Archive for July, 2009

It was a bit too much to hope for

Posted: July 20, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized

It was a bit too much to hope for after three years away that the 37 year old Lance Armstrong would show up in the Alps and trounce everyone into the ground like he did seven years running winning every edition of the Tour de France from 1999-2005. And even though it was too much to hope for, I must confess I desperately wanted to see it! Unfortunately Lance lost 1 min 15 today and saw almost all the major contenders pass him. He did however, put in an absolutely stellar ride for a guy his age having been three years away from professional racing. Even though Lance lost, watching his younger teammate Alberto Contador go up the mountain (and into the yellow jersey!) was absolutely stunning. Contador will go down as one of the greatest ever for sure. Also the Schleck brothers did a fine job today. If you haven’t been watching the Tour make sure to tune in. The next few days will be very exciting.


July 18, 2009
Anaheim, California

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“…not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:7-8

Grace, peace and courage to you in our Lord Jesus Christ, who was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world into the redeeming love of the Father and sustain us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I write to you in the aftermath of General Convention 2009. You need to know that the landscape of Anglicanism and The Episcopal Church has once again changed. I haven’t time now to describe these matters in the detail that they deserve and I am still too close to the events to adequately evaluate them. I shall write you at greater length when I return to Charleston next week. But let me answer ever so briefly two questions: Where is the Episcopal Church after General Convention 2009? What does it mean for South Carolina?

Where is The Episcopal Church after General Convention 2009?

First, TEC has contravened the clear teaching of Holy Scripture and breached the bonds of affection within the Anglican Communion. At General Convention 2003 the debate centered on the clarity of Lambeth 1.10. At GC’06 it focused on the Windsor Report and process which had less clarity than Lambeth 1.10. Here in 2009 Lambeth 1.10 and Windsor were hardly mentioned and the debate returned occasionally to B033 which of course was far weaker than what Lambeth 1.10 or Windsor called for. The trajectory is clear—greater and greater autonomy, license, and stepping apart. Yet the official spin of TEC continues unabated.

Secondly, during our debate some protested that we are moving too quickly. The question is not how quickly we are moving. If blessing same-sex unions is morally wrong now, it will be morally wrong in the future. The matter in dispute in TEC is not like the one St. Paul writes about in I Corinthians 8 of a morally neutral activity such as eating meat offered to idols. In that situation whether to eat or refrain from eating was to be guided by the conscience of other Christians. But this question is completely different, it involves the nature of Christian marriage and the teaching of the universal church about the proper context in which to use the gift of sexuality. The problem isn’t the speed at which the train is moving down the rail: it is the destination to which it is headed.

Thirdly, while the full significance of TEC’s adoption of C056 is not yet clear to me, this much is clear: In allowing Bishops “generous discretion” for granting the blessings of same-sex “marriage” we have entered into a new era of pastoral and canonical chaos, with General Convention’s approval.

What Does This Mean for the Diocese of South Carolina?

I will be meeting with the Standing Committee, Deans and others after my return late Wednesday evening. I will be clarifying my thoughts and seeking greater clarity from the Lord in the intervening days. Please keep me in your prayers as you will be in mine. God has prepared us as a diocese to address this hour in the life of our Church—of that I am confident. It is not a time for alarm. It is a time for thoughtful and steady resolve. We face significant challenges. They are no longer the challenges of tomorrow they are the challenges of today. This cannot be brushed aside as if it is of little consequence.

There is an increasingly aggressive displacement within this Church of the gospel of Jesus Christ’s transforming power by the “new” gospel of indiscriminate inclusivity which seeks to subsume all in its wake. It is marked by an increased evangelistic zeal and mission that hints at imperialistic plans to spread throughout the Communion. This calls for a bold response. It is of the utmost importance that we find more than just a place to stand. Indeed, it is imperative that we find a place to thrive; a place that is faithful, relational and structural—and so we shall!

Faithfully yours in Christ,
+Mark J. Lawrence
Bishop of South Carolina

This was given to StandFirminfaith to be read at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church by the delegates of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Madam President

South Carolina stands before you with broken hearts. By passing Resolution D025 and C056 this General Convention has overturned the clear and consistent teaching of Holy Scripture and the Christian Church. We will have repudiated the teaching and practice of the Anglican Communion. The Communion’s patience and generosity toward the Episcopal Church makes our persistent refusal to heed their requests to us to honor the called for moratoria all the more devastating.

Many of us us here this morning, and in Dioceses, parishes, and pews throughout the Episcopal Church, disavow this General Convention’s actions. Will will now prayerfully seek ways to be faithful to the Anglican Communion and to the mutual responsibility and interdependence to which we are called, no matter what the cost.

you can read it here

J.C. Ryle was the great evangelical Bishop of Liverpool and is one of Iain’s favorite preachers/ theologians. The following is from Ryle’s Duties of Parents. Read it all here

Precious, no doubt, are these little ones in your eyes; but if you love them, think often of their souls. No interest should weigh with you so much as their eternal interests. No part of them should be so dear to you as that part which will never die. The world, with all its glory, shall pass away; the hills shall melt; the heavens shall be wrapped together as a scroll; the sun shall cease to shine. But the spirit which dwells in those little creatures, whom you love so well, shall outlive them all, and whether in happiness or misery (to speak as a man) will depend on you.

This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, “How will this affect their souls?”

Soul love is the soul of all love. To pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look to, and this life the only season for happiness— to do this is not true love, but cruelty. It is treating him like some beast of the earth, which has but one world to look to, and nothing after death. It is hiding from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy,.—that the chief end of his life is the salvation of his soul.

A true Christian must be no slave to fashion, if he would train his child for heaven. He must not be content to do things merely because they are the custom of the world; to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely because it is usual; to allow them to read books of a questionable sort, merely because everybody else reads them; to let them form habits of a doubtful tendency, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must train with an eye to his children’s souls. He must not be ashamed to hear his training called singular and strange. What if it is? The time is short,—the fashion of this world passes away. He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth,—for God, rather than for man, —- he is the parent that will be called wise at last.

One of the greatest hymns ever written. The second stanza often moves me to tears. Enjoy!

1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

4. That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.

I have been receiving a lot of e-mails, phone calls, and unexpected drop -ins asking me what I think about General Convention.  It seems that there is a high level of anxiety out there and I thought it might be worth my time to tell you why I’m not concerned nor anxious over the events at General Convention. 

  1. I’m not concerned nor anxious about General Convention because I know that Jesus reigns.  One day, says the Apostle Paul, “every knee will bow, in heaven, in earth, and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil 2.10-11).  I am totally convinced that our General Convention has neither caught the Lord by surprise nor has it somehow defeated him.  He is in control and can even work through events such as General Convention (Acts 4.27-28).  So knowing that God is working all things to his glory and that nothing can usurp his purposes I’m not overly concerned.
  2. I’m not concerned nor anxious about General Convention because I’ve been reading my Bible.  Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy 8.3 said “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”  Those of you who have been pouring over StandFirm and KendallHarmon I bet are pretty anxious!  But, I’ve been reading my Bible.  Jesus says that if I read his Bible and feast on his word then I will live.  He has offered no such promise to those of you “feasting” on news from General Convention.  No wonder you feel sick.
  3. I’m not concerned nor anxious about General Convention because I’ve been praying.  In Mark 9.2 we read “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them.”  This is what Jesus does when we pray.  He “leads us up the mountain” and into the presence of the Father, where we behold the glory of the Son and have sweet communion with the Father and Holy Spirit.  How could anything make us anxious or concerned?  It doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen, it means that the grace of being with the Trinity in prayer is a joy that trumps everything in this life.
  4. I’m not concerned nor anxious about General Convention because Scripture has forewarned us that such things would happen.  Paul said to the church in Ephesus “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.  I know that after my departure  fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20.28-30).  If God told us that people would rise up from among us speaking twisted thing why then do we whine as cry as if we were not told this would come to pass?  Whining and crying and being upset gets us nowhere.  If you want to do something constructive go read your Bible, pray to God and share the Gospel with someone. 

So all in all I’m feeling o.k. about things.  There will come a time when we assess the events of the past ten days and discern how they affect us here at Trinity.  But for the time being I would rather we commit ourselves to God’s word, to spending time in prayer, and to sharing the Gospel.  Everything else is such a distant concern to me at the moment that I hardly find it worth discussing.

“Most men don’t die of old age, they die of retirement. I read somewhere that half of the men retiring in the state of New York die within two years. Save your life and you’ll lose it. Just like other drugs, other psychological addictions, retirement is a virulent disease, not a blessing.” -Ralph Winter in The Retirement Booby Trap

lance armstrong

After nearly four years off the bike, seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has returned to professional cycling. He currently sits only eight seconds off the race lead with two weeks racing remaining

If you are retired, or thinking of retiring I’m writting this post to convince you that retirement would be a very bad idea.  I’m not saying that closing out your job and drawing a pension is a bad idea.  Rather, I’m saying that closing out your job and drawing a pension so that you could travel, play golf, and live out your remaining years in great comfort would be a bad idea.  Why?  Because, to be quite frank you’ve got more to offer than that.  And I also believe that you need to offer more than for your physical and spiritual well-being.  And most importantly it is a joy to serve Jesus Christ at every stage of life, not merely in your youth.  I’m enormously grateful for the faithful retirees at Trinity Church who give their time, talent, and money to serve the church and the city.  Recently I stumbled across one more avenue where retirees seeking to make a difference can apply themselves. It’s  called The Finisher’s Project.

Here is an excerpt from their vision statement:

To see thousands of North American adults become involved in global impact for God.

The Finishers Project is a movement to provide information, challenge, and pathways for people to join God in His passion for His glory among the nations. That over 80 sending and mission service organizations have joined the Finishers Project is testimony to the fact that after 2000 years it is still true the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few.

While there is no attempt to limit what the Lord might do, the language of the Finishers Project is directed to the boomer generation. Boomers are and will be the healthiest and best-educated generation of empty-nesters ever. While the idealism of youth is gone, This generation still wants to make a difference and change our world.

All adult generations in North America are skilled and resourced with a multitude of talents. The question we must ask ourselves is how many of the ten talents we have been given, will we give back to Jesus.  We can choose to either give them to Jesus to lay up as treasure in Heaven or lose them.

From scripture, we learn that the expectations of Jesus are not for us to simply live the American dream, die, and go to heaven. We must be accountable. To church leaders in Corinth Paul wrote:

For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Cor 5:10)

I urge you therefore, fellow believers, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice… (Rom 12:1)

For those who wish to be more than indifferent with their lives, there is plenty of opportunity to make a difference.

The Finishers Project is a safe place to explore options for investing in treasure in heaven.

The Finishers Project is simply one avenue among many where retired men and women can commit themselves to making a difference for Jesus Christ in this stage of their life.  Who knows?  The finest accomplishment of your life may very well come after you’ve retired.  Go check them out here.  I would be interested in discussing this with anyone at Trinity who may find this appealing.

Perhaps one day I will get tired of bragging on the great Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. But for now I’m content to get you reading him! Perhaps some of you know I make it a discipline of mine to read one Spurgeon sermon a week. I found this most recent sermon “Songs in the Night” to be tremendously helpful. Simply posting an excerpt like I usually do will not be enough. Rather, I will post excerpts in three parts and offer my spin and why I personally found them helpful. I hope you enjoy!

The first part of this three part series I would like to focus on an excerpt from Spurgeon’s sermons that illustrates two important points.

  1. You must know scripture well enough to know the promises of God in the Old and New Testaments
  2. You must know the promises well enough that you can apply them to your life in times of need

Here is the excerpt from Spurgeon:

It is marvelous, brethren, how one sweet word of God will make whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the gold-beater, and he can hammer that promise out for whole weeks. I can say myself, I have lived on one promise for weeks, and want no other. I want just simply to hammer that promise out into gold-leaf, and plate my whole existence with joy from it.

The topic of Spurgeon’s sermon was the “night of the soul”.  The night of the soul is essentially times of depression, pain, illness, grief etc.  Spurgeon’s sermon seeks to give believers comfort in these difficult times.  So what is his advice?  Read the word!  Know the promises!  Apply them to your life!  The promises he says, are “like a piece of Gold.”  And of course anyone who knows the promises found in the Gospel cherishes them as gold.  Let me list a few wonderful promises found in the New Testament:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matt 5.4)

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10.45)

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become  in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4.13-14)

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10.9)

To these promises you can add literally hundreds more, but for time’s sake let’s just try and apply Spureon’s advice to one of these verses.  Spurgeon says that they are like gold, but it is not enough simply to know them.  Spurgeon advises that we must “hammer them out” like a “gold beater” in order to “plate our whole existence with joy from it.”  So how does this work?  Let’s take the promise from Matt 5.4:  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Now Spurgeon rightly says that we could hammer out this promise for weeks and that is absolutely true.  That are many ways this scripture from Matthew could be applied to our life.  But let’s just have a very quick and simple application.

  1. To whom is this promise addressed?  To those who mourn.
  2. To be in mourning is not an enviable position, nevertheless the Lord calls those who mourn blessed. Therefore, when you and I are in mourning we do not look at our grief the way the world looks at grief.  Rather, by faith we look at our grief with hope for the Lord has called us blessed.
  3. Why are they blessed?  Because they shall be comforted.  In this life many unfortunate things will happen to us, and most of the time thankfully we can recover from these things.  However on occasion certain things will happen which we will have a difficult time ever recovering from.  As a pastor, I have sat with families in the midst of their grief and they were inconsolable.  However the promise is that they will be consoled, and at that by the Lord.
  4. Note that this is not a present, nor a timely solution to grief.  Rather, it is the promise of a future comfort.  So how do we “hammer out” this gold?  We allow the hope and joy of future comfort to sustain us in our current grief.

I cannot emphasize the sheer importance for your joy and faith that you read scripture regularly and know it deeply.  If you do not know scripture then you will not know the promises in scripture.  If you do not know the promises you will not be able to apply them to your life.  If you cannot apply them to your life you will have no lasting comfort in sin, sorrow, pain, or despair.  So you see my chief concern here is not one of legalism, but rather for you own good and joy you should spend time in God’s word “hammering out” his promises to your benefit.

As some of you know I attended the Advance the Church conference in Durham, North Carolina a few weeks ago. The above video is an excerpt of one of the talks I recommended to the congregation if you wanted a taste of what I experienced up there. I would strongly recommend watching the whole thing. You can watch it here. For a list of all the talks at the Advance conference click here.

This is a reasonably important critique of the Episcopal Church for two reasons. The first reason is that Bishop Wright is probably the most highly regarded theologian currently in the Anglican Communion as well as one of the most popular and influential bishops. The second reason this is important is that Bishop Wright has been gracious in his comments concerning the Episcopal Church. That is, until now. It took a lot to get Bishop Wright to this point, one only wonders what the Communion will now to with the Episcopal Church.

In the slow-moving train crash of international Anglicanism, a decision taken in California has finally brought a large coach off the rails altogether. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States has voted decisively to allow in principle the appointment, to all orders of ministry, of persons in active same-sex relationships. This marks a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Both the bishops and deputies (lay and clergy) of TEC knew exactly what they were doing. They were telling the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other “instruments of communion” that they were ignoring their plea for a moratorium on consecrating practising homosexuals as bishops. They were rejecting the two things the Archbishop of Canterbury has named as the pathway to the future — the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Covenant (whose aim is to provide a modus operandi for the Anglican Communion). They were formalising the schism they initiated six years ago when they consecrated as bishop a divorced man in an active same-sex relationship, against the Primates’ unanimous statement that this would “tear the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level”. In Windsor’s language, they have chosen to “walk apart”.

Granted, the TEC resolution indicates a strong willingness to remain within the Anglican Communion. But saying “we want to stay in, but we insist on rewriting the rules” is cynical double-think. We should not be fooled.

read it all here

Preached by Rob Sturdy on July 12, 2009. Click here for full audio and video.

Perhaps I have been following things in Anaheim more closely than I let on and certain things have happened that I felt you may want to know about. Before I go into it let me once again say that if you’re looking to follow things on your own, I believe Kendall Harmon’s website to be the best source for relatively unbiased coverage. StandFirm also has good coverage along with their own commentary on events. For an insider’s view on one of the delegates from the Dio of S.C. check out Steve Wood’s site, which I am most appreciative of for his candid reactions to the goings on at convention.

And now for the update…. (more…)

Below is an excerpt from John Calvin’s Institutes on the Christian Religion ch 12. I have linked through to the whole of his Institutes on CCEL (fantastic resource!). Calvin’s Institutes (two volume set) is one of the most cherished works in my library. It was given to me by a dear friend and old prayer partner Adam Chapman. I have read them and re-read them a number of times and am always impressed and the knew wealth of knowledge and insight that Calvin is still able to provide. For example, you may notice in Section 1.1 that knowledge of God is incomplete unless it is enjoined with worship of God. What a timely and stern warning to students of theology who love accumulating knowledge but do not accumulate a love for God! These and other jems you will find below. Some come out easy, some only with hard work. Either way I hope you enjoy it.



1. Scripture, in teaching that there is but one God, does not make a dispute about words, but attributes all honour and religious worship to him alone. This proved, 1st, By the etymology of the term. 2d, By the testimony of God himself, when he declares that he is a jealous God, and will not allow himself to be confounded with any fictitious Deity.

2. The Papists in opposing this pure doctrine, gain nothing by their distinction of δυλια and λατρια.

3. Passages of Scripture subversive of the Papistical distinction, and proving that religious worship is due to God alone. Perversions of Divine worship.

1. We said at the commencement of our work (chap. 2), that the knowledge of God consists not in frigid speculation, but carries worship along with it; and we touched by the way (chap. 5 s. 6, 9, 10) on what will be more copiously treated in other places (Book 2, chap. 8)—viz. how God is duly worshipped. Now I only briefly repeat, that whenever Scripture asserts the unity of God, it does not contend for a mere name, but also enjoins that nothing which belongs to Divinity be applied to any other; thus making it obvious in what respect pure religion differs from superstition. The Greek word εὐσέβεια means “right worship;” for the Greeks, though groping in darkness, were always aware that a certain rule was to be observed, in order that God might not be worshipped absurdly. Cicero truly and shrewdly derives the name religion from relego, and yet the reason which he assigns is forced and farfetched—viz. that honest worshipers read and read again, and ponder what is true.9191 Cic. De Nat. Deor. lib. 2 c. 28. See also Lactant. Inst. Div. lib. 4 c. 28. I rather think the name is used in opposition to vagrant license—the greater part of mankind rashly taking up whatever first comes in their way, whereas piety, that it may stand with a firm step, confines itself within due bounds. In the same way superstition seems to take its name from its not being contented with the measure which reason prescribes, but accumulating a superfluous mass of vanities. But to say nothing more of words, it has been universally admitted in all ages, that religion is vitiated and perverted whenever false opinions are introduced into it, and hence it is inferred, that whatever is allowed to be done from inconsiderate zeal, cannot be defended by any pretext with which 105the superstitious may choose to cloak it. But although this confession is in every man’s mouth, a shameful stupidity is forthwith manifested, inasmuch as men neither cleave to the one God, nor use any selection in their worship, as we have already observed. (more…)

Check out this map of “religious adherents” in the U.S. I was surprised to see that one of the fastest declining areas for “religious adherents” in the country is on the shores of South Carolina.

church decline

check it out here

Steve Wood, rector of St. Andrews Mt. Pleasant and good friend has a new blog.  Check it out here