Assumptions

Maker:S,Date:2017-10-3,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E:Y

It is easy, so very easy, TOO easy, to read our assumptions into the Truths in the Bible.  I know, because I have been guilty of doing it.  The sign you see is one in front of a local church.  I know some of the people, and they love Jesus.  But something about this sign doesn’t seem right to me.  Now before you accuse me of “judging” them, or being a fundamental literalist, know that I am reading a really great book called 12 Steps For The Recovering Pharisee (like me).”  Here is what The Spirit is teaching me:  “Don’t Read Your Assumptions Into My Texts!”

The Shepherds did NOT follow the Star.  They followed the verbal directions of the Choir Director of Heaven’s Choir.  Here is the story found in Luke 2:8-16 (NLT)

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”  13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”  15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

Was that Star present?  Absolutely!  The “Wise Men” saw it and followed it.  Were they the only ones who could see that Star?  No, anyone who looked up at night could have seen that Star, but only those “Wise Men” knew what to do with it.  The Shepherds, on the other hand, received verbal directions on where to find the newborn Messiah:  In the stable at Bethlehem.  Being Shepherds, they would have known where that Stable was at; and if there were multiple stables in and around Bethlehem, they would have known their locations, too.  That’s what Shepherds do!

But this sign reveals something that, well, I want to talk about.  Again, I’m not criticizing or judging; just an observation.  Because the Wise Men followed the Star (that is in the Bible; Matthew 2:1-12) does not mean that the Shepherds (or anyone else, for that matter) followed the Star.  This person simply took their knowledge about that Star and applied it to the Shepherds.  There was a star and there were Shepherds!  Voila and Ta-Da!  The Shepherds MUST HAVE followed that Star.

It’s not just with the Incarnation Story that people take one part of the Bible and add it to another part.  The danger of “assuming” things about a passage creates damage; to people and to churches.  Our natural tendency (the one influenced by the Father of all lies) is to find ways to prove our point.  The Enemy is skillful and unfortunately, very successful, at helping us take the “text” out of its “context” simply to prove our point.

God has been taking me on an incredible journey of simplicity that is profoundly impacting both my faith and my life.  The Spirit has given me a, call it “Formula” or “Bible Reading Plan” that looks like this:

  1. First, I begin listening to some Worship music.  I use my earbuds so as not to disturb anyone, and to not be distracted in my personal worship time.  I also pour my cup of coffee and sit in front of the fireplace.  It helps me to stay focused on worshiping God.  Being ADHD, it’s easy for me to be distracted.  Finding this place helps me remind myself:  “Hey!  Dummy!  This moment is about God being honored for who HE IS, not what I need or need to be doing!”
  2. I read the Sacred Scriptures without any agenda or bias.  I ask the Holy Spirit to speak into my mind and heart.  I listen to the words I’m reading, pushing aside anything anyone has ever told me about the passage or what I think I know about the passage.  I approach it as if it is the very first time I’ve read it.  (By the way, I’m in my 3 consecutive reading of Ephesians, each time I start over, I treat it like it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it.  I found it takes me 6 to 7 days to read this letter.)
  3. I focus on the context of the passage.  When did God say or inspire those words?  What was happening in that culture, in that moment?  Sometimes there are other questions, but the last one I ask is important:  What does this say about God’s passion and desire to restore this fallen creation?  In other words, “How is God moving to make me (and others) into what HE originally intended BEFORE Adam and Eve sinned?”
  4. I ask this question:  “What is God saying to me?”  I write my answers down in a journal.
  5. Then I ask the second question:  “What does this say about me?”  This can get a little dicey and requires a lot more focus from me.  Sometimes it convicts me.  Other times it affirms me.  And there have been a few moments when I discover God’s view of me is different than my view of me–sometimes even better than I see myself.
  6. And now, I am moving into the third question.  This question is the one that  will determine if I will allow this Word to transform into who God says I am.  “What am I going to do about it?”

I am finding this approach helps to clear my head of any assumptions I may be bringing into the Story of God’s work of Restoration.  You see, when we ASSUME anything, it makes something out of “U and ME”.  Figure it out.  And if you ASSUME alone, it just makes you “it”.  What I’m saying is, “Folks!  Stop assuming YOU are the final authority on the Bible.  Stop assuming YOU are right.  Don’t read the Bible to prove your point.  Read the Bible to show where you are missing that mark of being all you are created to become, not so that you can point out where you think people are wrong.  Stop taking passages out of context!  Please!”  I remember something from my homiletics class.  Dr. Thompson said it many times:  “A text taken out of its context is only a pretext, and never the Truth.”

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him!  Amen and Amen!

Oh, here’s a post script, and it comes from the stories around the birth of Jesus:  God speaks to different people in different ways–but if we follow His directions, be it by a star or by the Choir Director of Heaven’s Angel Choir, we get to the same place.  But you have to follow HIS directions.

 

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November 23 Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

Inspiring words for me, and I hope for you!

My Journey Up The Mountain

Living in the darkness and coming into the light of living once again

Well since I sent out a post a lot has happened so I will do the Reader’s Digest Version. I went in to my first Chemo Treatment on October 31 Halloween. Do not know if that was a good choice of days but oh well.

We had rough weeks that included a couple of visits to the ER on the weekends. We had begun a Pain Management program and the side effect caused problems and pain. As the weeks went along things get better. I felt like I was in a very Dark place fighting to survive. Each time I would hear Praying for you my day brightened as I knew that I had prayer warriors behind me and they were holding me up. Coming into this week I have improved to the point I was out…

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Uniting Methodists: A Catholic Spirit?

Another blog for my United Methodist friends. Very well said and shows the folly of progressive theology…if you are not a United Methodist, you may not get much from it, but if you are, it should open your eyes.

Wall to Wall Faith, Hope, & Love

Earlier this week a group called “Uniting Methodists” convened in Atlanta. The stated purpose? To “be a unifying and clarifying voice in a divided conversation and a polarized culture.” The movement is purported to be a centrist one to allow space for traditionalist, moderate, and progressive United Methodists to continue together under the proverbial bigger tent. But I don’t think there is really anything new here.

For a movement that’s supposed to unify both traditionalists and progressives, they still seem intent on alienating, marginalizing, and negatively labeling those of us who hold to traditional views regarding sex and marriage. For instance, they continue to compare the debate over sexual ethics with past debates over slavery, race, and women in ministry. How is it unifying to continue to compare traditionalists with proponents of slavery, racists, and misogynists?

The Uniting Methodists movement shows few, if any, signs of actually respecting those with…

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Let’s Make a Deal, #UMC Style

As David opens this blog, I repeat: If you are not a United Methodist, this may be difficult to understand. But if you are a United Methodist who hasn’t had their head buried in the sand, this is worth reading and gives great insights to this “process” of finding a way forward…

David F. Watson

Warning: Lots of United Methodist insider talk in this post. If you are not United Methodist, you might find this all a bit confusing. In fact, I find it confusing myself

222b7-crossflameThe Commission on a Way Forward has presented an interim report to the Council of Bishops. The report is not particularly surprising, but it could be quite helpful nonetheless. In what follows I’ll make a few brief comments on the commission’s proposals.

Before I do, though, I want to thank the members of the commission. You have invested huge amounts of time, intellect, and emotional energy in this attempt to find a way through our current denominational impasse. I know your work is not over, but I’m grateful for your efforts in bringing us to this point.

The Three Sketches

A recent UMNS article describes sketches of three models:

  • One sketch of a model affirms the current Book of…

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October 21 I’ve had radiation so I feel kinda zapped.

My friend, my Brother in Christ, my Fellow Warrior, Eddie Phillips​–another great read and insights. Here’s the one that has grabbed my heart and mind: “We must not seek people who make us feel safe but find those who can make us feel brave. That makes us all feel better.” In this season of my life, I am reaching out to those who will make me feel strong. Amazing, me, with just my aches and pains of being 61, is being taught so much by my Brother facing so much more. And I am feeling braver, that’s to Eddie! Love you, my Fellow Warrior!

My Journey Up The Mountain

Gods-grace

Progress:

Yesterday October 20 at 1:00 I had another milestone in my treatment The radiation on three nodules on my brain. As I tried to come to a comforting safe place as how to stay under the mask two to three hours I thought of a solution. I listen to Gospel music when I mow and do things I do not enjoy and am encouraged. So I did a playlist on my iPhone. As I went and checked in and sat in the waiting area I was welcomed by one of the tech and was told they would be ready for me in a moment. As I was called back I ask if today I could listen to a playlist of music while we were doing today’s procedure since it would be so long. They said yes just get where they could start it and they would get me set…

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October 19 Milestones and God Winks

Have you seen any “God Winks” lately? What’s a God Wink? Well, read my Brother Eddie’s latest blog…

My Journey Up The Mountain

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The Milestones

We have passed a few milestones on the journey since my last blog. Wednesday started early At Athens Limestone Hospital getting my Power Port installed for the Chemotherapy to begin. Then it was off to Blackwell Medical Tower to get my last radiation on my C-Spine and Right Shoulder. This was my fifth and final radiation treatment for these two areas.

To day I saw Dr Katragadda my Oncologist. We discussed the medicines he has gotten approved for my Chemotherapy. I will begin Chemo on October 31 and will be in 21 day cycles for four cycles and then maintenance doses after that.

Friday brings another milestone the radiation on my three spots on my brain that need to be treated. Oh and another little victory, the Radiation Doctor, Dr. Gleason said most have roots that have spread and the ones I have do not. They are tight little…

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October 13 Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real

This line caught my mind and heart this morning: “In most all cases if we would only take off the mask and be real as to who we actually are our fears would be totally unfounded.”

My Journey Up The Mountain

Happy Friday the 13th!! Today was the second day of radiation and the second day of having to lay still while being restrained by the mask. There are two sessions lasting about 10 to fifteen minutes each but in the mask for the entire time. The radiation seems to have just a small effect of being out in the sun sort of a draining effect. No sickness feeling as of yet. I have begun to pray and worship during this time. The fear of how will I respond to being so closely confined was real. Yet when I concentrate on the prayers and thanking God for his love and grace the other things pass away.

the man in themask

Here is my thought for today. Relating to the mask as I lay there I can see two different views of how this can apply to us as a people going about our lives. So many times…

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October 9 2017 The Mask

More great insights from my brother in Christ, Eddie…

My Journey Up The Mountain

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For those of you who have never had a mask made to purposefully hold you down without moving. This is my mask it is perfectly fitted by my face neck and shoulders. This was stretched over me and was molded by my features, when it set there was no moving. The next adventure for me is coming on Wednesday when I go to Blackwell Towers and lay on a table and this will be placed over me on a machine table and screwed into place. I will be locked into place as the technicians will setup the machine to do my radiation. This day will be the mapping that will allow them to do the actual work on Thursday. They will locate three places on the Brain and one on my C Spine. The X marks a reference spot to where the 12 lasers will be guided to each spot…

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Doctor Gleason Visit today 10-6-17

A very good friend and brother in Christ is writing this blog. He has stage 4 cancer in multiple locations, but his faith is amazing because he has the Living Hope. I invite you to follow along, as he puts it, we climb that mountain.

My Journey Up The Mountain

he came walking toward them on the sea

Today was the day to meet with my Radiation doctor whose name is Dr. Gleason He is a young and caring man Sherrie and I agreed that God had put him in our journey. The next plan is I go back Monday for another MRI of my Brain and Cervical spine. They want to get thinner more detailed slices of my Brain to pinpoint my treatment. Now Sherrie and I have agreed to be grateful for the small victories and this was one of them. You see I literally loathe the  MRI. Just picture Big man little bitty tunnel and I am all up in it. Can I say fat man squeeze? Well the victory was that I was going Monday for the Cervical MRI this meant another visit to that demon machine and I was already dreading that one. The victory is they will do both in the same…

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The Through AND With Prayer!

praying man on beautiful sky background

Probably my shortest blog, but a message that is unfinished in me and I long for the day when this prayer has perfected the work in me.  It came to me, and I know it is from The Holy Spirit, as I was doing my morning stroll around the yard and praying.  I want to share this prayer with you this morning and invite you to pray this prayer as well.  Who knows, perhaps this will begin the transformation that my nation and culture most urgently needs:

Holy Spirit, I need You to walk WITH me because I need your presence to guide me and encourage me.  Holy Spirit, I need You to walk THROUGH me because my church, community and culture urgently needs Your presence.

Holy Spirit, I need you to talk WITH me because only You have the Words that will give me the life that the Father longs to give me.  Holy Spirit, I need you to talk THROUGH me because I know my words can sometimes be critical, false and unhealthy.  But my church, community and culture needs to hear the Life-Giving Words only You provide.

Holy Spirit, I need you to work WITH me because the mirror of my daily life doesn’t always reflect Jesus and I want it to be so in me.  Holy Spirit, I need you to work THROUGH me because there is a spiritual war happening all around me, YOUR church, my community and my culture and I do not have the strength, courage nor weapons to successfully defeat The Enemy, but YOU do!

And I now thank you Jesus, that your life, death and resurrection has opened the way for me to boldly come with this, the desire of my heart, the heart that YOU have given me.  Amen and Amen!

Blah, Blah, Whiners Have You Anything Else?

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I am…started to say “surprised” but really I’m not because I saw it coming from a mile away.  I am…started to say “amazed” but that’s not the word because there’s nothing profound or significant in it.  I am…started to say “speechless” but there’s so much I could say.  I am…started to say “fed-up” because I certainly am, but as a follower of Jesus I need to be more than just “fed-up”.  I am…started to say “disgusted” and that certainly is an emotion that is present and prevalent in me right now.  So, what’s the word I’m looking for?

Well, this wordsmith who usually finds something deep and profound is left with just this simple phrase:  “I am sick and tired of it!”  I realize these words lack spiritual depth and certainly are not words of grace and mercy, but they do describe where I am.  I was feeling bad about it until I remembered Jesus, the week of His death, walking into the Court of the Gentiles and seeing that “spiritual flea market” of currency exchanges and sellers of animals for sacrifice.  OK, so maybe it’s not so bad that I’m feeling sick and tired of it.  I do think that Jesus was sick and tired of seeing those who were supposed to represent HIM on earth tied up to and wrapped up in so much that had absolutely nothing do to with the Heavenly Father.  Hang on a minute while I take these cords and fashion me a whip.

Much has been said about the recent acts by NFL players hitting the knee or staying in the locker room while the National Anthem is played.  And herein is my rub, those first 4 words–“Much has been said”!  What “has been said” are words, lots of words, about anger and disgust.  The only threat of action is to “stop watching them on TV”.  Well, gee golly, that ought to change our culture and nation!  But I didn’t see any change after Monday Night Football in our culture.  Maybe after Sunday when sooooooo many are not watching NFL football our culture will change.  Guess I’ll have to wait until Monday to see our culture change.  Yet…..somehow I don’t think that act will bring about any real change, culture shift, or a “everyone lives happily ever after” narrative.

Look, people!  That is their right and freedom.  Even my son, Sargent First Class Matthew Burbank (combat veteran of 5 tours in some of the worst flea-infested-arm-pits parts of the world) acknowledges he paid a price (though he calls it a small price, but I, Dad, know better than that) for them to disrespect THE Flag that draped the coffins of his friends and comrades in arms.  Before I continue my “sick and tired” thoughts, you need to think about this in a practical way.  If we ban this form of protest it will not be long until another form of protest and another and another, until finally we will have lost one of the linchpin principles of this nation:  Freedom of Speech.  Remove that linchpin and soon thereafter all the other linchpins will be pulled and we will be living under tyranny, again!

Wait, I just heard something thinking, “OK, Mr. Kingdom Pastor, what would you suggest?  Just go ahead and watch those games?”  If that’s how you want to express your freedom to protest by not watching those games, then by all means, go ahead.  But if you are wanting to hit those players in the pocketbook, then simply do NOT buy anything that has the Officially Licensed NFL logo.  That’s where the money is made.  By the way, that includes more than jerseys, t-shirts and caps.  There are other products that are labeled “The Official _____________________(fill in the blank with a product or service) of the NFL.”  But do you think that is really going to change our culture and our nation?  You do?  Look, contact me and I will arrange to sell you some great Gulf Coast property in New Mexico, or Montana if you prefer Montana.

What do I suggest?  I am so glad you asked me that.  Here’s my suggestion:  HIT YOUR KNEES!  Pray FOR, and not AGAINST those you see as the problem in our culture and 1nation.  And then pray some more–for YOURSELF!  Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters, quit complaining and start doing something that will make a positive difference in another person.  Mahatma Gandhi may not have been a committed follower of Jesus Christ, but he certainly gave clarity to the teaching of Jesus and our responsibilities to God’s creation when he challenged people saying, “You must be the change you want to see in others.”  Do you remember that time when the disciples saw a problem, people were hungry and needed to be sent on their way?  What was Jesus’ initial response?  “YOU give them something to eat!”  So you who passionately profess to follow Jesus but consistently “pass the buck” and expect others to do something, “What say ye now, to Jesus?”

Hit YOUR knees in prayer.  Ask the God of infinite mercy and grace to forgive you of your whining when you should have been doing something to reveal the presence of Jesus in your own life.  Genuinely regret that you are a part of the “when all is said and done, more is said than done” crowd.  Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart and mind with the Presence, Power and Provisions of God Himself, the power that caused The Resurrection to happen for Jesus!  Hit YOUR knees and ask God to open your eyes, mind and heart to all those people you will see today who need to see Hope, who need to be made whole in Jesus Christ!

Then look for practical ways to do it.  Take them out to lunch, to Starbucks, to somewhere and listen to their story.  Offer to take someone who can’t drive shopping with you.  Find ways to live UN-selfishly.  Caleb Kaltenbach, in his book, Messy Grace, reminds us that as Christians we need to be known what we are FOR, and NOT for what we are AGAINST!  And what we should be for is people coming into the loving Relationship that God wants everyone to have with Him.

Churchians, Tenured Pew Sitters, and WATNFL (Whiners Against The NFL) card-holding-members, begin doing things FOR others that only Jesus would do.  Watching re-runs on Sunday afternoons, Monday nights and Thursday nights will NOT change our culture and nation.  But taking personal responsibility to show and share the love of Jesus, especially without words ever being said, WILL change our culture one life at a time.  And the first life that needs to change may well be your own.  I know this is true in my case.

Love God with all your heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And makes sure all the glory goes to Him!

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