ALI - Anglican Leadership Initiative - held a five day summit for a small number of Bishops and Rectors from ACNA , ACiC, and The Anglican Mission in Buena Vista, Colorado August 11 - 15. Psalm 78:72 says, "With integrity of heart [David] shepherded them, with skillful hands he led them." The purpose was to discuss personal (integrity of heart) and leadership (skillful hands) development opportunities for Anglican bishops, rectors, and assistant clergy.
ALI seeks to connect, coach, and collaborate with Anglican leaders for the purpose of :
Like many, I am deeply grieved by reports from South Sudan, Northern Nigeria, Iraq, and Syria of the ongoing systematic persecution, rape, crucifixion, and murder of Christians and other minority groups at the hands of Islamic extremists. Besides praying and raising awareness, I decided to go back and see what Jesus thinks about the suffering of the righteous. Talk about turning the world’s value systems on their head . . . Here is a sampling . . .
"Be still and know that I am God" - God
In our fast paced hectic culture, why do so many of us have a hard time slowing down? Amidst all the busyness we forget what a high value God puts on putting it into neutral, shutting down the engines, and recharging the batteries. Twitter, iPhones, instant news and weather, texting, Instagram and Facebook don't help.
The costs are high. Little joy, even less peace, patience runs thin, and no time to stop and really enjoy people. Serious inquirers of the faith watch us Christians "act like pagans in a crises" and wonder what difference Jesus really makes. While followers of Jesus are robbed of knowing God and experiencing His presence and power on a daily basis.
This summer i am going to work really hard at trying to rest; and it will rake work. I am not good at it. And I'm not talking about mindless escaping, but being in the present- void of anxiety, a to do list, and rushing.
Anyone care to join me in the great work of rest?
As a minister of the gospel, one of the most polarizing aspects of my calling is being at a dinner party and answering the question, “So what do YOU do?”
So sometimes in order to build bridges for sharing the gospel I dream of answering the question something like this . . .
It’s all in the packaging, isn’t it?
“For we who are alive [In Christ] are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:11
A verse I never understood comes to life . . .
“You know he does not mean that we have to get ourselves nailed to a cross. But that cross is a symbol of something very real in our experience. What was Jesus like on the cross? He was not powerful and impressive and significant; He was not being applauded by the multitudes that listened to His every word. No. The cross was a place of physical weakness, of rejection by the proud and arrogant world around Him. It was a place of obscurity, a place where He was willing to lose everything He had built and to trust God to bring it back and make it of lasting significance [for others].
Have you been in those circumstances recently, where no matter what you do you cannot seem to get any glory or credit for yourself? That is exactly where God wants you, because out of those times of inordinate pressure, times of hurt and despair and heartache and a sense of being wasted and not used, God is working His will. Others, perhaps, are being or will be given life because of the death to self you are going through.” – Ray Steadman
“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us [because of] the very nature of the [fallen] world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered abroad [as lightposts along the way].... It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacles to our return to God: the few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with old friends, a bathe or a football game, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Do you know what it is like to be surprised with good news?
Growing up I was an ardent Mets fan. During my childhood during the late 70’s and early 80’s, the Mets were the worst team in baseball. That all changed in 1986, when they made it to the World Series. However, they were down 3 games to 2 to the Red Sox in the best-of-7 series. In game 6, losing 5 – 3 with two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the 9th inning, I was devastated. We had come so close! I couldn’t bear to watch the final out. I turned off the TV and despairingly went upstairs to bed.
Imagine my surprise and joy the next morning when my mother burst into my room exclaiming, “THE METS WON THE GAME! THE METS WON THE GAME!” I raced downstairs to the TV to confirm the news. It was true! Bill Buckner had saved the day for the Mets! My despair turned to joy! I think it was my dad who said, with that twinkle in his eye, “O ye of little faith!” Ouch!
Can you envision the surprise and joy the women felt that first Easter morning when the angels proclaimed to them, “He is not here. He has risen, just as He said!” (I wonder if the angels had the same twinkle in their eyes that my dad had as they said, “just as He said.”) Three days earlier, the One in whom they had pinned all their hopes and dreams was brutally beaten and murdered, nailed to a cross. They went to His tomb that Easter morning expecting to find a dead Jesus. Instead, they found an empty tomb!
We just celebrated Easter, the historical fact that Jesus bodily rose from the dead and is alive forever, reigning as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He can not only forgive us by paying for our sin on the cross, but because He is alive, He can be known today and forever by all those who put their trust in Him. In receiving Christ may we know and worship Him who died, rose again, and is here with us by His Holy Spirit. For truly, JESUS WON THE GAME for us.
Alleluia! Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!
“If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless … your faith is futile … you are dead in your sins . . . and we are to be pitied more than all men.” I Cor. 15: 14,17,19
Before I met Christ, my impression of Christians was they were exactly as Paul wrote . . . useless, futile, anti fun, pitiful, and out of touch with reality. I would have agreed with Woody Allen who once said, “To you I am an atheist. To God I am the loyal opposition.”
All that changed when a few older friends helped me realize the truth of Christianity hinged not on the lives of Christians but on one historically verifiable [or not] fact: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Simply, as the Apostle Paul wrote, if Jesus was a real person who rose bodily from the grave on a specific day in a specific place in history, everything Jesus said or did has more authority than anyone or anything in the world - ever. If he didn’t, Christians are actually more pathetic than even I imagined.
So I set out on a two year quest to gain evidence as to why one should not be a Christian. Ultimately, my search led me to the conclusion that Jesus, in fact, existed, that the accounts of his life and death were trustworthy, that the disciples could not have stolen the body after he died, that Jesus was not resuscitated, and that more than 500 hundred eyewitnesses of His resurrection did not die for a lie.
Yet coming to an intellectual belief in the resurrection was not that life changing. The difference Jesus’ resurrection made came when I was challenged to ask God if I could actually meet Jesus in the here and now. I had been told that Jesus, in rising from the dead, was still alive. And He was not just seated at the right hand of God, but by His Spirit could be known and experienced in real life every day.
After much hemming and hawing, in June of 1983, I got up the nerve to ask Jesus if He was indeed alive. I asked Him to open my eyes, take away the wall of indifference, anger, and cynicism that was between us, and make me a part of God’s family. I asked Him if he could do all this without making me into the kind of religious person I dreaded.
And you know what? On that day I met Him. Or in truth, Jesus met me. I became alive to God. I knew He was alive and that my life direction had changed forever. My life became “God centered” rather than “me centered.” The fact that I would one day want – more than that, ask Him - to let me share the good news that He is alive as my “job” is one piece of evidence for the difference Jesus has made in my life
This Easter, may we not only become convinced in the facts of the resurrection, but may we be willing to meet the Lord who died and rose again for us and commit ourselves to getting to know Him better and better until we see Him face to face.
About the ResBlog
Members of staff and Vestry will be posting on the ResBlog to help us think through who we are in light of the gospel so that we might “spur one another on to love and good deeds.”