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March 17, 2015, 10:40 AM

Lenten Reflection

Happy are they who consider the poor and needy! ~ Psalm 41:1

As we move through Lent towards our Diocesan convention theme: "Three Persons: One God - Three Streams: One Church," I see some insights from our scripture readings for today that show how the three persons of the Trinity and the streams of the church compliment each other in unity. In Hebrews we hear: "For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father." In the Gospel of John we have Jesus miraculously turning water into wine, perhaps foreshadowing its sacramental overtones; at a wedding no less! But primarily in considering these themes my thoughts go back to the Emerging Leaders in Healing conference that was held at our CTK Spiritual Life Center around 2005. I remember Francis MacNutt at that conference talking about the three types of churches we are exploring as three themes - Evangelical churches that emphasize Holy scripture, Catholic churches that emphasize the sacraments, and Pentecostal/ Charismatic churches that emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit. In his talk, Francis added a fourth stream - churches that emphasize helping the poor. These are churches that are built around social justice type of concerns as their primary emphasis - clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and healing the sick.

But there are only three members of the Trinity, so where might we map the helping the poor stream? While recognizing the inadequacy of any Trinitarian model that seeks to isolate the persons of the Trinity, such a mapping might be useful in gaining understanding. If perhaps we consider the Holy Spirit is the main patron of Charismatic Churches, Jesus the focus of the sacramental stream, and the Father the main driver for Evangelicals, where would we put the social justice stream? My view is that all three contribute to this stream as a destination - the goal, the direction to which they strive. As Jesus tells us in his Manifesto:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord (Holy Spirit) is on me, because the Lord (Father) has anointed me (Jesus)to proclaim good news to the poor. (The Mission) Isaiah 61:1

Helping the poor is the destination as the Source - the Father, moves through His Son - Jesus, by the Power of the Holy Spirit! The streams cannot fulfill their calling without moving with each other, and none of them fulfill their purpose unless their destination is helping the poor, healing the sick, setting the captives free. Helping the poor is not so much the way they move, or the source from which they draw power, but rather the consummation of their ministry.

I remember at the end of his talk during the conference someone asked Francis what to call that group that likes to help the poor. "We have the Evangelicals that love Scripture, the Sacramental Churches that love the sacraments, and the Charismatics that love the Holy Spirit. What do you call these people that are driven to help the poor?" "I call them Christians" said Francis. Amen! And this Lent and beyond may we move in an Evangelical, Sacramental, Spirit Filled Church that binds up the broken hearted, sets the captives free, and preaches good news to the poor. May the river of Jesus flow from its source in our Father, by the water of the Spirit to the destination of Social Justice: nothing short of transformation of our world into the New Creation! In Jesus Name! Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, from age to age. Amen. Amen. Psalm 41:13

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January 11, 2015, 10:00 AM

Why Alpha?

The Alpha course is framed around questions.  "Who is Jesus?" , "Why should I pray?", "Does God heal?"...  Questions that are essential to the Christian faith, but also it provides a context where it's safe for people to address the deep questions of life, like "Why am I here?",  "Does God exist?",  and if so "Does God care?" - "Why is there so much suffering and pain?"...

Stephanie and I first took Alpha 15 years ago when we moved to the area, and we found ourselves overwhelmed trying to juggle a growing family, demanding jobs, grad school, and the standard pressures of life.  We had been raised in the church, and were fairly regular in attendance, but it was more a part of our culture or habit than an essential, life giving support for our lives.  We had questions and doubts, and didn't generally feel safe voicing them in a church setting.  So we lingered on year to year, stuck in a sort of luke warm faith, wondering if it was even true.

That all changed the first night of Alpha, when the speaker had the courage to ask the question we had buried deep inside:  "is it True?"  "is Christianity True?" And followed it up with the reality that if it's true it's pretty important; and if it's not true it's not important at all.  What is the meaning of life?  We decided it was worth investing 10 weekday evenings to explore our faith in this friendly, fun, low pressure environment.
Since then we've seen our own faith and the faith of countless other people come alive and grow through more than 20 alpha courses we've been blessed to be a part of over the past 15 years.  In our home, at 4 different churches, through training tens of other area churches of all denominations, even in my corporate workplace we've personally seen Jesus touch hundreds of lives through this course.  It's the best way of introducing people to Jesus I'm aware of in our age.

Beyond the main purpose of growing faith, I love Alpha because it grows healthy Christian leaders.  Those participating on team for Alpha become effective facilitators, compassionate small group leaders, people capable of having great impact on this earth for Jesus.
Our neighbors and friends are struggling with so many pressures of life.  We have the opportunity to introduce them to Jesus, the author and source of life!  So I hope you'll Come and See what Alpha is all about.  The first session of the course - "Who Is Jesus?" Starts this coming Thursday with a free supper at 6:15pm in the parish hall.  Bring your friends to Come and See!



04-01-2014 at 7:07 AM
Scott Evans
Thanks Luke and Dad! I love Thoreau! And Chocolate! Blessings!
03-03-2014 at 7:38 PM
Luke Suda
Why Lent:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
Henry David Thoreau
03-01-2014 at 8:29 PM
Jack Evans
great article on Lent Scott.. Bring on the chocolate.
The Alpha article is excellent.
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December 19, 2014, 6:00 PM

Why Christmas?

When I first came aboard the submarine USS CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI (SSN 705) as a young Ensign there wasn’t room in the officers quarters for me to “get my own rack” right away, so I was temporarily housed in the extra bunk in the XO’s stateroom until a berth opened up.  I was a little overwhelmed to be in such close contact with someone of such great authority. 

The XO position on the submarine is second in command.  He is the interface to the captain, and the administrative head of the ship.  If we wanted to force the submarine into a Trinitarian context, the XO would be the second person of the submarine Godhead, along with the Captain (the Father figure) and the Engineer (Holy Spirit who keeps everything running).  A distorted Trinitarian analogy I know – but aren’t they all?   Some of it works: the XO as the Jesus figure is the gateway to the captain – nothing gets to the captain without going through the XO.   The XO, captain and Engineer all worked quite seamlessly together, different people but one command. 

The XO’s role during an emergency is truly Christ like.  I remember one mid watch while we were asleep an alarm sounded and the XO prepared himself to go back aft to where the casualty occurred.  It was then that I saw so powerfully the amazing role he had.   The XO’s job during a casualty on the submarine was to go right to the scene of the problem to be the man in charge.  There is a watertight door that separates the forward compartment from the engine-room on a 688 attack sub – and if possible the XO had to open the water tight door, go back into the mess he was supposed to oversee combatting, and close the door behind him.  In some scenarios it could mean the man’s death – various films have graphically depicted this risk.  The XO was charged with leaving the safety of the forward compartment and going right into the danger, taking charge of the mess with the hope of making it right, even if it meant sacrificing his life.  Thankfully everything turned out just fine in this particular case I am remembering. 

Kind-of a strange analogy to bring up in a post entitled “Why Christmas?” I know.  But that is the best way I can describe what Jesus has done.  Our world is fallen – melting down if you will – sinking.  The alarm has been sounded and God has heard our cry.  Through Jesus, God himself chooses to be born right into the very mess – vulnerable, naked, without protection – he ventures beyond the watertight door.  The ship of mankind is saved at the expense of our leader himself leaving the safety and blessing of His Fathers' side and coming right into the tragedy to make it right. 

“Why Christmas?”  To save us! To stop the meltdown of society!  To heal the brokenness of our world and our relationships.  

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again”

  John 3:16-17 Message Version

We can be commissioned into and support the recovery effort by listening to His commands, training under His guidance, Following His example.   Rest easy my shipmates – Jesus is at the scene and He is the man in charge!  We’ll get a chance to follow Him through the rescue effort in the coming months as we try to comprehend the damage and suffering He endures for us on our behalf on Good Friday.  But for now, lets be amazed that we have been invited to share his cabin and know him personally. 

Oh Come Let Us Adore Him, Oh Come let us Adore Him, Oh Come let us adore Him – Christ the Lord!

Merry Christmas Everyone!


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September 13, 2014, 1:00 PM

Why Healing?

The name Jesus means “The Lord Heals,” sometimes also translated “The Lord Saves”, or “The Lord Delivers.”  The name of Jesus is all about healing.   Many years ago I was being interviewed by the board of elders (our Standing committee) for ordination and one of the elders asked “what if a church you are sent to is not open to healing?”  My response was – “I see all of it as healing ministry.  Salvation is healing ministry.  Sanctification is healing ministry.  What’s left to do if a church isn’t open to healing?”

Yet sadly “Healing Ministry” can sometimes cause people concern.  Some healing and deliverance ministries have lacked balance, or left people feeling rejected by God when full healing doesn’t take place.  But to not engage in healing ministry is to deny the charge Jesus gave all of his disciples to heal the sick.  So how are we to navigate this amazing opportunity to enter into the task Jesus himself spent much of his earthly ministry engaged in while providing safety and balance.   Here are three things I think can help us:

1.  Cultivate a sound biblical theology of healing.

There are real biblical issues to tackle when launching out into healing ministry – the problem of evil, the problem of suffering, the goodness of God, the omnipotence of God.   “Why does God allow me to be sick in the first place?  Does he not want to heal me?  Is he not capable? 

The concept that has helped me the most in reconciling these issues is the idea of “Already but not yet”, which is dealt with well in NT Wright’s book “Surprised by Hope.”  The concept is that as God’s word promises, we are heading towards a resurrected, “New Jerusalem” condition of total healing, where there is no more crying, no more pain (Revelation 21:4).  It’s clear when we look at our world that we are “Not Yet” in this “Age to come. “ But with Jesus victory on the cross, we are “Already” in the age when victory over evil is assured, and the process of God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven is underway, which will culminate when Jesus comes again.    Jesus demonstration of the Kingdom of Heaven, by healing the sick, casting out demons, making the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, was a foretaste of the New Jerusalem.  Our opportunity is to enter into His ministry and ask Him for more.  I wrote a song about this concept you can find here

When we are bringing people to Jesus for healing we are not asking something strange from a powerless God that is unwilling but rather aligning ourselves with the will of an awesome God that wants more than anything to make His people and His creation whole.   We don’t understand His timing or many other issues involved, but  in understanding His character, His desire to heal we can always ask for More Already, Less not yet. 

2.  Operate in a healthy community with checks and balances. 

One risk that can derail healthy healing ministry is to put ourselves in a “One Up” position on other people or to act in some other toxic way – for example betraying confidences or putting guilt or shame on a person.  When healing ministry occurs in the presence of a loving community that is not striving but rather listening to the Holy Spirit so we can bring people to Jesus to be healed we provide safety. 

3.  Seek our own healing and become trained to safely help with Jesus healing others.

To this end we are offering a class on Healing Prayer starting this Wednesday, September 17th at All Saints that will run throughout the fall. This training from Francis and Judith MacNutt at Christian Healing Ministries is the best I’ve found at sound biblical, balanced, and loving healing ministry that teaches us to bring people to Jesus to be made whole through the power of the Holy Spirit.    During this course we will gain biblical understanding, form a loving community and undergo our own individual healing as we learn how to intercede for others.  Please consider joining us in this training. 

Why Healing?  Healing is the point!  Healing may not always happen instantly, or even in our lifetime.  But the character of God – the name of Jesus, is all about making our world and each of us whole.  I pray we will experience more of Jesus saving, delivering, healing power Already this season as we Bring People to Jesus!  Let us grow in our ability to enter into this ministry for His Glory. 

Praise Jesus!


“and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”  Luke 9:2


July 14, 2014, 10:00 PM

Bringing People to Jesus!

For over 15 years our diocesan slogan for the Episcopal Diocese Albany has been “Disciples making Disciples.” I love this slogan but I confess I’ve long thought it was redundant.  Making disciples is what disciples do!  If a disciple of Jesus is not growing as a disciple and contributing to making new disciples, then they aren’t disciples in the first place.   But now that I find myself Priest in Charge of a 122-year-old church plant I understand the wisdom of simple slogans in focusing, reinforcing and highlighting what is essential.  Many a church exists where being a disciple is not really emphasized, much less making new ones.  Reinforcing the core of our purpose is smart!  So with humility I’d like to talk in this blog about our slogan, mission statement, and vision for All Saints Round Lake:  Bringing People to Jesus!

You might argue that this, like the diocesan slogan, is redundant.  Bringing people to Jesus is what churches do.  If a church is not bringing people to Jesus then they aren’t really a Christian church at all.  And yet there is beauty and power in this simple statement that captures what we are about at All Saints and what our mission is moving forward.  Here are three things I love about our slogan.

  1. It is action oriented.  To bring is to accompany someone on a journey – to come with them.  It implies outreach in a non-threatening way – keeps our focus looking outward while bounding it to some extent.  We don’t coerce people to Jesus, or alternatively sit by ourselves in a Holy Huddle enjoying a closed social club.  We simply invite people to “come and see” and gently lead/accompany them on their journey in whatever non-pressurized but effective way we can.
  2. It models both both Healing Ministry and Evangelism.  When someone comes for healing prayer during communion we ask – “What would you like Jesus to do for you?” and do our best to bring the person and their concerns to Jesus to be healed.  Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother Brought Him to Jesus with the simple invitation – Come and See!  It is the essential task of the church. 
  3. It centers on Jesus.  The name Jesus means “The Lord Heals.”  Sometimes translated “The Lord Saves,” or “The Lord Delivers.”  When we bring someone or their concern to Jesus we bring them to the one who can heal them, deliver them, save them.  The church and the mission belong to Jesus, and He gives us the awesome blessing and responsibility to enter into His work.  And our primary tasking in this is in bringing people to Him and doing what He asks us to do. 

The vision for All Saints Round Lake is a church that brings people to Jesus! If we are to accomplish this task we mush first go there ourselves.  What shall we bring to Jesus this day?  Who will you be bringing to Jesus at All Saints this week! 

May we be filled with the Holy Spirit and given power and wisdom to bring people to Him to be saved, healed and delivered!  It truly is in Jesus Name!


“And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.”  Luke 9:2

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