Archive for the ‘Acts Resources’ Category

You will find below my reading list for 2009.  You might call it my bibliography for the year.  I have tried to start the list out with things that people would find the most interesting, which for the readers of this blog I think would be the “average joe” section and “church leadership”.  However, for the resident theology nerds you will find a reading list for Biblical theology and exegetical works, as well as theological readings (primary and secondary) from the Patristic period all the way to the modern.  If I felt that a comment might be helpful, or if I wanted to strongly recommend a book I left my remarks next to the bibliograhical information in bold.  If you have any questions about the books themselves I would be happy to answer them.  Enjoy!  To see the list simply click through… (more…)

ACT’S OF THE APOSTLES 28: 23-30 (11.16.08)

During our parish retreat last year, while Iain and I were away at the consecration of Mark Lawrence as Bishop of S.C., you came up with the mission statement for our parish.  It reads: “To inspire all people, through the power of the Gospel, to become living members of the Body of Christ.”  It is a powerful statement for many reasons, reasons that we have gone over before and reasons that we will go over again.  But today, I might like to draw your attention to one aspect of the mission statement, that being that when you fashioned it, you did so in such a way as to state that you believe the Gospel accomplishes something and is used in a specific way to do so.

You and I are of course, not the first to believe that our “product” is meant to achieve something.  In fact, much of corporate America goes to great expense and trouble to state clearly what they think their products can and cannot achieve and what is the proper way to use said products.  Listen to the following:

On a plastic plate:  this item does not rust

On the package of a Batman costume:  Cape does not enable user to fly

On a hair color kit:  do not use as an ice cream topping

On a bottle of milk:  After opening, keep upright

On a chainsaw:  Do not try and stop the saw with your hands

On an can of insecticide:  Kills all kinds of insects…Warning:  this product is harmful to bees

As foolish as some of them sound, the above companies have gone to great lengths to state what their product accomplishes and how it is mean to be used.  At Trinity, we have done the same thing.  At Trinity, we believe the number one thing we have to offer the world, the one thing that no one else in the world can offer except the church, is the Gospel.  We believe the Gospel is meant to be proclaimed, principally in words (though deeds bear witness to it) and that it accomplishes something quite specific.  Namely we believe that the Gospel has the power to cause men and women, dead in their sins, to come alive to God and become living members of the Body of Christ.  More recently, we have even attempted to state what we believe a “living member” of the Body of Christ looks like.  We believe when God has transformed someone’s heart through the Gospel, that they will “live, grow, serve, and give.”  That is, they will come alive to God in worship,  grow in the knowledge and love of him, serve the church and the community, and give of themselves towards the work of the Kingdom.  As a church, it is important that we not only consider how this happens, but that we also consider what keeps it from happening.  For the answer to this question, we turn Acts ch. 28 for our final sermon in this series. (more…)

In February I was faced with the predicament of hiring a Choir Master and organist, something I admittedly knew NOTHING about.  Thanks to God’s grace and a committed and talented search committee, we found Mark and hired him over the summer.  As you can see below, “traditional” worship is far more than pretty music to Mark, but something of rich theological depth and sophistication that he has quite intentionally applied in the selections for this Sunday.  I will be including his e-newsletter on the blog from now on under the special heading “Music Ministry at Trinity”.  Make sure you get to his description of hymn 608 towards the bottom.  Excellent.

Resonet in Laudibus
A weekly newsletter for the Music Ministry of
Trinity Episcopal Church

…to inspire all people through the power of the Gospel
to become living members of the Body of Christ

November 2, 2008
Twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity
This Week’s Lessons
Acts 27:1, 13-20, 33-38
After a lengthy cruise that can only be described as something between the USS Caine and the Titanic, Paul reassures his companions and convinces them to eat. In breaking bread and sharing fellowship, the entire company receives encouragement; the entire episode is strongly reminiscent of Jesus’s appearance to his disciples on the beach after his resurrection in John 21. Almost all of the hymns and anthems today tie into this bread theme: both metaphorically as God’s sustaining nourishment to his people, and literally as the bread of Christ’s body in the Eucharist.

(more…)

pretty interesting stuff…

Throughout the apologetic speeches of Paul, as Luke recounts elements of them for us in Acts, it is apparent that Paul is putting into practice his own stated philosophy of ministry, expressed in some detail in his first Letter to the Corinthian Christians:

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Cor. 1:9:19-23 NIV).

It is clear from these comments that Paul had thought very carefully about his unique calling as the
Apostle to the Gentiles and his role as a loyal son of Israel. To win his own Jewish brothers and sisters to Christ, Paul became as “one under the law”–though he was free in Christ. To the Gentiles who knew not Moses, the law, or Israel’s God, Paul instead became a man subject only to the law of Christ, so that those who were at one time “separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” might be won to Israel’s Messiah (Eph. 2:12).

Let us be careful to note that Paul was no mere pragmatist, adopting in chameleon-like fashion, the ideology of whatever group he happened to be facing at any given moment. Paul was not concerned with demographics or “success” in the modern American sense of church planting. He was concerned with being faithful to the commission given him by Jesus Christ. (more…)

We must first note the distinction of faith and repentance, which some do falsely and unskillfully confound, saying, that repentance is a part of faith. I grant, indeed, that they cannot be separate; because God doth illuminate no man with the Spirit of faith whom he doth not also regenerate unto newness of life. Yet they must needs be distinguished, as Paul doth in this place. For repentance is a turning unto God, when we frame ourselves and all our life to obey him; but faith is a receiving of the grace offered us in Christ. For all religion tendeth to this end, that, embracing holiness and righteousness, we serve the Lord purely, also that we seek no part of our salvation anywhere else save only at his hands, and that we seek salvation in Christ alone. Therefore, the doctrine of repentance containeth a rule of good life; it requireth the denial of ourselves, the mortifying of our flesh, and meditating upon the heavenly life. But because we be all naturally corrupt, strangers from righteousness, and turned away from God himself. Again, because we fly from God, because we know that he is displeased with us, the means, as well to obtain free reconciliation as newness of life, must be set before us. (more…)

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20.24)

John Stott

John Stott

For several years now Gentiles had been brought to faith in Christ and welcomed into the church by baptism. It began with that God-fearing centurion in Caesarea, Cornelius. Not only- in quite extraordinary circumstances- did he come to hear the good news, believe, receive the Spirit and be baptized, but the Jerusalem leaders, once the full facts were presented to them, instead of raising objections, ‘praised God’ (11.18). Next came the remarkable movement in Syrian Antioch when unnamed missionaries ‘began to speak to Greeks also’ (11.20), a great number of whom believed. The Jerusalem church heard about this too and sent Barnabas to investigate, who ‘saw the evidence of the grace of God’ and rejoiced (11.23). The third development which Luke chronicles was the first missionary journey, during which the first complete outsider believed (Sergius Paulus, proconsul of Cyprus) and later Paul and Barnabas responded to Jewish unbelief with the bold declaration ‘we now turn to the Gentiles’ (13.46). Thereafter, wherever they went, both Jews and Gentiles believed (e.g. 14.1), and on their return to Syrian Antioch, the missionaries were able to report that ‘God…had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles’ (14.27).

All that was fairly straightforward. After the conversion of both Cornelius and the Antochene Greeks the Jerusalem leaders had been able to reassure themselves that God was in it. How would they now react to the even more audacious policy of Paul? (more…)