Laity in our PNWAC (Pacific Northwest Annual Conference) are finding their voices, and sometimes they witness with such shocking forcefulness and eloquent power and with such precision, that we are reminded of the prophetic tradition. I want to share one such voice with you. Her words cut cleanly without bruising. They convict without killing the Spirit.
Rev. Gary Starkey
|[Shared with her permission]
It would appear to me that many in the UMC have denied bits and pieces of the Bible over the years, which brings us to where we are today: denying a whole lot of scripture, particularly what is sin and that there is judgment waiting for those who teach the flock falsely and for those who love their sin too much to give it up.
For those who still maintain the authority of scripture and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I think its time to get down on our knees and ask the Holy Spirit to show us the logs in our own eyes, so that we can then ask God for His help in delivering us from the mess that we have created. The Holy Spirit that teaches me, starts with me (not 'them') and doesn't stop until I 'get it.' Then, my eyes are opened and I can see clearly. God has carefully laid several large 'stumbling blocks' in my path, forcing me to deal with them before he brings me to the next level of understanding. I've managed to deal with some big boulders and found them to lead me to light (when I climb up on them and stand instead of trying to move them!). I know that I have more coming at me, but the way gets easier when I accept the truth of scripture.
What I have learned is that every verse of scripture is there for God's purpose. I may not understand it all, but God took such care to make sure it was all there for me. I either place myself under its authority or I don't. I either ask for understanding or I don't. I either make Christ my master in all things or I don't. When I finally recognized that if I obey the scripture (like it or not), I can actually come into the Holy Presence with a humble heart and find love and acceptance and forgiveness and grace and understanding and treasure and salvation. And then He can use me for His purpose. And I can begin to find who I was created to be. And I find that the solid Rock that I stand on is indeed a solid, unmovable rock. And I am so grateful that God has accepted me in spite of the years that I have wasted.
So, I wonder how many people are dying in their sin if the whole truth is not spoken in the sanctuaries? And I wonder how happy can I be in heaven if my own personal loved ones don't follow the path that led me to eternal life with Christ? How can I be happy in heaven if I don't do everything God asks me to do while in this world? And I thank the Lord of All Creation that people are waking up out of their fear and slumber and seeing the mess that we are in is from our own doing for not holding our own accountable to Scripture. And I thank God for people like [lay person] Steve ("Laity want honesty") who speak the truth without apology. And I thank God for people like Edd Denton [PNWAC pastor] who step out and boldly proclaim what needs to be said. And I thank God for the six courageous pastors in California who have decided that enough is enough and will look Goliath in the face and say, 'no'. And I thank God for the six congregations behind them. And I thank God for being behind them (and leading them at the same time!).
The road ahead is not pretty, but it is glorious. Let us be God's instruments as He reveals Himself to us through this trial. We have the Rock and we need to stand boldly on it.
I've been led to Isaiah 29 this morning:
What does this passage mean for us as a denomination? Will the Lord lay us to waste or are we already there? Is the Lord coming to us now with His thunder and earthquake and great noise? It seems to me that many in our denomination "don't know how to read." Can we now see among us "the work of His hands"?
Lord Jesus, lead us!!! I yearn for the day when those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding and for those who complain to accept Your instruction. And, whatever disobedience is in me, show me now(!), so that I may turn to You and know You well.
Edd Denton [PNWAC pastor] says: "For what ever reason when the more conservative element went underground they lost the freedom to lead at a national level. Until the current leadership retires, steps down, or moves on it will be difficult to be on the same level -- after all we are second class citizens. No matter what, we cannot give up and we must continue to become more and more vocal -- that's why I decided to write the letter to Phyllis [head of PNWAC delegation] -- not so much that I believe it will change the delegation but that our voices MUST be heard, over and over again."
Edd is right. It appears to me that many gave up leadership. I think God, though, is quite able to remove those who need to be removed. It seems to me, that giving voice to the Truth is a pre-requisite and that humility is required. Am I being judgmental if I say that it looks to me like Edd is humbled and giving voice where it is needed? God bless you, Edd and all of the others willing to serve Christ in spite of any possible earthly consequences. You lift up my heart.
Your Will be done, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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