Friday Epistle – April 28, 2017

April 28th, 2017 by

Dear Friends,

Towards the end of the gospel reading from Luke 24 for Sunday we hear our travelers reflect,

 “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” v.32

What will set our hearts on fire again for our Lord Jesus or as someone put it, how to share “a common enthusiasm for the raw relevance of Jesus…God’s priceless Son!”*

From the scripture above, we can at least discern 2 ways to ignite our hearts: 1. Being with Jesus, in his presence, in prayer, and; 2. Reading the words about the Word.

When I read this blog by one of our members, Leah Singleton, I thought of another way to be excited about Jesus all over again, i.e. the scripture that says,

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6.21

Give, invest, make Jesus and his Kingdom your treasure and your heart will come alive.

In addition to blogging, Leah is traveling to Kaosa, Ghana.  From May 20-July 29th she will be working with a local NGO called Patriots Ghana as a Project Coordinator for their Child Labor and Trafficking prevention, awareness, and advocacy project. And she’ll also be doing research on a possible correlation between family planning and child labor.

She has already connected with our 2 partner bishops in Ghana, Bishop Edmond and Bishop Cyril.

It’s a true joy to share in this ministry with her, and let’s do remember to pray for her, and let’s listen as she reminds us – It’s a joy to give!

Blessings to You All!

*from THE HOLY SPIRIT – SHY MEMBER OF THE TRINITY by Frederick Dale Bruner

 

Choose Joy

2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

A few weeks ago, I came to a realization: I’ve spent way too much time recently feeling sorry for myself. While there are most definitely difficult seasons in life (Ecclesiastes 3:4), I realized that it was time for me choose to be content. In short, I realized the necessity of choosing joy.

 

I think it’s important to distinguish here between “happiness” and “joy.” I believe happiness is a fickle state of being contingent upon life circumstances. Christian joy, as defined by pastor and theologian John Piper, is “a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.” Christians aren’t called to be perpetually happy, but I believe finding joy to be a continual process in the Christian life.  I believe this joy is a choice. Choosing joy looks like finding things to be grateful for when my alarm goes off for my morning class. Choosing joy looks like acknowledging the supremacy of God in less-than-ideal circumstances. Choosing joy looks like cheerfully giving-my time, my heart, and my money.

 

If you’re like me, giving financially is the most difficult. “I’m a broke college student,” I tell myself. “When I have a job, when I have money of my own, then I’ll give God some of it.”

Yet, giving financially is a lifestyle, a measure of where the heart’s at.  And it starts now.  I’ve gotten to the place where I understand the importance of giving, and do it now. Still though, I struggle with a legalistic view of the action. This view of giving says that God loves me more because I give money to the church. It emphasizes giving as a chore I must complete, not as the act of worship that it is. It places my salvation on me, instead of on God where it belongs.

 

Simply stated: legalism is guilt from obligation when I don’t give, instead of joy from freedom when I do.

In an effort to avoid legalism, I sometimes find myself not wanting to financially give at all. In thinking this, I realize that I am completely missing the point:

We are called to give not because we have to earn God’s love, but because cheerfully giving is a result of understanding that we are loved by God (2 Corinthians 9:7).

 

If you, like me, have been giving out of obligation or guilt, I encourage you to talk to God about it. Tell Him that your heart isn’t in the right place, and ask Him to show you how to choose joy-in your life and in your giving. Cover your gifts in prayer. Most importantly, thank Him for the gift of giving.

In 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Paul ends his description of the cheerful giver with this: “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” (v. 15). This sentence serves as a perfect reminder that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).

In short, we give because God has gifted us so much more than we could ever hope to give to anyone else. Just look at Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

“And that’s something to be joyful about”. – Leah Singleton

 

About this author:

Carl Buffington

Carl Buffington, Rector

My ministry at New Covenant began in 1993. Barbara, my wife, and our 3 children moved here from Evergreen, CO, high and dry to low and wet, quite a change. I was brought up in the northeast, a suburb of New York, and Barbara grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia.

We met while I was attending The Philadelphia Divinity School in West Philadelphia where I received an M.Div. degree in 1972, and I was ordained a deacon and priest in the same year. I went to seminary directly from college. I earned an A.B. degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. For 5 years of my ministry I was a traveling evangelist, sharing the story of our Lord and his presence and power in a different church every weekend.

What I have always loved about New Covenant is the blending of the charismatic, the evangelical, and the sacramental aspects of the Faith. And what still gets me up in the morning is seeing people change, seeing people encounter the living Lord. I just love to see hearts changed by the Holy Spirit.
Education:

BA from the College of William & Mary 1969
MA in Divinity from the Philadelphia Divinity School 1972

Ordination:
Ordained in the Diocese of CT – Deacon and Priest 1972
Ordained and Consecrated a Bishop, Emissary to Boga Diocese, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 2015

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