Sunday, August 31, 2008

SKYPE Evening Prayer strikes again...

Well, we did it again... a few humorous technical glitches, and also barking dogs, Hannah Montana on TV and motorcycles passing by! But with all that we had 12 folks from South Dakota, Iowa, Niagara Falls, the Dominican Republic and Arizona hearing the Word, giving glory to God and lifting up thanksgivings and intercessions.

If you are interested in joining this weekly (Sundays at 1730 CST) prayer meeting, feel free to email us here at .

Let my prayer be set forth in thy sight as the incense; and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice. Psalm cxli. 2.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What the Anglican Reformation REALLY says about the authority of the Bible...and the limits of "church"

Not the "nuanced" (deceptive, revisionist) stuff you get from your local Episcopalian franchise, but this:

"If there were any word of God beside the Scripture, we could never be certain of God's Word; and if we be uncertain of God's Word, the devil might bring in among us a new word, a new doctrine, a new faith, a new church, a new god, yea himself to be a god. If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or a synagogue of Satan."

Thomas Cranmer (if your priest won't tell ya, Cranmer is the guy who pretty much composed the first Book of Common Prayer, and most of the Collects to which you say "Amen" on Sunday.)

Posted first by The Ohio

As for your Episcopal Bishop's assertion of church politics over faith:

“God's grace is promised to one who feareth God and not to sees or successions.”

Bishop John Jewel

And when push comes to shove between Scripture and human philosophy or religion,

“We are to know that the Word of God is His heavenly truth touching matters of eternal life and uttered unto men, unto Prophets and Apostles, by immediate divine inspiration, from them to us by their books and writings…. We have therefore no Word of God but the Scripture.”

Richard Hooker (no, despite what your priest is saying, Hooker did not announce a "three legged stool" in which Scripture is coequal with other stuff. Yes, we can know God very generally through nature and human reflection, but the details of God's action and our response - the means of eternal life - are nowhere else but in Holy Scripture).

From here.

Wow, if you think it's bad today...

Great article by The Rev. Dr. Gerald McDermott over at VirtueOnLine. Read the whole thing. It is about what three Christians endured for the orthodox faith. They lived in a time when most church leaders wanted to preach a more comfy Jesus than the Word of God revealed in Scripture, and a Spirit much less Holy than the one we acclaim. In other words, a church like the Episcopal Church today, run by highly confident people who are horribly wrong about God.

I found encouragement in highlights like these:

...Because of the triumphs of heresy and its advocates' ruthless methods, the orthodox were reluctant to join battle. Gregory of Nazianzus hated conflict and was indecisive. Gregory of Nyssa was temperamentally timid, "born for study and speculation." All three of the Cappadocians (the region from which Basil and the two Gregories hailed) started their adult lives as monks who delighted in the isolation of the mystical life, removed physically and psychologically from the dangerous and depressing conflicts of the Church...

...It was only by the Cappadocians' willingness to suffer that orthodoxy prevailed. Basil braved threats on his life. Because of Gregory of Nyssa's orthodoxy, he was deposed and driven into exile. Gregory of Nazianzus stood firm as Patriarch of the orthodox church in Constantinople in the midst of mockery and persecution. Despite his hatred of travel, he accepted Theodosius' later appointment as theological advisor that took him to Arabia and Mesopotamia. The result of their courage and eloquence was the final victory of Trinitarianism (Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!) in 381 at the Council of Constantinople, when Nicaea (the Council that produced our Creed) was reaffirmed and the Holy Spirit was declared to be fully divine...

...we must embrace the cross. As Paul wrote, "Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable . . . endure suffering" (2 Timothy 4.2, 5). Finally, we must find joy in Jesus' promise that He is building His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matt 16.18).

May God bless us to embrace our assigned crosses, and give us strength to carry them in witness to the truth.

Friday, August 29, 2008

TEC's New York staff have to move in with the relatives, and General Seminary is cutting staff

Well, Episcopal Life Monthly's September edition just thumped in the mail box.

On p. 3, we find out that "One of five proposed regional offices of the Episcopal Church Center in New York is now open in Omaha, Neb. The office, located on the campus of Trinity Cathedral and provided rent free by the Diocese of Nebraska, will be home to staff members... The first staff members to arrive in Omaha were Bishop Christopher Epting, program officer for ecumenical and inter-religious relations, and Dr. Tom Ferguson, the office's associate program officer...

...The two arrived in early July and met with diocesan staff, ecumenical partners at the headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Nebraska Synod, and the Omaha Tri-Faith Initiative, a partnership of Temple Israel, The American Institute of Islamic Studies, and the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska. The three entities are exploring a plan to locate houses of worship on an interfaith campus... Wow! Free rent and plenty of non-Christians to whom you can capitulate! How you gonna keep the rest of the staff in Manhattan? (BTW Epting is the guy who went to Dar es Salaam and told the Anglican leaders that TEC believes in Jesus and all that kinda thing... no problems at all!)

Meanwhile, back in NYC, General Theological Seminary (my seminary, sniff sob sniff) is facing budget woes for which "Our endowment of $20 million is too small to fund everything we need to do...", says Dean Ward Ewing. General's response includes a plan to downsize its staff and part-time faculty by at least seven positions... the school will eliminate its full-time sub-dean position, a job now held by the Rev. Titus Presler.

Can't the seminary move in with relatives in cheaper states, too? General's largest financial asset is its land and buildings in Manhattan, Ewing noted, "but it was also our greatest liability in that we faced a rapidly deteriorating plant with over $100 million in deferred maintenance."

OK, I left out the part where it rationalizes, "Hey, all seminaries are tanking these days! This is just a normal - uh -you know." But all will be well - "An extensive market research study" has "demonstrated that there is very sizable demand in the metropolitan New York area for programs on religion, faith and spirituality, especially for part-time students." An initial implementation of its findings has increased the size of the fall's incoming class.

Got it. There are enough upscale dabblers in "spirituality" to bring in more income to keep the seminary doors open awhile longer - not to train clergy to build up Christ's church - but to, well, keep the seminary doors open awhile longer.

But, hey, once that Tri-Faith thing in Omaha gets going, maybe the General Staff can find rent-free digs and sell the real estate to - let's see - fund lawsuits against Christians or support abortion? Or pay staff to keep the Tri-Faith thingy going for part-time...

Oh, never mind.

Anglican Archbishops meet, launch Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans

The whole statement is here. Here are some highlights:

...The twofold task of the Council (a meeting of Archbishops who lead Anglican provinces, who are called "Primates") is ‘to authenticate and recognise confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations and to encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith.’ The Primates have therefore laid the basis for the future work of both the Council and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA)...

...We maintain that three new facts of the Anglican Communion must be faced. We are past the time when they can be reversed.

First, some Anglicans have sanctified sinful practices
(actively homosexual clergy and same-sex "marriages") and will continue to do so whatever others may think. Second, churches and even dioceses affected by this disobedience have rightly withdrawn fellowship while wishing to remain authentic Anglicans. So-called ‘border-crossing’ is another way of describing the provision of recognition and care for those who have been faithful to the teachings of Holy Scripture. Third, there is widespread impaired and broken sacramental communion amongst Anglicans with far-reaching global implications. The hope that we may somehow return to the state of affairs before 2003 is an illusion...

...the movement recognises the acute spiritual dangers of a compromised theology and aims to be a resource and inspiration for those who wish to defend and promote the biblical gospel.

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans will function as a means of sharing in this great task. We invite individuals, churches, dioceses, provinces and parachurch organisations who assent to the Jerusalem Declaration to signify their desire to become members of the Fellowship via the GAFCON web-site or written communication with the Secretariat. The Fellowship will develop networks, commissions and publications intended to defend and promote the biblical gospel in ways which support one another...

...the Communion fractured in 2003 (when The Episcopal Church consecrated an actively homosexual bishop), when our fellowship was ‘torn at its deepest level.’ It seems that the facts which we have identified as the new reality have not yet been recognised as such, and we are therefore continually offered the same strategies which mean further delay and unlikely results. Indeed, delay itself seems to be a strategy employed by some in order to resolve the issue through weariness...

The Most Rev Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria
The Most Rev Gregory Venables, Primate of The Southern Cone
The Most Rev Emmanuel Kolini, Primate of Rwanda
The Most Rev Valentino Mokiwa, Primate of Tanzania
The Most Rev Benjamin Nzmibi, Primate of Kenya
The Most Rev Henry Orombi, Primate of Uganda

There's also reference to a letter from several American Anglican Bishops, who point out how difficult it is to work under Episcopal Church structures and harassment:

...We have consistently observed that the current leadership of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have embraced a theological and doctrinal stance that is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the Communion and more specifically that of our host provinces and our individual bishops, clergy and congregations. Consequently we can envision no way in which we could be part of Pastoral Forum in which either Church exercises any leadership role.

...While we welcomed the comments of the Windsor Continuation Group that “ways of halting litigation must be explored,” those of us who are the subject of pernicious litigation initiated by The Episcopal Church find these rather tentative comments fall far short of what is needed for us to even consider any serious engagement with the proposed structures. Until the litigation is halted and a settlement achieved there is no possibility that we can enter into any formal agreements with any representatives of The Episcopal Church...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dems dis SD delegation - was Thune '04 sooooooo right about Tom Daschle?

Despite former SD Senator Tom Daschle's work as national vice-chair of the Obama for President campaign, and the total support of SD's "superdelegates" for Obama, the South Dakota delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Denver seems to have been dumped near the kitchen door at the Pepsi Center.

This is likely payback for SD Dem's overwhelming support of Sen. Hillary Clinton in the June primary... she won by a margin of 26%.

In 2004, John Thune (R) unseated Daschle for the Senate seat. Thune's campaign suggested that Daschle had become a Washington DC insider, out of touch with the people back home.

Daschle's forceful support of Obama, compared with the SD Dem's grassroots support for Sen. Clinton, shows again that Thune's successful campaign had something more than good soundbites.

South Dakota's Democratic Senator joins Thune's "Gang of Ten" to support new energy policy - including offshore drilling

Sen. Tim Johnson (D - SD) has joined a bipartisan group of Senators seeking to form a comprehensive national energy policy. The group includes U.S. offshore oil drilling as part of its plan.

The original group, called the "Gang of Ten," is led by Sen. John Thune (R - SD).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

John Maxwell on "Come out from among them"

From the Maxwell Leadership Bible, a comment on II Corinthians 6:14-18 that is full of relevant thoughts for Anglicans/Episcopalians.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“ I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”


“ Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
“ I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty."

Maxwell's comment

Partnerships: They Make or Break the Leader

Healthy leaders often partner with others to reach their goals. In fact, we live in an age of partnerships, both in the corporate world and in the church. Paul reminds us that there is nothing more dangerous to a leader than an unhealthy or destructive partnership. Note several signs of a bad partnership:
  1. The parties don't share the same values.
  2. The parties don't agree on the goal.
  3. One or both parties must compromise their convictions.
  4. One party selfishly demands that the other surrender.
  5. One party benefits and the other loses.

Good partnerships do not foster codependence or independence, but interdependence. Every party feels secure, is stretched and enjoys synergy. The partnership multiplies the productivity of both parties.

A rushed reflection from yours truly: The Bible passage and Maxwell's leadership thoughts are full of reasons why a gracious separation of Biblically faithful Anglicans from "new thing" Episcopalians is the best way forward. Unless of course the Episcopalians are addicted to the melodrama, litigation and other sick entanglements by which they define themselves as "victims."

And verse 18 of the Bible text is certainly a warning to those of us who, however Biblically traditional, continue to wade in the TEC swamp: God can best be our Father if we are out of the toxic glop.

Gotta run...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sorry to be so quiet...

Will post again some time this week.

Wife and one kid having health issues... your prayers are appreciated.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Joint HOB/Integrity "Word to the Church" (video and transcript)

Come out come out
No use in hiding
Come now come now
Can you not see?
There's no place here
What were you expecting
Not room for both
Just room for me
So you will lay your arms down
Yes I will call this home
Away away
You have been banished
Your land is gone
And given me
And here I will spread my wings
Yes I will call this home
What's this you say
You feel a right to remain
Then stay and I will bury you
What's that you say
Your father's spirit still lives in this place
I will silence you
Here's the hitch
Your horse is leaving
Don't miss your boat
It's leaving now
And as you go I will spread my wings
Yes I will call this home
I have no time to justify to you
Fool you're blind, move aside for me
All I can say to you my new neighbor
Is you must move on or I will bury you
Now as I rest my feet by this fire
Those hands once warmed here
I have retired them
I can breathe my own air
I can sleep more soundly
Upon these poor souls
I'll build heaven and call it home
'Cause you're all dead now
I live with my justice
I live with my greedy need
I live with no mercy
I live with my frenzied feeding
I live with my hatred
I live with my jealousy
I live with the notion
That I don't need anyone but me
Don't drink the water
Don't drink the water
There's blood in the water
Don't drink the water

Saturday, August 16, 2008

So, how do you define "church"?

The Bible: Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (I Corinthians 12:27)... And (Christ) is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:18)

Articles of Religion XIX (1549): The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments are duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance...

The Jerusalem Declaration (2008): We are a fellowship of people united in the communion (koinonia) of the one Spirit and committed to work and pray together in the common mission of Christ.

or I guess there's this...

[Presiding Bishop Katharine] Jefferts Schori says that the Episcopal Church "will continue to define itself through its legislative processes." (from today's U.S. News and World Report, here )

Friday, August 15, 2008

Faithful Anglican Leader Calls for Prayer


Grace and peace from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Praise and glory be to the One who was, the One who is and the One who sits on the throne for ever and ever. Amen.

The Primate of all Nigeria, the Most Rev. Peter Jasper Akinola has been moved in his spirit to call on all intercessors throughout the world to seek God's face fervently, spending nights and days on our knees, praying earnestly for our Anglican Communion. At his instigation, we therefore bring before you the first of a series of quarterly Prayer Bulletins, and ask that you join us in praying for the following:

1. Pray for a Spirit-led, united leadership for the GAFCON Primates Council, that they may remain faithful to the teachings of the Bible, steadfast in promoting the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and uncompromising in the pursuit of the truth of the word of God and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also pray for the GAFCON Theological Resource Group and the GAFCON Leadership team that they may remain faithful, focused and not distracted.

2. Lift up before the throne of grace The Jerusalem Declaration, which represents the collective mind of the participants at GAFCON, as revealed by the Holy Spirit, that this statement may be a guide in the pursuit of the two fundamental resolutions of GAFCON, i.e.:

a. that the Bible be upheld as the final authority for the life, faith and conduct of all believers;

b. that mission and evangelism, saving the lost, bringing life and health to the poor and needy, remain the main tasks of the church.

3. Pray earnestly for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit powerfully to bring about renewal, revival and transformation of lives, communities and environments.

4. Pray for a clear focus for the Anglican Church to pursue God's agenda from Scripture, God's authority as given by Jesus Christ, and God's mission in saving sinners and turning them to saints through the work of the Holy Spirit. Pray sincerely that all other agendas be lost, and Jesus alone be Lord.

We count it a privilege to be called upon for this great task in the vineyard of the Lord.

The Lord be with you,

+Most Rev. Dr. Benjamin A. Kwashi
Archbishop of Jos
Co-ordinator GAFCON Prayer Teams

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ouch - God has us right where He wants us (an unpreached sermon to follow us around)

I am not preaching the RCL lessons this Sunday, but they are rich and our midweek Bible study looked at them.

The thing I notice is that the Lesson, Epistle and Gospel all have something to say about God blessing us through situations that are mightily unpleasant. Were I to preach on these readings, the outline would be something like:

I. "Up on the map, this thing is beautiful." Joseph summarizes years of garbage (being thrown down a well and sold into slavery by his brothers, languishing in prison for years over a false accusation, then a couple of extra years because somebody he helped forgot to repay the favor, then his brothers show up again...) with the wonderful words, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life... So it was not you who sent me here, but God..."

When I was in the Army, we lined up our artillery battery for some big, important training exercise. Then we sat for hours in classic military "hurry up and wait." It was a cold German morning, and we were shivering, hungry and in very sour moods.

Suddenly, a perky 2nd Lieutenant came up to me and said, "Fountain, I know that you are pi**ed off, but I was just with the Battalion Commander and up on the map, this thing is beautiful."

The Bible doesn't say much about Joseph's day to day moods during the years of slavery and prison. It does say that God took care of him and made his work valuable. But even Joseph did not see the beauty of God's plan (or even know there was a plan) until that moment when he was reunited with his brothers. God has a plan for his people, and it is beautiful. And we can be in the process of fulfilling that plan and heading toward a great blessing even when we are mired in miserable stuff.

II. Irritation produces pearls. Yeah, it's a cliche. But Paul wraps up his complicated discussion of Christian-Jewish estrangement with the words, For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. Gentiles failed to worship God as the creator and worshipped gods of their own creation; Jews did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. But somehow, our different ways of disobedience open a way for God's mercy and provoke many to receive it and be saved. Again, God has a method, even when we only perceive the irritation.

Can't help but apply this to the shake up/tear down/whatever of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. My efforts to put Humpty Dumpty back together are fruitless and irritating, but some how God is using the whole irritating mess to bring people to His mercy. The same is probably going on with the historic estrangement and cultural differences between White and Indian in South Dakota. Pick your irritation - somehow, God is using it to produce "the pearl of great price" for you to find.

III. Error: Access Denied. Jesus is downright nasty to the "Canaanite woman" in this Gospel report. She wants an exorcism for her demon afflicted daughter, and Jesus gives her a cold shoulder, then an impersonal "tell it to the hand", then an insult - He speaks of her as a "dog."

Years ago a Rabbi explained to me that would-be converts to Judaism must be discouraged three times to test their sincerity and resolve. We see Jesus give the woman three frustrating messages, much like "Access Denied" coming up on a computer screen and driving us to keyboard pounding, profanity and maybe even property damage.

But look at how the woman is changed by the rebuffs (and how we might be changed as well):
  • Her first approach is mere flattery: "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David..." She's a pagan, not a Jew, yet she addresses Him with the title due to the Jewish Messiah. Access Denied - Jesus did not answer her at all. Maybe we are talking to God with the religious words that sound right, and He is not responding to our prayers. Like the woman, we must try something different.
  • Her second approach is to up the volume: "Lord, help me" ...she keeps shouting... But Jesus, seemingly in a "stage whisper" not directed toward her but loud enough for her to hear, says "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He's not just some do-gooder. He has a mission, and it is based in God's revelation to a particular people. It is on God's terms, not ours. Maybe we see God as our divine do-gooder, and want His blessings without really belonging to Him. Again, "Error: Access Denied." With the woman, we try once more.
  • The woman now offers a humble, simple plea: ...she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." And Jesus gives the worst of the three rebuffs: "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But the woman, kneeling there, understands what's going on and says, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." She admits her profound need. She admits that she is coming to God as one estranged from Him and needy. How often we go to God with a list of "entitlements" and expect God to dole out the benefits. Rather, we should go thankfully and simply aware that we are recipients of a pure gift, no more of our earning than the crumbs that fall to lucky dogs. This "opens the program" - no more "Access Denied" when Jesus responds: "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.

All three of the Bible readings begin in difficulty but lead to blessing. In our difficulties, God might well have us just where he wants us - not to torment us or punish us, but to lead us toward blessing in His wonderful plan.

I hear this message summarized in a reading I like to use during hospital visits:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:1-5

Prayer and Fasting for the Rosebud - DAY 40 (last day of this campaign)

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92

Thank you for your part in this prayer campaign. Thank you for caring about the people on the Rosebud Reservation, and for praying against the spiritual forces that inflict suicide there.

Remember our Lord's warnings:

"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you."
He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

Matthew 12:43-50
  • It is not enough to cast out the evil - it must be displaced and replaced by the Holy Spirit. Please continue to pray, especially from our guiding Psalm verse (119:92), that the Spirit will make the words of Jesus clear and let his joy flourish on the Rosebud.
  • Demons will look for opportunity to return. Continue, as the Spirit moves you, to plead the blood of Jesus over the people of the Rosebud. Ask the Lord to put them under the protection of his cross.
  • There are historical and social forces working with the spirits - please pray that Christians on the Rosebud will honor their parents and love their communities but not be pulled away from Christ.

Thank you for uniting in prayer, dear intercessors. If I might make one more request, several of us (local Anglicans) will be volunteering time to the Vote Yes for Life campaign here today... please pray for this effort to stop abortion as birth control in South Dakota. The work against "the destroyer" goes on, and we need the Lord's help.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Member of U.S. House says the planet has a Savior...

Great stuff from Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

Yale pops off about "dialogue" with Islam; Advocates for persectued Christians respond

You can read the whole thing here. It contains links to an original statement by Muslim scholars and the responses from Yale Divinity School.

The Barnabas Fund, which supports persecuted Christians around the world, digs into the Yale statement and shows its flaws. Here is part of the Barnabas Fund's conclusion:

Although we respect and love Muslims, Christians cannot accept Islam as an equal and valid revelation from God. The denial of the deity of Christ and His redemptive work as well as of the Trinity will always stand in the way of interfaith dialogue and co-operation. Just as Muslims cannot accept the Christian denial of Muhammad’s prophethood and the Qur’an’s status as the word of God, so Christians must take a clear stand on the central doctrines of their faith. To do so might result in a loss of popularity and influence, but loyalty and faithfulness to Christ, to His people and to His mission are much more important in God’s eyes.

Enlarge our generosity: Prayer and Fasting for the Rosebud, Day 39

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92

Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Hebrews 13:3

Wacantognaka, the Lakota word for generosity, means to contribute to the well-being of one's people and all life by sharing and giving freely. This sharing is not just of objects and possessions, but of emotions like sympathy, compassion, kindness. It also means to be generous with one's personal time. Akta Lakota Museum.

Father, enlarge our capacity to care about the people of the Rosebud Reservation. Enlarge our compassion for their struggle against suicide. We ask in the Name of Jesus, who gave himself for all of us. Amen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The economy - looking at stuff "on the other hand"

Because Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls had some founding members of a local retirement community, the Rector (yours truly) gets to sit on an Endowment Board.

We get some great quarterly reports from some of Wells Fargo's capital management pros. Here's a bit of comparative economic perspective from Jim Paulsen, senior Economist with Wells Capital Management:

No doubt the economy has suffered a significant slowdown, but it is hardly (at least, yet) collapsing. What has collapsed? What is worse than the performance of the economy itself? Consumer confidence, investor sentiment and widespread generalized fear! The consumer confidence index recently declined to one of its lowest levels ever recorded. Currently, this index is about 10 percent “below” its worst reading during the entire 1982 recession—a recession widely recognized as the worst ever since the Great Depression! By comparison, in 1982, annual real GDP growth was -2.7 percent (today it is +2.5 percent); the unemployment rate peaked at about 11 percent (today it is 5.5 percent); job losses from the peak amounted to 2.8 million jobs, or 3.1 percent of the job base (compared to only about 0.4 million job losses, or about 0.32 percent of the job base today); the core rate of inflation was above 10 percent (today it is 2.3 percent); and the 10-year Treasury yield was above 14 percent (today it is below 4 percent)! Is today’s environment really 10 percent worse than, or even nearly as bad as, it was in 1982?

The economy may or may not be headed for recession, but “economic feelings” are already in a depression! Even if economic news remains alarming, it is hard to see how “rock bottom” confidence and sentiment could get much worse. This may be the best news there is. At least for investors. Since current economic sentiment is already much worse than even a bad economic reality, the financial markets may offer greater upside and less risk than widely perceived.

So, that's on the one hand. On the other...

A team of Good Shepherd parishioners just served Sunday dinner at the Sioux Falls Salvation Army kitchen. The attendance - over 135 - was a record for that facility.

And I just got news that the average home price in Helena, Montana is $210,000. As another Wells Fargo source put it, "That's due for a correction." In other words, we're still not at the bottom of the housing slump.

Prayer: it was good enough for the Apostles! For the Rosebud, Day 38

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. II Corinthians 1:8-11

We bless you, Heavenly Father, and pray that you will deliver the people of the Rosebud Reservation from suicide. We rely on you for life where we see the power of death close at hand. We pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sen. Thune reveals the "Gang of Ten" and their detailed energy plan

Sen. John Thune (R - SD) issued a press release listing his Democrat and Republican allies in an effort to craft a national energy policy:

The Gang of 10 was formed by Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Senators working with Thune, Conrad and Chambliss to develop the proposal include: Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

The New Era bill contains three main components:
  • An intensive effort to transition vehicles to non-petroleum based fuels;
  • A robust federal commitment to conservation and energy efficiency; and
  • Targeted, responsible domestic production of energy resources.

You can see details in the press release at the link above.

Skype Evening Prayer last night - connecting the scattered Anglicans

Our AAC/South Dakota Chapter connected about 10 folks for Sunday Evening Prayer yesterday, using Skype ( - a free download). We made some good initial contact with some Anglican neighbors (what's a day's drive and a few hundred miles between friends?)

We had the usual technical glitches that go with any kind of start up, but all was fine as we offered free intercessions and thanksgivings at the end.

We are planning to offer this every Sunday at 5:30 Central Time. Email this site if you are interested - especially if you are some place isolated and in need of Anglican prayer, Scriptural teaching and fellowship!

The Niobrara Cross - for the Rosebud, Day 37

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92
From the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota archive:
Certificates of Baptism and Confirmation meant nothing to Indian converts who could not read. Bishop Hare desired to give to those who took upon themselves obligations as Christians some token that would not only mark them as communicants, but also serve as a constant reminder to them of their Christian calling. He therefore in 1874 designed a cross to serve this purpose.
The oval in the center is his episcopal seal. Around its margin in Latin is inscribed “The Seal of William Hobart Hare, by the grace of God Bishop of Niobrara.” The Greek letters on the cross, which quarters the oval read, “That they may have life.” In each angle of the cross is a tipi surmounted by a small cross. The seal signifies that Christ has come to the Dakotas and gathered them under the protection of the cross, that they have accepted him, and their homes have become Christian homes.

In June 1975, the Niobrara Deanery, by action of the one hundred and third annual Convocation, “in an expression of oneness of God’s family and the love of Christ in His Church,” voted to share with the whole church in the diocese the Niobrara Cross. The fifth annual convention of the Diocese of South Dakota resolved, in October 1975, that it “exhibit the same love and desire for unity by accepting both this Niobrara Cross and the Christian love this gift represents with thanksgiving.”
Amen. Jesus, raise up your cross over the Sicangu Lakota Oyate, the people of the Rosebud Reservation. Protect them from all evil, and especially from suicide. Let them have life in your Name, in which we pray. Amen.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I went to a wedding and Jesus showed up

I was honored to be part of the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage yesterday.

The young spouses are both Christians, with the groom preparing to go into youth ministry. They are mentored by the pastor of a Methodist church plant, the service took place in the chapel of the Lutheran College they attend, and I was invited to celebrate Holy Communion and bless them. (Long story that will just take up space).

They gave careful thought and preparation to the Christian content of the liturgy. There were more wonderful moments than I can type with an economy of words, so just a few highlights:
  • The Prayers of the People really were of the people. Members of the wedding party took turns offering each petition.
  • The music selections, a wonderful blend of classical and contemporary, invariably praised Jesus Christ. No syrupy top-40 love tunes.
  • The bride and groom received Communion, then joined the celebrant and preacher as Eucharistic Ministers to the assembled people.

Oh, yeah. The preacher. That was Dr. David O'Hara of Augustana College. He is a member of my congregation. With his permission, I am posting the sermon. I don't know that I've heard a better explication of marriage via the order and words of the liturgy. Enjoy:

N. & N., your wedding has taken a lot of planning and waiting and talking and work. Now it all comes to fruition; take a moment to breathe a breath of relief. The day is here, the event is underway. We are all gathered here to celebrate your new life together. Savor the moment and know that it is a joy for all of us to have the privilege of witnessing this union.

N. & N., let’s take a few minutes to consider the words we have spoken today and the words that will soon be spoken.

“Leaving and cleaving”

Weddings are times of both uniting and forsaking, or in the old language of Genesis, of leaving and cleaving. You are leaving your parents and cleaving to one another; in more contemporary terms, you are becoming a new family.

That word “cleave” sounds funny to our ears, since it also means to cut apart. But the word used in the wedding service has another root and another meaning. It means quite the opposite of the other kind of cleaving; it means “to cling to” or “to stick to.” This is what you two are about to commit to do: to cling to one another rather than to others; and to stick to one another despite the many forces that will attempt to pull you apart.

In this liturgy we also call on the whole community to honor and support this leaving and this cleaving.

The role of the families

We began with a question for your families: “Who gives this woman and this man to be joined in Holy Matrimony?” All together they have responded that they give you to one another.

This is both a beautiful and a difficult thing; your parents who have loved and raised you have publicly declared that they are giving you away.

It’s important for us to reflect on this because behind those few simple words are a lifetime of hopes, dreams, nurturing, and hard work in raising you to this point where they could give you away to one another. I think both of you recognize what a tremendous gift you are receiving.

Now begins the difficult work of living up to those words and to this gift. We may give away our most precious belonging to those we love most; and still we may later wish we had not given it away.

To the families I say this: it will not always be easy. It is at once our greatest joy and our worst heartache to see our children grow up and leave us.

Today we honor your gift and your years of raising them. And we call on you to continually remind one another of the liberty you have just given, and to rejoice in their new life together.

Concerning the congregation and community

Next we asked a question of the whole congregation: Do you know any reason these two should not be wed?

We follow this question with a charge: speak now or forever hold your peace. No one has spoken, and so the charge stands.

Notice that we do not tell the congregation to remain silent; in fact, all of them still have words to say in this ceremony, and those words are important.

But certain words we have charged them never to speak, neither during the remainder of this ceremony nor ever again, as long as you both shall live: namely, we have charged all present, and through them all other parties, never again to speak against your marriage.

This is so important we will say it once again in just a few minutes, with the words “Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.” Your families led the way in forsaking their exclusive claim on you; all others have now done the same.

A bond is about to be formed between you two that can include no other man or woman, and all who are present have declared, through words spoken or through intentional silence, that they agree to be excluded from this marriage.

This is important to remember: even if and when children come into your family, they will come as sojourners in your home, living with you for a while. But then the day will come when you will give them away as your parents have just given you away.

The bond between you and your children is biological or adoptive; the bond between you and your community is social; but the bond between the two of you is sacramental, and no other bond should be allowed to compete with it.

In even older language of marriage, medieval theologians described the purpose of marriage as fides, proles, sacramentum. Faithfulness to one another, raising children, and receiving the sacrament.

Notice that children do not come first in that list; your commitment to one another comes first.

Nor do children come last as the ultimate or highest thing; the sacrament, the experience of God’s grace together is highest.

Let children fall in the middle, wrapped securely between your faithfulness to one another and your reception of the grace of God. Let no one come between you and your life together will be spiritual food for both you and all who live with you.

Your role in this service and in marriage

So we put aside the claims of others and we turn our attention to you and ask, do you freely consent to what you are about to do?

But notice something: When you said “I will,” you were not then married. That is still to come. There is still time to turn away from what you are about to do, if you wish.

You may think I am joking. But the liturgy is serious. So we turn to the congregation once again and ask, will you do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?

First we charge them never to hinder your marriage, then we charge them to do all they can to strengthen it.

[to the congregation] I urge all of you to consider that this is in fact what you have just agreed to.

[to N. & N.] And I urge you to recognize that we would not summon a whole community and ask them these questions if marriage were easy. We come to marriage easily sensing its sweetness but often only slowly recognizing just how painfully difficult it can be.

The scriptures we read remind us of this as well: Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is that they might have power to grasp the love of Christ. Jesus’s last commandment to his disciples is to love one another. If love were easy, we would need neither power to accomplish it nor commands not to neglect it.

Two chapters later in the Epistle to the Ephesians we read what this means for marriage: just what Jesus showed us: washing one another’s feet, becoming servants to one another.

The woman was made from the man’s side, not from his head or his foot; you are to be equal servants of one another, equally a part of the bride of Christ.

To put it in other terms, you are forsaking not just your families and anyone else who might come between you, but in this service you are forsaking your own selfishness and choosing to value the other as your own body, your own self.

Soon you will make vows to one another. You have said you intend to love, comfort, honor, and keep one another; to forsake all others, to be faithful to one another until death disrupts the bond that unites you. You will soon promise to take, have, hold, love and cherish in all the circumstances life presents until you are parted from this life. I tremble at the thought of these words. Are you able to do all this?

I think that in fact most of us who have taken these vows break them daily in small ways and large.

We often hear of marriages that end due to “irreconcilable differences.” Here is the truth of the matter: marriage is one big humanly irreconcilable difference.

What I mean is that in marriage you are to become one flesh, but obviously you will remain two bodies.

That is, there will always be competing claims for your affections, not just from parents, community, and children, but even from your own bodies, your own wills and desires. How, then, can you ever become reconciled?

The sacrament of Holy Matrimony

In a moment, in the words you speak to one another, God will perform a mystery in our presence. When you make these solemn vows to one another, you will partake in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Though none of us will see it, at that moment you will receive God’s grace to become one. This is a mystery, a holy thing for us to dwell on.

How then can you ever again be unkind to one another? And yet you will find this very easy to do.

This is the bad news: marriage is hard and it stays that way until you die.

Now the good news: God is at work in you. The challenge I lay before you now is this: if you go on with this liturgy and take these vows, then you commit yourselves to living into the mystery of being one.

This does not mean that you will somehow be empowered never to hurt one another.

It does mean that you will be empowered to confess and forgive.

You are not about to vow to be perfect; such vows would be absurd. Rather, your vows are your public commitment to one another, made before God and these witnesses, of the ideal towards which you intend to strive, knowing full well that you will fail and that you will need the help of God and of these witnesses as you move on.

Now, some good news. I have called this thing we are about to bear witness to the sacrament of marriage.

This is a unique sacrament. Christians have long held that most sacraments are to be celebrated by ordained clergy. The sacrament of marriage is not performed by the clergy, however. It is performed by you two.

In this moment you two will become to one another ministers of God’s grace.

It is not consummated in a kiss, nor in a prayer, nor in anything I will say or do. Rather, the words you will speak in your vows – those are the moment of your marriage. By God’s grace, at work in your words, will you be married.

Remember this always. The sacrament comes today; your ministry of grace and love to one another will last your whole life together. Receive that ministry from one another, and use it well for God’s glory and for the nourishing of your mutual love.

The moment of decision

So the time has come for me to ask: with these things in mind, do you still intend to marry one another? [They said yes]

Good! Let us then bear witness to this holy
sacrament of matrimony.

Sunday Intentions - for the Rosebud, Day 36

In the Prayers of the People or Altar Intentions, please pray:
  • For the blood of Christ to wash away the destroyer's pathways on the Rosebud
  • For the blood of Christ to wash away infesting spirits of affliction, poverty, frustration and suicide
  • For the blood of Christ to open paths for His word and joy to travel about the Rosebud
  • For the blood of Christ to cleanse and enliven all Christian witness on the Rosebud, including the work of intercessors in all places.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Preparing for the Lord's Day - for the Rosebud, Day 35

My Friday fast and Bible reading brought me back to our guiding verse:

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery.
Psalm 119:92

Consider: "your instructions" in Hebrew is "your torah (law)." It is only from the law of God, fulfilled by the blood of Christ offered on the cross, that we can find abiding joy. Without Christ's fulfillment of the law, we live under a crushing, joyless burden of sin and fearful religion. But Christ brings us joy - So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:11)

Consider: the Hebrew word for "died" in this verse is the root of a Biblical word for the place of spiritual destruction, and for the name of its demonic overseer, Abaddon. "Misery" here is affliction, poverty and frustration. But for Christ's suffering and death to fulfill the law, we would belong to this miserable realm, separated from God. But now we are Christ's brothers and sisters, children of the Heavenly Father, heirs of Heaven.

Reflect: Our Sunday worship, especially Holy Communion, brings us back to the saving work of Christ. Pray for fresh awareness of his sacrifice for us; give thanks for the benefits that we have in him, and pray for his power and joy to fill our lives and the lives of the people on the Rosebud.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Prayer and Fasting for the Rosebud, Day 34

Friday is a traditional day for fasting.

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92

So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. II Samuel 23:16

Let us pray for all Christians on the Rosebud Reservation. While we offer support from places of relative comfort, they lovingly and sacrificially minister on the battlefield.

Father, bless all Christian pastors, people and communities on the Rosebud Reservation. Let the cross of Christ stand over their families, homes, communities and churches to protect them from all evil. For the sake of Christ's shed blood and by the power of the Holy Spirit, let them share Christ's word and joy among their neighbors. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Aussie editorial likens the church to a flimsy Hollywood set...

But John Sandeman ends on a positive note that should cheer groups like our American Anglican Council/South Dakota Chapter:

But in the ruined American bits, underneath the exposed arches you can see people scurrying around building afresh. The ruins dwarf the new stuff at present. But groups working at different parts of the ruin are being brought together. The repairs have begun.

Read the whole thing at

This is my whining, this is my song

I found unexpected comfort in tonight's first Evening lesson
(1928 Book of Common Prayer):

Habakkuk 1:2-4, 12 - 2:4

O LORD, how long shall I cry,
And You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, “Violence!”
And You will not save.
Why do You show me iniquity,
And cause me to see trouble?
Why did you bring me to this time in TEC?
For plundering and violence are before me;
Can't you do something for all the folks being sued by TEC?
There is strife, and contention arises.
Therefore the law is powerless,
And justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
Can't you suspend the House of Bishops and cancel General Convention?
Are You not from everlasting,
O LORD my God, my Holy One?
We shall not die.
O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment;
O Rock, You have marked them for correction.
You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,
And cannot look on wickedness.
So I guess you have a "TEC filter"?
Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,
And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours
A person more righteous than he?
Why do You make men like fish of the sea,
or squid?
Like creeping things that have no ruler over them?
They take up all of them with a hook,
They catch them in their net,
And gather them in their dragnet.
Therefore they rejoice and are glad.
Therefore they sacrifice to their net,
And burn incense to their dragnet;
Because by them their share is sumptuous
And their food plentiful.
Why do so many Episcopalians support "leaders" who are filleting the church?
Shall they therefore empty their net,
And continue to slay nations without pity?
Rhetorical question, Lord. Of course they won't, unless you do something about them.
I will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am corrected.
OK, I've done my praying and wonderfully witty blogging. Now I will shut up and you can address my whining issues.

Then the LORD answered me and said:
“ Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
Hmm... your church and you do seem to come out OK in the Revelation...
Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.
Amen. And that faith thing makes a good shield against demonic darts and such.

Renewed prayer for our campaign - for the Rosebud, Day 33

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92

As we read in yesterday's post from Mark 9,

"I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not"... After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

We are entering the last week of a 40 day campaign, and like Jesus in the wilderness we probably find ourselves "famished" in some ways. Perhaps tired. Perhaps spiritually "dry." Certainly susceptible to demonic "button pushing."

Let me make three suggestions today:
  1. Do not lose focus. Remember that we are praying against the power of suicide on the Rosebud, and Satan would just love us to become self-absorbed instead of praying for the people there. If nothing else, pause as often as the Spirit moves you and send up an "arrow prayer" - "Father, deliver the people of the Rosebud from suicide. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen."
  2. Take time to read Ephesians 6:10-20 again. Connect each piece of equipment to Christ and then put it all on in prayer.
  3. Don't miss the instruction to pray for one another and remember that we lift our shields together. The evil one will launch his darts to scatter us. Unity in Christ, exercised in prayer, is powerful against the devil's forces.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Senator Thune, bi-partisan "Gang of Ten" seek energy policy breakthrough

In an editorial in yesterday's Sioux Falls Argus Leader, SD Senator John Thune (R) announced that he is part of a "Gang of Ten" (5 each Republicans and Democrats) who are trying to craft an energy policy proposal to break the congressional gridlock.

Although I am having trouble getting the link to his piece, I can tell you that he mentioned wind power (big potential on the Northern Plains!), new generation biofuels (beyond corn-based ethanol), and expanded oil drilling as elements of the plan.

I will post more when I can get some details... including who is in the gang! His editorial said they were meeting secretly and did not give up any names.

Our lone Member of Congress has a baby boy on the way!

Yeah, we just get one Representative, but Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D) is carrying her first child - a boy!

Please pray for a healthy pregnancy and a safe delivery, and every blessing on the Herseth-Sandlins.

Diocese of South Dakota proposes deficit budget for 2009... TEC cuts support... more asked of congregations and endowments

The Diocesan Convention is October 2 -5.

Pre-convention budget info indicates that the diocesan mainstay, a block grant from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, is to be reduced from $567,648 (2008) to $539,266 (2009). TEC's gotta get that lawsuit money some place.

Meanwhile, the Diocese will ask its congregations to increase giving from $307,072 this year to $325,717 in '09.

And endowment money placed in the operating budget will go from $308,675 up to $316,648.

Total projected expenses are $1,653,913. Total projected income is $1,380,181 -

a budget deficit of (273,732).

Down the mountain and against the demon - for the Rosebud, Day 32

August 6th is The Transfiguration. As recorded in Mark 9:

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them... Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"

Right after they come down the mountain, Jesus saves a young man from an afflicting spirit:

When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

"What are you arguing with them about?" he asked.

A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not."

"O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."

So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"

"From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

  • Lord Jesus Christ, we watch as spirits of affliction, poverty, frustration and destruction inflict suicide on the young people of the Rosebud Reservation. Help us!

  • As you have shown us your glory on high, come down and show us your power on the earth.

  • Deliver us from unbelief. Help us to know that there is a spiritual battle, and even more to know that you are our help.

  • Help us to learn from you, seeking your guidance in all that we attempt.

  • Father in Heaven, give us the Holy Spirit, as Jesus promises.

  • Holy Spirit, keep us in prayer. Help us listen to Jesus in all things.

We ask all things in the Name of Jesus, the Father's beloved Son. Amen.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

You can have a big pro-life impact - even from out-of-state

91 days until November 4. Consider! Time is running out and we need your help to pass Measure 11 and save lives in South Dakota. The opposition has money rolling in from national pro-abortion organizations. South Dakota has a chance to make history—what are you doing to help?

Across the country, students and teachers are gearing up for back to school. However, in South Dakota, enrollment is down and schools are closing. Statistics show that since 1973, the number of abortions performed in South Dakota exceeds 12 graduating classes at SDSU, the state’s largest university! On average, we abort between 30 and 40 kindergarten classes each year! What are you doing for these students who will not go back to school; the children who never had a chance to start school? needs your help! Take a stand for the unborn, make a donation to the campaign and change the course of history! South Dakota cannot afford to lose this campaign, and right now, the campaign cannot afford basic operations. Please help!

Defenders of Life,
Cherlyn Bosch
Office Manager,

P.S. Please consider donating the same amount as would be spent sending a child back to school. Rest assured every penny will be used wisely!

3500 S Louise Avenue • PO Box 461 • Sioux Falls, SD 57101 • (605)271-7581

Note from NPA - I have contributed and next week I am taking a team of faithful Anglicans to do needed volunteer work at the Vote Yes for Life offices. Please pray and, as the Lord provides, give!

Why be Episcopal when we can eat Chinese?

The Diocese of South Dakota has a companion relationship with the Diocese of Arkansas. As a result, we get The Arkansas Episcopalian newsletter in our parish mail.

The Aug./Sep./Oct. edition just arrived. Bishop Benfield's front page article is about "Open Door Sunday." It seems to be some kind of evangelism/church growth initiative, but check out this quote from +Arkansas:

We need to understand that the good news of resurrection - that unconditional love conquers everything else in all creation - is why we exist as a church.

OK, except for that last bit about something called "church," is this much different from what I might get in a Chinese restaurant fortune cookie?

Notice that it is not "THE Resurrection" (of Jesus). In fact, I've read the article over again and I can't find "Jesus" or "Christ" any place in it. (There are a few waves at "God," but it's a generic brand deity). Resurrection in this bishop's presentation is some kind of human experience that "transforms us."

And "unconditional love" is detached from the cross (also unmentioned in the article). The Gospel - THE Good News - is that Jesus Christ showed God's love (sacrificial, not "unconditional") by dying on the cross for sinful humanity. And God proved that this one sacrifice is unique and definitive for the human race by raising the one who was crucified.

The slippery Episcopal language is not the Good News of Jesus Christ. No matter how good church makes us "feel," it is meaningless without pointing us to the crucified and risen Lord who loves us first, best and most. Better off giving Him thanks over a nice Chinese buffet than sitting in an Episcopal Organization self-affirmation meeting on Sunday morning.

God considers our response: For the Rosebud, Day 31

I thought then, I think now, that good and patriotic men cannot blink at the Indian problem. It stares them in the face. If ever the warning of the wise man be in season, it is in this case: "If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?" William Hobart Hare, Missionary Bishop of South Dakota, 1888

Father, give us the Holy Spirit to stir up our prayers. Replace our stony hearts with living hearts to love the people of the Rosebud Reservation. We see people drawn toward suicide - help us to do the work that Jesus assigns us to deliver them from the power of the destroyer. We pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92

Monday, August 4, 2008

Let us be clothed with Christ: for the Rosebud, Day 30

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92

From the celebration of Bishop Hare's 15th anniversary as Missionary Bishop of South Dakota:

In the evening, before the guests began to assemble for the public reception, a very happy episode occurred, of which Bishop Hare was the central figure, and the recipient of a very elegant set of Episcopal robes. Rev. J. H. Babcock, of Mitchell, made the presentation speech, as follows:--
Rev. Father in God: This presentation of a Bishop's Robes is the first that has occurred in the history of our youthful diocese. We who have the privilege of making it wish that it may be regarded as an expression both of our gratitude to Almighty God, the giver of all good gifts, and also of our love and respect for our fellow-man who has been placed over us in the Lord. The gift itself is small; but to us it implies much. It means, first of all, that we can, as we ought to be, thankful that during these fifteen years we have had a leader who is fearless and prudent in conducting our Christian warfare; an overseer of the vineyard who is himself a diligent laborer; a preacher of the gospel who, rightly dividing the word of truth, boldly declares the whole counsel of God; a father, who, by precept and example, promotes peace and good works among the members of the household. It means, also, that we duly honor the diligence and fidelity, and thoughtfulness and perseverance with which the weighty duties of your solemn office have been performed, and appreciate the loving kindness and sympathy that have gone out from the heart of our Chief Pastor to the people of his flock. We are glad, also, to express hereby our unfeigned pleasure at being able honestly and sincerely to congratulate all Christian people in South Dakota upon the abundant blessing that has been bestowed upon this field while it has been under your spiritual charge. In the increase of true religion that has followed the increased teachings of the Gospel of Christ in His kingdom, we find good reason to thank God and take courage.

Moreover, we think that we ought to feel encouraged, not only by the success that has crowned our honest endeavors, but also by the trials and hindrances and opposition that we have been called to meet; for these have put us on our mettle, as well as made us show what kind of men we are. Especially may we be thankful concerning the charges and attacks lately made upon your character--which charges, though made against yourself alone, yet, of course, affect us all; for we are members one of another, and if any member suffer, all the members suffer with it. Even for these accusations we may be thankful, because they have been the means of revealing a noble character, and of calling forth a general expression of love and admiration--love of the man, admiration of the Bishop; love for his gentleness, charity and impartiality; admiration of ins patience, firmness and conscientious discharge of duty. Out of a great evil has resulted one great good--it has shown to us all the gratifying fact that there can exist a union of true love and strict justice, even in the soul of one of our fellows. It has drawn out many expressions like that which appeared in one of the papers of our own See City: "Nothing whatever can shake the firm belief of the people of Dakota in the integrity and purity of Bishop Hare."

The old robes put on at your consecration have worn well; doubtless they have performed their part better than any of us have ours; at last they have yielded to the wear and tear that befall all things that accompany a Bishop in his travels. May these new ones do as good service--only may they not last so long. Rather, may they be used so constantly that they will soon have to be replaced. May your long and happy life of continuous diligence and usefulness require many similar presentations at the returns of this joyous anniversary. And may the wasting of these, our present garments, that perish so quickly in the using, cause us all so faithfully to fulfill our trusts, that one day the Great Bishop and Shepherd of our souls may clothe us in the imperishable robes of His righteousness.


Holy Scripture
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28

Jesus, thank you for clothing us with you. Help us walk in unity, especially in your paths on the Rosebud Reservation. Let your new life displace the forces of suicide. We pray in your Name. Amen.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My former bishop (Los Angeles) says full speed ahead on Same-Sex Blessings, Homosexual Clergy, you name it.

From a lesbian advocacy site:

“I can only say that inclusion is a reality in our diocese and will continue to be. For people who think that this is going to lead us to disenfranchise any gay or lesbian person, they are sadly mistaken.”
The Rt. Reverend J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles*

Well, at least somebody's being honest.

*Trying to fact check. The quote first shows up here.

Friends, false shepherds are guiding our souls toward death

Here's what the Archbishop of Canterbury said at today's end of his Lambeth Conference:

And that’s why the pleas for continuing moratoria regarding certain new policies and practices have been uttered.

These "moratoria" include stopping same-sex "marriages" or blessings.

Here's what the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church said in response:

We have prayed, cried, learned, and laughed together, and discovered something deeper about the body of Christ...At the same time patience is being urged from many quarters, that all may more fully know the leading of the Spirit.

She never mentions same-sex blessings specifically, despite that practice being a significant focus of the the Lambeth discussions.

And here is the reality on the ground:

Rebecca Anne Binder, the daughter of Dr. Martha Connell and Dr. Jack Binder of Scarsdale, N.Y., was married on Saturday to Amanda Elizabeth Laws, the daughter of Oneida Méndez-Laws and the Rev. Thomas Laws of Montclair, N.J. Ms. Binder’s father, who was authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, officiated at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charlestown, Mass., where Ms. Laws’s father, an Episcopal priest, participated in a blessing ceremony.

So we have
  • Empty "leadership" at the Anglican Communion level, with the Archbishop of Canterbury "pleading" for some restraint;
  • Word tricks and deception from the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church
  • The homosexual activists using the church whenever, however and for whatever they want.

These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. Jude 1:12-13

Sunday Intentions - For the Rosebud, Day 29

In the Prayers of the People or altar intentions, please pray
  • For the blood of Christ to close the destroyer's paths of affliction, poverty, frustration and suicide on the Rosebud Reservation.
  • For the blood of Christ to open good paths for His word and joy to reach the people of the Rosebud.
  • For all intercessors and for all Christians on the Rosebud: for unity and for the whole armor of God.

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Prayer and Fasting for the Rosebud - Day 28

Self-examination in preparation for Holy Communion

Emissaries of evil had reached the Indians long before the Missionaries of the Cross appeared. "All the white men that came before you," replied a chief, "said that they had come to do us good, but they stole our goods and corrupted our women; and how are we to know that you are different?"

  • Jesus, show me how I misrepresent or discredited you...
  • Jesus, I confess these sins and I make it my purpose to walk in your way.
  • Jesus, I thank you for your blood shed to wash away my sins.

If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. Psalm 119:92