Sunday, July 31, 2011

Leaving or staying: In obedience to Jesus

The session of Fremont Presbyterian Church, of Sacramento, my church, has voted, unanimously, to leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Because of that I would like to clarify several things. There are several church meetings planned to discuss this. The congregation will still have to vote. I will uphold my church’s desire to leave the PCUSA, they are making their decision, after much prayer, on what they believe is the best way to obey Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church in the midst of a disobedient denomination. However, I will not leave with them.

I believe in this time of crisis, in the denomination, Christians are obligated to listen to the voice of the Lord; to obey him and follow him no matter what that may mean. The Session of Fremont has heard the Lord speak of faithfulness by way of leaving. I have not yet heard the Lord tell me to lay aside the writing and work I have been involved in for the sake of his purposes in the midst of our disobedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am, of course, extremely sad. But I will remain.

Having part of my Christian journey go through the Jesus movement; a time of great revival among the flower children of the sixties and seventies, I know what God can do in the lives of wayward, sinful people. That was a time when God literally reached into the drug culture, sexual revolution, false spirituality and set many young people free from their sinful life styles.

I know He can still do so. Perhaps it will be in the PCUSA, a denomination so given over to its own selfish need to walk with the society of the day that it is embracing the society’s base sexuality and its culture of death. Perhaps revival will happen in some obscure home Bible studies as it did in the sixties and seventies. But then again, perhaps God has chosen to let the PCUSA dwindle away and become some small heretical sect unnoticed by anyone except the Judge of the earth.

The fragmentation began in our Presbytery several years ago, with PUP. It will continue, here and many other places, until we listen to the Lord of the Church. But that listening will only happen when the Holy Spirit moves members to embrace the Lordship of Jesus Christ which means obedience to his word. It is a sorrowful time for me and many others. But we will wait on the Lord of the Church to do his work wherever and whenever that may be.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mary Holder Naegeli's new blog & her presentation before the GAPJC

Mary Holder Naegeli, a friend to so many, now has a blog. It is, “Bringing the Word to Life .” She, just yesterday, July 29, presented the complainant's side to the Parnell et al v. Presbytery of San Francisco case before General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.). You can read her presentation here Did God really say . . .?

It is absolutely complete in all that needs to be said. The authority of scripture is on the line. Pray for the GAPJC commissioners. Pray for all involved.

If you are uncertain of who Mary Holder Naegeli is read here, About Mary Naegeli.

In every book of the Bible

In every book of the Bible-Jesus our King!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A poem

How can I walk this line which is breaking up at every step?

How can I step from one fragmented piece to another,

And steadily make my way.

But then You are the way-not mine to keep

But yours.

The steadiness lies in you.

Perhaps I will arrive on some fragmented piece

And find it larger than the world

And folded into Your care.

A prayer for a friend

We uphold our friend in prayer-Father give her wisdom and strength

Add to her courage the power of your Holy Spirit as she speaks

Let her feel the strong might of your eternal love and know that you are aware of any weariness, any despair or even fear. Let her be fearless and faithful to no one but you.

Keep us in prayer until her work and ours is done.

Let us all bow before your sovereign will and be at peace with you.

Your will be done oh Jesus, Lord of your Church.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The 'not' so underground church in China

From The Wall Street Journal a news video about the rising underground church in China. Pray for sisters and brothers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why it is okay for Israel to be a Jewish State

And it was IPMN who helped me find the article:

I do have something good to write about the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and their Facebook page.  They linked to a very interesting article and that lead me to a very good article entitled, Can Israel Be A “Jewish State?”. The original article they linked to at The Counsel on Foreign Relations is Will The Arab League Pay For Palestine? by Elliott Abrams. Evidently the Palestine government is running out of money and it isn't the fault of the United States or Israel, but of the Arab League.

But the excellent article I want to point to is the first, Can Israel Be A “Jewish State?”. The author, also Elliott Abrams, lists all of the states that are religiously based including a few Christian ones. After writing about several Arab States that insist on Islam as their official religion Abrams also writes:
There are many similar examples. The religion of the state is Islam in Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait (where there are estimates that fifteen percent of the population is non-Muslim)—and one could lengthen the list. In Afghanistan, the constitution holds that “The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” and “No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.” The president must be a Muslim. The Saudis go one further, refusing even to have a constitution: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sovereign Arab Islamic state with Islam as its religion; God’s Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet, God’s prayers and peace be upon him, are its constitution….”
Abrams also points out that "The whole idea behind the partition of the Palestine Mandate in 1947 was, in the words of U.N. General Assembly resolution 181, the creation of an “Arab state” and a “Jewish state.” The Arab rejection of Israel as a Jewish state is in fact at the heart of the Middle East conflict.

Please read the whole article.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Is this anti-Semitic? Does it matter?

If you read this statement:
“Netanyahu, like most other Israeli leaders, is a pathological liar who lies as often as he breathes oxygen. He knows deep in his heart that what Israel has been doing and the way it has been behaving ever since its birth 63 years ago represents the ultimate contradiction to true Christian values, the values that Jesus preached and because of which he incurred the wrath of the Jewish establishment of his time.”

Along side this statement about the horrible terrorist attack in Norway:

“Who gains and loses from every terror incident must also be asked, certainly not suspects charged, convicted and imprisoned. Geopolitical interests are central. This time Western and Israeli ones are key.”

Plus this statement about the same attacks:

“I am not in a position at present to firmly point a finger at Israel, its agents, or its sayanim -- but assembling the information together, and considering all possibilities may suggest that Anders Behring Breivik might indeed, have been a Sabbath Goy.

Within its Judaic mundane-societal context, the Sabbath Goy is simply there to accomplish some minor tasks the Jews cannot undertake during the Sabbath. But within the Zion-ised reality we tragically enough live in, the Sabbath Goy kills for the Jewish state. He may even do it voluntarily."

And that author pointing to another author (at Veterans Today) who wrote:

"Israel has two difficulties with Norway that would be handled with a “false flag” terror attack. Certainly Anders Behring, the suspect in custody could easily be managed in a number of ways, led, perhaps assisted, augmented as it were. Any intelligence agency can do such things. One probably did. Israel’s difficulties are:

Norway’s national oil company has decided to boycott Israel because of the violence in Gaza. This is a huge issue with Israel, seen as a threat to their national security and is likely to draw a violent response. A car bomb near their oil company headquarters is very much a standard warning, “government to government” as it were. Adding the slaughter of children to it is a Mossad signature."
And if you knew that all of these quotes came from various articles on the same news and opinion site except the last one would you link to one of the articles as a reliable article?

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) did link to the one with that third quote. The article, Was the Massacre in Norway a reaction to BDS?, was written by Gilad Atzmon. And Atzmon placed the link to Veterans Today and its Senior Editor, Gordon Duff’s article, “Norway Notes – Updated: Breaking Story the second tragedy is the lies,” in his article. Atzmon is also on the staff of Veterans Today. That is where my last quote came from.

The rest of the articles came from MWC News: Media With Conscience. They use many of the same writers as Veterans Today the site that uses veteran’s news articles and helps as a front for its rabid anti-Semitism.

Now having read all of these articles and knowing that IPMN keeps linking to Veterans Today and other sites that use the same writers I have to say that I do not apologize for writing my last posting on IPMN entitled, An example of the German Christians of 1933 ..... although someone has suggested I should be defrocked (whatever that means for a ruling elder?).1 When members of IPMN keep up this kind of unfruitful contention I must repeat:

"The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PC(U.S.A.) is the American post-modern example of Germany’s 1933 German Christians. When I close my eyes and envision members I can’t help but see them in German Church attire giving the Hitler salute. I realize this is a very insulting thing to write but their lack of concern for who they link to on their Facebook page is either a case of extreme ignorance or absolute hatefulness."

And I have something more to say. To identify oneself or one’s organization as Christian and continue to uphold such awful propaganda about the Jewish people is to deny the Lord of the Church. Jesus reminded the woman at the well that “salvation is from the Jews.”

Many members of the IPMN, are, perhaps, unconsciously, some outright, holding a grudge and even hatred against the Jews. They will not be the people to help bring peace to the Middle East. They cannot, because they have lost the kind of perspective that is needed to bring the two sides together. They may speak to the church as their motto states, but the Church must stop listening to them. In humility, before Jesus Christ, we have sin to confess.

Hat tip to David Fischler at Reformed Pastor, Exploiting the Norwegian Tragedy
[1] Scroll down on the defrocked link.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Interweaving the Lord's Prayer with the reality of who we are:

Rod Swenson is a friend who went to my church several years ago. Since 1996, he and his wife have lived in China teaching children English. Rod is an artist and a poet. You might have seen Rod’s earlier paintings of Bob the dog. He still paints. In the past we saw and listened to each other at poetry readings in homes. Rod wrote this poem a long time ago intertwining the Lord’s Prayer and redemptive themes with all of the joys and sorrows of life. His boss Frank had just died.

I just recently had the chance to ask if I could post his poem. Rod was very gracious to allow me to publish it.

This is For Frank a Man of Few Words

By Rod Swenson

This is for the life everlasting and the word not spoken

This is for my father whose name was BUD

This is for the mystery of faith and the hand of GOD

This is for THOMAS who had to put his finger in the hole

This is for the body and blood of CHRIST the resurrection

       and the life

This is for the complicated heart of GOD and the nine volcanos

       of the Pacific rim

This is for the earthquake theory of time

This is for the tears on the face of love

This is for my bad record; sometimes it’s impossible to

       start again

This is for Frank two days into death and my father gone for

       sixteen years

This is for the tears you cried and a hand to hold

This is for the grace of GOD that takes away the sins of

       the world

This is for the list and the end of money

This is for FRANK and the LORD JESUS CHRIST

This is for the life of the body and the parting of ways

This is for the women who love us

Our FATHER who art in heaven

This is for FRANK

Hallowed be thy name

This is for the mind that multiplies difficulties and the

       spirit of truth that runs down the drain

Thy Kingdom come

        Put one hand over my eyes

        Take me by the hand

        I’m a man of unclean lips

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

This is for the man of sorrows, the more abundant life and

       the spirit of truth that enters by the smallest door

      and never returns empty handed

This is for the fingers that play and a heart to keep time

       Put your hand over my eyes

Give us this day our daily bread

This is for the face of love

       The tears you cried

       The hands that kneaded the bread

       The sweat

       The anxiety

       The miserable pain in your back

       The turning away and the patience to wait

This is for Mozart and the long highway home

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors

This is for the hand that opened the door

       The spirit that moved the hand

       The embrace that has no name

       The word not spoken

       Your finger that wrote in the dust

       The heart’s confusion and the hand of the living GOD

This is for the spirit of truth and the major and minor

       Diatonic scales

This is for John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk

This is for form

       Open our hearts

This is for the ones we won’t name

       One stiff leg

       And forty thousand bottles of beer

This is for the impossible understaking and the ones who made

       It work

This is for Vincent Van Gogh, Roberto Andreas and Paula Salemme

This is for the six-story drop and the hand of GOD

He would not suffer a bone to be broken

This is for the terror and the long years of silence

      The doors we closed and the ones we left behind

      The willingness to try and the mangos of summer

Have mercy on thy people LORD

This is for the new Jerusalem and the long trumpet lines

       Of Miles Davis

This is for the body and blood of CHRIST that takes away

       The sins of the world

This is for the willingness to suffer

This is for the oil of joy

This is for the terrible confusion of the moment

      and the end of money

This is for Danny Kalb and Albert and Great America

       Not the amusement park but the continent that divides us

This is for the distance between us

This is for the voice

      The present moment

      The grey light of dawn

       Rain in a drought year

       and the everlasting life

This is for the end of hope and the grace of GOD

Our Father who art in heaven

This is for someone moving in the kitchen

This is for Frank eighty years old and two days dead

This is for the need to fix things that can never be fixed

      The thin whistle of fear

      The shallow persistent cough

      The pneumonia, the ventilator

      The huge plastic tube

      The aluminum wings

      The metal detector

      The engine roar

      The musak

      and the iron cold of winter

This is for the end of life

      The mine

      The test hole

       The string that broke

       The year it all went bad

       The tobacco cigarette and the dog you threw in the hole

This is for the American economy and the arms race

       The B2 bomber and the trident submarine

This is for the walls between us and the hand that knocks on

      the door

This is for the time left and the angry money of a place to go

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil

For THINE is the kingdom

      and the power

     and the glory forever.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A friend now with the Lord

A friend, to me and many others, Robert Campbell, Pastor of Tully Memorial Presbyterian Church, went to be with the Lord on July 9, 2011. He was someone who often visited my blog and added important information with all of the words he wrote. He was a friend indeed. Here is his obituary: Robert Campbell and here is his blog if anyone wants to read some of his posts, pastor bob's musings

Last night I discovered that he had died when I saw that someone was looking for his obituary on my feed. I was in such shock that I did not add much to my posting. I want to add a little more this morning.

I first met Bob writing comments on another pastor’s blog. Several years ago he sent me his e-mail through a friend asking to correspond. He was just troubled by what was happening in the church and wanted to talk about the problems we were facing. Bob was concerned because other evangelicals were leaving and he believed we would lose a lot because of that. He was of course right about that, but as usual he was not angry at the evangelicals just sad.

Above all he was a kind person. When comments on my blog were particularly harsh and painful to me and toward me, he sent me an e-mail and pointed me toward a video he had just posted. I will post it at the end of this-because it is so typical of “Pastor Bob.”

One thing I could count on, when I posted about anti-Semitism, Bob was always right there with me standing against its ugliness in the church.

Here is the video- on his posting "Some Thoughts on Disagreement."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An example of the German Christians of 1933 .....

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PC(U.S.A.) is the American post-modern example of Germany’s 1933 German Christians. When I close my eyes and envision  members I can’t help but see them in German Church attire giving the Hitler salute. I realize this is a very insulting thing to write but their lack of concern for who they link to on their Facebook page is either a case of extreme ignorance or absolute hatefulness.

Their aim at Jewish groups in the United States has all of the ear-marks of twentieth century anti-Semitism from Henry Ford and his articles on the International Jew, (In which he accused the Jewish people of influencing the media of the United States) to the Brown Shirts of Germany, who accused the Jews of troubling the whole world). German Christians did not care who they befriended as long as their own particular prejudices were upheld; neither does the IPMN.

Just this evening, July 18, 2011, they have linked to an article on the site, Intifada Voice of Palestine. The article they have linked to is Declassified: Massive Israeli Manipulation of US Media Exposed[VIDEO] The article is mostly a video of Grant F. Smith whose books and web site are a constant volley against Jewish organizations in the United States.

Above the article link IPMN quotes Smith:
"Files declassified in America have revealed covert public relations and lobbying activities of Israel in the U.S. The National Archive made the documents public following a Senate investigation."
The information in the video lacks any real reference points- including names. But the important thing I want to point out is that once again, Carol Hylkema, Jeffrey DeYoe, Walt Davis, Noushin Framke and all the other leadership of IPMN have linked to a site that is connected to the anti-Semitic site Veterans Today. In fact almost all of the writers who write for Intifada Voice of Palestine write for Veterans Today. (And this is not the first time that they have linked to either site.)

Along side the video by Smith is an article with video by the editor of Veterans Today, Gordon Duff. He is, as usual, insisting that Israel along side the United States government were the instigators of the 9-11 disaster. Why don’t we care about what this small group of people are doing?

As I have repeatedly pointed out Veterans Today even carries articles insisting that Jewish Rabbis in American should be hung. And there is this statement in an article by Bob Johnson:
This could be to the general enlightening of people on the cruel practice of kosher slaughter and of the kosher scam overall. It also reveals the sense of Jewish superiority which has Biblical roots in Deuteronomy 7:6 which puts these words in God’s mouth regarding the ancient Hebrews/Jews: “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” Who would ever want to do business with people who believed things like that about themselves?
God’s justice in the Bible is linked with telling the truth. In fact, it is about truth. Those who use other’s lies are not doing justice, they are hurting justice and they will not bring peace to the Middle East.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The "new thing," God is doing: what is it?

Too often in discussions and statements about the ordination of LGBT people, the idea that God ‘is’ doing something new is suggested. The idea is that such ordination is God’s new thing. This also is used when someone is speaking about the marriage of same gender couples.

Recently Michael Adee of More Light Presbyterians gave an interview to the Bay Area Reporter. The article, New policy puts Presbyterians on path to equality, written by Chuck Colbert, included two troubling statements by Adee. One is his statement that "What the Presbyterian Church is saying with the policy change now in effect," … "is that LGBT people are morally and spiritually equal to heterosexuals. We are not better or worse – just the same."

Adee’s other statement is, “As the prophet Isaiah has said, 'God is doing a new thing in our midst' and these LGBT leaders will be a blessing to our church and world."

First, the truth is that both heterosexuals and homosexuals are sinners; they certainly are the same in their need for forgiveness, reconciliation with God and transformation. And only the redemption bought on the cross by Jesus makes a difference. But salvation is a gift that includes the desire to repent. As the author of 1 John states:

This is the message we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is Light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as he Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)

Further into the text, John reminds his readers that if they sin they have an “Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The difference between is repentance, forgiveness and transformation. Sinners, all of us, greedy, idolaters, gossips, homosexuals and thieves, fornicators and adulterers, drunkards and swindlers—the list goes on—are changed into new creations at the foot of the cross. The sinners, who are the same, are made children of God in Jesus Christ.

Paul includes them, the redeemed sinners, using a trinitarian formula, in his first letter to the Corinthians:

Such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:11)

The redemption of Jesus Christ leads to the other problematic statement used by Adee and others, that God is doing a new thing. In this particular case Adee has referenced it to Isaiah.

Of the three passages in Isaiah that speak of a new thing, two, 42:9 & 48:6, refer to God’s ability to speak words about the future that are known only to him. He knows what no other so called gods know. His words are the true words.

Isaiah 43:16 also speaks of something new, “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the deserts.” This is God’s promise of a new deliverance from captivity. This is deliverance from a captivity that was caused by the sin of the people, the Babylonian captivity of Israel. It is different than their deliverance from the Egypt. But God’s newness extends to a greater deliverance which still holds promise of redemption from a captivity caused by sin.

The wording “new thing” is full of meaning and promise when connected to the central idea of “the Servant of the Lord,” found in chapters 38 through 55.
J. Alec Motyer, in his Tyndale commentary, focuses on the term, “the Servant of the Lord” in these chapters. He explains that Israel or a remnant of Israel as the servant is an incomplete image of the Servant of the Lord. He writes:
If we …insist in understanding the Songs [Servant Songs of Isaiah] within an integrated development, the Servant is distinguished in turn from the errant and spiritually numb nation (42:18-25) and from the spiritually committed and expected remnant (51:1-52:120, leaving a majestic individual to occupy our gaze (52:13) as he dies bearing the sins of others (53:4-9) and lives to administer the salvation he has won for them (53:10-12.)
Motyer later connects the work of the Servant of the Lord with the new thing, “In the sequence of Isaiah’s thought from 41:1 onwards, the former things are the events linked with the irresistible conqueror [Cyprus stirred by the Lord to conqueror](41:1-4, 24-27) and the new things are the now-foretold work of the Servant [the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ](42:1-4).”

So all that is pronounced new in Isaiah belongs to, rests on and is, Jesus Christ, the promised redeemer. The new thing that God has done and will do is exalt his eternal Son Jesus Christ, who redeems his people from their sin.

Surely our griefs he himself bore, and our sorrows he carried; yet we ourselves esteemed him stricken of God, and afflicted. But he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell on upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord caused the iniquities of us al to fall on him. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Friday, July 15, 2011

In California honoring sinful behavior is now mandated in text books

“The Church confesses that … She has found no strong and effective answer to the contempt for chastity and to the proclamation of sexual libertinism. … She has failed to proclaim with sufficient emphasis that our bodies belong to the Body of Christ.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed into law today, July 14, a bill requiring that the contributions of LGBT people be added to text books in California. CNN’s news article, “California governor signs bill requiring schools to teach gay history,” starts:
“Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday he had signed a bill that will require public schools in the state to teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americas.

The bill, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, will also require teachers to provide instruction on the role of people with disabilities.
I had already written on this before Brown signed the bill. School curriculum in California: honoring sexual orientation! There isn’t much more to say. I stated in that posting that legislators are trying to “make the point that people who are gay or lesbian are capable of doing great and good things.” And I also stated that “of course they are. We all, sinners everyone, are capable of doing great and good things.

But should we be honored in a child’s school textbook because we are sinners or because we have contributed some good to society?”

Our nation is desperately in need of prayer as is the PCUSA. All of us are in need of prayer. The video I am posting I mean for all the orthodox in the PCUSA who are feeling humbled before their circumstances:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The third Durban Conference on racism-anti-Semitic?

In the past I have written about two United Nations’ Durban conferences on racism and their anti-Semitic agenda.[1] Now a third conference is occurring in September in New York. A friend sent me a link to an excellent video about the coming conference. Please watch. It is short, for this you do not need a cup of coffee unless you want one.

One posting is A debate about the Holocaust by a UN sponsored Conference another is UPDATE on the Durban Review Conference. The United States won't be there! The very first posting was my introduction- so very long ago- to Belhar- A Badly Flawed Document For Study

Monday, July 11, 2011

A warning of things to come, but a promise

In May of this year, 2011, I wrote a posting entitled, “Sacramento Presbytery, Synod of the Pacific and trust-Update.” It was about an attempt by the Evangelicals in Sacramento Presbytery, via a motion, to give Roseville Presbyterian Church and Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church back the money the Synod of the Pacific had extracted from them for their property. In that posting I included a letter sent to the Presbytery by the Synod in an attempt to influence the Presbytery’s vote.

They did influence it. The letter, as I pointed out, had several errors in it, and yes some of it was a lie. During the debate about whether it could be read or not, (There was to be no debate after it was read),one of my friends stated that it was in error and a lie.

I learned Sunday morning that a complaint had been filed against him with the statement that he was not furthering the peace, unity and purity of the Church. The investigative committee has acquitted him, but the fact that an honest statement cannot be made on the floor of the Presbytery without such a complaint being filed is troubling. If one reads the posting I originally wrote it is certain that the letter was not truthful. And to allow untruth to be used against honest debate about a matter as important as Christian reconciliation between brothers and sisters is appalling.

This is all deeply troubling because when one mixes antinomian teaching (some sins are okay) with bureaucratic mismanagement (for instance the Synod’s letter) the mix is lethal. What I mean by that is that now, since it is supposedly okay to ordain those involved in unrepentant same gender sex, unrepentant sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage and unrepentant adultery, a different slant on morality may engulf much of our leadership.

Given that many in leadership are involved in the push to lower ordination standards their moral sensibilities on sexuality will spill over into other areas of ethics. If morality is based on what is now called new light, or the new thing the Spirit is doing, rather than what the Church universal has upheld for almost two thousand years, it will certainly affect the whole of ethics. The idea of ‘new light’ means not just new interpretation, but rather an understanding that the Holy Spirit is re-interpreting; so even spirituality gets into the mix of new ethical thinking.

But it is a spirit that is totally immanent; wedded to human experience, in fact, guided by human experience. Looking at a new liturgy offered by More Light Presbyterians celebrating the elimination of the fidelity and chastity clause in the Presbyterian Book of Order one sees the problem. One line in “Liturgy for 10-A Celebrations on July 10, 2011” is “We support each person’s journey of integrating spirituality and sexuality which leads to wholeness.”[1] The mix is deadly.

So several shifts are occurring: Not only can we look back to the pagan proclivity in parts of our denomination to do away with unwanted children but now the general push toward accepting sexual deviancy is affecting all else causing further sins of greed, manipulation and lies.

Deviant sexuality and the sacrifice of children for the good of society are pagan values and just as they brought God’s judgment on ancient Israel, so they will bring God’s judgment on a denomination. (Rev 2:20-23).

The answer for the orthodox, whether leaving or staying, is to guard our own hearts while submitting to the Lord of the Church. We may move from the denomination but we cannot remove ourselves from the culture which is both shaping and killing the denomination. Jesus told the orthodox of Thyatira to “hold fast” until he comes. And that admonition is for all the faithful through all time. As Leon Morris notes holding fast means, “take a firm grip on” … “the sum total of Christian doctrine, and hope and privilege.” That privilege is the promise of the gift of the bright morning star. Jesus is that star.

1. The same line is in a confession of sin at The institute for Welcoming Resources. In that particular resource is the line, “We insist that our way and view are the only ones. At our best, we remember: There are many paths to the sacred. The spiritual paths of GLBT persons are among them.”

Friday, July 8, 2011

Celebrating without the cross

What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds? When he finds it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance (Luke 15: 4-7).

When she [the woman who lost a coin] has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15: 9-10).

Trice Gibbons, co-moderator of More Light Presbyterians, is quoted in an article, ‘Presbyterians celebrate landmark day,” stating of the July 10th possibility[1] that LGBTQ persons can be ordained, "As a seminarian, I feel like the angels are celebrating!" She has also stated, according to the news release, “We now have a policy that helps us to love God who is the author and creator of all of us--including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." All kinds of aberrant theology is being used with these two statements. But more importantly the wondrous work of salvation offered by the Lord of the church is being misapplied.

There are at least four errors:

1. God & angels rejoice over repentant sinners, not over those who refuse to repent.
2. We love God by obeying his word not by policy making that is unbiblical.
3. God’s creation was created good but because of the fall of humanity we are all born with a sin nature. One of the symptoms of our sin nature is deviant sexuality.
4. While God is the creator of all, the fallen need reconciliation to their creator, that is why Christ befriended sinners. Like the good shepherd he seeks the lost bringing them home on his shoulders.
Jesus welcomed and ate with sinners. He did that because he wishes to bring the sinner home, not because he wishes to bless their sin. On the cross Jesus Christ carried all of us with our sin on his shoulders. He suffered and died for the sinner. With Bonhoeffer we must say over and over this is not cheap grace. Instead it is the one who is both God and human on the cross dying in agony, for us. This is such a wonder that Peter wrote that the angels long to look into the wonder. (1 Peter 1:12)

In view of the suffering, death and redemption of Jesus we are called out of our sin into a righteousness that belongs to Jesus. Once again Peter explains:

… and he himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (2: 24-25)

In what is referred to as the lost parables of Luke, (that is they are about the lost) the wandering sheep and the lost coin and the wayward son are likened to those who because of their repentance are celebrated in heaven. But one important point should be noted. It is after or as they are found by God that they repent. Those two things, being found and repenting go together, they cannot be separated. As we are picked up, welcomed, put on the shoulders of God and carried home, we repent.

If we refuse to repent or acknowledge our sin there is a big question mark hanging over us. (1 John 1:5-9)And heaven is not rejoicing nor should the Church of Christ. A celebration without the saving, transforming resurrection power of Jesus Christ is not a celebration, it is instead a travesty. It is a failure to understand both the word of God and the saving work of Jesus Christ. It is a mockery of the cross of Jesus.

[1] It is yet to be seen if this truly allows for the ordination of unrepentant sinners, after all neither the Bible or the Book of Confessions allows for such ordination.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

School curriculum in California: honoring sexual orientation!

I kept trying to write this article in a funny way. As though it could be comical? That way no one would think I was a bigot. But it just isn’t funny. It is sad.

Today a bill was passed in California, SB48, “that would make the state the first requiring public schools to include the contributions of gays and lesbians in social studies curriculum.” Judy Lin of the Associated Press in an article, “Landmark gay history bill goes to Calif. Governor,” wrote, “SB48 would require, as soon as the 2013-2014 school year, the California Board of Education and local school districts to adopt textbooks and other teaching materials that cover the contributions and roles of sexual minorities.”

It is important to point out that I have no objection to having children reading about contributions that “sexual minorities” have made when they are seen as individuals and not as a sexual minority meaning LGBTQ people. But as a Christian, when I read that my government intends to lift up sexual sin as something worth emulating I am very troubled. And who will stand for righteousness as a model to my state? Not my denomination the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

If Jerry Brown, the Governor, signs this bill, children in my state will be led to believe that Friedrich von Steuben is great because he was gay rather than because he was one of “George Washington's military advisers.” Or that “Von Steuben” who “is credited with being one of the fathers of the Continental Army and teaching essential military drills,” is important because of his sexual orientation.

Of course that is not what legislators are trying to do; they wish to make the point that people who are gay or lesbian are capable of doing great and good things. Of course they are. We all, sinners everyone, are capable of doing great and good things.

But should we be honored in a child’s school textbook because we are sinners or because we have contributed some good to society?

But then that is the problem. Our morals have changed. Our society’s and our denomination’s morals have changed. And we Christians and in particular we mainline Christians, have a hard road ahead. And when morality gets twisted around strange things happen. We can argue forever that sexual orientation is not the same as race or gender but the world will not hear and neither will our denominational leadership.

However, the Lord of the Church is not absent from our dilemma, he has been aware of the future from eternity. He calls his people to faith, prayer, compassion and hope in him. He also calls his church, the people within a denomination who submit to his Lordship, to be a place of safety, a place of help and hope.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.(1 Cor. 1:3-5)”

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Meanderings about home on the fourth of July

America is full of personal stories of journeys toward the place where we feel safe or at home. None of the stories are without hardship. None of the stories exist in an Edenic setting where we fail to touch others with our own evil or they touch us with theirs. My childhood was partly spent traveling between Missouri and California as my mother and father sought for their own personal place-a place they never found.

In the end what they really wanted, in their dreams, was to live in the Ozarks and spend their time fishing and reading Zane Grey westerns. They would have surrounded themselves with family and friends, with stories and jokes, with dancing and hand holding. But it was not to be.

My littlest sister, Elizabeth, who said goodbye to one parent when she was nine and to the other when she was eleven, wrote a poem about her loss, “Trying to Remember.” I love the last verse because it speaks to a whole line of people who were always facing the West with wind in their faces and hope in their heart and mind.

We take what we can—a bright shell
Filled with sand, a witness to tell
our children’s children of bone knit
within a landscape of parched men
and flowered women bending into a wind
made, in the dusk, by your spreading spirit.

But back to home and the way to Eden. There is no return but something better—a place, forever with the eternal God who because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ nestles us into an eternal home and an eternal peace. Funny we dance our ways through the byways of too many worldly disappointments seeking such a place. And in the end if we receive the King of the universe, we find, as C.S. Lewis said, “many pleasant inns” here, and a home overflowing with the love of our Lord.

I started writing this with the intention of honoring Americans who in one way or another have helped to hand down a nation which so far has given the world a picture of what freedom means. And as I said at the beginning, there is never a perfect journey, not even that of a nation. And prayer must be made that her journey will turn neither ugly or sordid.

So in an attempt to cover all of my meandering, a song and video put together by Beanscot.