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)
“You can’t take it with you!” This statement is all about what happens when one dies. They just can’t take the material stuff with them into the afterlife. Most everyone agrees with this statement. But what about in the here and now? There are many who want the New Life that Jesus offers–but–I said BUT–they also want to bring along their old life as well.
Progressive Theology wants us to believe that we can, though. Just bring the old you–whatever that may be–and Jesus will make that Old you right if we just will love others and love God. This is especially true in the real of sexuality. Before we accept Jesus’ offer for a NEW Heart, Spirit, and Life, we are under the influence and control of the OLD heart, spirit, and life. (By the way, it’s called SIN!) The Invitation from Jesus is to leave behind the OLD and then step into the NEW!
And we can’t step into the NEW if we are unwilling to leave behind the OLD! Why? Because the Two are incompatible. Just like Paul wrote here. The old wants what the old wants. The NEW wants the opposite of the OLD! What’s so difficult to understand about this? Trying to drag your old life into the NEW life is like trying to put water in your vehicle’s fuel tank and expecting that engine to accept that water and keep right on running. You cannot bring along your sexual preferences (or whatever your sin-of-choice might be) into the New Life! Either it is, or it’s ain’t a New Life! But it can’t be both!
“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
Acts chapter 17, verses 24 thru 28; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
“It’s like the wild west!” That’s how some generations describe the culture when things go–well, just plain crazy. And I am convinced that a generation from now the expression will be this: “It’s like the United Methodist Church!” Case in point. This recent post from one of the preachers from my former Tribe:
Really? People in heaven get to “create” what heaven will be like? Oy Vey! What a schmuck! Meshuggeneh, I tell you! Meshuggeneh! It makes my head hurt–and my heart break! Why does anyone think that WE get to be in control of heaven? Where does this kind of dubious thinking come from? And how could anyone in the right mind–better yet–how could anyone with the mind of Christ think such a thing; much less write it down to teach others? Did you notice that 40 clergy members either liked or loved it? It’s not assuming that many others share this view. It’s simply an obvious conclusion. “We get to be in charge!”
Uh……… Pardon me, but wasn’t that the idea that Satan presented to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? And exactly how did that turn out for them; and for us? Leadership and many (but not all) seminary professors are teaching this muck and swill to their students. And those students who swallow this fool’s paradise go on and teach it to others. And the results are obviously eroding the church as well as those who imbibe this Jim Jones Kool-Aid. It is pure and unadulterated idolatry to think or say that WE make heaven into what we think or want.
There is only ONE in control of heaven and earth. There is only ONE who decides The Truth. There is only ONE who determines what is and isn’t right. There’s only ONE Lord! And He ain’t United Methodist! He’s Jesus! And until people stop drinking Satan’s Swill, the church will continue to lose its influence and continue to crumble. Folks, let quit being our own god. Let God be God!
O Lord, you are righteous, and your regulations are fair. Your laws are perfect and completely trustworthy. I am overwhelmed with indignation, for my enemies have disregarded your words. Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much.
Psalm 119, verses 137 thru 140; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
Ships sometimes wreck. Trains sometimes wreck. In spite of all the innovations, regulations, and safety requirements, ships and trains still wreck. And it’s never a good thing, as we’ve been reminded over the past several weeks with multiple train wrecks. And in nearly every event, the cause can be linked to human error, defective material or equipment, improper maintenance, or unforeseen circumstances. What does all this have to do with the Kingdom Life and the shipwreck-and-train-wreck-all-rolled-into-one-culture in which we currently reside? Glad you asked!
Boundaries are important! Ships don’t dare interact with icebergs. Trains and train tracks must be inspected and maintained on a frequent basis. Rules must be followed; otherwise it’s a disaster about to happen. Shipwrecks and train wrecks are never a good thing. Ships and trains have their “boundaries”. They are called regulations. Operators and crews are never free to “adjust” those regulations. They operate within those regulations; and if they don’t, they face the consequences of willfully violating those regulations. Sometimes they end up in prison.
And the same is happening when it comes to the moral boundaries of life. There are those who want to throw out the tried and proven true regulations of life–otherwise known as The Bible. Some want to establish new boundaries because the old-but-proven regulations (that’s The Bible) are getting in the way of what they want. Rather than adjusting the course of their life, they think that if they simply move the boundary markers, then instantly what they want is perfectly OK!
No! It’s not OK! God has placed boundaries for our lives, not to deny us joy and happiness–but to keep us from heartache and misery. Same gender sex and gender dysphoria are only 2 examples of living outside the boundaries of The Bible. The drug addict; the porn addict, the abuser; the greedy; and the list goes on and on and on. Too many are teaching that we, as human beings (flawed human beings) are capable of coming up with our own morality and acceptable conduct. But the truth is we aren’t capable of such life-altering decisions. That’s why God has made sure we have The Bible.
Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you own 200 acres of land. Surveyors came out and established those property lines–i.e.–boundary lines. But your neighbor sees you have a nice 20 acre lake on your property. So he decides he wants that lake even though it is on the other side of that boundary line. So he goes to the courthouse and changes those property/boundary lines. Now the lake is on HIS property. How would that make you “feel”? Would that be fair and right?
You would probably argue (and rightly so) that your neighbor isn’t free to change the property/boundary lines just because he wanted something on the other side of the property/boundary line–something that wasn’t his to begin with. Today’s culture has done the very thing that God warned Israel NOT to do–they have trusted their reasoning rather than God.
“What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,” says the Lord. “You make plans that are contrary to mine. You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins. For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt for help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection. You have tried to hide in his shade.”
Isaiah chapter 30, verses 1 and 2 (NLT)
Making an alliance with Egypt came from their human reasoning. It would be better to trust in Egypt at that time. Egypt would help protect them, and they would be happy. This made “sense” to them. I’ll let you read for yourself how that worked out for them. Today’s Egypt is allowing each person to choose their own form of acceptable morality. It’s at the core of progressive theology. And today’s Pharaoh is still the one back then–Satan!
Folks, we human beings do not have the wherewithal to establish boundaries for morality which creates our behavior. But God does–and His boundary lines are clearly drawn in The Bible. And again I say: God has placed boundaries for our lives, not to deny us joy and happiness–but to keep us from heartache and misery. Stepping outside those boundaries? Well, it’s a shipwreck and train wreck all-rolled-into-one about to happen. Getting what you want, won’t give you what you need! And getting the church to approve, bless, and sanctify what you want? It’s still sin. Plain old-fashioned sin! Disagreeing with me doesn’t make it right. It just means you’re still wrong.
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”
Matthew chapter 15, verses 8-12; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
Ever given much thought to the words that come out of your mouth? That your words have an impact on others? Even your relationship with God? Some say, “It’s not what you say, but what you do that matters!” There’s no doubt about it, what we do matters! But did you know? That what you say also matters? It’s not what you intend to say, but what you actually say that matters! Jesus, Himself, said that what we say matters: It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.
It’s a given–we can be and are often Masters of Deception when it comes to our words. But eventually, sooner or later (usually sooner) our words will reveal our heart. That’s exactly what Jesus is saying. Let’s get the context of today’s passage. It all started over washing your hands. (Remember 2020?) But it was more than washing hands. It was all about their teaching; i.e. their words! The Pharisees were big on what they believed it meant to believe in God. If a person wanted to connect with God–and hopefully God connect with them–it was to be found only in their words/teachings!
Now, fast forward to the twenty-first century. The current Pharisees of our day is Progressive Theology. I seriously doubt that they consider themselves Pharisees. To the contrary, they see themselves as the liberators; liberators of ancient and out-of-touch-with-the-times teachings. But remember the true heart of the Pharisees: If a person wanted to connect with God it was to be found only in their teachings! It should seem to the rational thinking person, that progressive theology is built around a single verse: John chapter 15, verse 17: “Love one another.”
The words that come out of their mouths are that nothing else matters, except that we Love one another! Nothing wrong with love others, is it? Absolutely not! But. . .I said BUT–that’s not all the Jesus said, nor what The Bible teaches us. So their words are more about morality–but without salvation. Their words are more about connecting with God–but without dealing with our sin problem that prevents us from connecting with God. And thus they flung wide open the doors to what was taking hold people’s thinking in the 1960’s–the idea of situational ethics. The situation determines the ethos.
Their words are about being liberated! And who doesn’t want to be liberated? I sure do!!! But I have a serious question for my Progressive friends: How does the approval of a person’s preferential sin liberate them? Oh, and that brought up another serious question: You talk a lot about justice, mercy, and kindness. But how can this happen without admitting we all have a sin problem? You want to “fix” systems but ignore the root cause. I remind you of what Jesus said about the Pharisees of His day: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
Now, I know I’ve just struck a nerve with my Progressive friends. And some might want to say to me what the disciples said to Jesus: Do you realize you just offended the Progressives? And’s another problem in our culture. Everyone is afraid of offending everyone else. And Progressives would chastise us Traditionalists by saying that you can’t love if you offend someone’s feelings or beliefs. Umm…wonder what Jesus thought when his disciples pointed out the obvious?
And so I speak to all of you readers: Be both careful and wise with your words. The words that come out of our mouths carry weight–and have an impact on others. While Progressives talk only about love (by the way, the fundamentalists talk only about sin), their hearts are far from God. Words do matter. Choose your words–words that are filled with both Truth and Grace! And remember, that there will always exist and tension between The Truth and Grace. So, let God deal with that tension.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
As a noun, misuse means to use something (or someone for that matter) for other than its intended purpose. Forgive me if I rant a little this morning. But a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. My wife, Debbie, is a Type 2 diabetic; which means it’s not bad enough for insulin shots, but she needs medication. From morning to morning her blood sugar had been really fluctuating. So her doctor added a weekly injectable called Mounjaro. Well, the insurance company decided it’s not in their “preferred medication list”. Bad news, right? But Ozempic is, good news right? Well, when her prescription was sent in, we found out it wasn’t available. WHAT??? It seems demand is higher than supply. But here’s what really grinds my gears! The reason isn’t because there are so many Type 2 diabetics; it’s because doctors have been handing out prescriptions for Ozempic for people wanting to loose weight like Chicklets! And thus, Type 2 diabetics like Debbie, for whom Ozempic and other medications were intended for, receive this health-restoring medication! Shame on those patients. And, in the words of Gomer Pyle, shame, shame, shame on the doctors who did this!
Enough of this rant and answer your question: What does all this have to do with the Kingdom Life? I love it when y’all ask this question. It’s not just prescriptions that are misused. Unfortunately there are those who misuse the Bible. And like this misuse of Ozempic, people who need the Bible, are unable to get to The Truth found only in The Bible. Here are some of the examples of misusing The Bible:
Using The Bible as a sledge hammer! Yes, The Word is a Sword. But a sledge hammer? Gimme a break! Some use it to bully other people by pointing out what they are doing wrong. These people are always being mean towards us sinners, forgetting they are also inclined to sin as well. And people wrongly believe that God is mad at them. And those who need that light, believe that The Bible doesn’t have what they need. The Bible isn’t for beating people down. It’s for lifting people up!
Taking passages out of their original contexts! Usually, this is done either to prove their point or to justify themselves. The only point that The Bible makes is that we are all sinners and need Jesus to transform us.
Using The Bible as their last resort. For some, when all else fails, let’s see what The Bible has to say. Well, The Bible is meant to be where we first seek out wisdom.
Picking and choosing! My progressive friends have taken this misuse and turned it into a fine art. The Bible isn’t a meat and three menu where we can choose what we like. It’s an all or none Book!
Not reading The Bible. Now here’s THE Definitive Book on life and how to fully live. But so many simply don’t take the time to read it. They are content to let someone else read and explain it for them. But that’s not how it works!
Not letting The Bible speak for itself. And perhaps, this is the greatest misuse of all. In the political arena it’s called putting a spin! It’s allowing what others say it says, even when they are wrong. Granted, not all Scriptures are easy to understand. That’s why it takes time and devotion to God to hear what the Bible really says. There is, in spite of what seminary professors teach, a profound simplicity in The Bible. We just need to listen.
So, how should we use The Bible? The way it is designed. To hear what God has to say. To accept it, all of it, as the only Truth. To understand our true purpose. To find the sin that is holding us back. To discover how to overcome sin and the problems it creates in us and against us. To uncover how to become the person God created you to become. To see how much God loves you. And to begin to experience the Wisdom of Eternity. The Bible is our Friend, if we let it. Just let The Bible BE The Bible, God’s love letter to each and every one of us! And if what The Bible says hurts, then know it’s because we need what God and God alone will provide us.
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, or he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.
Matthew chapter 7, verses 24-29; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
I know that the Chinese Spy Balloon, excuse me, “weather balloon”, is old news. But The Spirit prompted me this morning to think about that episode. And what the The Spirit said was provocatively simple. “Ever think about how many people are just like that balloon? Just floating around, without any real foundation for their life?”And do you know what my response was? I was heart-broken! Know why? Because The Father is heart-broken. How do I know this? Well, this parable that Jesus shared about the difference between being anchored to the Truth and just floating around. If you doubt my connection, then here’s another one:
When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew chapter 9, verse 36 (NLT)
We need to have our lives anchored to Truth; not just any truth, but THE TRUTH! And contrary to popular opinion, we humans do not process THE TRUTH. Only God; and He has chosen to reveal THE TRUTH in what we call The Bible. We have to act upon The Word–by doing what The Word tells us to do. That’s the difference in the outcome of these 2 houses built by different builders. One had the foundation and the other didn’t. Now, progressive theology wants us to believe that the only thing that really matters is love. After all, that’s what Jesus did. Forget the rest, just love like Jesus. While this may sound good, it turns us into those weather balloons, just floating around being controlled by whatever the winds decide to do.
In that powerful Sermon On The Mount, Jesus said “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” Friends, we must be anchored to The Word, The Bible because that’s exactly what Jesus wants us to do. It’s The Bible guides us and sets the boundaries for our lives. Without ALL of God’s Word, we build houses that simply will not stand up to life as it really happens.
And for anyone in my former tribe, the United Methodist Church (UMC), who thinks they can #StayUMC and still be faithful to God–remember this parable from Jesus, Himself. The leadership of the UMC is building a house upon the sand. And if you stay inside that house, don’t be surprised when it collapses all around you. Here’s a final question for you to consider: Do you want to build your life around human thinking, thinking that is flawed by sin? Or do you want to build your life upon the Word of the Perfectly Holy God?
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.
2 Corinthians chapter 10, verses 3 thru 5; from the New Living Translation (NLT); emphasis mine
Some may think I am disqualified for saying anything about the United Methodist Church (UMC) because I left. If they want to think that way, feel free to do so. But I spend 66+ years in the Methodist/United Methodist Church. They had abandoned me long before I left them. And I have friends who still think it’s OK to stay in the UMC. Therefore, I am still qualified to speak into the 21st century version of the Titanic. And a recent article only affirmed that I was listening to The Holy Spirit in the choice and decision to leave the UMC.
On 8 February 2023, the United Methodist News Service shared an article by Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards titled Using Our Brains: A Proposal for General Conference. He would have the delegates for the upcoming 2024 General Conference rely on their brains rather than good solid biblical and Holy Spirit inspired theology. Well, here’s some of what Rev. Burton-Edwards wrote:
How can next year’s General Conference make good decisions about the future of The United Methodist Church? I’d like to offer a perspective and several concrete suggestions about how to make sound decisions — and feel good about them — grounded in what neuroscience and neuropsychology have been discovering over the past several decades. There are two pairs of best practices in decision-making one can derive from this literature. One is about reducing: Reduce the number of options and stressors. The other is about building: Build consensus and satisfaction. The first two relate to how our brains are structured to help us make significant decisions about new or complicated situations (neuroscience). The second two relate to internal and external factors that can influence our ability to persevere through a difficult decision process and feel good about it when we’re done (neuropsychology). Attending to these best practices can set up the Charlotte meeting of General Conference in 2024 to deal successfully with perhaps the most momentous decisions it will have made since the Dallas meeting in 1968 that created The United Methodist Church.
Don’t misunderstand me. I want the UMC to be healed and move forward in God’s Kingdom. It would fill me with Great Joy to see a revival break out like it has been happening at Asbury. His answer to the quagmire of the United Methodist Church is neuroscience and neuropsychology. When I read that, my brain went immediately to the Scarecrow from The Wizard Of Oz. If he only had a brain! Now, I’m not against thinking and using our brains. God knows I wish more people would! But to base the future of a church solely on the brain? And then expound that it will solve the spiritual problems and move them forward into a better future? Geez, Louise! It seems to me that brains without The Spirit is what led the UMC to this point in history.
Now, I am like an umpire or referee. I only call it like I see it. And here’s how I call it. Neuroscience and neuropsychology have become the Baal of the modern United Methodist Church. Did I offend someone? Oh, well. The Truth has a tendency to offend at times. This is one such time. To remain a United Methodist is to bow down to Baal–the Lord of neuroscience and neuropsychology, rather than The Lord Of Lords and King Of Kings. It’s replacing Jesus as the Head of the Body of Christ with the head of neuroscience.
Does anyone want to speculate on the final outcome if this madness continues? Without knowing it (but then again, maybe he did) John Wesley made this comment, and I will leave you with it:
I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs chapter 3, verses 5 and 6; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
Let’s talk about TRUST. Synonyms for trust includes words such as conviction, assurance, certainty, dependence, and hope. But before we can talk about TRUST we need to define this word. According to Dictionary.com the word TRUST means: “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.” Look carefully at those first two words: reliance and confidence. Think of these two words like book ends that hold up all the other books. Remove either end and the books tend to fall over–i.e.–lean to one side, depending on which book end you remove.
TRUST can be applied to a myriad of situations. Consumer products, services, automobiles, and human nature are just some examples. Speaking of human nature, my level of TRUST in human nature can be described this way: I look both ways before crossing a one way street. But it’s not human nature I want to talk about with you. Well, then again, perhaps it is. Who can we trust when it comes to living the life that pleases and honors God? This is called The Life Of Holiness.
For centuries people turned to The Bible. But for the past several decades, this view has been challenged by those once identified as liberals and now identifies themselves as progressives. Progressives want us to believe that the established ethos of The Bible is UNTRUSTWORTHY. In other words, The Bible cannot be TRUSTED when it comes to the life of Holiness. So, what can this all mean?
Well, for one thing, God was missing in action. He was missing in action when the words were formed. He was missing in action when those words were copied, by human hands. He was missing in action when the early church leaders were trying to figure out what was reliable and what we could have confidence in when it comes to Holiness. And He was missing in action when it was being proclaimed and taught by countless individuals as being THE BOOK and we could rely on and have confidence in when it came to discerning what God wanted of us.
So, why was God missing in action all that time? Human reasoning and logic offers us some insights. Perhaps He was apathetic, unconcerned of what was being taught. Maybe He was powerless to stop all that false and inaccurate teaching. It could be that He, the Creator, was waiting on the Created to help Him understand Himself. And if we embrace what progressive theology purports as the truth, God was just waiting. Waiting for the time when they would arrive on the scene to set thousands of years of errant teaching straight. For example, that sexuality is determined by our feelings and beliefs. And all that God wants from us is to love others by approving of their feelings and beliefs.
But tell me this, how can anyone rely on and have confidence in a “God” who has been missing in action for all this time? Or a “God” who changes His mind and delivers these changes via a select group who are enlightenedto the level of revealing those changes to the rest of us? Progressive theology declares that the missing in action “God” has finally arrived on the scene to set the record straight.
Maybe they think they canrely on and have confidence in that kind of “missing-in-action-until-now-god”. And maybe you think that you can rely on and have confidence in that kind of “god”. But I cannot! And neither should you!
But today’s lesson isn’t about flying saucers or corporate espionage. It’s about the attempt made by what is now known as Progressive Theology (or my favorite term is Pro-Aggressive Theology) to Reverse Engineer God. In simplest of terms, Reverse Engineering is taking something apart, trying to figure out how it works, and then to reproduce it. I love how Wiki puts it: to understand through deductive reasoning how a previously made device, process, system, or piece of software accomplishes a task with very little (if any) insight into exactly how it does so. Read again at the last part of that sentence: with very little (IF ANY) insight into exactly how it does so. It’s trying to make something without any clues as to Who they are looking at reproducing.
But Progressive Theology (Pro-Aggressive Theology) begins with a False Premise: We are made in the image of God. Therefore, whatever WE look like is what God looks like. So Progressive Thinkers (now there’s an oxymoron if there ever was one) want people to understand God by first understanding themselves. Look no further than their errant conclusions about human sexuality to see this reality. How can I put what I want to say next??? YOU’RE WRONG! YOU’RE WRONG! YOU’RE WRONG!
We do not understand God by looking within; we understand God by looking at God! And just how do we see God? Great question! And it just so happens, I have a great answer. It’s found within The Bible. Bear in mind this fact: Not how humans have defined and used The Bible. Using how “others” used The Bible to justify their views is being just like the Pharisees when Jesus was fully in human form. And we all know how Jesus felt about Pharisees. At the risk of sounding like the famous police detective Sgt. Joe Friday: Just The Bible, please.
Leave the human element of what others, or even yourself, say about The Bible locked in a closet with a steel door and triple locks. Maybe even weld the door shut. And then read. Wow! What a novel idea. Read The Bible for yourself without the clutter of the human element. We cannot understand God by looking within. Yes, we are made in God’s image. No doubt about it. But His Image has been covered over by Sin! Yes, Virginia, there is this thing called sin.
And the best news of all is that Jesus, the Son of God, became an exact human being, born to Joseph and Mary, took OUR SINS upon Himself and died on the Cross to forgive, redeem and transform us; transform us back into HIS Image. His image is not even close to our image of Him. When anyone tries to Reverse Engineer God’s image here is who they end up with: Satan! You can’t Reverse Engineer God. You just can’t!
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans chapter 15, verse 2; from the New Living Translation
You know, I thought I was through writing about the mess in the United Methodist Church. This was because I am no longer a United Methodist pastor. Yet, 48 years of service to the United Methodist Church compels me to pray for the United Methodist Church. But write about it? No way, Jose`! One would think that since the “divorce” is final for many former congregations and pastors, the words about us wanting to leave would be over. Apparently, some think differently than me. Even a friend and brother in Christ. Ron seems to think more needs to be said.
So, I am speaking only to United Methodists who are in the discernment phase and to those who think that as traditionalists they can stay in the United Methodist Church. And from the comments made on Ron’s post and similar posts, there is a prevalent mean and ugly spirit within those remaining United Methodists. He is Ron’s post. I am concealing his last name for obvious reasons.
Let me speak into this statement first: “How many Pastors drove this hatred of the UMC into their congregations?!” OK, Ron, tell us. What was that number of pastors who drove their hated of the United Methodist Church? Was it 1? 5? 25? 50? Of the 198 congregations that disaffiliated December 10, was it 100 pastors? I’m waiting, Ron. And before you give me a number, cite your research and sources.
Let’s look at the next statement: “I’m not convinced that all those members had the desire to leave the UMC.“ OK, Ron. There was a 3 month clearly defined process and procedure. It included first and foremost, prayer. In fact, the entire process was to be covered in prayer. Are you saying those 198 congregations didn’t pray? Refused to pray? This process also required to hear from those who were staying in the United Methodist Church. And the last step was a Church Conference where all full members were allowed to be present and allowed to vote. The percentage required to approve disaffiliation was set at 67% in favor. Did the District Superintendent mislead the congregation on how they needed to vote? Was there collusion in counting the votes? Was there a conspiracy within the Conference Board of Trustees to just get rid of those 198 congregations? If their desire was to stay United Methodists, then why did the outcome of those 198 congregations say otherwise? Again, Ron. I’m waiting for your answer.
Now, let’s take on this next statement: “I blame their Pastors. I feel as if they indoctrinated their people.” So, Ron, it’s their pastor’s fault? Really? Are you saying that laypersons are incapable of forming their own opinions and making their own decisions? Hummmm. Interesting, Ron. I wonder how those laypersons feel about your statement? I wonder if they would agree with your personal assessment that they were incapable of making a factual decision. Or, perhaps, you have documentation to prove your allegation? Pastors have a difficult enough time to implement a simple change with just a simple majority. But a 67% majority? My experiences would find that hard to believe. I know your statement said “I feel as if”, but tell me, Ron, when did your feelings become facts? I’m still waiting for your answer.
Then you said, “It’s painful to let 198 congregations go in one day, not to mention all those Pastors who just quit and gave up their orders. It pains me to see so many of my colleagues just leave our Church.” To your credit, half of your statement is true. It is “painful to let 198 congregations go in one day”. And I wholeheartedly agree with you. But did you ever consider that it was painful for many of them, too? I have witnessed the pain of laypersons who made this decision. They are convinced it is where God is leading them–but it’s painful for them, too. Or is it that their pain doesn’t matter? Or is it your pain is larger and more important than their pain? Still waiting for your reply.
But the other half of your statement simply isn’t true: “not to mention all those Pastors who just quit and gave up their orders“! Just as congregations went through a discernment process, so have we pastors. I, and my fellow sisters and brothers have determined that God is leading us in another direction. And in an act of integrity, we must surrender our credentials. It’s what the current Book of Discipline mandates. We are not quitting, we are following! Following the requirements of the Book of Discipline. But more important–we are following Jesus to where He is leading us. If Jesus is leading you to stay in the United Methodist Church, then be faithful to Jesus, Ron. No one is accusing you of not following Jesus. I cannot tell you what Jesus wants you to do anymore than YOU can tell us what Jesus wants us to do when it comes to the United Methodist Church. I hate to think this, but you give the impression of arrogance. We haven’t given up. Just because you say we’ve given up doesn’t mean we have. In case you haven’t figured it out–sometimes it costs us dearly when following Jesus. At 66 years old, I could have simply retired, and kept my United Methodists orders. But God is leading me in a different direction. I’m not asking nor expecting you to like it–however it is reasonable to expect from you my friend and brother in Christ, to respect my decision.
And one last statement you made and I do not know if you thought about how it sounds: I say to those 198 congregations, “Go ahead and Leave, do whatever it is you need to do. We will continue to stand in the light of God and do our part to spread God’s Kingdom! This will not stop and Jesus will be our guide and Lord!” Ron, I hope and pray you will continue to stand in the light of God. Know what, Ron? We who left are going to continue to stand in the light of God and do our part to spread God’s Kingdom, too. Is that so hard for you to comprehend? Surely you are not so–what’s the word–presumptuous as to think we are incapable of making the same decision! Are you? That’s not the Ron I met and thought was my brother in Christ and friend.
You ended your post with these words: “May our tempers be calm, God’s grace prevail, and by the mercy of the Holy Spirit help us all to move forward.” By us all, do you mean US ALL–or just United Methodists? Ron, if you are just frustrated, I can relate to that. But the accusations you made against 198 congregations and us pastors–well it doesn’t sound like moving forward, it doesn’t sound calm, and it certainly isn’t grace-filled words. Contrary to your statements, I am capable of listening to God and following Him where He wants me to go. Your words, my friend, didn’t form my decision. However, they did confirm I made the right decision.
So, to current United Methodists who are traditionalists/conservatives that think there’s room for you in the United Methodist Church–I can’t tell you what to do. But know that the voice of my friend isn’t the only voice offering ugly words and a lack of grace. You are held in contempt until you agree with progressives. If you can live like that, then by all means, stay United Methodist. I am not abandoning the United Methodist Church. I’m not quitting the United Methodist Church. I am following Jesus, Ron. I’m follow Jesus–even if you think I’m not!
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.
Galatians chapter 1, verse 8; from the New Living Translation
Does it matter what one teaches? You bet your Sweet Bippy it does! Look at what’s happening to kids in public schools! Look at the outcomes of that teaching and you know, whether you admit it or not, false teaching produces heinous outcomes. And when pastors and seminary professors get it wrong–the outcomes are even more nefarious. Case in point–the progressives in the United Methodist Institution. The person in the pew counts on the person in the pulpit to get it right–as well they should. And when that person in the pulpit get’s it wrong? Dear, Lord!!!
Case in point. The United Methodist Institution has an arm that is supposed to feed people spiritually on a daily basis. It’s called The Upper Room. It’s been published for over 88 years. For the December 7, 2022 reading, I found this:
I direct your attention to the second paragraph. She relates the passage to what the person in the pulpit taught. That person said: “What if this wasn’t just a divine miracle but also a human one?” What the what??? “Just a divine miracle”? Really? Jesus needed a human miracle in order to accomplish just a Divine Miracle? I’m not shaming the writer–she is only applying what she heard from the person in the pulpit. But I am shaming the person in the pulpit who fed her that idea. And where did that pulpit person get that idea from? It must have been from some person that taught them.
Progressives in the UMC (and other Tribes) insist they are not going to change the orthodox bedrock beliefs of the church. But what is so very obvious is that they intend to whittle away at that foundation until their beliefs are fully embraced by everyone in their Tribe. Progressives have been whittling away at the Biblical Sexual Ethic, and have caused numerous folks to think that the Bible, and God, approves of this Social Sexual Ethic. Gay, bi, binary–the terms do not matter. What matters is that God’s Design has been circumvented for a more convenient view.
For decades, the morons in their hollow Ivory Towers of education have debated the Virgin Birth–as if it did not, could not happen. In their finite swill called education they have challenged the validity of the Old Testament prophets. Whittle here, whittle there. Now these Empty Skulls are saying that the Biblical View of Sexual Ethics is wrong. And add to all this and so much more, that the miracle of Jesus feeding over 5,000 folks was more of a human miracle, than just a divine miracle. Now, if you are one of those who believe that traditional orthodox folks WILL have a place in the New United Methodist Institution–it’s time to re-evaluate your position. It matters what one teaches. It matters for your heart and soul. It matters for all those who also inhabit this third rock from the sun. Just a divine miracle? A human miracle? This just confirms my commitment to Jesus is right as I disaffiliate from the UMC. And after Saturday morning, December 10, 2022 I will no longer be a United Methodist. And I’m good with that–and at peace with where The Spirit is leading me.
“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.
So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good?
Romans chapter 6, verses 1 and 2; from The Message (Msg)
Being a pastor, I know something about this “change of address” thing. Today, it’s not a big thing. Go online, notify whomever, fill out a form, and PRESTO! The address has been change! But at the risk of sounding old I will say, “Back in the day, we had to fill out a form with the post office, and then write letters to those others who sent us mail notifying them of our change of address.” Moving isn’t easy. I still remember to this day what the late Bishop Sanders would always say before the reading of the appointments: “When you move, take everything! Take the piano and the dog!” Oh, one other thing he would say: “And don’t go back!”
Why all these random thoughts about moving and change of address? Before one is about to leave their old home or apartment, they make one last round to make sure that they haven’t left anything behind. But when it comes to following Jesus–it takes a complete break from what use-to-be and step into what-it’s-going-to-be. We cannot carry our old baggage with us if we are truly following Jesus. As a matter of fact, we can’t take anything with us from that old address! Nothing! Nada! Zilch! Alas! We have too many preachers and teachers who do not believe that God wants us to make a complete break with our old life. And these apostate teachers and preachers are leading folks into the life of Deception! Yes, I called them Apostate! Like Horton the Elephant, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant!”
Teaching and saying that you can still do the things you use to do and still be a Disciple of Jesus is akin to an addict who says: “I’m not an addict anymore. Although from time to time I still allow my addiction to control me. But I’m a follower of Jesus, so that doesn’t matter anymore.” Grace forgives us of our sins–but Grace Never Sanctifies Our Sins! Yet there are so many who have been taught that this is how it works; especially within the LBGTIQ community.
To be a follower, I mean a REAL follower of Jesus is disruptive! It’s the call and life of leaving everything else behind. It’s not always easy to leave the old address. And the temptation to “move back” to that old house is very real–and often very powerful. But the same Grace that invited us to move away from that old address and into this New Address, is the same Grace that is available to help us from that temptation to go back to that old home. God’s definition of “sin” hasn’t changed; nor will it ever! But thankfully He is always here to help us to keep moving forward–and to help us from wanting to move back to that old address. You just can’t carry that old baggage from our old life and follow Jesus. You just can’t! And that, my friends is the best news ever!
6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.
Romans chapter 8, verses 6-7; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
Recently I had a conversation with a fellow United Methodist clergy on Facebook. It was focused on a post this individual had made. It was surprisingly civil (up to this point)–still, I couldn’t help but think: What are they teaching now in United Methodist Seminaries? Here’s the screenshot of that comment:
This person compared understanding Scriptures to a 3-legged stool. The top is the Scriptures and the 3 legs are tradition, reason, and experience. Thus, without tradition, or reason, or experience, one cannot adequately understand Scripture. The primary (and often times “sole determining factor”) way to understand Scripture is through tradition, reason, and experience. Now, before you call me that dreaded “fundamentalist”, hear me out. We do not study the Scriptures in a vacuum. There are traditions. We all have experiences. And God created us to be able to reason, or think if you prefer.
But it seems that many of our clergy are using reason as the final determining factor. In other words, if it doesn’t make sense to us, or if the culture tells us something contrary, then we are free to change or ignore what the Bible clearly teaches. This is what many seminaries are teaching. Not all of them, mind you; but enough of them are and the result has been the dilution and devolution of the power of Scripture to guide us and form in us the life of Holiness demanded by God for His Image Bearers. Go back to the writer’s analogy of that three-legged stool.
The writer is correct in stating that for a three-legged stool to be secure enough to sit on, it needs all three legs. And, by implication, those 3 legs need to be the same length. Otherwise it is unstable. But do not overlook the other implication–that Scripture (the seat of that three-legged stool) cannot safely support us until all three of those legs are the same length. In other words, Scripture is to be formed by OUR traditions, experiences, and reasoning.
Can I be frank with you? I know, my name is Randy. But I need to be FRANK with you this morning. Using the writer’s analogy of that three-legged stool, when those who are supposed to be our Spiritual Leaders are taught that human reasoning overrides the Scriptures and that we need to change our beliefs about anything in the Bible, then the result is the chaos and soon to follow destruction of the United Methodist, and any other church that follows the same primrose path. And to my fundamentalist friends, if you allow your traditions to determine your beliefs about the Bible, then your three-legged stool is just as unsteady.
Hear me out! Yes, reason, tradition, and experience are helpful tools when it comes to understanding Scripture! But they do not determine what is THE TRUTH! The Truth is set by the Bible for all matters of faith, life, and conduct. But none of them gives us the permission to change The Standard clearly set in The Bible! From my perspective, many seminary professors took a bite of that apple Satan offered Eve and Adam, and unlike Eve and Adam who recognized the shame and mistake, they “reason” that the apple is good, and that Satan was right. Is there any doubts now as to why the United Methodist Tribe is imploding? It looks like that three-legged stool analogy doesn’t work after all.
3 Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. 4 I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.
Jude, verses 3 and 4; from the New Living Translation
If you desire to be deemed mean, ugly, and phobic, then deeply study the Bible, and share what The Spirit reveals in the Bible. At least, that’s how it works in my United Methodist Tribe. I always believed that God watched over the entire process from writing and rewriting those sacred books, all the way to the Canonization that led to our Bible. Turns out I was wrong. Or so my progressive counterparts insist. According to them, God has just be waiting and waiting for folks like them to straighten everyone out on where the Bible just got it wrong. Now, I haven’t heard any of them use the exact words I have used.
But it is clearly seen in how they have conveniently correct the errors found in the Bible. And it’s all because Jesus told His followers to love others. Love erases the sinfulness of sin, and sanctifies it. Thanks to them, we now know that God Himself, created homosexuality. Oh, and the New Testament never used the word “homosexual”, so that makes it OK. Well, the New Testament never uses the word “pornography”, so by their logic, that makes pornography OK.
When anyone approaches the Bible with the attitude that they are right, then the results are clear–that God’s Grace justifies just about anything they want. Because of their contention, I am amazed and perplexed how this Bible has lasted so long–seeing that its writers didn’t really understand 21st century people. So, whenever the Bible gets it wrong–it’s up to sin-stained but enlightened people to set the record straight. Boy, I can just hear Jude going off on them!
Now, that’s the logic of progressive theology. They can disagree with my observation and conclusion. I’m OK with that. If they want to be wrong, that’s their right. The Bible doesn’t exist to justify our opinions. The Bible exists to tell us the greatest saga ever. It starts with perfection–but takes a turn when Adam and Eve believe Satan’s lie that they can know as much as God. (Sound familiar?) And it continues with the Saga of God trying to restore them and their descendants back to their rightful place by showing them how much they need Him to break free of the slavery of sin.
Finally, God showed humanity how ugly the sin was in them when Jesus was nailed to that Cross. That death didn’t put God’s Seal Of Approval on our preferred choice of sin. It shows us just how ugly sin really is. And with the Resurrection, God showed everyone how that He can and will deliver us from sin’s dominion and power over us. Unfortunately, too many don’t want to be delivered from sin’s power over them. They just want to think that if they love others, then the rest doesn’t matter. And what the Bible says about Holiness of Heart and Holiness of Life–well, that’s just wrong. But the Bible isn’t wrong
1 Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
1 John chapter 4, verses 1 thru 3; from the New Living Translation
The days of business as usual for what is commonly called “the church” are over. Truth of the matter is, those days have been gone a long, long, time. But People Still Are Trying To Operate The Mission And Ministry Of Jesus As “Business As Usual”. Some may not be happy with me that I am bring this up. But I would rather they be unhappy with me because I’ve brought this up—than for God to be unhappy with me for NOT bringing it up.
There is a game that has been and is being played by a lot of folks. It’s called “Kick The Can Down The Road.” Some have been intentionally playing the game, and even more have been playing it because they haven’t been told the truth—or have simply ignored the truth. And here’s the 2 things we need to know right now about that can:
The Can That’s Been Kicked Down The Road Has Been Disintegrated By All That Kicking It Down The Road. Piece by piece, atom by atom, the can doesn’t exist anymore. Ever noticed how a can will eventually cease to exist? Either by wear and tear or rust?
Even If There Was Any Can Left To Kick Down The Road, There’s No More Road Left To Kick It Down. All roads end somewhere. And this road has reached that end!
We did not reach this moment overnight. It didn’t happen because of the past few months, years, or even decades. It’s been generational. We can also say that it’s been happening ever since The Koinonia came to life. But now it seems to me that it has intensified. Maybe it’s because it’s happening in my time. But for generations now we have neglected John’s Most Important Words For The Future Of The Koinonia:
You Must Test Them To See If The Spirit They Have Comes From God.
False teachings have been a part of what you might call “the church” and what I love to call “The Koinonia” ever since its inception. Satan is at the root of it all because he knows that The Koinonia is all that is standing between him and the people in the world. And now for generations, he’s been having a party—at the expensive of human lives.
This Season Of Discernment May Well Be Your Last Opportunity To Discern What Is Being Promoted And Taught. And to discern exactly what you are going to do! You have to “test the spirit” of those who want to lead you in a different direction from where you started.
It’s interesting that in writing his letter, John chose the Greek word “dokimazō (dah-key-mah-zo)” that’s translated “test” or “try”. It means: “To Test, Examine, Prove, Scrutinize (To See Whether A Thing Is Genuine Or Not), As Metals.” If someone offers to sell you some gold jewelry, are you going to buy it just because it’s color is gold? I don’t think so. If you would, then see me tomorrow after the Dollar Tree opens, and I will be glad to sell you some gold jewelry.
The only accurate way to test a teaching—is to compare it to The Bible. And all of the Bible. For hundreds and hundreds of years, people have misused and misapplied the verses of the Bible to support their own positions. I’m talking about using the whole Bible.
Those in our Tribal Leadership are promoting ideas and a life that contradictions thousands of years of the teachings in the Bible. They are leading a movement that in essence—and at its core—is saying that God has been waiting for a long time for some people to finally get the Bible right.
Now, if you’re OK with that kind of leadership—or if you believe that leadership—then there’s no need to discern anything. However—I said However!!!—if you think and believe that God’s Word is true and reliable, then you must discern whether you can follow God and align yourselves with their leadership. From the very beginning—I’ve been very clear. This Is YOUR Decision About The Future Of This Place. It’s not about me. It’s not about the decision Debbie and I have already made.
It’s About Discerning—Testing—Trying—The Teachings Of Your Leadership To See If It’s Really Of God Or Not—And If You Can Live Under That Kind Of Leadership. I can say so much more—but this morning is the time for you to seek, ask, and yes, especially pray. And I want to leave you with some words from Paul. This is why it’s necessary that NOW you determine which way you will go—Because The Way You Go, Determines The Future That Awaits You.
6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News 7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. 8 Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. 9 I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
Galatians chapter 1, verses 6 thru 9; from the NLT
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!
My “Oh Lord, It’s Monday” post talked about how Interruptions get in the way of life the way God intends. Well, guess what? A Monday can happen on a Tuesday…and it did to me. Sunday night Debbie, my wife, got that blessed “stomach bug”. I prayed for her to get over it quickly–but I didn’t pray for it to stay away from me. Another “Guess What?” for you this Thursday morning: Tuesday afternoon that “stomach bug”–I prefer the term “Spawn Of Satan”–hit me, too. I hope this isn’t too graphic for you–but my mouth revisited everything I had eaten the past 2 years, or so it seemed. About 2 hours later, Satan’s Spawn decided I needed to visit the Porcelain Altar again until it was sure absolutely nothing remained in my stomach.
And that got me to thinking–OK, so I’m one of the few who can get a lesson from a “stomach bug that’s really Satan’s Spawn”. The lesson is this: What The World Offers Us Comes Back On Us, And It’s Never Pleasant. The food I had enjoyed so much, that tasted so good the first time it was on my palate, tasted horrible the second time it was on my palate. (Again, I hope this wasn’t too graphic for the “delicate” folks out there.) That’s the nature of Sin! It always does!
Yet we go back to it again and again. The outcome is always the same. Progressives who teach that some sins are no longer sins bear proof of this axiom. People who live by their “insights” that parts of the Bible are wrong continue to be miserable. And so they blame us Orthodox folks for their misery–that if we would just accept their views, the misery would disappear.
Sin always tastes worse when it comes back up when we least need it to. That’s why God tells us to avoid it! Not to make us miserable–but to keep us from being miserable! How long will you and I keep going back to the Porcelain Altar regurgitating the effects of sin and keep believing one day it will taste as good the second time as it did the first time? Be confident of this–that Sin will always come back up on you. I’m not asking you to be honest with me–be honest to yourself! Think it through, people! Do you still need more convincing?
The man described as the wisest man ever, Solomon, tried to live his life outside of God’s design–in other words–in SIN! He wrote a book about it; we call it Ecclesiastes. And in the very first chapter, he lets us know what it’s like living without God’s guidance. He wrote in Verses 16 and 17–I said to myself, “I know more and I’m wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I’ve stockpiled wisdom and knowledge.” What I’ve finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind. I would say, “It’s like kneeling at the Porcelain Altar rehashing what I thought was good–but it ain’t!” For 2022, why not give up thinking that sin will ever taste good the second time around? And Solomon would agree with me–It’s never as good the second time as it was the first time!
According to progressive theology, there is no need for grace that transforms us for the following reasons:
God loves us just the way we are
God wants us to love Him just the way we are
God wants us to love others just the way they are
(Sounds good so far, right?)
Because God loves us just the way we are and because we love others just the way they are, He blesses and sanctifies the way we are
That loves erases the idea that we have been infected with sin–i.e. changes that sin into holiness without us changing a thing, other than being loving
We are free to keep living the way we have been as long as we love others
Loving others must include accepting, condoning, approving, AND blessing their sin of choice
The only parts of the Bible that are accurate and relevant are those verses that talk about unconditional love
Jesus died on the Cross so that WE can determine what is right or wrong, as long as we love
Therefore there is no such thing as Transforming Grace. Why would anyone ever need to change, to be transformed? Right? Just embrace love and be loving–that’s why Jesus died on the Cross. This sounds like a simple solution to all the human problems today. And yet, even those who have embraced Progressive Theology continue to be unhappy, suspicious, and angry at everyone who doesn’t agree with them.
And the Monday Morning Attitude continues to overwhelm people. The primary reason. . .scratch that. . .the only reason we dread another week is because we have failed to be transformed by God’s Grace or we have forgotten that God’s grace HAS and IS transforming us. As long as we are unwilling to allow His Grace to work on us and in us, then each week provides us only with more misery, disappointment, and heartache.
Thankfully God’s Grace is Transforming us. Grace means God has been working to change us, is working to change us, and will continue to work on changing us until we are exactly who HE made us to be! Each week, each day, each hour, each minute, and every second God is working to make us whole and complete. The problems you are facing are moments where God’s Transforming Grace shines! The fears, anxieties, even failures–God’s Grace is at work to make us stronger, livelier, healthier, and confident.
When we open ourselves to God’s Grace and allow His Grace to change us–then we can say: Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
The Holy Spirit taught me another lesson in this week’s stay with Dad. The lesson He revealed to me is about Durable! Here’s how it happened. The bed and bedroom me, Debbie, and my son Matthew sleep in has a mattress that, well…it must have a steel plate in it! It doesn’t give a millimeter when you lay down on it. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, it’s hard (see the pun?) to sleep on.
There’s another mattress in the middle bedroom that isn’t as hard. So I asked Dad if it would be OK if I switched mattresses. I was going to do it anyway, but out of respect for him, I first asked for permission rather than forgiveness. He granted me permission. So yesterday afternoon I begin the move. I decided to go ahead and wash the sheets and bedspread even though it hadn’t been used in a long time. That’s when I saw the next subject in The Spirit’s Syllabus.
I recognized the bedspread first. It was the one that was on my bed when I was growing up. I tried to figure out when Mother bought it. Let’s just say it’s over 50 years old. It doesn’t look brand new–but it doesn’t look over 50 years old, either. Removing that bedspread revealed the sheets and instantly I remembered those same sheets–again probably over 50 years old–and they didn’t look new, but they didn’t look over 50 years old, either. I was amazed and the word the Holy Spirit placed in my heart is this morning’s word: Durable!
They don’t make things like they use to! Ever heard that expression? The durability of that bedspread and sheets reminded me of the Durability of our orthodox faith. The faith that has been handed down generation after generation, century after century–has been through a lot of tests and life–but it has survived and endured for nearly 2,000 years. However, today there are those who want to change our Orthodox Faith. They want a faith that fits the times and their own reasoning. “Let’s rewrite the story!” they say.
But why? This new progressive theology that seems so appealing because it’s so new, will not last. It cannot last. It is not making the church stronger–it’s making it weaker. In just the few decades it’s been around, it has only produced chaos and leaves a wake of broken lives. It is leaving people bitter and angry–a far cry from the durability of our orthodox faith.
Nothing manufactured today is as durable as what was manufactured 50 years ago. Changing the Message may be appealing to your mind–but it does nothing to transform and sustain the heart and mind. The Holy Spirit just confirmed that The Orthodox Faith is Durable–and it doesn’t need to be changed to match the values of our culture. What is being called progressive–meaning moving in a forward direction–is really digressive.
I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.
It Matters! There’s so much talk–scratch that–there’s so much SHOUTING about WHO matters. Black Lives. Blue Lives. Asian Lives. White Lives. All Lives. But this morning I don’t want to talk about WHO matters. The burden that has been in my heart for some time now has been IT MATTERS! The reason being is that there are so many–way too many–who believe IT DOESN’T MATTER–though it does. What is the IT I’m talking about?
The IT is What We Believe About God And His Word–otherwise known as The Bible! Theological progressives are promoting this crazy idea that when it comes to God and His Word, it doesn’t matter what we believe, as long as we believe, especially that part about Love. Progressives say, “Just let us believe what we want. And you can believe what you want. And let’s just live together side by side. As long as we love each other, then the rest doesn’t matter.” But IT does MATTER!
People are heading down what they believe is the yellow brick road to enlightenment full speed ahead. But left in the wake of their ignis fatuus are broken, disillusioned, and deeply wounded people. They live a disconsolate and wistful existence. And the Progressives blame that lugubrious state of mind on those who of us who understand that IT DOES MATTER what we believe. While their mantra has been “You believe what you want and we believe what we want and we can still get along” is an incongruity because it elevates US human beings as the highest and final authority of what it means to put our faith in Christ–and to be His disciple and follower.
This kind of thinking is built upon a supposition that we humans are fully capable of understanding the heart and mind of God. That WE have the mental acuities to determine who God created us to become. That WE are free to determine what is right and what is wrong; what is acceptable and what is unacceptable; what is sin and what is not sin. In an online conversation with a progressive, she told me, “The Fall was a good thing because it freed us to determine our own life.” Excuse me, but isn’t that what Satan told Eve and Adam? I think it was.
Another alleged Gospel has been presented–it may sound good and reasonable to the human mind. It even sounds like it’s the way for all of us to get along. But sounding good and being good isn’t the same. Paul warned about this in Galatians Chapter 1, Verses 8 and 9–“Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.”
Good News includes the truth that there is also Bad News! The bad news is that we are all infected, tainted, and under the influence of sin. This infection has corrupted our mind, and thus our ability to understand exactly what God wants of us. And the only reliable source to understand both the nature of sin and how it is affecting us is found in The Bible. Though the Bible was written by human hands, and though human minds brought together all these books as our Canon–our source for authority over us–I maintain that God was watching over these processes ensuring that today we have an accurate and reliable foundation, both about sin and God’s Grace. If God cannot protect The Truth from being transmitted through the millenniums, then God cannot be trusted at all.
We are not equipped mentally nor spiritually to determine what is or isn’t sin. Besides, we already have those definitions. It’s called The Bible. Here in The Bible is where we find Personal Holiness. Do we always get it right the first time? Hardly! But we are not left alone to our own devices to figure it out. We have many centuries of writers and witnesses who attest to the Truth of God’s Word. The Orthodox ways, though not perfected completely, reveal to us that Truth is Truth is Truth. And we are not free to redefine things like sin and personal holiness.
We have the Holy Spirit to help us. And the Holy Spirit will not, cannot contradict The Bible. We need to be careful, very careful, how we handle This Word. It matters what we believe–when it comes to sin, salvation, and a life of holiness. It matters, even if you think it doesn’t matter.
This will be the last in the series of blogs. And in my humble opinion, here is the greatest heresy of all that some believe is in The Bible, but it’s NOT!
All God Expects Of Us Is To Love Like Jesus!
This is the creed and mantra from those who self-identify as progressives. I have a difficult time calling it a theology, because Truth has been completely ignored–even erased. Those who have been deceived by this lie freely quote all the passages that talk about love–and ignore the rest. They love to even quote a “bit” of Jesus: “Neither do I condemn you.”
They insist–scratch that! The DEMAND we see this their way–or else we are mean, ugly, dumb, hateful, homophobic, despiteful, heinous, odious, vicious, and vile creatures. To focus on LOVE and ignore TRUTH is a train wreck about to happen. Yes, sometimes Truth hurts–but living Lie? This hurts beyond our wildest imaginations.
However, here is what Jesus says in Matthew 5:17-19 (NLT)–“17 Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.“
And let’s not forget good old Peter. He wrote affirming the standard of God’s holiness is to be our standard in 1 Peter 1:15 (NLT)–But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. If one cannot trust The Bible to identify sin, then they cannot trust The Bible at all! Love doesn’t mean we “gotta” obey God–it means we “get to” obey God. Yes, sin does still exist–and we are not qualified nor capable of defining sin.
Sign, sign Everywhere a sign Blockin’ out the scenery Breakin’ my mind Do this, don’t do that Can’t you read the sign?
“Signs” performed by Five Man Electrical Band, written by Arthur Thomas
If you were not singing along with the above lyrics, you are NOT a part of the best and coolest generation ever! Yep! I’m thinking about signs today–and the messages they disclose. When I’m on my motorcycle, I absolutely LOVE this next sign! As I recently posted on Facebook, sometimes you need a really crooked road to get your head straight!
There are more signs that just highway signs. Signs of summer:
Signs of fall:
Signs of winter:
And the ever popular signs of Spring:
But I am aberrating. There’s a road sign I’ve seen a few times, and today I started thinking about that sign. Can I be honest with you? It’s a sign that bemuses, bewilders, and stupefies me. And here it is:
I realize that a lot of churches are indeed slow, but I wonder what are the qualifications to receive such a designation? If I was the pastor of the church that had this sign–I would seek a new appointment. If I was a member, I would insist that the highway department take it down immediately. I mean, who wants to lead or attend a slow church? Apparently, there’s a lot who will fit the bill.
I call them Tenured Pew Sitters. The church has been SLOW to realize it doesn’t exist to serve it’s members. The church has been SLOW to accept people who don’t dress, think, or vote like them as people who need God’s grace. The church has been SLOW understanding that our story isn’t the story about the church, but the Saga Of The Kingdom Of God. The church has been SLOW recognizing the it isn’t a building but supposed to be a people.
It seems the church has been SLOW in responding the Great Heresy Of The 21st Century–that of progressive theology. This started back in the 1960’s. Yet Churchians and Tenured Pew Sitters refused to believe it would ever gain traction. So…they remained silent.
And now it threatens to ripe apart the fabric of many churches. It’s a theology that depends and relies on human intellect and logic. And that is a train wreck about to happen, the likes of which have never been seen before. In it’s carnage will be victims of both sides–you see falsehood and heresy doesn’t care who it hurts–it will even hurt it’s most ardent supporters. The wake that will be left by progressivism will be a bloody mess of anger, doubt, fear, and broken spirits.
Slowness is killing the church in the U.S. of A. Elsewhere in the world, where the church isn’t SLOW, the Body Of Christ is Alive, Vibrant, and bringing new citizens into the Kingdom of God. Perhaps in the U.S., they should change words to a familiar hymn: Like a little snail, move the U.S. Church. But that’s just how I feel.
Progressive is the Thursday word of the day. “Liberal” is no longer an acceptable word to describe an agenda on ideologies, political views and theology. Progressive is the new group-chosen word to describe an agenda of certain groups; please note I used the plural–meaning that the word progressive covers a myriad of societal arenas. Progressive comes from the word progress which means “forward or onward movement toward a destination.” Forward movement–that’s their battle cry. But can someone from the progressive side explain to me how what we see is forward movement?
Just a few days ago a man in Jacksonville Florida drives his van into a political party’s Voter Registration Tent. In this own words, he did it because he did not like President Trump and “someone had to take a stand”. To take a stand, he took a lethal weapon and aimed it at 6 people exercising the Constitutionally guaranteed, all because someone had to take a stand. Two of those in the crosshairs of his lethal weapon were over 65 years old. I know for a fact that, as I am less than 14 months from reaching that age, you don’t move as fast at 65 as you did at 25. Mr. Timm surely knows that, too. But it didn’t seem to bother him. After his someone had to take a stand moment he exited his van, flipped them off and drove away.
An unnamed (by me) Speaker of the House of Representatives rips a legal document on national television. People flood the streets with violence when something doesn’t go their way. Anger is ruling the day because progressive political ideology promotes it. Hate is the order of the day. A man in San Francisco gathers volunteers to pick up trash and is verbally attacked and physically threatened because the progressive wuss assumed they were dismantling a homeless camp.
Even in the arena of theology, progressives call anyone who does not agree with them misogynists, racists, homophobes, mean-spirited, hateful, ignorant and tell us we just need to either agree with them or leave the church. All the while, these progressive thinking people claim to promote love and grace. Well…they do unless you don’t agree with them.
Here’s my point: Progressive Thinking Is Leading Us Into Regressive Living. The fear, self righteousness and anger is fueling the chaos that is moving us backwards, not forwards as a society and a people. Progressive Thinking, as it is currently being defined by the left, is creating a toxic environment that is threatening to take us back to the Stone Age. And that, my friends, is the truth and the truth will stand when the world’s on fire.
Being “in the country” means sometimes you have to go the distance to find what you are looking for. Now, understand that I model the example of buying locally as much as possible. But sometimes . . . you have to go the distance. We frequently have to go north of here to see some of our doctors, and most importantly, to go see Dad. In one of these paths I inevitably have to stop at this particular convenience store; “have to” being the operative word.
You see, I have an enormous love for coffee, and I have to take a little “fluid pill” prescribed by my doctor to help with my blood pressure. Well, if you love coffee and have to take one of those demon pills–then you understand why I “have to” stop there. And out of respect for that business owner, I do purchase something for the convenience of their restroom. Now, to my gripe.
The first time I stopped there, I was in shock. This is a southern convenience store and to my horror and deep disappointment, they were no where to be seen. My heart sank and a gloomy cloud formed over my mind. My heart and mind were set on, and wanted one of these southern delicacies:
How dare them consider themselves a southern convenience store and NOT sell Little Debbie products. It’s immoral and should be illegal for a southern convenience store shelves to be bare of Little Debbie snacks! It’s the preferred snack of Coach Nick Saban! This alone should be enough of a mandate to carry them. I shouldn’t stop there; I wouldn’t stop there–if it weren’t for my love of coffee and that little demon pill. So, I stop there nearly every time because it creates an inconvenience if I don’t! What’s all this ranting have to do with the Kingdom? What’s the lesson in this? Glad you asked . . .
The influence of the Kingdom of God is waning and even sickly in the U.S. This sickness did not happen overnight–but through a process over the last several decades. It happened as Tenured Pew Sitters began longing for a ‘More Convenient’ Jesus; a Jesus that is comfortable with what they are comfortable with; a Jesus who does not challenge their views; and most of all, A Jesus That Serves Their Desire To Be The Consumer Of Rather Than The Producers Of The Kingdom Life.
And this desire for a ‘More Convenient’ Jesus by the Tenured Pew Sitters has produced a new variety of people who have diluted The Message of The Kingdom. They proudly label themselves as Progressives. They, too, want a ‘More Convenient’ Jesus. They want a Jesus that neither challenges nor inspires them to the life of Transforming Grace. But rather than being consumers like the Tenured Pew Sitters, they are producers of a message that Jesus is all love, and as such, requires nothing to change in us except that we love, and that is all. It’s not considered ‘loving’ to embrace the Christian-Judaeo morals and values–but being mean, ugly and unreasonable. Cover immorality over with love and instantly it’s no longer immoral. ‘Convenient Jesus’ does not mention sin–but angrily points the finger at any who disagree with their ‘Convenient Jesus’.
But here’s the thing: ‘Convenient Jesus’ doesn’t exist–never has–never will. Whether one is of the ilk of Tenured Pew Sitters or the ilk of Progressives, Jesus is anything but convenient. Allow me to explain with some examples from the Real Jesus:
When the woman caught in the act of adultery was dragged before Jesus: (John 8:10-11) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” Giving up what makes one feel good, well that’s inconvenient.
When someone wanted to follow Jesus, but wanted first to bury his father: (Luke 9:60) But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”Jesus doesn’t want to fit into your schedule; that doesn’t sound convenient.
When Jesus told the disciples of him impending death He called out to the crowd: (Luke 9:23) Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Life from a cross doesn’t sound convenient. (OK 1 more in case you missed the point)
When James and John wanted the places of honor: (Matthew 20:26-27) “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.”Being a servant and a slave doesn’t fit into the sin-tainted game plan.
Convenience is the desire of the old heart and the old life. It is also the lie from Satan. Jesus came to create inconvenience in us so that we can be set free from the bondage of sin. Jesus did not come in our human form to make our lives easy–rather He came in human form to make our lives full and complete. And sometimes . . . well it is inconvenient. But don’t stress out–He promises to be with us to guide and empower us to the only life that really matters. The life God created for us–not the life we designed for ourselves.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him.
Well, it’s the day after the Fourth of July, and I’m on a rant. Go figure. Maybe it’s seeing on Facebook all those who allege they are Christians going all patriotic, ranting against Kap and Nike. singing God Bless America. Some seem to “up their game” when it comes to achieving the status of being a “Patriotic Christian”. Patriotic Christian? Really? But that’s a rant for another day.
Today I’m ranting against “Statistical Christianity”. I’m not talking about Barna or Pew Research. I’m talking about those who use statistics as proof of their beliefs–why they are right and I am wrong. Maybe I should give you my definition of Statistical Christianity:
Statistical Christianity is defining what it means to be a Christian by the numbers, rather than the truth.
Statistical Christianity has two branches. One branch is occupied by the Tenured Pew Sitters. They look at the past and try to build the future based on what they used to do. They look at the numbers back then, and in an act of ultimate futility, insist that it can be that way again IF we just replicate what we did then. For this branch, it’s all about 3 things: the building; their personal preferences dressed up in the clothes of tradition; and the most important part of all: DEMOCRACY! Every decision should be made based on the vote of the majority–and they make sure that their governing boards are stacked with people who think like they do. It’s about the numbers!
The second branch is occupied by “The Allegedly Enlightened”. The Allegedly Enlightened Branch looks to the culture to define what it means to follow Jesus. It is a life based on assumptions, presumptions, feelings, and sincere personal beliefs. Oh, and don’t forget THE NUMBERS. Mark Holland is proud to point this out in his blog 76% of US Annual Conferences Reject Traditional Plan. Mark bears witness to something I learned way back in college days when taking Statistical Math: 92.5874685% of all statistics are made up on the spot with a 99.99 percent margin of error.
The Allegedly Enlightened have the Numbers on the assumptions, presumptions, feelings and sincere personal beliefs to back up their claims. This Branch of Statistical Christianity wants us to allow the views, feelings, and emotions of culture define the Body of Christ. Public Opinion, be it a majority or minority, trumps anything else provided our personal experiences and feelings bear them out as truth.
And so we see it: The Tenured Pew Sitters Branch and the Allegedly Enlightened Branch stand across from each other shouting derogatory remarks at each other, while the rest of the world (statistically speaking they are the true majority) shakes its head and says, “If this is what being a Christian is about, thanks but NO THANKS!”
I close with this:
Excuse me for a moment. Statistically speaking, I need another cup of coffee…..
Though I haven’t been actively writing much lately, I have been actively thinking… more like…reflecting on the current state of affairs. I have been engaged in active observation of our culture… of the church… and though it’s given me a headache, frustrations, aggravations, agitations, and a variety of discombobulations, it has not filled me with despair nor desperation. Maybe a Goody’s Headache powder or a little 15 year old single malt–but I’m not anywhere near throwing in the towel and giving up. But I have reached a moment. It happened this evening as I was taking a shower. This moment is NOT an epiphany–but a question? Here it is:
In the book of Acts, those who committed to be Disciples of Jesus were committed to the Good News of The Kingdom of God. Their life was called Koinonia, a shared life together. Others were always more important than themselves. Sharing was natural. Caring was deeper. They hungered for more understanding of this Kingdom. This Kingdom came first. Koinonia Community marked by being TOGETHER in the Ekklesia (that’s the Greek word mistranslated as church). Ekklesia is a Greek word that means “the called out ones”. They were passionate about The Gospel of The Kingdom of God, telling that powerful story. And church today? Tenured Pew Sitters have stopped being producers for the Kingdom and started being the Consumers. As consumers, they want to church to do and be what best suits them. They want to be in control. It’s no longer about Koinonia Life, but what suits them.
Another thing, it seems there are those who think that with the passing of centuries, suddenly WE know more about what God means than the ancient writers who shared their stories. I know the saying , “With age comes wisdom.” LIE! LIE! LIE! I’ve seen way too many examples of age coming all by itself; wiðutan–that’s an old English word that means ” a word expressing lack or want of something”. They called themselves “Progressives”, thinking that their thinking is making progress for humanity. They insist that there are parts of the Biblical Ethos that is, for a lack of a better word from me, WRONG! Progressives insist that our minds, our reasoning processes (a process that is polluted by sin in ALL of us) are better suited to guide us in life on earth. Pardon me, but isn’t that what Satan told Eve and Adam? It’s not longer about seeking, praying and listening to the Holy Spirit.
Yet another thing, unique to the U.S., is that politics will solve all our problems. Voting becomes a matter of religious preferences. It’s about which political party sits in the Oval Office, which party controls the Senate, which party controls the House of Representatives. We are about to enter a new election cycle and there will be all kinds of ads of candidates holding Bibles, talking about Biblical values, while standing in front of an American flag. Since when did Jesus give up His purpose of being The Messiah to a political party? I’m wondering if there are other responsibilities Jesus is giving up and where do I apply for it? People get all worked up over politics and say our nation is doomed because of this party, that party, that politician. Whatever happened to making our culture better through personal actions that reflect the heart, mind and glory of God? Somehow, I don’t think God is neither Democrat nor Republican. Furthermore, I strongly suspect that both parties causes God to have many a face palm moment!
Oh, I’m just getting started. Entitlement! In the words of Madea, “Oh, Lort!” Whatever happened to personal effort and goals worth WORKING toward? In an earlier blog I place much of the blame on participation trophies (Click here for that blog) People simply think that (and I call it a ‘philosophy’) I exist therefore I am owed! Look, folks, you are not owed anything simply because you breathe oxygen. It takes drive and determination to achieve success. You want us to reward mediocrity as if it were a virtue.
And then there’s “feelings”….feelings, nothing more than feelings….Got that song stuck in your head? Good. People are being lied to that you are who you feel like you are. In other words, your feelings override everything–biology, truth, reality. And to inflict as much damage and harm humanly possible, there are some who insist that God, the Creator, made you that way and that the Cross sanctifies your feelings. Well, I feel like a Billionaire, and you need to provide me with everything that would make me a billionaire. Whether I have the cash or not, give me what a Billionaire would want–a jet, huge mansion, multiple cars, you name it! After all, my feelings are that I’m a Billionaire, that’s what matters the most. Living by feelings does not liberate you–it makes you its prisoner. We are all more, much more, than our feelings!
Well, I could go on….but I’ll stop here. I’ll end with this:
The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”
It made me think about the Great Debate going on in my Tribe, the United Methodist Church. While some have chosen to make it a debate about human sexuality, I see that it is something much more that this single issue. The real issue is Grace. There are some within our Orthodox Camp who show little grace to those who are struggling with their identity, but I’ll leave their narrow view of grace to another post.
I’m talking about the artificial grace from those with a progressive persuasion. They claim that because of grace, sin needs to be redefined. At the core is that the suffering of Jesus was designed to free a person from that nasty thing called sin. Grace gives us the authority to redefine everything. Not so fast, Buckeroo.
The grace that condones and encourages anyone to live outside God’s Intended Design, is not Real Grace, rather a prosthetic grace. I have nothing but deep respect admiration for our Wounded Warriors and others who have lost a limb and then proceed to live their life to the fullest through the use of that prosthetic limb. If you are one of these, know that you inspire me to do better, BE better.
But to insist that there is a form of grace that allows us to live by our desires, our feelings, our understandings–well, it’s not really grace. What I see is a progressive grace that denies people the opportunity to experience God’s Power of Transformation. And thus, their theology ceases to be progressive…it becomes regressive. Perhaps this explains the aggressive behavior of many within the progressive camp.
Listening to the stories of those who have those prosthetic limbs, I hear the difficulties and pain involved in learning to use these marvelous devices. Ask anyone who is required to use a prosthetic limb, “Which would you rather have, the real limb or prosthetic limb?”, and I believe that would answer, “The real one, of course.”
This false grace being promoted is filled with both difficulties and pain. False grace leaves no room for the true purpose of Grace–which is to engage us in a lifelong process of transformation. It is telling people you are a prisoner to your desires and feelings. And to the LBGTQI+ community I say, “God loves you, period. But His GRACE is made to liberate you from your feelings and desires about who you want to have sex with. You are not identified by your sexual desires. You are identified by the person God wants to make you. Because God is good, He will transform you into someone beautiful and wonderful.”
Grace without a lifetime of transformation??? It’s not real. It’s not grace. It’s a prosthetic to replace the real.
And remember to love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!