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Month: November 2012

Test the Spirits

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already”. 1John 4:1-3 Ministers and Elders cannot escape the responsibility of spiritual discernment. To avoid it is to assume an emblem of the false prophets. They refuse God’s command to make a distinction between righteousness and wickedness. Instead they blur that…

Six Things That Holiness Is Not And One That It Is

Introduction I have spent virtually my whole life in a denomination that has made high claims of the possibility of sinless perfection. Wesley admitted that some of his basic ideas about sanctification he derived from Quakers, with some modifications. I have listened to a great number of sermons and lectures on the topic of holiness in my time. Running throughout those many lectures and sermons I have noticed some recurring themes, which I have concluded are false and lead at best to a truncated view of holiness, at worst – to a shabby substitution for the real thing. What I would like to do is to describe six of these basic themes and contrast them with the one thing that…

Mysteries of the Cross

Good Friday Community Service, March 29, 2002   What are we to say? What are we to think about this day that we have gathered to commemorate? And even more importantly, what is God’s word to us regarding this event and to this community? You are the ones who know the cross, and who love the cross, otherwise you would not have taken this time out of your busy schedules to be here. I confess that Good Friday makes more sense to me than Easter Sunday. I can recognize more meaning in the cross than I can in the resurrection. The practical meaning in the resurrection always gives me a hard time. I meditate upon it regularly, thinking that this ought…

A Horse of a Different Feather

We hear a lot these days about leadership skill.  Scores of books describe it.  Expensive seminars espouse newly discovered principles of it and portray examples of successful practitioners.  Presidential candidates accuse each other of lacking it.  Journalists talk as though they would recognize it if they saw it, but haven’t lately.  Likewise, pastors and churches seek managerial ability with high expectations of the transformations it will produce.  I know of one seminary that has crammed the whole of theology and Church History into one class in order to have more room in the curriculum for “practical” management classes.  “Churches do not care about the doctrine of the Trinity,” I was told, or words to that effect.  “What churches want is…

Gospel Birds

We should learn from the common examples that life sets before us.  Jesus says that the sparrows and ravens would teach us about relying on God’s provision if only we would permit it.  The eagle, Isaiah says, teaches us the renewing power of waiting on God.  (Isaiah 40:31). I do not see eagles much, but there is a gray heron that often visits The John Wesley University pond.  The heron knows how to wait and how to fish.  He seldom moves, and then only slowly and deliberately.  How could anything prosper by being so still?  Shouldn’t he diligently search the whole shoreline?  Instead, he stands motionless. Then a fish swims by, the bill darts into the water, and we see that…