Archive for April, 2009

Yesterday we were in contact with the local chapter of the Salvation Army. When we asked what Trinity could do to help with the current wildfire crisis, we were told that the two most immediate needs are non-perishable foods and monetary donations. The local office has served more than 1000 meals, not to only victims but to fire fighters, forestry commission workers, EMT’s and police officers. “Our cupboards are bare” say’s Donna Wright administrator for the Salvation Army. There is also concern about going into the upcoming hurricane season with so little food & supplies.

Please be as generous as you possibly can. You may make your checks out to Trinity with the memo line of Trinity Wildfire Relief Fund. There will be a collection box for canned goods set up in the hall just outside of the worship space.

much love,
Rob Sturdy

Below is a sample clip of Iain’s sermon on the New Life in Jesus preached on 4-26-08. To watch the full sermon in video click here

Update on Trinity’s Response to the Wildfires

Posted: April 24, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

Friends in Christ,

Through phone, e-mail and this blog we have been shown support from friends all across North America as well as England.  Many thanks for your prayers and concerns.  I was taking a short cycle ride to clear my mind and crossing the waterway saw a stunning sight.  Large black plumes of smoke stretched across the sky for what looked like 10-15 miles in either direction.  Flying above the smoke were 3 Black Hawk helicopters carrying large buckets to douse the fire.  Once the Black Hawks had cleared a C-130 guided by a smaller white prop plane flew over the blaze dropping water over the tree line.  It was a humbling thing to know this fire has resisted our finest fire fighters and military personnel for three days now.

Trinity is still on the short list to become a shelter if the need arises, but it looks as if this is not Trinity’s role to play in this crisis as many people are finding shelter in hotels preferring to sleep in beds rather than cots.  As for those of you who have made your homes available I am tremendously thankful and will let you know if we will be honored to serve in this way.

As it is at the moment, I am waiting for the Red Cross and Salvation Army to call us back and give us specific instructions and specific needs for which we could contribute.  In addition to this, my wife and I are currently in the process of organizing two charitable fundraisers to contribute to the relief and rebuilding effort.  Stay tuned for more news on those fronts.  I am hoping to be able to make an announcement at Sunday morning services about the specific role Trinity will play in the coming weeks.  Until then, the TRINITY WILDFIRE RELIEF FUND serves as the best option for those of you that wish to make a contribution through Trinity.

Finally, I wish to thank my former pastor and former church, Steve Wood and St. Andrews Mt. Pleasant for pledging funds for the relief effort here in Horry County.  Knowing the passion for Jesus that characterizes St. Andrews it is of no surprise to me that they were first in line to pledge assistance in this crisis.

For contributions or volunteer sign up please see the post immediately below.

Continue to pray that the wind will die out, the humidity will rise, the fire will be extinguished and that lives and homes will be preserved.

much love in Jesus Christ,


Beloved in Christ,

As many of you will now know the communities west of the waterway and north of The Farm development have been ravaged by a massive wildfire that has destroyed near 100 homes and displaced many families.  As of 2:00 a.m. last night (4-23-09) the development at Barefoot Landing was evacuated.  Trinity, it’s staff and parishioners are by God’s grace o.k. for the time being.   Please continue to pray for the law enforcement, firefighters, and Red Cross folks.  Pray also that the Lord will calm the winds, prevent the fire from advancing any further and protect the homes of the many families in its path. 

I have offered to the Red Cross and the local relief efforts any and all of our facilities, staff, and volunteers. God has given us tremendous facilities that we are blessed to offer.  We are currently on the list of shelters and are waiting for the Red Cross to assess our facilities to see how many people we could host.  In addition to this I am encouraging you to open spare bedrooms and available space for displaced families.  You may never be called upon to offer this service, nevertheless if you are willing I would like to know.  If you are able to contribute in this way or any other way please click  here so that we can compile a list of what we might be able to offer. 

Many of you have called and asked what you could contribute to the relief effort.  To be honest it is too soon to tell.  Nevertheless, we have established a separate fund called “Trinity Wildfire Relief Fund” and are accepting checks which will be held until a clear relief effort emerges.  The Red Cross will be an obvious recipient of most (if not all) of these funds, however the money will be spent as your elected vestry determines.   

If the Red Cross determines the need of an additional shelter and Trinity is called upon I am confident that you will demonstrate the grace of Christ in extravagent gestures of service and generosity and will be prepared to serve at a moment’s notice.  As always, the clergy and staff are prepared to lead by example in this endeavor. 

For non-members of Trinity that are blog readers you can contribute to this effort by writting a check to:

Trinity Church
3000 N’ Kings Hwy
Myrtle Beach S.C.

MEMO: Trinity Wildfire Relief Fund

You may call us for more info at 843-448-8426

Many Rich Blessings in Christ,

Rob Sturdy
Rector, Trinity Church Myrtle Beach

Our own diocesan Bishop, Mark Lawrence as well as former diocesan Ed Salmon have both endorsed this document with their signatures. While some commentators have rightly pointed out, that General Convention could be said (although the evidence is not conclusive) to have formed some dioceses, it cannot be said to have formed the Diocese of South Carolina. The Diocese of South Carolin pre-exists the Episcopal Church U.S.A. In fact, the Diocese of South Carolina was one of the original Diocese that called for the organization of the first general convention. The argument put forward in the following document states that individual dioceses use their autonomy to join the Episcopal Church therefore an individual diocese can still use its autonomy to determine its future course of action irrespective of the decisions of General Convention. It is important that you know, that neither the Standing Committee NOR the Bishop intend to use this autonomy to leave the Episcopal Church. Rather, they intend to use this autonomy to join the proposed Anglican Covenant even if the General Convention of the Episcopal Church chooses not to join the Anglican Covenant. I will be happy to take questions on this matter IN PERSON OR OVER THE PHONE ONLY. I will not answer any questions pertaining to this matter on the blog though as always you are encouraged to discuss. 

The Fundamental Structure of The Episcopal Church Is That of a Voluntary Association of Equal Dioceses

Given the constitutional reservation of authority within the diocese to the Bishop and Standing Committee, it is not surprising that the fundamental structure of our Church is that of a voluntary association of equal dioceses.

It is significant that the same term, “voluntary association,” has been used by both the founding father of The Episcopal Church to describe the organization he was so instrumental in forming and by the civil law to describe religious societies and other unincorporated voluntary organizations in general. Our Church’s primary architect was, of course, William White, and his blueprint was The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered, published in 1782 as the Revolutionary War was nearing an end. As a result of American independence, many of the former Church of England parishes had become independent churches while others were still organized as state churches under the control of state legislatures. White’s concept, later accepted by others in the former colonies, was that the Anglican churches would first be organized into state churches and then the state churches would organize themselves nationally as a voluntary association of state churches (now called “dioceses”). Pursuant to this plan, White was one of the first two Americans consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1787 to serve in the Episcopal Churches. When The Episcopal Church eventually was duly organized in 1789, Bishop White and Bishop Samuel Seabury, consecrated by the Scottish Episcopal Church, sat as the first House of Bishops at the first General Convention.

Just as the thirteen states were the “independent and sovereign” constituents of the American confederation that existed when the church now known as The Episcopal Church was being formed, the state churches were the bodies that combined to constitute what was initially called the Protestant Episcopal Church. It was the dioceses, then co-extensive with the newly-independent states, that created our Church’s Constitution and General Convention. The constitutional mechanisms of governance they created preserved their status as equal members of a voluntary association of dioceses. As noted by the official commentary on our Constitution and canons, “Before their adherence to the Constitution united the Churches in the several states into a national body, each was completely independent.” It then describes that national body they created as “a federation of equal and independent Churches in the several states.”

As this brief summary of our founding history shows, the fundamental structure of The Episcopal Church from the outset has been that of a voluntary association of dioceses meeting together in a General Convention as equals.

Click here to read the whole thing

Arjun Appadurai: Faith Based Economy?

Posted: April 23, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

Most secularists contend that faith belongs to the realm beyond the realm of “neutral” reason. However, most (all?) secularists regularly fail to see the extent to which they allow faith to dictate the course and conditions of their day to day lives. Below is a provoking essay on the extent to which we’ve allowed the language of faith to be adopted in our view of the U.S. economy. Read the whole thing.

But now we are in a new Weberian moment, where Calvinist ideas of proof, certainty of election through the rationality of good works, and faith in the rightness of predestination, are not anymore the backbone of thrift, calculation and bourgeois risk-taking. Now faith is about something else. It is faith in capitalism itself, capitalism viewed as a transcendent means of organizing human affairs, of capitalism as a theodicy for the explanation of evil, lust, greed and theft in the economy, and of the meltdown as a supreme form of testing by suffering, which will weed out the weak of heart from those of true good faith. We must believe in capitalism, in the ways that the early Protestants were asked to believe in predestination. Not all are saved, but we must all act as if we might be saved, and by acting as if we might be among the saved, we enact our faith in capitalism, even if we might be among the doomed or damned. Such faith must be shown in our works, in our actions: we must continue to spend, to work hard, to invest, and, as George Bush long ago said, “to shop” as if our very lives depended on it. In other words, capitalism now needs our faith more than our faith needs capitalism.

Practically, what does this mean? It means austerity, chosen or imposed: less insane credit-card acquisitions, less whacky mortgage seeking, less obese cars, fewer happy miles on the road, fewer “business expenses” (unless of course we are senior AIG executives). It means leaving our money in the banks and having renewed faith in the FDIC, for if we race to our banks and take our money home in cash, we shall show our lack of faith in the banks, and the banks will suffer, and if the banks suffer, the world financial markets will suffer, and if the world financial markets suffer, the volcanoes will explode, the rivers will flood, the lightning shall strike, and all of us will be reduced to ashes, along with our melted credit cards, our worthless pension funds and our homes with negative equity.

But Faith, it turns out, is not enough. Capitalism, as a master-belief system, reasonably operates on faith. But markets, especially capitalist financial markets, need something more specific: Trust. And that is the second biggest Revelation of the last few weeks. We have a trade deficit, as we all know, but much worse is our “trust deficit.” No one trusts the (financial) other anymore, we are told, and without trust no one lends and without lending the plastic ceases to work and everyday life comes to a complete halt. This news will come as a shock to all of us on “Main Street,” who trust our friends, our neighbors, our leaders, our churches and our employers as much—or as little—as we did last year. No, trust is not a Main Street problem, it is a Wall Street problem. In other words, banks won’t lend to one another, and that problem in the high mountains of finance is melting down into the valleys and plains of our everyday lives.

to read the rest click here

About every other week, I confront popular pluralist notions that have become a large part of the way Americans think. For example, pluralists contend that no one religion can know the fullness of spiritual truth, therefore all religions are valid. But while it is good to acknowledge our limitations, this statement is itself a strong assertion about the nature of spiritual truth. A common analogy is often cited to get the point across which I am sure you have heard — several blind men trying to describe an elephant. One feels the tail and reports that an elephant is thin like a snake. Another feels a leg and claims it is thick like a tree. Another touches its side and reports the elephant is a wall. This is supposed to represent how the various religions only understand part of God, while no one can truly see the whole picture. To claim full knowledge of God, pluralists contend, is arrogance. When I occasionally describe this parable, and I can almost see the people nodding their heads in agreement.

But then I remind the hearers that the only way this parable makes any sense, however, is if the person telling the story has seen the whole elephant. Therefore, the minute one says, ‘All religions only see part of the truth,’ you are claiming the very knowledge you say no one else has. And they are demonstrating the same spiritual arrogance they so often accuse Christians of. In other words, to say all is relative, is itself a truth statement but dangerous because it uses smoke and mirrors to make itself sound more tolerant than the rest. Most folks who hold this view think they are more enlightened than those who hold to absolutes when in fact they are really just as strong in their belief system as everyone else. I do not think most of these folks are purposefully using trickery or bad motives. This is because they seem to have even convinced themselves of the “truth” of their position, even though they claim “truth” does not exist or at least can’t be known. Ironic isn’t it? The position is intellectually inconsistent. (Tim Keller)

read it all here

From John Piper, via Usama Al-Taher.  Read it on DesiringGod here


Mark 8:34-36:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

That’s My King!

Posted: April 17, 2009 by limabean03 in Christianity

Thanks to Usama for sending me the link to this video. Don’t know who this preacher is, but Jesus must be the centrepiece of his life. Good stuff…

Below is an excerpt from Octavius Winslow’s Born Again. Winslow was a Puritan at the tail end of the theological tradition and regularly rubbed shoulders with Charles Spurgeon and the few other “non-conformists” left in England. Below is Winslow’s description of the centrality of Christ in the “new birth,” which as I have said many times from the pulpit isn’t a phrase the Baptists invented! Nor, is the new birth as many Episcopalians wrongly suppose, brought about by the water baptism of infants. Rather, it is the thoroughly Biblical experience that describes the process where individuals dead to God through sin are made alive to God through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Peter 1.3 or John 3.1-8).

The doctrine of the indwelling of the renewed soul in Christ is the first truth that arrests our attention. “If any man be IN CHRIST.” To be in Christ is to be in union with essential life. Life can only communicate life. The soul quickened with spiritual life is a reproduction of the life of Jesus. It is not that the soul lives, as that Christ lives in the soul. In Christ our death is quickened into His life, our demerit is merged into His merit, our unrighteousness merges into His righteousness, our blackness is lost in His loveliness. And thus Christ is the Divine principle, the root, the substance, the alpha and the omega of all that is godly in us.

“Christ, who is our life.” From the commencement to the completion of grace in the soul–from the first tear of godly sorrow wept on earth, to the first note of holy joy sounded in heaven–Christ is essentially and indivisibly one with His people. The spiritual life of the soul springs from the cross, is entwined with the cross, is fed by the cross of Jesus; and, when that life springs into heaven, it will be from the foot of the cross that shaded and sheltered it in all the vicissitudes through which it passed in its journey from grace to glory.

The New Birth, then, is the spiritual reinstating of the soul into Christ. Sin broke the stem of Eden’s beauteous flower–the sinless creature man–and flung it, a poisoned weed, upon the dark, seething waters of the curse, henceforth to drift away upon the treacherous current toward the yawning gulf of endless woe. But the New Birth recovers this broken stem, reinstates it into Christ, henceforth to bear the precious fruits of grace here, and, in full bloom, to be laden with the golden fruits of glory hereafter. (more…)

This was written by Baxter for his parishioners as a useful guide on how to make Sunday morning relevant for the rest of the week. Some people might be a bit put off by Baxter’s apparent legalism, let me just say however that having read much of the man he is no legalist. Rather, there are certain practices that enhance the depth of grace a person experiences in their life. For example, one may experience the message of God’s grace in a conversation at a coffee shop but if that person doesn’t go back and make a habit of scripture reading then his experience of grace will likely be quite shallow. The other thing that strikes me about this little guide is how much more seriously previous generations of Christians took their journey with God than Christians in the church do today. As a final thought, I’m left wondering about young people who come to the church seeking guidance on how to grow spiritually. The church in recent decades has taken a “discover for yourself” approach becaue they think to do anything more would be arrogant. But because the young people didn’t get the guidance they were looking for, they just hop on over to new age which has NO PROBLEM giving them lists on how to spend their day. Sorry for the random asides. Check out Baxter’s list. Maybe try it out for a week and report back how it went.

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties – with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.

Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.

First Thoughts
Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.

Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night’s rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.

Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.

Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.

Family Worship
Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.

Ultimate Purpose
Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day’s work or approach any activity in the world, let HOLINESS TO THE LORD be written upon your hearts in all that you do.

Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Diligence in Your Calling
Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:

(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.
(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.
(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.
(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.
(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.
(f) You may expect God’s blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families.
(g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.

Temptations and Things That Corrupt
Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you – and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.

Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.

If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride. (more…)

The following is an excerpt from N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope (pgs 69-72).  Buy the book here.  Make sure to read it all…

 I am aware that many people still today assume that faith lives in a private sphere, shutting itself off from history lest history make unwelcome inroads. Meanwhile, many others view history as a closed chain of visible cause and effect, which is never open to anything new happening. What the Easter stories do- and what, I argue the whole existence of the church does, from the very first days onward- is to pose a huge question. We need to set our asking of that question, ultimately, in dialogue at least with life the life of the community that believes the gospel and seeks by its life to live out its truth. We need to set it within the reading of the scriptures, which by their whole narrative lay out the worldview within which it makes sense. We need to think it through within a context of personal openness to the God of whom the Bible speaks- the creator of the world, not simply a divine presence within it, the God of justice adn truth. These are not substitutes for historical inquiry or lame supplements to it. They are ways of opening the windows of mind and heart to see what really, after all, might be possible in God’s world, the world not only of creation as it is but also of new creation. History, I believe, brings us to the point where we are bound to say: there really was an empty tomb, and there really were sightings of Jesus, the same and yet transformed. History then says: so how do you explain that?

It offers us no easy escapes at that point, no quick side exits to the question. They’ve all been tried, and none of them work. History poses the question. And when the Christian faith answers it, a sober, humble, questioning history (as opposed to an arrogatin rationalism that has decided the issue in advance) may find itself saying, “That sounds good to me.” (more…)

Two of the young people in this video are connected to Trinity Church M.B. Can you guess which ones? After you’re done playing that little game, why not watch the video one more time. When you’re ready, try to answer these two questions:

1) If things STAY AS THEY ARE what chance do you think there is that young people (20’s-30’s) will one day return to the church?

2) Why do you think young people are not coming to church right now?

Easter Season Preaching Series: The New Life We Now Have in Jesus

April 12th Easter Sunday: Our New Life in Jesus
On Easter Sunday we will begin “The New Life We Now Have in Jesus.” This series will last seven weeks and will demonstrate how Jesus understood that his death and resurrection brought new life to all those who turn to him in repentance and faith. Easter Sunday is a day to rejoice in this new life, as well as to share this new life with others as we will no doubt have many visitors. Our reading from 1 Peter demonstrates that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead has caused us to be born again to a living hope. This living hope is powerfully demonstrated in our reading from Luke, where two women bring spices to the tomb of Jesus to preserve a rotting corpse. However, upon arrival the women are greeted with the proclamation that Jesus is not in the tomb, but he has risen! The one who was condemned a criminal and died on the cross has now been raised and vindicated. So too have those who are “in Christ” put to death the old life of sin and now by his mighty power have been raised to a new life.

Readings: 1 Peter 1.3-9
Psalm 118.14-29
Luke 24.1-12

April 19th: How Can We Be Certain that Jesus is the One Who Brings New Life?
Despite Jesus’ teaching the disciples clearly struggled with a crucified Messiah. In our reading today they say “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel…” but of course they were dissuaded from this conclusion because of Jesus’ horrific death on the cross. Furthermore, not only in the post Enlightenment West but so too in 33 A.D. Palestine it was difficult to believe that people could be raised from the dead. It was just not part of daily experience! So Jesus begins “with Moses and all the Prophets” proving that the Messiah would come, suffer and be raised again. Jesus uses Old Testament prophesy as the principle means by which we can be sure he is the Messiah. Fulfilled prophesy and his physical resurrection are the two chief “proofs” that Jesus is the one (the only one!) who can bring new life.

Readings: Rom 1.1-7
Psalm 111
Luke 24.13-27