10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!
1 Corinthians chapter 10, verses 10-13 from the New Living Translation
Today’s title is from a line in a song by contemporary artist Mandisa. The name of the song is “We All Bleed The Same“. (Click here to listen to the song) Everyone’s blood is red. However, it seems our culture has forgotten this simple truth. Some think others blood is blue or red; progressive or orthodox; American or foreigner; black or white or some other color; educated or uneducated. And the list goes on an nauseam. It’s this kind of stinking thinking that is literally shattering this nation and the world.
So, tell me why, tell me why, we’re divided? Well, since you asked me, I’ll tell you why. People are looking inward rather than upward. Even those who say they are following Jesus are not exempt from this cancer. The world was in an evolutionary direction–meaning we were able to achieve more and greater things. But instead of evolving, our culture is devolving in a cauldron of something between swamp water and what you see in a septic tank. All of this is happening before our eyes because so many have turned their thoughts and desires inwardly rather than upwardly.
In an attempt to add value to their lives, people have become selfish, egotistical, pompous, narcissistic, puffed-up, and vainglorious monsters. And look at the mess this descent has made. But before I sound like Chicken Little proclaiming that the sky is falling–there is a way out of this hot mess. And it’s really simple–as are all principles of the Bible. Care more for others than you care about yourself. It doesn’t take a large mass of people doing this simultaneously–all it takes is one person. And that one person is you.
2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Philippians chapter 2, verses 2 through 4; from the New Living Translation
How can we understand God and what He wants of us and from us? This is, call it, The Quest of the human heart. Some call this the purpose of religion. Me? I hate religion! So I call it being a follower of Jesus. My Quest has placed me firmly in the tradition of this radical man known as John Wesley. John Wesley’s Quest for God radically changed after he finally learned to accept and believe in God’s Grace revealed in Jesus. His primary (and most important) source in his Quest was The Bible.
But Wesley understood that The Bible cannot be studied in a vacuum. In his Quest he used his experiences, his traditions, and reason to help him. Now, the late Albert Outler, a Wesley historian and theologian, recognized it and coined the phrase: The Wesley Quadrilateral. (See the above pic) But now, some are using–make that MISUSING Outler’s phrase. Later on Outler expressed regrets for creating that term. And here’s why! Many have chosen to make all sides of the Quadrilateral equal in importance; even though they are not equal. If one follows the entire life of John Wesley they could see that even he did not see they were equal. By the way, John Wesley never used the phrase The Quadrilateral.
Many today want to use this tool and device in ways they were never meant to be used. By saying all 4 sides are equal creates that moment when one or more of those sides will disagree with the others. And the result, at least in the United Methodist Church, has been chaos and division. Reason and Experiences have concluded that Scripture and Tradition has been wrong. Now, if all 4 sides carried equal validity, then let’s follow our Reason and our Experiences. And the result should be no chaos nor division. Everyone agree to set aside for the moment Scripture and Tradition and run with Reason!
But all 4 sides are not equal! One side of this Quadrilateral must be more powerful than any or all 3 of the other sides. Look at the side of Tradition! When Tradition has the power the result is Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters who are stone cold dead; spiritually speaking. Or if Scripture is left in a vacuum, then we end up with Fundamentalists and New Breeds Of Pharisees; and they are not cold, but definitely spiritually dead. If Experiences are given the nod, the result is a quagmire of pain and disinformation. And if Reason is the only source? Well, look and listen to the gibberish that is being espoused by those who are using only Reason in the United Methodist Church.
The Quadrilateral doesn work because it doesn’t have a single and final source of authority. John Wesley used Experiences, Traditions, and Reason–but he always weighed them against one single authority in his life: The Scriptures! Look, sometimes Experiences do not point us to God. Sometimes Traditions do not point us to God. And dear Lord, most times Reason never points us to God; but that doesn’t meant it never points us to God–for it does.
Remember that The Quest is to understand God and what God wants of us. Experiences, Traditions, and Reason will sometimes–maybe often times–lead us away from God–whom our hearts long for. But Scriptures will always point us to God and what He wants of us. Our experiences, our traditions, and our God-given ability to reason are valuable tools to help us discover The Truth. They are NOTThe Truth. That’s what Scriptures Are For: The Final Authority Over Our Lives.
If you do what the Lord wants, He will make certain each step you take is sure.
Psalm 37 verse 23 from the Contemporary English Version
This morning I will be taking my beautiful wife Debbie to a nearby hospital for surgery on her left foot. She has some issues that causes quite a bit of pain and discomfort. Dr. DePorter will cut a couple of bones to straighten those toes and remove a couple of joins to correct a couple of hammer toes. Sounds painful, doesn’t it! But to be able to walk without pain and to enjoy her walking, it’s necessary. Oh, one other thing, this won’t be her first rodeo. Dr. Deporter did the same thing to her right foot–and it worked. So, there’s a high confidence level that how he helped her right foot will also work on her left foot.
And here’s this morning’s Kingdom Lesson: It’s safe to follow the steps of Jesus. In thinking about all the ups and downs in his life, David learned an important lesson: He will make certain each step you take is sure. But there is a qualifing condition: If you do what the Lord wants. Dr. DePorter told Debbie that her right foot healed so good and accomplished what the surgery was designed to do was because she followed his post-op instructions. And her left foot will do the same–simply by following his post-op instructions.
And though our lives may have hectic and chaotic situations, it doesn’t mean that we have to walk with a painful limp. We can rest assured and be confident that if we simply do what HE says that will make our steps sure. Dr. DePorter’s surgery worked on the right foot, so there’s high confidence that it will do the same on the left foot. And God has proved Himself to know what He is doing time after time. So, just follow in His Footsteps. The Bible let’s you know where He is going and what He is doing. After all, if He can make a stay in a tomb just temporary, there’s nothing He can’t do for you!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
If you were expecting another “Oh, Lord! It’s Monday!” post, it’s not happening today. There’s something bigger and more important on my heart–in fact–it’s been on my heart since early yesterday morning. You see, I made a mistake–I spend some time on Facebook. One of the groups that I follow is the United Methodist Clergy Page. I knew there would be some posts about the recent SCOTUS ruling on Roe V. Wade. The ruling, which by the way, doesn’t ban abortions. It puts the issue where it Constitutionally belongs–with the States. And corrected an earlier SCOTUS that misapplied the Fourth Amendment’s provisions against unreasonable searches and seizures to include the right to privacy. And since abortion is a “private” matter, it is Constitutionally guaranteed. Anywho–here’s what one of my fellow UMC Clergy said that prompted a reply from me (of course).
Huh? So there are no verses that describe principles anywhere in the N.T.? I couldn’t let this one slide. Here’s what I said:
Well, needless to say, this alleged Clergyperson did not like my reply. And this is what this “person of sacred worth who does not see other lives having sacred worth” said:
A conceived child is “exactly the same as a tumor in a body”! Really? Oh, John Wesley, how far has your vision and dream fallen into the depths of hell! Obviously this alleged clergyperson did not think it through. What does a tumor do to a body? It fills the person with fear and dread. It continues to grow until it destroys that body. And what does a baby do? It grows and develops, and then enters the world. And once in the world, that baby has the potential to find a cure for pancreatic cancer–design technology that improves the quality of life for the rest of the world–be a world peacemaker–the potential is unlimited. In fact, that potential existed while that child was in the mother’s womb. All that child needed to begin the journey to reach that potential was the opportunity to be born.
“A fetus is the POTENTIAL for a child. NOT a child.” I am at a loss for words that someone who claims to proclaim the Good News of The Kingdom of God could proclaim such an idea. Well–not really at a loss for words. “Vile! Mean! Depraved! Uncaring! Vicious! Nefarious! Warped! Noxious! Nasty! Disgusting!” Folks, this perspective of “a baby is just like a turmor” didn’t just appear suddenly. It’s been carefully developed over the past several decades. It comes directly from the President and Dean of Hell University. And it does not–nor will it ever fit into–the Narrative Of The Kingdom Of God!
So how do you and I react to the comments of this idiot? Let’s continue to show the sanctity of all human life–born and yet to be born. Let’s fill this culture with compassion for those who have chosen to have an abortion. Let’s get involved in increasing the quality of life for the least, the last, and the lost. And one more thing I will say–let’s work to decrease the costs related to adoption. Many couples I know would love to adopt and would provide a warm and loving home for a child–but the costs were prohibited.
And if there was ever any doubt about leaving the UMC–that doubt is gone. I have several friends who want me to stay in the UMC–but how can I effectively proclaim The Good News Of The Kingdom when the climate and environment within the UMC produces this kind of repulsive thinking? OK, rant is over!
Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.
2 Peter chapter 1 verse 19 from the New Living Translation
Yesterday morning I wrote about “What Happened To The Stars Last Night?” Well, guess what? This morning, the last morning here for our Tribe’s Annual Conference, I went out again and I looked up and there were still no stars! That is. . . until I turned my head slightly, and there it was: The Morning Star! Not even the lights of the city could hide that star! Litlle wonder, then, that in Peter’s second letter that he chose the image of The Morning Star to describe Jesus.
Perhaps there is some turmoil and chaos in your life. There is definitely turmoil and chaos in my current Tribe. And in that moment it may seem hopeless to you. The chaos is hiding from you any hope. Despair isn’t whispering in your ear. He’s shouting; and shouting loudly! In your darkness there doesn’t seem to be any light. But turn that head, ever so slowly. And there it is! The Bright And Morning Star! When all seems lost, Jesus shows up to remind us of His Faithful Presence. When darkness seems to be stronger than anything else–just go outside early in the morning and you will see it: The Bright And Morning Star! There is hope for Orthodox Methodists. There is hope for me. And there is hope for you!
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans chapter 8 verses 31-39 from the New Living Translation
7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— 12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.
Psalm 139 verses 7-12 from the New Living Translation
Last night, as is often my habit, I went outside and looked up to see there stars. But I couldn’t see a single star! Not one, mind you! What happened? Is the apocalypse happening? Has there been a tear in the space time continuum? I tell you, there were all gone! Yes, I was sober; and yes I was outside! But not a single star. Oh, and there were no clouds anywhere; so don’t even think that it was because it was cloudy. I know this because the Weather Channel App informed me there were no clouds! So what happened to the stars that I love to watch?
Could it be where I was at that particular moment? Hmmmm. . . I wasn’t at home; I was in Huntsville, Alabama for our Tribe’s Annual Conference. The problem seeing the stars was that the lights of the city obscurred the view. They were still there and still shinning; but all the other lights made it nearly impossible to see the stars. And here’s a very human story. Sometimes we think we can’t see God, that somehow God has abandoned us. He hasn’t. It’s just our perspective. When we allow other things to override our relationship with Jesus, it “looks like” Jesus has hit the road and left us.
He hasn’t! Last night I had to remind myself that the stars were still there, even if I couldn’t see them. And God is still here with you and me–even if we can’t see Him. We cannot escape or hide from God’s presence. This is the point David is making in this Psalm. And nothing on the third rock from the Sun can get in the way of God’s presence and love for you. So remember, if you can’t see Him it doesn’t mean He ain’t there! Just be confident He is there for you even when–especially when–it seems like He’s disappeared. He hasn’t! So stay calm!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
Anyone who doesn’t breathe is dead, and faith that doesn’t do anything is just as dead!
James chapter 5 verse 26 from the Contemporary English Version
Yesterday was an important day in Alabama. Though, based on the turn-out, most didn’t think it was important. It was the Primary Runoff election. And I was a poll worker. The particular precinct I worked had 117 votes cast in the primary election. But yesterday the number was only 61. Nearly 50% did not think it was worth their time to engage in the single most important principle of this nation–the right to vote. OK, OK! So one party’s run-off had only one office in the run-off. But when it comes to this representative republic, isn’t one office worth the effort to vote? I would say so, and so would the sacrifices and blood of those who fought and died for it. But I’m not here today to write about politics and elections. This event is a microcosm of a far more serious and deadly malady infecting so many today.
It’s called Faith Without Works! So, back to today’s title: Do You Have Faith Or Fuzzy Feelings? When it comes to this Life In Grace, it appears that many–way too many–have opted out of Faith With Works and opted in for Fuzzy Feelings! If we should learn anything from Jesus, it should be that our Faith is made for action. Faith is an action verb–things happen. There’s a dynamic occuring. Fuzzy Feelings is a noun. It describes something but doesn’t do anything. “Now wait just a doggone minute, Preacherman! Doesn’t the Bible say we are saved by faith, not works?” (Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8 and 9)
Indeed it does. And James is not contradicting Paul. Faith produces our salvation, not our works! But. . .what happens after we’re saved? After the fact of salvation by Faith alone, Faith produces a lifetime of works–or if you prefer–a lifetime of action! If all one has after they “think” they have been saved is a lot of Fuzzy Feelings then they haven’t been saved. This is what James is writing about. Read his words one more time: Anyone who doesn’t breathe is dead, and faith that doesn’t do anything is just as dead! Are you breathing? Are you saved? Then go and act in this world that urgently needs to see Jesus in ACTION!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure that all the glory goes to Him! And if you are still breathing–go do something that honors Him!
The Boundary Lines Have Fallen For Me In Pleasant Places; Surely I Have A Delightful Inheritance.
Psalm chapter 16 verse 6
What’s your history? Everyone has a history. Yesterday I had an appointment with a new cardiologist. I haven’t seen one in nearly 5 years, so it was time. I had one where we lived back then but he’s over 2 hours away. So it was time to find one closer. Past time, truthfully. I went to see him not because I was having chronic symptoms, but because of my history. I have hypertension (how weird that a pastor would have high blood pressure, right?) and a few years ago I had severe tachycardia–which was fixed with an ablation.
But there’s more to my “heart” history. Both of my grandfathers had heart issues. My paternal grandmother died from a heart attack. Along with some of my Dad’s brothers. My maternal grandmother and my mother had congestive heart failure. And my Dad had double bypass surgery. And when we went through my history and my family’s, Dr. Carraway concluded I needed a stress test. So on July 9, guess where I will be. I’m not anticipating anything to be wrong–but with my medical history, it’s just safer this way. And all this thinking and talking about “history” prompted today’s musing.
So I ask you again, What’s your history? Not your medical or your family’s medical history, but your history with Jesus? Though your medical history IS important, your history with Jesus is even more important. Think about David’s history with God. God provided for and protected David as a shepherd. He took that one smooth stone David had and sent it perfectly to the one place Goliath didn’t have any armor. Gave him the ability to write songs. Raised him up as a mighty warrior. Annointed him to be King. But David also had another history with God. On one occasion he plotted the murder of one of his best friends. Had an illicit affair. Became arrogant. And more things than we know. But it wasn’t just the horrible things David did–but where he went after the fact. David always went back to God! He knew that there was always mercy and grace with God. His own personal history testifies to this fact.
And what about you? Some say you can’t allow your history to define you. Well, this is true–but only to a certain point. When we take our sins to God and admit our failures, and trust in His Grace, God does what God does. He shows mercy and grace! If we fail to admit our sin before God, then our history defines as as such. BUT!!!! If we bring it to Jesus, admit we are a sinner and want to different future–then The Father grants that desire. But don’t limit your history with Jesus to just running to Him for forgiveness. Have a history of walking with Jesus, talking with Jesus, listenting to Jesus, and allowing The Holy Spirit to work in your heart and life so that you become like Jesus! We all have a history with Jesus. Make sure you have a history with Jesus–a history of living for Him!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans chapter 5 verses 3 through 5 New Living Translation
Today’s Morning Morning Spirit that robs us of life–the life God and God alone makes possible–is UNEFFORTABLE! Look in every dictionary–Google it–Bing it–Yahoo it–DuckDuckGo it–but you will not find this word. It’s a word I just made up! It means it’s not worth the effort! Just because it’s not in a dictionary nor in the World Wacky Web doesn’t mean it’s not real. Though it may not be real in the real world of words doesn’t mean it isn’t real in the real world!
Every moment of every day people run head-on into problems and difficulties. The UNEFFORTABLE spirit says, “Look for the easiest. Detour you life around this moment. It’s just not worth the effort to work through it!” People look for the easy and avoid the problems. There are issues with this Monday Morning Attitude that stands in the way of the life God is making possible for us. Beside, it’s an act of futility to think we can simply avoid all problems. So what can we do? We can do what Paul told the folks at Rome.
Rejoice that we are facing problems! Now, that’s counter-intuitive. Doesn’t this make a person a masochist? Well, if that’s all we want it does. We rejoice because we know that God is with us to help us push through.
Allow the problems to make us stronger in Jesus! If you want to lose weight and get in better physical shape, you can join a fitness center. But if you never GO to the fitness center, nothing will change. Right? Problems are the opportunities we need in order to become stronger in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit!
Allow the strength to build your character. A godly, Christ-like character doesn’t happen from reading about it. It happens in the furnaces of life.
Allow the Christ-Like character remind you of your hope! Our hope isn’t an easy life. Nope! It’s the life that is full of, saturated with, and overflowing with the Power Of The Resurrection!
And remember that God will never disappoint us! WE may be disappointed that God didn’t do this, that, or the other. But God will never, ever, ever, abandon us. If He promises that our problems will make us strong, strong enough to see Him at work–then we know that going through problems and troubles is worth the EFFORT!
When we know that God is with us and working for us in the problems of life–and that His work will give us both joy and hope, then we can say, “Good! Lord it’s Monday! What shall we do together?”
Thursday, June 16, 2022, at approximately 6:22 p.m. another 911 call was made from a church because of an active shooter. This time it was at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama near Birmingham. A lone individual walked in during a potluck supper and opened fire–3 were shot. One died at the scene and another died at a local hospital. The third victim is recovering. This happened only 54 miles from us, measuring by the way the crow flies. The responsible individual is in police custody. At this writing, no motive has been released by law enforcement officials.
But what about the “motive”? Motive and cause are not the same. In fact, the cause creates the motive. And while we do not yet know the motive behind this horrendous act, the cause is plain to see. Evil! And while attempts are made through legislation to eliminate evil, the root of evil is being ignored. And he loves it this way. Without calling him out by his name, he has free reign of the house. Chaos, ruin, and brokenness lies in the wake of his work. The disciple Peter nailed it in his letter First Peter chapter 5, verse 8:
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
from the New Living Translation
And he has been having a feast in our culture. It’s been an all-you-can-eat buffet for him. But there is something that drives him out of the cafeteria of life and sends him running as fast as he can! I said “something”, but what I mean is some ONE! His name is Jesus. But it takes more than just saying His name “Jesus”! It demands our surrender to Him. One of Jesus’ “half-brothers”, who by the way at first doubted his brother’s claim to be The Messiah, wrote in his letter James chapter 7 verses 7-10:
7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
New Living Translation
We cannot agree with what the world tells us and take the hand of God in relationship and friendship. In a world of “selfies” and “pride” Satan continues to feast! But when we humble ourselves before God and place Him as our “above all other things” relationship, Satan goes into the famine stage! Casting Crowns has song called God Of All My Days. And it ends with these lyrics:
In my blindness God, You are my vision And in my bondage God, You are my freedom All my days
Would you like to see Satan denied a plate at this all-you-can-eat buffet? You would? For this to happen it begins with you humbling yourself before God and resisting Satan. Don’t be the Gideon hiding in a winepress threshing wheat–be the Gideon who is greeted by the angel with these words: Mighty Warrior! Gideon became that Mighty Warrior when he walked humbly with his hand in God’s hand.
Yesterday I was full of vim and vinegar. But I figure at 66 years old I’ve earned both the privilege and right to be such. Yesterday’s words needed to be said, and more need to be saying them! But I have learned enough wisdom in these 66 years to know one cannot truly live this way 24/7. So, today I am turning to the hopeful me for something to write. And today’s thoughts are this: YOU BET HE CAN!
Disappointments and frustrations abound on this third rock from the sun. Think about those first disciples of Jesus. That Friday was a deep, deep disappointment for them. They were a mess! One of them, Judas, was such a mess that he committed suicide. The very last thing they probably had in their minds and hearts was HOPE! But Sunday turned it into their joy and hope, and it gave them their Message. And I’m thinking right now about Jeremiah. Jerusalem was surrounded by the Babylonians and he was in jail because he was telling them what God wanted said.
In that jail cell, God told Jeremiah that a cousin was coming to visit him with an offer to sell his land to him. When a company is about to go bankrupt is NOT the time to buy stock in that company. They are about to be carried away into exile. So why buy land when it’s about to be seized and taken away? Because God reminded Jeremiah that there’s more to the story. So Jeremiah does exactly what God told him. And when the transaction was completed, here’s what Jeremiah said:
“O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!”
Jeremiah chapter 32 verse 17 NLT
Can God turn your disappointments into joy and hope, and a message? You Bet He Can! And here’s a song to remind you of this!
For my fellow United Methodists, I don’t have to tell you we are nothing but The Denominational version of the Titanic. If you are a United Methodist and don’t know what I’m talking about, “SHAME ON YOU! GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND!” Why? Because this problem isn’t going away. And we cannot remain true to our Wesleyan heritage as long as This Problem exists. They (meaning Progressives, or as I prefer to call them, ‘ProAgressives’) want–nay DESIRE–nay again–they are DETERMINED to throw out the Bible and our Orthodox faith like yesterday’s trash. They “know” more than what The Bible clearly says–and for more than the Saints who sought and fought to preserve the Orthodox Faith. In case you may not be familiar with the word Orthodox (because it is a big word like mahogany), perhaps these synonyms will help you understand it better.
Three of them in particular fit the bill to understand what I mean by the Orthodox Faith: authoritative, buttoned down, and by the numbers! But. . . there are those in this Tribe I have been a part of for over 66 years who are convinced (or should I say deceived) that the tried and proven truth about sexual ethic of the Bible is. . .well. . .just plain wrong. Jesus was all about the love, they claim. And they claim that only 2 genders, male and female, are way too restrictive for people to really be who they are. So, they’ve added 72 additional gender designations. Forget the science, forget the biology, and forget Genesis chapter 2. And forget how our stance on sexuality has been unchanged since 1972. It states that all people stand equally in need of God’s grace. However, the practice of homosexuality is incompatable with Christian teachings–i.e.–the orthodox faith. Homosexuality is not any worse than any other sin–but it is outside God’s design and thus it is a sin–along with that long litany of stuff that puts all of us outside of God’s Desgin.
And now to this past week–and it shows how far my beloved Tribe has wandered. According to our approved procedures and rules, no self avowed practicing homosexual can be licensed, commissioned, nor ordained. To assure fidelity to the Bible and our procedures, we have this group called The Board Of Ordained Ministry. Some call it the BOOM or BOM for short. In the most recent session of the Florida Annual Conference, their BOOM recommended 16 candidates to be commissioned on the path to full ordination. Of the 16, two admitted that they were self-avowed practicing homosexuals–clearly in violation of The Bible and our rules. However, the Florida BOOM approved them. But they still needed 3/4 of the ordained clergy to give final approval. And the stuff hit the fire.
What Bishop Ken Carter and the Florida BOOM did was to put all 16 candidates in a single vote. As a group, vote up or down. Now, in fairness, I do not know that the other 14 candidates met the requirements. However, we do know that 2 did not! And the resulting firestorm has been aimed at the 27.3% who voted against the 16 because Bishop Carter would not allow them to vote on the candidates one by one. 27.3% voted according to their ordination vows and the Bible, and now they are the villians. So, the 27.3% who acted in the same spirit as Joshua and Caleb (see the story of the 10 spies) are treated with great disdain and anger.
And a fellow blogger joins in the disdain and anger, Rev. Jim Harnish. You can read his blog here. Jim asserts that the orthodox faith is invalid because, well because we are such more enlightened. And during the eventual commissioning and ordaining service, Bishop Ken Carter apologized to that group with these words:
“I grieve the harm you have experienced. I am committed to the support of your callings … I would have gladly commissioned each of you, and gladly appointed each of you …“
Bishop Ken Carter
So, Bishop Carter would have gladly thrown away both the Bible and our Discipline. Whether that’s what he meant or not, this is exactly what he was saying and doing. And to my fellow Brother Jim I say that simply because you have changed your views about The Bible and our Discipline, a Discipline you promised you would faithfully follow when you were ordained, doesn’t mean you are right. I am grieved that you would allow culture to define your faith rather than allow God’s Word to Transform the culture. And thus, we see the 21st Century version of the Titanic raising her bow in preparation for sinking. I am not angry–I am sad–and I am disappointed that there are those who will abandon John Wesley’s passion to be people of “homo unius libri.” (a people of One Book!)
To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be “homo unius libri.”
John Wesley (June 17, 1706-March 2, 1791)
Footnote: Though I am saddened, maligned by others, accused of quitting and giving up–I am still praying and hopeful that this blight and disorder–this cancerous lie–can be put in it’s rightful place. Back to hell where it came from and where it belongs! Furthermore, I am confident that the Wesleyan desire for renewal and revival is not dead on this earth. The signs are everywhere. And if our leadership in the UMC doesn’t have a change of heart–it will happen with another people–NOT in the UMC!
It is so sad, so very sad! And when I think about it I am a mixture of angry, snarky, frustrated, and just want to sit down and cry! What could make me feel like this? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s Red and Blue! That’s what makes me want to slap some people–make that–MANY people on the back of the head. This once great nation is now divided along the lines of color. Not the color of their skin–but the color of their politics. I’m beginning to see the movie The Matrix more as a prophetic statement on our current times than just a movie.
This once mighty nation where people of all sorts lived together, worked together, and rallied together–this nation where people once knew we could disagree with each other but not be enemies–has deteriorated into maps that are colored by either Red or Blue. Then sections of each state are by means of an idiopathic process, are determined to be either Red or Blue. And it seems that right and wrong are determined by which pill, Red or Blue, that one chooses to swallow!
And what infuriates and saddens me the most is when those who “claim” to be Christians join in the cry to choose either Red or Blue. But then this morning I read The Verse of the Day from Bible Gateway. And my focus and perspective changed–for the better. And today, God moved whoever determines the Verse of the Day to make this the passage:
But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
Philippians chapter 3, verse 20 NLT emphasis mine
See, we aren’t neither Red or Blue–our citizenship is in God’s Kingdom. Listen to me, followers of Jesus: you don’t have to act like a Red or Blue Pill! In fact, you better not act like a Red or Blue pill. There’s a better way to change our culture and lead our nation forward. It’s remembering where our citizenship and loyalty lies: with Jesus and The Kingdom. Here’s what the root word from the Greek translated here as “citizens” means:
And notice that last entry under Outline of Biblical Usage: to conduct one’s self as pledged to some law of life. This law of life isn’t in the Red or Blue pill. It’s found in our relationship with Jesus. Politics leads and ends in frustration and ultimately devastation. But as citizens of God’s Kingdom, following Jesus through thick and thin leads us to goodness, peace, and joy now (Romans chapter 14 verse 17) and ultimately it will lead us to the very throne of God! Now, don’t you think that’s better than swallowing a Red or Blue Pill?
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
The Monday Morning Spirit that I want to speak into this week is the desire to be COMFORTABLE! Something happened last night that opened my eyes to how this devilish desire to be comfortable has eroded the fabric of this gnarled culture. As I was going through my rountines before retiring to the bedroom I checked the a/c thermostat. We like it around 68 degrees at night. And to my horror it showed 78 degrees! We never set it above 71 or 72 degrees. Oh, dear! The A/C wasn’t working.
Here in lovely Fayette County, Alabama we are under a heat advisory. I knew it was going to be a long and uncomfortable night. I gathered up extra fans to help a little. Still, it was going to be uncomfortable. Well, as you can clearly discern, I have survived not having a/c last night. And I knew that this morning that brilliant and wonderful a/c technician would arrive, find the problem, and get the a/c working again!
Still, it was uncomfortable. And in this current culture people are choosing to be comfortable over being uncomfortable. And who wouldn’t? But to grow in maturity, and to grow into what God designed us to be, it requires, from time to time, seasons of being uncomfortable. So many of us live under the deception that life is meant to be comfortable. Well, it would be–had Adam and Eve done the one thing they were supposed to do! They had one job–and failed. And so do we. Thus the consequences of THE Fall by Adam and Eve continues and multiplies in our times.
Now, I want to raise your hackles! We don’t need to be comfortable!!! “Just hold on to your horses, Preachman! That ain’t so! Didn’t Jesus promise us we would comfortable if we follow Him?” Well. . . . . He didn’t! He promised us some thing better than being comfortable; He promised us Comfort! “Dang it, Preacherman, ain’t that what I just said?”
You said Jesus would make us comfortable. What Jesus promises is Comfort! “Dagnabbit, Preacherman! You’re talking like a used car salesman and a politician mashed up into one!” And alas, the problem is revealed. We think that being comforted is that same thing as being comfortable. Comfortable means feeling at ease. Can you see another word in that word “ease”? It’s easy. No, the word is EASY! We want life to be EASY, and thus, we want God to make it EASY! But easy isn’t where the glory is found. Peter, who knew a lot about being uncomfortable, wrote in his letter 1 Peter chapter 4, verses 12 and 13:
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. (meaning He is supposed to be making life easy) Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.
From The Message; (emphasis mine)
Better than making us comfortable, God offers us Comfort! And the Comfort means that He is right there with us–more than just a presence–but He is with us with all of His wisdom and power! So, get over wanting to be comfortable, and seek after His Comfort. And remember that being uncomfortable is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. Hear those last 6 words again and allow them to sink in: with glory just around the corner!
When we seek Comfort over being comfortable, then we can say: Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Romans chapter 13 verse 8 from the New International Version
I think it was my sophomore year in high school when I signed up for “Bookkeeping”! Oh, I had no intention nor desire to become an accountant. But I needed one more class to fill my schedule–so there I was. Remember, this was back in the day of this thing called paper! I did learn, unwillingly I might add, about these books called ledgers. What I mainly remember about ledgers is two specific columns–debits and credits. Debits was the money coming in and credits was the money going out. And this morning I found myself thinking about those ledgers–and, of course–debits and credits. Oh? You need a connection between my thoughts and the Kingdom Life? OK, here goes!
We live in a time and culture where so very many people want to be entertained. They feel that life owes them something–in accounting terms that’s a debit. And they are teaching their kids the very same errant principle. I mean, look at how many kids are “playing”–if you can even call it that–with a phone or tablet. The desire to be entertained doesn’t add value to our life. On the contrary, it takes away from our life–in accounting terms that’s a credit! The desire to be entertained is everywhere–in homes, communities, at work, and yes, even at church! If we are not entertained we look somewhere else to be entertained.
But this is not the way to live–at least according to our Creator. God inspired Paul to write the aforementioned passage. Why? Because as His Creation, we are not the consumers of life–we are to be the producers of life. The attitude and demonic spirit of consumerism devalues life and takes away its worth. It treats people and blessings as our personal slaves that is owed to us because–well–because we are alive. The desire to be entertained is pure and unadulterated laziness! And it never leaves us satisfied and content. Why? Because this is simply NOT our purpose.
Our purpose is to add value to life and to people. And the way we add life is by loving people. Yes, Virginia, even those who are the most unlovable! But remember–love isn’t a feeling. Love is an action verb! Love reveals itself through the attitude of action! We cannot see feelings or emotions. I can’t see a feeling–but show me action and I understand! While “feeling” love makes the one “feeling” it feel a little bit better–it does nothing for others. And it really does nothing to add value to our life. And in steps The Kingdom Of God–not with a better way to add value to life–but the ONLY way to add value to life–both ours and all the people around us. Here’s our true purpose in life:
18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
1 John chapter 3 verses 18 and 19 from the New Living Translation
SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO….Love God with all your heart. Love other the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
“Wait,” he said, “I know your objecttion, I don’t feel like doing those things! Of course you don’t,” the president (Abraham Lincoln) continued. And that is exactly why we are talking about self-discipline! Think about what the king just said a few moments ago. He said ‘What do you want?’ Well I wanted to be happy.” Lincoln continued. “Then the king said, ‘Can you make yourself do something you don’t particularly want to do in order to get a result that you want?’You know, when I am depressed, I can promise you that I do not want to see other people or read amusing books or listen to happy music. I just want to be happy. But I have learned that I can discipline myself to do some thing I don’t particularly want to do–smile, walk, visit a cheerful friend–to get a result I do want.”
The Traveler’s Summit by Andy Andrews
The above quote is from that book I am reading again. It’s classified as fiction but it is full of Biblical Principles and Godly Wisdom. Andy wrote this book sometime after he wrote The Travler’s Gift. I encourage you to read it first! The setting of this book is that the key character, David Ponder, has been summoned to a “summit” to answer a single question. Failure to answer that question correctly will result in the end of human civilization. But he’s not the only one at the Summit. All the other “Travelers” are also present. And the question that the archangel Gabriel posed was this: “What does humanity need to do, individually and collectly, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?” They only have 5 opportunities to answer the question–and the answer must be only 2 words.
Why all this rambling about a book and a question? Because last night this book forced yours truly to think about what I think. In these days it seems so many people are a prisoner to their own thinking–thinking that how they think is set for life and can never change. And the truth is how I am thinking at a particular moment is affecting and infecting my actions; what I do–and especially what I don’t do.
Indeed, God created us to be thinking beings because–well because HE thinks and we are made in His Image. Our actions and our reactions are the direct result of how we think. You may “think” I’m wrong–that’s OK if you want to disagree with me, and be wrong! Though thinking was one of God’s mighty and marvelous gifts to us human beings–it became polluted and corrupted with–you should have guessed it–by SIN! Listen again to President Lincoln’s thoughts in the book: ‘Can you make yourself do something you don’t particularly want to do in order to get a result that you want?’
If your current way of thinking is making you miserable, unhappy, and unfullfilled–insisting that others think the way you think will not take that away. No, what we need is to change how WE think and then act according to those different thoughts. It’s not easy–sin is a bully after all–but it is possible. We can’t do it alone, but we can do it with the right help. And the right help is none other than Jesus. Think about what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 28 verse 20: “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Some think that the only application for this Promise is in the realm of evangelism. That’s a narrow way of thinking. Always means–well–ALWAYS!!! Not just those times when we are sharing the Good News of The Kingdom. ALWAYS means that in every moment without regard to what one is doing. Look above, not within, for the help we all need in taming that wild stallion known as “thinking”. Whatever it is you think about yourself, your situation, others, and even the culture–measure your thinking by God’s Word–and the only place God’s Word is found is in The Bible. And for heaven’s sake–don’t think about what you read based solely on what you think. Ask the Holy Spirit for His help. He loves to help us because–well, that’s how He thinks and thus it is how He acts!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
Calling this a crazy world out there doesn’t do justice to describing our current culture. Crazy doesn’t come close to describing the malady of our times. When you look at the development of civilization the most imediate thing that is clearly in focus is that even the most primitive civilizations recognize that there exists some “higher being”–A.K.A. a “god”. This is a powerful acknowledgement–to realize there is “someone” out there with more power and wisdom than us punny human beings. And thanks to The Bible–yes, that outdated and irrelevant book for our times–we know that the ONLY “higher being” is God–or using His name that He revealed to Moses–Yahweh!
The Bible reveals to us seven indesputable, ironclad, unassailable, and undeniable facts about Him and ourselves. And here they are:
We ain’t that God! Many an empire has fallen into dust because their king wrongly believed they were a “god”. Check out history as it actually happened, not the revisionists version.
God doesn’t need us to improve upon Himself, or help Him out! God doesn’t need our approval nor even our validation to exist. And He certainly doesn’t need our help when it comes to what is right and what is wrong.
We human beings are messed up and we can’t fix ourselves! I mean, if we could fix ourselves then why even need God? Yet throughout the history of civilization we see human beings doing this very thing–and without success. Look, if human beings could fix themselves, then why is civilization (if you want to call it that) today so messed up? The philosophy of liberalism that emerged in the 1950’s believed we had what it takes to straighten up this world. And even changing their name to “Progressives” hasn’t fixed one problem. If you doubt me on this, just read Facebook!
Though we are all screwed up, only God has the remedy for us! We call this Grace! We don’t deserve to be redeemed. We can’t earn His redemption. It’s free for us–but on God’s terms, not ours.
We must admit we are fallen, messed-up, screwed-up sinners! We call this “confession”. Confession doesn’t mean writing down every sin we’ve ever committed. Confession is the Admission that I Am A Sinner! Maybe that’s exactly why so many are tearing out so many pages from their “Bibles”. We don’t want to admit that we’re broken, and if we do admit it, then we want to fix outselves. One way that’s being promoted today is to embrace our brokenness and simply ask God to bless our mess and sanctify our stuff. Rather than BEING JUSTIFIED, so many want to JUSTIFY their mess and stuff. They call it their “feelings”. So, since God is love, all one needs to do is love God and love others–then God will approve of their mess and stuff. Then Voilà! They are no longer a sinner! And those who believe to the contrary are simply mean and ugly!
We need to turn away and go in the exact opposite direction! We call this repentance! And it comes from and through the acknowledgement of the truth that we’re a mess. When we truly allow God’s love into our hearts, then the desire to stop sinning rises up within us. Without the desire to give up sin–there is no repentance. And though our redemption is free–it never becomes the power we need for becoming that New Creation until we desire to give up our old life.
And God will forgive and redeem us when we come to Him on HIS terms, not ours! God isn’t a negotiator. And He certainly isn’t a car salesman where we can give and take in order to come to a deal. But in His Mercy and Grace, He will transform us from a mess into a message. Read what John wrote in 1 John chapter 1, verses 8 through 10: “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—simply come clean about them—He won’t let us down; He’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of Him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.” (from The Message)
God will never let us down when we come to Him on His terms, and not our terms. And His terms are simple and straightforward: Unconditional Surrender! Unconditional surrender doesn’t mean we become slaves to Him. It means we become His Sons and Daughters, Princes and Princesses! After all, that’s why we were created–to become just like Him!
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.
Matthew chapter 6 verse 33 from the New Living Translation
Ever heard the expression, “There’s a storm on the horizon!”? I’m no meteriologist, but I’m telling you it’s NOT on the horizon–but it’s already upon us. It’s all around us and it ripping our culture into unrecognizable pieces! And it ain’t going away anytime soon! It’s a Category 12 hurricane, an F-22 tornado, and a tsunami mashed up together and it’s destroying the human race. Contrary to the view from the left–it’s not global warming! Excuse me, the term is now climate change (I guess it’s because the polar caps aren’t melting as fast as they claimed).
The Storm is all about Truth–rather that distinct and discernable ABSENCE of THE Truth! Truth has been relegated and demoted to how one feels and thinks. Even the science of biology has been defrocked and dishonored by those who say gender is determined by feelings. “Holy Cow, Batman! What are we going to do now?” Great question, Robin! What device or weapon does Batman have on his Bat Belt that will get rid of this Storm? But alas, poor Yorick, no such device exists. But. . .could it be there is still hope for our culture? If you listen to churchians and tenured pew sitters the answer is a resounding NO! But they ain’t worth listening to! They are just like politicians running for election or re-election–full of des conneries!
People are trying in vain to seek truth–and more they seek? Well, the more miserable they become! Instead of giving up the fruitless and pointless search through what they think and feel–they persist! They are looking for a life filled with purpose and meaning. But their thinking and feeling keeps that PEACE hidden. And anyone who offers a different opinion? Well, they are called mean, ugly, and if it’s Kingdom People talking–they are full of hate. And it’s all because of The Truth!
There is a solution–a path forward–that will dissipate this calamitous Storm. It’s so simple that most folks cannot see it so they trip right over it. It’s child’s play, really! All it requires is our embrace and commitment to the above words of Jesus! SEEK GOD’S KINGDOM AND WHAT HE SAYS IS RIGHT FIRST! And to seek God’s Kingdom and what HE says is right–we all have to begin with this single thought: “I may be wrong about what I think and what I feel!” And while our culture keeps right on seeking but never finding, WE, who are unashamed and unafraid to be called Disciple of Jesus, Citizens Of The Kingdom Of God, (notice, I didn’t mention the word “church”) must become and BE examples of what it means to Seek and Find what is hidden to so many. And that, my friends, is The Truth.
Remember that old TV series “The X-Files”? There is a line that is famous from the show. “The truth is out there,” says Scully, before following up with “but so are lies”. Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
The Monday Morning Attitude, or spirit if you prefer, is one of those places and moments where we can do more than learn–we can mature! But learning, or as I prefer–maturing, doesn’t just happen automatically. It takes a conscious and dogged determination to choose to learn from it. What’s that saying? If we don’t learn from our mistakes we are destined to repeat them–over and over and over! And the Monday Morning Attitude is a mistake–because it steals from us the joy and wonder of the life God intends and desires for us to experience. So, this morning I thought I would share with you some things I learned on our recent road trip on the trike; since one of my dear friends wants to hear about it. (BTW, this morning I came up with the name for my new bike. My old one was Therapist, and this one is Counselor!)
Don’t wear black jeans on a hot sunny day! Man, my legs felt like they were cooking on a smoker grill! I remembered an old lesson: the color black draws in heat!
Watch out for others! It may have been in Amory, Ms., and there was a tractor mowing the sides of the highway. And this idiot decided to pass that tractor on a double yellow line as we were approaching it. Idiot may not sound like a very “Christian” term–but at 66 years old I call it like I see it!
Stay off the interstates! Not because they are dangerous for a bike. No, it’s because you see so much more of the beauty of God’s creation on the two-lane roads.
Take the time to talk to other people! On more than one stop, we had people wanting to talk about our bike. Some had questions, and others had stories. Rather than being impatient to get on down the road, we listened and talked. Shook hands and bumped fists! It was great!
Don’t worry if you miss a turn, enjoy the ride! We missed a turn and saw parts of the countryside that we probably won’t see again. The adventure of not knowing exactly where we were didn’t keep us from enjoying the ride!
There are some rough roads out there! I mean tooth-rattling, bone jarring roads. But we found out they aren’t everywhere. So we hung on until the roads became smoother. And we saw a lot of the beauty of God’s creation.
Don’t speed! No, I didn’t get a speeding ticket! Speed limits are for our safety and the safety of others. Besides, we saw some beautiful flowers that otherwise we would have missed.
Eventually, you will find a road that will take you to a familiar place! Remember us missing a turn (or two, or three)? We found a sign that pointed us to a familiar place. It was from that familiar place we knew how to get back home! So watch for the signs!
What should have been about a 3 or 4 hour drive, turned into an all day adventure! And we loved every mile (long miles) of the journey. We didn’t take a lot of pictures with our phones, but we took a lot of pictures with our minds. Here’s one from the phone:
Adding this picture reminded me of another lesson I learned. It’s hard going against the current, but sometimes you have to go against it to get to where you need to be! We couldn’t help but notice the strong currents on the Mississippi. We watched some tug boats going up stream–and they weren’t going as fast as those going downstream because they were going against the current. But I am confident those tugboats and barges arrived at the destination. By the way, why do they call them “tug” boats when in reality they are “pushing”, not tugging, those barges? We may never know.
But one thing I do know is that when we learn and mature through what we experience and what we see, then we can say, “Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall be do together?”