Saturday, April 29, 2017

My Prayer for ERC Sessions

For those of you who don't read the ERC "Newsletter," the staff of the ERC has been publishing prayer requests for next week's Conference sessions.

One of them asks for "Encouraging and Uplifting Fellowship among Brothers & Sisters."

Because I'm connected to reality, and the fact that 80% of CGGC churches are stagnating or declining and that the ERC always sets the denominational trends, when I pray for the sessions, I pray for an Act 2:36 and an Acts 2:37 moment.

I pray that someone will confront the Conference with the truth about the things they have done--over the course of generations.

And, that people in the crowd will be cut to the heart and say, "What shall we do?"

I got in big trouble several years ago when I began to call ERC Conference sessions the "Yay God" sessions.

But, that is what they have been for the past 25 years.

Yet, the Lord of all power and grace and mercy and authority and love and blessing is not blessing the ERC.

We should face reality. We should be grieving.

As Paul says, "Godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation..."

We need godly sorrow.

We must repent.

Friday, April 28, 2017

I'm Being Encouraged to Sue the Conference

Blog Readers,

Below is the concluding passage of a very detailed email that I received some time ago from a member of the ERC Eldership who knows more than I know about the events which resulted in the deliberations of the ERC on the status of my credentials.

As you can see, my friend, who loves the Conference and has served it for years, is not only encouraging me to take the issue to court but is also willing to assist me in locating an attorney who will handle my case.

Before you consider a knee-jerk reaction, understand that my friend is a person of the Word who is also well-acquainted with what took place.

Last April, after the issue was addressed at Conference, several ERC pastors wrote to me, two of them wrote on this blog assuring me that reconciliation is still possible between the Conference and me.  At the time, I expressed an interest.

I'm still open to that possibility.

I understand that I still have time to decide whether or not to take my friend's advice before I act on the legalities at hand.

At this point, I will accept any assistance in making reconciliation a reality.

However, based on what I'm hearing, attempts to initiate reconciliation, to this point, have been rebuffed by Conference authorities.

(Please excuse any problems with the formatting of the excerpt of the letter.)

bill

---------------

My thoughts: Put all your e-mails from the conference together with yours
and get a lawyer to file (a)...suit for lost wages, etc., etc., etc., etc.

I do know a lawyer...who gave...very good advice to.... I could ask her who she knows that would be the right lawyer for the job
of suing the Conference.

I know, for all the years we both have worked for the conference that we
have loved, at least in the past, that is not what you want to do, but I feel you have every right to do it.

Please stay in touch!!!!!!

My best to Evelyn and the people of Faith Community, you all are in my prayers.

Let me know if you want me to talk with the lawyer we know??

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Term SHEPHERD MAFIA as a Prediction of the CGGC Future

I remember where I was and what I was doing when I first thought the words, Shepherd Mafia.

I don't remember how long ago it was. It was years ago. I'm certain that it was before Evie's battle with cancer, which was in 2010.

I mentioned it on the podcast I was doing at the time with Brian Miller, Lance Finley and Fran Leeman but I don't remember the dates we did the podcast. It was during the time we were doing the podcast that the term came to me.

I used it a number of times on the Emerging Church blog and got some negative reaction.

I explained it to Evie and my friend Jerry and both of them advised me not to use it.

And, as time passes, I do use it less and less, not because those people have advised me not to use it, but because using the term doesn't come up as often and, more importantly, as prophetic messages sometimes require, it has lost some of its shock value.

If you doubt that God's prophets shock, following the command of the Lord, read Isaiah 20!

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But, in the wake of my defrocking and of the ERC Administrative Council's recent decision to remove Faith as a member congregation of the ERC:

Think about how accurately the term Shepherd Mafia describes the behavior of the mountaintoppers of the ERC. 

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They whacked me.

And, not being satisfied with their action against me personally, they have now whacked the whole community at Faith.

---------------

I'll repeat what I've noted in the past.

When the Ad Council started this in 2015, I wrote to Kevin Richardson and asked him specifically, what the cause was for the recommendation of the Standing Committee and the action of the Administrative Council. He said that there was no actual cause mentioned. (He did note some things discussed by the Standing Committee--concerns, by the way, the Committee never addressed with me face to face, or in any other way.)

But, as a mafia would, the action of the mountaintoppers was based on what they wanted to do, not on any actual reason beyond their own wishes.

I'll mention, again, that I've talked to several people who witnessed the ERC deliberations which resulted in my defrocking. I've asked each what sin I was convicted of.

None of them knew.

---------------

This morning, I read the letter from, as it turns out, Kevin E. Richardson, D. Min., informing "the Faith Community Church of God" of the decision of the Administrative Council to remove Faith from membership in the Conference.

According to Dr. Richardson, nothing Faith did, and even nothing I did, contributed to the action.

According to Kevin, everything that contributed to the decision came from the Standing Committee, the Administrative Council, and the Conference in session, based on the recommendation of the Commission on Church Renewal.

Another whack job from the Shepherd Mafia.

---------------

And, I've pointed out, Faith and I believe and proclaim and practice the church's doctrine and mission.

We were--I, at least, still am--pleased to be a part of the CGGC.

---------------

In the days when I first used the term Shepherd Mafia, I ignored advice from people I love and respect to stop using it because I believed it came from the Lord.

He, alone, knew this future behavior by the mountaintoppers of the ERC.

---------------

The Lord of all power and grace and mercy and authority and love and blessing is not blessing the CGGC.

We must repent.

My Birthday, My Dad and other Personal Thoughts

Saturday was my 63rd birthday.

I'm not bothered by getting old.

In fact, as I've said before here, I shaved my head seven years ago, when Evie shaved hers in anticipation of losing it during chemo, and I've been content to keep it shaved, even though it makes me look older than I am.

It was my habit to let it grow out for about three weeks, before, during and after a vacation to look for bald spots and check out how much gray was, or wasn't, there but, the last time I did that, there was more gray on my right temple than I wanted to see, so I didn't do it during the last vacation. It wasn't very gray, but it was gray enough.

Maybe I am vain after all.

---------------

Anyway, it was a nice birthday.

The sense of camaraderie among the kids and geezers I work with so far exceeds any, uh, fellowship I've experienced in what has become of the church that I was reminded, again, that I'm glad not to be supportive of institutionalized, and I'm convinced now more than ever, false, Christianity.

A sweet, young coworker made fudge for the Front End gang in honor of my birthday and, so, all of the Front End celebrated with me.

I worked five hours and it was the one Saturday in the month that I wasn't a manager. It was a nice work day.

The rest of the day was devoted to normal birthday activities for a geezer with no kids.

It was as nice a birthday as I've had in a while.

---------------

Up to this year, on my birthday, I've paused to notice, and to give thanks for, the fact that I'm this age and still have both of my parents. And, I do that again this year but the character of that thought and praise is different.

We visited mom and dad the other day and, for the first time, dad looked and sounded to me like a frail old man.

Dad seems to be declining more rapidly these days.

His retreat into dementia has come in stages where he declines rapidly and, then, plateaus.

He has vascular dementia, as a result of a number of minor strokes, and I wonder if that has happened again.

His physical balance is much more tenuous and his memory is much worse.

I'd say that he's like a two year old boy with no memory.

This is especially difficult for mom, but it's hard on all of us.

---------------

I'm still trying to understand what the ERC is up to in expelling Faith from the Conference.

I've pointed out that, at Faith, we embrace the teachings of the church without reservation. We also make the CGGC Mission Statement core to the way we function as a body because we both believe it and we believe in it.

And, while my knowledge of Conference and General Conference history has its limitations, I don't know of one other case in which a congregation that embraces church teaching, and is satisfied with being a part of the Churches of God, has been removed from the denomination.

As I study Jesus and devote my life to serving Him, I see Him saying that, while a person is saved by believing, ultimately, it is the action your faith produces that reveals who and what you are--and, how you will spend eternity.

I wish I understood what this action of the ERC reveals about who and what it is.

All of that notwithstanding, though I love the Church of God, I am feeling a sense of relief and freedom. I'm not feeling loss.

I continue to believe that I am gifted to be a prophet and that I am called to speak God's Word to the CGGC.

The freedom is from accountability to artificial, humanly constructed, institutional authority.

---------------

The only body in the CGGC with which we are still affiliated and which has not jettisoned us, and by its own initiative, is the Enola Church of God, where we are members.

We still have friends there. And, to remove me from membership would also impact Evie directly. I don't think the congregation will remove us from the membership role...

...but, I've been surprised before.

---------------

Anyway...

...I am a person of the Kingdom and, at the moment, I enjoy the freedom of feeling accountable only to the Lord and the people of Faith for what we do here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gathering: 4-23-17. This was One for the History Books

We met in our home today, something I realized doesn't happen enough. The experience was sweet.

The gathering was truly historic. It was our first since the ERC, CGGC separated us from it--since it expelled us!

Give some thought to how extraordinary that act of the ERC is:

The Conference initiated this expulsion. We were willing to maintain our membership in the Conference. We proudly and fully, and without any reservation or exception, support and proclaim the doctrines of the Churches of God, General Conference and we not only agree with the CGGC Mission Statement, we intentionally practice it!

Yet, we were expelled.

You might wonder how it felt for us to gather in the Name of Jesus having been so completely rejected.

It didn't come up.

I'll admit to thinking about it beforehand and afterward but Drew wasn't there and Evie didn't say anything about it and it didn't seem to be on her mind.

And, as far as I know, only Drew and his wife and Evie and me even know about the actions of the ERC against our gathering.

For some peripherally connected to Faith, being in the Churches of God matters but most of us either don't understand or care about denominational affiliation.

We don't take an offering, so the issue of the Conference tithe is irrelevant.

My guess is that many of our people will never know how profoundly and historically we have been cast aside.

When exactly was the last time a congregation which teaches and practices church doctrine was removed from the Conference? I don't know that it has ever happened.

Interestingly, without my guidance, today's Word time focused on teachings of Jesus on the Kingdom of Heaven, not on church or denominational concerns.

And, we were fine.

---------------

The saying goes that ignorance is bliss and it must be.

Today's gathering was blissful.

Even the sometimes cranky among us were in a pleasant place.

The time in the Word was glorious. It led into the taking of the Bread and Cup which was a call to embrace the Kingdom of God with our whole heart.

This was one of the most upbeat and edifying of all of our gatherings.

The meal was the bomb!

And, as we have done recently, after the meal, we sat down together to a relaxed chat about the week ahead and future gatherings.

THIS WAS A WONDERFUL DAY.

I feel spurred on to love and good works, as we are instructed to be by the Word.

God is good. His blessings endure.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Compartmentalizing the Gospel

Back in the day when I beginning to take to heart my faith tradition's mandate to establish churches on, in its historic language, "the New Testament plan," and to submit to the teachings of the Bible as my "only rule of faith and practice," I studied the way so-called preaching was done when the earliest disciples came together.

For a brief time, I engaged in what I called "interactive sermons," in which I encouraged people of the congregation to participate in my message.

In one of those interactive sermons, I mentioned that there is a place in the letters of Paul that Paul states the content of the gospel he preached.

I asked the people to call out beliefs that Paul said he proclaimed as the gospel. I gave the hint that, in my way of counting, there are five items of belief.

As I recall, there were more than 20 Christian beliefs called out, all, in my opinion, genuine biblical teachings.

No one knew the exact content of Paul's gospel. Do you know where the passage is and what is the content of Paul's gospel?

Paul says that he beat the gospel drum over and over and over. His ministry was built on pressing those core teachings into the minds of disciples and potential disciples...

...and, today, the declining and stagnating church doesn't do that.

What we do is to compartmentalize the gospel. We also ritualize it. And, rather than actually proclaim it, we make an idol of it by designing special Holy Days to commemorate it...and to commemorate other teachings that are important but not included in the gospel Paul preached.

The compartmentalizing and ritualizing and idolizing and commemoration--rather than the preaching--of the raw and simple gospel is an ancient practice of the High, Institutionized Church...

...and it has never, ever produced spiritual vitality and growth.

In the past week, I cringed every time I saw, on social media and in other venues, praise of a church's Holy Week and Easter extravaganzas...

...and, as I noted in my DEBRIEFING EASTER post, my coworkers were not moved toward faithful discipleship by all of the institutionized church gospel compartmentalization.

They remembered which grandchild found which Easter egg and who brought what for dessert at the family Easter meal.

But, the gospel didn't touch one of their hearts.

High church Churchianity has disfigured the Gospel, which Paul says is the power of God to salvation, and that church is dying. And, it should die.

We must repent.

Please!  Repent.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Report to my Commission

When Dave Williams and the ERC Administrative Council went around me to contact a person from the Faith gathering about its threat to remove Faith from the Conference, their letter gave the deadline of the ERC Administrative Council meeting in April for the people of Faith to express interest in maintaining a relationship with the Conference.

While Drew, the guy who received the letter, sent the letter to me, through a third party and I possess the letter, Drew and I have never spoken even one word about it to each other.

I left it to Drew and the rest of the people to take action on the, well, ultimatum from the Conference.

If I had been a betting man, I would have bet my house, and every penny I could get my hands on, that the rest of the gathering would not respond to the Conference's threat to remove it from the Conference role.

When George Jensen initially contacted me and told me that there was talk about rejecting Faith, I responded, in part, by telling him that, if and when a meeting takes place, the Commission on Church Renewal will find out, in a nanosecond, that I am the best friend the CGGC has in our gathering.

As far as I can tell, Evie may be neutral toward the Conference and the CGGC, but the rest of the gathering, if the people have any understanding of ministry beyond the gathering itself, DESPISE the ERC and the CGGC, based, I imagine, on the perception that the Conference was only ever interested in taking from the congregation.

Please understand that I have argued against that peception repeatedly but there is a long history that, in the minds of the people, supports their opinion of the ERC and the CGGC.

Anyway...

...I received word, through the ERC grapevine, that Faith has now been officially removed from the Conference.

I have received no personal contact via a phone call or even an email. Drew has heard nothing and I'm certain he would have let me know if he had. (He would be rejoicing.) But, based on the reliability of the source, I believe it.

---------------

I have many thoughts and feelings.

Most powerful among them is fascination over trying to understand what the institutional CGGC actually does.

A truth in all of this is that the Faith gathering walks CGGC talk more passionately and intentionally than any other CGGC congregation I am aware of.

While I, personally, reject creeds and statements of faith, the fact is that, at Faith, we embrace the teachings of the CGGC. AND, WE NOT ONLY AGREE WITH THEM INTELLECTUALLY, WE WALK THE TEACHINGS IN CGGC FAITH STATEMENTS.

More to the point, we, more than any other CGGC congregation, incarnate the CGGC Mission Statement.

And, even more to the point, no one from the Conference or the CGGC has ever questioned our absolute loyalty to what the CGGC stands for and proclaims.

I continue to wonder what the actions of the ERC signifies.

What matters to the ERC? What truth motivates its behavior?

I came to understand a long time ago that I don't answer those questions well.

Whatever the truth may be, I think that the answers to the questions give little reason for people to hope for the future of the ERC and the CGGC--unless we repent.

We must repent.