Archive for February, 2009

Lenten Preaching Series: Jesus and the Cross

Posted: February 25, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

MARCH 1ST:  Jesus and the Cross Part 1:  God’s eternal plan

March 1st begins our Lenten preaching series entitled “Jesus and the cross.”  Working through the five Sundays of Lent we will be looking at a different aspect of Jesus’ confrontation with death, hell, the devil and sin as he suffers on the tree at Golgotha.  Each sermon will be an exposition of scripture from the Gospel of Luke.  Our first in this series, “God’s eternal plan” is an exposition of Luke 9.18-27.  As the events of Jesus’ passion unfold, the temptation is to ask “why have things gone so horribly wrong?  When did God lose control?”  Of course, there is perhaps no point in history where the eyes are deceived to the extent that they are on Good Friday.  As the Lord suffers in agony, he reigns supreme, fulfilling an ancient plan to redeem the human race.  Our reading from Luke highlights the fact that Jesus was well aware of his eventual death on the cross.  Indeed this is why he has come.  This is pastorally significant, not only because of its theological implications for sinful humanity, but also because it demonstrates that God’s good purposes are never thwarted.  It is on the cross, when everything appears to be falling apart, that everything is actually going just as God planned it. 


Old Testament:  Gen 22.1-14

Psalm: Psalm 25


Gospel:  Luke 9.18-27 (more…)

Preached at the Ash Wednesday Service, Feb 24th 2009. 

Culture places high value on the notion that the human heart is not only good, but that it is essentially trustworthy.  For many people the heart is the spring from which all that is good within us flows out.  We believe that the heart, the seat of our emotions is essentially good.  We are in our innermost being good people, with good intentions.  And yet we don’t stop here.  Alongside this idea that the heart is fundamentally good in a moral sense, we also believe that the heart is unique in the sense that it is a trustworthy compass pointing us in the right direction.  If you were to type in the internet bookstore searching for titles that include the phrase “follow your heart,” you would find over six-thousand titles.  This shows us two things:  first there are people in the world who have thought about the heart, about its goodness and trustworthiness (6,000 people!), and second there are people who are interested in reading about how good and trustworthy their hearts are.

The Bible also has many things to say about the heart.  For example, the Book of Proverbs instructs us to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (4.23).  The heart is the root of the tree, the gasoline to the car, the hinge on the door, the wood for the fire.  In other words, as “from it flow the springs of life!”  Which is why the writer instructs us to “keep it with vigilance.”  Something so important should be tended to most carefully.  Because our hearts are so important, it is no surprise that God himself is deeply concerned with the nature of our hearts.  “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance,  but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16.7) and ““I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds” (Jer 17.10). 

Jesus also has much to say about the heart.  Today, in this passage, though he never specifically mentions the heart he nevertheless has much to say about the heart and what he says about the heart can be summed up in one word:  “Beware.”  Beware!  It is the last thing that you would suspect would come from the mouth of gentle Jesus meek and mild about the human heart.  We expect the Lamb of God to come gently bleeting compliments and high praise for the goodness of our individual hearts.  Rather he expresses a fearfulness, withdrawing in horror as if he had seen some type of dangerous predator or a horrific car crash, recoiling he says “Beware!” (more…)

Caleb is a good friend who came to faith at Trinity while the Bishop was preaching back in June. He gave his testimony last night at our Shrove Tuesday service. Thought you might enjoy a pic of his Baptism we did back in late fall.  I invited my buddy Sami to come out there with me because he had been instrumental in leading Caleb to faith.  It was an awesome experience.  We all got pretty wet!  Some of us were smarter than others however.  You’ll notice Caleb put the wetsuit on.  Many thanks to Bob Caswell for being handy on his Palm Treo that day and getting this picture.

From left to right:  Rob Sturdy, Sami Al-Taher, Caleb Parker

I think Bridges has a lot of good things to say, espcially in his book The Discipline of Grace, which was given to all of our folks who renewed or were confirmed in the faith.  Below is an essential truth about the Christian life, namely that the Gospel is for believers too.  Too often in evangelical America we shake hands at the cross with Jesus, thank him for what he’s done then get on to the “real work” of discipleship.  These folks have never come to the cross in the first place.  It was simply a detour on their future career in legalism.  Rather the true Christian, as Bridges commends to us, stays always at the cross.  This is a timely reminder for us in the performance driven culture we all live in. 


Gradually over time, and from a deep sense of need, I came to realize that the gospel is for believers, too. When I finally realized this, every morning I would pray over a Scripture such as Isaiah 53:6,” All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” and then say, “Lord, I have gone astray. I have turned to my own way, but you have laid all my sin on Christ and because of that I approach you and feel accepted by you.”


I came to see that Paul’s statement in Galatians 2:20, “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me,” was made in the context of justification (see vv. 15-21). Yet Paul was speaking in the present tense: “The life I now live ….” Because of the context, I realized Paul was not speaking about his sanctification but about his justification. For Paul, then, justification (being declared righteous by God on the basis of the righteousness of Christ) was not only a past-tense experience but also a present-day reality.


Paul lived every day by faith in the shed blood and righteousness of Christ. Every day he looked to Christ alone for his acceptance with the Father. He believed, like Peter (see 1 Pet. 2:4-5), that even our best deeds — our spiritual sacrifices — are acceptable to God

only through Jesus Christ. Perhaps no one apart from Jesus himself has ever been as committed a disciple both in life and ministry as the Apostle Paul. Yet he did not look to his own performance but to Christ’s “performance” as the sole basis of his acceptance with God.


So I learned that Christians need to hear the gospel all of their lives because it is the gospel that continues to remind us that our day-to-day acceptance with the Father is not based on what we do for God but upon what Christ did for us in his sinless life and sin-bearing death. I began to see that we stand before God today as righteous as we ever will be, even in heaven, because he has clothed us with the righteousness of his Son. Therefore, I don’t have to perform to be accepted by God. Now I am free to obey him and serve him because I am already accepted in Christ (see Rom. 8:1). My driving motivation now is not guilt but gratitude.


read it all here

Christian Robert Chaney

Posted: February 10, 2009 by limabean03 in Trinity Tidings

Mark and Kris have a new son! And Will is now a big brother. We’re obviously very excited about the new addition to the Chaney family and expect him to be leading Sunday worship on the organ or some other suitable instrument within three months.


Christian Robert Chaney
Born 9:35 am, Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
6 lb, 11 oz, 19 inches long

Preached 2.08.09

“All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.” –Blaise Paschal Pensees VII.1.425

Paschal’s quote from Pensees is useful for the fact that it reminds us of something that every inch of our current era strains to help us forget, namely, that you and I are desiring creatures.  What do we desire?  Essentially we desire, Paschal says, to be happy.  Our hearts desire our happiness, our minds conceive of what might make us happy, and our bodies strain to achieve this end.  It is out of a desiring heart, that our mind say “going to the mall today will make me happy,” so our bodies strain to the mall.  It is out of the desiring heart that our mind says “watching House tonight will make me happy,” so my body strains to watch House, even if I’m tired or have other responsibilities.  We are desiring creatures and we always do what we desire and what satisfies us in the end. 

Why do we behave this way?  Well, we behave this way in short because we believe that there is something out there that will eventually satisfy our desire.  Of course the comeback is, just because I think there is something out there, doesn’t mean it exists.  I could imagine a pristine island in the South Pacific that has a sign on the beach that says “reserved for Rob Sturdy” and it doesn’t mean it exists.  But, on the other hand, a baby who is newly born, who desires food desires the food because he was made to consume it.  So, while it doesn’t necessarily prove it, I think it is a strong argument that a desire to be in heaven after we die, to have communion with God, to have a transcendent purpose in life, is a reasonably strong argument that such things exist. (more…)

When crisis strikes, it is very easy to forget that God is ultimately in control and is working all things both for His glory and our benefit. Even the current state of affairs in the American economy cannot escape God’s sovereign grace.  I often find it to be a spiritually edifying exercise to ask God to reveal His good purposes and plans to me in the midst of my own difficulties.  Below are five potential purposes God might have in the current recession.
  1. He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
  2. He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
  3. He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
  4. He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
  5. He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.

Read the whole thing from DesiringGod here

Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot's Peasant Woman

Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot's Peasant Woman

Below is an excerpt from Kierkegaard’s Philosophical Fragments. It is a famous section with a well known parable. I have placed an enormous amount of text on this post. Simply click through to read it all. It reaches an emotional crescendo in the final few paragraphs and is quite moving. This is a stunning piece of philosophical devotion to the Lord Jesus.  This excerpt I think will be a joy to anyone who reads it.  Don’t worry if you get lost from time to time.  It’s worth pushing through to the finish.  The greatest Kierkegaard junkie to the guy who says “who’s Kierkegaard?” will reap great rewards for spending time in these few paragraphs.  Enjoy.

Suppose then a king who loved a humble maiden. The heart of the king was not polluted by the wisdom that is loudly enough proclaimed; he knew nothing of the difficulties that the understanding discovers in order to ensnare the heart, which keep the poets so busy, and make their magic formulas necessary. It was easy to realize his purpose. Every statesman feared his wrath and dared not breathe a word of displeasure; every foreign state trembled before his power, and dared not omit sending ambassadors with congratulations for the nuptials; no courtier groveling in the dust dared wound him, lest his own head be crushed. Then let the harp be tuned, let the songs of the poets begin to sound, and let all be festive while love celebrates its triumph. For love is exultant when it unites equals, but it is triumphant when it makes that which was unequal equal in love. — Then there awoke in the heart of the king an anxious thought; who but a king who thinks kingly thoughts would have dreamed of it! He spoke to no one about his anxiety; for if he had, each courtier would doubtless have said: “Your majesty is about to confer a favor upon the maiden, for which she can never be sufficiently grateful her whole life long.” This speech would have moved the king to wrath, so that he would have commanded the execution of the courtier for high treason against the beloved, and thus he would in still another way have found his grief increased. So he wrestled with his troubled thoughts alone. Would she be happy in the life at his side? Would she be able to summon confidence enough never to remember what the king wished only to forget, that he was king and she had been a humble maiden? For if this memory were to waken in her soul, and like a favored lover sometimes steal her thoughts away from the king, luring her reflections into the seclusion of a secret grief; or if this memory sometimes passed through her soul like the shadow of death over the grave: where would then be the glory of their love? Then she would have been happier had she remained in her obscurity, loved by an equal, content in her humble cottage; but confident in her love, and cheerful early and late. What a rich abundance of grief is here laid bare, like ripened grain bent under the weight of its fruitfulness, merely waiting the time of the harvest, when the thought of the king will thresh out all its seed of sorrow! For even if the maiden would be content to become as nothing, this could not satisfy the king, precisely because he loved her, and because it was harder for him to be her benefactor than to lose her. And suppose she could not even understand him? For while we are thus speaking foolishly of human relationships, we may suppose a difference of mind between them such as to render an understanding impossible. What a depth of grief slumbers not in this unhappy love, who dares to rouse it! However, no human being is destined to suffer such grief; him we may refer to Socrates, or to that which in a still more beautiful sense can make the unequal equal. (more…)

This was sung by our choir last night at an evensong.  I was struck by the intense desire to “depart and be with Christ” (Phil 1.23) and found myself wondering what Bach was going through to give him such deep insight into the emptiness of worldly pleasure contrasted with the exceeding majesty of Christ.  Read the whole thing as a devotional excercise.  Perhaps if the recording equipment worked out well then I will post our choir singing it.  As for now, you’ll just have to read it.  It is deeply moving. 


Come, sweet hour of death,

when my spirit

feeds on honey

from the lion’s mouth;

make my departure sweet,

do not delay,

last night

so that I may kiss my savior


World, your pleasure is a burden

I hate your sweetness as if it were a poison,

your joyful light

is my star of ill omen

and where your roses are gathered

there are thorns beyond counting

to cause my soul anguish

Pale death is for me the glow of dawn

with which arises for me the sun

of glory and heavenly delight.

Therefore I truly sigh from the bottom of my heart

only for the final hour of death. 

I desire to pasture soon with Christ,

I desire to depart from this world


My longing

is to embrace the saviour

and soon to be with Christ.

although as mortal ashes and earth

I may be crushed by death,

the pure light of my soul will

Then be resplendent like the angels.


The decisions already made,

World, goodnight!

and if I can only gain consolation

by dying soon in Jesus’ arms,

He is my sweet sleep.

The cool tomb will cover me with roses

until Jesus awakens me,

until he leads his sheep

to the sweet pastures of life

so death does not separate me from him!

Therefore dawn, sweet day of death,

therefore sound, stroke of the last hour!


If it is the will of my God

I wish that the burden of my body

may this day fill the earth

and that my spirit, the body’s guest,

may be clothed in immortality

in the sweet joy of heaven.

Jesus, come take me from here!

May this be my last word.


The body indeed in the earth

will be eaten by worms,

but it will be awakened,

transfigured in beauty through Christ

it will shine like the sun

and live without anguish

in the joy and delight of heaven.

What harm then can death do to me?

The “Urban Dictionary” defines the term “broken record” as something that keeps repeating like a broken record repeats the same line of music over and over again. Used in a sentence: “You’re like a broken record, keep on saying the same thing over and over again..”

Global Anglicanism is a broken record par excellence. There is no more recent and effective example than the communique from the Primates who met in Alexandria last week. You can read it hereThe communique is long, so I will sum it up for you if you don’t have time to read it. 

Rob’s Summary of the Primate’s Communique:  “The Communion has been caused great anxiety by the theological innovations of The Episcopal Church U.S.A.  The Episcopal Church U.S.A. has been caused great anxiety by intervening Bishops from the Global South.  Now that we understand each other’s differences more fully, let’s turn our eyes to the global market economy and climate change.  We will meet again in six months and try to say the exact same thing all over again.  Please do not take any action in any direction in the mean time.” 

A Picture I found of the Primate’s Communique:


No matter what side of the issues you fall on, you should be profoundly distressed at this latest communique.  The Bishops provide no guidance, no practical solutions, and no immediate way forward.  Only months ago four whole dioceses left the Episcopal Church along with over 100,000 worshippers.  The situation is severe and we need a solution.  But sometimes not offering a solution is a solution in and of itself.  It is important to recognize that when you do nothing, you have actually done something!  The Anglican Communion has been on a path for a long time.  That path is a path towards division, theological innovation, confusion, litigation (!), and fracture.  By doing nothing, I believe the primates have done a great deal to keep us on the disastrous road we have been on for some time already.

You might ask at this point, what then shall become of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church, or the Diocese of South Carolina?  Well, to be honest I really don’t know.  If I were to guess, I think I’d say it doesn’t look good for any of the three.  As for Trinity, I can present a much clearer picture.  If you were to come to Trinity this Sunday, you would hear the Gospel preached.  You would hear that God’s grace extends to the neediest of sinners because of the infinite value of Jesus’ sacrifical death on the cross.  You would be encouraged to develop Biblically informed fidelity to Jesus Christ.  You would be challenged to serve your neighbor by sharing God’s good news and performing works of mercy.  You would meet people who worship Jesus passionately and love him deeply.  You would receive communion, the gracious pledge of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in the bread and the wine.  You would not hear words like “Episcopal,” “Anglican”, “Bishops”, or “Communiques”.  We don’t talk about those things much.  Not because we have our head in the sand, but because we realize that talking about those things takes time away from talking about the glory of Jesus Christ and his infinite mercies.  What will happen at Trinity?  My prediction, more of the same.  More Gospel, more Jesus, more grace, more transformation, more life, and so on and so on. 

I would encourage all of you not to put your trust in the stability or lack thereof within the Anglican Communion.  Nor would I encourage you to put much stock in institutional loyalty.  Neither of these things deserve your confidence or your loyalty.  Rather put your trust in Jesus.  His never failing love and immense mercies are worth leaning on.  At the end of the day, I have little control over what communiques say or what bishops decide to do with their free time.  What I do have control over is this: as long as I’m rector of Trinity we will seek to make Jesus our sole focus and guiding passion behind our every thought, action, and emotion.  May God Himself uphold us by His mighty power in this task.


What a wonderful excerpt from Luther’s 1535 commentary on Galatians.  Below Luther outlines a duel between Christ’s eternal righteousness and sin’s most powerful destructive force.  It is edifying and fascinating to see how he works it out.  Enjoy!

This is the most joyous of all doctrines and the one that contains the most comfort. It teaches that we have the indescribable and inestimable mercy and love of God. When the merciful Father saw that we were being oppressed through teh Law, that we were being held under a curse, and that we could not be liberated from it by anything, He sent His Son into the world, heaped all the sins of all men upon Him, and said to Him: “Be Peter the denier, Paul the persecutor, blasphemer, and assaulter; David the adulterer; the sinner who at the apple in Paradise; the thief on teh cross. In short, be the person of all men, the one who has committed the sins of all men. And see to it that You pay and make satisfaction for them.” Now the Law comes and says: “I find HIm a sinner, who takes upon Himself the sins of all men. I do not see any other sins than those in Him. Therefore let Him die on the cross!” And so it attacks Him and kills Him. By this deed the whole world is purged and expiated from all sins, and thus it is set free from death and from every evil. But when sin and death have been abolished by this one man, God does not want to see anything else in the whole world, especially if it were to believe, except the sheer cleansing and righteousness. And if any remnants of sin were to remain, still for the sake of Christ, the shining Sun, God would not notice them. (more…)

Christ’s letter to the church in Philadelphia can be found in Rev 3.7-13. My study of that letter indicates that as in much of the early Christian world, the Christians at Philadephia were worshipping in a Jewish synagogue. The context of Rev 3.7-13 clearly indicates that the Christians are suffering severe hardship under the leaders of the synagogue and have most likely been put out of the synagogue. By the time Ignatius writes his letter to Philadelphia, they seem to still be struggling with the same issues (see ch. VI). The letter is historically of great interest (not least because Ignatius clearly defines the heresy of the mysterious Nicolatains) but more importantly it is spiritually edifying. I have excerpted a quote below that did my soul well. In it, Ignatius talks about how the Gospel transcends all the other revelations of God, whether they be in the O.T. or New. God’s supreme and transcendent grace, is for Ignatius, contained in the appearing of Jesus, his death and resurrection. I hope you enjoy it.

The priests indeed and the ministers of the word are good; but the High Priest is better, to whom the holy of holies has been committed, and who alone has been entrusted with the secrets of God. The ministering powers of God are good. The Comforter is holy, and the Word is holy, the Son of the Father, by whom He made all things, and exercises a providence over them all, This is the Way which leads to the Father, the Rock, the Defence, the Key, the Shepherd, the Sacrifice, the Door o fknowledge, through which have entered Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and all the company of the prophets, and these pillars of the world, the apostles, and the spouse of Christ, on whose account He poured out his own blood, as her marriage portion, that He might redeem her. All these things tend towards the unity of the one and true God. But the Gospel possesses soemthign transcendent [above the former dispensation], viz., the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, His passion, and the ressurction itself. For those things which the prophets announced, saying, “Until He come for whom it is reserved, and He shall be the expectation of the Gentiles,” have been fulfilled in teh Gospel, [our Lord saying], “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

-Ignatius, “Letter to the Philadelphians” ch. IX excerpted from The Apostolic Fathers: with Justin Martyr American Edition, vol I pg 84-85

Because He Can…

Posted: February 1, 2009 by limabean03 in Trinity Tidings

My son David loves to push the cart at the grocery. Why? Because he can. Enjoy the video. It’s a bit of a departure from our usual content, but hey, it’s my website and I love my boy. Check out the video below.