Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Episcopal Priest - who is not leaving the denomination - warns that its terrible leaders are destroying the church
Here's the best quote:
"The acrid odor you are smelling is the aroma of bridges being burned. As I have already noted more than duly in this space, the executive leadership of the Episcopal Church has tragically chosen an ideological purge over not only canon law and not only common sense but even over their own long term self-interest."
The Episcopal Church, in its crazed effort to get rid of clergy and people who live under the authority of the Bible and traditional Christian interpretation of its teachings, is spending well over $1,000,000 this year alone to sue dissenting congregations.
What you are not being told is that many of these congregations have offered to pay for their freedom - to negotiate a fair market purchase of their properties and to provide other financial considerations to the Episcopal Church in order to join Biblically faithful Anglican bodies.
Stop and think about that - what your church gives to your diocese, your diocese turns around and gives a good chunk to the Episcopal Church, which is using this money to sue congregations, clergy and lay people. Is this why you give?
And consider Fr. Martin's point about self-interest: because a negotiated separation would involve only minor legal work, and would generate property proceeds to the denomination, the Episcopal Church would actually gain more money by negotiating than by suing (and TEC has lost many of the first round cases and is now into the spendy world of appelate courts). Not to mention that these negotiated settlements could create good will and the opportunity for some kind of reunion in the future.
You are told that your denominational leaders are high-end intellects, that they value peace and justice, that they want to include everyone in the church. It's all lies. As Fr. Martins, a loyal Episcopalian, points out:
(TEC's leaders want) "a showcase for the brand of liberal puritanism that has become the order of the day, and they're not interested in the care and feeding of any conservative POWs."
And how about church growth? There's a church development maxim: "A fighting church won't grow." As Fr. Martins writes about TEC denominational warfare:
"...searching souls for whom the Anglican way of being Christian might just offer them the most efficient way to be made a saint will be repelled by the air of conflict that envelopes American Anglicanism."
The donations of God's people used to sue God's people. A purge of people who disagree with the direction of the denomination. Constant, bitter fighting that turns away potential converts. Please pray for the leaders of the Episcopal Church. I mean that. They are destroying their own souls. Leaders who neglect the people, serve only their circle of friends and who are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ will be judged most harshly when they have to give an account to the Lord. May TEC's leaders repent, return to Christ and be saved.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
On page 5, you can find a discussion of "Ten Things Christians Should Ask When They Choose a Leader." This is a presentation of Canon David Seger to the Nominating Committee. I will list the questions, with my comments in italics.
1. Is the person not only able to lead, but lead in difficult times? A great question, if actually asked and investigated. How did someone like +Katharine Jefferts Schori, with no significant leadership record, become Presiding Bishop? It is interesting that nobody from Good Shepherd, the most dramatically growing congregation in the diocese, was appointed to take part in the nominating process. You would think that a church bucking the downward trend of the diocese would have something to offer to this analysis, but go figure...
2. Does the person understand what is going on in the culture, where it is leading us, and its imprint on the churches? Good missionaries, like the Apostle Paul, always pay attention to culture. If you read something like Timothy Keller's "The Reason for God", you can see this in action in our own day. But that phrase about "where the culture is leading us" troubles me - as The Age to Come says under the blog title: "Those who marry the spirit of this age will find themselves widows in the next."
3. Does the person understand theology? OK, what the heck does that mean? Every person has a theology (some working assumption about God or an ultimate value that guides their life.) The question should be, "Does this person understand the theology of the Holy Bible, as reflected in the Book of Common Prayer?" I fear that this question will be used to say, "No candidate who has not received the secret illumination of the new thing of the spirit like us need apply."
4. Does the person have a vision for the future? Well, the Diocese of South Dakota does not care. From the diocesan website: "We seek to call as our next Bishop a visionary who will help the clergy and people of our diocese to bring to fruition the Kingdom vision which God has already planted in our hearts and minds." The inner circle already has a "vision" of some sort (supplied from New York, no doubt), and the new Bishop is to shill for it.
5. Is the person "slick"? (this is not desirable). My worry is that this kind of subjective language will be used to screen out the very candidates sought in question #1. If a person like Canon Neal Michell showed up loaded with practical experience in church leadership, diocesan support of congregations, and theory and practice of church development, might he be written off as "slick"? This question can ensure a slate of bloodless, mediocre candidates.
6. Does the person have some managerial and administrative skills? Good question - but must be asked in conjunction with #1. The diocese is struggling (some might be so blunt as to say "dying") - a manager who is not a leader is not adequate to the need here.
7. Does the person have staying power? Good practical question. South Dakota is "flyover country", and does not need a "bishop" who wants to pump up a resume and then go off to run a seminary or sit in the New York bureaucracy.
8. Is the person prayerful and a student of scripture? Sigghhh. If only they meant it. In today's church, somebody who channels spirits and reads Bishop Spong meets these criteria.
9. Does the person have inner humility? Like +Gene Robinson? Like +John Spong? Like this guy ?
10. Is the person able to listen to and take good advice and wise counsel from godly clergy and laity? +Katharine Jefferts Shori's visit to South Carolina, anyone?
My suspicion is that we are going to get a slate of the usual folks who dance around the mitre tree, courtesy of the managment at 815 Second Ave., New York, NY.
But here in South Dakota, prayers for agriculture are very real and relevant. We are in the time of the year that can be most stressful for farmers. Is the ground thawed out enough to plant? Is there enough Spring rain? Is there too much rain?
Please pray for farmers. And please pray for people all around the world, suffering from this year's restricted bumper crops (especially corn and rice.)
ALMIGHTY God, who hast blessed the earth that it should be fruitful and bring forth whatsoever is needful for the life of man, and hast commanded us to work with quietness, and eat our own bread; Bless the labours of the husbandman, and grant such seasonable weather that we may gather in the fruits of the earth, and ever rejoice in thy goodness, to the praise of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O GRACIOUS Father, who openest thine hand and fillest all things living with plenteousness; We beseech thee of thine infinite goodness to hear us, who now make our prayers and supplications unto thee. Remember not our sins, but thy promises of mercy. Vouchsafe to bless the lands and multiply the harvests of the world. Let thy breath go forth that it may renew the face of the earth. Show thy loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase; and so fill us with good things that the poor and needy may give thanks unto thy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
So sad that they (and many other Episcopalians) were ignored. And how funny that the Diocese of South Dakota keeps holding "Sharing our Story" workshops at Convention every year, when the Episcopal Organization has destroyed our ability to give any kind of coherent Christian testimony.
Anyway, here's the letter from early '90:
TO THE EDITOR [of Episcopal News Service]:
We’re a group beginning to prepare ourselves for the Decade of Evangelism (L.I.F.E.), but we’re feeling somewhat defensive as we set out to tell our story. We accept that our authority is based on Scripture, Sacraments, Credal Statements and the Episcopacy, and is brought to us through the Book of Common Prayer. We look to the Episcopacy to “carry on the apostolic work of leading, supervising and uniting the Church’’
Our concern is that it appears that we have one bishop speaking out and in a way that neither represents Scripture nor the majority conclusion of our General Convention. We were outraged at the appearance of the practicing homosexual priest and his “partner” on a recent talk show — this priest having been ordained by Bishop Spong, who seems to he the self—appointed spokesman for the Episcopal Church.
In the 1979 Actions of the General Convention; “Sexuality of Ordinands” (A—53s): .. .we believe it is not appropriate for this Church to ordain a practicing homosexual, or any person who is engaged in heterosexual relations outside of marriage.”
Reference on the show was also made to Bishop Spong’s desire to “rewrite the Ten Commandments for the modern day” — the priest stating that there is “no adultery — only infidelity”; as well as a very flippant treatment of Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9, I Timothy 1:8—11).
While we realize that reacting to such performances only prolongs a bad incident, nevertheless, we believe it would help our evangelism efforts if our bishop and the Presiding Bishop would affirm and proclaim at every opportunity our Church’s stand (based on Scripture, Tradition and Reason) on today’s social issues — the ones that plague the laity as we try to tell our story to the unchurched and the lapsed. We need the authority of the bishop’s words (and actions) to help us counteract the often—heard statement, “no one knows what we stand for”.
Joni Miller, Shirley Clark, Irma Johnson, Jini Haggardt, Polly Gregg, Margaret Wright, Lloyd Olson, Inez Olson, Bev Berry.
Most of these folks have gone on to be with the Lord, but a few are still here. I give thanks for their witness.
How has MAP impacted our community? In the last 2 months, MAP sponsored 15 projects for 15 adults and 9 children. Each project was categorized as one or more of the following: disabled, domestic violence or assault victims, elderly, and families. Most projects fall into more than one category. For the individuals within the 15 projects, 80% are disabled, 46% are victims of domestic violence or assault, 40% are elderly and 33% are families. Families were moved from Children's Inn and Heartland House. People who required additional help in their everyday lives were moved into assisted living facilities. In 100% of the cases, a new beginning and hope were provided and experienced by the people in need.
MAP's first newsletter, "On The Move", has been published and is available on the MAP website. Articles about MAP have been published in the Argus Leader, South Dakota Area Community Foundation and the Roosevelt High School Newsletter.
MAP has been flooded with calls from agencies in Sioux Falls. Nearly every weekend and several days throughout each week, people are reached out to and assisted with moving. Because of the rapid growth and demand, it is necessary for the MAP Board of Directors to expand. If you are interested in joining the MAP Board, call the hotline (605-221-5950) or leave a message on the website (www.orgsites.com/sd/map). Board Member applicant responsibilities include:
· managing, developing and expanding MAP
· must be at least 21 years old and a resident of South Dakota
· must have a business background in at least one or more of the following: business management, people management, accounting, project management, legal or have management responsibilities in a non-profit organization
· must enjoy working directly with volunteers, with the people in need and teamwork
The growth and expansion of the MAP program is based on the availability and commitment of volunteers. More teams from businesses, churches, schools, individual families and organizations are encouraged to help. Without the addition of more volunteers, assistance may be denied to people who really need this service. If you know of individuals or groups wanting to provide a community service, please contact MAP immediately.
Visit the website for details and pictures for the moves completed, upcoming moves, and the wish list.
MAP Hotline 605-221-5950
MAP website: www.orgsites.com/sd/map
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The tornado siren went off during our Holy Communion service today, reminding us that this is a State disaster preparedness day.
Give thanks for all in Emergency Services, the Red Cross, and all who train, care and deploy to help the people of the State in time of disaster.
Give thanks for wise building codes, public information and other preparations that help minimize harm.
And pray that we will be protected from natural disaster. As Bishop Hare included tepees marked with crosses on the Niobrara Cross, a sign that our homes and communities must come under the protection of Christ's cross, let us pray that South Dakota be protected under the cross of Christ.
From the Litany:
That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who are in danger, necessity or tribulation,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Just the same, there will be an important prison ministry event this weekend in the Central Time Zone, at Winn Correctional Facility in Louisiana.
Please check it out here, read the request carefully, and if you are the hardy type please respond at Brad's site and cover some of that Sunday morning prayer slot.
Here is Dr. Moheb Ghali's first of ten points:
Occasionally I am asked why I found it necessary, after four decades of committed service, to leave the Episcopal Church. My answer is: I had to choose whom to believe. On many issues central to my faith what Jesus and the Apostles say and what the leaders of the Episcopal Church say are incompatible. I chose to believe in what Jesus and the Apostles say, and that made it necessary to leave the Episcopal Church...
I. IS JESUS THE ONLY WAY?
JESUS: “Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” [John 14:6]
PETER:“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." [Acts 4:12]
PAUL“Therefore God exalted (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 2:9-11]
EPISCOPAL CHURCH LEADERS: “In its narrow construction, it tends to eliminate other possibilities. In its broader construction, yes, human beings come to relationship with God largely through their experience of holiness in other human beings. Through seeing God at work in other people’s lives. In that sense, yes, I will affirm that statement. But not in the narrow sense, that people can only come to relationship with God through consciously believing in Jesus” [Presiding Bishop, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, January 2007].
“Christians understand that Jesus is the route to God. Umm– that is not to say that Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jains, come to God in a radically different way. They come to God through… human experience… through human experience of the divine. Christians talk about that in terms of Jesus.” “For Christians, we say that our route to God is through Jesus. That doesn’t mean that a Hindu doesn’t experience God except through Jesus. It says that Hindus and people of other faith traditions approach God through their own cultural contexts; they relate to God, they experience God in human relationships, as well as ones that transcend human relationships; and Christians would say those are our experiences of Jesus, of God through the experience of Jesus.” [Presiding Bishop, NPR interview: Here & Now, October 18, 2006].
“We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.”[Presiding Bishop, Time, July 10, 2006]
“The Incarnation God is one for us. But is Christ God’s final act? We can’t say that because we cannot see the future. We don’t know what God will do next to redeem us. The Bible tells us that the Kingdom of God has not yet come.” [Bishop of Pennsylvania, Virtue on Line, November 29, 2005]
“When Jesus says to Nicodemus You must be born again from above, what might he mean? I think it is a way of the gospel is saying that Jesus is a venue, an event, an experience, and an instance in which life is renewed, in which every human being as access to new life.” [Presiding Bishop, ABC Radio, The Religion Report, 26 July 2006]
“. . . I see the pre-Easter Jesus as a Jewish mystic who knew God, and who, as a result, became a healer, wisdom teacher and prophet of the kingdom of God. The latter led to his being killed by the authorities who ruled his world. But I do not think he proclaimed or taught an extraordinary status for himself. The message of the pre-Easter Jesus was about God and the kingdom of God, and not about himself.” [Dr. Marcus Borg, Co-Director of Center for Spiritual Development at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Portland, and former President of the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars, Washington Post, December 30, 2006]
"I don’t think God cares if we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and so forth. What matters is a deepening relationship with God." [Dr. Marcus Borg, St. Petersburg Times, February 9, 2005]
MY CONCLUSION: Should I believe that Jesus is The Way as He claimed to be? Or should I believe that He is “a vehicle to the divine”? If He is a “vehicle” there is no advantage of choosing Him over other available vehicles, thus there is no reason to be a Christian or an Episcopalian. I choose to believe Him and in Him.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I was reading Romans the other day, through a passage I have read many times, and a short instruction from the Apostle Paul jumped out at me. This instruction was, “mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15b)” I guess part of the reason it jumped out at me was because of a recent conversation I had with a friend. This friend has been dealing with some hard times lately and he’s been grappling with depression. He is also a friend who helped get me through a battle with depression a few years ago. We both realized that part of what we appreciated about each other’s friendship was the fact that neither of us just tried to solve the other’s problem. Instead we actually “mourned with those who mourn.”It’s not that it’s never right to try to solve someone’s problems. But the reality is that often there is no easy solution to the problems and struggles a person faces. Maybe a person doesn't even have a good reason to "mourn" yet they seem unable to find joy in life. I think that there is a common assumption in our Western, modern culture which is that there is a solution to every problem if only we are intelligent enough, or perhaps from the Christian point of view, only if we know our Bible well enough or if we’re close enough to God. If this is your point of view, then a person who mourns and who cannot be easily consoled will only seem like a problem to you. Perhaps you will get frustrated with the person and avoid being around them because their mourning depresses you. But this is not obedience to the words of the Holy Spirit written down by the Apostle Paul. In Ecclesiastes, we see it affirmed that there can be a season for mourning. If we are to allow for “seasons” of mourning instead of thinking we can quickly solve every problem, and if we are seeking to love those who mourn, I think we must be obedient to the words of Paul and mourn with those who mourn.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Although Bishops carry a "shepherd's staff", it's just a fancy walking stick if they care more for buildings and bucks than for the flock.
Out-of-state interests prop up South Dakota abortionists - please pray and give to help make things right here
Our first concern is that theology is being changed by actions rather than allowing theology to inform actions. We have not resolved as a Church to bless same-sex unions nor to ordain those living in same-sex unions. Regardless of the individual circumstances, the appointment in Ottawa demonstrates an affirmation of these unions far beyond anything yet decided by the Church or allowed by the canons. Canon XVIII warns against “teaching or advocating doctrines contrary to those accepted by the Anglican Church of Canada.” Are we to understand that by the Bishop of Ottawa’s actions we now advocate such unions as suitable for the clergy of this Church? Let us be clear in our theology and actions...
Our second concern is that such actions jeopardize our place within the Anglican Communion. The Windsor Report states, “…that actions to move towards the authorization of such rites in the face of opposition from the wider Anglican Communion constitutes a denial of the bonds of Communion”...
We request that you address this process of gradualism - changing the Church’s theology by unchallenged action, rather than by intentional discernment and genuinely inclusive theological work.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 19 April 2008
The Anglican Church of Canada’s House of Bishops has rejected an overture from the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) to seek negotiated settlements of property disputes rather than pursue litigation.
Bishop Donald Harvey, moderator of ANiC, expressed his disappointment, and said that, while he was fully aware of the sensitivities of "diocesan autonomy" and wasn’t surprised at this response, “I had hoped the Primate would have attempted to facilitate negotiations between the dioceses and the Anglican Network parishes.”
In a letter to the Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC), dated 11 April 2008, Bishop Harvey wrote:
As you know, litigation has occurred in various parts of Canada as a result of the votes of some parishes to join ANiC. Further litigation is contemplated or expected in other places. I think we can all agree that such litigation has been damaging for the mission of the church and is a poor witness to the very people with whom we are called to share the good news of Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, neither the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) nor ANiC will end up a “winner” in the courts and we will both find our mission hindered by the distraction and cost of such litigation.
We would like to propose a meeting at the earliest possible opportunity with the Primate, the Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, and any affected ACoC bishops, together with representatives from ANiC, and our respective legal counsel, to discuss the possibility of pursuing alternate dispute resolution mechanisms (i.e. negotiation, mediation or arbitration) to address the outstanding issues between the ANiC parishes and the ACoC bishops or dioceses. It would be much better for everyone concerned if we could work out some interim arrangements between ourselves without the necessity of resorting to the civil courts.
We recognize that any decisions will have national impact and therefore propose that all affected bishops be at such discussions, which would be without prejudice to either party’s legal rights to employment issues, ownership and use of parish property and assets or any other issue that should arise from the discussions.
In the spirit of 1 Corinthians 6, we pray that you will consider meeting with us in a spirit of peace and in a more amicable setting to discuss the way forward in light of the profound theological differences that have arisen between us and that are currently being addressed in the global Anglican Communion. Peaceful negotiations will always leave the door to future reconciliation open but we fear that further litigation will lead to irreparable harm that will close that door forever.
The ACoC statement from their recent House of Bishop meeting and an April 18 Anglican Journal story confirm the rejection of ANiC’s peacemaking overtures.
Currently, four ANiC parishes are in legal disputes with ACoC dioceses:
· Parishioners of St Mary of the Incarnation (Metchosin) in Victoria were locked out of their church by Bishop James Cowan of the Diocese of British Columbia on April 4th. A court ordered the Diocese to return the church building to the parishioners the following day and ordered the parties to return to court before May 3 to consider a longer interim order.
· The Diocese of Niagara took three southern Ontario ANiC churches to court seeking to evict the congregations from their buildings or, failing that, to have joint administration and shared use of the church buildings. The three churches, St George’s (Lowville), St Hilda’s (Oakville) and Church of the Good Shepherd (St Catharine’s) were given sole access to their buildings in an initial court decision and now await the longer interim decision of Madam Justice Milanetti stemming from a hearing on March 20.
As well, the Diocese of New Westminster issued statements of “Presumption of Abandonment of Ministry” to clergy in ANiC parishes in the Vancouver area. Some of these clergy, including the Rev Dr J I Packer, a world-renowned Anglican theologian, serve in the Vancouver parishes of St John’s Shaughnessy, the largest Anglican parish in Canada, St Matthias and St Luke and Church of the Good Shepherd, the largest Chinese Anglican church in Canada. In addition, clergy and deacons in three other ANiC parishes in the Fraser Valley were served with these notices, including St Matthew’s and Church of the Holy Cross in Abbotsford and Church of the Resurrection in Hope. Clergy were given until Monday, April 21, to respond to these charges.
Anglican Network in Canada parishes are committed to remaining faithful to Holy Scripture and established Anglican doctrine and to ensuring that orthodox Canadian Anglicans are able to remain in full communion with their Anglican brothers and sisters around the world. Since the ANiC launched its ecclesial structure last November under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, it has received two bishops – Donald Harvey and Malcolm Harding – and 15 parishes.
Marilyn Jacobson, communications
Anglican Network in Canada
604 788-4222 cell
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Let me share a quote from his column, which I am breaking down into four bullet points. Which one best reflects the preaching you hear at your church?
Not surprisingly the contemporary church uses three strategies to soften the offence caused by the cross.
- The first is to cloud the whole thing with mystery. We are permitted to say that Jesus died for us but we are not permitted to say what this means and how it relates to sin and wrath and judgement.
- Second is to offer some other explanation for the cross than what the Bible itself says. We are told that the cross occurred solely to demonstrate the solidarity of God with us in our suffering.
- Third, to ignore the cross altogether and find the centre of Jesus’ mission in the Incarnation or even worse in his present friendship with us, sung about in endless trivial songs.
- The wrath of God is as real as your sin. The only thing which can satisfy the wrath of God is a satisfaction paid for your sin provided by God himself. Jesus has done this by dying for you on the cross, saving you ‘from the wrath to come.’ Whether we like it or not, that is the heart of the gospel. Turn the wrath of God into something else, or ignore it, and you will not have Christianity, but some other religious look-alike. That is our choice.
1) A "pastor" from another state left a message asking if I would do premarital counseling for a same-sex couple in Sioux Falls (same-sex union to take place in the caller's state). Caller was most insistent that I call back and "give an honest answer." (I did call back and simply stated that I don't participate in SSUs).
2) A person claiming to be a business vendor called our home phone, reaching my wife. The person claimed to be looking for The American Anglican Council chapter (we are members), but kept peppering my wife with questions like, "Your husband is the AAC president, right?" (FYI I'm not).
Anybody else getting calls like these?
To the Sanford family:
The goal of the Sanford Project is to resolve one of the most pressing health issues of our day. As you likely recall, the Sanford Project is one of four initiatives outlined by Sanford Health after a tremendous gift of $400 million by Mr. Denny Sanford in February 2007. Today, the Sanford Project Advisory Council met to provide insight to help Sanford Health choose a health issue.
Thirteen individuals participated in today’s dialogue with representatives from Sanford Health and Battelle Technology, an independent consulting firm hired to identify the selection process. Each member of the Sanford Project Advisory Council was chosen based on their broad and applicable knowledge in the worlds of health research, disease and translational medicine.
The Sanford Project Advisory Council discussed four potential health issues:
• Lupus - Curing Lupus by enabling the effective targeting of existing and new therapeutics using individualized medicine approaches
• Type 1 Diabetes - Curing Type 1 Diabetes through beta cell regeneration and transplantation
• HPV - Curing human papillomavirus (HPV) related diseases through development of a therapeutic vaccine
• Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis - Advancing the treatment of pediatric Multiple Sclerosis by repurposing adult therapies using molecular pharmacology and biomarker research.
Sanford Health will announce which one of these health issues will be the focus of the Sanford Project on June 6 during Festival week.
J. Mark Johnston
Vice President Administration and Corporate Communications
Go here for a recent news update.
I received the following specific request from a family that leads Christian missions in the area:
"Pray that a spirit of peace would fall on all involved and envelop every protester and demonstrator. Bind the works of the enemy that comes to cause disunity and strife. Pray that satan would not be able to deceive any one with his lying signs and wonders."
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Please pray for Matt and Anne Kennedy, their kids, and the whole parish. And of course pray for those who are hounding them...God can do amazing things when we obey Christ and pray, even for hostile people.
Anyway, Dean Munday just posted some comments about a recent book by columnist Mark Steyn. You can read the post, with some quotes from Steyn, right here.
Check out this paragraph...
"Most mainline Protestant churches are, to one degree or another, post-Christian. If they no longer seem disposed to converting the unbelieving to Christ, they can at least convert them to the boggiest of soft-left political cliches, on the grounds that if Jesus were alive today he'd most likely be a gay Anglican bishop in a committed relationship driving around in an environmentally friendly car with an 'Arms Are for Hugging' sticker on the way to an interfaith dialogue with a Wiccan and a couple of Wahhabi imams."
Sound like exaggeration? Sound like sarcasm? Uh, well, the FRONT PAGE of the March/April (aka Easter?) issue of the Diocese of South Dakota's newsletter was all about "Lighting, energy and recycling."
But if that's not enough, go to the "Diocesan Info Exchange" by clicking here. Scroll down a bit to the post for 3/28/08 at 10:52 a.m. This is what was up in The Diocese of South Dakota during Easter week:
"There will be two showings of the award winning film For The Bible Tells Me So -- one on each side of the state.
March 30, Sioux Falls, Zandbroz Variety, 209 S. Phillips, 3 pm
Co-sponsored by The Center East and All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Social Justice Committee
Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake's provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible.
Does God really condemn loving homosexual relationships? Is the chasm separating Christianity from gays and lesbians too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuss to hate? Through the experiences of five very normal, Christian, American families -- including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson -- one discovers how people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child or family member.
Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, For The Bible Tells Me So offers healing, clarity, and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.
April 5, Rapid City, Journey Museum Theatre, 6:30 pm
This showing will be followed by a panel discussion consisting of:
Bruce Baum, pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Rapid City
Kathy Monson Lutes - Rector, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Rapid City
Richard Fisher, United Methodist Church Pastor, current Vice President, South Dakota Association of Christian Churches
Fred Magnavito, PhD Psychologist working with the Pennington County Sheriff's Department and PFLAG Dad
Carol Butzman, Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Rapid City and PFLAG Mom
Curtis Price, Treasurer, Equality South Dakota, Board Member, South Dakota Centers for Equality, State coordinator for South Integrity
Moderating the panel; Michael Coats, Director of the Center West"
Now, I want to let you know that one of the listed presenters did invite me personally to one of these events. And I'll admit, I didn't go. I've been hearing this stuff since my seminary days almost 25 years ago, and these exercises are pointless. When you shoot holes in their arguments, they simply whip out some new "evidence" based on some new "study" or something nobody else seems to have handy. And when you present evidence that contradicts them, they simply say, "Well, your sources are biased." So I don't go to this stuff anymore - it all comes down to what Steyn is writing about. Folks who have no confidence in the Biblical message of Jesus Christ will try to place the church at the service of lesser things.
And when you think about that, you shouldn't just laugh at the craziness - it should break your heart and make you cry out to God for all who are being misled and harmed.
P.S. I recently had coffee with an SD political figure. S/he remarked, "When I was growing up, The Episcopal Church ran this State. All the movers and shakers were Episcopalians. Now, nobody knows what The Episcopal Church is."
2. Prom season is near in South Dakota, and with it comes an increase in drunk driving and teen fatalitites. Police will be adding patrols and check points.
Please consider the challenging words of Romans 13:1-7, and from them draw words of prayer:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due to them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due.
Almighty God, you institute and appoint earthly government to restrain the excesses of our sinful nature.
We pray that you will strengthen the hand of Tribal Police, the South Dakota Highway Patrol and all County Sheriffs and local Police Departments. Help them to protect the vulnerable and deter the dangerous.
We pray that you will reach the hearts of those in temptation, and that you will use the church to minister your saving fellowship, Word and sacraments to them.
We pray that you will give us honesty in paying our taxes and that you will guide those in public services to use financial resources wisely and responsibly in the work to which you have appointed them.
We ask these things in the Name of Jesus your Son, who with you, O Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Now, you Libertarians are always lecturing us on "keep the government out of the bedroom" and basically siding with the LGBT on the legislative front.
But where are you when peoples' "privacy and autonomy" comes out of the bedroom and is foisted on a private enterprise by the state?
You got some 'splainin' to do.
Friday, April 11, 2008
April 10, 2008
Dear People of God in the Diocese of North Dakota:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
For the second time in three weeks a priest of the church has gone to the secular news media with a protest about my policy and expectations for the sexual behavior of clergy in this diocese: “Faithfulness for those called to marriage and abstinence from sexual relationships for those not called to marriage.”
I am extremely disappointed that sensitive pastoral issues have been politicized by these actions. They serve to divide, polarize and work against the sense of community in the diocese we have sought to build.
As one whose responsibility it is to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the church, let me be clear. The diocesan policy I uphold is not one of my own invention or devising. Rather, it is the teaching of the Church for 2,000 years as derived from the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. It is based on the order of creation as recorded in Genesis and reasserted in the Gospels when Jesus says: “From the beginning of creation ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Mark 10:6-8).
Obviously, there have always been people who for one reason or another are unable or unwilling to live by this standard. These “exceptions to the rule” are matters of personal conscience between the individual and God. They do not, however, supplant or replace the traditional teaching of the Church, which until recent times was unquestioned as the behavior expected of all Christians.
The Episcopal Church and the other churches of the Anglican Communion have traditionally held together the Liberal, Catholic and Evangelical wings of the church by common worship and a common relationship with a bishop in the historic succession. This theoretically provides us with balance, correction and comprehension for the sake of truth.
What we are seeing in our national church and in other parts of the Anglican world is Liberals moving out on their own without benefit of the moderating and balancing effects of Catholic and Evangelical perspectives. In other places, Evangelicals and Catholics are choosing to walk apart from the Liberals. Either way, we are diminished as a community of Christians. There is a better way, however.
The Instruments of Communion of Anglicanism and our own General Convention have supported the so-called “Windsor process” which is to culminate in an Anglican Covenant. An Anglican Covenant should enable us to deal with the inevitable differences that will come before us in the years and centuries ahead.
I urge any Episcopalian of this diocese involved in our decision-making processes to support the Anglican Covenant. It is our best, perhaps only, hope of moving forward together through the contentious issues that threaten to divide us permanently.
To be sure, no one will be completely satisfied with any Anglican Covenant. That would be impossible given the diversity we represent. On the other hand, God will be glorified and the Gospel will be furthered when we learn to submit to one another in charity for the sake of the mission of God in Jesus Christ. I am,
Yours in Christ,
Thursday, April 10, 2008
He is currently under a manipulative attack by some folks in his diocese. You can get all the details via Jackie Bruchi at Stand Firm.
Please pray for the Bishop and all who are attacking him - and for the well being of faithful Anglicans in North Dakota. You can send a supportive e-mail to Bishop Smith here.
One of her defenders raises a very good question, "Why should everybody in church have to believe the same thing about the resurrection?" Let me give some perspective on that, as it connects with this Sunday's lessons (Revised Common Lectionary) and those read last Sunday in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
I. Not everybody will believe, but leaders must.
In Acts 2:42-47, we get a snapshot of the early church. There were tons of recent converts - clearly, not all of them understood everything in the same way. As we read in other parts of Acts, some joined out of warped motives and some required quite a bit of teaching to fix incorrect assumptions about Jesus.
But there were common things around which they gathered as they grew. One of these was "devotion to the apostles' teaching." Even if the members of the church were all over the map in what they understood, the apostles taught with one accord that Jesus rose from the dead. When Peter preached, he "stood with the eleven," all of the apostles joined in one proclamation of the risen Christ.
In Anglicanism, Bishops carry on the ministry of the apostles. It is essential that they affirm the great mysteries of our faith - even if church members harbor doubts about this or that. For a "Presiding Bishop" to publicly dismiss the resurrection is a failure of faith, leadership, and even morality. To take a title, position and perks and then show no responsibility for the well being of those who elected you is profoundly evil.
II. To play fast and loose with the resurrection of Christ is to place oneself and others in spiritual danger.
Christians are always under attack from "the world, the flesh and the devil." Powerful, selfish interests of this world have a vested interest in denying supernatural authority. Because they want us to be in their service, they need to cast doubts on unique Christian affirmations so they can enslave us to their agendas.
The flesh is sin at work within us. Each of us has unique ways of rebelling against God, but we all share the core sin of pride - of trying to push God out of the center of the universe so we can take His place. Extolling "our opinions" about the resurrection is one form of this. To say that there is no sacred teaching that is more important than our opinions is to idolize ourselves.
The devil is a liar. Because the resurrection of Christ is true, the devil needs to cast doubt. That simple.
In the 23rd Psalm, the Good Shepherd has a "rod and staff". The staff (Bishops carry one as a sign of their office) is used to pull and poke the sheep and keep them moving toward food, water and safety. The rod is a club - it is to whack predators.
This Presiding Bishop is misusing the shepherd's tools. She is pushing and pulling the flock into a wasteland where they will be food for predators, and she is using the rod to knock down good shepherds who would guide the flock to green pastures and living water.
III. Leaders who deny the resurrection are doing an "inside job" to help the devil destroy the church.
I Peter 2:25 speaks of Jesus as the "shepherd and guardian of your souls" (NRSV). The Greek word behind "guardian" is episkopos, which in other translations is rendered "overseer" or "bishop."
Because Christ entrusts his church to apostolic leaders, Bishops take on this responsibility to protect the souls of the people for whom Christ died to take away sin and rose to give new life. For the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to ignore her duty as episkopos is to be like a bank guard who leaves the doors open for robbers. If she doesn't believe in the resurrection, she has no business guarding the treasure - souls beloved by Christ.
IV. Jesus rose from the dead to give life. To deny that is to "steal, kill and destroy."
John 10:1-10 affirms that Jesus' followers don't always understand him. But he keeps teaching them and points out that he has come so that people "may have life, and have it abundantly." And he is clear that this life will come only to those who hear his voice, follow his path, and make his life their own. His life is available to share because he is risen from the dead.
What of those who turn him into a literary symbol rather than a living reality? If they are religious leaders, he has harsh words: they are "a thief and a bandit...The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy."
Might faithful Christians wonder about and even doubt the resurrection? At points in life, we all run into doubts. As we see in John 10:1-10, when Jesus' followers don't understand him, he keeps reaching out to help them know who he is. God is patient and loving.
But those set apart to lead and teach in Christ's name must believe in the resurrection and proclaim it to the world. To do any less is to betray Christ, the people he comes to save, and even one's own soul.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Presiding Bishop - scheduled to visit S. Dakota this Summer - tells us to believe in her, not the resurrection of Jesus
But then I read this wretched propaganda from Episcopal Life. Here are some "highlights":
- "Asked about the literal story of Easter and the Resurrection, Jefferts Schori said, 'I think Easter is most profoundly about meaning, not mechanism.'" Translation: Easter is a symbolic story. You don't really have to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. To which the Bible says, But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 15:12-19
- What, according to the Presiding Bishop and The Episcopal Church, should you believe in as a replacement for the real message of Easter? "'I met Bishop Katharine, and I'm ready to change the world.' This message was printed on miniature globes that children received from their rector as they huddled around Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on the final morning of her three-day visit to San Diego." Translation: Your church bureaucracy (the one spending way over a million dollars to sue other Christians) is more meaningful to you than Jesus. To which the Bible says, Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelation to John 2:3-5
Yeah, I deleted the nice post asking you to think about how badly litigation hurts all who are involved. Never mind. Go worship your new gods, guys. You've heard the warnings and seen the evidence in your ever more empty churches. You feel the deep down fear and anxiety - the last glimmers of your fading consciences - warning you that you've traded the real Christ who loves you for a bunch of trendy melodrama. Knock yourselves out.
Another reason for South Dakotans to step up and ban "elective abortion," a true blight on this or any other place. We have the chance to make things right this November.
Hat tip: The Reformed Pastor
Friday, April 4, 2008
BREAKING NEWS - Judge in Virginia says the Episcopal Church is out of touch with reality, allows Anglican congregations to keep their property
"ECUSA/Diocese argue that the historical evidence demonstrates that it is only the "major" or "great" divisions within 19th-century churches that prompted the passage of 57-9, such as those within the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. ECUSA/Diocese argue that the current "dispute" before this Court is not such a "great" division, and, therefore, this is yet another reason why 57-9(A) should not apply. The Court agrees that it was major divisions such as those within the Methodist and Presbyterian churches that prompted the passage of 57-9. However, it blinks at reality to characterize the ongoing division within the Diocese, ECUSA, and the Anglican Communion as anything but a division of the first magnitude, especially given the involvement of numerous churches in states across the country, the participation of hundreds of church leaders, both lay and pastoral, who have found themselves "taking sides" against their brethren, the determination by thousands of church members in Virginia and elsewhere to "walk apart" in the language of the Church, the creation of new and substantial religious entities, such as CANA, with their own structures and disciplines, the rapidity with which the ECUSA's problems became that of the Anglican Communion, and the consequent impact-in some cases the extraordinary impact-on its provinces around the world, and, perhaps most importantly, the creation of a level of distress among many church members so profound and wrenching as to lead them to cast votes in an attempt to disaffiliate from a church which has been their home and heritage throughout their lives, and often back for generations.Whatever may be the precise threshold for a dispute to constitute a division under 57-9(A), what occurred here qualifies."
I highlighted that particular phrase because the Presiding Bishop and other TEC spokespeople keep saying "All is well" and "There's just a few dissenters". The judge heard the evidence and saw the reality. Please pray that TEC leaders will have their eyes opened and return to contending for the Gospel instead of for property. The fastest way to peace and reconciliation is for TEC to embrace its own foundational values, giving Scripture first place in church teaching.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
April is Autism Awareness Month.
I give thanks today for all kinds of church people (usually Sunday School leaders, but also Secretaries and others) who have tried to make the churches we've served into comfortable places for Joey, our autistic son. You might have special needs kids in your congregation - can't begin to tell you what a blessing you will be to their families by being patient and accomodating.
Please pray for autistic people, their families and care givers. If you are so able, give to autism research and care... and if I might make a local plug, consider a gift to a place that Joey loves, Liberty Center, Sioux Falls.
Minnesota Twins and Sioux Falls Canaries Fans will appreciate this analysis of Episcopal Church behavior
Father Dan Martins, on his blog.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
But when the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets in the summer of '09, it will likely pass sweeping revisions to "Title IV", the Canon law dealing with discipline of clergy (and being expanded to include lay people in some cases - yes, "excommunication" will come to a church near you.)
I recommed revisiting this editorial, and following its links to the changes that are proposed.
Having just written to my South Dakota Senators (see the post below) with comments critical of Episcopal leadership and denominational performance, I wonder how the church might respond to such a letter after the Title IV changes are in place?
For example, the revisions say that
Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy shall mean any disorder or neglect that
prejudices the reputation, good order and discipline of the Church, or any conduct of a nature to bring material discredit upon the Church or the Holy Orders conferred by the Church. (Canon 2)
The revisions are full of this kind of slippery, subjective language. How about this one:
Injured Person shall mean a person, group or Community who has been, is, or may be affected by an Offense.
Check out some good analysis at Still On Patrol. A taste:
Mr. Drell, trained in the law as am I, sees the inherent and unjust flaw in any disciplinary system which would allow the presiding bishop to initiate deposition or other forms of punishment simply for disagreement, well before any substantive action to "abandon communion" has occurred. PB Schori seems to be well on her way to forming an ecclesiastical KGB to sniff out dissent and to eventually rid herself of Bishops who decline to ordain women or LGBT's, who do not believe in same-sex blessings, who continue to see the basic conflict between Islamic beliefs and Christianity, or who continue to believe that Jesus Christ is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Yet PB Schori seems inexorably headed down the path of creating a TEC thought police and instituting a 21st-century Inquisition to test whether laity and clergy hold to their official liberal beliefs.
Sound far-fetched? Then visit here for more evidence (hat tip to TitusOneNine).