Monthly Archives: April 2011

Spring Youth Retreat Highlights

Our All Saints Church youth spent the first weekend of April at Caswell Beach with over four hundred other youth from around the state!

 The theme of the Spring Youth Retreat was Going Deeper and the students were challenged to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus and be more bold as ambassadors of Jesus in their everyday lives. It was a great weekend! It was spiritually powerful as we were challenged by the speaking and we grew closer to each other as a community as we spent time together talking and laughing as well.

 The youth also enjoyed meeting new friends from around the state, exploring the historic forts at Caswell, playing on the beach, meeting in small groups, playing some crazy games, consuming $30 worth of candy on the ride home, and growing closer together as a group.

Praise God for a great Spring retreat. We are blessed with awesome youth at All Saints!

On the way home, youth shared about their experiences.  In their own words…

My favorite part of the retreat was…

  •  Swimming at the beach 
  • Joking around with the other youth – particularly the Soviet Russia Jokes!
  • Spending time learning about God
  • The free time at the beach with friends and getting to know people better. I enjoyed exploring the forts.
  • A few of the girls and I were exploring the forts and we found a tunnel that was pitch black. We decided to go down it. We thought it went longer than it did and suddenly we ran into a boulder.  But we went down that tunnel and Thomas didn’t.  He was too scared!
  • Digging a hole so deep that I found water
  • Exploring the old forts.
  • Playing dodgeball.
  • The travel time in the van.
  • When we went to the beach and Nathanial and William were making a sand castle and I was helping Glorianna bury herself and building the tower for Mina
  • The small group time and having the opportunity to meet new people and hear them articulate their faith.
  • Growing closer to God.
This weekend I learned…
  • A lot about outreach and sand castle building. I also got to know the other youth a lot better
  • That bringing the Word to people who haven’t heard the gospel is really an easy task, but we must have the strength and perseverance to go beyond that which we  know and are comfortable.
  • Not to address my conflicts through anger.
  • God wants us to do things in this world to share his love
  • No matter what you do God will always love you.
  • That your position in life greatly affects your view of God
  • I want to be someone who helps others and makes a difference.
  • That God calls us to walk far out of our comfort zone.
  • That we really need to give everything over to God – even our plans – and that may be hard for me
  • That you should follow your dreams and try to make them a reality, but be open and let  God work through you.
  • That God created me this way, and he doesn’t make junk
  • That no matter what people say or think about me I am unique and beautiful because  God made me  and God does not make mistakes.

Please pray for our youth:
God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-Rev. Thomas Kortus

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Easter Monday

The Pentecost - Oil/Canvas (20" x 26")

The Pentecost. Oil/Canvas. Alexander Sadoyan.

I was struck today by the craziness of the first Christian sermon, preached by Peter in Acts 2 (a portion of which assigned for today in the Daily Office, hence this post’s title), especially as I tried to imagine myself as one of the original hearers.

The scene is the day of Pentecost, and the reason you are in earshot of Peter’s sermon is that you were curious when you heard stormy winds that seemed to be coming from inside a nearby house.  You come and join the crowd forming around the house, and then you recognize the place.  It’s that house where about 100 people have locked themselves up after the crucifixion of their false Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

In the time since Jesus’ death, hardly anyone has gone in or out of the building, and the rumors about what they might be doing inside are getting more bizarre by the day.  Still, the sound of a typhoon coming from the upstairs of the building, is beyond the explanation of even the wildest rumors that have been going around.

Some of the people standing next to you begin to snicker about how the sound must just be a loud party, and now that the guy who seems to be the leader of them and is beginning to speak is the drunkest of all.  Internally, however, you begin to wonder if it’s you who are drunk.  You seem to be hearing this man’s voice speaking in the language of your home country, your trade, and your religion, three different languages at the same time, saying the same thing, uttered from a single mouth, and he seems to be talking about God, the Spirit of God, and this Jesus.

Not only is he saying that the recently crucified blasphemer was killed, but now he is blaming you for it.  You start to get angry on that point, and so does the crowd around you.  Many of you only heard about the guy after the fact.  Why is he blaming you?

But then the speaker starts making even more audacious claims.  First, he says that this whole thing, even Jesus’ horrific execution, has been according to God’s plan, and that God raised Jesus from the dead.  And though you don’t catch it at first, it becomes clear that he is even saying that Jesus is God, and that King David had prophesied about the whole thing a thousand years before.

This is not a tame sermon.   It is a sermon to which you find yourself responding despite yourself.

“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.  David said about him:

‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.  But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.  Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.  God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.

-Rev. Nick Jordan

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Easter Day

Collect of the Day
We praise you, O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross. By his glorious resurrection he delivered us from the power of sin, death and Satan and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the Lord’s resurrection today, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Jeremiah 31:7-14
Colossians 3:1-4
John 20:1-18

Message: “The Resurrection Current” by Rev. Steve Breedlove
(Click here for sermon audio.)

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Snake Bit! (Part 2 of 2)

I received another email (the first part of this post is here) about the sermon yesterday, for which I am also grateful, but which also calls for comment.  The writer thanked me for the message, and then gave me additional information about the life of Robertson McQuilkin that corrects things I said in my closing illustration.  The correct facts are even more beautiful than the mistaken ones I gave.

When Muriel McQuilkin was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Robertson was president of Columbia International University, a critical leadership position in a rapidly-growing school with a strong witness for Christ.   His writing and speaking ministries were taking off.  However, Dr McQuilkin made the decision to step down as president in order to personally care for his wife.  (At that point in time, she still knew him and was able to communicate with him.) His close friends did not urge him to divorce Muriel (as I thought): they urged him to put her in an institution and remain as president of CIU, continuing his important work for the cause of Christ.

I think we can all see the temptation, even the logic, that McQuilkin faced.  However, in his own prayers and convictions, he believed he only had one choice.  His statement was, “Anyone can be the president of Columbia International, but I am the only person who can be Muriel McQuilkin’s husband.”

Later he wrote a book about his experiences, A Promise Kept.  I haven’t read it, but the writer of the email says it is a book that every engaged couple ought to read.  She goes on to quote John 15: “No greater love is this, than that a man lay down his life for a friend.”

I thank BOTH emailers for helping me be a better communicator!  It is great to be a part of the Body of Christ at All Saints!

-Rev. Steve Breedlove

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Snake Bit! (Part 1 of 2)

Yesterday, Palm Sunday, was a particularly rich day of worship at All Saints.  Gathering outside under a beautiful sky, joyously processing as a church, marking the shift to the sobriety of Holy Week, the profound reading of the entire passion narrative from Matthew, the enthusiastic singing – it was a great time worshipping the Lord.  I also particularly enjoyed the opportunity to explore the texts from Isaiah 50 and Philippians 2, reflecting on why Christ was able to move “with his face like flint” into the pain and suffering of the events that followed the Triumphal Entry.  He walked this path because of obedience, trust and love.  He obeyed the will of the Father, which led him to the cross,  because he was sustained by deep trust in the Father.  His love for us was so great that he became a bondservant on our behalf, bearing the eternal scars of his commitment to serve us.

Christ’s obedience, trust and love stirs up worship and awe.  It also calls me to follow suit in my own life.

As a preacher, I’m always searching for relevant examples and applications for the points I make in messages.  After the service, I received an email from one of the people helping plant the new church in Chatham County.  My call to follow the example of Jesus, “obeying the clear voice of the Lord as we walk into the dark” (Isaiah 50:10), trusting God to vindicate us and protect us (believing that the Lord has our back), spoke to her powerfully as she contemplates the risk of planting a new church.

I am so thankful for the email – and  thankful for the reminder of a terrific illustration of obedience, trust and love that leads to radical risk and sacrifice.

There is a strong sense that God is calling a vibrant, theologically sound Anglican church into existence to proclaim Christ and serve people in Chatham County.  But as clearly as the Lord seems to be speaking, it is definitely a walk of faith into the unknown.  Everyone involved, especially David & Martha Hyman, is being called to great trust in God.  Planting this church will require significant sacrifice – sacrifice appropriate to a bondservant “who bears the life-long scars of love.”   The people forming Holy Trinity-Chatham are binding themselves in love to their community.

There is a risk of obedience for All Saints as well.  The math doesn’t work out to plant a church this early in our life.  Losing such dear people who have invested their lives in our church and served so profoundly is hard.  These are not sideliners in the life of All Saints, and we’re certainly going to feel it!

But together – All Saints and Holy Trinity – recognize the hand of God and hear the voice of God.  We walk into risk, as bondservants for the sake of those who do not yet know him.

I am praying already that God will bring many new people to faith in both places, that this birth will spawn a wave of births – of people coming to faith and growing as eager followers of Jesus.

Pray with our staff, vestry, the folks from Chatham, and me, that we will see the fruit of faith and obedience in many, many ways in the lives of people in our neighboring communities.

-Rev. Steve Breedlove

(read the continuation of this post here)

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Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday

Liturgy of the Palms Reading – Matthew 21:1-11

Collect of the Triumphal Entry
It is right to praise you Almighty God, for the acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. On this day he entered into the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph, and was proclaimed as King of kings by those who spread their garments and branches of palms along his way. Let these branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life; who lives and reigns in glory with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Collect of the Passion
Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Isaiah 50:4-9a
Philippians 2:5-11
Matthew 26:14-27:66

Message: “Into Our Shame” by Rev. Steve Breedlove
(Audio of the message is available here.)

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Reading for Transformation

By now, you have likely seen in the KNN or heard during announcements that there is a group of folks reading through some important books with the shared goal of transformation.  We desire (and it’s the Spirit’s desire in us) to have our hearts transformed to love our local community (our neighbors) with Christ’s heart, and to have our church transformed to see the world with God’s eyes and hope for the world with God’s heart.

Because this is intended to be an OPEN GROUP, this blog is a great place to share some of the picture that’s forming.  Below are some excerpts from this month’s recap.  (Contact Rev. Steve Breedlove if you’d like to be on that email list!):

Great conversation tonight! I have attached the notes so that you can get a picture — but in summary, it was terrific to see how God has been moving for months at Oak Creek Village through the prayers and work of people at All Saints, Good Shepherd, and the Gathering. What has become a dominant aspect of our outreach is part of a much larger move of God to serve this community with the love of Christ.

As you read through, the are several concrete action items I want to highlight:

  1. There are many ways to get involved already. Contact Thomas Kortus if you want to help.
  2. We want to generate more information and more prayer. Thomas & Steve will be working on that.
  3. We want to see a prayer focus, perhaps a prayer walk, on a monthly basis. This could be part of a small group effort, or it could be its own thing. Paul Marvin is on this, along with Joe Adelman.
  4. There is interest in creating a small group, that has the regular ministries of a 242 group, but whose primary focus is outreach to OCV. This is Joe & Terri Adelman’s heart and prayer

If any of these things connect with you, please take the initiative. And beyond these things…there are many other issues that could get kicked up.

We’ll meet May 2 and begin discussing Andy Crouch’s book, Culture Making. Read as much as you can. Charles has done a great job of facilitating the discussion, and we may be able to induce him to continue. But if there’s someone else with an interest in leading the conversation on Crouch’s book, let me know.

Thanks for all the interest and prayers. I am genuinely excited about God’s stirring us and uniting us in mission and outreach for Christ’s sake.

Love in Christ,

As Steve says above, our next meeting is at the church on Monday, May 2.  We will be meeting from 7:30-9:15pm, and we will be discussing Andy Crouch’s Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling.  We’d love to have you!

(Note: Contact info for the folks above can be found here and here.)

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Fifth Sunday in Lent

Collect for the Day
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Ezekiel 37:1-14
Romans 8:1-11
John 11:17-27

Message: “The Deep Work of Lent” by Rev. Steve Breedlove
(Click here for sermon audio.)

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Fourth Sunday in Lent

Collect of the Day
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalm 119:97-105
Ephesians 5:6-14
John 3:1-17

Message by The Most Reverend Hector “Tito” Zavala,
Archbishop of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America

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what happened on the cross…

I was stopped in my tracks by these words penned by the 8th century monk John of Damascus.  He is said to be the last of the Church Fathers.

How often the cross becomes a worn-out and shallow symbol of my faith; something so central and so present that I no longer see it and comprehend what it means to me and to the world. Allow these words to redefine the way we think of the cross – they did that to me:

By nothing else except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ has death been brought low:

The sin of our first parent destroyed,
hell plundered,
resurrection bestowed,
the power given us to despise the things of this world,
even death itself,
the road back to the former blessedness made smooth,
the gates of paradise opened,
our nature seated at the right hand of God,
and we made children and heirs of God.

By the cross all these things have been set aright… It is a seal that the destroyer may not strike us,

a raising up of those who lie fallen,
a support for those who stand,
a staff for the infirm,
a crook for the shepherded,
a guide for the wandering,
a perfecting of the advanced,
salvation for soul and body,
a deflector of all evils,
a cause of all goods,
a destruction of sin,
a plant of resurrection,

and a tree of eternal life.

( John of Damascus, Orthodox Faith,4)

Praise the Father for the giving on his Son. Praise Jesus for his obedience – submitting to death on a cross. Praise the Spirit for making all that was accomplished on the cross ours – for making us God’s children and heirs by faith in Jesus.

May our utter need for God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit  – be ever-present to us and may the richness of his favor and grace, made known to us on the cross, fill us with overflowing joy and gratitude. AMEN.
May the reality of the cross of Christ be made known to you this Lenten season,
Thomas Kortus

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