Friday Epistle – June 15, 2018

June 15th, 2018 by
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I greet you in the Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
Patsy and I are looking forward to our visit with you all Sunday and sharing what God is doing in Madagascar. There are many exciting things happening with God’s people in Madagascar and many lessons we can learn from them. One of the biggest lessons we have learned is being people reaching people – witnessing and sharing God’s love. The Malagasy people are great at doing this. Over the past 11 years we have seen tremendous spiritual growth as we have gone from 11 churches to
92 churches.
We look forward to meeting you and sharing God’s word together Sunday. May God bless you abundantly.
Serving Christ Together,
Todd McGregor
Diocesan Bishop
Diocese of Toliara
MADAGASCAR

Men’s Retreat

May 21st, 2018 by

 

The 2018 Men’s Retreat at New Covenant Anglican Church was an exciting and uplifting gathering of about 45 men who were seeking the Holy Spirit as a greater friend in their lives. Men came from different walks of life including Bishop Godfrey from Tanzania. We saw short film clips of Bishops William, Michael and Godfrey speaking about times that they have seen the Holy Spirit at work in their lives. In addition to a great breakfast provided by Rob Beckman, Dave Ruddell, Eardley Willock, and others, we also had a fantastic lunch provided by Susan Stephens. Canon James Kennaugh was the presenter and led many of us to a new way to encounter the Holy Spirit. John Stephens led worship and the worship team included Peter Buffington and Ethan Hunt. Below are some of the Highlights of the day:

 

We are in a war zone between Jesus and Satan. Good and Evil. Satan took dominion of the earth at the fall. Man obeyed Satan not God. Do you know what the will of the Father is for your life? If not, go on a spiritual journey with the Holy Spirit. We are soldiers in the war and must know our role in the war. New Covenant is a military base. Prayer is our weapon and we follow the Spirit as our lead for prayer. Expect God to bring healing, be spiritual in your expectations. The enlightenment made us secular beings and suppressed our spirits. Healing happens when we are spiritual. Sometimes the prayer is just Come Holy Spirit.

 

The coming of the spirit fills on the inside as well. Jesus came to die on the cross, reveal the heart of the Father, and to train a team to carry the spirit forward. All the miracles that Jesus performed can be described in the gifts of the spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 : “Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

 

Ezekiel 47 vision “The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”

 

This is a vision of the kingdom. How deep is your spiritual water?

 

Canon Andrew White, Anglican in Baghdad. God is raising Muslims from the dead. Jesus is giving them every chance.

 

The spirit has been working in our lives since birth. Grow into it. The Spirit is still growing. Holy Spirit is always present and working in our lives bringing everyone to Jesus. Be careful how you treat non Christians. The Holy Spirit is working in them now. As the Father has sent me I am sending you. The Final Command instead of The Great Commission. Disciples make disciples. Jesus came to provide life in its fullness. We all need to be healed and forgiven. Tears in the Holy Spirit is a release of pain.

 

1 Corinthians 2:11 ” For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.”

 

The Spirit is to understand God.  The world does not understand because it is not spiritual.

 

You can resist the Spirit. Physically, Emotionally, Spirituality.

 

Tale of Two wolves:

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice,

 

“Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.   But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger,for his anger will change nothing.  Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

 

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”  Do not feed the evil wolf.

 

There are Atmospheres where the kingdom is and is not. You can get slimed in a non kingdom atmosphere. You have to recognize attacks. You invite attack when you go to the temptation. Eph 4:23 “.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; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

 

Repentance is about doing a 180 on your thinking not just your sin. Do not live an offense, like the unforgiving servant. We have to let go of un-forgiveness. You have to hear the spirit in a still small voice so make sure nothing else inside you is screaming louder.

 

Put the kingdom first. Discover where Jesus is and what he is doing and go do it with him. Make sure you are prompted by the spirit before you pray or give comfort. The Spirit can be alive and well but the brain can be shot. Get comfortable with the spirit, not the physical because the Spirit is eternal.  We need intimacy in our worship and relationship with Jesus.

 

 

Phi 4:8 ” Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Think about these things. We are more likely to hear from the Spirit. Eyes focused on the kingdom in your life. You are called to be a priest in every situation. The marketplace is where the healing is. Don’t have to wait for church service. If a worldly person sees God manifested that is all that is needed.

 

 

Blessings to all,

Bill Stone

 

 

Easter Egg Hunt

March 30th, 2018 by

I have been asked many times over the last couple of weeks how the Early Egg Hunt went this year. Here is just a glimpse through the eyes of one young boy and a mom:

“Jesus is always with you and always listens to your prayers.”

One of our Easter Story Egg table leaders spoke these words of life to a young boy who shared about a hard family situation that he is currently in. She was in the midst of sharing the Easter story with him when he opened up about it. Beautiful words of hope for this boy in the midst of despair.

“This is the best Easter egg hunt my family has been to because we have had the chance to meet people from the community afterward!”

This second comment was made by a mom with two young kids. She was excited that there were activities after the egg hunt so that she could actually meet and get to know people from the community. Through the tangible environment that was created (great food, playground, Easter craft) people found more than just an egg hunt. They found a chance to get to know one another.

So much preparation from our church family goes into creating the tangible environment that spurs stories like these. Thank you for snapping eggs together, for bagging candy, for setting up tables and chairs, for grilling hot dogs and refilling drinks, for helping kids with Easter Story Egg sets, for welcoming families, for directing parking, for capturing the event in pictures, for praying, and so much more – all to share the joy of Easter!”

 

Friday Epistle – January 12, 2018

January 12th, 2018 by
Building His Kingdom 
 
        Last week we meditated on the baptism of Jesus at the river Jordan. This was his introduction to the people. At his baptism a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” After his baptism Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days where he fasted and was tempted by the enemy. Having overcome the enemy, Jesus was ready for his public ministry. His first priority was to make disciples. The followers of Jesus, or disciples, were the ones who brought the good news to the whole world.
       The Bible describes Christ’s kingdom as a building that is under  construction. St. Paul writes in the book of Ephesians, “God is building a home. He’s using us all-irrespective of how we got here-in what He is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now He’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day-a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home” (Ephesians 2:19-22, The Message).
       The process of building His kingdom will go on until He returns. You and I have the privilege of adding living stones to the building. Every person who puts their faith in Christ is being added to his kingdom. May the Lord help us to be involved in building His kingdom by introducing people to Him.
See you Sunday,
Ivan+

Friday Epistle for January 5, 2018

January 5th, 2018 by
“God saw that the light was good…” Genesis 1.4a
 
         As January begins, we have before us the open weeks and hours of another calendar year. While some dates and plans have been penciled in already, the wide open spaces in our planners allow us to take a moment to think afresh about our goals and priorities.
Epiphany comes to us as a perfect complement to this time of year. Picking up where the dozen days of Christmas come to their Magi-gifted conclusion, Epiphany is a spotlight to help us see the continuing wonder and the meaning of what it means to have God among us.
          If Christmas is the articulation of the doctrine of the Incarnation, “veiled in flesh the Godhead see,” the season of Epiphany is its application, showing us where and how the glories of the “Immanuel” make a difference to the expectant people of God. To the penitents standing on the banks of John’s Jordan, to the disciples who begin to follow him, to an unsuspecting couple whose wedding day has more guests than budget, and on and on to the Mount of Transfiguration.
         At each step, Epiphany asks us to look for the epiphany, or breakthrough where we can see the unveiled glory of Jesus Christ. The unveiling is always a gift of grace. No one has deduced and demanded the revelation of the Son of God. But God reveals Himself through Jesus, and Jesus reveals himself to be God to both Israel and the nations.
          This series of revelations or unveilings of Jesus’ identity and intentions often get described in terms of light coming into darkness. The Old Testament reading for Sunday takes us to Genesis and to the beginning for the beginning of a new year. It says that when God saw the light he created through his word, he saw that it was good. He takes it in, now actual and not just theoretical, and he evaluates it as being good.
          The Bible usually sees (ISWYDT) darkness as a problem or obstacle. It is sometimes a signifier of evil and danger, judgment, or undeveloped potential. John says that Jesus is the light who came into the world, and the darkness in the world was both powerless to overwhelm him and also unable to rightly perceive him. Darkness as enemy and darkness as disability.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1.5
As we begin a new year together, we are mindful that we all know someone who has not yet seen how good the light is. Maybe they’ve heard that it is, perhaps they’ve appreciated the positive effects in others, but they have not yet seen that it is good for themselves.
         Their own eyes and perhaps our unfocused vision as well, have so far missed the epiphany of the glorious Christ who shows his glory in such indirect ways, through baptism with sinners and service at a reception and compassion to those who do not yet see. In Israel and the nations. Jesus refracts his glory through the multifaceted and multi-fractured world so that the whole world might be illumined with the news of salvation.
         It’s not surprising that they cannot see. The Magi were just looking at the sky until the unforgettable star caught their eye. John was baptizing all who came until the heavens opened and the dove descended to the sound of heaven’s affirmation. The stewards in the kitchen were just filling water pots until the new wine spilled over and renewed the joy of the feast.
         Jesus is so patient and gracious to show himself to those who, for years before, and even halfway through, have no real idea he is even near them.
 
Join us tomorrow, Saturday January 6th at 9am for Holy Communion as we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and the arrival of the Magi, concluding the 12 days of Christmas with the sharing of good news with the nations.
 
Next Sunday, January 14th, we are beginning a new series at 9am on Sunday  mornings titled “Good News for the Neighborhood.”Sheryl Shaw, our Missions Pastor and Erica Stephenson, our Youth and Families Pastor will be leading this four week exploration into how you can bring the light of Christ and the good news to those within your circles and spheres of influence. This would be a great way to begin the new year.
This Sunday, January 7th, we will meet at 9am to look at the Breakthrough themes and emphases of Epiphany as a way to frame our approach to discipleship in dark places.
Jesus stands beside those whose eyes are closed with an extended hand and patient insistence that it is good to be in the light. Because at the hand of Jesus, light is not distant or abstract but personal and present.
            This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EltIpB4EtYUreminded me of the marvels of being able to see, and I think also of the perspective of Jesus towards those who cannot yet see. I know nothing about the non-profit organization highlighted here, so please don’t see this as an appeal for donations. I do see a story of two sisters who cannot see, and then they can.
            God can see that the light is good. We, by God’s grace, are seeing that the light is good. Epiphany is a great time to pray that others, closed off now in darkness, will come to see how good and bright the light of Jesus is.
See you Sunday,
Christopher+

Friday Epistle for December 29, 2017

December 29th, 2017 by
Christmas, a Family Affair on earth and in Heaven 
          This Sunday is known as the Holy Family Sunday, also as the Holy Name of Jesus Sunday (the presentation and naming of Jesus). It allows us a brief look into the Lord Jesus’ infancy and family life.
           Very little is Biblically reported to us about his infancy life, yet we know that our Lord lived a full human and family life with a father and a mother.
          If we could reflect on one or two aspects of this Sunday and its readings, I would suggest family and community life as an important vessel of the covenant between us and God. The Lord Jesus did not act alone; He belonged and depended on a family, a Community and a culture. True God and true Man He was.
Blessings,
Gabriel

Friday Epistle – December 15, 2017

December 15th, 2017 by
Accepting the Blessing
          Isaiah the prophet, who lived almost 700 years before Christ, prophesied more about Jesus than others. He prophesied about his birth (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7), His suffering (Isaiah 53) and even about John the baptizer who prepared the way for Him (Isaiah 40:3-5).
          Isaiah later prophesied that Messiah will give a crown of beauty instead of ashes, oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
       Jesus once entered the synagogue in his hometown where he was given a scroll to read (Luke 4). He opened the part where Isaiah had prophesied about him and read it. After reading he said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The people who heard this rejected him and tried to throw him off a cliff. He walked through them and went on his way.
          Today, we can decide to accept the blessings of Messiah or reject him. May the Lord help us to receive his blessings during this time of Advent and be a blessing to others as well.
Ivan+

Who will take the Son?

December 5th, 2017 by
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.
           When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
            About a month later, just before Christmas,
            There was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.
            He said, ‘Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly… He often talked about you, and your love for art.’ The young man held out this package. ‘I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.. ‘Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.’
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.
The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.
            On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. ‘We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?’
*There was silence…*
Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, ‘we want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.’
But the auctioneer persisted ‘Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?’
Another voice angrily. ‘We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandts. Get on with the Real bids!’
But still the auctioneer continued. ‘The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?’
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. ‘I’ll give $10 for the painting…’ Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.
            ‘We have $10, who will bid $20?’
‘Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.’
            The crowd was becoming angry.  They didn’t want the picture of the son.
They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.
The auctioneer pounded the gavel.. ‘Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!’
A man sitting on the second row shouted, ‘Now let’s get on with the collection!’
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. ‘I’m sorry, the auction is over.’
‘What about the paintings?’
‘I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will… I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings.
*The man who took the son gets everything*
God gave His son over 2,000 years ago to die on the Cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: ‘The Son, the Son, who’ll take the Son?’
*Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything*

*FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, WHO SO EVER BELIEVETH, SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE…THAT’S LOVE*

Author Unknown

African Family and Community Outreach Christmas Gift Sign up

December 1st, 2017 by

You sign up to here to bless an African family with a Christmas gift. Names, gender, and ages of each child have been provided for an age appropriate gift.  Gifts must be given no later than December 20. If have any questions, please contact Sheryl Shaw at 407-699-0202

A Couple of Reflections on Humility

November 3rd, 2017 by

From Sunday’s gospel, Matthew 23.11-12.

 

“The greatest among you will be your servant.  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

*From Mother Teresa:

 

*From Brennan Manning:

“The deeper we grow in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the poorer we become – the more we realize that everything in life is a gift. The tenor of our lives becomes one of humble and joyful thanksgiving. Awareness of our poverty and ineptitude causes us to rejoice in the gift of being called out of darkness into wondrous light and translated into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.”

The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat Up, and Burnt  Out

 

Who is someone you consider to be humble?

What is it about them that exhibits humility?

Are there times when you felt humbled?

 

Consider this incident:

During World War II, Winston Churchill was awarding the Victoria Cross to an Air Force sergeant who had climbed out onto the wing of his bomber with only a rope attached to his waist – while it was 13,000 feet in the air. His efforts saved both the plane and his fellow crew members.

At the ceremony, the soldier was so overwhelmed by Churchill’s presence that he could barely speak. Churchill observed this and said, “You must be very humble and awkward in my presence,” to which the sergeant replied, “Yes, sir.”

Then the Prime Minister responded, “Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours.

Blessings to You All!

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