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Good Shepherd Blog

  • 12 Marks of a Thriving Anglican Church

    Last week in the COGS News, I talked about how we can begin to work toward our goal of becoming a thriving, Anglican church.  You'll remember that this is the task we've been given by our bishops in PEARUSA: to plant thriving, Anglican churches that plant other churches.  We are fulfilling this mission in being a part of Christ Church in Winston and Good Shepherd in Bermuda Run, and even more, we are obeying the mission that Jesus gave the whole Church in Matthew 28: to make disciples!

    But what does a thriving Anglican church look like?

    When asked this very question, the leaders of Anglican church planting in North America came up with 12 Marks of a Thriving Anglican Church.  I pass them onto you.  Do you see Good Shepherd's reflection in these 12 marks?  Where do we need to grow into them?  Here they are listed with (very) brief explanations:

    12 Marks of a Thriving Anglican Church

    1. Biblical & doctrinal core - Gospel-centered; rooted in Scripture, the Great Tradition, and Anglican standards
    2. Prayerful dependence - acknowledgement of brokenness & weakness; rhythms & practices of prayer
    3. Corporate worship - contextualization of BCP; centrality of Eucharist & effective preaching
    4. Spiritual transformation - making disciples; catechesis; equipping for ministry
    5. Life-giving relationships - welcoming newcomers; “walking in the light”; living as family; pastoral care
    6. Gospel mission - reaching out with the truth and love of Jesus; serving others creatively, compassionately, sacrificially; planting churches
    7. Local adaptation - exegeting the community; missional effectiveness & contextualization; reaching next generations & new immigrants
    8. Global connection - vitally connected to and shaped by the Global South (especially Rwanda) and a full partner with ACNA
    9. Transformative leadership - leadership for change; soul care of clergy; replication (leadership pipeline); staff relationships; episcopal care
    10. Show stoppers - identifying and navigating "show-stopping" obstacles to thriving; adaptive change
    11. Effective organization - clear mission & vision; effective strategy & systems
    12. Extravagant generosity - effective stewardship practices; PEARUSA and global partnership

  • Jesus With Hurting People

    The sermon for our June 9th service will be on Luke 7:11-17, where Jesus heals the son of a widow in a town called Nain.  In this passage, the compassionate heart of Christ is on display yet again.  Sometimes I forget how kind Jesus is, how loving, how powerful his love is, and when I forget this, God often sends a friend to remind me.  This week, that friend was Bishop J.C. Ryle, and I hope the sermon pasted below will remind you as well.  May we love others like Jesus does.  May we love Jesus with the love He deserves: 

    Luke 7:11-17 - From Expository Thoughts on Luke by J.C. Ryle: 

    JESUS RAISES A WIDOW'S SON

    The wondrous event described in these verses, is only recorded in Luke's Gospel. It is one of the three great instances of our Lord restoring a dead person to life, and, like the raising of Lazarus and the ruler's daughter, is rightly regarded as one of the greatest miracles which He wrought on earth. In all three cases, we see an exercise of divine power. In each we see an indisputable proof that the Prince of Peace is stronger than the king of terrors, and that though death, the last enemy, is mighty, he is not as mighty as the sinner's Friend.

    We learn from these verses, what sorrow SIN has brought into the world. We are told of a funeral at Nain. All funerals are mournful things, but it is difficult to imagine a funeral more mournful than the one here described. It was the funeral of a young man, and that young man the only son of his mother, and that mother a widow. There is not an item in the whole story, which is not full of misery. And all this misery, be it remembered, was brought into the world by sin. God did not create it at the beginning, when He made all things "very good." Sin is the cause of it all. "Sin entered into the world" when Adam fell, "and death by sin." (Rom. 5:12.)

    Let us never forget this great truth. The world around us is full of sorrow. Sickness, and pain, and infirmity, and poverty, and labor, and trouble, abound on every side. From one end of the world to the other, the history of families is full of lamentation, and weeping, and mourning, and woe. And whence does it all come? Sin is the fountain and root to which all must be traced. There would neither have been tears, nor tares, nor illness, nor deaths, nor funerals in the earth, if there had been no sin. We must bear this state of things patiently. We cannot alter it. We may thank God that there is a remedy in the Gospel, and that this present life is not all. But in the meantime, let us lay the blame at the right door. Let us lay the blame on sin.

    How much we ought to hate sin! Instead of loving it, cleaving to it, dallying with it, excusing it, playing with it, we ought to hate it with a deadly hatred. Sin is the great murderer, and thief, and pestilence, and nuisance of this world. Let us make no peace with it. Let us wage a ceaseless warfare against it. It is "the abominable thing which God hates." Happy is he who is of one mind with God, and can say, I "abhor that which is evil." (Rom. 12:9.)

    We learn, secondly, from these verses, how deep is the COMPASSION of our Lord Jesus Christ's heart. We see this beautifully brought out in His behavior at this funeral in Nain. He meets the mournful procession, accompanying the young man to his grave, and is moved with compassion at the sight. He waits not to be applied to for help. His help appears to have been neither asked for nor expected. He saw the weeping mother, and knew well what her feelings must have been, for He had been born of a woman Himself. At once He addressed her with words alike startling and touching He "said unto her, Weep not." A few more seconds, and the meaning of His words became plain. The widow's son was restored to her alive. Her darkness was turned into light, and her sorrow into joy.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His heart is still as compassionate as when He was upon earth. His sympathy with sufferers is still as strong. Let us bear this in mind, and take comfort in it. There is no friend or comforter who can be compared to Christ. In all our days of darkness, which must needs be many, let us first turn for consolation to Jesus the Son of God. He will never fail us, never disappoint us, never refuse to take interest in our sorrows. He lives, who made the widow's heart sing for joy in the gate of Nain. He lives, to receive all laboring and heavy-laden ones, if they will only come to Him by faith. He lives, to heal the broken-hearted, and be a Friend that sticks closer than a brother. And He lives to do greater things than these one day. He lives to come again to His people, that they may weep no more at all, and that all tears may be wiped from their eyes.

    We learn, lastly, from these verses, the almighty POWER of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can ask no proof of this more striking than the miracle which we are now considering. He gives back life to a dead man with a few words. He speaks to a cold corpse, and at once it becomes a living person. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the heart, the lungs, the brain, the senses, again resume their work and discharge their duty. "Young man," He cried, "I say unto you arise." That voice was a voice mighty in operation. At once "he that was dead sat up and began to speak."

    Let us see in this mighty miracle a pledge of that solemn event, the general resurrection. That same Jesus who here raised one dead person, shall raise all mankind at the last day. "The hour comes in the which all that are in the grave shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; those who have done good unto the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28, 29.) When the trumpet sounds and Christ commands, there can be no refusal or escape. All must appear before His bar in their bodies. All shall be judged according to their works.

    Let us see, furthermore, in this mighty miracle, a lively emblem of Christ's power to quicken the dead in sins. In Him is life. He quickens whom He will. (John 5:21.) He can raise to a new life souls that now seem dead in worldliness and sin. He can say to hearts that now appear corrupt and lifeless, "Arise to repentance, and live in the service of God." Let us never despair of any soul. Let us pray for our children, and faint not. Our young men and our young women may long seem traveling on the way to ruin. But let us pray on. Who can tell but He that met the funeral at the gates of Nain may yet meet our unconverted children, and say with almighty power, "Young man, arise!" With Christ nothing is impossible.

    Let us leave the passage with a solemn recollection of those things which are yet to happen at the last day. We read that "there came a fear on all," at Nain, when the young man was raised. What then shall be the feelings of mankind when all the dead are raised at once? The unconverted man may well fear that day. He is not prepared to meet God. But the true Christian has nothing to fear. He may lay himself down and sleep peacefully in his grave. In Christ He is complete and safe, and when he rises again he shall see God's face in peace.


  • Why plant an ANGLICAN Church?

    Two commons questions we are asked as we begin Church of the Good Shepherd:

    1) "What does Anglican mean?"  

    2) "Why plant an Anglican Church in East Davie County?"

    Lately, I've come across two articles online that are great answers to these questions.  If you've ever wondered, about either of these, click on the questions below:

    - What does Anglican mean? 

    - Why plant Anglican Churches? 





  • Why Church Planting?

    One question that I get from time to time is: "Why are you planting another church in area that already has so many churches?"  My brother who lives in Boston, the least churched city in the county, often asks me why I'm planting in the South.  My friends who are foreign missionaries in places where there are no Christians except missionaries themselves ask me why I'm planting in North America.  And my friends here North Carolina ask why we are planting in Davie County of all places.  

    So, what do I say when I'm asked these questions?  

    My first response is this:  God has called us here, and it is not our place to question his reasons why.  We will not use logic or statistics or even need to propel us to ignore God's calling.  

    My second response stems from the name of our church, Church of the Good Shepherd.  Every where you go there are people who are "like sheep without a Shepherd," and often they are not the people you'd think.  Sometimes they are successful in the eyes of the world, sometimes they have great families, great work-ethics, and live relatively clean lives.  Sometimes they live in the right neighborhoods and have many enviable gifts.  But often times, such people are nagged by a question that will just not go away:  "Why?" 

    The question often goes unspoken until times of crisis, but when it is articulated it can look like this:  "Why am I doing all this work?  Why does it matter if I succeed or not?  Why do I love my kids so much and want this same life for them... so that they themselves will only wonder what's so important about it anyway?"

    The reality is that our lives are meaningful and they do matter.  The work we do, whether it is called successful or mundane, is important and God values it.  But these things are only understood in light of Jesus.  Only when we fully understand the importance of who He is and what He has done do we understand the answer to the deepest, longing-filled questions of our lives.  And here's the shocking truth:  the only place where this understanding can be gained is through the Church, with other people who have found by this truth as well.  

    So why are we planting?  In Davie County there are many folks who are searching, though they may not even know they are.  And for about 100-200 of these kind of people, people like me and you, God has called Church of the Good Shepherd into existence.  He has sent us to plant this church for those people, and for our own sake as well.  

    P.S.  There are MANY other good reasons why planting churching is important.  We would refer you to the following article if you'd like to read more:

    Why_Plant_Churches.pdf





  • The Heart of a Shepherd

    Have you ever wondered what God is like?  This, of course, is a big question, one that no human mind can fully grasp, but thankfully God has told us part of what He is like through his Holy Scriptures.

    Our Church is called "Church of the Good Shepherd," and includes a term that hardly ever comes up in daily conversation:  "shepherd."  But while we don't talk about shepherds a whole lot these days, the Bible is filled with them, and the concept of the shepherd is one that God uses to tell us something about himself.    In the future on this blog we will look at two passages of Scripture that can tell us what it means that God is the Shepherd of his people (Psalm 23 and John 10), but before we do that, I want to talk about one way God has made for us to experience his "shepherdness" on a daily basis.  God has given us pastors and priests to show us what it means to be shepherded by Him (1 Peter 5:1-5).  As a priest, I can tell you that we fail so much.  But as a priest, I can tell you that also that by the grace of God, most pastors and priests have God's heart for his people, that though we fail to love perfectly, God has given us a piece of his heart, as it were, to love his people with.  

    I can think of no better place where this heart is expressed than in the priest's ordination service for the Anglican Church.  In this service the Bishop, as a fellow elder and a representative of the whole Church, offers the following exhortation (this is a small part of it): 

    "...Now again we exhort you, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you remember how dignified and important is your calling: to be a messenger, watchman, and steward of the Lord; to teach and to warn, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family; and to seek for Christ’s lost sheep, his children in the midst of this fallen world, that they may be saved by him forever.

    Always remember, therefore, how great a treasure is the congregation committed to your charge. They are the sheep of Christ, which he bought with his death, and for whom he shed his blood.  The Church and congregation you will serve is his bride, his body.  And if it should happen that the Church, or any member thereof, is hurt or hindered by your negligence, you know the significance of your fault, and the grievous judgment that will follow. For this reason never cease to labor, with care and diligence, until you have done all that you are able, according to the promises you make, to bring those committed to your charge into that unity in the faith and knowledge of God, and to maturity and fullness in Christ, that there might be no place left among you either for error in religion, or for persistently indulging the vices of life.

    Be mindful, however, that you cannot do this on your own; for the will and the ability is given by God alone. Therefore you ought, and need, to pray earnestly for his Holy Spirit. And seeing that there are no other means to accomplish such an important work, as it pertains to the salvation of souls;   consider how studiously you ought to read and learn the Scriptures, and conduct yourself, your household, and all those committed to your care, according to its rule, to be a wholesome and godly example for your people to follow. For this reason, you ought to forsake and set aside all worldly cares and concerns as much as you are able."

    Perhaps you've wondered: "What is my pastor supposed to be doing?"  Or maybe you've had ideas of your own about what you think a pastor should be doing.  At Church of the Good Shepherd, both Fr. Keith and myself see this exhortation as being in perfect accord with the teachings of Scripture on the pastoral office, and we seek to live our lives according to this exhortation.  If you want to know what we are supposed to do, just re-read that exhortation above.    

    Perhaps you've wondered: "What does my pastor think about me?" Know this, beloved Christian:  We love you with God's love.  Yes, we are sinful men, and yes, we love imperfectly, but as men charged by God to care for your souls, we seek to teach you God's Word, root-out the sin your heart, take away the doubts you have towards the Gospel, in order that you may be saved as God's own forever, being an ambassador of Christ all your days.   The church given to our care is on our hearts, and this region God has sent us to is in our prayers.

    This is a snapshot of the Shepherd's heart.  


     

  • The Cure for a Cold Heart

    I've been reading Paul Tripp's book A Dangerous Calling, and I would heartily recommend it for all pastors or anyone who does a lot of ministry.  It has been for me a call back to the gospel, deliverance from making ministry about me, from making it an idol.  Here, Tripp reminds his readers of the remedy of this tendency to make ministry about building the kingdom of self:


    "... The biggest protection against the kingdom of the self is not a set of self-reformative defensive strategies.  It's a heart that is blown away by the right-here, right-now glories of the grace of Jesus Christ that we're not easily seduced by the lesser temporary glories of that claustrophobic kingdom of one, the kingdom of self."  (Tripp, A Dangerous Calling, p. 102)

    So, this leads me to the question:  how do I point my heart (as much as I can) to the glories of the grace of Jesus Christ?  How do I "behold" these things? (2 Cor 3:18)

    John Piper, in his honest book When I Don't Desire God, tells us what we should already know.  The key to hearing from God, to seeing him, is not what many of us would expect.   Sometimes, we are like Naaman in 2 Kings 5: We are willing to something extraordinary to encounter God, but we are not willing to the simple things he asks.  (Sometimes, the more basic steps require us to have more faith in Him.)   The cure for our hardness of heart is not flashy.

    When our heart is cold, we go to the places where God has promised to meet us:  his Church, his Word, his Table, in prayer.

    Every Sunday there is a feast for our souls in these things, and every day God is ready to meet us in the following ways.  Christians in the past called these "the means of grace":
    • His Church reminds us that beholding the glories of Christ is not something we do alone.  His Church puts the goodness of God on display through love, through devotion, through the gifts the Holy Spirit gives to each of us, through the image of God being renewed in the Church.  (2 Cor 3:18; Eph 4:1ff)
    • His Word speaks to us in ways we cannot quite understand.  God uses his Scriptures to teach us, to rebuke us when we've lost our way, to show us how to life (2 Tim 3:16-17).  God uses his Scriptures to reveal himself to us, to show us how life really is, contrary to the version of how the world works that we hear in our own hearts and in the world around us (John 17:17).  
    • His Table on Sunday mornings is where we are fed by him with spiritual food (beyond our understanding) and where we have an experience of his presence by faith (1 Cor 10:3; 10:16; John 6).  
    • Prayer is a great mystery where we meet God and talk to him.  It takes faith to believe God hears.  So, we come to Him with faith, and we speak.... to God Himself. 
    So, pastor and Christian, do you need to find yourself need to be "blown away" by the grace of God? Have you turned the Church, the Bible, the Lord's Table and prayer into a daily "to-do" or a means to get lesson plans or a way to minister to others?  Have you forgotten that in these things the Living God is made manifest?  

    Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
    we thine unworthy servants 
    do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
    for all thy goodness and loving-kindness
    to us and to all men.
    We bless thee for our creation, preservation,
    and all the blessings of this life;
    but above all for thine inestimable love
    in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
    for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
    And, we beseech thee,
    give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
    that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful;
    and that we show forth thy praise,
    not only with our lips, but in our lives,
    by giving up our selves to thy service,
    and by walking before thee
    in holiness and righteousness all our days;
    through Jesus Christ our Lord,
    to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit,
    be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.






  • Pictures from the Christmas Caroling at WinMock

    At our Christmas Caroling party at WinMock on Dec. 9th (2012), we were blessed to have professional photography Megan Gioeli take pictures for the event.  Here are the shots she took.  If you were there, maybe there's a picture of you that you'd like to download for free!  

    Click here to download. 







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