Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why a High Profile Emphasis on Some Things, But Silence on the Most Critical Ones?

Political and many church leaders share common ground when it comes to their measure of what is considered important as opposed to where their mouths become absolutely speechless regarding that which is of far greater importance!

President Bush just recently addressed the issue of conflict in Sudan with a call for economic sanctions against that nation. The reason? Seems for some time there has been a lot of bloodshed involving large numbers of innocent people -- the president even used the term "genocide" and applied it to what the government is doing to certain people. The president was very sober in his remarks on this matter -- no smiles on this one! Cetainly a person with some degree of moral sensitivity ought to be conserned about the ongoing occurance of such atrocities.

Likewise, in the W. PA Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church there is a heavy emphasis on the "Nothing But Nets" campaign. We are told of large numbers of persons who die in Africa from Malaria, so all are encouraged to support this effort by giving money to buy the nets which will protect the people from the disease carrying mosquitoes. Bishop Bickerton of the W. PA Conference has been pushing this quite vigorously. The annual conference session which is slated to start on June 7 and go through June 10 is going to be saturated with reminders of the campaign everywhere one will look, according to advance publicity. Perhaps the only place one will not see some "Nothing But Nets" hype will be when he or she goes to the bathroom! But even there maybe someone has strategically placed a poster or slogan.
It is a situation that ought to arouse a degree of concern and response. As indicated in an earlier post, my wife and I will be supporting the effort financially.

BUT in the above examples to which many names, politically and religiously could be added, why the silence on the greatest massacre to have taken place in United States history? When was the last time you saw an indignant president state unequivocally that we've got to stop the massacre of unborn children, the total of which is approaching 48 million?

When was the last time you heard Bishop Thomas Bickerton express indignation over the fact that thousands of unborn children are mutilated and murdered every week of the year and that this heinous practice has got to stop immediately?

And when was the last time you heard other political and church leaders express similar sentiments?

No, what you often hear from such leaders on the most critical moral crisis this republic has ever faced in its entire history is something such as this: the issue of destroying unborn children is a very complex issue and there are no easy answers -- we have to try to arrive at some "common ground" on the issue and work together toward a solution which will not restrict any human "rights" in the process!"

Ooops! A correction -- you will not hear the above named individuals nor others in positions similar to theirs using the term "destruction of unborn children" -- terminating a fetus, maybe -- or the more preferred expression -- "terminating an unwanted pregnancy." The advantage is that it's very impersonal in using such terms and one is deceived into thinking that no "person" becomes a victim in the termination procedure!

It's amazing how simple the solutions are when it comes to dealing with problems as God points them out to us -- His solutions are always simple -- it usually means, "Repent of your sins and abominations and quit doing them!"

But as a nation, we are demonstrating more and more that we are possession of a spirit which plunged a people of the past into disaster which they were totally unprepared to face!

Our leaders are determined to "major on the minors" and want us to do likewise!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why Fly a Shredded Flag?

OK - time to give you an update, especially since this is republished on Memorial Day weekend 2007. Yes, we got a new flag and to further show our patriotism, we have the front railing of our porch decorated with two red, white and blue bunting banners. Doesn't look too bad if I say so myself! But in case you missed it the first time around, see why it might be appropriate to fly a shredded flag, even over the Capitol and White House in Washington DC until there is a united voice crying out from political and church leaders as well as us average citizens saying, "We have sinned against our God and need to repent of many offenses committed against Him as individuals and collectively in many groups -- church, government, corporations, business, and in our education systems!"

Now, on to the original post which was published some time back.........
My wife tells me, "Get that ragged flag down and get a new one!" Most passers-by would fully agree. And as you view the picture, you probably agree also. It is a bit of a disgrace to fly the banner of the republic of the United States of America in such a condition, is it not?

Yes, I do intend to replace it after a bit of time has passed. Perhaps the word is going around the neighborhood already -- "Have you seen what that crazy preacher is doing now -- he's got a badly tattered and torn flag flying beside his house -- has he no sense of pride at all? Doesn't he care about how that looks to the people who are driving by his place?" Maybe the Blacklick Township supervisors will get after him about that!

On the other hand, perhaps all flags flying around the United States should be in a shredded condition such as the one pictured above. And it would be especially fitting if the ones flying at the White House, the Capitol building in DC, the Pentagon, all state capitol buildings and all post offices throughout the republic of the United States were in such a condition!

And why is that, you may ask?

As you look at that tattered and torn flag consider this:

  • As a culture, we have shredded the spiritual truths which have been given to us through God's special revelation, the holy Scriptures (the Bible)!

  • We have shredded the moral standards which provide a solid foundation for a sane, sensible, stable and surviving culture as we now move into a very uncertain future!

  • We have shredded the ethical standards which are so vital in human relationships so that we have become a "slit the throat, knife 'em in the back" society with a driving passion to get all the money we can get by whatever means it takes to get it! As an example, have you bought a gallon of gasoline lately? See what Exxon-Mobile's profit margin is when they release their next report. But the Exxon-Mobile high command is not the only bunch interested in getting lots and lots of money!

  • We have literally been "shredding" thousands of unborn children every week for decades, with the grand tally moving toward the 48 million mark -- for the latest see A Quick Look at the United States' Massacre Tally!

So that flag that has had millions recite a pledge in its presence and conclude by saying " nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all." is a powerful symbol when it becomes shredded and torn -- it is reflecting in a rather dramatic way what the spiritual, moral and ethical climate of the United States of America actually is at the present time. It is also painfully obvious that the vast majority of elected officials and far too many church leaders are indifferent to this tragedy or simply don't care!

"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time I punish them, they shall be cast down," says the LORD. Thus says the LORD: "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, 'listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.' Therefore hear, you nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words, nor My law, but rejected it." --- Jeremiah 6:15-19

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Make a Comment and Help a Community!

Pastor Matt Blake was appointed to serve in the small community of Westover PA in June of 2006. The Westover community is in great need of an activity center for youth. The door has opened a bit with the availability of a building and Matt has made an application for a grant with a brand name food company. Please go to Westover Community Youth Center Project, review the details, make your comments in encouraging support of this venture, and sign your name. It will only take a few minutes at most. Even if you don't know Matt or you are not familiar with the community, your comments of encouragement will be most appreciated and will help to obtain the requested grant.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Are You Among Those Special "Reserves?"

"Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." --- 1 Kings 19:18

He found himself in the pit of deep despair – he was on the run and trying to hide – a very powerful and wicked woman was after his head, literally!

Elijah had just won a major victory over the false prophets of a heathen deity named Baal. A part of that victory involved the execution of those false prophets. Queen Jezebel, who had been instrumental in importing Baal worship into the northern kingdom of Israel, had vowed to remove Elijah’s head from his shoulders due to the major blow he had inflicted on the institution of Baal worship!

And so as the prophet engaged in a major self-pity experience and felt the best thing for him now was to simply die and have his miserable existence terminated, God dramatically revealed that Elijah was not the only faithful one left, as he had led himself to believe. "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him," said God! In the midst of all the confrontations which had taken place and the challenging of the heathen prophets, Elijah had failed to recognize the existence of God’s “reserve” force.

In a 21st Century republic known as the United States of America God has His “reserves” that have refused to bow the knee to the modern Baals, which are manifested in many forms. Consider some of those Baals in our culture to which millions of knees are bowing every day -----

  • the Baal of pleasure which now dominates the weekends, including the day which was set apart for the worship of the true and living God Who created this mighty universe by spoken command and Who loves us humans so much that He gave His own Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for our sins so we could be forgiven and be citizens in His Kingdom forever. Less than half of U. S. citizens are willing to go to a place of worship on Sundays!

  • the Baal of money which now enslaves a huge multitude of individuals as well as a growing number of corporations. This brand of Baal has the unique power to fan into raging flames a vicious appetite called greed. But it’s not limited to individuals nor corporations headed up by CEO’s who are driven by a desire to chalk up record breaking profits year after year, but elected officials enjoy sticking their thumbs into the public money pie with constant scheming as to how the citizens can be bled for more and more revenue!

  • the Baal of entertainment, talk-show, mass media and political celebrities. There is a wide variety of personalities here as well as the subject matter which may be expelled from the mouths of the same. The problem is that millions follow this one or that one and regard every word spoken by the one to whom they are ever loyal as “gospel truth.” Devotees of these celebrities are much more concerned about what their “idols” have to say about anything than what Almighty God has to say – and He does have a lot to say about the most critical issues of life on a personal level as well as on the collective level! Even among those who profess to be Christian in their faith there is all too often a confession that they do not spend the time studying the Bible as they feel they should! It is the God-inspired record of the Bible which is the measuring stick as to whether members of the aforementioned group are true or false in whatever statements and claims they make about anything.

  • the Baal of sexual immorality which is a very cruel and merciless deity as it exploits the part of our being that expresses its cravings at a very young and tender age. Thanks to perverted thinking, reasoning and example setting by adults over time, our young are now constantly exposed to damnable teachings that sexual experiences under just about any condition are good – you, and you alone determine what your sexual preferences should be and how to be sexually intimate with whoever and whenever! God’s revelation about the boundaries of expressing and experiencing our sexuality are totally rejected. The evidence is overwhelming that our culture is resolved to take a fatal plunge into the pool of disaster when it comes to handling God’s sacred gift of human sexuality!

  • the Baal of humanism which attempts to convince each one of us that we humans can handle all the issues of life be they personal and individual, or at the collective level. At times scientific advancements coupled with new breakthroughs in technology have been quite impressive and a person can be persuaded that we no longer need a “crutch of superstition” consisting of belief in a “higher power” which has whatever name you may give to that deity. However, along the way as we choose to travel this road, human life often becomes very cheap and expendable. And so there is no real moral sensitivity at the national level and no real concern that we have destroyed millions of unborn children over the past few decades!

  • the Baal of “church-ianity” – the word is probably not in the dictionary, but it’s a way of best describing the infiltration of the church by forces of compromise, “political correctness,” unbelief and brazen immorality! Those in a number of church groups who hold to a Bible based faith are being pressured to compromise the faith (e.g. that Jesus is NOT the exclusive way of salvation), to speak a certain language so that no person is ever offended, to doubt the mighty acts of God in times past as well as what God has specifically planned for the future, and to accept without question sexual behavior patterns which God has clearly condemned! Constantly through legislative actions or declarations from church leaders the exhortation is to bow to the modern Baal and kiss him!

Somewhere scattered throughout the 50 states that comprise this republic is a minority number of persons – the ones who have not bowed the knee to the 21st Century version of Baal in its many grotesque forms – they are God’s special “reserves!” Are you one of them?

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. --- 2 Timothy 4:7,8

Friday, May 11, 2007

More Tremors Among the UMs of Western Pennsylvania!

In an earlier post about some happenings among United Methodists of western Pennsylvania it was noted that a group of lay persons had circulated a letter which questioned the stance on the issue of homosexuality taken by two prominent pastors and one lay person who is high profile in the "Believe Again" campaign being pushed vigorously by Bishop Tom Bickerton of the W. PA Annual Conference.

The bishop quickly responded by a letter in which in rather forceful and detailed language he defended the three persons and stressed the fact that they were persons of high integrity, etc.

A second letter has just been sent by the original group of lay persons as they continue to pursue the issue. In this one they take some space to explain the reason for remaining anonymous and it is a valid reason. They are fearful of retaliation being taken against their pastors and their churches. They cite the example of Ed Johnson and the calamity he experienced due to his position of refusing to receive a practicing homosexual into church membership.

In the W. PA Annual Conference there have been occasions in which churches have taken actions which were unpopular and retaliation has taken place in the form of appointments in the future or the threat of not appointing a pastor to what has been regarded as a "rebel" church!

So the group of lay persons in choosing to remain anonymous in this present controversy has taken an action that is wise at least for the present. But if the bishop and his cabinet ever find out the identity of these persons, then look out -- heads will roll!

This whole issue can be easily resolved with the bishop taking the lead:

  • First, he can clearly define his own position on homosexuality and lesbianism, and specifically spell out as to whether or not such practices are a sin. After all, he signed, along with all other active bishops, the letter which condemned the Judicial Council for its decision in which it ruled that Ed Johnson was to be reinstated and reimbursed back salary etc. due to the actions of Charlene and her executive session in suspending him. This letter of response by the UMC bishops in effect said that anybody (including a practicing homosexual) should be taken into the membership of the United Methodist Church if that person makes such a request, and each pastor should honor the request!

  • Second, the bishop can define as to whether it is acceptable to have practicing homosexuals and lesbians serving on church boards, agencies, etc. Just flat out state in plain words (no church-ese confusing language) -- is it or is it not acceptable -- yes or no!

  • Third, the bishop can direct that the two clergy and one lay person singled out in the circulated letter also publicly define their specific positions on homosexual and lesbian practices -- no hedging or dodging -- just plainly state whether or not these practices are morally wrong and whether or not they agree with God's revelation on the issue. There is not one reported instance in the totality of the Scriptures where homosexuality and lesbianism are given a positive stamp of approval -- the practices are always regarded as being negative and soundly condemned!

Will the bishop do this? It is highly doubtful -- UMC bishops are beginning to take more and more a "popish" position when they speak -- if they said it, then it is settled -- and laity, you are to pay the bills and keep your mouth shut -- don't ever raise a question about anything, especially about moral issues in these days of calling what is black, white and vice-versa! Interesting, is it not, that all too many in the UMC hierarchy forget very quickly that their salaries and perks are paid by the laity who have every right to raise questions and issue challenges when there are things taking place which contradict the Scriptures and basic doctrines on which the Methodist Church was founded in the times of John and Charles Wesley!

So to you lay folks in United Methodist churches in W. PA, someone in your church has received this 2nd letter -- ask about it -- ask your pastor if he or she has seen and read it, and then ask whether the bishop intends to clarify this matter as suggested above! It is simply an honest question which deserves honest answers so that everyone knows where the bishop and the persons in question really stand on very critical moral issues which are tearing the UMC apart!

Further, you have the right to insist on total clarification as to where the bishop and the three named individuals in the controversial letters stand on the issue of homosexuality and lesbianism. You also have the right to make your personal contact and appeal to the bishop on this matter: write to Bishop Thomas Bickerton at 1204 Freedom Road, PO Box 5002, Cranberry Twp. PA 16066-0002.

Or you can give him a phone call at 724-776-2300. As mentioned, the lay folks are the ones who pay the bills, and they have the right to know precisely where the leadership of the conference and the denomination stand on moral issues!

And a friendly word of advice -- don't ever let any member of the United Methodist hierarchy intimidate you! Our ultimate accountability is to our Lord Jesus Christ, not to any church leader who holds some kind of power position within the denominational structure.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! --- Isaiah 5:20

Saturday, May 5, 2007

I Like Milk, But.....!

I grew up on a farm in my younger years until I left to work for Uncle Sam for three years at the age of 19.

We had a small herd of Guernsey cows. They had a reputation of having high quality milk with high butterfat content -- sometimes the expression "golden Guernsey milk" was used by dairies in promoting their milk.

We had lots of milk to drink each day and my mother made butter. My dad drank the buttermilk -- he was the only one in the family who would!

I averaged at least a quart of milk a day and sometimes more -- especially if my mother had just taken a chocolate cake out of the oven. You will find it hard to beat this combination -- warm chocolate cake just freshly baked and cold Guernsey milk to go with it!

But my desire for a drink of cold milk is totally annihilated if I become aware that someone has dropped a few drops of arsenic into it -- it may be just as white as before and just as cold as I'd want it to be -- BUT it's the few drops of arsenic which will keep me from drinking it. The last I had heard, arsenic is not a booster to better health -- in fact, the stuff will kill you!

For decades in this country there have been persons who have been slipping a few drops of spiritual arsenic into the diets of Christians in quite a number of places.

You may ask just who these person are -- and what is the nature of this "spiritual arsenic?"

The perpetrators come from all strata within those groups claiming to be Christian. They can be theologians, seminary professors, teachers in a variety of schools, church leaders, pastors, and lay persons holding offices in a church.

This group which dispenses the spiritual arsenic has one thing in common though the nature of the arsenic dispensed may vary a bit. The common thread is a denial of something revealed in the holy Scriptures (Bible) -- God has made a lot of things plain to us such as spelling out the basic root problem of the human race, what laws apply to all human behavior and relationships, what He has done to bring healing and wholeness to sinful human beings, the performing of many miraculous acts during the history of the human race, and what He has planned for the future.

Since the Holy Spirit (the greatest Theologian in existence) authored the Scriptures and Jesus promised that this same Holy Spirit would teach us, guide us into the truth, and would show us things to come, then we can be absolutely certain of a number of things, starting with positive assurance of sins forgiven on condition of our repenting of all sin and receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives!

But here's the problem -- Jesus warned of what He described as "wolves in sheep's clothing" making their dreaded appearances. He also warned of false teachers and prophets coming on the scene and this would be a worsening problem as we get closer to the moment of His personal return to this world.

So now the church at large more than possibly at any time in its 2,000 year history is plagued with those who deny the authenticity of the Scriptures, deny the moral standards which God has put in place, deny the miracles He has done throughout human history, deny the existence of a personal devil and a huge host of demon spirits, deny the significance of Jesus' atonement for the entire human race, deny He was literally resurrected from the dead following His crucifixion, and deny that He is going to return to this sin ravaged planet to take charge and rule the entire world at some point in the future!

It behooves Christians more than ever to spend much time on a daily basis searching the Scriptures and seeking to be spiritually sensitive to anyone who would try to convince you that something which God has made very plain in His revealed Word is not really so -- watch out for the subtle droplets of spiritual arsenic! And when such an individual attempts to lace your spiritual diet with the poison of unbelief you can write that person off as being as phony as a three dollar bill!

By the way, I do have a three dollar bill in my collection of unusual "currency" -- it has a picture of Bill Clinton on it -- but it could just as well have the pictures of some theologians to which I have been exposed over the years -- some pastors --some teachers -- even some United Methodist bishops and also some lay persons as well!

And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand."
--- Matthew 24:4,5,11-13,23,24

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. --- 2 Peter 2:1-3

Thursday, May 3, 2007

All Is Not Peaches & Cream in a Paradise Known As the W. PA Conference of the United Methodist Church!

Did I hear you say that you felt tremors vibrating a bit and the ground under your feet seemed to shake very unnaturally in the western part of Pennsylvania? And you are curious as to what is going on, since the earth shaking has been mostly limited to the western coast line of the U.S. on previous occasions.

Well, it's all about something erupting in the W. PA Conference of the United Methodist Church. A letter was sent out from a group simply identified as a group of concerned United Methodist Lay Persons. There would have been a bit more credibility if at least some would have signed their names.

Allegations in the letter centered on 3 persons holding prominent positions within the W. PA Annual Conference of the UMC. The clergy are the Rev. William Meekins and the Rev. David Morse. The lay person is Mr. Tracy Merrick who is a prominent leader in Bishop Thomas Bickerton's pet project, the "Believe Again" campaign, with expectations that the W. PA Conference will be resurrected and do great things in the future.

The issue centers on the position these 3 take in regard to the practice of sodomy and lesbianism. The allegations claim that the above named clergy were among a group which wore armbands at last year's annual conference that symbolized a protest against the UMC's refusal to ordain homosexual persons for ministry.

It is no secret that there are those within the confines of the conference who are sympathetic toward the homosexual/lesbian agenda being pushed on all church groups. And within W. PA there has been the initiation of "dialog" sessions between those who are pressing the homosexual/lesbian agenda and those who claim to be "evangelical" with very "positive" and "glowing" reports coming forth from these sessions. Mr. Tracy Merrick has been a part of this activity and the allegation in the circulated letter states his sympathy toward those who practice same-gender coupling.

Tracy is chairperson of the Pastor/Parish Relations Committee at First United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh. It is a church which has clearly gone on record that it is an "inclusive" church -- this means acceptance of those who practice sodomy and lesbianism with no expectation of these repenting of their sins as would be expected of others who are in some other kind of destructive life style, such as a practicing adulterer or a person who sexually molests children, etc.

The church's pastor, Bob Wilson, has posted his displeasure with Judicial Council Decision 1032 which ordered reinstatement of a pastor who had denied membership to a man who refused to repent of his practice of sodomy. Bob's statements can be read at Bob Wilson's Response to JD 1032

You can visit First UM's web site at First UMC - Pittsburgh PA. There you will see the evidence that if a person is in a practicing lifestyle involving sodomy or lesbianism, one can still be a "Christian" all the while -- it's quite OK -- we just need to eliminate the barriers which keep these people from legally marrying and participating in the church, including ordination into the ministry!

Since Tracy Merrick holds the important position of being chairman of the PPR Committee, it must be assumed that he is in agreement with his pastor and the stated position of the church on the issue of same-gender coupling.

Bishop Bickerton, true to form, fired off a letter in response to the one circulated by the group of concerned lay persons. And as one would expect, he vigously defended the 3 who had been singled out by name in the offending letter. But that could have been predicted since he was one of the entire group of active UM bishops who cried "Foul!" in response to Judicial Council Decision 1032!

Translated into simple terms -- the UMC bishops are saying that anyone who wants to become a member of the UMC should be taken into membership and that includes persons who practice sodomy! That was the issue that got Ed Johnson into trouble in the VA Conference -- the man who wanted to become a member of Ed's church was practicing sodomy and refused to repent of his sin, so Ed would not receive him into the membership -- and guess who the bad guy was in this -- Ed Johnson whom Charlene Kammerer and clergy members of her conference tried to hang!

The UMC bishops are giving increased evidence that they expect pastors to march in lockstep to their edicts without question -- the crisis occurs when there are those few pastors who still hold to strong Biblically based convictions and insist on marching to the beat of a very different Drummer -- Ed Johnson proved to be one such pastor!

The pressure continues to build for full acceptance of practicing sodomites and lesbians into the life and ministry of all church groups -- those of us who are labeled narrow, mean-spirited, bigoted, close-minded, homophobic, etc. are expected to accept that with absolutely no mention made that this is an abominable lifestyle which calls for repentance!

Look for more tremors in the times ahead, especially as we are heading toward General Conference 2008 which will be held in Texas. Lay and clergy delegates will be elected this year, and you can count on one thing -- battle plans have been well put together by this time on the part of those who are trying to convince us that there is nothing wrong with 2 men or 2 women engaging in sexual intimacy with each other, getting married, adopting children, and being actively involved in a church!

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!--- Isaiah 5:20

You have wearied the LORD with your words; yet you say, "In what way have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them," or, "Where is the God of justice?" --- Malachi 2:17