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King Solomon was asked to decide what to do about two prostitutes who were arguing over a baby. One of them had rolled over in the middle of the night and killed the child. Solomon, not knowing which was the genuine mother, suggested that he slice the living baby in half. The real mother quickly said, “No let her have the whole baby.”
Two Methodist Groups talk split
The news tells us that the Methodist church is facing a division. Falsely reported as a disagreement over equality, it is actually a long coming argument over the core of the church, the scriptures – are they the infallible guide to life and practice or just “good ideas” and “nice suggestions.” Is God’s word going to rule, or man’s?
Jesus predicted this
He said, ” And so your tradition empties the commandment of God of all its meaning. You hypocrites! Isaiah describes you beautifully when he said: ‘These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’.” Matthew 15:6
Methodists lost 50 million members in the 20th century because the charismatic movement took hold. Old time members thought this would drain the church of members if they tolerated this new move; but the reverse happened, the charismatics were the ones with the money and they left.
So today we have the divisions remaining – whether Methodist is Biblical or Secular in its core. One wants the Bible to rule rather than the word of Man; the other wants the word of man to rule. And the LGBT community has no DNA to endorse that their idea that homosexuality is given at birth so it cannot find verification in science which both groups would accept as a valid premise.
The Bible is unequivocal about sin
Meanwhile, the Bible is clear on this subject; all sexual deviance is sin. Sin is a given in man’s condition, but the whole purpose of salvation is to compensate for the sin in man and provide him a way to enter heaven. It does not guarantee a sinless life; only a saved one. But it does mean you, not he, will change, or will decide to change. God doesn’t zap people from heaven to change their future; each of us must make a decision and follow a process.
The other half has promoted a “big tent” for years and has for the most part rejected the absolute nature of the scriptures as the mind of God, until now. The issue has been roiling below the surface for years.
God is not into the Status Quo
This is what happens when you won’t move on. God does not endorse the status quo with churches any more than life in general. “I am the Lord,” He says, “I change not.” Which means that if you want progress, revelation and the blessings that progress brings you, not He, will change. That goes for people, churches, institutions, colleges, politicians, and businesses. The secular world knows this; the church is coming late to the game.
God’s word applies right now
I woke up this morning remembering an event from 1969. I was substitute teaching at a high school when a girl complained that a boy had taken her pencil. She wanted it back. I took the pencil and suggested I break it in half so each could have a piece. She said quickly, “Oh, let him have it.”
I returned the pencil to her and turned back to my desk. No one who owns something of value wants it split in two, even a lowly pencil. I wondered if that pair, today, 50 years later ever realized I had patterned that event after a Bible story. Those students would be in their middle 60s now. Do they remember?
God put His word out there for us to remember when the time comes that He does not change, either Himself or His word. God’s words are condemned as being old, but look how it applied in real life as it does over and over. When He said, “The grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God abides forever,” He meant it.
If you want to be a Change Agent in someone’s life, consider this group. https://cfdreamcenter.org/about
Paul said I preach Christ and Him crucified.
I am always wary when people focus on doctrine rather than the person and work of Christ. Doctrines are supposed to clarify what we teach and believe not obfuscate it. If you look up Christianity on the Internet you are soon ankle deep in a miasma of doctrinal positions – amillennialism, pre-post-mid tribulation, etc. When I saw this chart on the internet I was relieved that I had already been through seminary and did not need to repeat it.
This is not readable which is fine with me
Leave this for the scholars because the meat and potatoes of Christian life is in applying what we know about God to daily life and continuing in our study of His Word, not necessarily man’s word. Each of us has a Call and a life Plan, written out in heaven and waiting for our application and focus. Thankfully, more and more pastors are preaching this.
Ministry has moved into the wider world
Gone are the days – one could hope – when the spiritually minded young man was told by well meaning church members, you should be a minister. The ministry is now out in the world – the entire world – in offices, banks, insurance agencies, manufacturing warehouses, construction sites, beauty parlors, shoe stores and IT centers. God got tired of being confined to buildings which were inhabited once or twice a week.
We walk by faith not justification of our faith.
We do not need to have all the answers to various questions and doctrines which the unbeliever throws at us, although it would be nice if we knew them. And some do. When the scripture says you should be able to give an answer for your faith, you can simply point to an incident in your life when God broke through the natural world and made His presence real to you.
Your testimony is your power point
For me it was the divine healing of my feet. All four arches were flat as a pancake and painful. I wore leather arches in all my shoes. At a Christian retreat I asked God to fix my feet. But I did make one condition for myself;
I promised not to question or examine the issue again.
If I was to have real faith I needed not to obsess over the answer but just wait and then one day find that my feet no longer demanded inserts. I did this because I had seen so many people disappointed about their healing.
“Well God didn’t heal me. I guess He never does.”
The Bible says that someone who thinks this way never gets anything from God; they’ve slammed that door shut with their un-faith. That sort of thing. That washes away every scrap of faith you have as a new believer which makes no sense. If you are going to have faith in God you need to allow Him to do things on His schedule.
Don’t give God deadlines
About six months later I noticed that the leather inserts were not comfortable. My feet were totally healed. Many decades have gone by and I have had many things go wrong in my body but I can honestly say my feet have never given me another bad day. Once God does something He does not un-do it.
No one is saved by doctrine
But we were talking about doctrine. For some reason males especially think they must have a doctrine to back up their beliefs. That sounds sexist but not so. People approach the issues of life and death differently. I wonder if the male mind is not overly concerned with making stuff logical. But that isn’t our goal anyway. Women are more likely to accept what God has done and be thankful and not overthink things. if people question you about your faith – and poopoo it, you have your testimony to fall back on.
Remember this. No one with an experience is at the mercy of a someone with theory.
The purpose of doctrine is to explain what has happened to you in the context of the rest of the believers and reflect what is taught in the Bible.
And conversely false doctrines are there to cheat you out of a full Christian life experience. You will not pray for God to do something if you’ve been told He won’t do it. I prefer to think God listens to everything I say and that frees me to ask whatever I will. That does not mean He always answers, and certainly not right away. But the option is there.
Use the autumn season to make a new mission statement for your life
This is Labor Day weekend. it is a good time to take stock of your life and make a plan for this coming year. Change is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Get yourself back into reading the bible, not just the parts you like, such as the Psalms or the Gospels. It is the whole Bible that belongs to us.
There’s an old gospel song – Every Promise in the Book Is Mine. But only if you know the promise is there.
Years ago I heard this true story and go back to it many times because it shows that God has a sense of humor even in the worst times. Remember He is not caught off guard by any situation we get into.
The pastor at Almighty God Assemblies of God Church was working late on Sunday night at the office and decided to call home to tell is wife he was on his way soon. But the phone rang repeatedly with no answer. Thinking she must be in the shower he just closed the office and left. When he got home his wife said she’d heard no ring from him and they forgot about it.
Monday morning at the crack of dawn there was a man on the steps of the church with this story to tell. He had been in his apartment with a gun on his lap planning suicide Sunday night.
As a final ditch attempt he said, “God, if you are really there, let me know and I won’t go through with this.”
Then the phone rang. He looked at the Caller ID – It said Almighty God.
Frozen with fear the man stayed awake all night. Then he checked on the church address and ended up at the pastor’s office to hear a word of hope.
There are several things about this story that stand out. First, God is able to mess up phone lines when He needs to. We don’t consider how God can get around man’s opinions, his technology, his people, his church, his nations, even the bad ones. The Bible repeatedly says, He is Able. We allow our doctrines to hamper what He can do or will do.
Second, the man had to respond. He could have looked at the Caller ID and thought, well, a phone call doesn’t count. Sometimes our negativity is so thick we are unable to respond when we have the chance. It clouds our mind. This man realized something otherworldly had happened.
Third, and this is perhaps the most important lesson, I cannot prove it but somewhere, someone had prayed for this man. Perhaps a family member, a coworker, even a person on a bus might have seen this man and thought, “He looks depressed and hopeless. He needs God.”
So, add a person you don’t know to your prayer list – the cashier at the Food Lion, the person in the next cubicle that you do not know, or the guy who is panhandling with a sign, “Will work for food.” It doesn’t matter that he probably needs drugs too. Your job as a believer is prayer. That is a Christmas present you can give anyone.
With prayer you can be ‘Almighty God’ in your town too.