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Open Letter to Baptist Pastors (and their flocks)

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It was peculiar blessing to have graduated Meredith College many years ago. It was a fluke. I went to the local state university but I was wearing a campaign button. The head of the department said to me, “Don’t expect to come here if that is your political persuasion.”

That tells you the sorry state of public education does it not. So I drove four miles west to Meredith. And it was the best place for me. I didn’t know the gospel and I learned it there.

Today, many decades later, I returned to the mountains to write having spent the intervening years getting my MA in Christian missions, working on a PhD, and serving in the Philippines, China and home missions as well. Then I joined a Baptist church for the first time.

I learned there the sad state of Baptist believers. So many were unhappy, or bored, or stale. I found Baptist friends struggling with sin and unexpected hopelessness, loss of family, divorce, loss of friends, health and employment. In every case I discovered one symptom – they all believed as a Baptist they knew everything they needed to know.

Well, not even Jesus’ disciples had that luxury.

Christians do not know everything

John 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

Yes, God said His word was perfect; he never said the Bible was the last word. On the contrary He said He would send new information as it was needed. The whole book of Revelation is about just that – the continuing revelation of His will and His words.

He scolded the Jews for not accepting new truth. Jeremiah 25:4And the Lord has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear.”

He even kept his mouth shut for 400 years so that when he finally spoke again they would listen. They didn’t. The Apostle Paul got so weary with the Jews of his day he said he would go to the gentiles. Jesus originally said he was sent first to the house of Israel. But they didn’t listen.

Why listen if you already know everything

Baptists are not the only people living on assumptions. My good friend Jack is obese. He gets constant comments over his weight. He does not bother to tell them that an operation turned his colon kappyjaw; he is in pain much of the time. I found so many people living in the world of untested, unproven assumptions that I entitled my first book Immaculate Assumptions. And if they are about God that is what makes them immaculate; you can’t touch them.

Assumptions remove our hope

As a counselor for seven years I heard the gamut of assumptons.

  • I assumed my husband would be faithful.
  • I just assumed I would stay married all my life.
  • I assumed that when I voted for him he would do as he said. But he has supported everything I do not believe in.
  • I assumed I’d never have trouble finding a job, but now I am disabled.
  • I assumed my boss was Christian. He said so. But I learn he is into child porn and going to jail and taking my job with him.

There are people whose lives are so shattered they make the opposite kind of assumptions.

  • I assumed I could never get an education because I grew up in the projects.
  • I assumed because I had a drug problem I’d never be free.
  • I assumed that because my dad was in jail I wouldn’t amount to anything. He told me so.

There are so many problems in Baptist teaching I won’t even start. But first to save people from their assumptions we must show them teachableness. They can’t learn if they don’t want to or they fear what will happen to them if they change their mind. The Bible says ‘we have the mind of Christ.’ But have you seen that recently?

He has something new every morning.

If we did have the mind of Christ we wouldn’t be here, now, thinking the same things. God is moving on. The new churches may have some error, but they have something else – worshipers. They know God is open ended. He has some basic teachings…original sin, salvation through the blood, obedience to the Old Testament moral law and continuing education. Discipleship is not the same ‘ole, same ‘ole.

Baptists, and others will find freedom and happiness when they give up the love of the law and start loving their lawyer.

5 Reasons Why Your Prayers Aren’t Answered

Print Friendly and PDF Naaman needs a healing from leprosy, a disease which eats off your extremities, nose, fingers and toes.  There is no know cure at that time. But he is not a Jew and knows nothing of that religion.  In Old Testament times, people believed that gods were strictly local, that is based on geography. The God of the Israelites however, is God over the whole of creation. Naaman the Syrian does not know this. Even today the Chinese believe that Jesus is white and an “English” God and that there is an “English heaven” where they go separated from a Chinese heaven.
2 King 5: 5 Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on[a] raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She [b]waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.”  So Naaman starts thinking.
Maybe this slave wants me dead. How can I return to Israel and not be slaughtered? I need some advice here.
So he goes to his king and the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

The letter will allow him safe passage in a foreign land.

So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.

Problem Number 1: 

Naaman went to the King of Israel but the servant girl said to go to the prophet. If you go to the wrong person you get the wrong results.

There is no benefit by asking Buddha, who was not god and never pretended to be, or the great sage Confucius of China, or Falun Gong or any human person or system. The God of Israel is the one the prophet speaks for and to. 

The king of Israel jumps to false conclusions and thinks Syria is trying to start another hot war. Fortunately Elisha, the leading prophet in Israel, heard about the soldier’s request and intervened.

So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house.

10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.”  Naaman is a “big man” and he is being spoken to not by the prophet but some underling!  This is insulting to a man of his stature. This is how he reacts.

Problem Number 2:

Having an ego trip, anger towards God and a hissy fit will not get good results. In fact they block God’s work and will.

11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the [c]Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 

Naaman thinks the prophet should act and react in another way. Too often we reject the best that God has because we do not recognize that this is His way and we are wrong to expect something else.  Naaman has assumed that because of who he is the process should be different.  God does not regard people’s persons, their status, their money or their assumptions. Anger, in addition, does not motivate God to do something you want. Your need is not why he fills it.  He answers the prayers according to your attitude of gratitude and worship of him, not of yourself or your position.

And Naaman doesn’t like what God has required.  He thinks the water in Israel is inferior. What he does not realize is that the water does not heal Naaman; it is the Lord who does the healing.  But will Naaman get over his hissy fit and obey God?

Naaman’s servants say something like this. “Look Master, we’ve traveled a thousand miles to see this prophet. Can’t you go back and do what he says?” 

13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

Problem Number 3:

Partial obedience.  Naaman could have dipped in the waters once or twice and thought he’d done all that was necessary.  It is easy to do something half easy when God is involved and think you have been obedient. Well, half a loaf is better than none. In God’s case no.  A half loaf is just that – a half loaf.

 14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

We are relieved to learn Naaman has done what he was told. He was healed because of his act of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. So dipping 7 times in the waters were acts of faith.  Maybe your act of faith must be repeated seven times as well.  Frequently we do not get our prayer answered the first time around. Naaman is not finished learning his lesson.

Problem Number 4:

You do not buy the favor of God. 15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant.”

16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused.

The gifts of God are not for sale.  Of course Elisha needs income.  Everyone does. But payment for services rendered is not part of God’s kingdom.

Elisha goes on: 16 But he said, As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused.

We think we are done with this story but Naaman hasn’t finished with his lesson.

17 So Naaman said, “Then, if not, please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the Lord18 Yet in this thing may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord please pardon your servant in this thing.”
19 Then he said to him, “Go in peace.” So he departed from him a short distance.
This is an interesting passage. Naaman recognizes that when he goes into a false god’s altar it might be misconstrued that he was there worshiping as well with his boss. Elisha sees that Naaman’s heart is right towards God and encourages him.  In modern times Christians often must work for companies which have unrighteous practices but we know that God knows our hearts – that we are not taking part.  I had a friend long ago who quit a major Fortune 500 company that had drunken parties and felt he could no longer stay. If God tells you to go, then do it.  But you might also be there to stay for some other purpose He has for you. Now Naaman faces another test, but not his test but Gehazi’s test. Naaman was not raised in the Jewish culture. He does not know Old Testament law, so he is not accountable for it. But Gehazi does.
20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “Look, my master has spared Naaman this Syrian, while not receiving from his hands what he brought; but as the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.” 21 So Gehazi pursued Naaman. When Naaman saw him running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him, and said, “Is all well?”
22 And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me, saying, ‘Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.’ ”

(Gehazi is lying.)

23 So Naaman said, “Please, take two talents.” And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and handed them to two of his servants; and they carried them on ahead of him. 24 When he came to [d]the citadel, he took them from their hand, and stored them away in the house; then he let the men go, and they departed. 

Two talents is a huge pile of money. Naaman is innocent.  If you are innocent of the laws of God you are not held accountable. Jesus said, “Where there is no law there is no transgression.” When the law is known there is sin and you are accountable, as is Gehazi, who now plays dumb.

25 Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, “Where did you go, Gehazi?”
And he said, “Your servant did not go anywhere.”
26 Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?

Elisha has a gift which showed him what Gehazi did; in the New Testament this is called the Gift of Knowledge. And he also knows what punishment God will enact which is called the Gift of Wisdom.

Problem Number 5:

Your prayers are not answered when your motives are wrong.  If Gehazi needed a raise, a promotion or a transfer he was supposed to get it from God, not mooch off someone else’s ministry, and that with deception.

There are different levels of accountability according to what you know. Naaman is judged as a foreigner who does not know the laws of God but acts righteously given the little he does know.  Gehazi however is in the ministry and held to a higher standard and he and his family are cursed forever for greed and lust of power. Now if your prayers still are not answered I suggest you fast and pray and maybe God will give you the better answer. #answeredprayers #hearingGod @ImmaculateAssum https://www.WouldYouComsider.net Quora Cornelia Cree

The Difference between Critical Thinking and Criticism

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Consider these conversations:

Two women are playing bridge. They have known each other about 2 months.

Maxine: You need to lose some weight.

Carol: (says nothing)

A month later:

Maxine: You really should lose some weight so you won’t have trouble breathing.

Carol: What makes you think you have the standing to make a comment about my weight?

Maxine: (Taken aback- says nothing)

There are 14 other people in the room and now they are all listening.

Carol: Standing is a legal term. When parties go to court the judge needs to know if they have a right to be involved in the case and the law it concerns. For example, a private citizen cannot go to court about a Home School law unless he is a home schooling parent.

You brought a charge against me about my weight without having any legal reason to do so, and on top of that you have no relevant facts in the case. I ignored your previous comments because your opinion is of no value. The judge throws out any persons who do not have standing, and I threw out what you said because you have no standing. In other words, your opinion is of no value to me.

Maxine: But I know you will breathe better if you lose weight.

Carol: That is not knowledge; that is an opinion based on an assumption.  You do not have the facts in the case. I have seen my doctor 3 times in the past 7 months and not once did he mention my weight. Bless his heart.

If you are a dietitian or medical professional you have standing, otherwise none. Is your emotional assumption more valuable to me than his professional life of medical experience? Hardly.

Maxine: But I know that overweight people have trouble breathing.

Carol: That is true, but you don’t know that I almost died at 9 years of age of pneumonia.  I was so thin the neighbor asked my mother who that child was with her. I never could begin school in September on the first day because I couldn’t breathe – my lungs were badly damaged. I never mentioned this because you are not my friend; you are a sometime bridge player. I might have asked you about bridge; you have standing on that issue.  You have no standing to criticize my health or my physical body.

I do have people in my life that I consult. One couple here in town is so important to me that no matter what they ask I respond! They asked me to run for office and I was elected.  I really had no interest in the office but because I trust their judgment, which they have proven to me, I complied. I have no history with you.

You based your comments solely on your assumptions which were wrong. In addition, comments about someone’s physical body are considered rude.

That is the difference between critical thinking and emotional opinion.  Critical thinking is based on standing acquired by information and understanding; ad hominum remarks are nothing but criticism based on assumption and personal bias.

Unfortunately most of America is now indulging in the latter and public discourse has become rotten and unhinged.

Assumptions, Lies, False Expectations & Stereotypes about God

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Assumptions, also called false expectations, may be worse than lies.  At least with lies you can someday recognize them and fight them head on but assumptions and stereotypes can go undetected for a long time, even when they are challenged.

I’ve spent most of my lifetime dodging assumptions.  When I moved into Evergreen Center one woman introduced herself as I sat at the public computer, and after I identified myself as a retired missionary she said without hesitation, “I hate missionaries.”

What upset me was that she assumed that a missionary was a cartoon character, a stereotype.  I doubt she had ever met or talked to a missionary.  Maybe she thought I worked with headhunters in Borneo?  I never learned.  She finally left to join s group of over 55 hippies in a soho area of Big D (Dallas.)  I did not miss her.  I don’t think anyone did.  When you approach people with the word hate, and she was blunt with most others, you lose a lot of ground.  It was a wall that kept her protected from the truth about others, and more importantly the truth about herself.  (more…)

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