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.

lance

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.