These things I believe to be true
Periodically, I like to share who I am and what I believe as part of my communications with you. Below is a portion of my thoughts and ideas and convictions. A friend of mine years ago said that I always had a “compulsion” to share such things. I think she may be right. These thoughts are not given to change you or your thoughts. They are given so you will “understand” something of the “what” I believe. I think it’s fair that people in the church know the thoughts, feelings, and theology of their leader.
I strongly believe the Scriptures to be our sole guide for decision-making and direction in the church.
The lessons provided us in the Bible are the only lessons the world needs and it is safe to say we have not “mastered” those teachings yet. John Wesley long ago taught us that “the Bible is the book that changes our life.” No other book can do that.
I believe that preaching is “central” to the church’s life. It’s important to come to church and hear a word from God…a word that comes from the Bible…a word that can be trusted. It’s also important for members of the church to study the Bible and wrestle with what it means to be a “follower” of Jesus. Following Jesus is a “viewable” matter. People can see the Lord at work in us. There is no such thing as a “secret admirer” of Christ. Everyone that Jesus called, he called publicly. It makes sense if you think about it. How can we change the world to resemble heaven if we keep our faith a secret?
I believe in the priesthood of all believers and that each person has a ministry. What we do to make money and provide for ourselves is important, but discovering our call to ministry is vital. Every member of the church is a team member as we strive to be good disciples. The staff is comprised of individuals designed to help encourage and give some direction to ministry, but they are not people hired to do the ministry in the church for the membership. To be the church, all hands need to be on deck and in the game.
I do not believe in nor like the “back to Egypt committee” in churches (and they are everywhere) that have the spirit of the children of Israel in the wilderness days. Those people considered going back to the captivity in Egypt because they were hungry and there was no Burger King in the wilderness. They did not want to forge ahead. They complained about their leaders bringing them to the wilderness. They thought it would be easy. Most times, what God leads the church to do is difficult at best. Yet, we follow God and God always moves forward. The church must also move forward or sign its death warrant. And I, for one, choose life for the church.
I believe that the church has to speak to the culture, and not the other way around. The church, by its nature, is counter-cultural. Our mission is to change the world for Christ. It is not to let the world change God. I also am not a fan when culture goes against the teachings of Scripture. The very best wisdom and ideas people have cannot compare to what God reveals to us through the truth of Scripture. Much of what culture argues about when it comes to the church today is a matter of “the authority of Scripture.” God has revealed a plan for making the world like the Kingdom of Heaven. We can follow the Lord in making the world or we can make the world in our own image and customs. I simply choose to trust that God knows more than I know, and it is best to follow and learn from God about life and culture.
I am a believer in the separation of Church and State. I believe that this separation was created to protect the church from the State and not the other way around. I am not a fan of a State Church nor of the government thinking that they are supposed to speak for the church. Much of what the government hands down is politically-driven and motivated. The Church is of God.
I do not believe in rewriting history, nor do I believe in negating the past. I do not mind history being added and new writings coming forth that add to our history and our understandings of it. Attempts to remove images and rewrite history will not produce a positive effect. It will serve to divide us more. Let’s tell the whole story of our past…the good, the bad, the ugly…and let’s talk about the lessons we have learned from those moments. A better world and future are available to everyone especially when our culture “works” to fulfill the plan God has for this world. However, it will never happen until we stop “finger-pointing” and “cherry-picking” issues among our people that serve to further divide us. Our purpose as Christians is to serve as those who build up and help heal people and the obstacles that serve to divide us. There cannot be any “cancellation” at work as we build the world God has ordained. It is a world where all people are brothers and sisters in Christ and act like it.
I believe Worship gives us the chance to strengthen our walk with Christ. It is necessary to participate in worship because it allows us to commune with the One who calls us to walk with him and to model his example. Worship also reminds us that we are not alone…that burdens can be shared and helped conf them…and that “where two or more are gathered in His name, Christ is present. Worship is for the building of our faith. Worship has, as its focus, the Holy Scriptures which transform us when the truth is embraced.
I believe that there is never a reason for church members not to be kind to one another and to recognize that the “tongue is a two-edged sword.” Blessings and curses are capable of coming out the same mouth. The church must be the place where blessings are spoken. The church is called to act differently than the world for a reason.
The best days for the church are ahead of us. We do what we do collectively and under the guidance of God’s inspiration. Opinions can kill churches. The ways of the world can hurt churches, too. Only God’s truth and teachings give the church life.
I believe in acknowledging our love for America. That is why a portion of worship on Sunday, July 4th includes the singing of “America” and “God Bless America.” I do not believe this diminishes the focus of our faith being Jesus Christ. I do not worship America. My country has numerous flaws and makes mistakes. Our people, at times, act as though we are left to our own devices when it comes to life and its struggles. I like that the pledge of allegiance declares us to be “one nation under God.” Nothing about America transforms my life. Patriotism is not a religion. The spiritual development and changes that come to my life come from above. I love my country, but I only worship God, and I do so through the Church of Jesus Christ. When the teachings of Jesus and the ideas of America are in conflict I will always stand with Jesus. Only his Kingdom is forever.