Monday, January 29, 2018

January 30, 2018

I want to share with you a contemporary cultural perspective from one of our Wesleyan leaders, Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, OK.
As the president of one of the dozens of universities in the United States that carry the “Wesleyan” name I have often been asked: “What’s a Wesleyan?” Likewise, hardly a day goes by where I am not asked what seems to be one of the most seminal questions of our time: How should the church respond to our society’s tsunamic shift toward the celebration and acceptance of the broader LGBTQ agenda?
More directly, people want to know: Doesn’t John Wesley’s — and more importantly Christ’s — call for “love” require the Christian community to be more inclusive and conversational, rather than exclusive and confrontational as we engage our culture? As a long-standing and loyal member of John Wesley’s “Methodist” movement, I offer the following responses for consideration:
• Yes, Christians in the Wesleyan tradition elevate love as evidence of God’s grace in our lives. Loving God, our neighbor, and ourselves, however, demands we hate sin. Sin is anathema to love and love is anathema to sin. John Wesley taught over and over again that the walk of holiness: the obedient, “methodical” (thus, Methodist) path of sanctification, is one that condemns sin at every turn.
There is no place in Wesleyan and Methodist teaching — or Christian teaching at large — to have a “conversation” about sin. The message of holiness demands we confess it, not sit around and discuss it.
• John Wesley never watered down scriptural authority and certainly never questioned the Bible’s clear definition of right and wrong. “Oh, give me that book. At any price, give me the book of God. I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.”
• Wesley was very clear about what he called “singularity,” i.e. the exclusive and non-negotiable truths of the Gospel. In fact, he made it so clear that he said “singularity” was the difference between heaven and hell: “You must be singular or be damned. The way to hell has nothing singular in it. The way to heaven has singularity all over it. You must be singular or be damned.”
• Yes, Wesley did say, “In the essentials unity in all else charity ” and in doing so he clearly made the “essentials” the priority of the formula. In calling for “charity,” he never intended to diminish the First Thing: the mandate to be unified in love for the Word. In fact, Wesley repeatedly preached that anyone who denied “the essentials” was guilty of compromising the unity of the church and was, therefore, guilty of being “almost Christian.”
• The entire Wesleyan/Methodist movement was one where Wesley challenged the church’s acceptance of sin. Wesley was essentially saying, “You may have orthodoxy but you don’t have orthopraxy. You are not practicing what you preach.” Wesley was condemning the hypocrisy of separating belief from behavior. He was calling for obedience — methodical and disciplined holiness.
He confronted sin. He didn’t have a conversation about it and he certainly didn’t tolerate it. Wesley would be first to say that our sinful inclinations do not and should not define us. He would condemn the dumbing down of the human being to nothing but the sum total of what we are inclined to do; sexually or otherwise.

Wesley would shout from the pulpit: “Our identity is found in Christ, not in our proclivities and passions. Holiness, by definition, means that we rise above such inclinations in obedience to God rather than capitulating to one’s base appetites and instincts. You are the imago Dei, my land, not the imago dog! Now, by God’s grace, act like it!”
• The church only succeeds when we have courage. We must run into the storm and not away from it. We must wave the banner of the Truth of Christ and Truth of Scripture with the confidence that if we win — great, that’s God’s grace — but if we lose, it doesn’t matter because the battle is the Lord’s and we are willing to go down fighting.
How can we do anything less? Selling our soul for the sake of cultural approval dishonors our mission, our message, and our very reason to exist. If we become nothing but pale copies of the secular world, why in the world would anyone want to buy what we are selling?
Anything short of a unified stand for the essentials of our faith will doom any denomination or church or college to the ash heap of history. Compromise will be our demise and, consequently, we will be “thrown out and trampled underfoot” by a culture that laughs at our irrelevancy. We are supposed to preserve culture, not take part in its rot. We are supposed to shine a light on darkness, not have a conversation about it. We are supposed to confront sin, not capitulate to it.
May God help us if we have really come to the point where the church actually thinks our salvation comes from negotiating a compromise with a world that hates our Lord and His Gospel.
There is no “middle way” with Christ. He is the only way.
• Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is the author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).

January 29, 2018

A recent Reader's Digest has an article entitled "How Letting Go of Grudges Can Improve Your Health." It states that forgiveness is indeed divine, but not necessarily easy. It's also very beneficial to physical and mental health states the article. It quotes Frederic Luskin, Ph.D, author of Forgive for Good (HarperCollins, 2002) as saying "People who forgive show less depression, anger and stress and [show] more hopefulness."

That is one reason that Romans 12:14 admonishes: "Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them."

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) " Police say a 30-year grudge boiled over when a former elementary school teacher littered the driveways of former co-workers and bosses with roofing nails and splattered paint on their garage doors. Thomas R. Haberbush, 72, pleaded guilty last Tuesday to one count each of stalking, criminal mischief and criminal tampering, all misdemeanors. Police said that three former school board members, a retired principal and a retired assistant principal at Caroline Street Elementary School were among the nine victims Haberbush targeted over the past two years. Their car tires were damaged by roofing nails that Haberbush threw in the driveways, police said. "It’s very bizarre to carry around a grudge for nearly 30 years," said Saratoga Springs police investigator John Catone. "At least now there can be closure for all those people he terrorized." Police said Haberbush had been angered after receiving poor work reviews. Saratoga County assistant district attorney David Harper requested that Haberbush undergo a mental health evaluation as part of the plea agreement. He also will be barred from contacting the victims in the future.
-It’s like the old saying, “holding grudges is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

-Jesus says, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Will you be a grace-giver or a grudge-holder? That is the decision each of us must make. But for those who are followers of Christ, the choice is clear. There is no room in the heart of a Christian or within the fellowship of a church for holding grudges. The healthy thing to do AND the holy thing to do is to be a grace-giver.

Is there someone you need to forgive?

January 28, 2018

Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them." Romans 12:14

During the Korean war a certain military unit had hired a local boy to cook and clean for them. Being a bunch of jokesters, these guys soon took advantage of the boy’s seeming naiveté’.

· They'd put little water buckets over the door so he’d get soaked when he opened the door

· They’d smear Vaseline on the stove handles so that when he’d turn the stove on in the morning he’d get grease all over his fingers.

· They’d  even nail his shoes to the floor during the night.

Day after day the young Korean took the brunt of their practical jokes without saying anything. There was no blame, no self-pity, no temper tantrums.

Finally the men felt guilty about what they were doing, so they sat down with the boy and said, “Look, we know these pranks aren’t funny for you, and we’re sorry. We’re never going to take advantage of you again.” It seemed too good to be true to the houseboy.

“No more sticky on stove?” he asked.

“No more water on door.”


“No more nail shoes to floor?”

“Nope, never again.”

“Okay” the boy said with a smile, “no more spit in soup.”

We chuckle at this story but let me ask you a serious question, "When you get even with someone, do you actually get even? And does it make you feel better?"

I think you know the answer to that question.

In the Bible, who do you think felt better, Peter who cut off a young man's ear in a valiant but vain effort to protect Jesus. But which one of them felt better in the end, Peter or Jesus, Who touched the young Roman and reattached his severed ear?

If your purpose is to overcome evil with good, how can you justify hurting someone just because they have hurt you? When you respond to evil with more evil, you are overcome with the evil. That disobeys God's command.

What if the next time you are hurt by someone you overcome that pain by showing grace rather than getting even? What if you do what Jesus did - you take the pain and give them the gain? How would that change your relationships? How would that shape your world? What would that do for your heart? More importantly, you would show the love of God in a powerful way! You would be acting on faith not feelings.

Is it time for you to stop spitting in the soup?