IDENTITY OR ACTION? OR BOTH?

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians chapter 2, verse 20; from the New Living Translation (NLT)

Just exactly who are you? What determines the essence of you? What is the bottom line? Fact Time: Everyone has a, call it, bottom-line identity. It is what you are known by to others. Are you identified by your roles? Dad? Mom? Lawyer? Plumber? Preacher? Son? Daughter? Sister? Brother? Accountant? OR is your bottom-line identity in what you do? Kind? Helpful? Patient? Caring? Friendly? Empathetic? Energetic? And when it comes to your spiritual life (and everyone has one of these), what is the singularity that marks your life?

Do you consider yourself a Christian? Maybe I should ask a tougher question: What makes you a Christian? Is it an identity based on things like confessing and repenting of your sins and saying the sinner’s prayer? Being baptized? That you are a member of a particular church? That you read your Bible and say your prayers? That you avoid certain vices? Or is it because you show love to others? That you volunteer at the local homeless shelter? That you support the local food bank? That you demand justice for animals? That you cry out for equality for all people? So tell me, which is it? What you say or what you do?

That it’s both? Being a Christian is more than a title or a label. It’s more than a statement about what you did. And it’s more than actions we think makes us a Christian! It begins with the recognition that it’s something we are totally powerless to become. It requires that admission that we ARE sinners. And more than admitting we ARE sinners, it’s being honest enough with self to say we are tired of being sinners! It demands a total surrender of heart, mind, and will to Jesus. Then, we trust that what Jesus did on the Cross was done purposefully by Him for us sinners. And that a whole new life is now in front of us!

And as difficult as they may seem for some, it’s only the beginning. Being a Christian isn’t a matter of personal holiness or social holiness. It’s both!!!! (Notice the extra exclamation marks!!!!) This is exactly what Paul was trying to tell the Galatian church. Following Jesus begins with faith. It continues with faith in actions. And to the Church in the United States, Jesus didn’t live, die, and rise up from the death to create a Christian nation. He did all this to call us to storm the strongholds of Satan and reclaim the territory he stole for the Kingdom of God. No, actions don’t save us. But our actions do determine if we are or are not saved.

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THE NEW CUSS WORDS! PART 2

Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke chapter 9 verse 62 from The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

Yesterday’s new cuss word was ACCOUNTABILITY. Today the new cuss word is CONSISTENCY! We are being told that it’s OK to leave behind (Using a big word like mahogany,) The Orthodox Faith for a more enlightened version of the Good News. One of the things that our Council of Bishops is telling us is that they are not changing our historic “Doctrinal Standards And General Rules”; most of which came from John Wesley’s writings and sermons. Sounds good, right? But somewhere between their words and their actions something has gone terribly awry.

Those in leadership insist that many things the Bible clearly says is sin isn’t really a sin. “They”, our leaders, want us to believe that some things (meaning beliefs about ourselves) thought to be a “sin”, well, they aren’t really sins. That it is all a part of our God-created design. Well, buckeroos, what about Article VII which says this, and I quote from John Wesley himself:

Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk) but it is in the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engenders of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.

Paragraph 104 from The Book of Discipline; emphasis mine

As Wesley so eloquently put it, our our nature is inclined to evil, and that continually! In simple terms–we want to sin! Our natural path is to always go away from God. And simply to ignore that and call sin a part of our Creator’s Design is, well, INCONSISTENT. You see, it doesn’t matter what one says–it’s how they think and how they act. Our Bishops want us to believe that our nature is good and ordained by God–even though it’s not. They say we do not have to give up our “historic” faith–yet here they are–promoting and wanting to lead us away from The Bible and our Historic Faith.

Now tell me! Where is the CONSISTENCY in this? And my friends at StayUMC wants us to see the United Methodist Church as this big tent where traditionalists, moderates, and progressives can live together in peace and harmony. But how can we live under this big tent without being CONSISTENT with The Bible and our Historic, Orthodox Faith? We can’t, contrary to their opinion, because it doesn’t work, it isn’t working, and it will never work. Our leadership and StayUMC firmly believe that CONSISTENCY is a cuss word. Oh, they won’t say it is a cuss word. But their words and actions do. I leave you with these words from Paul:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness?

2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 14 from The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition; emphasis mine

Our historic faith says our natural self is always going towards sin. They say it doesn’t. Inconsistency is the order of the day for the Bishops and leadership of the United Methodist Church. And CONSISTENCY is a cuss word not to be spoken out loud. Does it make sense to you to “say” they are not leading you away from The Bible and our Historic when they clearly stand outside of Article VII? You decide!

You’re NOT You When–Tuesday Thoughts 11 February 2020

The other day I was thinking about something that, well is missing in our culture. OK, I know, I know there’s a lot missing in today’s culture. So I will be specific–there is a lack of maturity. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines maturity as “he quality or state of being mature“. OK, so what mature? One of the definitions given is: “of or relating to a condition of full development“. EUREKA! THAT’S IT!

Full development as a whole person. But like the description of some nations, many are underdeveloped. They remind me of this Commercial:

Many people today just aren’t themselves because they have failed to mature. To reach full development as a whole person, we need to turn to something more than the culture of today offers. The views and values of this current culture has only promoted and provided a level of immaturity rarely seen in the history of humanity. And many need more than a Snicker’s Bar.

I’m reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3:18–“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” Maturity happens as we align our heart, mind, and purpose to the will and desires of God. Problem is people are too often absorbed and focused on their will and desires. The result of self-absorption is a pettiness and narrow-mindedness that has made people feel and act like they are miserable. Worse than this, they believe they are miserable. Event worst, they ARE miserable.

But to change this environment, we need to get back to Paul’s words. We need to allow The Holy Spirit to change us more and more to become like Jesus. Maturity happens as our hearts, minds and actions reflect Jesus rather than the world. You can’t be yourself, if you are like the world. You are made for something better. You’re not you when you’re not hungry for Jesus. Not even a Snickers Bar can help.

(I just added this one because I love Don Rickles.)

It’s Like The Weather!

One day you go to the closet and get a jacket. The next day you leave the jacket in the closet. The following day you’re looking for your flip-flops. We call this “The Weather” in an Alabama typical fall week. This is one of the unique “pleasures” of living in Alabama–to experience all 4 seasons in one week. Sometimes we get to experience at least 3 seasons in one day!

The above screenshot is today’s forecast for us here in scenic Fayette County. Here, allow me to show you the rest of today’s temperatures:

Yep, 62 degrees right now. And this time tomorrow it will be 33 degrees. Some of us Alabamians keep a change of clothes in our vehicle for such a time as this. If you see a car with Alabama license plates and there are extra clothes in the backseat–we’re not homeless; we’re just prepared for today’s weather. And as I was thinking about our weather here, The Spirit put another thought in my head:

Even though our culture changes more than our weather, inside we are to be the same people–Followers Of Jesus!

Too many who bear the name of Christ, are looking for an environment that makes it easy to share their faith. Well, guess what Buttercup! Sometimes it IS easy to share our faith. But most times . . . it’s not so easy. Sure, who wouldn’t want to share their faith when it’s 78 degrees with a relative humidity of 10 percent. I find those kinds of weather days in Alabama extremely rare–even rarer are those kinds of days in real life with real people and real situations. So, what do you do?

You dress appropriately. Not just for the weather, but for life. Though the outside circumstances each day change like the weather in Alabama, we are to remain the same inside. It’s hard around here to decide how to dress for the weather many times. But it’s simple, not easy–but simple–to know how the dress for our culture and environment. Here is the ageless “fashion wear” of God:

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

Colossians 3:12-17 (The Message)

If you are a serious follower of Jesus, then you know you have the Holy Spirit living inside you. The Spirit is God’s Fashion Consultant for you, and He will always provide you the perfect attire, whatever the “weather” is like outside. The Fashion Attire God provides for serious Followers of Jesus is always perfect–even if the weather changes like it does here in Sweet Home Alabama!

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