Monday, November 28, 2011

A Prayer of Vengeance

“Oh that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil—to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!”

How many here have prayed that prayer recently? As recently as this morning? I was in New York for thanksgiving, hearing about and seeing massive amounts of idol worship in the form of consumerism, technologism, scientism, darwinism, individualism, selfism, marxism—pick an “ism!” We went to the 9/11 memorial and read the names of the deceased around the square fountains. We read a long woman's name and realized that the last half of the name was actually “and unborn child.” Let's add fanaticism to the list.

The first two verses of Isaiah 64 is a request that God come down as judge . . . and destroyer. We want deliverance from the world's tyranny. Mad-made global warming may be a myth, but man-made storms sure aren't. The weather has nothing on the chaos that can be waged when the passions of rulers come into play. We work hard on something, exhaust ourselves day and night, and then the project results in nothing—worthless.

We are miserable because we believe ourselves to be gods. Why do we do this? Because we cannot believe in a God who is completely unlike us. God's ways are not our ways. His purposes are not our purposes. What we need is a God who is very much like a man, and so we put ourselves in that place. Isaiah here is also looking for that man—the true man. This is the man who would manifest the ways and purposes of the true God, so we can understand them and not put ourselves in God's place. Think of a thick veil keeping God's light from reaching us. Now think of someone being able to remove that veil. That is the man we are talking about. We would know that God was among us and that he was ruling us and judging us. This man would be a shelter from that man-made storm of ruler passions I talked about earlier.

So, we may have uttered something like this prayer recently. Also, how many of us are scared of such a prayer? This may be a prayer that we would not want to come to pass. Part of us wants to keep God a distance, especially to keep his VENGEANCE at distance. We don't want God to make things right on that chance that we will find ourselves on the wrong side of such a correction. So, this becomes our religion. We want God to help us in our plight, but we don't really want him to lift us completely out of it. We want him to forgive our sins, but we don't want him to free us completely from sin. We bury ourselves in this alternate religion, this moralistic therapeutic deism, a religion that feeds our flesh and our worldly desires, and avoids real religion—the religion of the prayer of Isaiah 64:1-2. While our flesh desires the false religion, our souls desire the true religion. Our souls desire to encounter God's vengeance. Our souls long to be face to face with Him.

Our flesh wants to be protected from God, so we must avoid praying the prayer! However, our souls know that God is there to protect us from ourselves. God is there to raise us out of the slavery that we invented for ourselves. So, our souls inwardly rejoice at the prayer, and at the same time, our flesh trembles. The world trembles, too, because this prayer destroys kings and raises the poor to heavenly heights.

Isaiah prayed this prayer, and saw the man who was to remove the veil, who was going to put an understandable face on the unfathomable God. Unto us a Child is born, he prophesied. Unto us a Son is given. He is the shelter from the storm, because He is both Son of man and Son of God. Jesus is God appearing and the heavens being torn open. Jesus causes the mountains to quake and the nations to tremble. As one elected leader once said that upon his nomination, the rise of the oceans began to slow.” Our flesh becomes elated at such a prospect. Jesus is the opposite. When he comes, things are going to really shake up, and the oceans will probably rise. Our flesh will quake with fear, but our souls will rejoice.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Your Anglican Moment

Father, we praise thee, now the night is over;
active and watchful, stand we all before thee;
singing, we offer prayer and meditation;
thus we adore thee.

Monarch of all things, fit us for thy mansions;
banish our weakness, health and wholeness sending;
bring us to heaven, with thy saints united;
joy without ending.

All-holy Father, Son, and equal Spirit,
Trinity blessed, send us thy salvation;
thine is the glory, gleaming and resounding
through all creation.

- Percy Dearmer

A Minor Detail About the December 4 Concert...

...because the detail is a minor. 11-Year-Old Anna Barrett will be singing in the children's choir that night. Indeed, she will be a soloist, too! This should be enough to get us all there on that Sunday night at Outer Banks Presbyterian Church.

See you all on Sunday, December 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm. Admission is free, and a freewill love offering will be taken. Nursery will be provided. Outer Banks Presbyterian Church is located at 907 S. Croatan Highway (Milepost 8.5) in Kill Devil Hills. After the concert, we are all invited to the Maturo's house for dessert and Compline.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Feed My Sheep

I want to talk about dead people. Not Ghosts. This isn't Sixth Sense, “I see dead people,” ESP, psychic stuff. This isn't even zombies, either, although these dead people are walking around among us. Jesus Christ is life itself. I am the resurrection and the life, he said, and if what he says is true, and as Christians, we DO believe that he is the source of life, then anyone without Jesus is not alive but dead, dead in their sins.

This might prompt us to reach out to non-believers more, because this is not just a matter of someone not believing NOW and LATER succumbing to everlasting death. No, these people are dead NOW. Our culture pushes individualism and believing only in yourself and self-centeredness, and the result of these teachings is that we end up being stressed out and literally dead people walking about. Christ teaches us to put ourselves LAST. He teaches us how to put God first, and then our neighbor, and last of all ourselves. And the stress melts away. We relax. We can feel the life flooding through our souls.

In Ezekiel 34, we read in the early part of the chapter, God condemn the false shepherds because they feed themselves instead of the sheep. Isn't that we are taught from birth in this culture? We are taught to feed ourselves. And you would think that feeding ourselves made us healthy, but it does not. We are engorging ourselves, and that makes us dead people walking around.

The Lord says in the second part of Ezekiel 34 that he himself will be the shepherd, for he is the only one who can properly care for the flock. We feed ourselves, but God will rescue his sheep. He will know his sheep, because they are the thin and weakly ones. The fat, strong ones are the ones who have been feeding themselves, so he will separate them out.

We see this mirrored in our Gospel passage, where the Son of Man will come in his glory and separate out the people from each other, just like between sheep and goats. Now, here the conditions of separation are whether the certain person has cared for the least of these in the flock. Has the person fed himself, as it says in Ezekiel, or has he fed the sheep? Jesus calls Peter to feed his sheep at the end of John's Gospel, and that isn't just a message for Peter. That's a message for us. Are we feeding ourselves, like the culture tells us to do, or are we feeding the sheep, like the Lord tells us to do? Are we fat dead people or thin living people?

Now, here's something that is a little difficult to grasp. There are dead people who are great philanthropists and who give to charity and who use their money to travel to other countries and give their time and money to help others. These are people that surely deserve to be called blessed by the Father and who will inherit the kingdom, because they are doing the Father's will—they are caring for the least of these, and therefore they are caring for Jesus. That is what Jesus wants, right?

Well, there's another way to look at this passage. The phrase, “just as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me,” is a symmetrical phrase. It's kind of like forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us in the Lord's Prayer. There is no reason to think that just because “forgive us our sins” comes first, we don't have to forgive those who sin against us until we know we have been forgiven by God. In fact, because we forgive others, God forgives us, and it is easier to forgive others when we know that God has forgiven us. It's a balanced statement. It's circular. One feeds the other and back and forth.

Same with “just as you did it to the least of these you did it to me.” It's easy to think that anyone who serves the poor with their time and money has earned his way into the kingdom of heaven, because it says right there that when one serves the poor, he is serving Jesus. But this is a balanced statement, too. This is a circular statement, too. When our intentions are to serve Jesus through our serving the poor—when we have Jesus in mind when we serve the poor—that is when we are doing the will of the Father. When we can say to ourselves, “I am caring for the least of these, because this is how I properly care for my Lord and Savior,” then we are inheriting the kingdom. When our motives—our intentions—are for Christ, that is when our deeds have true heavenly meaning. Because our faith in Jesus Christ is feeding our works, not the other way around. If someone is acting like Albert Schweitzer or Florence Nightingale or Mother Theresa and his or her intentions are not toward Jesus Christ. If that person is not picturing Jesus' face on the poor people he or she is serving . . . all those good deeds are worth nothing. No kingdom is inherited. We are still feeding ourselves and not our sheep after all. We are still dead.

Look at John 13, where Jesus washes the disciples' feet. Verse 3 begins, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up...” and began the process of washing the disciples' feet. His mind was on the Father. His mind was on God. His focus and intent was on the Lord's will.

Jesus died on the cross, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he had this conversation with Peter: three times he asks Peter if he loves him. Peter responds yes. Then comes the next part—the conclusion: feed my sheep. We cannot feed the Lord's sheep if we do not love Jesus. Jesus has to be first in our hearts and minds, or all of our good deeds fall into the void of nothingness. Love Jesus, serve him, and we will be able to love and serve the least of these. Put Jesus first and feed his sheep and inherit the kingdom.

Friday, November 18, 2011

December 4 Service

As you may know, we cannot worship at Grace Lutheran, due to their Dec 4th Christmas Cantata, which is scheduled for our appointed worship time. Instead, we are going on a field trip:

The Music Ministry of the Outer Banks Presbyterian Church will present a Christmas Musical on Sunday, December 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm

This musical presentation will be given by the Sanctuary Choir of the church along with numerous musical guests all combining to build a 50-voice choir, a 14-piece orchestra and guest singers. The choir, under the direction of Jason Evans and Nonie Booth, has been working on the musical for several weeks.

Guest conductor, Natalie Drummond, will direct the choir and orchestra. Drummond’s impressive career includes being the Owner/Director of the Outer Banks Music Showcase, the director of the Outer Banks Children's Chorus, Miss Rocky Mount in 1994-95 and was a top-ten semifinalist in the Miss North Carolina Pageant in 1995. Drummond is a graduate with B.A Honors in Music with Distinction from Duke University concentrating in Vocal Performance. She also completed her M.M. in Music Theory/Composition at East Carolina University and has completed 24 hours towards her PhD. in Musicology at Duke University.

Music will include some of the wonderful sounds of the season in the first portion of the program and will feature the story of the birth of Christ in the second portion.

Members of the Sanctuary Choir are comprised from Outer Banks Presbyterian Church, All Saints Episcopal Church, Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, Duck United Methodist Church and Mt. Zion United Methodist Church. Soloists will include: Pamela Tanner, Jerry Manolas, Maurice Trotman, Lyman Futrell, Natalie Drummond, Isaac Drummond and Nick Hodsdon.

The orchestra will be comprised of: Jason Evans, pianist; Steve Blackstock, organist; George Graham, percussionist; Brad Boyette, bassist; Leslie Erickson, Shannah Boone, Billy Tanner, violinists; Beth Argiro, violist; Tim Briggs, Mike Frohnapfel, cellists; Christi Briggs, clarinetist; John Blackstock, alto sax; Suzanne Blackstock, Hollie Writtenberry, flautists.

We invite all to attend this moving and powerful presentation. Admission is free, and a freewill love offering will be taken. Nursery will be provided. Outer Banks Presbyterian Church is located at 907 S. Croatan Highway (Milepost 8.5) in Kill Devil Hills. For additional information about the performances, call 441-5897 or visit us on the web

After the concert, we are all invited to the Maturo's house for dessert. We will finish the day out with Compline.

Your Anglican Moment

Not here for high and holy things
We render thanks to Thee,
But for the common things of earth,
The purple pageantry
Of dawning and of dying days,
The splendor of the sea:

The royal robes of autumn moors,
The golden gates of spring,
The velvet of soft summer nights,
The silver glistering
Of all the million million stars,
The silent song they sing,

Of Faith and Hope and Love undimmed,
Undying still through death,
The Resurrection of the world,
What time there comes the breath
Of dawn that rustles through the trees,
And that clear voice that saith

"Awake, awake to love and work,
The lark is in the sky,
The fields are wet with diamond dew,
The worlds awake to cry
Their blessings on the Lord of Life,
As He goes meekly by.

"Come, let thy voice be one with theirs,
Shout with their shout of praise,
See how the giant sun soars up,
Great Lord of years and days!
So let the Love of Jesus come,
And set thy soul ablaze,

"To give and give, and give again,
What God has given thee,
To spend thy self nor count the cost,
To serve right gloriously
The God who gave all worlds that are,
And all that are to be."

- Geoffrey Anketel Studdert-Kennedy

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Servant Council Minutes 11-9-11

Members present were Father Fred Barrett, Della and Charles Gill, Jim Heinrich, Brenda Pitonyak, and Ted Moseley. Mary Jeannette Moseley was present as secretary.

Fred opened the meeting with Communion.

Charles presented the Profit and Loss YTD Comparison to the members. It was moved to approve the statement by Mary Jeannette and seconded by Brenda.

The minutes from last meeting were reviewed and approved. Charles moved the approval and Brenda seconded.

Old business included a lengthy discussion pertaining to finding a new space to worship. Several inquiries have been made so far: Fancy Flamingo (too costly and possibly going to be torn down), a real estate building (already occupied). New places to investigate included: open space beside Gateway Bank in Nags Head, the Joe Lamb building, the yellow warehouse on Clark Street, OBX Beach Book space, and Taco Bell. There was discussion also about taking over the Dream Center, as it would satisfy our various needs for space.

Della shared her vision of having Panara Bread as our “backer” or financer, and to call it “The Good Shepherd”. It would be like a soup kitchen somewhat, but people would pay what they could. This idea may be pursued in the future.

The Servant Council spent some time discussing a parishioner’s living and future situation and how we could help.

We moved into the Wesley Experiment part of our meeting.

The meeting was closed in prayer, with the Lord’s Prayer by all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

4th Annual Men's Retreat Nov 4-6 - A report of my attending

By Jim Heinrich

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another"

This is the 3rd year that I have attended. It is inspiring, challenging, enjoyable, fellowship, heart rending and is in the presence of God at work. It is held at the 4 H center just past Columbia and is on the sound front. This year there were 91 men and young men attending. Each year men and young men are invited from Freedom Farm which is located in Boone. They are in rehab from many addictions. I think there were about 45.

We all arrived Friday about 4:00 PM, have welcome and introductions, then all to dinner. The food is excellent. That evening session 1 is titled Pursued by God, then for the rest of the meeting; session 2 is A closer look: what God has done, session 3 Response and relationship; a look at Jesus and Peter and the final session, Empower: The power of God in us. It ends Sunday about 10:00 AM with a church service.

There is a speaker and leader who does the sessions. There is music which is mostly praise throughout the meeting. It is inspiring to be a part of 91 fellow Christians singing loudly and clearly. Throughout the sessions there are break away meetings with a leader and about 6 attending. For 1 and 1/2 hours there is discussion about the sessions, prayers for each other, testimony's when one is called to do so and true friendship.

I strongly encourage any of our men to consider attending next year. It is sponsored by the men's prayer group of the Church of the Redeemer in Camden. If you would like to talk with me about possibly going next year please call.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Your Anglican Moment

New every morning is the love
our wakening and uprising prove;
through sleep and darkness safely brought,
restored to life and power and thought.

New mercies, each returning day,
hover around us while we pray;
new perils past, new sins forgiven,
new thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.

If on our daily course our mind
be set to hallow all we find,
new treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.

Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be,
as more of heaven in each we see;
some softening gleam of love and prayer
shall dawn on every cross and care.

The trivial round, the common task,
will furnish all we ought to ask:
room to deny ourselves; a road
to bring us daily nearer God.

Only, O Lord, in thy dear love,
fit us for perfect rest above;
and help us, this and every day,
to live more nearly as we pray.

- John Keble

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Foundation of Hope

Does anyone like to read anymore? With all the distractions, especially movies, I find that it is tough to read. I have to read for a living, but think of the people who don't have to! People can get away in this day and age without having to read anything. My 8-year-old is learning to read, and she has moments where she is flying through the Bible stories, and then she will hit some new, long words and slow down to an agonizing pace. Then she'll hit a three-letter word that she should know by heart and have some trouble. Two steps forward, one step back. Reading is tough.

Of the stuff adults are called to read, theology, philosophy and the Bible itself are actually very difficult things to read, and sometimes after reading nothing but theology for weeks and months, I begin to think that I am a horrible reader. I'm so slow, I think, how do I read at all? So, then I'll pick up a pulp novel and fly through the 400 pages in a few hours, and I remember that it is the level of reading that is hitting me, not reading itself.

Reading the scriptures is very difficult stuff. If it is a familiar story, we can sail right through it, but each verse should be studied, because there are missed nuances, if we just fly through the Bible. A few weeks ago I took the familiar “Golden Calf” story and pulled out a few verses that are usually overlooked, connected them to some verses in Romans, and we all were able to see something new and deeper. My job is to do things like that, so that we can all learn more from the scriptures, so we can all know more about God.

Our collect today read, “Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” As we can read here, study, especially scripture study, supports the hope that is in us.

In our passage in first Thessalonians 5, Paul writes, “For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. You, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” Now, this refers to the end times, when Christ returns, but it also refers to being informed through scripture. The reason we are going to be prepared for Christ's coming, even though we don't know the time it will happen, is because we have studied scripture and we no longer remain in darkness. We are children of light, children of day. There may be arguments about whether Christ is going to come sooner or later, but we are not ignorant of Christ coming at all. To put in this in perspective, the secular world IS ignorant of Christ's coming.

Not just ignorance but misinformation is rampant in the secular world. Here is the latest piece of misinformation from the children of darkness, as Paul would call them, and this just makes my jaw drop to the floor. Anti-Christians believe that Judaism was just another pagan religion that engaged in child sacrifice. What? Where do they get THAT from? Well, the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the altar is where. That story wouldn't be in the Bible, they say, if it were not a common practice of the Judaic culture. Again, WHAT?!

Now, when we hear that, we may be able to get out the concept that God was testing Abraham's faith and that he had no intention of allowing him to sacrifice his son, but can we define faith for them? Can we connect Abraham's love of the promised son to his potentially breaking the first commandment, which is the reason he is being tested? Can we cite the Hebrews passage about Abraham believing with all his heart that God would raise Isaac from the dead, if he killed him? Will we be able to cite the verses in Numbers about how touching a dead body makes us impure, and therefore sacrificing people would be a no-no in Israel. Do we know enough about the pagan nations in the area to be able to contrast their cultures of death with Israel's culture of life?

These things blind side us, and we sit there for a minute and try to get our bearings, and then the conversation moves on to something else. Well, we had our chance! Too late! We can't go back and say, “wait a minute!” these days. Nobody wants to go back and go deeper. They want to have their say and move on, so we have to be ready with an answer. As Peter writes in his first letter, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

We should always have answers to back up the HOPE in us. If we don't have those answers, our behavior is not seen as hopeful but as NICE. No one wants to be nice. Do you know where the word nice comes from? In the Middle English nice meant foolish or stupid, then we go back to the Old French where it means silly or simple, and finally we hit the Latin word “nescius”, which means ignorant or incapable. That's NICE. Our modern definition is “agreeable” and when someone is attacking your religion, and telling you that it was a pagan religion that sacrificed people, the last thing you want to be is agreeable. If we don't have answers to back up the hope that is in us, our good deeds and our pleasant behavior just becomes simple brainwashing: we were told by someone to behave this way, and we were agreeable. Poor little Christian, can't think for himself.

Psalm 123 has some excellent verses to pray, to get us into the mood for study: “Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.”

Remember that Jesus Christ, son of God, is also the Word of God, and if we look at the three persons of the trinity, we can see that Christ is the mouthpiece of God. When he spoke to people, he always had an answer for the hope that was in him, and he spoke many things about the scriptures that forced people, even the scholars of the day, to look at God's word in a new light. Jesus spoke about the future, and things have come true, and there are things still to come true. We have hope in these things, because we have faith in Christ. And we have faith in Christ, because he demonstrated his reliability by rising from the dead. Christ is hope in us, not nice in us. Be prepared.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 20 Potluck Dinner with Grace Lutheran

Grace Lutheran By-The-Sea has invited us to share a Potluck Dinner with them on November 20th. They are excited about us joining them, so much so that it is on their calendar: "Potluck with Good Shepherd." Let's not disappoint them! They are beginning at 6pm, when we will be finishing up our service, after which we will join them. We should also get to meet their new interim pastor. Hope to see everyone there!

Servant Council Minutes 11-2-11

Members present were Father Fred Barrett, Jim Heinrich, Brenda Pitonyak, Della Gill and Charles Gill. Mary Jeannette Moseley was present as secretary.

Fred opened the meeting with Communion.

The minutes from last week were read and approved—Charles moved to approve, and Jim seconded the motion.

A lengthy discussion followed that involved assistance for one of our parishoners.

Update on new worship space—several new possibilities were discussed: Dare Center, OB Mall, open space near Dunkin Donuts in Nags Head, real estate office across from TW’s Tackle, old bank building in FF Alley. Jim and Fred were going to check out a few of the places and let us know.

We discussed the possibility of resuming coffee hour after church. Because of the time of day and the size of our kitchen committee, it was decided to wait for now. We will continue to have a monthly Pot Luck Dinner, on the 2nd Sunday every month.

The “business “ part of our meeting ended and the group entered the “Wesley” part of the meeting. We discussed the importance of the Wesley Experiment for the Servant Council, the desire to stay focused on putting God first in our lives, and the desire to grow stronger as a group.

Fred closed the meeting with The Lord’s Prayer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Servant Council Minutes 10-26-11

Members present were Father Fred Barrett, Della and Charles Gill, Jim Heinrich, Brenda Pitonyak, and Ted Moseley. Mary Jeannette Moseley was present as secretary.

Fred opened the meeting with an abbreviated version of the Holy Eucharist and Communion.

The minutes were distributed and reviewed from the last meeting. Brenda made the motion to approve and Charles seconded the motion.

1. Beach Food Pantry—Fred has inquired about the food pantry and how to make a connection for Good Shepherd. There are several requirements to be met by the church in order to receive the benefits for our parishioners. Mary Jeannette agreed to be the point person for this project

2. Outreach—The Dream Center will soon no longer be available to be used for Ruthie’s Kitchen community dinners. Discussion followed about where these dinners will be served in the future and the possibility of having a place big enough to do this ourselves.

Discussion continued in great depth about the pros and cons of finding and having a new place to worship. One particular place on Colington Road may be available, depending on the rent , space, and it’s availability. SC members were encouraged to make a list of things that would be important to us in our search for a new place of worship.

On November 1, we will begin our daily Bible studies for the Wesley Experiment. We will gather each week at 6:30 on Wednesday night to pray, read scripture, and conduct whatever business the Servant Council feels necessary.

Fred closed the meeting with prayer, followed by The Lord’s Prayer by all.

Men's Retreat 2011

Rev. Craig Stephans sent out videos from this past weekend's men's retreat. The videos are of Men's Retreat speaker Peter Rothermel and recorded by MC Halstead.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Possible Spaces?

Please pray for God's will to be done. Here are some possible spaces that could become Good Shepherd's "Third Space." Picture them in your heads as you pray for one of these, or perhaps something else, to come to the forefront and become the place where God wants us to be, so we can serve the community as best we can.

A place on Colington road, which is discussed above, has a large area for activities, eating, and worship. It has a kitchen area, an office, a room for a nursery, and an attic for storage. It has 20 parking spaces, but there is a wide driveway that can be parked alongside, and a huge grassy area that can be parked upon. This is in a prime location to serve the local community of Colington Islands.

This is an abandoned building that looks like it is still in good condition. We are investigating its status right now. There is another, low building behind it that could also serve as a space. Pray that this might be a possibility. These two buildings are on the bypass, where the highest volume of traffic passes.

Finally, we have the infamous Dream Center, which may come available soon. It used to be an auto show gallery, but a church has been meeting here. It has a large amount of space, and it is, how should we say, unsightly in ascetics. Ugly, some might say. However, it would have all the space we need, a kitchen, a worship area, and perhaps tables and chairs included. It also reminds me of the club from the movie Xanadu, which is pretty cool. This building is located between the bypass and the beach road, and it is where Ruthie's Kitchen meets each Tuesday evening.

Thanks for your prayers. If you are local, and you can think of a possible Third Space for us, let us know!

Your Anglican Moment

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

-Robert Robinson

Surrendering to God's Will

Christ told us that we will know someone by their fruits. It's not what goes into someone's mouth but what comes out of it that is what defiles him. We see this from the high-profile places like politics and celebrities, all the way down to family and friends. Someone can say whatever it is they want to say, but it is their actions that we need to pay attention to. If someone says they are going to zig and instead they zag. The zag is what you pay attention to. The zag is the character of that person. The zag is what God sees, not the spoken zig.

A few weeks ago, Jesus told a brief parable about a man who had two sons, and to the first one he said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” The son responded that he would NOT, but later he changed his mind and went. What was his zig? His zig was an emphatic NO. What was his zag? He went and worked. The second son said that he would go and work in the field, but he did NOT go. What was his zig? YES. What was his zag? He did not act. He did not do the father's will.

Actions speak louder than words. In our Old Testament passage, we have in the last chapter of Joshua, the people of God—the chosen people of God—lying to Joshua. They say many times things like, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods,” and “We shall serve the Lord, for he is our God.” Joshua responds, “If you forsake the Lord and turn to foreign Gods, great harm will come to you.” They respond, “No, we will serve the Lord!”

Now, we know that the Israelites go after false gods throughout the Old Testament, but how soon? Turn the page! The last chapter of Joshua precedes the first chapter of Judges, where we read that not only have the Israelites failed to drive out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, like they were supposed to, but they have now gone after the false gods of those very same people they were to drive out. The Lord warned them that if they didn't drive out the enemy, the enemy's gods would become a snare to them. And so we read that the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.

There's two things going on here. Who we pretend we are, and who we really are. Israel pretended to be an honorable people, who would obey God, but they turned out to be a dishonorable people who went after false Gods. In our Gospel parable, we have ten bridesmaids who are waiting for the Lord's return. Half of these bridesmaids are pretending to be something they are not. They don't really believe in the Lord's return, because they haven't prepared. They haven't enough oil. Their actions—not being prepared for the bridegroom's return—show their true character. We see who they really are.

This whole chapter, chapter 25 of Matthew is connected. We next have the parable of the talents, where one slave has pretended to be someone he is not. He squandered and hid his talent instead of investing it, and when the master returns, the slave has nothing to show. His actions show his character. He does not believe in what the master believes in. He is not doing the father's will.

What is oil for the lamp? What is a talent? What does it mean to do the father's will? As one of Good Shepherd's core values states, what does it mean to surrender to God's will? What do we, as Christians, say we are going to do and DON'T do every day? Jesus answers that at the end of chapter 25. “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.”

We speak compassion, but we are not compassionate. We speak justice, but we are not just. We speak love, but we are not loving. It is impossible for us to be that way. We are human, and we are fallen. We choose evil over good. But, as Paul says, it is not me but Christ in me what does the good deed. As John the Baptist says, “I must grow smaller and Christ grow bigger.” When we allow Jesus Christ to take over our lives, and we put him in the driver's seat, the poor get fed, the sick get tended, the strangers get welcomed. If it were up to us, no. But as we sacrifice ourselves, our identities, those things that the world says are so important to us, and we give ourselves over to Christ, we find that we gain a REAL identity, one that is much more valuable than the one we were working at before. This identity is in God, and it is a far more powerful identity.

It's not a coincidence that after Jesus said these things about letting our actions speak louder than our words, about surrendering to God's will and serving the community, that the plot to kill Jesus began. When we surrender to God's will and begin to serve the community, by having enough oil and investing our one talent, the devil's plot to kill us will begin. It already has begun. Let us pray that Jesus will drive us into being faithful to the one true God, into being prepared with enough oil for the bridegroom, with wisely investing our talent, and serving the least of these.

Toler Family Update - Transitions

Here is an update from the missionary family we support with prayer and more.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Diocese Web Site

Check out our new diocese's new Web site.

From Bishop Guernsey

As we celebrate All Saints’ Day this week (it falls on November 1 but it is also observed this coming Sunday), we focus on the universal church and on what is called the Communion of Saints, the union we have with all those who have put their trust in Jesus from every people and language and tribe and nation—those still on earth, and those who have gone before us in ages past.

On All Saints’ Day we read from Revelation Chapter 7, which shows us a picture of a multitude in heaven. The question is asked, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” And the answer is given, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:13, 14). These are the saints who have endured great suffering for Christ and the blood of the Lamb has washed them clean. All Saints’ Day invites us to consider the cost of following Jesus, the price we must pay if we are to be faithful to the one who gave his life for us.

I am currently reading the monumental biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian who saw the real threat that Adolph Hitler posed to his nation and to the Church. When others were prepared to accommodate the Church’s teaching to the ideology of the Third Reich, Bonhoeffer saw the implications of compromise with a false Gospel. His deep commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ is reflected in such timeless works as The Cost of Discipleship and, having counted the cost himself, he was executed in the Flossenburg concentration camp shortly before the end of the war.

As we face growing challenges to biblical faith in Christ, we have much to learn from the experience and witness of the suffering Church around the world, those who are standing firm for Jesus in places like Sudan and Egypt and Northern Nigeria. Let us never fail to pray for these saints with whom we are one in Jesus. And let’s also pray for God’s grace to stand as firmly and as sacrificially for the Gospel in our own culture.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Some Interesting Numbers

This is part of an article from The Coastland Times called "Cross section proposed, Colington Road widening":

"Colington Road is a meandering, two-lane, probably historic road traversing big and little Colington Islands and connecting to the busy world of U.S. 158 Bypass.

"Folks living along this North Carolina secondary road numbered 4,179 in 2010. That's the largest concentration of people of any area in unincorporated Dare County. It is almost as many people as live on the entire of Hatteras Island (4,322 in 2010). More people live on Colington islands than live in Nags Head or Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores or Duck.

"The road is heavily traveled. At the intersection of Colington Road and Veteran's Drive, and average of 10,000 cars per day pass through.

"The road is the only route to First Flight Elementary, Middle and High schools for the 682 students living on the Colington islands.

"It is the only route to work for most Colington residents."

The article continues to talk about how the NCDOT is going begin a project to widen and straighten the road, but re-read the above paragraphs and think about the number of people on these islands (including my family) and the amount of traffic that the road handles.

Wouldn't Colington islands benefit from a visible Third Space along this heavily traveled road?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What is a Third Space?

My thoughts on Churchmorph by Eddie Gibbs.

In an age where traditional church has become very individualistic and consumer-oriented, we need to try to understand how a church can make a distinctive contribution to the community. Individualism has turned church into a supplement for our own private devotions, and consumerism has put members in a frame of mind that if our church is not doing exactly what we like, it needs to be changed to suit our wants.

How can we shift from an individualistic, consumerist model to a model that serves God and the surrounding community first? This different model of church is one in which each member is active, supportive, and makes a distinct contribution to the community. We are not passive consumers but creative participants. We have a mission to engage the surrounding culture with the Gospel.

This is where the concept of Third Space comes in. What is a Third Space? If we think of our homes as being our first space, and our work as being our second, the third space is that of our community, a place where we can go to feel connected, appreciated, and valuable. This is where we can engage and grow together. A Third Space is essentially a welcoming space beyond work and home.

In such a space a church can hold artistic performances, workshops, collaborations and classes. In such a space a church can feed the hungry and provide community for people of all walks of life. The spaces serve the neighborhoods they are directly in contact with, and they adapt to the needs of those same communities. Third Spaces partnership with other churches in the area, so they are not seen as a threat. Third Spaces drop the "come to us" attitude and adopt mission as its drive. All churches with buildings are potential Third Spaces, but how many of them are using their spaces as such?

A Third Space allows a church to work toward transformation of the whole community. A Third Space knows the social and spiritual needs of the community. On the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we have an intense hospitality community that serves tourists for the summer and then overall becomes stagnant for the rest of the year. Countless times have I heard the mantra, "there's nothing to do." A Third Space gives people something to do, and it is part of the community for the long haul. It is not temporary. The Third Space is instrumental in transforming neighbors who are acquaintances into friends and then into brothers and sisters.

Spiritually, a Third Space community devotes themselves together. They follow same rule of faith. A Third Space community is not hierarchical. It builds up leaders of all generations and allows them to contribute their own ideas on how to use the space. New uses of the space bring a continuing renewal to what the space represents in the community. A Third Space is not like joining a club--it adapts to the needs of the community and grows to accommodate the community.

Finally, a Third Space worships together creatively. God is the focus. It is not stage theatrics and lecturing. It is a family gathering around the table, praying together, learning together, and thanking God for the blessings of this life. The two great commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind; and to love our neighbors as ourselves. A Third Space is a powerful instrument in fulfilling both of those commandments.