Tuesday, September 30, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Brandi Gruis
THE FACTS ABOUT TWIN-TWIN TRANSFUSION SYNDROME, (TTTS),
ITS FREQUENCY AND ACCEPTED PROCEDURES TO CORRECT IT
SIOUX FALLS, SD -- Statistics from the C.D.C. show that 32.2 out of 1,000 pregnancies involve twins. However, only about 20% of twins are monochorionic (share the same placenta). That means that only 6.44 pregnancies in 1,000 are monochorionic pregnancies. The reason that this is significant is that only monochorionic twins can develop Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.
Dr. DeLia, a fetal surgeon in Chicago, was the doctor who invented the procedure that treats Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome – fetoscopic laser photocoagulation. Monochorionic twins can be in one sac or two sacs. For some reason, Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) is more common in cases of two sacs. Overall, about 15% of all monochorionic twins have some degree of TTTS. That translates to 0.97 in every 1,000 pregnancies.
There are a number of ways to treat TTTS, any of which may be the correct method depending on ultrasound findings and the gestational age of the pregnancy. The various therapies that are available target either the unequal fluid between the twins’ sacs, or interrupt the blood vessel communications between the twins on the single shared placenta. The available therapies currently used are:
A. Amnioreduction – This is a series of amniocentesis that involves removal of the excess amniotic fluid from the sac of the recipient twin. This restores the balance of the fluid in the two sacs and improves uteroplacental blood flow.
B. Septostomy (microseptostomy) – This procedure creates a hole in the membrane between the two babies’ sacs allowing the excessive fluid from the recipient twins’ sac to flow to the donor twin’s sac, which is low or absent in fluid. This procedure is performed with an amniocentesis needle.
C. Fetoscopic Laser Photocoagulation – The most successful procedure is Fetoscopic Laser Photocoagulation, invented by Dr. DeLia. This is the laser ablation of the communicating vessels on the placenta between the twin fetuses. This procedure can be curative because the babies are no longer sharing blood vessels between them.
About one third of the TTTS babies need to be operated on. That means that an operation is needed in 0.32 pregnancies for every 1,000 pregnancies, or 1 in 3,000. Since there are about 11,000 births in South Dakota, each year, that means that there will be, on average, about 4 times a year where this procedure would be needed.
Depending on where the procedure is performed, between 79% and 85% of time, at least one baby survives. Between 55% to 64% of the time, both babies survive. That means that, on average, about 2 times a year, a baby will die despite the efforts to save the babies. The medical profession does not deliberately kill one of the babies. There is no need to do that. “Selective Termination” or “Selective Reduction” is never needed.
It is a violation of Section 2 of Initiated Measure 11 only if the procedure is intended to kill the child. The procedures I outlined are never intended to kill the child, but are always intended to save the life of the child.
It is absolutely absurd for Planned Parenthood to suggest that this law prohibits these procedures just because there is a risk the children can die. By the way, if the TTTS babies die, it is usually from the underlying condition, not the surgery. The condition kills them because the surgery failed to save them. For more information, visit Voteyesforlife.com.
Glad to report that SD Sen. John Thune Supports an Adoption Incentives Program
(received by e-newsletter)
Earlier this month, Senator John Thune joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging the reauthorization of the Adoption Incentives Program. The legislation was subsequently acted upon and is currently waiting for a signature from the President. The Adoption Incentives Program provides money to states for foster care programs based on the number of completed adoptions in that state. This legislation will double the financial incentives for successful adoptions in certain categories. Advocates say this is the most comprehensive overhaul of the adoption incentives program since 1997. Senator Thune also cosponsored a bipartisan resolution recognizing November 15th, 2008 as National Adoption Day. This legislation was passed on September 22, 2008. National Adoption Day is an effort to raise awareness of the 129,000 children in foster care who need permanent homes.
From the report:
[Advocate Marwin] Smith who will be representing the group said an injunction will be filed against the diocese in tribal court since all the land involved is trust land. The injunction is to halt the closing of the churches and to halt disposition of any land and buildings that are affected. Thirdly, all those involved can come to a settlement that will be satisfactory to both parties.
Northern Plains Anglicans broke the church closings story on September 8th.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered — to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”
I preached on "renunciation" of the world, the flesh and the devil, and affirmation of Christ as Savior, grace-giver and Lord. It is this renunciation and affirmation that leads to transformation, as we become more like Christ.
Later in the day, I bumped into the Epistle for The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. It is a portion of Ephesians 4, which speaks to our Baptismal identity:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires [renunciation]; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self [affirmation], created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness [transformation].
A few verses later is a wonderful illustration about the pattern of the baptized life in action (v.28):
He who has been stealing must steal no longer [renunciation],
but must work, doing something useful with his own hands [affirmation], that he may have something to share with those in need [transformation in the self-giving love of Christ].
This same wonderful model of renunciation-affirmation-transformation is in today's Revised Common Lectionary lesson from Philippians 2:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus... (vv. 3-5)
Friday, September 26, 2008
In many ways, the spiritual/ecclesiastical Anglican Communion meltdown is comparable to the financial meltdown in the US business world. In the latter, people bought sub-prime loans that were in effect bad paper, passed them on to others as if they were the real thing, trust was broken, and lies and deceit led to the economic ruination of many - and it isn't over yet! In the spiritual/ecclesiastical realm, church leaders in North America put together sub-prime, bogus spiritual truths, passed them on to others as if they were the real thing, persecuted those who raised the alarm, and as a result, trust has been broken, lives spiritually ruined, lies and deceit have caused many to leave their churches and reorganize in line with traditional Christian beliefs, and this is leading to the ecclesiastical ruination of many. The problem with spiritual ruination is that you might wind up in hell (yes, that place that TEC leaders don't believe in - or if it does exist, only a few of us will be in it!).
In a report today, Anglicat reveals that Jelinek is juggling diocesan staff and money, apparently to set up the kind of transition he wants.
Ya know, I would tend to feel sorry for the Minnesotans, except for the fact that bishops in the Episcopal Church are elected. 'Twas the Minnesota convention that elected autocratic Jelinek; the Lexington, KY convention that elected (and now criticizes) Christian-suing, member-losing Stacy Sauls; the good people of Pennsylvania who elected crime-covering, money squandering, so-bad-that-even-the-Episcopal Church-had-to-discipline-him Charles Bennison.
Ugggh. And here in South Dakota, we are taking nominations and will elect the next new thing in 2009.
The following commentary on I Kings 19:1 - 22:40 is from John Maxwell's Leadership Bible.
Ahab and Jezebel Manipulate People Because They Cannot Move Them
Few couples in Scripture look less attractive than King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. We get acquainted with their ugly style at the end of I Kings. Because they suffered an almost total lack of leadership charisma, they had to use manipulation, selfishness, and cunning to get what they wanted.
Charisma has been defined as a magnetic personal attraction that draws others to the leader, making them feel better about themselves. Effective leaders do well to develop some level of charisma.
In Greek, the word charisma means "gift." God gives a degree of charisma to everyone. Leaders are to give it away to others; charismatic people are others-centered. So why did Ahab and Jezebel fail to demonstrate any charisma?
- They set out selfishly to build their own kingdoms (22:8).
- They used people in order to get ahead; anyone was expendable (19:2).
- They worried about image and lived under false pretenses (21:8-13).
- They sulked and got angry when they didn't get their way (21:4).
- They pretended to be someone they were not (21:25-27).
- They abused the authority they had been given (21:18,19).
Ahab and Jezebel felt no incentive to develop charisma because their position allowed them to use people. Why would they need to inspire others to cooperate with them? Wasn't their word law? Godly leaders must avoid this wicked attitude at all costs.
Roadblocks to Charisma
To build charisma, be others-minded. Leaders who think about others and their concerns before thinking of themselves quickly develop charisma.
How would you rate your own charisma? Are other people naturally attracted to you? Are you well liked? Consider the following roadblocks to charisma. Do you possess any of these?
- Pride: Nobody wants to follow a leader who thinks he is better than everyone else. Arrogant leaders lose the respect of others.
- Insecurity: If you are uncomfortable with yourself, others will be, too. Only secure leaders can provide a secure atmosphere.
- Moodiness: If people never know what to expect of you, they stop expecting anything. Eventually, they won't even approach you.
- Selfishness: People can tell if you are using them merely to reach your own goal. No healthy person stays for long in such an unhealthy environment.
- Perfectionism: People respect the desire for excellence, but loathe unrealistic expectations. No one wants to feel the program is more important than they are.
- Cynicism: People don't want to be rained on by someone who sees a cloud around every silver lining. Negative leaders repulse healthy followers.
Fr. David Handy provokes a thought or two... like, "If the church is supposed to be a rainbow, why is it just lavender?"
... but we have blithely forgotten that usury is a serious sin. Medieval Christendom took it very seriously.
And that gets me thinking, "Why can't The Episcopal Church lock in on real issues that can unite Christians, instead of slobbering over homosexual entitlements all the time?"
Frankly, working against usury would unite very conservative, Biblical Christians and more "liberal" (not an ideal word) people interested in social application of the Gospel.
Then there are the horrific issues on the Indian Reservations, such as the suicide rates among young people on the Rosebud. Again, very traditional Christians are attuned to the spiritual dimension of the problem, and the more liberal church is attuned to the need for funding, counselors and ministry programs that can help meet the need.
But no, The Episcopal Church has adopted the "Lavender Ghetto" as its model for ministry. Exclusive, closed off (except for occassional bouts of exhibitionism), fearful to the point of paranoia, demonizing or ridiculing the "straight world" outside... is there really any difference between TEC and the gay "district" in some gray, anonymous city?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The Moving Assistance Program came from prayer and discussion by Good Shepherd's Vestry. Craig Friedel (interviewed in the news piece) went out and asked city leaders about unmet needs - and MAP was the response. They have been moving folks every week for about seven months now. Their office is at Good Shepherd and the seed money and most of the start-up Board came from the parish - as did the donation of a moving trailer and several teams of movers along the way.
MAP now deploys teams from all kinds of community groups. Folks with disabilities, women and kids fleeing abuse and seniors are among those helped into better living conditions by the free moving service that came out of a Vestry planning day at a small parish.
Hope that story gives ya hope! With God, all things are possible. BTW the moves always end with a prayer circle (the folks being moved are invited to be part of it) and, if you watch the video, you will see "Christian Values" displayed prominently in the MAP logo.
Usury: ...the lending of money at exorbitant interest rates... an unconscionable or exorbitant rate or amount of interest...
The Credit Card industry is such a major employer and influence here that our lone Representative, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, was the ONLY Democrat to vote against limits on interest rate and fee limits!
At the state level, South Dakota allows "payday loan" businesses to proliferate and charge horrific interest rates. As reported here earlier, the Legislature turned back efforts to limit usury in this "industry."
And the toxic impact of usury does not stop with its impact on debtors. South Dakota philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, who amassed his fortune through the credit card business, recently sent $30,000,000 out of state to support embryonic (life destroying) stem cell research.
Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect for Social Justice, BCP 1979
UPDATE: The Archbishop of York calls usurers "hyenas."
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Then there was the Presiding Bishop's strange summer photo op on a South Dakota Reservation. You can read the official Episcopal version of it here. See if you can find a single word about suicide on the Reservations. Suicide is engaging Tribal Leaders, the State and Federal Governments and the media... but the Presiding Bishop of the church with the Reservation missions comes out and gabs about same sex relationships, United Nations goals... the usual.
And let's not forget that the Executive Council bureaucrats who now run the Episcopal Church cut funding for Native American ministry while pumping bucks into lawsuits against Christians.
Earlier this month, our blog broke the news that The Diocese of South Dakota is going to "dispose of" nine mission churches on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
For a mainstream/old line media source, the Argus did a decent job of addressing some of the core spiritual issues involved. There are some good insights from Pastor Jack Moore, a tribal member who leads a church and Christian school on the Rosebud.
Please pray that the path of death will be closed and Christ, the Way of life will reach the afflicted people.
Monday, September 22, 2008
1928 Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the XVIII Sunday after Trinity
Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1979 Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Proper 20
The Collects appointed for this week ask God to help us turn away from old ways and to embrace the new life found in Jesus Christ.
Holy Baptism (and here I will use the '79 BCP, to bring out what Episcopal Church ideology seeks to hide) contains three "renunciations", based on our ancient awareness that "the world, the flesh and the devil" seek to enslave us while Christ is come to set us free. We are called upon to renounce our slave masters, who use us to their own selfish ends, and come under the gracious Lordship of Jesus Christ, who died to liberate us.
Along with the renunciations, I am including selections from The Epistle of James, which is read at Morning Prayer this week in the 1928 BCP lectionary and gives us insight into the slavery we must renounce.
Question Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
Answer I renounce them.
The Baptismal liturgy is not just a church membership ceremony, despite what the Episcopal ideology says these days. It involves the rejection of unseen but real spiritual enemies, led by Satan ("the accuser"). These are fallen creatures who, envious of our freedom to return to their lost heaven, seek to enslave us in their pitiful hell. I warn those who are preparing for Baptism, "Satan doesn't deal well with rejection." And indeed, many recently Baptized people will report that they come under strange attacks of various kinds.
What does James have to say about the spiritual slave master we are to renounce?
For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. (3:15)
Satan and demonic forces seek to enslave us to raw, self-centered emotion. Without Baptismal regeneration in the Holy Spirit, we are just a higher form of animal life, driven by survival urges in various forms. James tells us that these urges are not of the Holy Spirit, who guides us in the sacrificial love of Christ. Rather, these urges are chains clamped on us by the fallen, earth-occupying demonic servants of Satan. We must renounce them.
Question Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
Answer I renounce them.
The Baptismal liturgy calls us to renounce worldly kingdoms and become citizens of the Kingdom of God. In his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 - 7), Jesus teaches us that Heaven's values are often the opposite of things that seem important in a worldly point of view. The broken hearted are closer to God than the self-satisfied; the meek will proliferate more than the aggressive; the persecuted and maligned are winning out over the powerful and popular. This is happening right now in Africa, China and other places, where the church is robust among people who are poor, persecuted and marginalized by worldly powers.
James has this to say: Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? (2:5-7)
"The world" appeals to our unregenerate, animal nature. Worldly instinct enslaves us to ideas like, "The more I have, the safer I am." Ironically, all the striving after wealth, power and approval leads toward death rather than the life offered by Christ.
This is why the Episcopalian ideology is not an adequate expression of Baptism. Episcopalianism seeks approval from worldly powers (culture elites, entertainment figures, even the United Nations). It craves property and aesthetics over people. It rejects many groups of people (men, the young, children, "blue collar" workers, the poor) in favor of a very small clique (affluent, college credentialed, gays/lesbians). And the more it clutches after earthly signs of survival, the more it shrinks in numbers, diversity and public relevance. We must renounce worldly ideology and worldly marks of "success."
Question Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?
Answer I renounce them.
"Sinful desires" is what the traditional language calls "the flesh." Each of us has unique, ingrained ways by which we rebel against God. Nobody is immune to this - there is "original (or birth) sin."
James reminds us, God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (1:13b-15)
We have to renounce that most precious of all things (at least for Americans), our own "unfettered freedom." The reality is that freedom without Godly transformation is slavery. The desires that operate in our self-centered nature (the flesh) will drag us to hell if we are not made new, living to please the Holy Spirit rather than the flesh (Galatians 6:8).
But all the renouncing is just so much religion if we don't turn to the next act of the Baptismal liturgy - affirmation of Christ.
Question Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
Answer I do.
Question Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
Answer I do.
Question Do you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?
Answer I do.
We break the chains of those who would enslave us to death, and take on the gentle yoke of obedience to the one who gives life everlasting.
James gets the last word: This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1:1)
Saturday, September 20, 2008
From an elfin email: By my count, there are 112 TEC Dioceses (counting all overseas dioceses and Churches in Europe)
56 Diocesans (or acting diocesans) voted YES to Depose.
A few dioceses had a lot of clout in the vote: Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Connecticut, Chicago, North Carolina and Maine accounted for 21 of the YES votes (1/4 of the total Yes votes).
A complete report of the votes is here (xls).
The Presiding Bishop got her "2/3" vote to get rid of a Biblically faithful leader by leaning on a bunch of retired, assistant and otherwise "empty suit" characters and a handful of dioceses that hire extra bishops to sit downtown and go to meetings.
Libertarians are highly susceptible to the pro-abortion argument that any law is a gross government intrusion into individual freedom. Please speak up for life:
- Roe v. Wade was one of the greatest government intrusions ever. Elitist, activist judges closed the exercise of informed individual thought by shutting down the democratic process. A one-size-fits-all rule was imposed from Washington, DC, with no debate.
- There is no greater assault on the dignity of the individual than to "define down" humanity. Abortion requires arbitrary and unscientific definitions of "life," such as Roe v. Wade's absurd "trimesters" standard.
- Despite some pro-abortion claims, most elective abortion is not a lofty exercise in moral decision making. It usually involves panic, secrecy and duress. There are many cases in which a woman is coerced by a partner, circle of friends or even family to have an abortion. Her dignity and values are not respected.
If you have Libertarian friends, please discuss this with them. Like all of us, they are prone to go "automatic" and vote based on superficial appeals. They are being told that Measure 11 is "government intrusion in private matters." In fact, it is a grass roots initiative to defend the dignity of human life that Libertarians value.
Only a minute of your time to hear the truth. Abortion kills a human being. South Dakota has a chance to say no to this babaric means of "birth control." Vote yes on 11 - Vote Yes for Life.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Adams, J., Western Kansas Diocesan - NO
Bainbridge, Idaho Diocesan - yes
Brookhart, Montana Diocesan - NO
Burnett, Nebraska Diocesan - yes
Caldwell, Wyoming Diocesan - yes
Epting, Bishop for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations (formerly shrank the Diocese of Iowa, now a TEC bureaucrat in Nebraska) - yes
Jelinek, Minnesota Diocesan - yes
Scarfe, Iowa Diocesan - NO
M. Smith, North Dakota Diocesan - NO
Wolfe, Kansas Diocesan - yes
UPDATE: Church Pension Group President states that Legacy Funds are NOT used for litigation; question remains about other CPG $
It was brought to my attention yesterday that a September 4th posting on the blog of the Northern Plains Anglicans asked the question “Is the Church Pension Fund deploying Legacy and Gift Funds to TEC’s lawsuit campaign against Christians?” The answer to this question is an unequivocal “no.” Would you be willing to advise me how I could communicate to your readers that no CPG funds of any kind have been used in such litigation? Actually, the funds in question were used to support CPG’s Fund for Special Assistance and certain programs related to CREDO. Thanks.
Church Pension Group
In other words, the Legacy Funds are being used appropriately for initiatives that directly benefit clergy and their families, part of the CPG's history of faithful and fruitful service to the church.
There remain open questions, however. In 2006 the Episcopal News Service itself reported that Pension Fund seed money was being deployed for the lawsuit campaign. That article is here. The quote:
Lexington Bishop Stacy Sauls gave the council a written report about the work of the House of Bishops Task Force on Property Disputes, whose work began at the September 2005 House of Bishops meeting and was sanctioned by the council earlier this year.
At that time, the council appropriated $100,000 for the task force's work. The group also has $25,000 available to it from the Church Pension Fund. The task force has not yet spent any of the money, according to the group's written report.
Keep in mind, that's a 2006 report - since then that money and a whole bunch more has gone into lawsuits against congregations and individuals all over the country.
So the questions remain: How much is being spent on lawsuits? From what church funds is the money being taken? And why is a small clique called "The Executive Council" given authority to redirect significant church money without any oversight or mandate from General Convention?
We're part of a nice, reasonable, "inclusive" church, right?
Wrong. The "Executive Council" of The Episcopal Church (a disproportionately gay committee that claims authority to run the church during the three years between its General Conventions) says that TEC is for unrestricted abortion. That's right, a group of bureaucrats put TEC on record as a sponsor for The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The Episcopal Church is an official sponsor of RCRC - of abortion.
One of the pro-abortion arguments we hear is that "a bunch of men shouldn't tell women what to do." Well, how about this? "A bunch of old gays and lesbians shouldn't dictate church teaching about reproduction."
If we are such a respectful church, why are bureaucrats hiding behind closed doors to dictate policy?
Get the facts, friends. Vote Yes for Life in South Dakota. If you are an Episcopalian, your church is lying to you... telling you on the one hand that "all points of view are respected" while selling you out to the pro-abortion side.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
By the way, the Latin quote at the end means, "Those whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad."
Christ-denying, church-shrinking, parishioner-suing, rule-bending Episcopal Bishops vote to get rid of Bishop of Pittsburgh because he's a Christian
Yeah, the House of Bishops will say they were defending property for the benefit of future Episcopalians, even though their own stats and reports show that they can't attract new people, the kids of current members go to other churches, and the members are too old to have more kids.
Yeah, they will say they are protecting something called "unique polity" - that is, their inclusive, tolerant club is only for people just like them.
Or maybe they won't say anything. They didn't allow any media to listen to their kangaroo court. These Bishops are like (pick your creature) that can't stand the light of day.
Thankfully, there were some Bishops - about 35 - who did not bow to the false gods hoisted by their colleagues. Bishop Love of Albany, for example.
The fact is, Bob Duncan is under attack because he believes that Jesus died for our sins and that the Good News of Jesus is revealed authoritatively in the Holy Bible. He does not believe that fancy titles or robes make one holy (and didn't Jesus say just that?)
This House of Bishops, I believe, wants to destroy the church. They might not even be aware of their lust to do this - they are that sick, spiritually and emotionally.
- These are people enthralled with gay sex - their erotic focus is waste, elimination, and degradation.
- These are people who wink at, if not support, abortion - meeting the wants and needs of a present generation over the hope of a future one.
- These are people who take pride in running off church members, closing down congregations, and now "eliminating" peers who disagree with them.
- These are people who promote leadership failures (clergy who poison and shrink dioceses and congregations) and give them authority over more and more of church life.
These are the "priests" of the culture of death, a culture badly ingrained into my own baby boom generation. They want things to wither and die. They have no vision beyond their own puny comforts cradle to grave, which would just be sad except...
They want to pull lots of others into the grave with them. This is where they escalate from pathetic to evil.
"Mercy" has been coming up in a number of places. I ran into it here (see comment 3) last night and then this morning in the prayer here.
In unsettled, frightening times (and we are having them in the church and in the world), we are preserved and comforted only by the reality of God's mercy.
The word "mercy" runs all through the Bible, but perhaps the best verse for today is
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
So, if that's the case, then what's up with the Episcopal leaders' aggressive and probably illegal efforts to get rid of Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh? Asks a friend by email:
"So what is with this bit in the baptismal covenant: 'Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?' as it applies to Bob Duncan? A trial behind his back, a deposition without a trial or inhibition -where is justice? where is dignity? Apparently this only applies to some people!"
Will wait with bated breath for a peaceful, just and respectful reply from The Episcopal Whatever.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
and bring righteousness to the ground!
The one who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning,
and darkens the day into night,who calls for the waters of the sea,
and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the Lord is his name,
who makes destruction flash out against the strong,
so that destruction comes upon the fortress.
They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
Hear what God says to the House of Bishops
You would not discipline heretics who lied about me, but you discipline those who speak up for my truth? Do not do this thing.
Your thoughts say, "Our laws are unique, and we can do as we will. We have much money, and the ruin of the church will not reach us."
Listen instead to God, whose law is perfect. Seek Christ, who emptied himself to turn away the Destroyer. Pray in Jesus' Name, asking the Father to give you the Holy Spirit.
Bishop Horace Donegan, 1966
Hear what God says to the House of Bishops:
Because you cared more for human approval than for my great Name, you will have neither until you repent. You will be irrelevant to the world and without blessing from Heaven.
Because you craved a form of "love" instead of my Word, you will have neither until you repent. You will pile up words and not find common prayer. You will not break the bread and share the cup together - but your people will keep breaking apart and your relationships will dissolve in lasting bitterness.
Because you sought a passing "good name" instead of eternal truth, you will have neither until you repent. You will bite and devour one another over temporal titles. Your generation will pass away and leave its vestments hanging in empty buildings.
But what I said through Jeremiah I say to you: Return, O faithless children, I will heal your faithlessness. I Am your Father. Return to me as brothers and sisters of my Son, Jesus. Ask in his Name and I will give you the Holy Spirit.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all the Israelites had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: "Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you."
Rehoboam answered, "Go away for three days and then come back to me." So the people went away.
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. "How would you advise me to answer these people?" he asked.
They replied, "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants."
But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, "What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, 'Lighten the yoke your father put on us'?"
The young men who had grown up with him replied, "Tell these people who have said to you, 'Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter'-tell them, 'My little finger is thicker than my father's waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.' "
I Kings 12:1-11
Rehoboam starts well. He listens, and asks for a specific time frame to think and make a decision. He seeks advice.
Then things go sour. He ignores the voice of experience, and he listens to clueless advisors - loud with opinion but with no record of fruitful experience.
He then acts with aggression, a move typical of insecure and incompetent leaders.
What unfolds over the upcoming readings is predictable:
When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:
"What share do we have in David,
what part in Jesse's son?
To your tents, O Israel!
Look after your own house, O David!" (v. 16)
It is not just a disagreement with Rehoboam's policy - it is the understanding that he doesn't care about any interests beyond his own inner circle. It's beyond conflict - it's a complete loss of relationship. As John Maxwell says, "He who leads without followers is just taking a walk." The nation fragments and competing kings emerge.
Do I really have to type out the parallels with the Presiding Bishop, her lesbigay inner circle, and TEC's assertion of a "unique polity" that doesn't need to listen to anybody else? The results are predictable. A fragmented church and broken relationships will be TEC's legacy.
Yesterday's Epistle (1928 BCP) expresses values that Christian leaders should embrace. Sadly, the Bible is just one more bit of rejected counsel when it comes to TEC:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But Trinity Seminary in Ambridge, PA is one of the faithful remnant, preparing people to preach the pure Word of God and minister Christ's sacraments.
Today (Mon. 9/15), from 8:30 - 4:30 EST, Anglican TV will be streaming live from Trinity's "Seminarian for a Day" program. Go visit the seminary from the comfort of your own screen! Just go to Anglican TV right here.
And of course pray. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week are the traditional "Ember Days" when the church prays for vocations to ordained ministry.
O ALMIGHTY God, who hast committed to the hands of men the ministry of reconciliation; We humbly beseech thee, by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, to put it into the hearts of many to offer themselves for this ministry; that thereby mankind may be drawn to thy blessed kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Learn more about Trinity here.
Learn about Nashotah House, our other faithful seminary, here.
And if God so blesses and moves you, please give to the work of these Christian institutions.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Please intercede. If you need prayer guidance, there are good posts going up at the Anglican prayer blog Lent & Beyond.
I especially encourage your prayers for the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. It is easy to be aggravated and I'm the first to say that her "theology" is a departure from the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ, her lack of leadership skill is appalling, her treatment of people who disagree with her is... OK, I'm starting to rant.
But hear today's Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35. Jesus gives us no wiggle room. His sacrifice on the cross is what erases every sin, known and unknown, public or secret, in our entire life. We are the servant who is forgiven the massive debt. We must be forgiving and merciful toward the few points at which the sins of the PB or other bishops or others in the church afflict us - and we must let our hearts be transformed to forgive in this way.
Father, give your Holy Spirit to the House of Bishops. And give the Holy Spirit to all of us, sinners. We ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Ranked #1 in South Dakota! Go Pats!
My stupid calendar actually opens up enough that I can watch 'em play tomorrow night.
* Pic from Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Thursday, September 11, 2008
WHAT WE SEEK IN A BISHOP
We believe the following to be what we seek in our next Bishop as a person of God, of faith, and of spirituality, bringing the love of Christ to this Diocese:
1. Supportive of work with youth and young adults, all of whom are the future of this Diocese.
2. Knowledgeable and appreciative of our bicultural identity.
3. An advocate for social justice and reconciliation.
4. A pastor, mentor, and leader.
5. An effective communicator.
6. Is supportive of our programs, including Mutual Ministry and Partners with God, and brings vision and vigor to these and other programs.
7. A sense of humor to help with one’s own emotional and physical health, as well as the health of the Diocese.
Robertson was not at work Wednesday and would not answer questions at his home Wednesday night.
"I'll be in my office (Thursday)," he said.
Diocesan Administrator Randy Barnhardt did not return a message left at the diocese Wednesday and was not home in the evening.
And do I dare mention that we had the news up on this blog 3 days before the major daily newspaper? Mainstream Media - Some of the news, and most of it late.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
#01 REQUEST FOR ACCOUNTING OF EPISCOPAL CHURCH LAWSUITS
Submitted by The Reverend Timothy & Melissa Fountain, Dale & Ingrid Dobrovolny, Ron & Tammy Briggs, Jane Hassenstein
RESOLVED, that the One Hundred Twenty-second Convention of the Diocese of South Dakota requests that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church provide the denomination with the following information:
a. the dollar amount spent by TEC on litigation against dioceses, parishes, groups of churches and individuals since General Convention 2006;
b. a list of the church accounts and/or budget items from which these funds were taken;
c. an accurate comparison of dollars spent on litigation versus dollars spent on Millennium Development Goals since General Convention 2006;
d. the proposed amount of money for litigation to be presented to the 2009 General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
RESOLVED, that the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of South Dakota communicate this request to the Presiding Bishop no later than November 5th, 2008.
RESOLVED, that the Presiding Bishop’s response (or lack thereof) be reported to the clergy and people of the Diocese of South Dakota prior to the Bishop Coadjutor election in 2009.
Explanation: Earlier this year, I sent a letter to the Bishop, Standing Committee Members and General Convention Deputies of this Diocese, objecting to the Episcopal Church’s campaign of litigation against people all across the United States. I did not receive a single reply (not even an acknowledgement) of my letter.
Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church has lost a number of large cases that it initiated against churches in Virginia and California, and is currently appealing those cases at even greater cost. Funds designated for Native American ministries (including South Dakota), for overseas missionary support, and for other programs have been cut while the money spent on litigation continues to be spent without any accounting to the church.
The last General Convention (and this Diocese) voted to make the United Nations Millennium Development Goals the mission priority of the church. There needs to be an accurate accounting to show that Episcopal Church spending is true to this stated goal and not being diverted to unreported projects.
Our diocese, parishes and missions practice good stewardship by keeping and publishing accurate information about their finances. There is simply no excuse for concealing the use of money that has been donated by faithful Christians for God’s work. This is especially true when programs are being cut and needs are going unmet.
Impact on Budget: Potentially positive if the national church stops funding lawsuits and restores money to local mission and ministry.
#02 - REQUEST THAT THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH REPLACE LAWSUITS WITH NEGOTIATION AND/OR MEDIATION WHERE POSSIBLE
Submitted by The Reverend Timothy & Melissa Fountain, Dale & Ingrid Dobrovolny, Ron & Tammy Briggs, Jane Hassenstein
RESOLVED, that the One Hundred Twenty-second Convention of the Diocese of South Dakota requests that the Episcopal Church adopt a policy of negotiation and/or mediation prior to initiating lawsuits over property.
RESOLVED, that the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of South Dakota communicate this request to the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council of the Episcopal Church no later than November 5th, 2008.
RESOLVED, that the Ecclesiastical Authority of this diocese report the national church’s response (or lack thereof) prior to the election of a Bishop Coadjutor in 2009.
Explanation: Because of controversial issues, some dioceses and congregations wish to separate from The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church has sued hundreds of these dissenters, including individual lay people, all around the country. Whether or not one agrees with the dissenters, the following facts need to be addressed by church leaders:
a. The Bible says that litigation between Christians is “spiritual defeat” for all involved (I Corinthians 6:1-8);
b. Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to seek both “justice” AND “peace”;
c. The laws are different in every state, which forces many lawsuits, at great cost, with no consistent results;
d. The Episcopal Church has lost several large cases already, and is now spending unreported amounts of money to file appeals;
e. There have been efforts (Overland Park, Kansas and Plano, Texas are two examples) in which negotiation worked. The Episcopal dioceses received payment for property and other significant compensation, and the dissenters were allowed to keep their property;
f. It is common in Labor, Family and other types of courts to use negotiation as a means to avoid the expense and relationship damage of litigation;
g. The current policy of The Episcopal Church, (suing without negotiating), is very expensive in a time when resources are scarce, is not effective in retaining property or resources, and it works against good will for future reconciliation within the church.
Impact on Budget: Potentially positive as negotiation is less expensive than litigation, and the national church and dioceses would gain immediate and future income from negotiated property settlements.
Also sent this cover letter to all Senior Wardens around the diocese:
September 1, 2008
Dear Friend in Christ,
I am writing you because you are a leader entrusted with the well being of God’s people – both their spiritual well being and the good stewardship of the church’s resources.
Are you aware of the following facts?
The Episcopal Church has sued congregations and even lay people all around the country, in cases costing millions of dollars.
TEC is losing many of these cases and going on to file even more expensive appeals.
The proposed diocesan budget shows that General Convention is cutting its grant to the Diocese of South Dakota by 5% in 2009.
The proposed Diocesan Budget places the burden on congregations to give more and uses endowment money to make up for what TEC is taking back to use on unaccounted actions.
National church funds for Native American ministries and Overseas Missionaries were cut last year.
I am part of a concerned group that has submitted Diocesan Convention Resolutions, asking for TEC to give full accounting of its lawsuits and to adopt more Christian means of conflict resolution. These Resolutions should be present at your Deanery pre-Convention meetings this month. It is my hope that you will take them seriously and ask questions about how the church’s money is being spent. This has significant implications for our diocesan budget in 2009.
Please share this information with your diocesan convention delegates! This information is NOT being reported by TEC or in diocesan news, and many clergy are afraid to speak up.
May Christ Jesus bless your service in His Name. If you have questions, feel free to be in touch with me: (605) 332-1474, firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Rev. Timothy Fountain
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Resolved, that this 2008 Synod Province VI, meeting on the Standing Rock Reservation of North Dakota, request the Program, Budget and Finance Committee of the General Convention, to increase by 15% the base budget support awarded at General Convention 2006 to each of the four "aided dioceses" for ministry with Native peoples.
Be it further resolved, that the Executive Council's Budget Committee include this request in their budgeting process leading to the next Triennial Budget of the General Convention 2009.
From the Diocese of South Dakota Church News
http://www.diocesesd.org/SepOct08.pdf (scroll down to pp. 4 & 5)
Monday, September 8, 2008
Enlightened, freedom loving "pro-choicers" vandalize Pro-Life display on private property - PLEASE HELP THE CAMPAIGN FOR LIFE!
Please donate to South Dakota's Vote Yes for Life Measure 11. The abortionist opponents of the measure are in the midst of a national fund raising drive.
Hat/tip Voices Carry Blog (see my Useful Links down to the right of this page).
The following is from that report.:
"...read two letters from Bishop Robertson regarding the Ministry on the Pine Ridge Mission. Both letters concern the viability and presence of the Episcopal Church on the Pine Ridge Mission and both offer an (sic) new and different vision for the ministry on the Mission...
'...Effective the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2008, the following actions will be implemented...
...The churches of Christ, Red Shirt Table; St. John's, Oglala; Epiphany, Wolf Creek; St. Andrew's, Wakpamni Lake; St. Thomas, Manderson; St. Barnabas, Kyle; St. Timothy's, Potato Creek; St. Alban's, Porcupine; and Inestimable Gift, Allen, will be closed and property disposed of according to Diocesan Policy.'"
Bishop Robertson and the Diocese faced a hard decision. I've blogged about the low attendance and lack of church cohesion on the Reservations. The Diocese is combining some congregations on the Pine Ridge and the nine that are closing had very low attendance. This is the kind of decision a diocese must make sometimes, and it is thankless and painful work.
That being said, a few questions need raising:
- In April, Bishop Robertson himself stated that Episcopal Church budget cuts were costing South Dakota the financial means to support a Reservation Vicar (a missioner to a regional cluster of churches). The Episcopal Church is spending into the millions of dollars (although it won't answer requests for specifics) to sue Christians who dissent from TEC's departures from Biblical and traditional Christian faith. So, the question hangs in the air: Is the lawsuit policy of TEC's New York bureaucracy cutting out ministry to some of the poorest people in the United States? Are efforts to grab up suburban church buildings being subsidized by the "disposal" of Reservation churches?
- We White folks tend to romanticize Native Americans, but they have plenty of common human foibles. Tribal/clan identities can fuel feuds and grudges. It has been known for some time that several Pine Ridge leaders (mostly Oglala Lakota) and the Bishop (who is Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) have been squabbling or estranged (gee, sounds familiar). There are many struggling congregations in South Dakota - why did the Pine Ridge take the hit?
- The rush to "dispose of property" does not pass the smell test. I've sat in plenty of clergy meetings here where priests argue for giving this or that piece of the state "back to the Lakota." Heck, that's probably right based on the treaty-breaking that snatched the land. But when push comes to shove, TEC is there to cannibalize property for its own use. No thought of, "Let's give this to the people of the Pine Ridge." Why don't "justice" and "Millennium Development Goals" apply to TEC property management decisions?
And of course the screaming issue is that TEC is closing more churches. TEC can't evangelize. TEC can't develop Christian communities. TEC is dying by attrition with no converts, no births and no intergenerational transmission of faith. TEC is getting rid of - even suing - the clergy and lay leaders who have the best track records in evangelism and congregational growth.
TEC's tale just gets shabbier and shabbier.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
For a feisty local pro-life blog, visit Voices Carry.
To keep up with the campaign for life as the November vote nears, visit Vote Yes for Life. And please consider a donation. The abortionists are getting big time out of state money from Planned Parenthood and the like. Support the campaign for LIFE!
I'm proud to say that our American Anglican Council/South Dakota Chapter provided a team at the Vote Yes for Life headquarters last week. Way to go, saints of God!