Monday, March 28, 2011

Presbytery Speech Regarding 10-A

Mr. Moderator, I wish I could be speak for this amendment. The wording of this proposed amendment “to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000)” more accurately reflects what we are to look for as we examine candidates for leadership in our church than our current wording. It does not single out a specific area of life. We remember that all aspects of life must come under Christ’s Lordship, our behaviors, our relationships, our attitudes, our actions, our character, our possessions—everything. It reminds us not to exalt one area of life over another, or to justify ourselves, that because we do not struggle in one particular area, our own sinful habits and lifestyles are thereby excused. We have at times been guilty of focusing on a speck without removing the log from our own eye.
I have been grieved by the hateful speech of superiority I have heard from both proponents and opponents of this amendment. All of us struggle with sin. No one’s sin is of lesser severity in the eyes of God than another person’s. We all even relapse and commit the same sin from which we repented. This is our Romans 7 struggle, and therefore is not to be something that should be used to exclude a person called and equipped by God from ordained ministry.
However, it has become very clear through articles, emails, comments, and even the rationale the GA committee uses in the very booklets we were given, that this amendment is not about submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. It is really an attempt to exclude aspects of our life from the Lordship of Christ.

There is a big difference between one who struggles with sin and repents, even though he or she may relapse, and one who justifies or excuses behavior even by saying, “Well, this is just the way I am.” When we dig in our heels and say, “This is just the way I am, we limit the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only one who can rescue us from this body of sin and death. We have a form of godliness but deny God’s power. If we do not admit that we need transformation, then we will not be transformed, but if we want to be transformed, there is no limit to what God can do.
I have worked as a leader in a Christ-centered recovery program for 3 years.
I’m sorry this program has to exist as a parachurch ministry when it should be the way of the church period. Our recovery program welcomes everyone just as they are. We should welcome everyone who comes to our churches just as they are. We should welcome everyone who professes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior into full fellowship and full communion. We have not, and for that I am truly sorry. The church has been a place of judgment instead of a hospital for sin-sick souls.
But we should also, as we do in our recovery group, love people toward transformation so that they become more like Jesus and put off their hurts, habits, and hang-ups. We must, as we do in our recovery group, never make excuses for or make light of our relapses and sins, but constantly, do as this amendment says, submit all of our lives and wills to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And certainly, when it comes to ordained ministry, our lives should bear fruit showing that we are submitting every aspect of life to the Lordship of Christ. Again, not that we don’t fail, but that our failings are followed by confession and repentance and not justification or dismissal.
I have prayed about this and asked God to correct my theology if I am the one in the wrong. I take sin seriously, my own as well as that in the church and of the Church. I cannot thereby endorse this amendment, knowing that it will be used in the very opposition of its wording.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Zebedee, Matt. 4:18-25

Sorry you don't get the visual with this one! Thanks to Larry Crowder for the idea of doing a narrative.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Living the Blessed Life, Matt. 5:1-11, Rom. 12:9-21

Monday, March 14, 2011

Purpose of Temptation, Matt. 4:1-11

True Piety, Matt. 4:1-4, 16-18

This was Ash Wednesday's sermon. Example quotations are from a reader's theater written by Rev. Nancy Townley posted on for Ash Wed.