1 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”
Matthew chapter 7, verses 1 and 2; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
I need some help understanding something. It has to do with the hatred and the subsequent chaos which follows the hate that is so prevalent in this culture. The hate is everywhere you look–yet I am left without a clue as to the reason. Now, I understand when the hate comes from the economic realm. You know, the haves and the have-nots. The have-nots want what the haves have. The haves think the have-nots are beneath them. I get that. And in the realm of politics? Oy Vey! Talk about hate! Both parties seem to have the same platform–HATE THE OTHER! But. . .
Within the Body of Christ? Here is where I’m aphonic! Speechless! On one side there is the conservative/orthodox folks who insist that The Bible clearly shows us how to live. Yet, let a person be divorced and instantly they become unfit to serve in leadership. The Gospel speaks about equality, yet some insist that women can’t lead. And The Bible teaches to love our enemies–yet some insist on using words like “abomination”. Jesus said we are to give up everything to follow Him, yet some people hold on more tightly to their traditions than to The Truth. Paul taught that The Kingdom eliminates all social and racial barriers–but. . .well, you know.
Now, before those who are in the liberal/progressive wing start gloating over my caustic rebuke on those mean-spirited conservative/orthodox folks–you are not beyond reproach. You declare that The Kingdom is all about the love–that loving must include a seal of approval and a blessing. Otherwise, it’s not love. Because the conservative/orthodox folks won’t give their approval and blessing on the LBGTQI community as being approved by God, they are homophobic, misogynistic, disingenuous, mendacious, and mean-spirited people who are full of hate. Liberal/progressive folks, well, at least most of those I’ve personally encountered, are filled with contempt and anger with anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Yet. . . I said YET they insist they are the loving ones. A bit inconsistent I would say. How can you tell one group it’s all about the love while at the same instant hate those who do not agree with you???
And, for the life of me, I can’t understand why both sides hate each other so deeply. Well. . .I’m still waiting for the answer.
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
Romans chapter 7, verse 15, from the New Living Translation
The news is filled with stories about conflict. From homes, communities, within nations, and between nations. Even the “Church” is not exempt from conflict. But this morning I want to bring that word closer to home. And the word I am using isn’t conflict–but Conflicted. The definition of Conflicted is “having or showing confused and mutually inconsistent feelings.“ Notice those last 3 words: mutually inconsistent feelings. In this morning’s passage, Conflicted is what Paul is talking about–mutually inconsistent feelings.
It’s not enough to say there is conflict. Nay! It must go deeper within each person to realize that one is wrestling between 2 mutually inconsistent feelings. For example–let’s say someone has hurt you and you refuse to forgive them. And maybe it doesn’t bother them that they refuse to forgive that person. BUT. . .one day they read Ephesians chapter 4 verse 32: “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (NLT) Now, if they are serious about following Jesus there is more than a conflict going on. They should be Conflicted.
There are 2 mutually inconsistent feelings happening. More than feelings, it’s conflicting ideas; more than ideas–it’s between truth and THE Truth: Unforgiveness versus Forgiveness. Our “truth” (not being willing to forgive, as in this example) is in conflict with THE Truth (that forgiveness is uncondition)! If we are serious about following Jesus, the result should be that we become Conflicted! Like with Paul, we know what we should do–maybe even “want” to do it. But instead we don’t. In every issue of life there is our “truth” and THE Truth.
Until we are Conflicted we will never deal with the difference between our truth and THE Truth. And when we become Conflicted, what should we do? Well, simple! First become Conflicted! In verse 24 Paul wrote: “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” Thankfully for us, Paul answered his own question (and what should be OUR question) in verse 25: “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”
Jesus delivers us from whatever it is that is Conflicted with THE Truth. He doesn’t bless our truth–but works to take away that Conflicted desire we have. And to my fellow United Methodist Institution tribal members, we should be Conflicted over what is happening. We have mutually inconsistent feelings within this Tribe. So, will you live with and in “your” truth, or will you trust God enough to take you into THE Truth? Being Conflicted is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing. Now we are contronted with truth versus THE Truth. Don’t allow truth to guide you to your conclusions. Instead, let THE Truth guide you and trust God with the results.
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!
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!
Question for you this morning: Do we speak for the Bible or does the Bible speak for us? No, it’s not the same thing! Folks, believe this or not, it doesn’t matter one single iota! The church today has a serious problem–when it comes to the answer of this question. In my own Tribe, the United Methodist Tribe, the given answer by leadership is literally ripping us apart. But before you Baptists gloat over our split, look at the beam sticking out of your own eye. And this isn’t just a 21st Century problem. It’s plagued the history of The Body Of Christ. The disease is speaking for the Bible rather than the Bible speaking for us–and thus–to us!
It was even a problem back when Jesus walked this earth as one of us. The Pharisees and Sadducces saw their job was to speak for The Word Of God. They thought it was their job description–but it wasn’t. And today, it isn’t in anyone’s job description to speak for the Bible. In my own Tribe we have those who are doing just that. Speaking FOR the Bible means it’s up to us to determine what it means and how it applies to daily life!Mishegas! Oy vey, nosh, klutz! It’s pure schlock! Pure bupkis! I love Yiddish words and phrases. Here’s some examples of speaking for the Bible.
Torturing and killing anyone NOT a “christian”–by their definition
Judging others based solely on their race
Justification of slavery
Making women as second class citizens by saying they can’t do certain things
Jesus only died for certain people (predestination)
The blood of Jesus wipes away every sin and gives us all a new beginning–except when it comes to divorce
Jesus came to show us how to love, so this eliminates the long-standing sexual ethic, so it’s OK to be how you feel, sexually speaking
On that last example–Oy, Oy Vey, Oy Gevalt! It’s Dreck! Our Tribal leaders feel it is their job description (remember how Jesus felt about the Pharisees and Sadducces?) to tell the world that the tried and proven sexual ethic from the Bible is outdated. It takes an enlightened person, like them, to straighten out what the Bible got wrong. And if we don’t agree with them, then we’re mean, ugly, phobic, and hateful. What a bunch of schmucks!
Many feelings can and will invade us on Monday mornings. Not only do they invade us, but they also Invite us to live with them. They pretend it’s only for a day–but they lock the door and won’t let us leave. If there was a single word to describe the plethora of those feelings that word would be Dread!
Dread is a blood-sucking leech that drains both the joy and purpose of life. But the thing about Dread is it has to be invited in–BY US! It is incapable of knocking down our doors; so it needs an in–like a door-to-door salesperson. One such tactic is our own inconsistency.Inconsistency is defined as the quality or condition of being inconsistent. Well, that’s not a lot of help! Let’s look at inconsistent. It’s defined as:
That’s better! Notice that it’s called an adjective. Remember that from your school days? An adjective is a modifier or describes nouns. Adjectives give a better description; a description with more details. Look at the first definition: “lacking in harmony between the different parts or elements; self-contradictory”. When we are Inconsistent in our attitudes, beliefs, convictions, or actions we lack the harmony that holds us in peace and joy as life happens–both the good and the bad. Without the harmony between our attitudes, beliefs, convictions, and actions, the resulting inconsistencies opens the door of our heart and mind to that demon called Dread. And Dread talks to us early Monday mornings, sometimes even Sunday evenings, telling us about all the miseries awaiting us on Monday.
Then the sly demon tells us it will be better on Tuesday. But it’s not. So Wednesday becomes Hump Day and Dread stays with us until Friday where he shouts Thank God It’s Friday! And for a couple of days, well, at least until Sunday evening, we feel better. But the vicious cycle starts all over again. So, how do we kick Dread in the seat of his pants out of our mind and heart, to reclaim the peace and joy of another week?
Remember! It’s just that simple–though not always so easy. Remember that God is with you! (Remember we are in the season where the word Immanuel became a living, breathing human like us!) Remember that God loves you. Remember that God takes ordinary tasks, duties, and jobs and transforms them into a deeper purpose–to teach us and others about The Good News Of The Kingdom Of God! Living within God’s designs for our lives on a CONSISTENT basis helps us to live every day without Dread!
When we know that God Is With Us, then we can say: “Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?”
When playing blackjack, there’s a certain set of conditions when you want to “double down”; or so I’m told. The reason is to have an opportunity to double your winnings, or so I’m told. Today’s Monday Musing is about doubling down but not at the blackjack table–but in one’s spiritual life. Now here’s the passage I’m looking at this evening–James 3:10–12
10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
The context of these words of James is about our words. And I would never take Brother James out of context. But. . .there is a principle that is also present. Principles work in every situation. The Principle that Brother James applies to the “tongue” is verse 12. It’s a basic principle from nature: Something designed to produce only one thing, cannot produce something different.
Yet, there are many today who have forgotten this most basic Principle. So they have doubled down and actually think it works. We are seeing a culture of people who are trying to navigate life by doubling down. Unlike in blackjack where there are certain card combinations you would NEVER double down on, there are those who double down with the wrong “cards”. They live and operate with a double heart and a double mind.
They do this by mixing Biblical Truths with Cultural Values, with Cultural Values being the “Wild Card” that overrides Biblical Truths. They embrace their Cultural Value and then find a Bible verse to support it. And the verses that don’t support that Cultural Value–they either find an excuse why the Bible is wrong, or they simply ignore it altogether.
Truth is you cannot follow Jesus by trying to align the Bible with Cultural Values. Remember Brother James’ Principle: Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. You simply cannot align Biblical Truth with some Cultural Values. But you can do this: You can transform Cultural Values by faithfully living by Biblical Truths. You can try to Double Down with Cultural Values AND Biblical Truth–but The House will win every time, and you will lose.