Lakewood United Methodist Church (where we worship) has upgraded their web site. It really looks good.
One of the great new features is that you can submit prayer requests here. Offering to pray for others is a kind and effective thing to do. I have found that if you offer to have someone’s prayer concerns sent through a prayer ministry, they are often quite moved. I always ask permission first, but have never had anyone decline. You can follow up with them later to see how the prayers were answered, to see how you can help them and to perhaps engage in discussions about Jesus.
The prayer ministry at LUMC is expanding into many new areas, and I’m excited about it.
The United Methodist Church has a lot of good things going on in some areas, but overall membership has declined by over ONE MILLION since the 70’s. We are below eight million members for the first time since the 1930’s. It can be hard to decipher why membership figures go up or down. False religions can grow and sound churches can decline, and vice verse.But with the UMC I think the answer is pretty clear: Bad theology. We have lots of Pastors and Bishops who are false teachers and who deny the essentials of the faith (Jesus is God, Jesus is the only way, the Bible is authoritative and accurate, etc.). They are wolves in sheeps clothing who lied at their ordination vows or changed their minds later and don’t have enough integrity to quit. They act like angels of light who want to change things, but they are actually imposters who gained or kept their positions under false pretenses. They may attract a following for a time, but in the end the emptiness of their teaching will leave people unfulfilled. The liberal churches within the denomination have seen the most dramatic declines in membership.
Here’s a sample from a Minnesota newspaper article about a United Methodist Women’s group: “Meanwhile, the United Methodist Women’s Division is manning the barricades on other fronts. It has called on Staples, the office supply giant, to “permanently stock ‘processed chlorine free’ paper.” It has urged its members to “Save the Filibuster,” promoted eco-friendly ant control and sounded an alarm about the Patriot Act.”These groups ignore clear Biblical teachings then expend time and money advancing causes that have no scriptural basis. What is irritating about their approach is that they don’t think God speaks clearly in the Bible, but they claim to speak clearly for God in political matters like the U.S. budget and how I should nuke the fire ants (aka “fallen ants”) in my yard.
Those actions plus all the pro-gay stuff which violates the Book of Discipline are so far out that it is like a self-parody. I wonder what might happen if they tried sharing the true Gospel instead?
This reading is Jude.
Jude is only one page, but it covers a lot of topics. Sometimes a little background information or further study will be in order to be able to understand the references. We’ll cover it in two segments. It is another book worth reading twice. It comes just before Revelation at the back of the Bible.
It was written by Jude (surprise!), who is generally thought to be a half-brother of Jesus. He is modest in his introduction. He could have done the ultimate in name-dropping (“It’s me, Jesus’ brother!”)
The general theme of Jude is to avoid false teaching. He highlights past examples of false teaching and examples from his time then gives guidance on how to avoid it and achieve victory over it.
It is interesting that the church was only a few decades old and false teachers had already slipped in. Most of the New Testament letters correct false doctrine, and Jesus himself spent a lot of time pointing out the false teachings of the Pharisees. More verses on the importance of sound doctrine and rooting out false teachers can be found here.
Jude highlights the doom of people without Christ, and encourages believers to persevere in their faith.
We’ll go over some specific verses next time. In the mean time, be encouraged by verses 24-25:
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
The next reading is Jude (again).
I’m Batman. Sort of. A bat was hanging out by our side door last night and swooped on my hair as I opened the door. No bites, fortunately, just one of the fringe benefits of living in a heavily wooded area.
Good thing it didn’t happen to my wife, or I’d be packing up to move today.
Tennessee citizens will be able to purchase “Choose Life” license plates after all. The funds raised will help provide alternatives for women with crisis pregnancies.
The groups that fought this (primarily Planned Parenthood and the ACLU) and tried to appeal it to the Supreme Court have tipped their hands. They aren’t pro-choice, they are pro-abortion – and anti-free speech. Why are they so fearful that people might choose to give birth instead of having an abortion?
After all, the pro-abortion (Oops! I meant pro-choice) people just want abortions to be “safe, legal and rare,” right? A “Choose Life” license plate isn’t pushing to outlaw abortions, it is trying to make them rare. It is merely acknowledging that people have a choice and is encouraging people to choose in favor of allowing a human to live rather than paying someone to kill her. Isn’t that something everyone can agree on?
I saw this great metaphor over at Lone Star Times about how those who don’t believe the essentials of the Christian faith have taken over many churches and propped them up to suit their motives.
In the not-so-classic movie “Weekend at Bernie’s,” two friends prop up a dead guy to make him appear alive so they can throw parties at his house. In the same way, liberal theologians don’t believe in the essentials of the faith (Jesus is God, He is the only way to eternal life, the Bible is authoritative and accurate, etc.), so they think they have a dead church on their hands.
They prop it up, though, because they like the money, the influence, the buildings and the status that comes with their leadership roles. But they are really frauds. They either lied at their ordination vows or changed their minds later. Either way, if they were honest they would stop accepting payment from their members for teaching the opposite of the beliefs the church was founded upon.
Their teachings are like salt water, leaving you thinking that you are having your spiritual thirst quenched but all the while killing you.
For a better analysis, read this by Charles Spurgeon. He wrote it in 1870 but the message is still fresh and applicable.
This reading is Ruth 3-4.
My apologies for the delay in posting. I couldn’t access the Internet yesterday. I’m going to aim at posting 3 times per week – roughly Monday / Wednesday / Friday.
Today we wrap up Ruth. She appears to have given up on the prospect of marrying again until Boaz came on the scene.
When Ruth approaches Boaz in the middle of the night in chapter 3 verses 7-9, it seems rather odd. Some have questioned whether what she did was immoral. However, it appears to be a way of proposing to Boaz that he fulfill the role of “kinsman-redeemer.” This was a custom where relatives had the option to “redeem” widows and take care of them.
There was a closer kinsman-redeemer who had the first option to marry Ruth. He seemed interested in Ruth’s property until he found out that Ruth came with it.
The story has a truly happy ending when Ruth and Boaz marry. The local people laud Ruth by saying that as a daughter-in-law she is better than seven sons (a great compliment in that culture).
The book closes with a brief genealogy, noting that Ruth is King David’s great-grandmother. Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, descended from David. So this seemingly simple story shows how God used an unusual series of events to teach many lessons and to show how the union of Ruth and Boaz eventually led to the birth of the Messiah.
The next reading is Jude. It is only one page, but it has a lot of interesting messages. Take a few minutes to read it and then pat yourself on the back for reading a whole book of the Bible in one sitting!