the Church and my pride was fighting all the way, but I wasn’t going to allow anything to interfere with what was about to happen: I was about to die.

One of the things I love so much about Orthodoxy, is that nothing is done without purpose. One of the things that irritates me most about Orthodoxy, is that nothing is done without purpose. Sometimes you just want to scream: “Okay, let’s lighten it up a bit!” But I am so glad we don’t. The richness and depth of my baptism service exposed the very reasons I had despised it for so many years. It wasn’t simply a public show of my commitment to follow Jesus; it wasn’t merely following his example, an identification, it was confirmation. It said, I’m moving from one world view to another, It said my world view is dead and now the life I have is hidden, in Christ, with God! And just as Joshua led Israel through the Jordan to new life, so the Font is entrance into the new life, the very life of God poured out. When Father Patrick asked if I renounced Satan and told me to spit on him, I wanted to haug-a-luegy and splat it on the wall. Graphic yes, but o’ so true.

When I came out of the water, and I know this sounds corny, what I felt most, was clean. For perhaps the first time in my entire Christian experience I felt clean and I felt NEW, and I didn’t care about my skinny white legs or the fact that I looked like a Water Buffalo, I just felt clean. As a boy I was a responder. By that I mean that If I were in church and an altar call was given, I was there. My Mother often questioned my apparent need to “go forward”, but go I would. Growing up as a Puerto Rican I have always joked that I was born under two signs: the first is Rice and Beans, we had them almost every night when I was a boy, not because we had too but because we loved them. The second was guilt. This guilt was always with me, it was the proverbial backpack I carried on every journey and took on every step of life. It never left me and my actions up until that day had done nothing but make that backpack heavier and heavier. But when I left that Font, I was light and I knew for perhaps the first time in my entire life that I was loved and that God…God was good. How I can say something like that after having been in the church for 50 plus years and having been a worship pastor makes no earthly sense, but since that day I feel as if I have been given a blank spreadsheet. (That’s for my wife) It is no longer filled with columns of negative numbers. I can’t explain in a deep enough sense what a new life feels like. As we all walked around the Font singing “as many as are baptized into Christ have put on Christ” I wanted to fall down in worship, and later as we all together took the Body and Blood for the first time, I felt the same thing I have felt every time since then: nothing has ever tasted so sweet.

Several months ago a good friend asked why the Church insisted that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood? It just offends our western sensibilities so much. I have thought about her question over and over again. I have no official theological answer for my friend, I only have a deeply personal and practical answer. It’s important to me because He changed, Christ became something he was not, he put on humanity that I might put on Christ. The entire Christian life is about real change. I was once merely man, now I am “New Creation”. I was dead now I am alive. I was blind, now I see. I was polluted now I am clean. I was once the dwelling of sin, now I am the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

I used to teach–though I once despised his table as well–that “Christ not only invites us to sup with him, to feast with him, to dine with him; he provides us himself as the meal.” Of course, I was always talking figuratively, I had no idea how real it could be. “O’ Taste and see that the Lord is Good!” God grant me life that I might live as though LIFE were living in me! Amen.

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My Baptism – part I

March 2, 2009

Anyone who would doubt my tendency to be emotionally driven need only spend a few minutes with my wife who could attest via first hand experience to my over reaction to just about–well–everything. She could tell you, though I doubt she’d be so forthcoming as to dissect me to that extent, of the often times I have turned mountains into molehills or climbed upon my imaginary soapboxes pounding my fists over some hidden moral agenda in the latest new television programing.

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It is I’m afraid a Feliciano family trait. I recall with fondness the first time I brought a high school sweetheart home to experience her first Feliciano family meal. As we passed around the food and the conversation “revved” up, I noticed that my friend was looking very concerned. When I asked her what was wrong she looked at me puzzled and asked in all sincerity why we were all fighting. I laughed and explained to her that we were merely conversing and that this was the way we normally talked around the Feliciano household, each with the impassioned, fervent voice necessary to convey what was on our heart at the moment, even if all that was were the events of the day just passed. She should have bolted for the door then and there.

It is this propensity to over reaction that has kept me from writing about my recent Baptism and conversion into Orthodoxy. I have wanted to allow my initial flood of feelings to flow into a more rhythmic, daily stream of life before I attempted to put my experience in writing. You see I am learning to keep silent. Far to often I come out of the oven half-baked, only having to come back at a later date to apologize and confess that something I was all worked up about had turned out to be very unimportant. For a Feliciano, keeping silent is VERY HARD.  Besides which,  two of the three people who actually read this blog, have asked me again to express what has transpired in me. So I will do my best to do so in a way that makes sense, but that won’t be easy, because very little of what I am experiencing in all of this makes any earthly sense at all.

The days leading up to my baptism and our Chrismations (my wife, our best friends, their 4 kids and several other new friends) were filled with a great deal of agitation. I specifically choose this word because I was awash with so many different feelings that it seemed the most appropriate way to describe what I was experiencing. I don’t want to try to speak for any of my other comrades but for me, converting to Orthodoxy was a decision of huge import, made at the expense of a great deal of sweat and not a small amount of angst. You see I had been on a very long journey, and by that I don’t mean my journey towards true Christlikeness, I believe that is a journey that all true believers share. Since my early twenties I had been on a secondary journey as well; at least, at one time I saw it as such; That journey was a search for the Church of the Apostles, and believe me when I say; in my minds eye it looked nothing like Orthodoxy.

This is not a journey common to all believers. If it were, I believe today that the roads of most would eventually lead to this very intersection. Many people in the Church are far to content to look at their church life as somehow separate and apart from their “personal relationship to Jesus.” Worship becomes a matter of preference and not a shaper of life. But I have never viewed the Church in this way. To me the Church has always been something mystical yet concrete. A BODY if you will, that is formed for the very purpose of making visible the invisible Christ. A mystical Body yes, but one that like Christ himself can be touched, held and seen. A Body not formed by personal preference but by the will and love of God Himself.  To me this meant by definition a group of people whose walking out of the life of Christ could not be separated from another, could not be walked out independent of each other.

So becoming Orthodox for me meant something huge. It meant a converging of my journeys, it meant that I was saying that these two journeys I had been on were really all about one and the same thing. It meant coming to grips with many things in the scriptures and the writings of the early Fathers that over the years, I had been indoctrinated against. It meant I was saying there was value in things that I once held as detrimental to my life and spiritual well being. It meant coming to grips with Baptism, something I had grown up despising. Not in the sense of hatred but in the old english sense of looking down on something. I didn’t need to be dunked to believe! After all, St. Paul seemed pretty pleased he had not baptized anyone from the Corinthian Church. It meant coming to grips with the body and blood of Christ. Eating my flesh? Drinking my blood?  For me, it was not like deciding where to hang out on a Sunday morning, it was like turning my life in a completely different orientation to the light.

So there I was with all this convergence happening in me. I had seen the import and mystery of the Church rightly, but my world view had kept from seeing the Church in any other way then through these post reformation clouded glasses that had allowed me to throw out the bath water AND the baby.

This is getting a bit longer then I had anticipated to I’ll split it into a two parter here.

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Howard Street Color

February 24, 2009


photoblog123.jpg, originally uploaded by mmlips.

No. 8 from “Behind the Wheel”. The color in this image really grabbed me right away. I love to people watch and I’m often afraid of a bad reaction if they see me shooting their picture. I felt much safer shooting from my car.

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City by the Bay IV

February 21, 2009


City by the Bay IV, originally uploaded by mmlips.

No. 7 from “Behind the Wheel”. Despite all it’s weirdness, you gotta love this city.

You can get a much higher quality view and even purchase prints now from my website. http://lipsdigitaldesigns.com

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Street Music

February 20, 2009


Street Music, originally uploaded by mmlips.

I could hear this guy playing from around the block, and he was very good. Looking at the image now, it is evident that people were in too big a hurry to even stop to “smell the roses”.

This is no. six in my “Behind the Wheel” series. Truth be known, 75% of the images in my gallery were shot from inside a car. My M.D. makes getting in and out and then moving around very problematic.

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City by the Bay #3

February 19, 2009


City by the Bay #3, originally uploaded by mmlips.

The fifth image from “behind the Wheel” in San Francisco. Post in NX2 and Silver Efex. You have no idea how much I wish I could just park the car and walk around the streets for hours.

The highest quality image is on my Photoblog.

http://www.lipsdigitaldesigns.com

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Must Watch for Creatives

February 19, 2009

If you love photography or consider yourself creative you should go watch this video.

http://www.scottkelby.com/blog/2009/archives/3433/comment-page-8#comment-127340

It is awesome. Enjoy!