Church of the Redeemer Report on The First Month – By the Interim Rector
January 17, 2011
My life verse is Psalm 131:1, “Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp.” It is with much wonder and reverence that I have accepted the Bishop’s request to become the Interim Rector of Church of the Redeemer. Aware of my lack of formal education, I look to the Lord and those mature and wise men He has placed over me and with me to keep me from veering off into the ditches. After our first month together I am greatly encouraged and very optimistic that we will see God accomplish what He desires to do in us and through us. Already I have seen Him at work in our midst and give Him praise for His faithfulness to us.
The following bits and pieces of thought were primarily taken from sermons delivered this month.
The Simple Gospel. My desire is to always present the simple but amazing story: of Christ’s love for us and the sacrifice He became on our behalf that we might know and experience eternal life; as the centerpiece of the ministry of this parish. We are a broken and sinful people and stand daily in need of God’s grace and mercy. And even though we are unworthy, God has chosen us to become part of His story, the grand tapestry that He is weaving throughout all time as He redeems His people and brings glory to His name.
From Chapter One of John Eldredge’s book, “Waking the Dead”: Arm Yourselves
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” -Jesus of Nazareth (John 10:10)
“We and the world, my children, will always be at war. Retreat is impossible. Arm yourselves.” -Leif Enger, (from “Peace Like a River” )
Quote from Bishop Chuck Jones: “Are you in it to win it? We must all get up every day and live out our faith and our love for Jesus in a winner take all cosmic conflict.”
Be encouraged. We are not in this struggle alone. “O you who were, and are, and are to come, I thank you that this Christian way in which I walk is no untried or uncharted road, but a road beaten hard by the footsteps of saints, apostles, prophets and martyrs. I thank you for the sign-posts and danger-signals with which it is marked at every turn and which may be known to me through the study of the Bible, and of all history, and of the testimony of all the saints.” - adapted from “A Diary of Private Prayer”, by John Baillie
Cynicism and defeated weariness have this in common: They both question the active goodness of God on our behalf. We must not determine our expectations of the future based upon our past experiences. Our hope is in Christ and His faithfulness and goodness. It is never too late.
In the parable of the two lost sons, Jesus uses the younger and elder brothers to portray the two basic ways people try to find happiness and fulfillment: the way of moral conformity and the way of self-discovery. Each acts as a lens coloring how you see all of life, or as a paradigm shaping your understanding of everything.
Each is a way of finding personal significance and worth, of addressing the ills of the world, and of determining right from wrong. Each of the two lifepaths are equally lost.
We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground. Each moment of our existence, we are either growing into more or retreating into less. The spirituality of wonder knows the world is charged with grace, that while sin and war, disease and death are terribly real, God’s loving presence and power in our midst are even more real. – from “The Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller.
“Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden . . . And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD.” Jer 31:12,14
“God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.” – John Piper “Not what we dutifully will but what we passionately want reveals our excellence or evil.”
“Believers are inspired to worship God even in the absence of the voice of God because of the presence of the face of God.” – Robert Smith – Beeson Divinity School
“. . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
We must be seeking to be people who stand steadfastly for truth while being filled with grace. Those truth folk tend to post warning signs and guardrails along the treacherous mountain road, but often fail to reach out to those who have made wrecks of their life. Those grace folk tend to provide ambulances and EMT’s to rescue those who have slipped off the narrow path, but fail to provide the guardrails of truth that can keep them from self-destructing again. – adapted from “Grace and Truth” by Randy Alcorn
We want our lives to be consistent with the truths that we see laid out in scripture. The menial choices we make each day as well as those life changing choices need to conform to the values and truths of our theology.
We can grow in our faith through learning to practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, study of scripture, fasting, simplicity, solitude, confession, and worship. We can use some of these spiritual disciplines to help shape or form our spiritual life as we seek to become a disciple of Jesus and we experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our life.
We can live out our faith in community with other believers. We can be intentional about establishing healthy relationships where we can serve one another and those in need. The world will be drawn to us and to our faith when they see and feel our love for one another and for themselves as well.
What I found there was an extended family, a family of people that received me as one of their own and drew me into their fellowship immediately. I asked someone, “Why has this church grown so much in such a short period of time? How do you account for this phenomenon?” “Well,” the person said, “I think it’s all very simple. We all love each other so much that we simply talk about how wonderful it is to be a part of this extended family.” This person didn’t have to explain further because I felt it. In the short time I was there I felt so revitalized in my own faith I wanted to stay. “The Majestic Tapestry”, Robert Webber
Thank you for your support, your love, and your prayers. – Fr. Ronnie