Sunday, July 22, 2018

Even I haven't Called for Repentance

If you read this blog, you know that, more often than not, my posts end with the words, "We must repent."

With very few exceptions, I write to my brothers and sisters in the CGGC.

I am a member of a CGGC church. I love the CGGC body and I am very deeply emotionally involved in its life, even if the body itself has excluded me.

So, when I emphasize repentance in those CGGC posts, I always say "we," understanding that, as a part of the CGGC system, I myself must participate in the repentance that needs to happen.

I have never mustered the courage, or audacity, to hold myself apart from the others, as Jesus often did, and as prophets normally do, and command others, simply, "Repent."

Though I'm convinced that I am a prophet, I've never actually called for repentance. I've only announced the need for repentance.

Realizing that startled me.

.....................

Off the blog, my friends sometimes suggest to me what they think my topics should be or propose a theme they believe I should pursue.

And, it was in that connection, some time ago, that I realized that...

...as I reflect on the vision given to me and the Words I receive, that my calling seems to be connected, not to calling for repentance, as is standard among prophets...

...but on highlighting what comes BEFORE repentance. 

.....................

I'm certain that we, in the CGGC won't repent now. We can't repent now because our hearts are not able to produce repentance.

Our hearts are, well, Old Testament Hebrew would say, hard.

We're still, what? too content? too happy? too at ease with ourselves?

We say that we know that we are experiencing numerical decline and spiritual decay but we're still not broken.

We are still creating our own plans. We continue to develop programs. By our fruit, we declare ourselves capable of turning this mess around.

But,...

Jesus really did offer His invitation only to these people: "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened..."

His, "Sermon on the Mount" truly begins saying that the people who are blessed are those who are poor in spirit and who mourn and are meek and who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

As I say over and over again here, Paul announced a recipe for salvation that involves godly sorrow producing the sort of repentance that leads to salvation.

Paul instructs that we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

....................

The mix of my gifts makes me a prophet of...

...and I know that some of you hate when I make up fancy, hundred dollar words, and to you I apologize, but I can't get this word out of my mind...

Proto-repentance. Of what comes BEFORE repentance.

In the CGGC, we bounce back and forth from one failure to another and from disappointment to disappointment...

...unphased...

...with a Forest Gump belief that life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you are going to get.

And, we go on, always disappointed. Still reaching into the box, hoping that the next piece of chocolate will be sweet and tasty.

It never is.

It won't ever be.

We are unbroken...

...but, the Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Ps. 147:3 and a gazillion other Bible verses)

So, certainly. We must repent. But, we won't. Not as we are now.

We need to allow ourselves to become the people Jesus welcomes.

We need to admit, first of all to ourselves, that we are weary. We are over loaded.

We need to stop striving.

We need to come to Him.

We need to learn from Him.

He is gentle and humble. His yoke is easy. There is a burden with Him, but it is light.

What we need now is what comes BEFORE repentance.

The eNews 2019 General Conference Sessions Announcement

Today, I sent off a comment to the eNews in reply Lance's announcement of the theme for next year's General Conference gathering.

I read and reread what Lance wrote and, as I say in my comment, I think Lance's article contains an incredibly powerful insight.

And, I had a thought about it that felt prophety to me.

My comment has already been published.

If you haven't read Lance's latest, I hope you will.

I will, if God is willing, write up something similar, but more detailed, here. But, I'll leave the eNews comment to itself.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

One Week Until We meet the Heart Surgeon

I didn't think Evie would stay healthy enough long enough to get to the surgeon she wanted at the U of Penn.

But, it looks as if she's going to make it.

The appointment is one week from today.

She continues to get weaker. Her stamina decreases. On a normal day, she has energy until about 10 in the morning. Then she rests and moves in spurts.

Anyway, based on what we're hearing from others who've had heart surgery at Penn, it will probably be two to three weeks after the initial appointment that she has the surgery itself.

It's scary but her faith is strong and her attitude is good.

She genuinely covets everyone's prayers. Thanks to all of you who are praying.

The Proof that the CGGC's not Kingdom Concerned

I wish there was a better word than ecumenism...but, I guess that, in itself, is the point.

To be ecumenical is to be demominationally all-inclusive, to set aside theological concerns...

...to dilute passion for truth so that, primarily the hierarchs of, Christian denominational institutions can just all get along...

...and invest energy outside of their own churchly fiefdoms.

I want to say that the proof that the CGGC is not Kingdom focused is that we're not ecumenical.

But I can't because of what the word implies about the setting aside passion for truth.

....................

The fact is, though, that one reality that points to the fact that our leaders are CGGC-focused, CGGC obsessed even, and not Kingdom concerned is that, for them, everything is always all about the CGGC all the time.

....................

Years ago now, CGGC hierarchs renamed their Church Planting department, New Churches, primarily to divert energy away from our, mostly pathetically failed, church planting efforts...

...to attempt to convince viable churches to join us and to take, for themselves, the CGGC label...

...and (and let's be honest), of course, to pay a church tithe to our local and General Conferences.

Across the CGGC, it's always, these days, all about the CGGC and never about anyone or anything beyond us.

In the CGGC, anything that comes after that, comes waaaaaay after that.

But, if we cared about the Kingdom, that would not be even a little bit true.

In the CGGC, we, based on the fruit we produce, don't love the Kingdom.

When it comes to it, based on the fruit we produce, I'm not certain about our love for the King!

If we do APEST, according to the vision being cast for it among us, it will be so that, through APEST, we can strengthen CGGC churches and, later, at some future time, and in some undefined way, build the Kingdom.

Using APEST as an example, the proof that the CGGC is not Kingdom concerned is that, even in doing things that would naturally lead to Kingdom building, we think, first and foremost, not only church, but the CGGC church.

....................

What we do here, in our own gathering, is very far from perfect.

But, one way what we do here is right where the CGGC's wrong, is that we never, ever act in the interest of our own gathering. And, certainly, we never act specifically in the interest of the CGGC.

What we do is always and only Jesus focused.

And, that truth about us has been true about us for years.

I do wonder if that non-CGGC, Kingdom-focus at the root of the reason that the ERC expelled us?!?!?!!!

At any rate, we all know that the Lord of all authority and power and blessing isn't blessing the CGGC.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Sad Truth about the CGGC eNews Blog

I don't want to be in the position that I'm considered to be a fawning sycophantic follower of people of CGGC leadership.

Probably few people actually think that.

And, I doubt that Lance is embarrassed very often by my gushing devotion.

But, I have an observation to make that I think has some value.

Lance can only do so much and, after a certain point, the CGGC body has the responsibility to act.

Lance made the eNews a blog.

He, at least occasionally, uses the blog to bring important and relevant issues of truth before us.

And, the opportunity is present for the people of the CGGC to engage in discussion of truth with Lance, our Executive Director, and sometimes a member of his staff, on matters of the truth that binds us.

And, with almost no exceptions, the body lets him down.

Occasionally, some will tell Lance that he's written his article well.

But almost no one ever engages in conversation about truth in that most public of settings.

What a loss.

What a waste!

In our movement days, our people were bubbling over with enthusiasm about the truth that saves us and joins us together and the pages of The CHURCH ADVOCATE could barely contain it.

We are so dead. But, thanks for trying, Lance.

We must repent!

Lance and the Bureaucrats

I've written in the past about the problem that cynicism creates in the CGGC and, for me in my Conference, the ERC.

When leaders in Findlay, or Harrisburg, actually do attempt to make a difference for the future of our body, there are many who simply nod and roll their eyes and never, for a moment, consider following denominational leadership.

So, we never move forward.

We are in the midst of numerical decline and spiritual decay and the lesson of recent decades is that, even when the people at the top of the institutional hierarchy attempt change, too few follow.

....................

Here's what I've only recently begun to understand:

The cynicism that's killing us is not the one I normally describe, that of anti-conference pastors and congregations, or of the larger number of apathetic pastors and churches,...

...though their numbers are large, perhaps even a majority and they are a problem...just not THE problem.

No.

There's a small number of CGGC people who are still in touch with me an engage me in regular and serious dialog.

And, several of them are people of CGGC significance,...

...members of important Councils and Commissions.

Here's what I'm realizing, based on what I'm hearing about what goes on in those places:

It is in the CGGC bureaucracy, among the Councils and Commissions, where a cynicism powerful enough to kill us resides.

Please understand that I'm not suggesting that the people in conversation with me are cynical. They're open enough to listen to a voice as out of the norm as mine. They're minds and hearts are open, not closed, not cynical.

I admire Lance and Brandon for casting a vision for APEST-oriented, uh, leadership as the future of the CGGC.

And, I really don't know how the vision they're casting for APEST is being received among anti-conference pastors and churches. I have no data on that. Those people don't talk to me.

What I have heard from people who are involved in very important places in the CGGC bureaucracy is, well, silence.

It's as if the series of APEST articles in The CHURCH ADVOCATE and The CGGC eNews don't exist.

(I've been told that I'm among a small handful of people who read those things and, based on what I'm hearing about the response to the vision being cast by Lance and Brandon, I may be the only person who reads them.)

When I hear from people with seats in the important Councils and Commissions of the CGGC, I hear about attempts to tweak and refine traditions that have been in place for generations.

Here are two things I'm not picking up:

1. Concern for following the vision being cast by our body's leadership. And, it's not as if Lance and Brandon are being disagreed with. It's that they are being ignored. It's as if those two guys don't matter. It's as if they don't exist. Talk about cynicism!

2. References to any biblical truth. For years, since the days when I was on a Commission and was a regular invitee to participate in Task Forces and Symposia, there has always been one authority to which CGGC bureaucrats bowed. That authority is not the Word. That authority has been CGGC tradition. Never once, in my experience, has there been even a passing exchange over how Scripture informs what we do or might do, or not do.

.....................

Lance,

Brandon and you are up against it, as far as leading the body to embrace the APEST vision you are casting.

Your enemy is deeply-entrenched cynicism.

And, for now, forget the dozens upon dozens of anti-conference pastors and churches that we usually think of when we talk about a cynical opposition to CGGC leadership.

It's the bureaucrats who are your first problem.

From what I'm hearing, the people on the Commission and Councils, here in my ERC, have been newly restructured...

...but they are still trying to solve the problems of generations with the same mindset that failed to solve those problems generations ago...

...and AS IF YOU AND THE VISION YOU'RE CASTING DOESN'T EXIST!

....................

It's likely that Lance and the other people casting a vision for a new future for the CGGC think of me as an opponent.

But, in truth, it may be that I'm the best friend they have.

I listen to what they say and read what they write...and I care.

Based on the fruit being produced by the Councils and Commissions I know about, Lance, the vision you are casting doesn't matter and, for all practical purposes,...

...you are a non factor.

You don't, in any practical way, matter.

We are so broken.

Is it any wonder that the Lord of all authority and power and blessing isn't blessing us!?

We must repent.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Don't Let the Sound of Your own Wheels Drive You Crazy

Here's a micro update on Evie:

She continues to slowly decline. Her aortic valve is deteriorating but, thankfully, the heart itself is healthy and, so far, undamaged.

She has little strength and almost no stamina.

But, she's a person who naturally pushes herself as hard as she can.

So, I got to the place that everyday, when I'd leave for work, I'd give her a smooch and say, "I love you. Take it easy."

Then,...

...as I drove to the store, that song by The Eagles would go through my head.

I love The Eagles but this one's not my favorite song.

So, now, I give her the smooch, tell her I love her and say, "Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy."

The song still runs through my head.

And, I suspect that she's beginning to find it annoying.

I'm standin on a corner in Winslow, Arizona...