Multiply: Why We Share Our Faith

Sharing our faith should always be done in love, and always with the power of the Holy Spirit.  We never want to force encounters or try to convert people in our own strength. We know and believe it is only God who can change hearts, so we allow him to do that.

For the first few years of my walk with Jesus, however, I so overemphasized this that I was reluctant to use or learn any sort of structure or tool. I thought that tools would create formulas and that’s not what I wanted. I did not entertain the idea that the Holy Spirit could prompt me when to use tools and structures and that I could submit these ideas to Him and follow his leading.

I can be a bit stubborn. God showed me the fallacy in my logic by taking me to Fiji.  Yes, we have a gracious God.  Remarkably, I even tried not to go. Langdon Stewart had invited me to do this evangelism training in Fiji, yet three or four times God ran me into him all throughout the Charleston area, and each time I told him no. The last time I ran into him, I finally decided I would actually pray about it, and a week and half later God changed my heart and I went.

I learned that we have a faithful and just God, faithful and just to use my reluctant scared steps to tell people about Jesus, but also faithful and just to shower his Grace upon people who don’t know him as Lord and Savior.
While I was going to Fiji, I still grew up as an Episcopalian, so the idea of door knocking for 6 weeks didn’t sound super fun no matter where it was.  It actually sounded terrifying, and well, at times it was.  Yet I learned the power of having stories or illustrations prepared in order to explain concepts about our faith.  I learned that we have a faithful and just God, faithful and just to use my reluctant scared steps to tell people about Jesus, but also faithful and just to shower his Grace upon people who don’t know him as Lord and Savior.

This will be at the heart of these Thursday night classes. We will share stories about when God has broken in and changed people’s hearts, and we will discuss various methods of presenting the Gospel. We will also teach and practice sharing stories that remind and show us the greatness of our God, as we all strive to be equipped to “be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have” in Christ.

Multiply: A Practical workshop in sharing your faith will be held on Thursdays in May, starting on the 14th. Dinner will be provided. Come to be encouraged and equipped to share your faith with family, friends, and strangers.

From the Newly Confirmed: My Testimony

Christanne Gates

I was blessed to grow up with two amazing, godly parents. My mother’s response to bad news is ‘Girls, we need to sit down and pray about this right now”. Then she sits everyone at the kitchen table, holds our hands, and prays. Because of her example, I learned to pray at a very young age. I remember calling out to God as a little girl who was scared of the dark. I knew that he heard me. It was amazing to me that God would listen to my prayers and not just my parents. But I definitely felt his presence. Even now, I am so thankful that my mother taught me to turn to God immediately about anything that troubled me.

At the age of eight, I was baptized by my paternal grandfather, a minister in the Baptist church. It was a very exciting moment for me because it was a chance for me to publicly affirm my faith.  I wanted the congregation to know that I was following Jesus because I knew He loved me, not just because I thought I had to.

My twin sister and I recommitted our lives to God as we entered sixth grade. We agreed that we were not going to be ‘typical teenagers’ and determined from day one that we were going to sit with our families at the front, not hang in the back on Sundays. We were also committed to putting church fellowship ahead of school work and jobs. Because of this, our best friends and memories were all connected to church. So, when the church we had attended for years split apart just before we began our senior year of high school, we were devastated emotionally. Our parents had been very involved in the church leadership, so they also felt a strong sense of loss.

Thankfully, God provided a small but caring group of 40 people who adopted us after the loss of our previous church family. They recognized that our family needed love and compassion after experiencing legalistic judgments and rejection. My twin sister and I joined in with a wonderful Bible memory program focusing on the book of Hebrews, which helped me to realize that God had promised rest not rules. This is a message that God has had to continually reaffirm in my life, but He provides timely reminders each time I begin to forget.

I chose to attend a small Christian college in Indiana for four years of undergraduate, where godly professors helped me listen for God’s direction rather than blindly following others’ expectations.  Towards the end of my senior year, God opened the doors for me to attend graduate school in England. This was a life-changing experience for me. I flew to England with the phone number of a friend’s friend in my pocket, the address of the university on my luggage tags, and two large suitcases I could hardly lift. The plan was to stay for one year, complete the Masters’ degree, and then return to the United States.

Of course, God had other ideas. Four years later, I graduated from the University of East Anglia with a PhD in Modern History. More importantly, I learned a lot about trusting God’s provision. The second Sunday in England, I remember crying out, “You led me here, but I cannot do this without the support of other believers. Please provide me with a church family.” That evening, I attended Norwich Central Baptist Church, the first church I joined as a member since the break-up of my high school church seven years previously. The members of this church encouraged me to get involved in worship ministry and faithfully prayed me through the challenges of adapting to another culture, standing firm as the only Christian in my academic department, and spending two summers studying in Istanbul, Turkey. They gave me rides to and from church services, took me to the emergency room when I had a kidney stone, and reminded me that even when we are “strangers in a strange land”, we are never alone.

At the same time, however, the antagonism I experienced at the university increased over the four years. I was able to share my faith with many of the other graduate students and even some of the professors in the department. It was exciting to see God working, but also very challenging to be His ambassador in a skeptical, derogatory atmosphere. When my extremely supportive supervisor suffered a stroke six months before I was supposed to present my research findings, I was left fighting on my own in the “dog eats dog” drama that surrounds academia. Despite successfully defending my dissertation in October, I knew that my time in England was coming to an end.

In November, my sister called me out of the blue to suggest that I apply for a job at Porter-Gaud Middle School. Although I had been praying that God would give me direction as I neared the end of the PhD, this was not at all what I was expecting: take a PhD and teach Middle School? However, all other doors remained closed, while all the obstacles surrounding the Porter-Gaud application seemed to melt away (including teaching a sample lesson over Skype). On December 18, I was officially offered a job at Porter-Gaud. I flew to the United States the following day. I was particularly keen on the idea of being in an academic setting where I would also be able to openly share my faith in the classroom. From the first day, I fell in love with teaching at this level. It was obvious that God had once again helped me to defy the world’s expectations and led me to another place where I could faithfully serve him.

When I came to Charleston, I was experiencing culture shock and spiritual fatigue. I had a lot of questions, especially about reconciling academic knowledge with my heart beliefs. When a close friend suggested I try Good Shepherd, I eagerly took his advice. At the time, Father Shay was preaching through the book of Romans. I was thrilled to see him preaching directly from Scripture, exploring mysteries of the faith in a calm, comprehensive way. The intimate setting of the 9:15 service also made me feel at home.

However, I was a little wary of the “Episcopal/Anglican” label. Attending a church centered on liturgy was different for me: almost as foreign as learning to say “crisps” for “potato chips”! On the other hand, my love of history helped me to appreciate the rich tradition surrounding this; and the structure of the Anglican Church, which provides accountability for church leadership, helped me to feel confident that any disagreements could be handled compassionately and scripturally. I also appreciated the fact that the members and leadership at Good Shepherd were very patient with me and with my questions. The catechism class offered last fall helped me to dive even further into Anglicanism. Then, in a January conversation, I found myself not questioning but defending the Anglican position, which surprised me almost as much as the other person!

The decision to be confirmed followed naturally from that point. As Bishop Lawrence explained, a sacrament, like confirmation, is an outward sign of an inward work.  Being confirmed allowed me to once again publicly acknowledge God’s grace in my life, which I have seen in many ways over the last few years.  For me, it also feels like an acknowledgement of restoration: the spiritual fatigue that I felt when I returned from England two years ago has faded into the background. I feel that I am once again growing in my faith, and I am eager to see where God will lead me next.

Our Sunday Vision

If you missed it last Sunday, we made a big announcement regarding Sundays at Good Shepherd.  Below is a summary of the deciding factors and our new Sunday Vision.

We are seeking the best way forward to fulfill the Vision God has given us at Good Shepherd.  Here are the values that are serving as the grid for our decision:

Everyone matters.

No member of the body will be considered dispensable in this decision nor will we decide based on majority rules.

Everyone must sacrifice.

We will all participate in giving up for the good of the whole.

The future is paramount.

There is always a temptation to make a decision based on the past – nostalgia, or the present – comfortable, but this decision must be future-oriented.  Our call to generational faithfulness means we will favor the future.

Change must occur.

What we learned in January is that we need the energy of more people together in worship.  What we also learned is that we are too big for one service if we plan on growth.  In addition, we learned that we need a traditional offering and a contemporary offering that allows the distinctives of these two to thrive: we cannot make a long-term plan on “blended” worship.

After prayerfully considering the Vision and these godly values, there were a limited number of possibilities to pursue.  From these, a consensus among our leaders has arisen around the following service schedule for Good Shepherd on Sunday mornings beginning March 29, Palm Sunday.

Our Sunday Vision

9:00 am 

Traditional worship, organ and choir, bulletin-and-books service, acolytes, alternating between Rite 1 and Rite 2, a full sermon and worship experience.

10:30 am

Contemporary worship, praise team, projected service on the screen, nursery, a full sermon and worship experience.

 

 

Preparing for a New Season

Big things are happening for the soccer program at Good Shepherd.  We’re excited to take the best of what the Upward Soccer program offers, in combination with new community partnerships, to create a fun and unique opportunity to better serve the families of Charleston with gospel-centered relationships and solid soccer fundamentals.  This new venture is called Holy City FC.
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FAQ

What is Holy City FC?

Holy City FC is the result of a shared vision for high quality soccer training firmly rooted in spiritual and relational development through application of lessons learned on the field.  From that vision, a partnership was formed between leaders in Charleston youth soccer and the Church of the Good Shepherd that allows for a faith-based sports program to participate in the West Ashley Youth Soccer League.

Why move away from Upward Soccer?

The short answer is this:  we would not move away from our established Upward Soccer program if we didn’t feel that God was creating for us an even better opportunity to make a positive impact on our surrounding community.

West Ashley Youth Soccer offers a well-run soccer league.  Our youth soccer partners offer top-notch player and coach development resulting from years of youth coaching experience.  And Good Shepherd offers a gospel-centered perspective on sports that can take the lessons learned through soccer and enrich the lives of parents, players, and coaches beyond the white lines of the soccer field.  Why wouldn’t we combine these things, the best of what each has to offer, to better serve the families of Charleston?

What is included in the Holy City FC program?

Players still get:

  • Fun, friendly environment
  • One hour games and practices
  • Focus on fundamentals and equal playing time
  • Faith-based sports experience, including gospel-centered practice devotions & more

In addition, coaches now get:

  • Coach training led by certified youth soccer coaches with 15+ years experience
  • Access to continued input throughout the season to maximize team development
  • Specific training on creating healthy, gospel-centered relationships with players and families

As a result, families now get:

  • A program built specifically for you
  • A lower cost to participate–Registration through the city recreation department costs $30 for City/ St. Andrews PSD residents and $55 for Non-city/Non-PSD residents, with no additional cost to participate in the Holy City FC program.

For more information, see our complete FAQ

How to Register

Registration ends January 31st

  1. Reserve your spot online: goodshepherdsc.com/sports/register.  Once completed, you will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours with instructions on registering with the city league.
  2. Register and pay* with the West Ashley Youth Soccer League administered by the City of Charleston Recreation Department.  During the registration, there will be an option to request to play with Holy City FC.
    *Need based scholarships are available through Holy City FC.

Oh No! Party Postponed!

Due to anticipated bad weather, we’re postponing theHoly City FC Registration Day Party that was scheduled for 12 – 2 pm on January 24th.  We’re working to schedule a Meet and Greet kick-around before the season gets underway.  In the meantime, contact Corey if you have questions about the program, and don’t forget: registration ends January 31!

From the Sabbatical Committee: 5 Reasons a Pastor’s Sabbatical Blesses Everyone

Dear parish family,

As of December 1, we are 7 months away from Fr. Shay’s Sabbatical.  Here is an article that we found encouraging:

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/176957-thom-rainer-reasons-pastors-need-a-sabbatical.html

Please keep this process in your prayers.

Blessings,

The Sabbatical Committee

Leah Crosby

Frederick Huiet

Kits Jones

Sermon: “Belonging in the Body: UP”

Dear Friends,

We begin our series on belonging by addressing our most important relationship – UP with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Here it is: UP – 2014

Here is the outline:  UP – 2014

Join us for the second sermon on Belonging IN the Body this Sunday.

Blessings,

Shay +

Kickoff Tailgate Party

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Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we prepare for Sunday and our Kickoff Tailgate Party, I wanted to let you in a bit on the excitement that this fall brings.  We are in the midst of a new phase of growth and development at Good Shepherd.  As we closed out the year in 2013 and as I shared with you at the Vision meeting, our strategic planning process yielded three areas of growth for us to concentrate on in 2014: Community, Communication, and Unified Fellowship.  Our tailgate party has all three elements involved.  So first I want to invite you…

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Second, as we think about this event, the question comes to mind: why a kickoff?  What are we really beginning? Let me attempt to answer that with seven bullet points that will not exhaust all that is happening.

  1. Good Shepherd Day School began its 8th year this week.  We will commission the Day School teachers at the 11 am service on Sunday.
  2. Student Community group begins its weekly meetings on Sunday afternoon after taking the summer for some fun events and camps.
  3. Our first ever Connections Dinner will be Monday evening Sept. 15.  This will be an opportunity for newcomers and seasoned members to connect to the ministries of Good Shepherd especially Community Groups.
  4. Our first ever Mark Prince Memorial Scholarship fundraising BBQ will be on September 20 from 4-7pm.  Tickets go on sale this Sunday at the Tailgate party.
  5.  Women’s & Men’s ministry are renewing successful bible studies and retreats like the Fall Men’s Hike Oct. 16-19 and the Thursday morning Joanne Ellison bible study.
  6. We continue our ministry to families by equipping parents and grandparents to disciple their children through the Visionary Parenting seminar on Sept. 27 and the Advent Home Worship Celebration on Nov. 23.
  7. Our commitment to outreach will be evidenced in opportunities to join in on the Lowcountry Pregnancy Center’s Walk for life on Nov. 1 and our Thanksgiving in the Park celebration on Nov. 22.

This kickoff is full of ways to connect and grow in the life and ministry of Good Shepherd.  One other new thing, at the Tailgate there will be a Connections tent with information about all of the ministries that we offer and ways to get involved in the life of Good Shepherd.  Make sure you stop by that tent on your way to or from the food tent to enjoy some great Tailgate delicacies.

Can’t wait to see you there,

Fr. Shay +

Sermon: “Hope at the End”

Dear Friends,

This past Sunday we were blessed to have a guest preacher, the Rev. Mark Cooke.  His text was from 2 Samuel 23:1-7 and the sermon was inspiring and challenging.

Here it is: Hope at the End

Here is the outline:

Hope at the End (David’s Last Song)    2 Samuel 23:1-7   August 31, 2014  

Closing Lessons from the Life of David…

Because of our place and inheritance in Christ, these words of promise and hope also apply to us, and thus, we can…

1. Anticipate a Life filled with Divine _________________ & Personal _________________ v.1, son of Jesse, raised on high, anointed, sweet psalmist of Israel

  

2. Expect a Life led by Divine __________________ & Personal ___________________ vv.2-4, Prophetic words, Spirit… spoke, His word was on my tongue, God of Israel said, Rock…spoke, Messianic hope – righteous rule, light

“Darkness is dispersed, light is diffused, life abounds.”

  

3. Celebrate a Life built on Divine ___________________ & Personal _____________________ v.5, everlasting covenant, ordered, secured, salvation of delight and growth

 

4. Comprehend a Life trusting Divine __________________ & Personal ________________ vv.6-7, warfare and conflict to the end, armor, consummation (victory)

Final Thought…

 

Enjoy,

Fr. Shay +

From the Sabbatical Committee

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The Vestry and the Sabbatical Planning Committee are pleased to announce that following the precepts set down by our Heavenly Father, who ordained a pattern of rest for his people, our congregation will send Father Shay on sabbatical.  This time of rest, rejuvenation, and renewal in the Lord will take place over three months between July and October 2015.

This will be an exciting time of separation because it provides Shay, the leadership, and each member of our church family opportunity to see the fruits of our accomplishments in this parish over the past eight years.  It will confirm the Vision of Good Shepherd for confident leaders; show us how world-changing children are growing in Christ; strengthen the bond of strong families; remind us of the Biblical preaching and bless our Spirit-filled worship. Upon Shay’s return, we may prayerfully expect that we will find him refreshed in body, mind, and spirit.  He will be full of Holy Spirit-inspired teaching, more empowered to lead into the future for Good Shepherd, and strengthened to fulfill pastoral duties.

Anticipating questions that may come to mind, we have enclosed a question and answer sheet (Click here Sabbatical FAQs (1)).  Please feel free to direct any further questions to anyone on your Vestry, the Sabbatical Committee, or Father Shay.  We trust you will join us in praying for a fruitful journey through this “Time of Jubilee” (Leviticus 25).

Sincerely in Christ,

Leah Crosby,  Frederick Huiet,  Kits Jones

 

Sermon: “Our Desperate Need

Dear Friends,

Our sermon for this past Sunday was on Nathan’s confrontation of David after his grave sins.

Here is the sermon:

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Here is the outline: 9 – 2Sam12 – Desperate Need

Let me know your thoughts.

Blessings,

Shay +

Textual Difficulties in 1 and 2 Samuel: Polygamy

Textual Difficulties in 1 and 2 Samuel

In this past week’s sermon (8/17/14), I referenced the fact that our preaching text had moved from 1 Samuel 24 to 2 Samuel 7.  Even though our series is not a verse by verse every chapter series, I did not want to gloss over the textual difficulties found in the interim chapters.  The overall purpose of the series is to focus on the question of Kingship (“Who is our King?”) and to read the Old Testament in light of the New.  With that in mind, two questions arose that I believe we as Christians need to be able to answer without our trust in the Word of God being shaken.  The following is not meant to be exhaustive but to be sufficient as an explanation.  There is always more work to be done.  That is the beauty of Bible study and the richness of the text.

Polygamy –

David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them became his wives. (1 Samuel 25:43)

And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David. (2 Samuel 5:13)

It is very clear from the text that David had multiple wives.  It is also clear as we read the Old Testament that polygamy occurred fairly regularly among the people of God, especially powerful men.  How can we reconcile that with the biblical teaching found in Genesis and re-affirmed in the New Testament?  Does God endorse polygamy?  Is this a biblical contradiction that should cause us to doubt the veracity and trustworthiness of God’s Word?  I will answer the last question by saying no.  Hopefully the rationale for this answer will be seen in answering the two former questions.

First of all the clear teaching of scripture for marriage is one man and one woman for life.  Genesis 2:24 says a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife (singular) and the two will become one.  Jesus re-affirms this teaching in Mark 10:7-8.  Paul writing to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:2 says that the qualifications for an overseer (bishop) in the church include “the husband of one wife.”  This sets out a Christian understanding while at the same time recognizing that polygamy probably still existed.  There are no examples of polygamy in the New Testament and there is no place in the bible where polygamy is prescribed.

Why then does King David, under God’s blessing and “in the Spirit,” practice polygamy.  Two important facts follow from the biblical argument above.  1) Polygamy is a part of a Genesis 3 world in which the brokenness of David is well-known (see Bathsheba).  This is a part of the fall that God allows but does not endorse. 2) Polygamy, in its Genesis 3 context, did offer some common good to vulnerable women in a patriarchal society.  There is also the argument that polygamy was allowed for a time for the propagation of the species although, the bible does not explicitly teach this.

In conclusion, the Bible is clear in its teaching on marriage and the Church has never endorsed or promoted anything else in 2,000 years except in heretical sects.  The presence of polygamy does not condemn the text or shatter the trustworthiness of the Bible.

Next up Holy War.  Stay Tuned…

Let me know your thoughts,

Shay +

Shay +

Sermon: “Everlasting Covenant”

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Dear Friends,

We are closing in on the completion of our summer series in Samuel.  Perhaps the high point in terms of redemptive history is 2 Samuel 7 and the covenant with David.

Here is this week’s sermon on 2 Samuel 7:

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Here is this week’s outline: 8 – 2Sam7 – Everlasting Covenant

Here is this week’s object lesson:

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For those of you looking for my post on textual difficulties, it is forthcoming.

Let me know your thoughts,

Shay +