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And So Who Knows You? And Yours?

From Blues legends, 4.22.22 —-

What was Elmore James like?

Luther Allison : Elmore and B.B. King was a lot alike. Real smooth, real soft spoken and really teach-y, you understand?

Really give a young person a chance. And they talked to you.

Said, “you can be, you going to be, you’re good, you’re a good singer. You look good, you carry yourself right. You got it good, you coming from a good family.”

The good part was we never knew how much they knew about our families. They knew because they was from the cotton belt. They knew.

—- And who is there that knows your family history?

CLUB 444: Some GMC Health Care Info

A friend and colleague wrote this on Tuesday —

Few days past I posted an inquiry about health care for retirees joining the Global Methodist Church. I was frustrated as I could not receive clarity on the issue. I have been able to authenticate the answer.

First, every UMC conference sets their own healthcare policies.

Second, EOUMC has a policy that if a retiree joins another denomination their healthcare is suspended. I am not certain when this policy was enacted, but it predates the last two General Conferences. I think.

Third, healthcare is a privilege of membership, not years served prior to retirement. It is not a guaranteed part of a ministers retirement plan, unlike pensions.

Fourth, to be clear this policy is not connected to the current separation event in the United Methodist Church.

Personal Note: This policy will not deter my wife and me from withdrawing from the UMC. Actually, I am the one officially withdrawing, but the policy impacts both our lives. We accept this policy as part of the cost of our decision.

— And things grow ever more interesting.

Wondering how all this reads for people in business/corporate settings. Anybody care to comment?

Wanna Play?

“Be very selective about the games you need to play,” advises Lawrence Yeo.

That might take you and me a bit of effort.

And once we’ve sorted through all that in our lives, then what?

“Then quickly, opt out of the rest,” he concludes.

Sounds like one of the best selective services we can do for ourselves and those we love is to be choosy.

And focused.

And then take the appropriate actions based on our selected options.

And move forward.

As in —

Forgetting what lies behind,

I press on

for the mark

of the high calling

in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13, 14

Hearing Aid? Listening Aid.

SCOTTY SMITH is one of the many Presbyterians I admire from my time in their seminary. You’ll like his honesty here —

This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” (Mark 9:7); “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27); “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” (Matt. 11:15) 

Dear Jesus, this day was needed long before it made it onto my schedule. To my wife’s joy, my friends’ benefit, and my own freedom, I’ll be fitted for hearing aids today. I’d rather call them something cooler—like “acoustic enhancers,” “sonic supplements,” or “ear-candy.” The fact is, I have lost hearing and gained tinnitus.

It’s a good thing to start, live, and end every day with humility. I want to hear better, Jesus. I’m done with guessing what people say. I’m over nodding with a smile, though I may have only caught 65% of an interaction. The days of being too embarrassed to say, “Excuse me, would you say that again? I don’t hear as well as I used to”—those days are coming to an end.

But Jesus, I don’t just need hearing aids, I need listening aid. Grant me (and my friends) grace to both hear and listen to you. It’s possible to have perfect hearing yet remain deaf, indifferent, or resistant to your voice and heart—a most deadly situation, indeed.

Jesus, may we hear and heed your voice above every other voice—the voice of our shame, the lies of our culture, the condemnation of the devil, the wooing of seducers, the paralyzing whispers of our fears. You always tell us you love us—that  don’t just “have our backs,” but our everything, and everything in history and the cosmos. Thank you, Lord. So Very Amen.

CLUB 444: for UM Christians and More

Dan Powers, friend and colleague, wrote this three days ago and graciously is giving me permission to share it with you here – – –

“I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father” (John 17:20-21 CEB)

     Others, including myself, have written about the central issue in the impending split in my denomination, the United Methodist Church. However, I haven’t seen as many address the aftermath of such a division. With no claims to being a modern prophet, here is what I foresee as a likely scenario for the two major resulting parts of that separation, the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Global Methodist Church (GMC): 

First of all, after the split, there will still be LGBTQ persons and advocates of inclusion in the GMC and Traditionalists in the UMC. Why? Several reasons, both realistic and more thoughtful.

Because their whole family goes to your church and they want to be with them.

Because there are only 3 or 4 churches in many small towns and they aren’t Catholic, Baptist, or Pentecostal so they only have yours left to attend.

Because they’re stubborn and don’t want to change churches.

Because they love your church and want to see it change.

Because people who are LGBTQ and their advocates and those with Traditionalist views aren’t going to stop being born, or coming to the realization of who they are or what they believe.

Secondly, after division, the issues around sexuality and the church won’t go away just because a new denomination is formed or leaves. In both the UMC and GMC there will still be:

Internal disagreements

Public protests

Resolutions voted on at General Conference or some other decision making body

Third, society won’t stop changing no matter whether the GMC and UMC separate or not.

     So with that likely future in mind, the question I see is; Why split?

  • Nothing will be solved.
  • People who disagree will still worship with us.
  • What will we have gained?

     Of course I am not naïve enough to believe that those who started this ball rolling will stop it now. There will be two or more denominations out of the present one. The UMC and GMC and others will have different paths for the foreseeable future.

     But what they won’t have is unanimity or an end to the debate within or without.

     And one day, perhaps many years in the future, they may find their way back together.

     So, not for this reason alone, I will be staying with the UMC, and I will hope that many of you as individuals and churches will do the same.

     If we’re going to have to wrestle with this issue afterwards anyway, why not wrestle with it now together?

     Will it be frustrating? Yes.

But it will not be less so apart.

Tomorrow. Not Kidding.

“Tomorrow is in good hands,” reads the copy at the top of the ad. It’s a full page color ad on the back cover of a leading international magazine this week.

I wish our United Methodist Church emblem was on the ad.

I wish we had that same confidence in our official proclamations.

I wish…well, I wish a lotta things.

I wish our local churches had that same faith.

I wish our pastors, and yes this is a first-person-plural moment, had that same stance.

We do now and then.

But consistently?

Hmmmm. Blushing in frustration.

And in case you’re wondering: the ad that leads with “Tomorrow is in good hands” is for a wrist watch.

Not kidding.

Our Sunday Morning Cover Band Rituals

Grant Norsworthy, last Thursday, EXCERPT: “…using music to connect humanity with divinity rather than plodding our way through our Sunday morning cover band rituals.

Oops.

Okay, no show of hands, but who all’s convicted? (If you’re confused by my use of that word, contact me right away.)

Back to what Grant wrote —

I LOVE this guy so much: “I made a fateful decision … to devote my life to human expression verses human perfection.” Yo-Yo Ma

If only we – who perhaps call ourselves “worship leaders” and “worship musicians” – had even 10% of Yo-Yo Ma’s sense of being “scientists of the inner soul”, maybe we would do a better job of using music to connect humanity with divinity rather than plodding our way through our Sunday morning cover band rituals.

A reality check for me. I’m inspired.

—- Ditto! And amen! And you?

CLUB 444: Maybe not just for United Methodists

Written by a real life friend and colleague from college and seminary earlier today – – –

I posted the article below just over a year ago. Since then several things have happened, the most significant in this discussion is the postponement of the General Conference to 2024. Frankly, I believe it was postponed for invalid reasons, but clearly political reasons. Another development has been the decision to Disaffiliate based on paragraph 2553, even with its onerous price. Several hundred churches have made this choice. In the next Conference year, several hundred more (thousands more?) will make the same choice. Mt. Bethel settled the lawsuit with the North Georgia Annual Conference in the amount of $13.1 million when their disaffiliation cost would have been less than $5 million, revealing the duplicity of our episcopal leadership. In North GA two ordained clergy married a homosexual couple, but were not charged with violating the Discipline because they did not sign the marriage certificate. One of our male pastors transitioned to female. One candidate for ministry (one of the couple married above) was reinstated by the District Committee on Ministry as a Candidate for ministry. The NGA conference has 71 churches asking to disaffiliate at this AC. There will be hundreds more in 2023. The bishop has declared the 2022 AC will be closed only allowing credentialed delegates to even enter the Classic Center in Athens, GA. The excuse is Covid. D.S’s are filibustering the requests for a Church Conference to vote on disaffiliation claiming scheduling conflicts. The truth is any ordained elder can be designated by the DS to preside at a Church Conference. This is a thinly disguised attempt to control the action of churches. Further, DS’s are giving false and inaccurate information to churches. Is this duplicity or incompetence? I do not know. Progressive pastors are trying to control Traditional congregations not allowing the “split” to even be discussed. Multiple churches are having to have off campus meetings to gather accurate information because of the hostility of their pastors. The Global Methodist Church launched this month with little fanfare but a clear mission. This gives many churches a desired landing zone following disaffiliation. These things, and more, make my article below even more enlightening.

“Why Don’t They Leave?

The most often asked question I have received from Traditionalist pastors and laity concerning the inevitable split in the UMC is, “Why don’t the Progressives just leave and form their own liberal denomination and quit trying to change ours?”

This is an appropriate question. Since 1972 the position of the UMC regarding marriage and ordination has been clear. Every four years at General Conference it has been challenged. Every four years it has been strengthened.

Then the called 2019 General Conference met to resolve this once and for all. The vast majority of the Bishops were “all in” for their highly touted One Church Plan. Even the name was a lie. It would have effectively divided the UMC into several regional churches with various theologies and doctrines. It was supported almost completely by General Board executives and, therefore, staff. The vast communication arm of the denomination was fully in league with the Bishop’s goal. Many Bishops sent their District Superintendents out riding their circuits touting the plan, often in very intimidating ways.

However, the Bishop’s solution was soundly rejected by the delegates and the left was furious. Their action at the GC was appalling. The curtain covering their, “Why can’t we all just get along” was ripped apart and their anger and hostility was on full display via live streaming across the world. Some of us had experienced their anger in the past, but this threw a spotlight on it for the world of Methodism, and many others, to see. It was diabolical and nothing close to reflecting the love and open table they touted.

So they were able to filibuster the process and prevent some real solutions to even get to the floor of the Conference. However, again, the Traditionalist United Methodist church prevailed.

So Progressives returned and immediately began to take out full page newspaper ads decrying the great injustice perpetuated by traditionalists. They developed a political action organization and swept the Clergy and many Lay delegations in several conferences. However, their numbers were still insufficient to change the church’s historic position. Again, anger, hostility, name-calling and inequitable treatment of Traditional pastors and churches escalated. While this had been happening for decades in the more liberal conferences of the UMC it spread to the Southeast and SouthCentral Jurisdictions.

The split deepened and widened. The most recent, apparently coordinated attack by their bishops against several large church Traditional pastors is simply symptomatic of the hostility.

So people rightly ask, “If they are so unhappy, why don’t they just leave?”

To understand the answer there is some historical perspective needed. First, under the tutelage of Dr. Albert Outler, the foremost Wesley scholar of his day, the UMC was formed embracing a concept called “Pluralism.” Essentially this resulted in Methodists ceasing to be a credal church and instead became a church where everyone was free to believe essentially anything they chose to believe.

This was a disaster. Dr. Outler later recognized his mistake and expressed regret over espousing Pluralism in forming the UMC. But the deed was done and United Methodists proudly proclaimed our church to be one “Big Tent” in which various and often opposing theologies and doctrines could just get along. All were welcome.

This gave free license to our already liberal branch to rush further and faster to the left. They flocked to our seminaries, boards and agencies, General Conference committees, etc.

There they developed this cry for “Justice” for the “oppressed” LGBQT+ community. Justice demanded they radically transform the church, converting or removing all the “haters” in the Traditional church. Their cry for inclusion gradually shifted to exclusion, all in the name of Justice.

So their crusade against the orthodox, traditional theology and doctrine grew in volume and intensity. Militant bishops were strengthened in their clearly hostile acts toward Traditionalists. While they openly broke the covenant as it was codified in the Book of Discipline, all in the name of Justice, they acted in many severely unjust ways toward their theological enemies using that same Discipline as a bludgeon.

Again, the growth of the Traditional church in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Philippines, the Korean and other ethnic congregations in the US prevented them from changing our historic stand on the issues they focused on. So now again the bishops are recycling the One Church Plan under a different linguist flag to break the majority hold on the church. They will not be successful, as the liberal church shrinks in the US and the Traditional church grows in other countries resulting in a larger majority of Traditional Delegates to General Conference.

So again, “Why don’t they just leave?” There are several answers to that other than the vocal “Justice” demand. But I really believe there is one core reason. Again this is an opinion piece.

Liberals generally have an innate inability to build anything. They are only successful in tearing down. Yes, this is extremely harsh. But look at their record in all the mainline denominations. They took over and the churches went into a death spiral. Just see the Episcopal Church. Once a mighty denomination, statistical analysts predict it will not even exist in 25 years.

Look at the formerly great orthodox seminaries. They are mere shadows and without the endowments left by Traditional orthodox donors of previous generations and the constant influx of cash from denominational sources they simply could not exist. And even with those sources of funding several have closed and we will see many more in the next decade. The trend is clear.

Look at the mission arm of the UMC. Once we were a great force for Christ spreading the Gospel in Africa, India, the Pacific Islands and many other places. Now under liberal control we have, until recently I believe, more Mission Board staff than missionaries. The fulfillment of the great commission has continued, but only in the hands of traditional para-church mission groups like One Mission Society, TMS Global, etc.

Further, look at their record of church planting. It is almost non-existent. They have been prolific in closing churches and raiding their assets for institutional coffers, but planting churches simply is not in their ecclesiastical DNA.

And what about their constant cry, “The mission of the UMC is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?” Where is their record of making disciples? Do we see it in their record of growth of Progressive Churches? No, the statistics are just the opposite. New church plants? New mission efforts? More missionaries? New Theological Seminaries? New colleges and universities? New Christian K-12 schools? New large classes of ordinands? New large confirmation classes in local churches? New sources of funding, other than raiding orthodox assets? No to all of the above.

So they depend on attachment to the institutional church for their very survival. They can’t leave any more than a parasitic plant can leave its host and survive.

So Traditionalists will leave. And the excitement in the Traditionalist movement captured and expressed by the Wesley Covenant Association and the Global Methodist Church movements is contagious. The only hold the Progressives have on the host is the Trust Clause in our local churches. Break that and the parasite rapidly declines. Hence, the death grip of Progressives on this one last thing preventing separation. But this will not hold. When? I do not know. But it will not hold!

Frankly, this is the most exciting time in my 50 years of ministry in the UMC. The missional impact will be huge, of that I am absolutely confident. The blessing of the Holy Spirit is all over this. Let’s go and make disciples!”

What’re You Doing this Week?

Let’s run with this the rest of the week.

No pun intended.

See you back here tomorrow!

And so meanwhile….

💯 Life Changing

Kim Scarbrough was in a church I served when she was an active youth member. It’s with her gracious permission that I share this with you here, which she wrote one month and one day ago. It applies today. – – –

Today is 4-14. A day to share my faith in Jesus because I believe we are all born for “such a time as this”. Just like Esther. Just like you.

These moments in time we’ve been given to reach out our hands and serve others. Since it’s Holy Week and there is a lot that runs through my mind during this week every year.

I’m reminded of some mind blowing basic but foundational truths. Jesus’s sacrificial-profit-fulfilling death. Jesus’s 💯 deity at the same time his 💯 humanity. Also his bodily resurrection from the grave that hundreds of people witnessed. Not only witnessed but then wrote about and died for the truth of it as martyrs.

The gift that is the Bible and the beautiful life-breathing truth it contains. There are so many amazing facts about the New Testament. For example, did you know there are over 5,000 copies of the Greek NT manuscripts and three times that many in non-Greek languages. Or that scholars date a lot of the NT accounts by the eyewitnesses within a few years after Jesus’s death (some even think within a few months… look up Gray Habermas).

Did you know that the closest document we have that tells us about Alexander the Great was written hundreds of years after he died?

The point is that there is this amazing person named Jesus who actually lived and actually died and actually lives again.

You should get to know him, because it’s literally life changing.