He Kept His Word – Gen 9; Mark 1; 1 Peter 3

It’s easy to keep your word, or a promise when everything goes smoothly. But there are times when you can give your word, or make a promise, and you start to regret it, because circumstances change and in order for you to keep the promise will require either a lot of effort, or even some cost to you.

According to Psalm 15:4 one of the characteristics of the person who will dwell with the Lord is the one who keeps his word whatever the cost.

I read recently of Thomas Nelson publishing – a large Christian publishing house. It’s CEO wrote a piece saying that a former Executive of the company made a promise, to a client, via email. He had not researched his promise, nor told anyone else about it and it turned out that the promise would cost the company a six figure sum, a sum they could not afford. What should they do?

Their mission statement included Ps 15:4.

They kept the promise.

This is a rarity today.

There is a story of a businessman who, speaking with his son said, `My boy, there are two things that are essential if you are to succeed in business.’

`What are they, Dad? Asked the boy.

`Integrity and sagacity.’

`What is integrity?’

`Always, no matter what, always keep your word.’

`And sagacity?’

`Never give your word!’

The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it. ~Napoleon Bonaparte

Jesus emphasized the seriousness of giving your word – let your yes be yes and your no, no.

Prov 10:9 says He who walks with integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will become known.

And Prov 11:3 says The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.

One of the signs of integrity is one who will keep his word and as Christians and as a Church we must hold this very highly. The Church and many Christians are not renowned for their integrity.

Rev 13:8 says of Jesus that he was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth.

This is hugely significant. Think about the implication of this statement. Before the creation of the earth was begun the God head had agreed that the second person of the Trinity would die for the sins of the creatures God was about to create. This has a number of consequences: 1. When God says he will do something, it is regarded as already done. Therefore Creation was made in the aftermath of the willingness of God to die for his creatures. This is why people in the Old Testament could be saved before the cross. God has purposed to do it before creation and thus everything was done in light of this promise. God said it and God’s word is true 2. God , having made the promise, was going to have to carry out.

This promise required that the second person of the Trinity would leave the glory of heaven, be born as human being, inhabit all the weakness of a human body and to be tempted as a human being. It also required the creator of the universe to stand before Satan as a vulnerable human being to be tempted. This was no psychological Jesus had not eaten or drunk for 40 days. Why 40 days? 40 represents the number of judgment – it rained for 40 days and 40 nights; 40 days and Nineveh will be judged and of course, Israel was in the wilderness for 40 years. Jesus, representing humanity, stood before the accuser of humanity. And he not only stood before Satan in a human body, it was as weak as a human body could possibly be. Notice that so grueling and tough was the temptations that afterwards the angels came and ministered to Jesus.

Knowing that He would face Satan as a human being; knowing he would walk the road to the cross, knowing that he would be rejected by his own people, Jesus still was willing to keep his word – to fulfill what he promised before the foundation of the world. Why? Because he also knew that the Father keeps his promises and that even though the Son will submit to death, He will rise again and be glorified.

God keeps his word – even when it cost Him heavily.

The assurance of God keeping his Word is the reason that God gave various covenants through out scripture. If there is anyone who might have needed some assurance of God’s word is Noah. Imagine what might have gone through Noah’s mind after the flood. God miraculously rescued him from a cataclysmic event and yet surely it must have crossed his mind that maybe God might do this again.

The covenant God makes with Noah, and then Abraham, and then David and so on is meant to bring assurance and comfort and affirm that God will keep his promises. A covenant normally requires two parties to agree to a set of conditions, both positives and penalties if the covenant should be broken. Yet God initiates every covenant he makes – and he upholds the covenants even when we break them. Observe the recurrence of “I,” “Myself,” and “My” in these verses. Thus, this covenant is unconditional (v. 9), universal (v. 11), and everlasting (v. 12)

The sign of the rainbow of genesis 9 reminds us that the world is held in being by God’s promise. I will remember my covenant. It is a divine YES to creation. The world is held in being by God’s commitment that it shall be so. Not even human wickedness can thwart God’s will towards his creation. As one theologian says – The thicker the cloud the brighter the bow in the cloud. Thus, as threatening afflictions abound, encouraging consolations much more abound.

As another theologian writes in answer to the question Why a rainbow?

Shining upon a dark ground… it represents the victory of the light of love over the fiery darkness of wrath. Originating from the effect of the sun upon a dark cloud, it typifies the willingness of the heavenly to penetrate the earthly. Stretched between heaven and earth, it is as a bond of peace between both, and, spanning the horizon, it points to the all-embracing universality of the divine mercy.

Which is exactly a description of what Jesus did. The heavens penetrated the earth, bringing peace. Jesus came to earth to complete what he had promised before the creation and to pay the price of our sins. That is what Peter says – For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God.

God keeps his promises even when it costs Him heavily because he knows he has the victory.

However, we must understand that while the victory has been assured, we are still in a battle. The phrase Spiritual warfare can be an oft abused term in Christian circles. But the fact is we are in a war. Yes, it is a war which has been won. But if that’s the case why does Satan tempt Jesus if the war was won, if Satan knew he could not win? Well, Satan is not all knowing – he does not know the future. Satan had no idea what was going to happen at the Cross. There is a wonderful verse of scripture in 1 Corinthians 2 which says we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Paul uses rulers to refer to the heavenly beings in Ephesians: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Satan and his demons had no idea of the devastation that would descend upon them on at the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Christ disarmed and tied up the strong man and begun to plunder his house. Peter gives us a glimpse of this when he says Jesus went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient. This is a hugely contentious and difficult verse in Christian theology. But here is my understanding – Jesus during his ascension to heaven proclaimed to the imprisoned fallen Angels his victory over death. The exalted Christ passed through the realm where these fallen angels are kept and proclaimed his triumph over them. Listen to what Colossians 2:15 says: When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

So now, for Satan, this is not a war for victory – it is a war for destruction. His desire is to hinder you and to rob you of every ounce of peace; to prevent you from knowing and entering into the absolute fullness of God’s promises for you. If the enemy can disable you and prevent you from growing in your faith, from praying, from trusting in God he will be happy. He wants to see you miserable and defeated, even though you have the victory. He wants to try and destroy as many of God’s people and to stop as many people from coming to a living faith in Christ as possible.

In light of all this, let us all, during this Lent, recognize we are in war. Let us recognize the cost of the promise made by God – and let us offer ourselves to God to walk the path of faith, a path which will also cost us as we let go of the things of the world, turning our backs on what is not right or good to take up what is true and right and holy – and we do this knowing that the victory is won – God keeps his word – he keeps his promise. We know the end. We know the resurrection is coming!!

Engaging With Martyn Lloyd-Jones – Edited by Andrew Atherstone and David Ceri Jones

I always find it amazing that there are ministers who have never read Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I think Lloyd-Jones is one of the most fascinating preachers of the 20th century. He is not just readily available in print but you can easily get hold of his sermons. He may not have the charismatic persona of modern preachers but not many modern preachers had the grasp on scripture Lloyd-Jonea had.

However, no matter how high my admiration for Lloyd-Jones goes, he was still a man – and as a man he had flaws. One of the things which frustrates me about reformed evangelicals is the unspoken rule that you must never criticize certain people or things. If you make a criticism of John piper you get trounced. But Piper is not flawless and his doctrine is not perfect. Neither was Lloyd-Jones. This book, which has been published in the UK, is a collection of essays governing various issue related to the Doctor – Charismatics, Fundamentalism, Theological Education etc.

The authors are not starry eyed, hero induced sycophants. They level criticism as Lloyd-Jones, but they never disrespect him. Each chapter is written by a different author and from a different perspective.

This is a fascinating and useful read. Lloyd-Jones influence across evangelicalism in England and to a lesser extent the USA was widespread and powerful. These essayists endeavor to discover the real Lloyd-Jones warts and all, while not dispensing with the reality that Lloyd-Jones had a formidable intellect, and an amazing ministry.

Highly recommended.

Rector’s Letter 26th February

Dear Parish Family,

Lent is known as the time when you give something up for 40 days – coffee, chocolate, TV, smoking, drinking, deserts and if you want to be particularly pious and miserable you give them ALL up!!!

Lent should never be known just as the time you give stuff up. In fact I would suggest we do some reverse psychology. Maybe we should think of something to TAKE UP, which may lead us to giving things up later.

Also, with giving stuff up we know that it is not forever. We do the pious 40 days, but right at Easter Day, whatever it is we gave up, we tend to jump back in there often with MORE intensity than before.

Whatever we do during lent, it should be something that has a lasting spiritual impact on us – something which can begin to transform us and change us forever.

The story I want to point you towards in the scriptures is the story of Josiah. You can find that story in 2 Kings 22 and 23. Josiah became King of Judah at 8 years of age. When he was 18 he initiated some renovations of the temple. During these renovations, the workman discovered the book of the law. Scholars suggest that Israel had been without the book of the law for 57 or more years. That is, they had been practicing the ways of God from memory, from others memory, changing, adding, adjusting. It had gotten Judah into a mess and on the verge of judgement.

Josiah heard the law and realized that they were so far from what God had asked them to do. They had prayed, they had meditated, they had done worship in the temple but now, with the discovery of the law, they realized that what they were doing was not right or good and they had to change.

They discovered something that was lost and it changed how they lived.

Our prayer life; our worship, both individual and corporate; our daily routine in the world, are all dependent upon what God has spoken and we find what God has spoken in his word, which is why I want to encourage us this Lent to take up the bible afresh.

The issue is not that you managed to have a 20 min quiet time each day, or that you read so many chapters of the bible – that is just a routine. The issue is WHAT we read and how THAT effects HOW we live. You could read for 5 mins and be completely blown away by what you read and it can change your life. You could read for 30 mins and walk away happy that you read the Bible but it having NO effect on your daly life.

Take UP that which is the foundation of what we are as Christians – to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the words of God, and it will transform how we live, pray and worship.

Let’s not be people who think we know what the Bible says, but be people who KNOW what the Bible says.

May the Lord bless you all!

Ash Wednesday Sermon

We are about embark on our Lenten season. Too often people think that Lent is a time of gloom and hardship – only about reluctantly giving up of things. This is not really what Lent is supposed to be like.

Notice that Jesus says When you fast (not if – when) – do not look dismal. This is a penitential season – not a depressive season – we still retain the joy of our salvation through Lent.

So what is Lent for? Lent gives us the opportunity to reflect on our lives – to set aside some deliberate space and time to listen to God and to examine ourselves. It’s not about trying rake up the bad stuff – we simply reflect and examine ourselves honestly and truthfully allowing God to speak to us. Psalm 26:2 says Examine me, O Lord, and prove me;
Try my mind and my heart. We ask this to see what we need to let go of AND what we need to take up; prayer, reading the scriptures.

Rather than saying I am giving up something for lent, I prepare to think of Lent as a time of shedding – shedding the things we have accumulated over the year that we do not need. And lent is also a time of reorientation as we turn our eyes, hearts and bodies towards Christ.

I want to suggest we do this by holding onto two truths over this Lenten season.

Firstly, judgment is coming.

Our reading from Joel is very clear. A dark day is coming. The day of Judgment.

A friend visited W.C. Fields, in hospital just before he died. He found Fieldsthumbing through a Bible. Asked what he was doing with a Bible, Fields replied, “I’m looking for loopholes.”

I have said before that we can be too glib about Jesus’ second coming – we say “I can’t wait for Jesus to return!” Really! Joel tells us this will be a terrifying event – the very glorified Christ appears – and when that happens the scriptures say that EVERY knee will bow – Satan included – not because he wants to but because he MUST in the presence of Him who is the center of all existence in the universe. And when Jesus returns we will all stand before the Judgment seat and be required to give an account. Now, as believers, our destiny is assured – we are going to be with the LORD because we trust in Him. But we will be asked to give an account for how we lived as a believer.

Each of us, those who were called to minister, to lead in the church to serve on the Vestry, or to serve generally in the Church, God will ask for an accounting. Heb 4:13 says And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. I cannot lay the blame for my lack of spiritual walk, or my failure in leadership on anyone else, and neither can you.

Are we ready for that day?

This is why Lent can be so powerful – reflecting – not in a morbid, depressive way – but in an open and honest way – on our life, where we need more of God, asking the Lord to cleanse us, to forgive us, to reorient us and to fill us with his presence.

You know, piety is more than religious activity. And we, as Christian’s and especially as Anglican Christian’s, can be in very real danger of becoming pious without being truly spiritual. Jesus’ warning in the Gospel reading is towards those who were steeped in religion – who have even been cradle Pharisees! Jesus challenges these pious people to re-examine their motives. Why do we do what we do? Is it for the glory of the Living God ONLY or is it to impress others?

Joel says that God is not interested in our outward rituals of contrition – but about the inward one – don’t rend your garments but your heart – that is the key. The outward ritual is simply a tool to allow us to rend our hearts towards God. That was the point of the animal sacrifices – you did not just bring a bull, give it to the priest, have it killed and walk away thinking you are now OK. God intended the animal sacrifice to be a vehicle for allowing the heart of the worshipper to be broken as the innocent animal is killed in their place. That’s why God says a number of times I don’t want your sacrifices. I want your heart!

It has always been about the state of the heart! That is why Jesus says store up treasure for yourself in heaven not earth. Where your heart is, there your treasure will be!!

We know that a judgment day is coming – a day when the state of our heart – when our real treasure is revealed.

The Second truth we hold onto in Lent is God’s mercy & compassion.

As we reflect and consider our walk with God, we do so knowing that God is merciful and compassionate. Our Psalm sings this out loud and clear this evening – The Lord is FULL of compassion and mercy – slow to anger and of great kindness. This Psalm is a Psalm for the believer – v13 – the Lord cares for those who fear him. The father cares for his children – he removes their sin – as far as the east is from the west.

Despite knowing that judgment is coming – we as believers need not fear it – but we must be ready for it. Again, Lent gives us a time to prepare ourselves each year to contemplate and reflect on our walk with God – God’s coming judgment and God’s mercy in our lives.

Despite our mistakes – despite the baggage we may have collected – despite times of doubt, we have a God who is faithful and loving and compassionate. We are not left to doubt whether God will forgive us – he will. We are not left to doubt whether God will accept us – he will. When we repent and come before Him acknowledging who he is we know that we find ONLY mercy, compassion, love and, as Paul says, reconciliation with God.

Don’t let that pass you by quickly – Reconciliation with God. Paul says that the passion of Christ was for our sake so that WE might become the righteousness of God. Let that settle on your hearts for a moment.

God’s mercy is available today – salvation is available today – reconciliation is available today. The Penitential season of Lent magnifies this – for we come before him with all our sins knowing that we will not be cast out and we can then tell others that they too can come to Him, regardless of what they have done, knowing that God is merciful and compassionate. There is no sin, no action, no past that God cannot deal with if we com e to him and ask him.

I am, shortly, going to invite you to come forward to receive the ashes. This is not an act or sign of piety, but a sign that you have inwardly rendered your hearts to the Lord – that you come to make him your treasure – that he would take our hearts and make them clean – that we can do nothing to make ourselves right with him and that today we commit to stop avoiding him and to let me completely into our hearts and minds to do as he pleases.

So the sign of the cross on our foreheads does not represent that we are holy and righteous but that we so desperately need a savior, savior who has reconciled himself to us and that today our gracious, compassionate, merciful Lord offers to mark not our forehead but our hearts with the work of the cross.

Battling Discouragement – 1 Kings 19; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Mark 9:2-9

We have all encountered discouragement in one form or another. It can come to us in many ways and forms; through a piece of bad news, doubt about ourselves, a fear of the future, a project not going as well as expected.

For a Christian discouragement is one of the easiest and most dangerous things to fall into and therefore it is something we must actively guard against.

There’s an old fable that says the Devil once held a sale and offered all the tools of his trade to anyone who would pay their price. They were spread out on the table and each one labeled. Hatred, malice, envy, despair, sickness, sensuality – all the weapons that everyone knows so well. But off to one side lay a harmless looking wood-shaped instrument marked “discouragement.” It was old and worn looking but it was priced far about the rest. When asked the reason why, the Devil replied, “Because I can use this one so much more easily than the others. No one knows that it belongs to me, so with it I can open doors that are tightly bolted against the others. Once I get inside I can use any tool that suits me best.”

J. O. Fraser said, “Discouragement is a ploy of the devil to get a foot hole in our lives in order to destroy our effectiveness as Christians.”

This is very true. Discouragement is the gateway into which despair, anger, envy, depression and much more can enter our lives.

Discouragement can creep up on us suddenly – just one event; just one phone call can begin the slide.

William Ward has one of the best definitions of discouragement: Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.

Discouragement happens when we make a negative judgment about what the future holds based on what we see or have encountered in the present or the past. The negative judgment may not be accurate or even true, but once we make that judgment our lives begin to revolve around it. Our whole outlook and focus become based on the judgment we have made regardless of whether its true or not.

Let me give you a trival example of this. Friday night at 4:30pm your boss says that he wants to see you at 9:00am on Monday morning in his office. You spend the whole weekend convinced that you are going to be fired. You are grumpy, irritated with your family and frantic with worry. You start to convince yourself life is about to become tough and maybe unbearable. You doubt yourself and think that you are useless – you can’t even hold a job down. Monday morning comes and you find that your boss wanted to congratulate you on a fine job done and to talk about future projects for you to be involved with.

Mark Twain perceptively said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

The issue is that discouragement takes our eyes of God, makes us doubt God’s goodness to us, His care for us; it makes us doubt ourselves and it allows the enemy to shake us.

Charles H. Spurgeon wrote: “Discouragement creeps over my heart and makes me go with heaviness to my work. It is dreadfully weakening.”

We must learn to fight against discouragement as Christians and as a Church. I know you have faced discouragement in the past and there will be many times as a Church we will be tempted to be discouraged in the future. It will come. But may I be so bold as to suggest that a Christian, who keeps both their spiritual as well as their physical eyes open really should never fall into discouragement. With our eyes fixed on God we will be able to see beyond the physical situation and see the spiritual truths and reality which gives us what we need to combat what we face.

I say that knowing that we all will feel the beginnings of discouragement. Some of the very greatest men of scripture experienced discouragement. We see depression and discouragement from Moses, Joshua, Hezekiah, Job, and Jeremiah. Discouragement will try to drag us down, but we must be able to repel it when it does come.

Our passage from the Old Testament is about Elijah and his battle with discouragement.

We all know the background to this passage – Elijah has just had a stunning victory over the priests of Baal in chp 18. Elijah challenged them to a test of their respective gods. Each prepared an altar and a sacrifice and then the Baal priests called on Baal to come and receive the sacrifice. They shouted and cried and even cut themselves but nothing happened. Elijah then calls on God and the sacrifice on the stone altar, which has been drench with water, was consumed with fire from heaven. A stunning and awesome sign of God’s power. Elijah has the priests of Baal killed. And then Elijah receives a letter from Jezebel, who is somewhat miffed at Elijah’s victory and she says to him So let the gods do to me and more also if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time. And then Elijah flees for his life.

The threat of the future – that Jezebel will try and kill him, overrides everything else and Elijah becomes scared and runs.

Discouragement makes us act in unreasonable ways and there is no more of an unreasonable reaction than Elijah, who having proved that there is no other god that his God – a God who can cause fire to fall from heaven – than running from a threat of Jezebel.

All of a sudden Elijah’s ministry is stalled and he has hidden in a cave.

Notice two things: Firstly, God comes to Elijah. What are you doing here Elijah? What a wonderful word! God seeks out Elijah and asks him why he is in the cave. We cannot go anywhere to be out of the reach of God’s eye, his arm or his word. God knew where Elijah was and he always knows where we are – physically and spiritually.

There is no reason why Elijah should be in the cave but the Lord wants to listen to his child and gives Elijah the opportunity to pour out his heart. His description is dramatic and has inaccuracies in it. We all tend to over exaggerate when we are discouraged: “Everything has fallen apart” “My life has come to an end” “I’ll never recover” “Everyone hates me”. God bids him to come and stand before him – as a child of God and as a prophet should do. We are given the authority to stand before God in our prayers and Elijah should have gone to God first instead of hiding – just as we should always go to God instead of hding. God then reveals himself in wind, earthquake and fire, all of which are associated with God’s advent:

2Sam. 22:11 “And He rode on a cherub and flew;
And He 1appeared on the wings of the wind.
Psa. 11:6 Upon the wicked He will rain 1snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
Is. 29:6 From the LORD of hosts you will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise,
With whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire.

But the most powerful manifestation is found in the small voice – in the WORD of God. It is through His Word that we know God and know of his promises and truths to us.

Notice secondly that it is through his Word that God tackles Elijah’s discouragement, refocuses Elijah onto his calling and ministry and corrects Elijah’s erroneous thinking – go and do what I have called you to do and you are not the only prophet left.

The word of God is the source of helping us from discouragement. God comes to us through the Word of God and by the Holy Spirit and gives us the truths we need to refocus back on the Lord.

I wonder if God might be saying to some of us this morning What are you doing here? Maybe you have become discouraged and have hidden in a cave of self pity. Maybe it seems everything is against you and you can’t see the wood for the trees.

God is calling you to look back at him. How? Listen to his word. Hear his promises. Hear his truths. Set aside your false judgment of the future with the true truth of Christ.

Peter says that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. When we read scripture we know it comes from God to us, not by man to us. We must grasp this fact – that the Bible is God’s truth TO US.

There is no future, no matter how bad we can imagine it to be that can overcome the future God has for us as his Children.

We all need to guard ourselves from falling into discouragement. And even Jesus recognized this fact.

For many the transfiguration is a mystery. Why does this happen? Jesus knew that the disciples where going to be shaken when he died and even after his resurrection there will temptation to doubt everything that had happened to question what they experienced. Here Jesus gives them a glimpse of his glory to show that his sufferings were voluntary. Jesus could at any point have returned to the glory of heaven. He choose not to. We have the representation of the law, Moses and the prophets, Elijah talking to Jesus. Why? Jesus fulfills the law and the prophets and Elijah and Moses represent the law and the prophets. Why are there three disciples? Three was the number of witnesses needed to verify an event – these three were to be the witnesses to the rest of the disciples to stop them being discouraged in the time after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Hence Jesus’ command not to speak of this until after his resurrection.

Jesus provided the disciples all they needed to keep them from being consumed by discouragement. Peter, John and James could attest to the glorious manifestation of Jesus.

And all we need to keep us from discouragement is found in our living active relationship with God – in his word to us and the testimony of the spirit which dwells in us.

When you feel discouragement beginning to rear it’s ugly head we must tell ourselves over and over again of God’s word, his promises and the Lord’s history in being faithful to us. As the Psalmist did in his depression and discouragement, we say to ourselves:

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance Psalms 42:5

A Great Weekend

We have had a great weekend. Our Bishop was visiting us. Now, most Bishops come on a Sunday, preach and celebrate, join in a reception after the service and leave. But what is so exciting about our Bishop is that he prefers to come over the whole weekend. So, Kitty and I had dinner with the Bishop and his wife on Friday evening; then on Saturday afternoon we had a mini-retreat with the Vestry where the Bishop taught (wonderfully) about spiritual leadership and prayer. Then, the vestry and spouses went out for dinner with the Bishop. And this morning the Bishop ministered to us in word and sacrament. we also had healing prayer at the end of the service which was wonderful!!

If you like to listen to the Bishop’s sermon, you can find it at the Church Website: HERE

Here are some pictures from todays service:

On the Way to the Cross: 40 Days with the Church Fathers

This is a wonderful way to start to read some of the Church Fathers. Who are the Church Fathers? These are the christians and theologians of the second, third and fourth centuries whose writings survive. They give a wonderful insight into the life of the early Church and they are often neglected by Christians. This book is laid out very simply, with a prayer, confession, Bible reading and then some reflections by a wide variety of Church Fathers. This is indeed an ideal Lenten Devotional and, as I have said, is a wonderful introduction to the Church Fathers. Don’t be surprised if after using this book you find yourself wanting to read more of the Fathers.

Highly Recommended

Why The Sluggard and The Workaholic Are The Same

A Proverbs Driven Life: Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and Relationships [Paperback] by Anthony Selvaggio

Today, I believe Christians are actually more likely to become workaholics than they are sluggards, simply because the idolatry of workaholism is more socially respectable. In fact, it is so widely praised that many Christians don’t even consider it a sin! As a pastor, I certainly became a workaholic . . . and my idolatry won me praise! People often commended me for my ability to multi-task and get things done. I often allowed the boundaries between work and rest to be blurred. There were so many “good things” to do with my time: preach, teach, counsel, discipline, go to the soccer games and plays of the children in my congregation, teach at seminary, teach at college, speak at conferences and write books. In serving “24/7,” I was trying to build God’s house without his help by shouldering all the responsibilities for his church myself.

In the final analysis, we can stop working and rest because God is sovereign. He is in control, not us. If we are not pursuing his priorities—which include rest as well as a broad range of responsibilities—our efforts will ultimately be futile, no matter how hard we work. But as we embrace a balanced life that includes work, rest, and proper attention to all our responsibilities, he will provide all we need to accomplish his will.

It’s extremely liberating to recognize that God gives us enough time to finish everything to which he has actually called us. Here are some of those things: devotional time with God; relationships and service in your  family, church, and community; and matters of stewardship over your material goods. If any of these areas are suffering because of the amount of time you spend doing other things, take a close look. Perhaps you are becoming—or became long ago—a workaholic, an idolater who has foolishly dethroned God by believing that his ways, so plainly presented in Scripture, are inferior to your own.

Both Sins the Same
The sin of the sluggard is serious, but so is that of the workaholic. In fact, they are very similar sins. The man or woman who builds all of life around work is every bit as proud and self-centered as the sluggard. At either extreme we worship an idol called “Doing it My Way.” Perhaps the Bible spends a lot more time on sluggards and a lot less on anything we would call “workaholism” because the workaholic is really just a variety of sluggard by another name. Both are interested in avoiding responsibilities that don’t interest them. The workaholic simply avoids things by a different technique—crowding them out of his calendar. And where the sluggard is sure to suffer economic loss, the workaholic suffers losses that are often more relational than monetary, but nevertheless real, lasting, and painful.

Work, whatever form it may take, is a core activity of each of our lives, taking up most of our waking moments. What a tragedy to despise it like the sluggard, and live for those times when we are not doing it. to worship it like the workaholic, as we strive to deify ourselves in our little kingdom; a tiny god over a tiny world, as if we had created that world ourselves, or sustain it ourselves, or even understand its true workings.

What Is A Bad Leader?

Roger Price, a wonderful British Bible Teacher who died in 1987, did some fantastic teaching on what Eldership is. His definition of a bad leader is short and simple:

You can always tell bad leaders. They have got to have their own way all the time and the people under their thumb.