TO INSANITY AND BEYOND! (The U.M.C.)

As an adult, I absolutely loved the movie Toy Story. And some will want to flog me with a wet noodle for saying this–but Buzz Lightyear is my favorite character. Even though that was nearly 25 years ago, I still love to watch that movie. Now I am seeing why I am drawn to Buzz Lightyear. It was his catchphrase: To Infinity And Beyond! But seriously, how can one go beyond infinity since infinity has no end?

And for the last few weeks, I have taken his catchphrase and replaced one word–and it is a word that describes my beloved United Methodist Church; and thus the title of today’s edition: To Insanity And Beyond! How does one go beyond insane? Clinicians in the world of behavioral science have pretty much agreed upon their definition of “Insanity”! But there is a better definition that is easily understood and on which there can be no disagreement. Well. . .unless you are insane. OK, here it is:

Insanity is doing the same things over and over and over–and expecting different results.

I am hearing, and I’m being told by my fellow United Methodists, that we are at a critical crossroads in our Tribe. I laugh to myself when I hear the word “crossroads”. The United Methodist church is at a crossroads, and the Democrats and Republicans want to be nice to each other. HAH! This may hurt the feelings of some of my fellow United Methodists, but. . .oh well! Toughen up, buttercup.

To say we are at a crossroads in the United Methodist Church declares that we have four options: go straight, turn right, turn left, or go back the way we came. This has been the situation going on for 5 decades, and the United Methodist Church continues to be in a serious state of decline every year. And what should have been decided this year has been postponed until 2021–the affect of COVID-19.

A group in my own Conference has started a movement called Stay UMC (click here for their website). Centrists and Progressive sincerely believe that we can stay UMC and maintain a diverse view of the authority and reliability of the Bible. Friends, this has been attempted now through 5 decades and we continue to be in a state of decline. It is insane to continue this way.

The image of where the United Methodist Church is at is not a crossroads, but we are at the T-Intersection!

At a T-Intersection you can’t go straight. The road has ended. Now you must choose a different direction. And because it will be a different direction, it means that we will no longer together be United Methodists. Truth is, it’s insane to think over the past 5 decades that we have even been in the same area code of United. We are fragmented and broken and the time has come for a kind and civil farewell to each other.

Make your choice because the road that the United Methodist Church has been traveling has come to a T-Intersection. It is insane to think that doing what we’ve been doing is going to produce a different outcome. If you believe that, then I refer you to my statement after paragraph 2. My fellow United Methodists, this madness must stop! I join the growing crowd who is giving up this game of Kicking The Can down the road. I know that this moment is not a Crossroads moment. Make a choice. Either we can trust The Bible or we can’t trust The Bible. Really, one cannot go beyond insanity.

What If All You Know Is All You Know? Tuesday Thoughts 28 January 2020

How you think about what you think you know will either ground you for life–or set you on the greatest of all adventures.

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I know I’m a little late today. . .OK, a whole lot late. But it’s still Tuesday and I do have some thoughts. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about: What If All You Know Is All You Know? No, I’m not venturing into the dark side of intellectual pursuit, otherwise known as Philosophy. I’m serious about this. This may appear to some as an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum. Hang tight! How you think about what you think you know will either ground you for life–or set you on the greatest of all adventures.

There are two ways of thinking; others may disagree with me but it’s OK for them to be wrong. There is Circular Thinking and there is what I would call Seeking Wisdom Thinking. Educators, psychologists, and most of all philosophers, would tell us there’s more than 2 ways of thinking. They probably could come up with some other ways of thinking but ultimately they are but expressions of one of these patterns.

People who think in Circular Patterns are driven by a set of facts and values that have already been established for them. They take what they see as factual and reliable to think, form opinions and plan their life by what they know. I call it a Circular Pattern because everything they know is inside that circle. If an idea, belief or opinion comes at them outside that circle, it’s immediately rejected. For Circular Pattern Thinkers are going in circles with their lives and wonder why they are’t getting anywhere.

They limit themselves to a limited source of knowledge. All they know is all they know; and they never look beyond themselves. Thus, their life and dreams are limited. The problem with Circular Patterns is that there is not enough information–nor will there ever be enough information to make anyone more than just ORDINARY.

The other pattern is the Seeking Wisdom Pattern. People here are not confined to set sources of knowledge. These are the No-Limit kind of thinkers. No, they are not those who “think outside the box”. We have tons of people outside the box who are outside the box, but still ordinary. Wisdom Seekers will never be content with average. No, they want to soar and excel in life. They know that Wisdom comes from beyond what someone knows. Wisdom that lasts and causes us to soar in life has one source–and that is God.

Here’s the thing about Wisdom. It is not limited to what we think. Truth is, it often contradicts what we think. Sometimes it does not make logical sense and contradicts the world view. And it’s this world view that has caused much of the mess we are in. Knowledge is found in books and people’s stories and comes from a very limited perspective. Wisdom only comes out of Eternity, out of the heart and mind of God.

Remember what James wrote in James 1:5–“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Average comes out of knowledge. But greatness–that, my friends, only comes out of Wisdom.

And here’s my conclusion–If All You Know Is What You Know, You Don’t Know Enough–And You’re Operating Without Wisdom.

One more word about Wisdom–this one from this guy named Solomon:

Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.
    Love her, and she will guard you.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
    And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.

Proverbs 4:6-7

Throw It Out There Thursday: SAYS WHO?

Boys and girls it’s that time again: THROW IT OUT THERE THURSDAY where nothing is sacrosanct and any idea, belief or opinion is subject to sarcasm, cynicism or evisceration. So, if you are the type that is easily offended or refuses to hear a view other than your own, you are about to the thrown into chaos; just a warning. This week I’m looking at a Common Duo, RIGHT AND FAIR!

Today I am eviscerating this idea that somehow life is supposed to be RIGHT AND FAIR. I may be called mean, calloused and uncaring for what I am about to say. To which I reply

If you have or have raised kids, especially teenagers, you’ve heard this, at least half of it: THAT’S NOT FAIR! Even then, the other half is clearly implied. We are in a culture obsessed with RIGHT AND FAIR! Oh, someone was just thinking, “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with RIGHT AND FAIR?” Guess what? Life isn’t RIGHT AND FAIR! It hasn’t been RIGHT AND FAIR since Eve took that bite and Adam colluded with her by his silence.

I could be the Energizer Bunny and go on and on, but I will get to the point and make this short and sweet. RIGHT AND FAIR, as it is viewed in this fallen world, is based on our highly regarded and valued opinions and perspective. RIGHT AND FAIR is determined by what we think and feel; especially what we feel. Like it or not; disagree and deny–truth is our feelings and perspectives are tainted by selfishness.

Sure, there are some things that are clearly RIGHT and some things are clearly FAIR! But life on this warped planet? That’s where we get into a lot of problems. Case in point: the bitter battle in my Tribe, the United Methodist Church. A group is now proposing that we Orthodox/Traditional folks should be able to leave the United Methodist Church with all assets, along with a cool $25 million, and pursue their own future by creating a new Tribe. Bear in mind, in case you haven’t followed this circus, that the Orthodox and Traditional views of the Bible and in particular, sexual ethics, is the view of the majority. It has been since 1972. But there are some, especially in the U.S. and Europe, who feel more enlightened and wiser; so they want to change it so that it reflects our enlightened understanding. Who said the Age of Enlightenment ended around 1818? It’s being revived.

And many of my acquaintances and friends have been ask me, “If we are the majority, why should we have to leave? If they don’t agree with us, THEY should leave! (you know what’s next!) IT’S NOT RIGHT OR FAIR THAT THE MAJORITY BE FORCED TO LEAVE!” I confess I felt that way AT FIRST. Well, I tried to teach my kids that for the most part, life is neither RIGHT NOR FAIR and we shouldn’t expect it to be that way.

The RIGHT AND FAIR card is being played when a group of people don’t get their way. And here is the crux of the matter. We assume the role of God when we think we should be able to determine what is RIGHT and what is FAIR. And when life is not RIGHT AND FAIR, we can choose to be bitter; which is what it seems like the majority is doing. OR, we can choose to move forward without bitterness or resentment.

Right now I’m thinking about the story of Joseph, the one found in Genesis. His brothers sold him into slavery (well, that snot-nosed kid probably deserved it) and once in slavery, he ended up in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. That’s certainly not RIGHT OR FAIR! But circumstances changed and he finds himself as second in command of a nation. One day his brothers (you know, the ones who sold him into slavery) come begging for food, only they don’t recognize that it’s their brother they are begging to for help. Joseph has the perfect moment now to set the record straight for them not being RIGHT AND FAIR to him. Revenge has set the table for Joseph.

Instead, Joseph does something different; and what he did I’ve had to repeat to myself on many occasions when life wasn’t RIGHT AND FAIR. “Brothers, what you did was wrong and evil (meaning: NOT RIGHT AND FAIR). But God used it for good!”

So, when life is neither RIGHT NOR FAIR, get over it. God can and will make it into something good. But you have to relinquish your desires to define what is RIGHT AND FAIR!