If you do what the Lord wants,Psalm 37 verse 23 from the Contemporary English Version
He will make certain
each step you take is sure.
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!
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.Bishop Ken Carter
I am committed to the support of your callings …
I would have gladly commissioned each of you, and gladly appointed each of you …“
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!
The fabric of our culture is being ripped apart at the seems. And please don’t call the Grammar Police that I have used the wrong word. It’s the correct word. I wrote what I meant and I meant what I wrote. SEEMS! Here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. the fabric of our society is being ripped to shreads at the seems. I came upon this thought through remembering a certain passage from The Bible. In fact, it’s been roaming around in my gray matter for several days. Here is is:
There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.Proverbs chapter 14 verse 12 from the New Living Translation
Some might think it’s amazing that a book as old as Proverbs can be so relevant to these times. But it’s not really amazing to me. These books of The Bible continue to be both timeless and timely. But let’s get back to those seems. Consider this:
- It seems right to the LBGTQI culture that if society just accepted them, they would be happy.
- It seems right to the gay community that if they could just get married like any heterosexual couple they would be happy.
- It seems right to the project manager since their assistant is so capable to let them do all the work and they take all the credit.
- It seems right that since that other person is so good looking, that a night in the sack is OK.
- It seems right that if they child shows up for the games they should get a participation trophy.
- It seems right that since they have a college degree they should start at the top.
- It seems right that since that drug helps take away their stress they should reach for it.
- It seems right that since a child would impede their lifestyle and goals, an abortion is the right choice.
- It seems right that the government should be responsible for us from craddle to grave.
- It seems right that if someone doesn’t agree with you that they must then hate you.
- It seems right ad nauseam…
Now before you Tenured Pew Sitters finish saying, “Amen! You tell them Preacherman!” Let’s look at our church culture.
- It seems right that Jesus should just come back and take us good ones on to our reward, since this world will never change.
- It seems right that if the church could just go back to the good old days, we could stop the hemorrhaging members and doors closing.
- It seems right that if their church started catering to them, then all the problems would go away in their church.
- It seems right the church’s sole job is to point out the sins of others.
- It seems right that everyone in their church should dress a certain way, think a certain way, and believe a certain way.
- It seems right that the church should only help those who deserve it.
- It seems right that they should only sing the songs they like.
- It seems right ad nauseam…
It seems that many, too many people, are living by the seems–and life is ripping apart at the seems. And then Proverbs Chapter 14 Verse 12 proves itself to be absolutely true. What seems to be true is proven false by life itself. And things begin to rip apart, at the seems. This is life without God–life without Jesus as BOTH Savior AND Lord. Contrary to the opinion of alleged experts, we are simply not qualified, and certainly not capable, of determining what is right and what is wrong.
But there is an alternative and it’s the only one who will keep our lives from falling apart at the seems. It’s really simple and easy–that is–if we can get over ourselves. We find it in another book of The Bible. It’s in Matthew chapter 11, verses 28 and 29:
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.from the New Living Translation
The word yoke doesn’t refer to the kind worn by oxen and mules. It’s about the Teaching Of The Rabbi. Back then what Rabbis taught was called The Yoke. And if you think the teaching of Jesus is too hard and difficult (because He did say: Be holy as I Am holy), read these words again. But this time from a different Translation:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”from The Message
Be and become whom God made you to be and become, and NOT what seems right to you. You and our society will be and become something so much better. Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
Average. Ever pondered on the meaning of this word? The contexts that it is used? Some think average is OK, if it’s a good average. A baseball player who has a batting average of .350 is considered really good and worthy of a multimillion dollar contract. But a surgeon with a .350 success rate? Can you spell malpractice? A car that can be counted on running 35 times out of a hundred? Can you spell lemon?
Average means some are lesser and some are greater. Average is for final grades in school. For baseball players. For women’s clothing sizes. For statistical mathematics. But not for the followers of Jesus. Average life is another one of those cursed Monday Morning Attitudes that robs us of the joy of life. Here’s something to ponder for your Monday: Average is boring! It makes Monday and every day tidious and it’s an insipid way to live.
But God has another way–that’s way above Average. Each and every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is filled with multiple opportunities to rise above the Average into a life that is Excellent! How can I say this? How can you believe this? Remember! Remember what Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations Chapter 3, Verses 22 and 23: “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.
When we remember that God’s love and mercies are right here for us in this moment–and that He will sustain us and help us rise above Average, then we can say: Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?”
What a ride this week has been. And now I am adding to my ride COVID-19. Yesterday my throat was sore and my sinuses became an issue. And, I had been exposed. So off to the local state health department, call them when I arrived in the parking lot–then wait. Wait until the nurse arrived. Wait until it was #4’s turn (that’s me). Wait for the delivery of the results. And so it is–Positive!
This wasn’t on my planned itinerary for the rest of the week. I was so looking forward to preaching again–it’s one of my coping devices. It’s something about God’s Word that just lifts me up. I just started a new series called Bones–from Ezekiel’s experience in The Valley Of Dry Bones! But alas, not this week. Instead, I am experiencing what many have gone through and are going through and more will face. I have a sore throat; sinuses running like a politician for an office, loss of taste, yucky feeling, but no problems breathing–yet. Oh, one more thing.
Quarantine! At a time in my life when I need others around me–well, just forget that. And I am learning even more in this newest journey. I am cut off from others–but I am not cut off from God’s Presence through The Holy Spirit. The people I want be around are praying for me, and God is moving through those prayers. My primary care office is ready to get me the infusion therapy if needed. God’s presence and His provisions–so I guess I’m not really quarantined. I simply need to adjust my expectations and rest–rest in His provisions for me. In fact, one of the funeral directors who is a friend of mine, and worked with Dad, called and gave me some advice from his recent experience with COVID. Therefore I conclude, that Quarantine is a state of mind–and I am never quarantined from faith, hope, and love.
Exactly what is it that you expect to see? Today, next week, next month, next year, two years from now. Expectations play a major role in what we see–whether we see that or not. I do not watch a lot of national news–and I know I should. Current events help the prophet know what needs to be said. But honestly–I end up either sad or mad to the extreme. But just the other day The Spirit sneaked up on me and had me watching some news.
The story was about the anniversary of last year’s, some call it a riot and some call it an insurrection, at our nation’s capitol. In that story were the results of a poll that was conducted. And in it, about 68 percent (or somewhere in the vicinity) of Americans polled expect another riot in Washington D.C. after the next presidential election in 2024. All of the candidates haven’t announced their decision to run; primaries haven’t happened; and the general election hasn’t occurred.
Still, about two-thirds of Americans expect another violent event to take place. Why are they expecting such a thing? And why are so many self-identified “Christians” expecting our nation to continue to decay into a globule of pandemonium and disarray? Simple, it’s what they are seeing. They are seeing the problems. They are seeing the folly. They are seeing the insanity. They are seeing the obliquity. The daftness, the imbecility, the dottiness, the lunacy, the claptrap, and the senseless of the culture. The good Lord knows that while there is a shortage on store shelves of staple items–there is a profusion and glut of these things. Is that all you can see?
Expectations are at an all-time high. Some will call me daft and insane for saying such a thing. They will point out that expectations are at an all-time low. And those folks are wrong. The problem is not a lack of expectations–the botheration and vexation is that way too many folks are not seeing what is all around us–make that WHO is all around us. There’s a story about that in the Old Testament–about an unnamed student of the prophet Elisha. Here’s the Reader’s Digest Version of the story. (See 2 Kings Chapter 6)
Elisha had been warning the king of Israel about the troop movements of the king of Aram. When the king of Aram found out about Elisah, he ordered two divisions of soldiers to surround him at the city of Dothan–under the cover of darkness. That morning when Elisha’s student went out to enjoy his savory cup of coffee–all he could see was the army of Aram had them surrounded. When that was all he could see–his expectations for that day, whatever they were, changed in the blink of an eye. It took a Divine intervention–and the willingness of Elisha to intercede and pray for that young man’s eyes to be opened–to change those expectations.
And why wouldn’t they change? He saw a force and power mightier than Aram’s army. Herein lies the problem of many folks today. They do not see–will not see–cannot see the mightiness of God! So, I ask you readers once again: What do you see when you are looking across the vast expanse of our culture? What you see defines your expectations! I can’t speak for you–but I can speak for myself. I see our culture surrounded by Heaven’s Armies–and that is more than enough to change the culture. My expectation for 2022 and beyond is a great revival, the likes of which have not been seen in a long time. My expectations are high–because of where where I’m looking. If this is not your expectation, then call me Elisha because I’m praying: Lord, open their eyes! Where are you looking and what are you seeing?