The Big Lie!

old new clothes

Yesterday afternoon I was at the Opening Session for our Tribe’s thing called “Annual Conference”.  It was my 43rd consecutive Conference.  For “outsiders”, Annual Conference is this thing that when all is said and done, more is said than done.  Bishop Sharma Lewis preached for our opening Worship, and normally I would have considered it a great and powerful message.  She chose the passage from Colossians 3, verse 12 and it was about putting on the new clothes of love and she presented us with a great question:  What are you wearing?

Normally, I know there’s nothing normal about me in many folks eyes, but that’s their problem, I would have really been inspired by the message.  I mean, what’s better than wearing the new clothes of love.  Or, as The Message puts it:

Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. 

But this crisis that the United Methodist Tribe is facing, has caused me to have this deep-seated thought that Bishop Lewis was only telling half of the story–literally a half-truth.  And a half-truth is at its root and core, a lie!  As I was talking to God about this “disappointment” in my heart, it hit me.  She, like so many in our culture today, didn’t talk about the first part of Paul’s letter.  Yes, be clothed in God’s love–after all, it’s His personal label.  But….

But these new clothes don’t fit or look well as long as you keep wearing the “old” clothes underneath them.  He starts off in Verses 1-2

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

It’s one of the few things I remember from my cemetery, excuse me, seminary days–that a text without its context is only a pretext.  Bishop Lewis never mentioned verses 1 and 2.  And there’s more to the context, and it’s summed up in verse 5

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God.

Our Tribe is being asked to change our church polity and order to accommodate what is now called “Progressive” theology.  We are being asked to give up the traditional view of human sexuality in order to not only accommodate our culture–but here’s the BIG LIE–but because of God’s love, it’s OK to be “gay”.  Progressive theology on human sexuality says that God created some people “gay”, ergo, it’s no longer a sin.  Just wear love!

Yet how can anyone put on God’s love, wear these perfectly fitting clothes, IF we continue to wearing the old clothes?  The truth is, the painful truth is, you can’t!  In the south we would say it like this, and for you poor unfortunate souls who aren’t in the south, I will help translate this for you:  Put a silk dress on a sow (NOUN: a female pig) and she’s still a sow, and she’ll get that silk dress muddy.  And we cannot wear God’s New Designer Label of Love until we get rid of the old clothes of sin.

I say this not from the “high ground” of being morally superior to others, but from the “low ground” of realizing that I still have sin in me.  I admit that I’m broken and am always turning back to God to help put shed off the old clothes so that I can be fitted with the right clothes.  Those who insist that sexuality outside of the husband (man) and wife (woman), in other words, being “gay”, is their identity.  There is no offer of personal transformation into the identity that has nothing to do with sex–but everything to do with The Creator.

Progressives offer no hope for a new identity–just put on the new clothes of love without ever taking off the old clothes of, as The Message puts it, “doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God.”  I am wondering now, could it be that the suicide rate is above average in the LBGTQI community, especially among teens who feel or believe they are gay, because they are not offered Hope–hope for not just a new identity–but their TRUE identity.  A person’s true identity is found in their relationship with God–NOT with whom they are having sex.

And my heart breaks for the LBGTQI community because they have been told to believe that there is no way to shed their old clothes for the new designer clothes.  As long as we try to wear the Divine Designer Clothes of Love OVER the old clothes doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy you will never be able to wear them as they are designed.

I’m not saying homosexuality is the worst sin.  And it certainly isn’t the only thing that can be called an abomination.  Proverbs 6:16-19 (NLT) describes those things this way:

17 There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent,
18 a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong,
19 a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.

One time I was asked, “Bro. Randy, what do you think is the worst sin?  Rejecting Jesus?”  I think my response shocked her.  I said, “No, even that’s not the worst sin.  I believe that the worst sin is the one that makes God want to vomit–and that is being lukewarm (Revelation 3:16).  No other condition, no other sin that I can find in the Bible makes God want to puke.  I just noticed something–3:16.  One 3:16 tells us we can have eternal life (John 3:16).  This other 3:16 says we make God want to puke, and thus, be eternally separated from Him.

I am smart enough, wise enough, and humble enough to know that I still have times when I try to wear God’s Designer Jeans over my filthy yard clothes.  They don’t fit, they don’t look good because that’s not the way these “Designer Jeans” are “DESIGNED” to be worn.  We have to put off the old in order to wear the new.  So I pray, pray hard first for me to be sure I’m not trying to wear the new over the old.  Second, I pray hard for the LBGTQI community to stop believing the Great Lie.  And third, I pray for those who are deceiving the LBGTQI community WITH the Great Lie.

Before new life happens–before we can experience the Resurrection Life–there are things that need to, MUST die in all of us.  Otherwise, we’re just an old sow wearing a silk dress.  That’s not how this works!

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Do You Serve Before God’s Altar?

OK, since God calls us to be a Kingdom of Priests (1 Peter 2:9) I ask you:  Whose altar is it?  Priests in the Old Testament served before the Altar of God, meaning God owned that altar.  If the altar is yours then the Fire of Revival will never fall on it.  The fire from Heaven didn’t fall on the altar of Jezebel’s priests because it wasn’t God’s altar.  As long as we try to control the altar, God’s fire won’t fall on it!

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Tamed And Domesticated. How Sad!

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I was just thinking this morning.  In my world of those who know me, many shudder when I say this.  Some even do the face palm thing while shaking their heads wondering to themselves, “Dear Lord, what is this man up to again?”  And a few even run and hide.  I’m OK with that because I am convinced God gave me a mind–a mind to learn with and a mind to question things–sometimes everything.

I am thinking about that word “TAME” and its partner word “DOMESTICATED”.  Somehow, there are those who think that the purpose of a relationship with God is about taming us.  There are many tribes (tribes are groups of people with a similar belief system and mindset about God, also known as denominations in some circles) who believe that in order to follow Jesus, we must be tamed.  They treat desire as if it were the modern-day equivalent of Biblical times leprosy.

And so this idea of desire is pushed back and beaten down so that respectability can rule and reign.  As I was thinking about that word TAME I realized that it rhymes with another word:  LAME.  So what if we started seeing DESIRE as something to, well DESIRE, to want, to insist on having?  Not just any DESIRE, but to have DESIRE for God–for what God is doing–and especially for what God wants us to do!

Can we agree, at least those smart enough to believe in Intelligent Design, that we have been created in God’s image?  OK!  God has DESIRES.  So if HE has DESIRES, why shouldn’t we?  Unfortunately many have traded in the God who has Great Desires for a god who is nice and kind and always gentle.  In others words, a domesticated god.  When something is domesticated it means we have TAMED it for OUR use, to use the way we want.

The True and Living God is neither TAME nor DOMESTICATED.  He is wild with DESIRE!  Oops, someone just said, “I don’t believe that!  Prove it from the Bible!”  Okey Dokey, be careful what you ask for; you just might get it, as in this case.  God sent a messenger to Eli the priest saying He, God, would take away the priesthood from Eli and his sons and raise up priests who do what, and I quote God, “I DESIRE!”  And in Isaiah 55:11–“It (His word) will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I DESIRE and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  And Jesus said in John 17:24–“Father, I DESIRE that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

Now, when it comes to US, should their be desire?  Now David was called a man after God’s own heart.  When he selected a worship leader, he chose Asaph.  I am sure David, who loved to worship God, wanted someone just as passionate as he.  Read these words of Asaph:

24 You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?  I DESIRE you more than anything on earth.

26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. (Psalm 73:24-26 NLT)

Let’s stop being Tame And Lame, and reclaim that word DESIRE.  The enemy has used it for too long as a sign of evil.  Desire, as God put it in us, is both good and necessary.  When we become “tame”, the enemy no longer fears us.  He has domesticated us, meaning, we are here for his pleasure and guess what else.  His “desires”, desires which are to keep us away from our created purpose and to prevent us from being Warriors.  One of the things that makes the enemy tremble with fear and trepidation is when he sees one of God’s Image Bearer’s doing exactly what Asaph wanted, to DESIRE God more than anything else.  When God’s designed DESIRE flows through you, the enemy runs and hides.  He wants you domesticated, God wants you wild and free as He designed you.  If you are not living out your relationship with God with that God-Designed-And-God-Pleasing DESIRE, you have been Tamed And Domesticated by the evil one.  And you are just plain old LAME.  And that is so sad, so very sad!

Love God with all you heart.  Love others the way Jesus loves you.  And make sure all the glory goes to Him and it will as you DESIRE Him more than anything else on earth.