IT’S IN THE DETAILS!

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.  But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Galatians chapter 5, verses 17 thru 21; from the New Living Translation (NLT) (emphasis mine)

It’s been over a year and it should be finished by now. In the State of Alabama, it only takes 6 months to probate an estate. But it’s not! And it’s all because this alleged attorney who allegedly specializes in estate law left out some details–important details! I’ve confessed and repented to God, and now I will to you, also. I allowed this alleged attorney to lead me into forgetting the peace of Christ and patience. Please forgive me because I’m the one who is called to live by the standard. But with all my wrong choices yesterday, The Spirit manages to teach me something–something important! IF I am listening. And I was this morning.

Ever heard the expression The Devil Is In The Details? It means the details of a matter create the biggest problems. Am I right? Of course, I am! My former (the United Methodist Church) tribal leaders are, and have been for some time, preaching and teaching that the details, the details of living a Holy Life, are not to be found in The Bible. The only thing that matters is love. And this kind of love can only be expressed in terms of acceptance and approval. And all those details about sin revealed in Scripture and by The Holy Spirit? They simply don’t exist. Thus, sexuality is determined by feelings, which is simply another way of saying sinful nature. Ignoring the details has exploded, making the church impotent, and unleashed gender dysphoria.

Amazing (but not really) how progressive theology overlooks what Paul told this church in Galatia. Read and reflect on the opening line in verse 17: The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. This sinful nature is what is in all of us and controls all of us–that is–until we admit we are a sinner and get sick and tired of being controlled by that sinful nature and ask God to transform us by giving us a New Nature. News Flash: the sinful nature is revealed in the details of sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Disagree with Paul? Disagree with me? Well, guess what??? You’re still wrong! And if you, and my former tribal leaders, persist in this current course of disregarding the details of the sinful nature, then anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Yesterday afternoon, and into the evening, I opened the door to my old sinful nature. And it was ugly; I mean pure ol’ ugly, you-ain’t-got-no-alibi-ugly! And the disgusting irony of it all is that while I was grumbling and complaining about an alleged attorney who forgot the details, I had forgotten the details. Yes, the Devil is in the details. But so is God! In this Sacred and Precious Word we call “The Bible” is every detail we need to recognize and live the Holy Life–which is the ONLY life that God wants from us. I leave you with a challenge from Paul, one he gave to another church–and to all future Followers Of Jesus!

Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.  Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Ephesians chapter 4, verses 22 thru 24; NLT; (emphasis mine)
Advertisement

A HOUSE OF CARDS!

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

Matthew chapter 7, verses 24 thru 27; from The Message (Msg)

Think about this:  We Get To Choose Our Own Morality!  This is important; very important.  We get to determine what is right and what is wrong; what is good and what is bad; what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable behavior.  Now, there are some who declare that you cannot legislate morality!  But yes you can!  In fact, it has been happening for eons and it will continue to happen until time ends.  Legislation, or the term laws if you prefer, is by definition establishing morality.  Someone may disagree with me here, but they would be wrong.  Every law enacted is a declaration of what is right and what is wrong; what is good and what is bad; what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable behavior.

And now this question demands to be asked:  Who or what determines morality?  And this is where the problem began.  Everyone has an opinion about this.  And those opinions are as varied and different as the people who form them.  Quite the conundrum, wouldn’t you say?  Many want us to accept that everyone should be free and allowed to form their own morality.  Yet society cannot exist unless there is a single source that is consistent throughout for determining what is right and what is wrong; what is good and what is bad; what is acceptable behavior and what is unacceptable behavior.  Without that single source, the guaranteed result is chaos, hate, anger, and all of their cousins and in-laws.  Look no further than the United Methodist Institution, or Washington D.C.

Progressive (or as I call them: Pro-Aggressive) theologians and thinkers want to dismantle the tried and proven true morality of The Bible.  Just flush it all down the toilet.  Well, all except that part about love.  They see love as God giving us permission and the empowerment to determine our own morality and call it good–as long as you love.  They tell us that Jesus came to show us how to love.  Well, I can’t dispute that.  But that’s not all He came to show.  Case in point:  this parable about house builders.

This particular lesson is best presented in the rawness and bluntness of The Message translation. The very idea, and then acting upon it, that God has given us limited in thinking human beings the power and authority to determine what’s right and what’s not right in The Bible is. . .is. . .is. . . like building a house of cards. Listen again to what Jesus said: These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. And at this point I must add this thought: Those of you who can quote and throw Bible verses out like throwing rocks, you haven’t reached the standard that Jesus set. We have to work these words into our thoughts, attitudes, words, AND actions. Listen again to the rest of His words: But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach.

And for those who have flushed down the toilet the Morality of the Bible for a more pleasing-to-you form of Morality, you are building that proverbial house of cards. All it takes is a good sneeze to blow it down. And the problems of life are much more than a sneeze. But we, the followers of Jesus, cannot change others view about Morality by our words. They must see it in our day-in-day-out life. Denominations that have adapted to the world’s Morality continue to be in decline. The solution to this morass we are in will not be found by hanging the 10 Commandments in government buildings, putting Bibles back into classrooms, and opening each school day with prayer, and having prayers to Jesus in public events. This is akin to using watered-down paint to cover over graffiti. No–we need to build the Morality of the Bible into our day-to-day life. After all, that’s what Jesus did!

THAT TRAMPLING BOOT!


1-3 Thank God! He deserves your thanks.
    His love never quits.
Thank the God of all gods,
    His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords.
    His love never quits.
23-26 God remembered us when we were down,
    His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
    His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need.
    His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all!
    His love never quits!

Psalm 136, verses 1 thru 3 and 23 thru 26; from The Message (MSG)

“You never know which way his mind is headed!” I suppose that’s what those who know me best would say about yours truly. And this morning would verify that declaration. In this morning’s discipline, I admit that I was a bit discombobulated. So, I took off my headphones and started talking with The Spirit. I’ve found that always helps–the talking with not just talking to. He told me to check out this morning’s Verse of the Day, compliments of Bible Gateway. I thought (there I go thinking again) that I had checked the New Living Translation as my chosen translation. But somehow (I wonder how? Wink, wink!) it came up in The Message.

I find looking at different translations helps me understand a passage better and gives me fresh insights. Now, if you are a one translation person, that’s OK. But just try it sometime when you are relaxed. Any who, I also love The Message and the ways that Eugene Peterson and his crew would turn a phrase that really shined some light in me. Though I love the richness of the King James Version when it comes to the Book of Psalms, occasionally The Message opens my eyes. This morning was one of those mornings.

There are actually 2 phrases from this Psalm that prompts these musings from me. The first one is in Verse 24: “Rescued us from the trampling boot“. Trampling boot! Now that’s exactly what Satan does! He wants to trample us down and squish the life out of us like we are nothing but a bug. Sin is The Trampling Boot! I know that lots of folks don’t like the idea of “sin”–but it’s real; very real. And though there are many definitions of sin out there, here’s mine: Sin is living outside of God’s design, purpose, and will for us. It’s being someone other than who we were designed to be by God.

And where do we find God’s design, purpose, and will? Simple–it’s in The Bible. It will never be found in socially acceptable norms. It’s not discovered in the latest cultural fads. It’s not found in the views and opinions of others. And it’s certainly not ever found in our feelings. It’s found in our relationship with Jesus and The Bible. Living outside The Book is where Satan wants us to be. It’s the only way his boot can trample us! Why is there so much anger in our culture today, especially when it comes to the traditional and orthodox faith? Because they are being trampled by Satan’s boot–and since they can’t stop Satan they turn against us who are doing exactly what Paul reminded the church at Corinth to do:

We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; He’s already a friend with you.

2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 10; from MSG

Oh, that other phrase. Here it is: His love never quits! If you are feeling that trampling boot, remember His love never quits! His love isn’t a sign of approval on your lifestyle. His love is for you. His love is an active force working to get you out from under Satan’s trampling boot. His love is working to bring you back–back to your original design; back to your original purpose, back to where your will is to do HIS Will! And to those who vainly believe they will be happy if the church would just approve and bless their lifestyle, it won’t change a thing. Only by being transformed by God love and learning how to be who God made us to be, can we experience peace, joy, and hope. So, surrender to Jesus lock, stock, and barrel. And He will rescue you from that trampling boot!

CUPCAKES!

 “You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”

Matthew chapter 12, verses 34 thru 37; from The Message (Msg)

Cupcakes! We are living in a world of cupcakes! No, not the kind one sees at parties! It’s people I’m talking about. When I was young, I often wondered why “old people” were always so. . .so blunt. They didn’t mince or sugar-coat their words. And now that I’m old, I understand. As I get older I know that my time here is getting shorter and shorter. Thus, my opportunities to speak the truth are becoming fewer and fewer. I realize that I just don’t have the time to draw pictures to explain the things that are really important. It seems my ability and talent to be snarky has come into full bloom. I define snarky as a mixture of satire with a heavy dose of sarcasm. But here’s the thing–I don’t use it very often. Some may say otherwise, but they’re wrong. I refrain from using my snarky more times than Carter has little pills. (You have to be from the south to know what that phrase means!)

My previous post brought out my snarkiness. And as snarky tends to do, I offended at least one person. (click here to see the post) Someone thought my insights worthy of passing along to several people via email. And I am humbled they thought so. Apparently one of the recipients did not like my blunt honesty. And had this to say about my post: It’s insulting and immature to speak to grown people who can think and decide for them self. To point I think it’s low class to say suck it up buttercup.”

Allow me the kindness to pull out one part of that comment for further reflection: It’s insulting and immature to speak to grown people who can think and decide for them self.” Yes, people can think and decide for themselves. Got no problem with that premise. Our problem as a church, culture, and society is HOW people think. I.E.–people are all to quick and easy to be offended–especially with The Truth. It goes beyond the insane concept of political correctness. It’s rooted in how people respond. And the United Methodist Institution is an excellent case study.

People are so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings that it has become more important to be nice than it is to be truthful. Somehow it has become mean and ugly and hateful to be truthful; that somehow if we disagree with someone that we can’t and don’t love them. Where did this idea come from? I KNOW! I KNOW! From the heart and mind of Satan! Yes, Virginia, there is a Satan even if you think there isn’t. Nowadays the only way you can love someone is to approve, bless, and sanctify how they think. And if you can’t–well you are just plain ol’ mean and insulting.

I sigh a deep sigh when I think that it’s more important to make people feel good than it is to be truthful. Did you notice how Jesus responded in the passage I opened with this morning? You have minds like a snake pit! Did I miss something here? If Jesus said that today, people would demand an apology from Jesus! And IF Jesus was present like He was then, then by their views, Jesus should have said afterwards: “Oh, I’m so very sorry I offended you. And so that you can feel better about yourself, I renounce those words and I agree with you. Feel better now? Good! Here’s you a cupcake.

THERE IS NO TENT LEFT!

“Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”

Matthew chapter 15, verses 16 thru 20; from the New Living Translation (NLT)

Do you still believe that the United Methodist Church is a “Big Tent” where various beliefs can can coexist together in harmony and in one place? If this cycle of improvisational Jurisdictional Conferences has proven anything, then here is the bottom line: THE TENT FOR EVERYONE IS GONE! And count on the Western Jurisdiction to drive the nail home. Any traditionalist Wesleyan-Hearted follower of Jesus who thinks they can remain within the UMC and still be true to Jesus, you really need to think again. Stop burying your head in the sand–even Ostriches don’t do that. It’s a myth. And here’s the story that verifies that The Tent has left the building: https://www.umnews.org/en/news/western-elects-cedrick-bridgeforth-as-bishop

This isn’t the first time for the Western Jurisdiction to elect an openly gay person as Bishop. If this was the first time, then one might could say, “Oh, this was just a hiccup, a bump in the road.” But it’s not the first time. They did it back in 2016 with the election of Karen Oliveto. To do something wrong one time might be (I said might be) an anomaly. But twice? This is what psychiatrists and prosecuting attorneys call a pattern of behavior! And I will be fair; it’s not just in the Western Jurisdiction. It’s happening in more and more places.

And this asininity of the antipodal idea that antithetical beliefs can coexist together is as harebrained as thinking that mixing poison with drinking water is safe and will not hurt you. Our current botheration is NOT a recent development. It’s been astir for decades. Granted, it’s erupted into a devastating lava flow since the Great Deception of 2019, but this has been going on for so long that the cataclysmic consequences has made the UMC irreparable, unless there is a true repentance of heart and surrender of will. To remain in the UMC is Accept The Great Deception That You Know More Than God. Offended by my statement? Here’s all I’ve got to say: The truth will stand even when the world’s on fire! Well, if you are offended, I have one more thing to say: Suck it up, buttercup!

HYDROGEN CYANIDE

Here’s something to think about today. Did you know that 180 parts per million of hydrogen cyanide is considered lethal? And that exposure to 135 parts per million of hydrogen cyanide can be lethal after 30 minutes? That’s parts per million! Imagine a pile of 1 million grains of sand–and then you take out 180 grains of that sand and put it in another pile. Then compare to two piles. Not much there, is it. Now imagine a room with 999,820 molecules of good ol’ healthy air. Then someone adds just 180 molecules of hydrogen cyanide. What happens next? Your next of kin is planning your funeral.

Now, why all this talk about chemistry? Well, I’ve been thinking again. Who would have thought? And I was thinking about sin. No! Not me sinning! I can do that without even thinking! I was thinking about the effects that sin has on all of us, myself included. You see, when I talk about sin, I’m talking about my problems, too. It’s all around us. And it’s even within us. And to pretend something we do or want isn’t a sin? Well, remember that even 135 parts per million of hydrogen cyanide is lethal after 30 minutes of exposure. And though Jesus used the symbol of leavening in talking about the Kingdom of God, Paul also used the symbol of leavening when it comes to allowing sin to become acceptable in The Body of Christ.

Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians Chapter 5, Verses 6 thru 8; from the New Living Translation (NLT)

Some of you readers may think that I am about to take aim and unload the clip at the Progressives. And I easily could do just that. But then–there’s that 135 ppm thing. It doesn’t matter if one takes the Orthodox view of the Bible or the Progressive view of the Bible. Sin is sin is sin. And it doesn’t matter which camp you are in–sin is always lethal. It keeps us from being who God made us to be–In His Image. And to my more conservative friends, using the Sacred Scriptures to justify your beliefs and opinions on things like women and racism and politics? Who use the Sacred Scriptures to judge and condemn those who don’t agree with you? Remember just 135 parts per million is lethal after 30 minutes.

And to my Progressive friends–remember sin doesn’t care which camp you reside in. Promoting that certain things in the Sacred Scriptures are no longer a sin–remember 135 parts per million is still lethal. Whether it’s promoting that all forms of sexuality are blessed by God, or saying everyone gets into heaven, or that the Resurrection is only an idea not a reality–sin is sin is sin is sin. Sin doesn’t need us to define it! Sin is defined by the appropriate application of The Entire Bible. Notice, I said application not interpretation! Sin exists because of Satan. We can rationalize and justify anything we want. And promoting it within the beliefs and practices of the United Methodist Institution–or any other denomination or tribe–is the same thing as adding 180 molecules to 999,820 molecules of good ol’ healthy air. It’s deadly!