Wednesday, March 5, 2008

GOOD NEWS!

First, I want to say that it's a great day to be alive! And I also want to say that I love the synergy of this blog, and the great cyber-environment that we are all creating here together...a place where different kinds of people can connect, knowing that the gospel will be embraced and celebrated here every day. More than anything else, I want to be a steward of that gospel...the authentic gospel...the definition of which is simply: the GOOD NEWS. The true, eternal gospel of God is positive, proactive and life-affirming, which is why I never want to be labeled as someone who doesn’t believe in something, or who is “against” a particular doctrine. I cannot reconcile that kind of negative posturing with the constructive nature and life-giving essence that is required of genuine and effective gospel preaching. My gospel is the one that Jesus espoused...the one that is symbolized by the simple structure of the cross...a structure consisting of just a vertical beam and a horizontal beam, representing two basic tenets: "LOVE GOD"..."LOVE OTHERS".

One reason that I changed the format of this blog a few days ago, is that after I wrote some articles to defend my personal reputation and the reputation of my ministry and immediate family, and to answer some theological questions, I realized that all I really want to do is to bless and help people, and to bring them together in a loving atmosphere, and to speak light into the darkness. On a personal note, it was important to me that those who acknowledge my ministry (whether they agree with it or not) at least realize that my theology is organic to me. It is not the result of any outside influence on my thinking, and it is nothing new to me – the things that I wrote about in the previous incarnation of this blog are things that I have seen in the Scriptures for many years. But I think that I've made that point now, whatever my motives and reasons may have been, and I am at peace about it.

Paul said: "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:6-9 - NKJV)

Unfortunately, that trend that Paul saw beginning to happen in his own lifetime...the drifting away from the basic, uncomplicated, two-part gospel, and the moving toward an unnecessarily complicated "different gospel"...has now evolved into a rigidly, over-organized, religious "Christianism", made up of hundreds and hundreds of denominations and camps, all basically at odds with one another, and severely divided over their beliefs and doctrines. The allowance and acceptance of the "different gospel" that Paul warned the Galatians about, has created an infrastructure of adherents who are generally hostile and antagonistic toward one another, and are preoccupied with proving each other wrong. The Bible is used by them as a weapon, and, as a result, they basically preach everything BUT Love God/Love Others!

I am a minister, and in that capacity I do care about, on some level, what people think of me and my preaching. But I have officially opted out of "the system". I understand the concept of contending for the faith...but, at the end of the day, I really am only a believer...and I believe in a good God – a God who is love – revealed through a strong, victorious Jesus...a conquering Last Adam who is much more powerful and successful than the first one was or ever could be. I believe in an effective atonement, a finished work on the cross, and in the present-day ministry of the Holy Spirit in the earth. I believe that God so loved the world that He gave His Son to redeem it, and that when that world finally sees how wonderful that firstborn Son really is...when they know that their Redeemer lives...then every knee will willingly bow to Him and every tongue will openly confess that He is Lord! In a word, I believe in loving God, and in loving my neighbor as I love myself.

If anyone needs more than that, they are free to explore their own spiritual journey. But, as for me and my house, I/we don't need a different gospel, or another gospel...the original one is just fine with me/us, thank you very much...and my/our gospel is still nothing more or less than the GOOD NEWS! My prayer for you today is that GOOD NEWS will be the theme of this day, all day today. Enjoy your salvation! Enjoy your life! Enjoy your day! God loves you, and that's enough...and that's GOOD NEWS!

15 comments:

Erik said...

Good News – That is the reason I love this community (cyber, in the body, and all of us who have migrated here through the Spirit, online, in person or both). I have said this before, I knew this place existed all of my life, and was blessed to have made my way here, only by grace, certainly not by my conscious plan. The only thing I can claim something of, was to keep on, keeping on. Using the divining rod in my spirit, trying to find here, with a ton of guidance from the Holy Spirit I literally stumbled into this community. Hey, in is in, getting here ugly is just as good.

This basic tenet of Love God and Love others, as myself, is all I really understand at my deepest level. The other stuff, dogma, chapter, verse, doctrine, give me brain freeze and a headache/heartache. I don’t like it. So, I have generally skipped it, but here, there is nothing to skip, one can breathe. I understand opting out of the system, and in some wonderful way, opting out actually makes the system work for you, go figure!

As I write this, ‘Morning Has Broken’ is playing on the shuffle of the playlist. I could not agree more with the words. We all want to help people, know God, love, be loved. With that, everything else flows. Without it, everything is hard, swimming upstream. Swimming with the flow of the Spirit brings us a lot farther with fewer strokes and actually restores us with rest WHILE we are swimming. Swimming against the Spirit flow, takes a lot more strokes to get a far shorter distance, and there is no rest, so WHILE we swim, we lose more than the effort of the strokes, since there is no restoration, which often encourages bitterness, loss of dreams and visions, and seeing the ‘hard, cold world’ rather than the wonder in creation all around us. ‘Peace Train ‘ is now playing, such a pleasant reminder about living.

This day glows in joy for every one. Thank you for the prayer and blessing for all of our salvation Bishop. …Simplicity, clarity, in seeing Love as the biggest vision in front of us, the Love that fills every day details, the exchange between all of us in each connection. Life is Good News. OK , now ‘In The Garden’ playing , it reminds me to just enjoy, do all we have to do, enjoy, rest, appreciate, explore, run, play, work, love.

Bishop, thanks for maintaining this place (physical and cyber) of simple Good News.

Anonymous said...

I posted this once on the CITN blog site when it first began and just felt led to post it here. Bailey ( our "mentally and physically challenged daughter" for those of you who know her know she actually has more going for her than we do!) Anyway Bailey showed us in her own visual sermon what love God with all your heart and love your neighbor really means. We were at the skating rink for Special Olympics and Bailey was skating her little heart out, she was winning by a long shot. She noticed her friends were not with her and turned around to go back for them, she then grabbed their hands and about dragged them to the finish line with her. They all said "we won"! She was bound and determined to finish the race together with none left behind. She had no ulterior motive, no preconception of who whould finish and who should not she just wanted to get there together. Bailey knows God and she loves him with all of her heart, her heart is not tainted with hurt and regret, she knows she is beautiful, as a matter of fact she gets up in the morning saying "Bailey the prettiest girl in the world!" or my favorite-"Bailey is on the ball!"
I think like you said once Bishop,"we could all use a little special needs up in here!"

Iris said...

I recently was reading a story about a group of hikers who set to climb a large mountain in Europe. The view was a breathtaking peak of snow-covered rocks… On clear days the crested point reigned like royalty on the horizon… Its white tip soared into the blue sky inviting admiration and offering inspiration…

I would think that on good days the climbers made the most progress (or movement forward). The peak stood above them like a compelling goal… Eyes were called upward… the walk was brisk… vigorous… reviving…eagerness in the air… excitement was breathed with each word spoke… the journey… challenging, but obtainable…. The cooperation was unselfish… Though many, they climbed as one… all looking at the same summit… same goal… same God if you will…

Yet on some days the peak of the mountain could be veiled from view… The cloud covering would hide the crisp blueness with a dull, dreary, gray ceiling which obstructed the vision of the mountaintop… I can only imagine that on these days the climb became grueling…tiresome… and relentless… Eyes downward and thoughts inward… The goal of witnessing the splendor of the top forgotten… Tempers were short… Weariness was an uninvited companion… Complaints sting like thorns on the now labored path…

I think that we are like that… As long as we see our dream… as long as our goal is within sight… there is no mountain we can’t climb or summit we can’t scale… But take away our vision…. Block our view of the summits end… and the result is a discouraging… disappointing… hopeless… gloomy… daunting journey…

Think about it… hide the Christ who calls to us from the mountaintop and see what happens…

Listen to the groans and complaining as they stop and sit by the side of the trail… Why continue if there is no relief in sight? Christian’s with no vision of the Promised Land become property owner of their own land… They set up camp… They exchange hiking boots for loafers… and trade in their walking staff for a new rocking chair…

We have got to look upward to Him… But some choose to look inward with compassion and outward at each other in judgment… The result? Cabin fever… Fighting families… Fidgety leaders… Fence building… Staked-off territory… No trespassing! Signs are hung on hearts and homes… Arguments turn into full fledged war as narrow-minded groups turn to glare at each other’s frailties instead of turning to worship their common strength…

We are what we see… If we see only ourselves… our tombstones will have the same words engraved on them as Paul used to describe adversaries of Christ: “Their god is their own appetite… they glory in their shame… and this world is the limit of their horizon… Humans were never meant to dwell in the stale, musty fog of the valley’s with no vision of their Creator…

That why God came… To be seen…

That’s why those who saw Him were never the same… They saw the peak… they breathed the fresh air of the high country…They caught the vision of the summit…They refused to quit climbing until they reached the top… They wanted to see Jesus and all of His splendor… Not religion… not the mundane… not the stale…not the musty decayed stench of religion…

The blinded now see…Vision is heightened… Seeing into the other realm… And once you’ve seen it… it’s like starting a whole new life… I think that new beginnings and good eyesight are inseparable… “Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3

God is near… If He is who He says He is… there is no truth more worthy of our climbing ascent.

This is the Good News Bishop…. It’s the tale of the two trees… the tree in the garden… and the tree He hung on to restore our vision... No longer a tree of good and evil… but a tree of life…. Sight given… Marching upward and forward…. And yes no other gospel is needed… The summit attainable… the horizon viewed in all of its splendor….

Iris

rskorzewski said...

Meeting you and coming to you blog and being inspired by your writings has been and continues to be refreshing to my soul!!! Your Daily reading at churchinthenow.org was amazing today!!! I read it and feel that it was written specifically for me. I am sure many feel that way!!!

God's hand is on you in a major way! I believe that you are a vessel in which God uses to help bring people back to a much needed focus on the simplicity of our relationship with Jesus!!!

This blog and your church website has become a daily routine for me.

Inspiring, Insightful, Challenging and I must say Nourishing!!!

Thanks again,

Ross

tracy said...

By the way-when I said Bailey didn't want to see her friends "left behind" I didn't mean like the "Left Behind" series that would just be gross and weird.

DoubleBack Alley said...

If you think about it, anyone who argues any point is arguing from a very narrow point of view. They are neither willing nor open to frank discussion, just their viewpoint.

I was captain of my debate team in high school and we were presented with a topic to discuss the entire school year. As a debater, your were to be affirmative or negative in your argument. The object was not to win, but to prove your point to a judge based on style and eloquence. Won some, lost some, always had a great time.

I watched a debate on PBS the other night on Evolution vs. Creation. Both sides were resolute in their ideologies. I thought about how narrow minded the theologists were because there is surely evolutionary evidence all around, right?

But it came to while I watched that Darwin developed his the basis for his whole theory while visiting the Galapagos Islands and noting that there are animals indigenous to only that 200 square mile of earth. He reasoned that there must have been something else and from that, he became the father of the evolution movement and developed its tents of faith.

Honestly, I don't care who is right in the argument because somewhere in the middle is the answer (isn’t it funny how God always seems to be in the middle and never in an extreme?). What I find fascinating is that both sides wants my liberty and will not take "I can see that side, too" for an answer.

Ultimately, my freedom is more important than their faith. What I have learned over the past few years is that my faith evolves in God. So I guess I believe in the evolving creation of God in me.

Ain't God Good?

Bishop Jim Swilley said...

Love everyone's posts here...Tracy, that story is the perfect parable of the outcome and effect of the gospel (not His will that any should perish; the first shall be last/the last shall be firtst)...

DBA, interesting you brought that up...I actually want to discuss that here soon, and nearly did today...

Great stuff, y'all...

Erik said...

Hi, regarding the evolution / creation comment. I have always seen them as both together. Evolution theory is one part of the process, or manifestation of God speaking the physical world into existence that we experience. I do not see Evolution as supplanting Creation, just one observation of how it manifested from God’s will into this place. Science over all is documenting observation, then using that observation, understanding to fulfill our role of dominion that God gave us.

We, the Created, did not make the whole universe, but since We, The Created in His image, have been given dominion, in essence, here it all is, figure out what you want to do with it. Science is one part of that figuring out and doing. Like an artist given a block of wood and whatever they create with that block of wood is up to them. They did not create the wood, but they can create with it- a tool, a toy, a vision, a piece of equipment, a piece if furniture, on and on. Science helps understand the physical properties of the wood God created. The bonus is, that as we keep open to the ever present God, we can change the properties of the wood, just like moving a mountain. Nothing is limited to only the initially observed physical properties, but there is nothing wrong with those properties. Like healing, it can be done with faith, or manipulating physical characteristics with plants, drugs, food, chemicals, etc.

This is one of the most fun parts of the universe, God provides infinite possibilities for dominion. All are available. Science does not oppose God, it only records the observations of part of His creation. Evolution is part of Creation. Note – Just now, ‘The Impossible Dream’ began on the playlist, then ‘Times They are a Changin’ – perfect.

peacemaker said...

I love everything about this post.

Revelation of the two great commandments became the catalyst that helped transform my thinking and ultimately my whole life as it pertained to love. A few years back, while reading Matthews' version of them, I noticed a three word phrase that I had read probably hundreds of times but never noticed "...like the first..." My God, that changed everything! You mean that loving God, your neighbor, and yourself could actually be the same thing? And if that's true, does that mean we are really just like...God? Everything in me screamed, YES!
That small, overlooked phrase literally revolutionized my life.
Were talking about all of humanity here.
Another thing that was illuminated for me was in Lukes' version of the two commandments, Jesus had a lawyer quote them in response to a question the lawyer asked Him. He asked "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" After quoting, Jesus commended him for his answer then told him to just exercise them and he would live...eternally! I think we all realize Jesus was still alive at this time...Calvary had not happened yet...let him/her that has ears to hear.
Anyway, those commandments are the whole gospel as far as I'm concerned. If I desired to leave a legacy at all, I hope it would be that.

LG,LyN,LY...that's all folks!

Peace

Erik said...

Peacemaker, Amen, Agreed, Absolutely, Yes!!!!!!!!!!! and ALL prior to Calvary.

DoubleBack Alley said...

Peacemaker,

eedy yah cohm da may yah ess no brotus kah mahnda sha rohfska.

Wheeeeee Doggies......Trying to pick myself up off of the floor.

Ain't God Good?

Iris said...

Yeah... Yeah... Love this blog...

Especially the part about evolution and creation... It is one... it can't oppose God.. and it actually applaudes the creator... It sing... How great is our God... and all will see how great is our God...

Love... Love... Love...
Iris

Ebony said...

You know today we took some time in class to remind the kids of the county's rules regarding a few things they've been slipping on, and the rule about enticing stuck out at me. That's the modus operandi of "traditional religion"; a big game of "he said she said" to divide, conquer and cause drama, and in the end everyone loses. We also broke down our "rules matrix" which essentially is "the four be's" (prompt, prepared, responsible and respectful) expanded into 36 separate rules. At the end of the day, one of my 6th graders (who at this point had heard this for the 6th time in a row) observed "Ms. Thornton, why are we going over all of these? We just need to know the four main rules and that takes care of everything". So if I child can get that "less is more" when it comes to personal discipline. Maybe's there's hope for us all.

Teezy313 said...

Wuzzup guys! Thnx avatar for the warm welcome...and yes the water is great here!! Btw a big welcome goes out to Christina!! Hope all is well with you, Daisson, and Sofia!!

Now,
Bish I am really lovin this blog!! The gospel is simple: love God and love your neighbor POINT BLANK!! I have always believed that when you truly love or are loved you are showing or seeing the face and true essence of God bcause God is ultimately love.(I John 4:8) I can't wait until tomorrow's blog is posted!!

Luv ya,
TEEZY

Avatar said...

PM: your "a few years back" story reminded me of a similar moment on hearing John 12:32 [But I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."]. I remember being very aware of just that one scripture. I will do it. All men. All men.

Thinking about it now, I think that important moment set in roots to help protect the deepest recesses of my heart. The “bad news” got me for a while. And I even joined in helping spread it. I pray and trust that the grace of God has gotten through to the ones I led astray, that they also had a protective epiphany and they have also now found the truth!