This is Why We Cannot Have Nice Things
By: Andy Goode
Opposing viewpoints will reveal many things about ourselves, if we will allow the process to develop. If we can see the other person’s point of view and understand their perspective we can experience an evaluation of our own biases and learn just how much our own fames of reference influence what we believe to be acceptable, or what we as individuals call normal.
As a pastor, I often have to stop, pray for wisdom, and then try to stand in another person’s shoes so that I can see things from their perspective. In doing this I try to get a grasp on how my words or actions might have affected them, that I may have been oblivious to, in my own little world. In maintaining relationships this is important which brings to light, how important healthy communication is to all relationships. Listening to the other person and being sure of what they are saying and why, helps one develop an intelligent response.
For the Christian, we must add at least two more aspects to this idea of considering opposing viewpoints. The Christian must add the hermeneutical examination of scripture which serves as the irrefutable standard of interpreting the validity of opposing viewpoints. The Christian must also allow the Holy Spirit powered discernment to be a factor which would drive the Christian back to examination of scripture.
Three paragraphs of preface have now set me a little more at ease to deal with the matter at hand. I read a sad and heart-breaking article written by a retired United Methodist minister: Rev. James McCormick, entitled: “Commentary: ‘Be careful using the Bible’ (UMNS Feb. 5, 2019)
Rev. McCormick’s article provides an excellent medium for highlighting what is wrong with our church going culture. I am going to use excerpts here to highlight the various reasons we cannot agree with the church going culture, in short to explain why we cannot have nice things, if you will.
McCormick’s opening line reads:
“One must be careful in using the Bible as a source of moral standards.”
That is an attention getting opening for both liberals and conservatives. Before the end of the first paragraph we have another interesting statement:
“The Bible continues to be used to oppose women’s work outside the home and female ordination.”
Would one consider me cynical to say that the statement on female ordination was my first clue as to where this article is going? As an M. Div. student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary over 20 years ago I was on a debate team that argued against female ordination. To make a long story short it is hard to get past the language of the Bible that reads; “…husband of one wife…”, You can strain it, stretch it and bend it but the only way around that phrase is to ignore it, or say something really clever like McCormick says in the same article:
“In studying the Bible, it is necessary to realize that often God is cited as supporting whatever values are normative at that time in history. Those are “timely” standards — standards valued for a time — but not necessarily “timeless” standards that are applicable for all time and all circumstances.”
This is where church goers are led astray because it sounds good to them because it is what they want to hear. Church goers like an inclusive, everything is going to be OK, play nice, love, love, love, message that promotes and adheres to a man-centered theology. Man-centered theology is directing people to live under a false view of God, in an artificial state of bliss, where there is no healing, no guilt, no shame, no repentance and no reconciliation with one another or, even more importantly, no reconciliation with a loving, all powerful, completely magnificent God who demonstrated His own love toward us while were yet sinners.
So, is McCormick credible as a Bible scholar, as a theologian? Let’s consider some more excerpts from McCormick’s article:
“Remember that the Bible affirms Abraham having sexual relations with Hagar, Sarah’s maid, in order to produce his first son, Ishmael.”
This is not true, the Bible chronicles this but clearly shows the lack of obedience to God on the part of Abraham and Sarah. Here is another excerpt from McCormick:
“Remember King Solomon’s legendary 1,000 wives and concubines. Today we would call Abraham’s and Solomon’s sexual actions adultery, and not condone such actions for the behavior of others. Remember that, in ancient Israel, eating shellfish and wearing clothing of two different fabrics at the same time were called “abominations.” Walking too many paces on the Sabbath was considered sinful. And, it was permissible to make slaves of captured enemies. So much of what was considered sinful or acceptable was simply the norms or standards that were practiced by the majority of the people, but condemned today.”
What is this guy thinking? It was condemned then and remains condemned today, God is an immutable God. Is there a bubble this guy lives in, where people think biblical characters were affirmed, or considered not to be in sin when they sinned against God? Just because customs of the time were the accepted customs, does not mean that these customs were approved by God.
So, let’s get to the rub and the bias and see if we can see what the real problem is here with McCormick.
“Sadly, that practice has not changed. As a child, I was not allowed to have playing cards in our house. Dancing and even going to the movies were frowned upon, and drinking alcoholic beverages was not allowed. I was told that Jesus and his disciples drank only grape juice!
Today, all of those things are permissible even by religious people, showing that moral standards do evolve. I remember the insightful words of James Russell Lowell: “New occasions teach new duties; time makes ancient good uncouth. They must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.”
So, McCormick had a sad childhood, devoid of playing cards while his parents lied to him about Jesus turning water into wine, really good wine, at that. This now empowers McCormick and others like him, to craft the theology of church goers based on his frame of reference and his personal bias rather than basing theology on the infallible and sufficient, inspired and authoritative word of God in the Holy Bible.
“…religious people” is the phrase McCormick uses and I use the phrase: “church-goers” and I believe McCormick and I are talking about the same group of people, which is not the same group of people I describe as born-again, fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
As I read further in McCormick’s article, I find he reminds me of a well-intentioned, not well-informed person trying to explain Bible times to a 4-year-old, which must have been where McCormick’s theological development must have stalled in his own life, somewhere around the age of 4. I base this on the following statements from McCormick:
“Think about this: The writers of the Bible did not know about germs.”
“The writers of the Bible also did not know about genetics, but we do.”
Yes, I have had enough but it gets worse. Consider this next excerpt and in case you do not realize what is wrong with that statement, I will chime in, once again.
“Second only to God, humans are the most important entities in existence. Therefore, what is moral in a timeless sense is whatever is helpful to human beings, and what is immoral is whatever is hurtful to human beings. That is a timeless value. It cuts across all times and circumstances. It helps us separate temporary customs from values that are lasting.”
McCormick and I really do not agree, at all, on the importance of scripture as a standard for morality. In this case, as you may read from McCormick below, the only things that immoral are the things that hurt others.
Why oppose slavery and segregation? Because they are hurtful. Why do the Ten Commandments forbid murder, stealing, lying, adultery and coveting? Because they are hurtful. On the other hand, what is hurtful about playing cards, dancing or having a glass of wine with a meal?
McCormick is now going to work from a false premise he holds to be true, because scripture has never been the standard for his worldview. When we understand God and the principles of God from a biblically based worldview, we would not entertain the notion that someone is born with same gender attraction.
If a person is born with a same-gender orientation, why must they be prohibited from having an intimate relationship with another person, forced into isolation and loneliness, just because many people unfairly oppose that? The fact that some Christians do not approve does not make such a relationship hurtful.
Almost everyone affirms close, caring relationships between men and between women. We become concerned only when the sexual component is added. Why? All close relationships are much more than sexual. Even heterosexual marriage is about friendship, mutuality and caring. We should wrestle with the reality that close, same-sex friendships are applauded; it is only when the sexual component is added that we become concerned. Again, why? Why not have the same moral standards for same-gender relationships as for heterosexual relationships: no promiscuity, no coercion, no insensitivity. Instead, seek commitment, faithfulness, mutual sensitivity, caring and support. Who does that hurt? Instead, it treats all people as persons of equal worth, as children of God, and encouraged to enjoy mutually affirming, intimate, helpful relationships with others.
To “love your neighbor” is to do the helpful thing and to avoid doing the hurtful thing, even when cultural conditioning makes that uncomfortable. Helping, not hurting, looks and sounds like Jesus to me.”
This is what happens when we try to conform an image of Jesus to our own image of what we want Jesus to be in our minds. When Jesus spoke on loving your neighbor, the first thing Jesus mentioned is loving the Lord your God with all your heart, with your soul and with all your mind and then to love your neighbor as yourself.
When we love God with all our heart, soul and mind we will not seek to bend His rules or violate His principles in order to create a religion out of loving our neighbor. We have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This relationship should be better and stronger than any religion as such a relationship puts Christ at the center of all things and Christ at the highest priority as our purpose and goal is to glorify God.
What sounds like Jesus to me, is honoring God the Father, doing the will of the Father, and seeking to glorify the Father. Church goers are trying to glorify man and the sins of men and make for themselves their own religion regardless of God’s immutable standards. Then these church goers working against the things of God label themselves: “Christians” causing confusion and deception. This is why we can’t have nice things, because church goers refuse to…be biblical!
Wait, What Exactly is the Church?
By: Andy Goode
The New York Times article: “United Methodists Tighten Ban on Same-Sex Marriage and Gay Clergy by: Timothy Williams and Elizabeth Dias, dated February 26, 2019 features some quotes and other information that beg the question: What exactly is the church?Please consider this first quote taken from the article:“This feels like one generation locking down the church for the next,” said William H. Willimon, a retired bishop of the United Methodist Church and a professor at Duke Divinity School. “That’s a death sentence.”
Locking down the church? So, wait, what is exactly is the church again? Consider this excerpt from the same article:
“After three days of intense debate at a conference in St. Louis, the vote by church officials and lay members from around the world doubled down on current church policy, which states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The vote served as a rejection of a push by progressive members and leaders to open the church to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
Now please consider the quote within the excerpt above: “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” This quote comes from the UMC”s decision, which only passed because of votes from the UMC leaders outside of the United States. Consider this excerpt from the same article:
“But the issue of gay rights has proved uniquely divisive in the church, and Tuesday’s vote reflected the growing clout of Methodists from outside the United States. The tightening of enforcement of church law was backed by a coalition of members from African nations, the Philippines and European and American evangelicals.”
By now you may wonder why I did not just ask you to read the New York Times article, and I think you should, but before I answer the begging question with which I began this writing, please read one more excerpt for the article:
Soon after the vote, protests erupted in the center of the arena where the conference had been held — a former football stadium known as The Dome. Some delegates began singing church songs and chanting, “We’re queer,” and “This is our church!”
“We’re queer” and “This is our church!”
This is the state of the UMC in America. Thank God for the African nations and others who had to point the way for an otherwise deluded and deceived group of people who are emphatically not the church.
Formal church usage of the word: ecclesia identifies a group set apart unto God. We take our concept of the church from this word as an assembly of people, or a congregation of people who are called out, as belonging to God. In the Christian context, which is our context here in this discussion, as the UMC considers themselves Christian, the church is made up of the followers of Jesus of Nazareth who is the Messiah; Jesus the Christ, commonly referred to as Jesus Christ.
Logically, why would anyone who does not agree with the teachings of the Christian Bible want to be identified with the Christian church? Pertains not to logic at all, and the claim that the church belongs to them is simply not true. The church, which is the people that are born-again followers of Jesus Christ, belongs to God, not to any special interest group and certainly not to any homosexual group.
This is where man-centered theology has taken the church goers, somehow church goers think that church is all about them. Once it becomes all about the people, then it becomes about whatever the people want for themselves. We do not conform God to our own image. God, through the sacrificial work of Jesus, is about calling us to repentance unto salvation that He conform us to His own image. We do not make the rules, or even vote on the rules. God gave His standard in the beginning.
Jesus died for the church, Jesus was raised for the church and the church does not belong to the queer, or the straight; the church belongs to God. As such, the church is to be governed by and operate according to biblical principles and the UMC said it best: “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
So, what should the rainbow wearing, pro-gay lifestyle, homosexual, lesbian, trans or bi-sexual, queer church goers do in light of this? Repent! Yes, God in His grace and by His mercy is calling for repentance for salvation and reconciliation. Any anti-biblical lifestyle is not compatible with Christianity. The same goes for heterosexuals and our own pet sins.
To see the biblical position as exclusion is correct. All those not willing to submit to the one true loving God on His loving terms, according to His loving standards is excluded. All those who refuse to repent and submit to God are excluded. This is God exalting, Christ centered theology has nothing to do with the man-centered theology that screams: “We are queer” and “this is our church.”
Former US President James Earl Carter weighs in on this recent vote in favor of homosexuality and admits that he cannot back up his view on the matter with scripture…
Why offer any opinion that cannot be backed up with scripture, why open your mouth when clearly scripture in both testaments in multiple texts of the Bible prohibit homosexuality? God standard is in the Bible, for His church. If you cannot agree, go form your own special interest group, but whatever you do, please do not call it a Christian church.
You may be queer, but it is not your church!
Sin is our problem and everyone deals with sin and the temptation of sin. Our culture today is teaching everyone, even Christians who listen, that happiness is more important than holiness.
When we speak of holiness in this context the meaning is simply to choose not to sin, over choosing to justify, rationalize, or excuse a poor choice to willfully sin for the sake of personal, temporal, happiness.
In sort, we desire to take the “short-cut”, or hit the “E-Z button” rather than follow the will of God revealed in the Word of God. Speaking of the Word of God, let’s go right to the scripture:
1st Corinthians 7:10-11
10 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.
As a pastor, I am tired of watching church members willfully sin and choose to divorce. We can all be deceived, we can all fall into temptation but I am responsible for every person God places under my watch care “as one who will give an account” before God Himself.
The Word of God, is the Word of God and stands absolutely clear on the subject of divorce.
NO; things are not different now, God is immutable.
NO; I do not care what you read in “Cosmo”, heard from Dr. Phil, or watched on The View.
What have you read in the Bible, heard from the pulpit and seen God do in other people’s lives that trusted God rather than wing it on their emotions?
Marriage is hard, but worth it because God is in marriage and marriage is about two believers, in Jesus Christ, bringing God glory through their marriage. If you are being tempted to call it quits in your marriage it is because you are giving in to the flesh, to the culture, to godless influences and as a Christian you are in WILLFUL disobedience to God.
There is nothing so far gone, that God cannot bring it back. Save your marriage today, cry out to Jesus, ask God for forgiveness, then believe Jesus for what you cry out for, then get up and ask for help with your marriage and be humble enough before God to join with your spouse in biblical counseling to restore your marriage.
Saving your marriage does not mean staying together in a miserable marriage, it means letting God transform you, your spouse and your marriage for His glory.
God’s Word teaches everything we need to know, in principle, about life. While you cannot always get a specific answer from the Bible, there is a biblical principle that covers every single situation you will ever encounter in life.
I am not going to spoon feed you this time, this article today is more of a work sheet, which means you get to do some of the work, as a learning exercise.
Let’s talk about love and the things we love then look of the scripture reference given to see what God says about the things we love. Fill in the blanks and when you are done you have something to use in teaching yourself and your children to be biblical.
Love _____________________ 1 John 2:15
Love _____________________ Proverbs 21:17
Love _____________________ Psalm 52:3
Love _____________________ Proverbs 20:13
Love _____________________ 1 Timothy 6:10
Love _____________________ 2 Timothy 3:4
Love _____________________ Proverbs 1:22
Love _____________________ John 3:19
Love _____________________ 2 Timothy 4:10
Love _____________________ John 12:43
So, be careful with what we “love” that we should always remember to love God with all our heart, mind and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves. You closest neighbors are those living within your own home, so start there and work outwardly to the glory of Jesus Christ.
Would you like to know how to create a monster, one that bears your same last name and possibly even looks like you? Raise your child in a child centered home where every decision is based on the happiness of the child. If you start at birth, you will be in complete misery by age 5 and in full blown rebellion by age 14. (rough estimates but when you are creating a monster who cares how long it takes) This is how we create a monster, ruin a family, possibly ruin a marriage and create a potential burden on society.
GOD is to be the center of your home, not the husband, not the wife, not any of the children. Let me be a little more specific about GOD, by GOD I mean JESUS, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Alpha and Omega. This is the JESUS that rightly makes the claim that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no man comes to the Father but through Him, in John 14:6
I do not want you to think I might be talking about any other god, but the ONE TRUE GOD who is JESUS. When you allow your home to be child centered, the child becomes your god. When your child decides whether, or not, your family goes to church, or when your child’s activities keep your family out of church, you are living in a child centered home.
The decisions you make in your home are to be made seeking GOD first. Not only is this the best possible way for your family, you are also teaching your children to seek God first. When we fail to do this, and I have at times, we are creating the background and foundation for the future decision making ability of our children.
We have the Bible for a reason and it is extremely relevant and deadly accurate for how to live life, for how to have a good marriage and for how to raise children. Yes, the Scriptures are ancient but more powerful, more alive and more needed in our lives today, than ever before. An all knowing, supernatural, loving and long-suffering, sovereign GOD wrote the Bible for you and for me, to give us the direction we need today in these modern times.
We would love to help you find what we have found in JESUS and in HIS HOLY Word, the Bible. We have found forgiveness, new life, peace, love and direction for everyday life. We hope you will keep reading our blog and we pray you find it helpful.
Contact us today, or join us at one of our services, because family matters!
1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
I will admit it here and now, I was not prepared to be a husband when I got married over 28 years ago. Honestly I thought it would all just come to me naturally. I guess I thought I could just “wing it”.
Nothing could be farther from the truth for any man, there is not a young, single man walking the planet today that has a clue, about how to be a husband and there are many older married men today in the same boat.
That boat will sink and your marriage will either fight to tread water, or will drown because of apathy. Are you apathetic in your marriage? Are you day dreaming about a “better life” without her, or with someone else?
That is not a dream, it’s really a nightmare and you need to wake up. The past is the past, so do not linger on what has already happened. Awake form your slumber and start bailing water, repair the holes and the get ready to hoist a sail. It is time to get this marriage underway.
You start by living with your wife in an understanding way. What does that mean, you ask? LISTEN to her. Make time to listen to her and understand who she is and what she cares about. You want a better sex life? Start with being an attentive husband that honors his wife and lives with her in an understanding way.
Notice the latter part of the verse: “…that your prayers may not be hindered” I may just have to explain this in this way: if you are not talking to and listening to your wife, God is not interested in what you have to say to Him. If you are going to have a life worth living you need to be listening to and talking to God and your wife.
If you want smooth sailing in your life and marriage, seek Christ first!
Marriage requires dedication, focus and selflessness but more than anything marriage requires both spouses to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ. If you are not a Christian, I hope you will allow me to share God's life changing message with you by emailing me: email@example.com
For two Christians who are married to each other, there is always hope for a better marriage. If you have drifted apart, which is a common problem, chances are you are have drifted in your walk with Christ as well.
Marriage is about worshipping God, by the way to love your spouse. Marriage is about giving, not about getting. Jesus Christ needs to be the most important person in every marriage and in every home. We are to put our spouse next, then our children and not worry about ourselves. If you are a genuine Christ follower this will not be a problem, once you get your heart right with God and trust God, not your spouse, to meet your needs.
When both spouses are seeking God first and loving their spouse second, with no regard for themselves, marriage begins to run on all cylinders. I know this is not popular and it is certainly contrary to what the secular world is saying today. If you are tempted to ask:"What about me and my needs?", then you are not ready to trust God to meet your needs and bless you and to bless your marriage. It is a heart change for both spouses and you may need some help getting there, if so, that is why we are here.
One blog post will not fix the problems in any marriage and this is why we hope you will consider our church as a resource for biblical marriage and family. Allow us to invest in your family. If you are looking for a church home, why not visit us this coming Sunday? See our home page for information and remember: Family Matters!
What does it take to take to go to the next level in any endeavor? All things require some talent, some acumen, some common sense and some determination but there are two things people rarely want to do, to go to the next level: 1. Sacrifice and 2. Work hard.
I recently read that even Lebron James had to make sacrifices and had to work harder after arriving in the NBA. As I read about Lebron, I gained a new appreciation for an athlete that so many seem to hate. I learned something from Lebron James that can be transferred into any endeavor in life.
First, we all know that having goals is what sets acheivers apart from those who just get by in life. I read about Lebron's simple goal in life that helped me understand why he sacrificed time outside of regular practice and sought help from a special coach even after he made it to the NBA. Getting to the NBA was not Lebron's goal it was merely a vehicle, or tool, effective in Lebron reaching his one simple goal.
Perhaps I should expalin that in my opinion most people are content to get to or merely half way, or in rare cases, one step past there wildest dreams and then they stop trying, give up, or self -destruct in some way. I believe this is what is wrong in the American church among many born again believers. Complacency, apathy and contentment with mediocrity kills marriages, kills job performance, kills all types of relationships and it is killing the church in America, as a whole.
If you read Thom Rainer you will soon discover that the growing and effective churches are not churches that accept mediocrity, nor are they complacent. Great Commission churches are fueled by a passion to glorfify God. So, they have goals and they are strategic and they do not settle for mediocre talent in leadership and mediocre expectations for the congregants.
So, what does this have to with Lebron? Lebron's goal is to be the best basketball player in the world. So, even after he makes it to the NBA and he is cashing big checks and he is on ESPN and in Sports Illustrated; Lebron is doing grunt work behind the scenes to improve his weaknesses. Lebron worked with a shooting coach to improve his 3 point shot. As a rookie, defenders would mock Lebron about his 3pt shot and sometimes not even guard him outside the 3 pt line.
Even after Lebron had "arrived", there was still work to be done. Even after you are saved and become part of a church there is work to be done for the kingdom and for your own personal growth because as born again believers in Christ, our goal is not to be saved from hell, our goal to bring glory to God. To bring glory to God we must always give our best effort, be willing to allow God to change us and make us less like ourselves and more like Him.
So, whatever your hands find to do, do as unto the Lord. If you are part of a church get involved, volunteer, use your God given talents. Be faithful, be available, be teachable and live to the glory of God. What areas of your life need to improve? Do you give your best at work and not at home? Do you give your best effort hunting and fishing, but not at church?
We never arrive as Christians. Christ provides salvation for us and calls us from darkness into the light, but we never arrive. While salavation is complete, we are far from being what God will be in us and through us, if we will die to self and die to laziness, complacency and mediocrity in our own lives and as church members.
This why we are going to make some significant improvements at Stave Creek, or at least I am going to continue lead us in that direction because God deserves our best. We can be better to His glory. The things we have planned for this year are for God's glory and our own good. Join me in working the plan, acheiving the goals to the glory of God in obedience to the Great Commission. This will require sacrifice and hard work. This requires not settling for just getting by. Jesus did not cut corners nor did he leave the job unfinished. So, join me and lets reach southwest Alabama, America and the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ!