DON’T YOU DARE LEAVE!

43 “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. 45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”

Matthew chapter 12, verses 43 thru 45; from the New Living Translation (NLT)

Don’t you dare leave the United Methodist Church! You heard me right! Don’t you dare leave the United Methodist Church! Did I just upset some of you? Are you thinking: “This Preacherman has either gone bonkers or he’s been drinking the Kool-Aid of the Bishops!” Neither of these are true. My ESPN just kicked in and at least one of you are thinking: “But Preacherman! Aren’t YOU leaving? Then why tell me not to leave??? I’m confused!” Put your hackles down and hear me out. OK? Thank you!

With the slovenliness that is permeating our leadership, it is easy to want to get the heck out of Dodge. And who can blame us Traditionalist/Orthodox Folks for hurrying to abandon this thing that looks more like the Titanic than John Wesley’s vision for the Body of Christ. But then…there’s this parable of Jesus. It’s about a man who got rid of one demon, cleaned up his house, got it in order–but that’s all he did. That demon knew this, so he went back to check things out. Sure enough! It was all clean and in order–but that’s all. So he goes and gets 7 of his friends (who are also demons; I mean, who would be a friend to a demon but another demon, right?) and moves right back in. And that’s when things got a lot worse for that man. Comprende, my friends?

Sure we could just leave the United Methodist Institution and believewrongly believe, I might addthat we are finally free from this detritus and onerous thing. We might think we will be better off. But take into your considerations this thought: Where Will You Go? Oh, one more consideration: What are you going to do once you get there? If your only desire is to get away from the United Methodist Institution, you can achieve that desire. But what’s next? If you just leave without knowing the what’s next you are leaving the door open for even worse of the same-ol’-same-ol’. Remember this guy in Jesus’ story. He got out of one mess only to end up in an even bigger mess.

My fellow Wesleyans, this season of discernment is another one of God’s blessings to us. We have the opportunity to do more than just leave, we are being gifted by God’s Grace to become a part of renewal and revival across our land. To use an old term: Another Great Awakening! Whether you choose to become part of the Free Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, Global Methodist, or become independent–do so with the faith, hope, and conviction that it’s because God’s Kingdom is on the move and YOU get to be a part of this mighty movement! And please understand that it may require you to let go of a lot of ideas, opinions, and other stuff–so that you can step into what God is doing right now.

Friends, not every generation and age has had this rare and beautiful moment of stepping out of the old and into this fresh movement of the Holy Spirit. But we do! Step away from what was–AND step into what God is doing right now! Don’t dream about leaving! Please don’t! Instead, dream about what God is doing and where He is leading us. I am applying to transfer my credentials to the Global Methodist Church–not because I’m sick and tired of the United Methodist Institution; even though I AM sick and tired of it. No, my friends. I stepping into a fresh and new movement of the Holy Spirit! I have been doing more than just discerning about leaving the United Methodist Institution! I’ve been discerning what God is wanting from and for me and where that is going to happen! I’m getting in on the ground level and am excited to be a small part of seeing this movement form and grow! You can just leave, or you can step into another Great Awakening! Your choice!

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AND THEN THERE’S THIS WAR!

CHUHUIV, UKRAINE – FEBRUARY 24: (EDITORS NOTE: Image depicts graphic content) A wounded woman is seen after an airstrike damaged an apartment complex in city of Chuhuiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on February 24, 2022. (Photo by Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Yesterday I wrote about spiritual war–fighting it with prayer. Today, it’s about the war in Ukraine. I wanted to write about the demogogue Putin and his unilateral decision to recognize two regions within Ukraine as non-existent independent countries. I wanted to write about the impotent response from our POTUS. These are just a sampling of the thoughts “I” wanted to share today. But my friend and companion, The Holy Spirit, “handcuffed” me and challenged me to go deeper. So I have, and here’s my thoughts and heart for today.

The Innocents! Lost in the rants and banter of international politics are the lives of ordinary citizens who are not members of the military who have become, and will become, casualties! As decent human beings, as followers of Jesus, our focus must be first on the citizens who are paying the price for the arrogance and ignorance of the leaders of nations. The casualties of any war go beyond destroyed equipment and soldiers–it reaches its treacherous tenacles out and pulls in innocent civilians.

And today–and until this ends–pray first FOR the citizens of Ukraine; their safety, for the healing of the wounded, and for the broken hearted who are grieving the death of a loved one. Then pray FOR those responsible to have a change of heart and end this senseless violence. (And if you think that won’t happen–then pray FOR God to change your attitudes!) Then pray FOR those who could influence Putin to end this war. And pray AGAINST Satan and his legions who, after all, are the true and real cause of this devastation. Yesterday it was about spiritual warfare. Today the spiritual war has spilled over in the human realm–so let’s not doubt and pray for the peace of Ukraine! Remember what our Master said about not doubting!

Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.

Matthew 21:21 NLT (Emphasis mine)

AND THE FIGHT IS ON!

What is your perspective when you think of prayer? Soft organ music in a pristine sanctuary? Quietness and solitude? Bowed head, closed eyes, and folded hands? Reading a prayer written by someone else? But do you feel like your prayer life doesn’t change the thing or things your are praying about? What if I could show you a different model for prayer? What if I could show you a way that would cause a radical shift in your prayer life, transform it into a might force and power? Are you interested? If not, go find another blog to read. But if you are, then fasten your seatbelt and hang on. Here is is:

Prayer is a fight and combat! That’s right! Sound blasphemous to you? Then get over yourself. In a fight and in a combat situation, meek and mild gets you slaughtered. Do you need a verse from the Bible to back up my audacious claim? You got it! Ephesians 6:9–For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (NLT; emphasis mine) Folks, agree with me or not, believe it or not–people we are in a WAR!

And being in a war requires and demands we excel in enemy identification! I’ve heard some who say that are followers of Jesus pray AGAINST people. If you are fighting against your neighbor, the politicians, the President of these United States, you’re fighting the wrong ones! We are to engage THE Enemy–Satan, himself! Satan doesn’t fight mildly or even fairly. He will use every trick up his sleeve to beat us down and crush us! So tell me, why we think meek and mild works in our prayer life? Need more Bible quotes to back this up? Well, here’s your sign:

15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT) (emphasis mine)

See? And if you still doubt that Prayer Is Warfare, then remember the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested. (See Luke chapter 22) We find that an angel came to help Jesus. If prayer is all about meek and mild, Jesus certainly didn’t need any help in this category! Then we find that Jesus was praying with such intensity that He started sweating, sweating with such intensity that as his sweat hit the ground, there was blood mingled within them. And this certainly doesn’t sound like His prayer life was meek and mild.

Can’t you see that Jesus is fighting? Fighting against Satan? Fighting for us sinners (people)? So, let’s start treating our prayer life for what it is: Fighting! Forget that fighting is for games like Mortal Combat or Halo! Before you begin to pray–equip yourself for the battle that is in front of us all! Don’t give up and throw up the white flag of surrender! Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane–when He finished praying/fighting–He got up on his feet and announced, “My betrayer is almost here! Let’s get moving!” And when the battle becomes impossible, and it will, hit your knees again in prayer and remember this:

10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Ephesians 6:10-18

IT’S OPEN SEASON!

Sitting this morning in the darkness just before the dawn, I had this thought: Open Season! I’m not talking about hunting or fishing or trapping. It’s that assault on the very things that have kept our nation and society safe and strong. I think the term is called cancel culture. Revisionists who do not like truth have always sought to rewrite history to promote their own personal preferred future; even though that preferred future is frought with dangers and ultimate disaster.

Cancel culture is not only attacking in an open season style against individuals –but the values and ethos that have consistently proven to be favorable for a stronger nation and culture. Cancel culture is fighting tooth and nail against the highest ideas and deepest morals that are challenging to follow–but they build up people, families, institutions, and the world as a whole. Alas, cancel culture refuses to see it and so have declared open season and war on the tried and true.

And it is a war–a war against kindness, goodness, courtesy, respect, decency, determination, and so much more. And whenever there is a war–there is an aftermath and it’s ugly. Battlefield memorials are indeed pristine–but in those moments when the bullets and bombs are flying, it’s ugly devastation. So what are we, the bullseye for cancel culture, to do? Well, we have three choices–but only one of them will turn the tide of the battle.

First, we can just throw up the white flag of surrender–leaving the battlefield in our rear view mirror. This choice declares that it’s a fight not just worth fighting–so retreat to our preppers hideout and bemoan about the good old days. This is a pathetic choice. Second choice is that we viciously counter-attack the people who have been deceived by this cancel culture. Make them hurt as badly as we are hurting! An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth! This only creates more casualties and it is a poor choice.

Third choice is to stay with the battleplan. Yes, God knew this battle would happen. He’s prepared for it. And He has the perfect plan–and we need to trust that plan. Soldiers who don’t trust their leaders, make poor soldiers. You can trust God’s plan–so stay in the battle and follow His battleplan. Oh? Who just asked, “Well, Preacherman, what’s that plan?” Whoever that was, thanks for asking this question. Here’s the plan–Right out of God’s Battle Manual:

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

Romans 12:21

Taking one on the chin for the team and being passive isn’t the plan. Our weapons for conquering evil–and thus this cancel culture–is to do good–just like Jesus did. Sure, His doing good led to that cruel Roman Cross–but that was all part of God’s battle strategy. He knew death would lead to Resurrection! So stop bemoaning what cancel culture is doing and start doing good! Be kind! Be gracious! Be merciful! Be helpful! Be friendly! Hold a door open for someone! Call that frazzled server by their firstname! Smile at those who are being hateful and ugly! Jesus is not a revolutionary–He is a Counter-Revolutionary. Tend to the wounds of those fighting with you. Ask for support when you need it. But never give up the fight! Jesus didn’t when He was on the Cross, and He didn’t when He was in the Tomb!