Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Update on Leila and Andrew

I received word that it looks like Leila will not live. Her head injury was just too great.
The cup we are give is very bitter, but God will help us to drink it and will use it to nourish us in the long run.

Sometimes there is no "why." Why her? I don't know. Why Melissa? I don't know. Why does Jesus (Leila's father) have to endure this? I don't know. Why does Elaine have to lose both her children to tragic accidents? I don't know.

I do know that God did not cause this accident to teach us something. I do know that neither Jesus, Melissa, Elaine, nor Leila did anything special to deserve this. God does not cause tragedy to teach us.

But God can teach us in tragedy. There is nothing that God cannot redeem. I believe that the greatest jewels in our heavenly crown will be made out of the tragedies of our lives - if we turn them over to God.

Into thy hands, O merciful Savior, we commend thy child, Leila. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee, a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of thy mercy. Amen.

May Leila's soul rest in peace and may it rise in Glory!

Phil Snyder

Please pray for Jesus, Elaine, John, and their entire families (including me and my wife).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On Prayer

Given my last post, prayer has taken on a greater focus in my life. Especially praying for unlikely outcomes. I believe (I faith) that God can perform a miracle and bring to full health even the dead.

I pray as I am able and I pray for what I want. In Leila's example, I want a complete healing for her and for her family.

But, following the example of our Lord, I also pray that God's will be done. What I deem may be best for the family (Leila's health) may not be what God knows is best or what is God's will. I do not belive that God will's our deaths or our pains. But God does will us joy and presence with Him.

So, how then should I pray? Should I pray for the miracle? Should I pray for God's will to be done? Should I pray that I come to understand God's will in any given matter?

As an Anglican, my answer to those questions is yes! I pray that God grant us a miracle. that God will intervene and bring Leila to full health and wholeness. I pray that no one will be able to deny the healing that only God can give and that others are brought to deeper faith in God through His power working on Leila and her brother. This is my intercession and my petition. In this prayer, I ask for God to work in and through us. Here is where I make my will known to God. I ask that this cup pass us by - the cup we are drinking is already sufficiently bitter.

I also pray that God will do what He knows is best for us - that His perfect will be known to us and be effected in our lives. This is the prayer of submission. Here I humbly accept that God knows better for me than I do and that He knows better for Leila and her family than I do. I submit myself to God's will. This is where I say that I will drink the cup and drain it to the dregs if that is what God wants me to do.

I also pray that I may understand God's will in this matter. I pray that, no matter what God does, that I can see where it is best for Leila, her family, my family, and me. This where where I ask God to help me drink the cup and help others drink it too (as necessary).

The cup our Lord drank on those Three Days was bitter and terrible. It was filled with pain, sin, anger, and hatred. But, out of the dregs of that cup came salvation for all who believe.

I don't know what the cup before me contains - let alone what the cup before my family contains. I don't know if it will be sweet or bitter. But I do know that God can and will use this cup before me to bring me closer to Him.

Pray that I will have the grace to minister to my extended family and help them to see that the cup will be nourishing to their souls if they ask God to help them drink it.

Phil Snyder

Monday, April 27, 2009


This afternoon, my family was hit with a tragedy.

Elaine, my sister-in-law (my wife's brother's wife) lost her daughter, Melissa, in a tragic car accident. Three years and two weeks ago, Elaine lost her son in another car accident.

On top of losing her two children to tragic accidents, her grand daughter, Leila (age 2), was seriously injured in the accident. She has massive head trauma and her brain is swelling. Also, the neurologist said that Leila's CT Scan showed a brain suffering from oxygen deprivation, so it is likely that Leila will not recover fully even if she survives the brain trauma. That way that the doctor talked, it seems likely that Leila will also die as a result of the accident.

Please pray for Leila - that God would work a miracle and bring healing and health to her.
Please pray for Jesus, Leila's father who just lost his wife and is looking at losing is baby girl.
Please pray for Andrew (age 5), Leila's brother, who was also injured in the accident but is not facing life threatening injuries - just broken bones and those heal.
Please pray for Elaine and John (Elaine's husband) as they face this tragedy together.
Please keep the entire Snyder, Poindexter, and Juarez families in your prayer for the next several days. I will send an update when I have more information.

Phil Snyder

Update - 4/28/2009 - I spoke with the family earlier today. Leila's prognosis is unchanged, but she is showing some responsiveness and they've reduced the pressure inside her skull. Andrew had a bit of a rough night as the pain meds wore off. They are trying to get him scheduled for surgery to set his bones today, but that my not work out. Please continue your prayers. - pls.

Update #2 - 4/28/2009 - I just spoke with my wife who is at the hospital with her family. Andrew had surgery today to set his legs and (I assume) his pelvis. The surgery went well and they are managing his pain. Please continue to pray for Andrew's recovery along with a miracle for Leila. - pls

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Forrester and the Ordination Process

A blog post by Greg Griffith at Stand Firm shows that Bishop elect Forrester re-wrote the liturgy for Baptism and for the Eucharist for Easter, 2008. I am not going to do a point by point reffutation of what Forrester has written. Others have done that much better than I (see here for a great example).

I think he is trying to be true to the faith as he understands it and THAT IS THE MAJOR PROBLEM IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH TODAY.

For the past several decades, we have stopped doing the hard work of discernment in our ordination process for deacons and priests. The majority of dioceses no longer concern themselves with trying to verify that the Aspirant has any formation as a Christian - that (s)he understands and can articulate the faith in a way that shows they can form other Christians - before sending the aspirant off to seminary.

During the years at seminary, too many postulants and candidates are not interviewed to verify that they still hold, understand, and can articulate the faith. Too many are sent to seminary because they can successfully negotiate The Process (queue dramatic chord), not because they have a valid call to be priests and have received sufficient formation in the lay order before moving on to academic formation for the clerical order. Not having a good grounding in the faith, they are unprepared to discern between wheat and chaff in what they learn academically. In order to make good grades in seminary, they start writing papers that get good grades and they start to believe what they write.

My dad was ordained in the 1980s and he told me "If you can get out of seminary with your faith intact, you should be ordained because seminary will test your faith like nothing else." I believe there is a lot of truth to that, but too many bishops, COMs, and standing committees don't seem to check that last part - that the person believes the Faith, understands the Faith, and can teach the Faith.

What we have substituted instead is Process. Step 1, meet with the Bishop (or representative). Step 2, jump through the hoops put out by the COM etc. We have substituted process for discernment. We have substituted subjective "I sense a call" for objective "John understands the faith and can articulate and teach it."

Now, I have nothing against the Ordination Process per se. I learned an great deal about ministry and about the faith during my discernment process and my ordination process. I had a lot of my assumptions challenged and I am very glad that I went through the process. But (and this is a huge) the COM and the Standing Committee both asked me questions concerning my understanding of the faith and challenged me on several issues. They did their jobs.

One problem I see now in TEC is that too many priests and deacons lack the basic formation as Christians, let alone priests and deacons. And it is from the Priests that we take our Bishops. We have too many people in positions of authority and influence that are not willing to tell a nice person "no" if they don't understand the Faith, can't explain it, and can't teach it.

Jesus Christ did not defeat death to make us nice. Jesus Christ defeated death so that we could die with him and be raised to new life. I wish more priests and deacons (and bishops) would understand and teach that.

Phil Snyder

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Prayer Request

My life has been more full than normal.

I am in the midst of a major project at work that is consuming my nights and weekends. The last several weeks have been spent thusly:

1. March 29 - 2 mock go-lives run. Kairos team meeting all day Saturday, another mock go live over the weekend.

2. April 5 - Holy week. I spent the afternoon at work. We had a Mass of Colegiality and Renewal of Vows on Tuesday, a Seder at Church on Wednesday, Maundy Thursday (I preached), Good Friday, and the Great Vigil. Saturday was spent catching up on all the work I could not get done on the Wednesday or Thursday evening or when I was preparing my Thursday Sermon and my Kairos Talk.

3. April 12 - Easter Week. I went straight from Holy Week/Easter Day to Kairos on Wednesday afternoon thru the following Sunday. I had to solve a work problem via the phone on Thursday.

4. April 19 - This is go-live week. I've spent every night in front of the computer trying to solve last minute problems. I will miss the Kairos followup this weekend because of go-live.

5. Next week will be post go-live support.

When this project is over, I am going to have a nervous breakdown. I've worked for it. I've earned it. And no one will deprive me of it. :)

Please pray that I will be given the strength and wisdom to complete the tasks assigned to me.

Please pray that my team and customer have a successful upgrade and conversion and that their new system provides what they need to effectively and efficiently run their business.

Also, please pray for the Kairos family of St. John at Coffield as they meet this weekend. Pray that they will continue to be overwhelmed by God's agape love and that those who did not make a decision to follow Jesus will do so.

Phil Snyder

Monday, April 20, 2009

Serving God

As I just returned from a Kairos prison ministry weekend, I was struck by the great amount of service that many volunteers give.

I am faithful in my Kairos ministry. I go to the reunions (making about 9-10 a year) and serving 1-2 Kairos weekends a year (depending on the date of the fall weekend - they often schedule the fall weekend for Coffield on the same weekend as Diocesan Convention). But I am not as faithful a servant as many others in Kairos. Duncan (my table leader this weekend) serves two units and is active in AA and other ministries. Jim and Gary serve as volunteer chaplains and spend many weekends and weekday evenings at the unit.

One problem with too many in the Church today is that they want Jesus as savior, but not as Lord. They want to worship, but not to serve. Or, as a friend of mine once put it, a lot of people want to serve God - they just want to serve Him as advisors.

When you look at your life, ask yourselve how Jesus is manifested as Lord in your life. Where is your obedience to your Lord? Where is your service to your Lord? Having Jesus as Savior is rather easy. Having Jesus as Lord is much more difficult. During the Great 50 Days, has yourself how Jesus is Lord is manifest in your life and how you can show it forth.

Phil Snyder

Kairos - Thank You For Your Prayers

I am very tired - but it is a good tired. I got home from Kairos #27 at Coffield at about 8:30 last night. I was so stoked that I didn't get to sleep until about 11:00 - although I went to bed at 9:30pm.

I hosted two participants. A host's job in Kairos is to be a friend and contact for the weekend. I met my participants for cookies, fruit, and coffee each morning and checked on them during the day.

Thursday started slow (as is normal).

Friday, my participants opened up a little bit. One described himself as one with one foot in the Church and one in the world. The other one was very reserved and said he didn't really need other people.

I gave the "Friendship with God" talk on Friday in which we showed the men that God isn't looking for them to sin, but is reaching out to them for a relationship with them. I also gave a quick homily on Isaiah 49 - where God says that He has inscribed us on His hands.

Saturday, I had the joy of hearing an inmate's confession of faith in Jesus Christ as he said he was tired of fighting and being defeated. He accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Sunday, one of the two participants I was hosting also made a confession of faith and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The other participant I was hosting also made a confession of faith to his family leader.

Please continue to pray for the men. Particularly the men who I heard either commit for the first time or recommit. Pray for Robert, Jessie A., Jessie T, Albert, Beck, Steven, and Juan.

There is one man who pointedly did not commit to Jesus, but said he would think about it. "Joe" is a rather intellectual person who is well read and philosophy and theology. I didn't get a chance to talk with him too much, but his father was an Odinist (Norse Pagan) and both his father and grand father spent significant time in prison. Pray that God would enlighten Joe's heart and mind to understand the His truth.

Again, thank you for the prayers and support for the weekend. While the struggles of TEC are many (and one of the Coffield Chaplains joked with me about TEC and its struggles), they pale in comparison to the work of reaching the lost and forgotten with the reconciling love of God and His power to make all things new. If only TEC's leadership knew the love of God and submitted to His will. But it is infinitely harder to convince those that think they are saved that they need salvation. Those who know they are lost already know their need.

Phil Snyder

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Which Jesus will you follow?

There has been a lot written and read and said about The Rev. Forrester's elevation to the Episcopate. Many are concerned that He is a "Buddhist Christian" because he practices Zen Buddhist meditation techniques. Many are concerned that his (s)election process was uncanonical and some are concerned about his Christology and Theology.

Also in the news is the impending deposition of Ann Holmes Reading for trying to be both a practicing Muslim and an Episcopal Priest.

The problem is not just with them. While both are responsible for their beliefs and actions, they are also the results of formation gone very wrong.

Too many clergy that I've read about or corresponded with and too many "liberal" or reappraising books I've read speak Jesus as a person who is just like us, but knows God's love for him much more than we do. In their theology, Jesus is simply a person with hightened spiritual awareness.

This Jesus is very attractive to many people. He shows that we, too, can aspire to special divinity by becoming mor aware of our natural divinity as children of God.

The problem is that this Jesus doesn't require our death. This Jesus doesn't require a whole lot from us. This Jesus doesn't judge us or himself. If we are divine, then there is no judgement.

This Jesus has the power of a warm fuzzy. Something that makes us feel good about ourselves and about our lives, but doesn't change us.

You have a choice in which Jesus you will follow. Will you follow the Jesus - the Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father - the Second Person of the Trinity complete both in human nature and in divine nature - the unique Incarnation who suffered and died for us to reconcile us to God and then rose victorious from the grave after defeating death and sin? Will you come and die with Jesus so you can be raised in New Life and participate in his victory over sin and death?

Or will you follow Jesus the warm fuzzy. Will you let this Jesus make you nice and a warm fuzzy yourself?

Warm fuzzies are not stronger than death.

Phil Snyder