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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Redeemer Parish of the South Hills Holds First Service in Canonsburg PA

We had a wonderful service this Sunday at our new worship site. The place looked beautiful and the air-conditioning worked marvelously in the 90+ degree heat!  Almost 150 (145+) showed up for our one service at 10 AM.  It looked like a sea of red as we all dressed for Pentecost. We had 15 children in the nursery and KidzStuff. We 10 visitors coming from Trinity Washington, Christ Church Brownsville, St Peters Uniontown, and the Rev. David Rucker of All Saints Rosedale and hardly retired clergyman, the Rev. John Leggett and Ellen came as well.   We praised God in freedom and release led by both the worship team and the pipe organ. I preached on Philippians 3:12-14.

Don Bushyager and I read messages from Abp Henry Luke Orombi of the Church of Uganda.  Bp Bill Wantland of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Bp Terry Kelshaw of the Diocese of the Southwest (in formation), Bp Neil Lebahr, Diocese of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese, the Revs Ron and Ruth Bushyager Diocese of London UK, the Rev Christopher and Janet Leighton of St Paul's Darien CT and former rector of St David's and our Canon to the Ordinary, the Rev. Cn Mary Maggard Hays.  We also conducted our first baptism -- baptizing William Paul Minshall, son of Val and youth minister Jeff Minshall and brother to Josh.  A reception was held in the parish hall following the service.  

It was an awesome day and one I've looked forward to since late March when we told TEC we were done paying a $10k a month mortgage on their building.  Our only problem today was parking places -- not enough of them!  Those are the kinds of problems, I like to solve!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Letter from the Most Rev Leonard Riches Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church

May 25, 2012

To the Rector, Wardens, Vestry and Congregation
of Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church
Peters Township, Pennsylvania

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings to all of you in the name of our risen and ascended Lord, Jesus Christ!  As you prepare to enter upon a new phase of your life together as the people of God we want to assure you of our heartfelt love and prayerful support.

In these days of transition may the testimony of the Apostle Paul be your confidence as well.  "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him....I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."  (Philippians 3:7-10) 

Your faithful commitment to the faith once delivered to the saints, and your courageous and sacrificial stand for the truth as it is in Jesus, are a strong witness and a great encouragement to all faithful Christians.  We are confident that God will reward the integrity of your firm resolve with new and abundantly fruitful opportunities for serving Him together and effectively building the Kingdom of Christ.

You are in our hearts, and will remain in our prayers throughout the days ahead  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as your trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

Faithfully yours, in Christ,
(The Most Rev.) Leonard W. Riches
Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church (ACNA)

Letter from the Rt Rev John Guernsey

May 27, 2012

The Rev. David Wilson
The Anglican Parish of Christ the Redeemer
South Hills, PA

Dear David+ and the Saints of Christ the Redeemer,

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ, the only Lord and only Savior of the world.  On this final Sunday in your church building, I want you to know that your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the Anglican Church in North America stand with you and are praising God for your sacrificial witness.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

As you meet in your new home next week on Pentecost, may the Holy Spirit empower you afresh to share Jesus with a community that needs Him so very much. Great challenges are ahead of you, but the Lord is faithful and He will meet your every need.

To God be the glory!

The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey
Bishop of the Mid- Atlantic, ACNA

An Email from the Rt.Rev.Dr.Terence Kelshaw

People of God, 

This is a momentous day for you all and what a great job you did in the previous home and the previous Diocese. A place to stand was the main theme for the beginning of the Anglican American Congress (AAC), which was the founding place for the later creation of the Anglican Church of North America, and there can be no doubt that you have found the place to stand which is for biblical truth and the very Name of Jesus Christ which were both dangerously close to expulsion from the Episcopal Church.

As a former bishop of ECUSA and now a bishop in ACNA I am incredibly encouraged by the great decision you have made and the great continuing future of ministry that lies ahead for you.

Please know that my wife, Hazel, and I have been daily in prayer for you and will increase our prayer as your new journey of faith and ministry matures. You bring much to it from your past, of course, and we know you will only add to that heritage in the Lord. Our prayers are especially with you on the 27 May 2012 and will continue with you all

Rt.Rev.Dr.Terence Kelshaw
Bishop, ACNA 

An Email from Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi Church of Uganda

My dear friends,

I have learnt with great sadness about the lawsuits which has robbed you of your place of worship.  I am further disappointed that even in the Church we can face hostility against the children of God.  Painful as this may be, I encourage you never to lose sight of Him whose names will command worship - Jesus Christ.

You will worship a God who promised "never to leave you nor forsake you."  David the Psalmist in Ps 23 says, "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death ..."  He hung on his promise.  He is there with you as you begin a new life.  He does not leave his people alone.  "He walks with them and talks with them, along llife's narrow road" as goes the old song.  My prayer for you is that God will see you through this trying time.  Worship him regardless of your condition right now.

God bless you and allow you experience his presence greatly.


The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
Church of the Province of Uganda
Willis Road Namirembe
P.O. Box 14123, Kampala

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bp Rodgers Writes to Christ the Redeemer

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Warmest greetings in the Lord Jesus,

I recall with appreciation your several Church sanctuaries, the first which I recall from the days of Gibb when I visited you, and your new sanctuary which I know from the days of Mark and David. But what I recall most with the greatest admiration and joy is the joy of the Gospel which I saw in your hearts and faces and the warmth of your welcome to me, a Brother in the Lord. You have always kept the main thing as the main thing, and I salute you for that.

Now you have been asked by the Lord to give up all of these familiar and beautiful buildings and all that furnished them, in order to be faithful to Him. You have done so with courage and peace of soul and for this you have my deepest thanks and highest regard. I recall the sayings of Rick Warren, “It is the people, not the steeple” and “You keep the building and we’ll keep the blessing”. And surely you will know the Lord’s continued blessing. The Lord Himself will guide and bless you in the days ahead. Were my wife not so ill, we would be with you today as you take your leave of the familiar to enter into the exciting days ahead with Lord as you leader and shepherd. Blanche and I will be holding you in prayer and look forward to hearing from you about what the Lord is doing in and through you in the days ahead. “If the Lord has given us Christ, will he not also give us everything (we need) in Him” He will! Amen and Amen!

Rt. Rev. John H. Rodgers Jr. Th.D.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Anglican Parish of Christ the Redeemer moving to Canonsburg, PA

The Anglican Parish of Christ the Redeemer (formerly St. David’s Anglican Church) will vacate its property at 905 East McMurray, Road Peters Township PA on May 31, turning it over to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh on that date.   The Rev. David Wilson, rector of Redeemer Parish stressed, “We hold no acrimony toward the new occupants of our former property.  We wish them well and we hope they and their newly elected bishop Dorsey McConnell will faithfully contend for the faith as once delivered to the saints.”

St. David’s has a long history of leadership in the renewal and reformation of the faith, first through the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and now in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Anglican Church in North America.   Wilson said, “As we look back, we can recall how God has blessed our efforts in the past and we have every confidence He will continue that blessing in the future as we strive to remain faithful ministers of his Word and sacraments.”
The Rev. Don Bushyager, the associate rector of Redeemer Parish and whose family have been members for thirty years, states.  “We have been facing into the reality that the courts awarded our property to the Episcopal Church and it no longer belonged to us the people and parish that financed, built, maintained and cared for it over the years.   Our parish moved to Peters Township almost sixty years ago and now we move on.  We leave taking with us resolve to stand firm on the Word of God, to preach Christ and Him crucified and to offer others the same grace we have received.  We are starting once again in a new place and in a new community.  We are missionaries and we will take the gospel of hope to the lost and hurting people living in Canonsburg.  And someday we will return to Peters Township and leave to the good people of Canonsburg a strong, gospel-centered Anglican Church planted there.”
Our first service at our new worship site will at Christ the Redeemer Parish, 120 East College Street in Canonsburg on Pentecost Sunday, May 27 at 10 AM.   Beginning on June 3 our Sunday worship schedule will be a traditional service of Holy Communion at 8 AM and a family-oriented service of Holy Communion at 10:30 AM.   Childcare is offered at both services and children’s ministry at the latter service.  A contemporary Saturday worship service will be offered starting June 16.  All are invited to join us!     

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cultivating Motivation for Life Change

by Josh Glaser, Executive Director of Regeneration Ministries, Inc. Baltimore MD: “a nonprofit, tax exempt Christian ministry associated with Exodus International. We seek to bring God’s healing to men and women struggling with homosexuality, sexual addiction and other relational issues, and to help the Body of Christ in reaching out to these men and women”.  Reproduced with his permission.   I found this article to be quite helpful and encouraging - DDW+

Motivation can be present and powerful one day and as skittish as a mouse the next. I want to share some helpful truths I’ve been learning about motivation.

Buy, Don’t Borrow

Here’s the first: the most important question isn’t what someone else wants, it’s “what do you want?”

You have to own your wants.

 Think about how different the following statements feel: “You should lose a few pounds.” vs “I want to be a healthy weight.” “I wish you’d be home on time.” vs “It’s important to me to be home when I say.” “Don’t commit adultery.” vs “I love my spouse and want to be true to him/her.” Some of us try to skirt this kind of ownership by putting the emphasis only on what God wants. But he doesn’t run rough shod over us. Our choice matters to him.  Take a look through the gospels at how many times Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

This is important because your wants are closely connected to your sense of who you are. When you know you want something, it shapes how you view yourself, and this makes a huge difference in motivation.

What if you have recurring wants that conflict with who you really want to be? (e.g. eating too much pie, flirting with another man/woman, or fudging on your taxes?) If they’ve been persistent enough, they’ve shaped your selfperceptions, and you may hardly be able to imagine yourself being anything different.

This is where owning what you want becomes especially vital. Owning what you really want (e.g. to be fit, to have eyes only for our spouse, to be a man or woman of integrity) helps to displace those faulty images of yourself by replacing them with truer, nobler images.

I think this is a big part of why Jesus asks, “What do you want? He wants us to know who we really are.

Take this challenge for the remainder of the week: Drop from your vocabulary statements like I should, I’m supposed to, or [someone] wants me to, and replace them with simply I want to. As you do, observe what happens to your motivation level.

Ditch the Fake ID

If you’d like to be more motivated in an area of your life, don’t try to drum up more motivation. Instead, focus on changing how you see yourself.

Whether you’re lying on the sofa in front of the TV or outside working in the yard, you’re motivated. Your motivation level is not the issue.

How you see yourself is.

Everyone’s internal motivation mechanism works like this: It perpetually tries to move you toward a more complete version of who you believe yourself to be. Not who you believe you should be (which is how most people approach motivation), but who you believe you are.

This dynamic is true whether talking about exercise, food, sex, spiritual disciplines, relationships – you name it. Whatever images you have of yourself, motivation, will power you up to act accordingly.

This is why religion isn’t great at truly changing people. Religion looks at outward behavior and judges accordingly. If you’re doing well, you’re good. If you’re doing poorly, you’re not. And either way, this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. 

Life with Jesus is different. His cross affirms your worth before you’ve done a thing. And he takes, old faulty images you have of yourself and gives new and good ones in their place.

So, in those areas where you’re struggling to change, here are some steps that will help:

1. Figure out what negative self-images you’re carrying around. Get some help from a trustworthy friend or wise counselor. And ask Jesus to help you.  He knows what you’re seeing.

2. When you discover a false self-image, ask Jesus to take it. In prayer, envision yourself pressing each false image into Jesus and his broken body absorbing them for you.

3. Ask him to show you the man or woman he created you to be. Keep your ears, eyes, and heart open for new images. They may come through Scripture, stories, music,  friends, movies or some other way altogether. Jesus knows what will speak to you most

4. Practice believing what he’s shown you. Hold to these new images like a boat in the storm. And spend lots of time with others who believe what’s true about you, too.

5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 as much as necessary.

I’ve seen this approach make a huge difference in my own life as a man, a husband, a father, a leader, and as a follower of Jesus.

What about you? How has your image of yourself impacted what you’re motivated to do or not do?

Put On Your Shoes

Accept that what you do impacts motivation. What you do doesn’t have the authority to make you what you are. But it does have the power to give you its opinion about who you are.

It’s easier to believe you’re an active person when you’re outside hiking than it is when you’re in your arm chair flipping channels. And the more you repeat a behavior, the more likely you’re going to believe what the behavior is saying about you.

This is one reason breaking a habit or changing your lifestyle can be so difficult. Where have you been wrestling? In what area of your life have you been wanting to see change? Fitness? Integrity?  Love of the poor? Sexual purity? Devotion to Christ?

You won’t be able to change a lifestyle or longstanding habit all at once. But you can help facilitate change by doing things that affirm the truth about who you are. Here are some ideas of what you can do to facilitate change, even when the big change you’re after has not yet fully come.

Get out on the Trail. Physically go places that affirm the new man or woman you are.  

Practice. Accept that this is new and you’re not going to do it perfectly. Every step, even if you falter, is practice that will move you forward over time.

Do difficult things. Show inner-resistance you mean business. You’re the kind of person who is willing to do hard things.

When you fall, get back up. Getting back up is more important than never falling at all.

Enlist others. Find friends who believe the truth about who you are and can help remind you when you forget.

Cultivate Intimacy with Jesus. He knows who you are and his voice has both authority and power to call you out into life. 

Do something today. Without waiting for your feelings first, pick one thing you can do today that aligns with the new man or woman you are, and do it. This is about asserting for yourself, I’m this kind of person.”

What’s one thing you can do today to affirm the truth about who you are?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Six Ways to Give Your People False Assurance

 By Michael McKinley

As a pastor, I interact with a lot of people who struggle to have confidence in the authenticity of their conversion. To their mind, their sin clings closely and their failings are always at hand. Most of the time, I find that these are faithful brothers and sisters who need comfort and reassurance.
But there’s another group of people in many of our churches that are much more worrisome: those with a firm but unfounded belief that they are genuinely converted. Perhaps you know they type. They know the right words. They stay free from scandalous public sin. And they are moral people. But they have no true fruit, no evidence that God’s converting Spirit is at work within them. And oftentimes there is an untreated area of secret sin.
These people are hard to reach—it’s like they’ve been inoculated to the gospel. They think they already have what they most need, and so they aren’t looking for anything more! And if there is an area of hidden sin, they’ve long made peace with it.
Sadly, our churches are at least partly to blame for their presence in our midst. Allow me to suggest six ways that we pastors may inadvertently help to foster false assurance in people like this.
1. Assume the Gospel
It’s easy to assume that the people in our churches understand and believe the gospel. After all, they are in church on a Sunday morning. But the fact is, many of our churches have taken the message and the congregation’s understanding of it for granted. As a result, our churches are full of people who may understand some of the implications of the gospel (e.g., how to be a better husband; how to manage your anger) and live moral lives without appropriating the gospel for themselves.
This is spiritually deadly because moral lives might be the evidence of someone’s faith in the gospel, but they also might be the evidence of self-righteousness and Phariseeism. It’s surely right to emphasize that the faith which justifies is never alone, that works always accompany true faith. But we must first emphasize that we are justified by faith alone, and emphasize this over and over again, else the works which you see will not be the works of a saving justification. When the gospel is not made clear, when the Way to heaven and the highway to hell are not clearly pointed out by the preacher, then people will assume that their morality or their church attendance gives them grounds for assurance.
In short, don’t preach moralism. Ever. Preach the gospel every week. And then, with the indicatives of the gospel firmly in place, preach the imperatives that necessarily follow.
2. Give Them a Superficial View of Sin
The Bible teaches us that sin is not just something that we do, it’s who we are in our fallen state. The Scriptures teach us that we are all spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1-2), slaves to sin (John 8:34), guilty of breaking the entirety of the law of God (Jas. 2:10), and condemned to experience God’s righteous wrath (Rom. 1:18). We are sinners through and through.
People with unfounded assurance often misunderstand sin. If sin is merely a matter of external and observable behaviors, then with some effort and discipline they can solve their own problems. But if we can compel them to wrestle regularly with the biblical teaching about their sin, then they will be forced to see their need for the new birth and a salvation that comes from outside of their own person.
3. Treat Church Membership and Discipline Casually
Membership in a local congregation is meant to give believers assurance of their salvation. It’s a corporate seal of approval on someone’s claim to be a Christian. When a congregation examines someone’s profession of faith and way of living and then baptizes that person and admits them to the Lord’s Table, the church is saying, “As far as we can tell, and with the power and wisdom given to us by Christ, you are one of us.” On the flip side of the coin, when a church excommunicates someone, they are taking away that seal of approval. The congregation is telling the individual that his or her actions have undermined the credibility of their profession of faith and the basis of their assurance.
But when a church is promiscuous with its membership, when it allows people who do not attend the church to maintain their membership, it fosters false assurance. How many people are going to hell because their lazily-overseen church membership gave them false confidence?     
4. Teach Them to Base their Assurance on a Past External Action.
As we’ve already noted, the gospel demands a response from us. And churches and evangelistic programs have sometimes found it helpful to present some method for people to express their newfound commitment to Christ. Some offer people with the chance to say a “Sinner’s Prayer.” Others offer them with the chance to walk the aisle on Sunday or fill out a response card. And those external actions may indeed be a genuine response to the converting work of the Spirit.
But they can also be deceptive. It is possible to pray a prayer, walk an aisle, and sign a card and still be completely lost in your sins. So if we encourage people to have assurance based on some sort of external activity that can be performed quite apart from the new birth, we put them in grave spiritual danger. How many people are walking around completely lost, but sure they are going to heaven because they prayed a prayer once as a child?   
5. Don’t Connect Justification and Sanctification for your People.
In a well-motivated effort to magnify the free grace of God, it is possible to teach the truth of justification by faith alone through Christ alone without connecting all of the dots for our hearers. But the teaching of Scripture is that the justifying work of Christ will always produce the fruit of righteousness in the lives of believers, as I said earlier (for just one example, see the logic of Romans 6:1-14).
A disconnect between justification and sanctification is very dangerous for believers. It undermines their understanding of the need for personal holiness and their motivation for loving God with their obedience. But it is doubly dangerous for those who have false assurance, because it encourages them to think that it is possible to live in open rebellion against God and still be righteous in his sight.
6. Teach Them to Ignore the Bible’s Warnings.
The Scriptures are full of dire warnings to those who would embrace sin and/or leave the faith (e.g., Matt. 5:27-30Heb. 6:1-6). In our efforts to clearly teach God’s sovereign care for his people, it is possible to undermine the force of these warnings by giving the impression that they don’t apply to believers.   
But those warnings are in the Scriptures for a purpose. They are true and they are one of God’s ways of keeping his people from wandering away. A wise pastor will press home the gravity of sin and apostasy and call all of his hearers to endure in the faith.
Mike McKinley is the senior pastor of Guilford Baptist Church in Sterling, Virginia and is the author, most recently, of Am I Really a Christian? (Crossway, 2011).
March/April 2012
© 9Marks

The 10 Warning Signs of an Inwardly Obsessed Church

By Thom S. Rainer 

Any healthy church must have some level of inward focus. Those in the church should be discipled. Hurting members need genuine concern and ministry. Healthy fellowship among the members is a good sign for a congregation.

But churches can lose their outward focus and become preoccupied with the perceived needs and desires of the members. The dollars spent and the time expended can quickly become focused on the demands of those inside the congregation. When that takes place the church has become inwardly obsessed. It is no longer a Great Commission congregation.
In my research of churches and consultation with churches, I have kept a checklist of potential signs that a church might be moving toward inward obsession. No church is perfect; indeed most churches will demonstrate one or two of these signs for a season. But the real danger takes place when a church begins to manifest three or more of these warning signs for an extended period of months and even years.
 1. Worship wars. One or more factions in the church want the music just the way they like it. Any deviation is met with anger and demands for change. The order of service must remain constant. Certain instrumentation is required while others are prohibited.
 2. Prolonged minutia meetings. The church spends an inordinate amount of time in different meetings. Most of the meetings deal with the most inconsequential items, while the Great Commission and Great Commandment are rarely the topics of discussion.
 3. Facility focus. The church facilities develop iconic status. One of the highest priorities in the church is the protection and preservation of rooms, furniture, and other visible parts of the church's buildings and grounds.
 4. Program driven. Every church has programs even if they don't admit it. When we start doing a ministry a certain way, it takes on programmatic status. The problem is not with programs. The problem develops when the program becomes an end instead of a means to greater ministry.
 5. Inwardly focused budget. A disproportionate share of the budget is used to meet the needs and comforts of the members instead of reaching beyond the walls of the church.
 6. Inordinate demands for pastoral care. All church members deserve care and concern, especially in times of need and crisis. Problems develop, however, when church members have unreasonable expectations for even minor matters. Some members expect the pastoral staff to visit them regularly merely because they have membership status.
 7. Attitudes of entitlement. This issue could be a catch-all for many of the points named here. The overarching attitude is one of demanding and having a sense of deserving special treatment.
 8. Greater concern about change than the gospel. Almost any noticeable changes in the church evoke the ire of many; but those same passions are not evident about participating in the work of the gospel to change lives.
 9. Anger and hostility. Members are consistently angry. They regularly express hostility toward the church staff and other members.
 10. Evangelistic apathy. Very few members share their faith on a regular basis. More are concerned about their own needs rather than the greatest eternal needs of the world and community in which they live.
My list is not exhaustive. You may have some items you could add. Have you ever been a part of an inwardly obsessed church? What signs were evident that led you to know the church was inwardly obsessed? Do you affirm some of the items on my list?
Original link here