Thursday, June 14, 2018

Bishop’s Note: June 14, 2018 – GAFCON Update

Bishop Menees is traveling for GAFCON, so the Bishop’s Notes during his travel will be updates related to GAFCON, starting with the following bidding for prayer!

guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

As delegates begin to gather in Jerusalem for the 2018 Gafcon Conference, please pray for them.

Keep in mind that this opportunity comes only once every five years. So it is crucial that each person leaves the conference with the resources that will enable them to spread uncompromised biblical truth with those around them.

Many are more or less standing alone against the voices of secularism, and they need the encouragement they will receive from this supportive, well-informed and powerfully encouraging group.

Our deep desire is to see the Anglican Communion change from within. So pray with us for a unified Church, just as Jesus did...

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21).

Thank you for praying that God will bring about true unity, not compromise – as we continue to uphold the unchanging, biblical truth.
May God bless you!

Dr Peter Jensen

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Bishop’s Note: June 7, 2018 – Jerusalem Declaration- Part 2

Bishop Eric Menees

Last week’s Bishop’s Note introduced the Diocese to the Jerusalem Declaration, written at the First Global Anglican Futures Conference in 2008. I promised in that Note that I would dedicate the next several Bishop’s Notes to unpacking this historic document. This is especially poignant as I prepare to head off for GAFCON 2018.

The preamble to the Jerusalem Declaration:

In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth. We express or loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus. We joyfully embrace His command to proclaim the reality of His kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all. In light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican Identity.

First, the Jerusalem Declaration begins by naming the God we believe in and serve: “In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.” Recently we celebrated the feast of the Holy Trinity, and throughout the Diocese I’m sure that the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” was sung. This old hymn proudly proclaims, “God in three persons, blessed trinity.” This hymn states our belief in the Trinity - namely our belief that God is one God in three Persons. Throughout the scripture God reveals himself:

God made himself known through his Son, who saves us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The true nature of the Father was made known Jesus said to him,  ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’” (John 14:9)in the son. “
The Holy Spirit reveals to us both the Father and the Son. “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)

Belief in the Trinity is a fundamental aspect to
“Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.” our faith as Anglican Christians. We regularly respond to the psalms by stating,

Second, “[w]e the participants in the Global Anglican Future Conference, have met in the land of Jesus’ birth.” It is significant that GAFCON was born in Jerusalem, the birthplace of our Lord, the place where he lived, taught, served, suffered, died, rose from death, and ascended into heaven. It is significant that GAFCON 2018 returns to Jerusalem with 2000 participants representing 50,000,000 Anglican Christians around the world.

Third, “[w]e express or loyalty as disciples to the King of kings, the Lord Jesus.” As Anglican Christians, we are under the authority of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords; this is how Jesus appears in the Book of Revelation: “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:16)

Fourth, “[w]e joyfully embrace His command to proclaim the reality of His kingdom which he first announced in this land. The gospel of the kingdom is the good news of salvation, liberation and transformation for all.” We cannot open an internet browser, turn on the TV, or listen to the radio without learning of “bad news;” the consequences of sin and disobedience. The good news of Jesus Christ is the only truly GOOD news. That Jesus paid the price for all of us who receive him as Savior by receiving the death that we deserve. Instead, when we believe in Jesus we are adopted as his sons and daughters and heirs! “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12)

Fifth, “[i]n light of the above, we agree to chart a way forward together that promotes and protects the biblical gospel and mission to the world, solemnly declaring the following tenets of orthodoxy which underpin our Anglican Identity.” The path forward became clear – to unite in a common belief in the authority of scripture, the authority of creeds, and a common Anglican identity.

Next week we’ll begin looking at the individual points of the Jerusalem Declaration!

I pray you all a blessed week!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Pentecost 2B 2018

Let’s Get Small

Fr. Dale Matson

The title for my homily “Let’s Get Small” actually comes from a 1977 comedy album by Steve Martin. He was one of my favorite comedians in his many roles of the clueless jerk. The title of the album came from one of his comedy routines he did for the album. It seems Steve in his fantasy got so small he climbed into a vacuum cleaner bag. I thought it was very funny then but for the last 20 years I have thought of getting small for me as the process of Sanctification. Isn’t Sanctification all about getting small?

My homily today is based on our opening Collect, the Ten Commandments and our Epistle lesson.

Our collect states, “O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth: Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us.”
It seems to me that as our Collect states that there is an assurance through faith that God is in control of all things. Things don’t just happen. They happen for a reason. They happen for God’s reasons not necessarily our reasons. We will never on this earth understand why bad things happen to good people.
When we ask God to put hurtful things away from us, it could be things in our path the enemy has put there, obstacles to misdirect us. But it could also be things we see as good, as entertaining, or stimulating. How often have we been shopping at Costco and said to ourselves, If I bring that huge bag of Kettle Chips home, I will probably eat the whole bag. In this sense, those things that are hurtful for us are something we would enjoy…something that would give us pleasure…for the moment at least.
In the same token, some things that are profitable for us may not mean getting a lot of money or gaining a lot of possessions. Profitable things could be hardships which we would not choose for ourselves. Learning that I had ulcers was profitable for me. It was a way of getting smaller. It meant that I was not bullet proof, that I had limitations, that the pride I had was obstructing taking on godly humility. I didn’t just have pride. Pride had me.
So, when we pray this Collect, keep in mind that hurtful things may be things we see as good and profitable things may be things we see as bad. It is not how we see things that counts. It is how God sees things. In Hebrews St. Paul states “He [God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:10b-11
If we look at the 10 Commandments in our reading from Deuteronomy, do you think of those commandments as things that are hurtful or things that profit us? As Martin Luther once said about the 10 Commandments,” God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore, we should fear His wrath and not do anything against them. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.”
You see, ultimately, honoring the 10 Commandments is something that profits us.
Today we see in the prosperity gospel churches and increasingly even in mainline churches that the 10 Commandments are seen not as absolute but as optional or even obsolete. This is not new but it is false teaching. This false teaching is called Marcionism. Marcionism was an Early Christian dualist belief system that originated in the teachings of Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144. Marcion believed Jesus was the savior sent by God, and Paul the Apostle was his chief apostle, but he rejected the Hebrew Bible and the God of Israel. Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament.
         Some of you may have heard of Joseph Prince a world-famous pastor and preacher who is an advocate of the Prosperity Gospel. Prince is so willing to dismiss the Law and to say that mixing the Law with grace is not balancing but perverting the Gospel of Christ. In my rebuttal of his teaching on our Diocesan Blog “Soundings”, I have had almost 37,000-page views and had to eventually shut off comments that both supported my view and attacked me personally.
First of all, Jesus said in Matthew, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (5:17-19)
         Some would counter this with St. Paul’s statement that those who are led by the spirit are not under the Law from Galatians (5:18). I would not argue against this for one second but I would ask, “Are you continually led by the Spirit?" "Are you led by the Spirit 24/7?" "What about your dreams?" "Are they Spirit led also?" I didn’t think so! I haven’t smoked cigarettes for 35 years but once in a while I dream I am smoking. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit is giving me those dreams.
         So, for those times we are not led by the Spirit, we have the law. For those times we are led by the Spirit, we will automatically honor the Law. Never let someone tell you that the Law is not necessary or obsolete. If you throw out the Commandments and the Old Testament, you have also thrown out all of the prophesies about Jesus the Christ. If you throw out the Old Testament, you also throw out Original Sin. If you throw out Original Sin what is the need for baptism? If you throw out the Old Testament, you will never understand that we are not just children of God by faith, we are children of Abraham by faith. Folks, there is no “Easy Button” for Christianity.
         For those of you that think there is an easy button please read “The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee. After reading this book many years ago, I said to myself, “This is too hard”.
         In our Epistle Lesson from 2nd Corinthians Chapter 4, we hear this from St. Paul. I believe he speaks not only for himself but for all clergy when he says the following. “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.” As clergy, we are not just servants of Christ, we are servants of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We know that one sinful act or a few unkind words could destroy our entire ministry to you. Don’t you think the evil one would just love that too.
         “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” With each week that passes, I am reminded how much I am only a fragile jar of clay. I have learned to live with constant pain. More and more I depend on God and others to help me with even the activities of daily living. From time to time Sharon will have to say to me as I am about to cross Friant on our daily walks, “Dale, wait, the light is not green yet.”
         “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
I used to talk with Bishop Schofield about his illnesses. It seemed to me that at the end he was very frail. I remember when he could not even step up on a curb. I believe he died prematurely for the sake of the Gospel. The Episcopal Church leadership took Bishop Schofield’s stand against them very personally and directed their lawsuit against John David. He had the last laugh. He was already in our Lord’s arms before the lawsuit was settled.
He had terrible sores on his legs that needed daily attention. I asked him if it concerned him. He laughed and said, “heck no, I have at least five other problems any one of which could kill me at any time.” I asked him why he had so many problems the last few years. He said, “Because of my stand for the Gospel of Christ, the evil one persecuted my sister until she eventually died and after she died, he came after me.”
“For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  So, death is at work in us, but life in you.” If you were to ask Fr. Carlos or myself about our health, I think both would say, “I’ve been better.” Please continue to pray for us. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)Let’s all get small. Amen