In Times Like These

Today is Memorial Day and unofficially it begins the summer season. More importantly, it is a day to remember those who have died while serving in the U.S. military to protect our country and its values. 

 

Recently a supporter of Renew called and shared with me the incredible story of a Methodist Pastor and his family who have been serving the Lord since the early Twentieth Century. This pastor, Rev. Bert Jones Sr. and his wife Ruth Caye Jones along with their five children were familiar faces at revivals and camp meetings for years leading up to World War II. Later they became Mom and Dad Jones of the popular radio program, “A Visit With The Jones,” a program that began in 1948 and is still running today under the leadership of their daughter Carol Jones Saint.

 

In 1943, seeing the causality list of America soldiers who were moving up the boot of Italy, Ruth Jones turned to God’s Word for comfort. She landed on 2 Timothy 3 where it says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” From the inspiration of this verse and the melody of the clock that chimed on her mantle, she began to write a hymn that would become the beloved Gospel song, “In Times like These.” 

 

The words are simple and few; they reflect not only the 2 Timothy passage, but also the comfort of Hebrews 6:19, “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” The song is also rooted in the comfort that Jesus preached at the end of the Sermon on the Mount  in Luke 6. It tells us that vehement storms come in life, but they are weathered when our lives are built upon The Rock. 

 

How true these words are today. We too live in perilous times. Our enemy is not the Axis powers of World War II. Our enemy is a deadly virus that has spread around the globe and infected more countries than those involved in all the wars of the Twentieth Century. 

 

As we look back today and honor those who gave their lives in battle, let us remember those who are on the front lines battling this virus, and the sick fighting for their lives, and the families who have lost loved ones. Let us pray for each one who has lost a job and all of us who must make decisions on how to proceed with life during our perilous time. And above all, let us remember to share… 

 

 

May you and your family have a meaningful Memorial Day and join those of us at Renew in prayer for our families, our church, our country and our world in this difficult time.

 

Katy Kiser

Renew Network Team Leader

832-381- 0331
renew@goodnewsmag.org

“Do Not Worry” March 2020

Jesus’ words in Matthew 6: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink … but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Each day as we handle the crisis of the Covid19 virus, new advisories are coming out of the CDC and the White House. We are being told that it is imperative to dramatically restrict our social activity; we are being warned that the death toll depends on our response. And responding we are: schools are closing, churches are offering worship services online, restaurants are shutting down, and travel bans are being respected. There is an understandable amount of anxiety and fear. Most of us have not passed this way before, our lives have been put on hold, our routines have been disrupted. Some parents are asking, “What shall I do with the children for the next few weeks, what if they don’t go back to school until next fall?” We find ourselves in an unfamiliar and frightening situation.

Yet, Jesus tells us: <em>”Do not worry…”</em> Be vigilant, prudent, and take precautions seriously. But take Jesus seriously as well. Given that much of what keeps us busy has been put on hold, we have more time to seek Him, more time to study his Word, and pray. What an opportunity. What a promise that all we worry about will sort out.

When something is taken away, like our normal schedules, that something is usually replaced; the replacement is opportunity. Sure it is normal to react with worry, fear, and resentment. But in Matthew 6, Jesus invites and commands us to seek the higher reality of God’s kingdom. Instead of worry, we can take the opportunity he offers us: opportunity to be at home with our family minus our usual activities that cause life to be hectic. We turn to those around us and reassure them of the love of Christ, which calls us to overcome fear and respond in faith. Many of us will have occasion not only to demonstrate the love of Christ, but to offer Christ to those who do not know him.

I see God moving on my small street of twelve families who are offering to pick up groceries so neighbors do not have to go out. Those who had the foresight to prepare for shortages are offering to share out of their abundance. It has been a time of coming together in ways that we have not before. One neighbor of a different religion has shared that she was educated in a Catholic school; she has opened the door to talk about what we have in common. What an opportunity!

Despite the death, destruction, and concern that comes with a pandemic like the Covid19 virus, God is still in control and we see Him moving among us. I find this to be true in the case of our United Methodist Church. The 2020 General Conference has been postponed. We will not be able to pass the Protocol in May. As yet, we have no idea when that will be. Just like our lives, the General Conference has been put on hold. Although postponed, it will be rescheduled.

Has Jesus provided? Yes He has. Our United Methodist Church operates under the Book of Discipline, which was NOT changed, but affirmed and strengthened at the 2019 General Conference when the Traditional Plan was passed. We still officially follow the same scriptural doctrines that the Church has operated under for over 2,000 years. Will those who have vowed to be unfaithful to our doctrine be so? Certainly. But as many if not more of us will remain faithful to historic Christianity in the United Methodist Church. “Do not worry!” Instead pray and seize the many opportunities that will be given to you to be the Church. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; proclaim His faithfulness.

 

In His Service,
Katy Kiser
Renew Network Team Leader
832-381- 0331
renew@goodnewsmag.org

Renew Christmas 2019

“Behold I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!
Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

 

Isaiah 43:19

Much of Isaiah unfolds God’s grand scheme for the restoration of His people. The prophet announced that something new was going to happen. God’s vast divine plan, made before the foundation of the world, was going to take a new turn. The long awaited Messiah was going to be born.

For the Israelites, life leading up to the birth of the Christ Child had not been easy. They had experienced many challenges over the centuries as they struggled with obedience and fidelity to God. The Jews were looking for the Messiah to liberate them from the unjust Roman regime. But He would come with an infinitely greater mission. He would come to save humanity from sin itself.

For the sake of peace and power, the Pharisees and Priests had compromised with the Romans. It was a compromise not unlike the compromises that the mainline churches, including The United Methodist Church, have made to accommodate our cultural reality. Throughout Israel’s history, they experienced times when, in today’s vernacular, they needed a ‘do-over’, a coming back to their God and His plan for them as a people. And Praise God, we too are being called to a renewed commitment.

As Keith Boyette, President of the Wesley Covenant Association, proclaimed in his powerful address at the WCA Global Gathering in November, “God is birthing a new Wesleyan movement.” One man in Florida put it well, “I left the Global Gathering lifted, encouraged and more deeply committed. I am convinced we are in the right place for such a time as this. We are where God wants us; we are on the right side of history.”

We all have a role to play in this new movement. This was brought out beautifully by Cara Nicklas, a lay member of the Oklahoma Annual Conference. At the WCA gathering, she reminded clergy and laity that we are all ambassadors for Christ; in fact each of us, she said, has a role to play as theologians in the new church — the Next Methodism. She challenged laity to grasp a thorough understanding of the issues that divide the church and help prepare congregants for the decisions that lie ahead.

Dr. William Abraham, the Albert C. Outler Professor of Wesley Studies at Perkins School of Theology, proclaimed that the church is at a turning point and the choice is clear. He explained that Jesus presents us with two paths: a broad way that leads to destruction, and a narrow way that leads to life. We will either be a part of a church that is built on sex, gender, and rebellion. Or we will be a church built on the Lord’s teaching on marriage and creation – and most importantly, Divine Revelation and the Creeds.

We are on the threshold of restoration where Methodism will throw off the constraints of the world that caused the church to entertain trendy, compromised theology that has led to decline. Before us lies the opportunity for our church to be one whose identity is in Christ, built on God’s revelation of Himself, and one which is open to and led by God’s own Spirit.

Now is not a time for fear or discouragement. But it is a time of decision and action. As we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child, let us remember that God’s grand scheme has not changed. His divine plan, embodied in Christ Jesus, is the greatest gift of all. Let us not forget the hope that is ours this Christmas. God has not forsaken us, His Church, or His Creation. For, Behold, He is about to do something new. See, He has already begun.

***
As team leader of Renew, I thank all of you who support our work with your prayers and financial giving. In 2019, at the request of pastors and laywomen, Renew has helped churches to refocus women’s ministry on a mission driven program that leads to spiritual growth and biblical knowledge. Next May, Renew will represent evangelical, orthodox women at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis. Your end of year gift will make this possible. If you haven’t made a contribution to RENEW recently, we trust you will. I promise you it will be put to good work.

You can continue to stand with us by going on the Renew Website and download or print the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:

Good News
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
Fax: 832.813.5327

In His Service,
Katy Kiser
Renew Network Team Leader
832-381- 0331
renew@goodnewsmag.org

Welcome to Renew Network

Ongoing Aftermath of General Conference 2019 by Katy Kiser

Dear Renew Network,

Ongoing Aftermath of General Conference 2019

A month after the 2019 General Conference in St Louis, where the work of the Commission on a Way Forward was received and the Traditional Plan was passed, the United Methodist Women’s annual Program Advisory Group and Board of Director’s met in Nashville, TN.  I attended the meetings as a press representative.

At the opening plenary of the Program Advisory Group, Bishop William McAlilly preached from his personal experience, which has given him  compassion for the marginalized LGTBQ+ community. He told the women that UMW was needed more now than they ever have been, because of the injustice done by the passage of the Traditional Plan. He asked, “How would you feel if you were told you are  incompatible?” I detected a strong note of incredulity in both McAlilly and Harriett Olsen. They seemed truly shocked and grieved that the Traditional Plan had prevailed in St. Louis.

I was expecting the general tenor of disappointment expressed at the UMW  meetings in March. The last day of General Conference, when the One Church Plan had not passed, UMW put out a press release that affirmed the position they announced at the Fall 2018 Board of Directors Meeting: they will be staying in relationship with all women in the Global UMC even if there is schism. They announced they are in solidarity with the LGTBQ+ community, which is in pain. Even before the 2019 General Conference, the UMW staff had put out a spiritual growth study titled, The Bible and Human Sexuality, where the marriage culture was questioned and traditional morality was explained away by the rejection of laws that came out of a society dominated by men. Can the UMW National staff expect to be in relationship with traditionalists when they have made it clear that their heart is with the progressives?

Before we consider that question, we should ask, is the passage of the Traditional Plan unjust as McAlily implied?  First of all, centrist/progressives are mistaken to say that those who identify as LGTBQ+ are being called incompatible by the majority of the church who supported the Traditional Plan. No one is being labeled incompatible; but certain behavior is incompatible with clear straight forward teaching in the Bible. It is behavior that has been questioned – not people.

While all persons are of sacred worth, it is clear that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is in the church where we are encouraged to be in a process (sanctification) whereby we overcome sin. Somehow many in the church have bought into the idea that behavior once understood as sin is now to be understood as a right, or even employed to define who we are. Even worse, once condemned behavior has come to define how some think God made them to be. If God made sinners to be thieves, murderers, and the rest of Paul’s list in I Corinthians 6, why would Paul say “ and such were some of you?” And if God made Cain to rebel, why did He warn Cain that “sin is crouching at the door waiting to devour you!” We are not our sin; we are overcomers of sin if we accept what God says in His Word and that which He has done for us. In the words of Michael W. Hannon, “I am not my sin. I am not my temptation to sin. By the blood of Jesus Christ, I have been liberated from this bondage.

Our society has accepted the current psychological trend to categorize individuals by sexual orientation. The idea that anyone gets their identity from their feelings of attraction to the opposite or same sex is simply a fallacy for which there is no scriptural warrant. Sadly, many in the church have bought into this thinking. They champion a warped sense of justice and work to obtain rights for the LGBTQ+ among us and the acceptance of their agendas and actions. Christian identity is not rooted in sexuality but in Christ himself.

United Methodist Women have made no secret of the fact that they accept new modern interpretations of scripture. This is particularly true in the area of sexuality but not only there.  Not too long ago, a UMW woman wrote to me about a UMW spiritual life study “Embracing Wholeness: An Earth Perspective for Covenantal Living.” Actually it was a study to support the UMW policy on Climate Justice. This UMW woman was disturbed by the author’s claim that the earth and creation was being equated with God Himself. Particularly disturbing to her was the author’s comparison of the death of her cow with the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. Unfortunately there were multiple unscriptural distortions in the study.

Recently, another woman wrote to Renew wanting to connect with other traditional evangelicals women in her area. She wrote to say that:

We have become more and more disappointed in the national UMW group. We do not agree with the social liberal agenda that is promoted in the UMW. The reading program books are becoming increasingly non-biblical and promote society’s way of viewing the world.

So to answer the question, can the National UMW stay in ministry and mission with both traditionalists and progressives? The answer is probably not.  Trying to be all things to all people has failed the church, because as scripture has become reinterpreted and repurposed, that which unified us was lost. When the church was asked to change the definition of marriage and its standards for ordination, it was a step too far.

Since the passage of the Traditional Plan in St. Louis, it has become clear that many centrists and progressives do not want to stay in a church that is unwilling to change its traditional beliefs on marriage and ordination. Traditionalists have been concerned for some time. For different reasons, traditional evangelical women have been leaving UMW in a steady stream for years, and at a larger rate than the loss of denominational membership. Most give reasons similar to the ones I have cited.

We are in a time of waiting. The Traditional Plan has passed, but the dividing issue still divides; and it remains to be seen how this division will play out. Yet, we do not have to wait to see the final outcome to begin to throw off that which has become ineffective and seriously troubling. The time is now to move into deeper Christ centered ministry and mission that we may see the transformational power of our Savior and the Holy Spirit. God is at work. We should be too.

Please pray for the churches like the two examples I have shared. They represent many more who are looking to disengage from ministry that cannot deliver what is so needed. Pastors and women’s leaders have written to request a copy of the Remodel series. (Read about it here) If your women’s or men’s ministry is looking for a resource to refocus and engage members in transformational ministry, contact Renew and we will send the three booklet series to you.

A heart felt thanks to all who have made Renew’s ministry possible through your prayers and gifts. Your continued support is vital to our work in the mission of Good News to lead United Methodists to a faithful future. Because of delays and angry actions in St. Louis, much work was left undone that must be addressed at the 2020 General Conference. Work has already begun. Delegates are being chosen this spring and summer in our Annual Conferences. Pray for these elections and pray for General Conference 2020. Each of you reading this newsletter can help others to understand the division that separates us and have a part in preparing this church for what is coming.

Raising funds to attend two General Conferences within a year of one another is a challenge. Team Renew appreciates each donation however large or small. If you have not made a contribution lately, please consider making one today. But most importantly, join Team Renew as we contend for the United Methodist Church by faithfully praying for our denomination.

Stand with us by going on the Renew Website and printing the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:

Good News

P.O. Box 132076

The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076

Fax: 832.813.5327

In His Service,

Katy Kiser

Renew Network Team Leader

832-381- 0331
renew@goodnewsmag.org

2019 General Conference Stands Firm on Biblical Teaching

2019 General Conference Stands Firm on Biblical Teaching
March 2019

Dear Renew Network,

During the days just prior to the 2019 General Conference, one African woman pastor declared, “We are here to give the church back to Jesus.” And so they did. For without their strong support of orthodox, evangelical Christians, the One Church Plan would have prevailed. Instead, the church passed the Orthodox Traditional Plan.

Many were disappointed with bishops who did not move the process along, which in turn left no time to adopt petitions which would have addressed some of the unconstitutional issues cited in an earlier Judicial Council ruling. And yet much was accomplished. Important loopholes were closed and standards strengthened, including those for ordained ministry.

An explicit prohibition was passed that will limit candidates for ordained ministry to those individuals who will uphold our standards as stated in the Book of Discipline. Additionally, Bishops will not be able to dismiss complaints arbitrarily. A gracious exit plan was passed. But time ran out before it was perfected. Still the will of the body was made known.

There were important amendments that were not allowed to come before the body due to stalling. There is much work that will need to be done between now and the 2020 General Conference. But that does not diminish what can be celebrated. The One Church Plan did not have the votes to pass. It was not affirmed by the majority of delegates. This is remarkable given the time and energy the Council of Bishops and Uniting Methodists put into passing it. Their claim that it had overwhelming support was proved wrong.

We can rejoice that the Book Of Discipline will be strengthened; the definition of marriage will not change; our churches still officially cannot hold same sex weddings, and the ordination standards have been made stronger. For a more detailed account of what was passed and not passed click here and here.

What has divided the church is bigger than the issue of inclusion of LGTBQIA persons. The issue that has divided United Methodists is deeply theological and spiritual. Leading up to and during the conference, there had been much talk of ‘unity’ and ‘love’ by the centrists and progressives. They thought they had the moral high ground. But did they? It turned out that their understanding of both love and unity was built on sand and not a rock solid understanding of God or Scripture.

Dr. Luther Oconer, a Filipino who teaches at United Theological Seminary spoke at a dinner the night before the conference began. He reminded us that there is no real unity without obedience. Oconor also drew the connection between obedience and holiness. He made a powerful point when he remarked, “Promoters of the OCP argue for a diversity of practices…on human sexuality.” He went on to say that they want diversity in unity, but fail to realize that what we practice is tied to deeply held beliefs that define who we are as Methodists: beliefs that “run to the core of our understanding of sin, grace, justification, and sanctification.” The progressive position makes no sense because, “…by allowing different approaches to marriage and ordination based on context, we will have already undermined the very essence of what makes us Methodists…It is tantamount to surrendering our spiritual identity to the dictates of the world.” For Oconor’s entire address, click here.

Our Centrist and Progressive brothers and sisters seemed to have forgotten or failed to comprehend that obedience is necessary to unity and holiness. Unity cannot be achieved if we discard the beliefs that define who we are. They asked all United Methodists to accept the demands of the LGTBQIA community and get back to the Great Commission and the business of making disciples – a goal they thought all Methodists could share. But as Dr. Richard Ramos has shown, mission cannot be successful without obedience, because here too, authentic mission must abide by the words of Jesus who tells us not only to go into all the nations, not only to baptize but to teach them to observe ALL things He has taught. Again, obedience is key to mission.

Most importantly, obedience is also essential to the understanding of real love. Jesus tells us in John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John’s letters tell the early church that love is obedience to ALL that God has commanded. Love distinguishes Christians from the world. Throughout John’s writings, he expounds on love. John makes it very clear in his second letter the sixth verse, “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.”

It is a shallow love that is defined by merely granting what a person wants. It is a dangerous love that misrepresents and blesses what the Word of God does not affirm. For love separated from obedience to all “that is written” is not love. It is self-centeredness in the name of a shallow love that is neither of the spirit nor of the truth. As Cara Nicklas, a delegate from Oklahoma wrote, “Proponents of the OCP argued simply that their plan promoted ‘love for one another’ implying the Traditional Plan did not. Their ‘Love’ is viewed as acceptance of any and all sexual behavior. If it feels good, do it.”

Unity, holiness, mission and love are unobtainable without obedience. Rev. Kenneth Levingston reminded delegates that Methodism is known for its faithfulness to scripture and its emphasis on the way of holiness. Levingston also admonished us not to go back to the bondage that does not honor God. He was referring to those who have taught the church to go after the flesh and not the Spirit.

The Traditional Plan was passed. Traditionalists believe LGTBQIA persons are loved by God. They are welcome in our churches. They are loved with a love that has not been severed from obedience to all that Jesus has taught.

Immediately after the close of the conference, a friend and I found ourselves in a conversation with a female bishop. She accused us and other traditionalist of wanting to throw her out of our denomination. My friend gently reminded her that she knew what the UMC stood for when she vowed to uphold and guard those beliefs. We must remember that the bishop and other like her appeared to be in shock because the OCP did not pass.

Since then, many progressive bishops and denominational leaders have made any number of accusations to the motives of traditionalists. Some have vowed in print to continue to disregard our Book of Discipline and work for full inclusion of all LGBTQIA persons.

It should be remembered that traditionalists have been faithful to the Word of God and the Book of Discipline. Progressives have put us in schism. Dr. David Watson, professor at United Theological Seminary, puts it very strongly, “For years now I have believed we are not functioning as a single denomination. Once bishops started openly to violate the decisions of the General Conference, it was essentially all over. The 2019 General Conference simply held up in dramatic fashion what has become increasingly clear to many: the divisions are so great that we cannot hold them within a single denominational container.”

If the OCP had prevailed, our church would indeed be in bondage to the demands of our culture. The church would have rejected real unity, true holiness, authentic mission and perfect love. But instead, the conference upheld what in Jesus’ words, has been true “from the beginning.” Rev. Levingston passionately reminded the delegates at a Good News breakfast that, “It is still written,” a reference to Jesus’ words in Matthew 24, “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Peter on whom the church is built put it this way, “The Word of the Lord endures forever.”

Of all the accomplishments and disappointments of this conference, the overarching fact remains – The Word of God and the Doctrine of Holiness were not abandoned by the majority of United Methodists.

I want to thank the network for your prayers and your gifts which made it possible for Renew to be represented at the 2019 General Conference. Work is already in progress for the 2020 General Conference.

In His Service,
Katy Kiser
Renew Network Team Leader

The Adoration of the Shepherds

Dear RENEW Network,

It is December and literally everywhere we go are reminders that “Tis the Season.” For Christians, it is the season of Advent, the coming of the Christ Child, the Emmanuel, the arrival of God with us, God Incarnate.

The incarnation of God is a great mystery. Jesus leaves heaven and allows Himself to be born a baby, a fully human baby. The birth of a baby is generally a happy thing, a blessed event. But in the case of the birth of Jesus, it is a miracle, and one which cannot happen in the normal course of life. But it did happen! And with it came the long-awaited Messiah, who brings salvation to all who will accept Him.

Think about it. He comes. He comes to earth where He too is subject to time and space and all the realities and temptations of a fallen world. He is still fully God, but He comes as we all come into the world – in the human flesh of a baby. Jesus, the Son of God, leaves eternity; and in doing so, He manifests God among us. And what He leaves, we gain.

No one puts it more beautifully than John in the first verses of his Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. All things were made through Him,
and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him
was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light
shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Why would He leave Heaven and come? In a word – Love. Something has happened to His beautiful light-filled creation. That something is sin. But just as the love of God created the world and all that we can know or imagine, His love was sent to right every wrong, destroy the works of evil, offer us all salvation and eternal life. How? – through the birth and death of the Only Begotten Son of God. The ‘Good News’ is, God’s love is more powerful than the power of sin and death. That is a point that we should not gloss over or take for granted.

We know the story well. Birth is celebrated at Christmas. Christ, the incarnate, came that first Christmas. And each year we acknowledge it yet again. Each year we are offered the opportunity to experience this mystery, the mystery of God’s deep love. For Jesus came; He comes; and He will come again.

In most churches, we celebrate the Advent Wreath; the first candle we light is the candle of ‘hope.’ If ever we needed hope, we need it this Christmas and in the months to come. We all come to impasses in our lives where we need the hope only the Savior can give. But this year the hope we need is more than just personal; it is corporate. We are at an impasse in the United Methodist Church. We have been approaching this impasse for some time and many of us have been afraid to meet it head on.

Our Church has sought unity in every possible way, trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. Our leaders have studied the issue from every angle. Some of us have ignored the issue; we haven’t talked about it. We have just kept on being the church and making disciples. Others have been on a crusade to change the church into a shape of their own, one that accommodates the current sexually permissive culture. Still others have been like the ‘watchmen’ of Ezekiel 33 warning the church it is going astray.

So what does the incarnate Jesus have to say to us?

Perhaps His answer is found in His birth. For God sent His Son into a family; He sent Jesus to Mary and Joseph, the holy family. By the very birth of Jesus, we are reminded that the original family was holy, being made in the image of God, male and female, and told to be fruitful and multiply. And in a real sense, when we strive to reject or redefine God’s original plan for humankind, we reject God’s incarnate Son sent to save us. John in the fourth chapter of his first letter tells us as much.

The answer also lies in Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in John Chapter 3. He points us to birth, or to be more exact – rebirth. We must be born again. For by Christ’s incarnation comes the promise of complete human redemption and perfection and the restoration of ‘the body’ to be the organ of the Holy Spirit. Each of us is meant to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. There are also profound implications for the church – the ‘body’ corporate.

Maybe we won’t fully understand what God is doing until after the special General Conference in February of next year. Maybe what happens at that conference won’t play out as painfully and destructively as it has in other denominations. Then again, birth can be painful; it is associated with travail. But when the process is over, we rejoice that new life has come!

As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming and the New Year, let us remember the promise of new life that Jesus offers each of us and to our church. Let us keep the promise of birth and rebirth before us and not lose heart.

For, whatever happens, God is with us.

For us at Renew, we will be celebrating you – our faithful network, who prays for our work and whose contributions make it happen. It has been an outstanding year. We have helped churches refocus their women’s ministries to be more gospel centered. Our analysis has helped women’s groups discern various teachings that offer more of the world than of the Word. Your faithful support enabled Renew to give their first scholarship to an outstanding young evangelical woman, who is making a difference in the United Methodist Church. (More about her later.) And let us not forget our new website. Your faithfulness has made this and more happen.

Please be in prayer for our church. Your end of the year gifts will make it possible for Renew to be present at the Special General Conference in February 2019.

Stand with us by going on the Renew Website and printing the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:

Good News
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
Fax: 832.813.5327

In His Service,
Katy Kiser
Renew Team Leader

Nothing Will Be Impossible

Dear Renew Network,

Renew Christmas Letter

I love these words spoken by Gabriel to Mary in the first chapter of Luke, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” This is a remarkable passage of hope. The Christmas Story begins with the Annunciation; Gabriel tells Mary she will give birth to the savior of the world! Mary was an unmarried virgin; she knew that having a baby was impossible for her. She does not doubt that what the angel has proclaimed to her will come about. But she does ask “how.”

Christmas brings with it many “how” questions: how will I get all this shopping done; how will I keep up with all the extra festivities; how, how, how? We all face impossible people and situations in our lives, which have a tendency to be more impossible at this time of the year, when the normal pressures of Christmas are bearing down on us. We too ask, “how” can we experience the hope, peace, joy and love that is meant to be ours during Christmas? Experience whispers, “It is impossible.” But even the things we think are unfathomable, and the things we have given up on, do not take God by surprise. They are not impossible for Him.

This year many of us are asking “how” will we navigate the crisis in our United Methodist Church? How can the UMC have unity and irreconcilable differences over human sexuality? Deep theological truths are at stake. The very essence of our faith is under assault. In the midst of our dilemma, Luke’s Christmas Story tells of another angel who, along with a host of angels, appears to the shepherds and says, “Do not be afraid!” They announce the good tidings of great joy for all of us; God is with us. He will save us. New birth will bring the answer!

At Renew, we too sometimes ask, “How is this possible?” How is it possible that a small group of volunteer women can make a difference for women in the UMC. What seems impossible at times has been made possible. You who support Renew with your prayers and your gifts have made our work possible.

This Christmas, Renew has much in which to rejoice. Our magazine articles have encouraged renewal in women’s ministries and mission. Independent, vital women’s ministry and mission is increasing and thriving across the landscape of the church. We have had a number of requests from pastors and women’s leaders to connect with Renew for the purpose of growing their ministries. They are interested in un-politicized mission opportunities that offer Christ, program materials that provide for spiritual growth, and opportunities to deepen their relationship with Jesus.

Monitoring the United Methodist Women’s National (UMWN) office continues to be an important aspect of our work. If you read my last newsletter (here) you know the important role Renew played in the 90s to bring the Re-Imagining Conference to the attention of all the renewal groups in the United Methodist Church and other denominations. More recently, Renew has exposed the UMWN teaching on The Bible and Human Sexuality. You can find an excellent review by Faye Short on the website (here). New this year on the UMWN Reading Program was a book titled, If Eve Only Knew; Freeing Yourself from Biblical Womanhood. The book is actually sourced by many of the original presenters at the 1993 Re-Imagining Conference and encourages the women to turn to Sophia and a feminist understanding of God.

With this kind of teaching coming out of UMWN, it is not unexpected that the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) reports a staggering decline in UMW units and individual members. Renew does not rejoice in this decline, but we are not surprised. The UMW decline reinforces the wisdom of the 2016 General Conference to pass legislation that officially recognizes alternative women’s ministry in the church. You can read about GCFA’s statistics in a Perspective article by Tom Lambrecht (here).

This year when you make your end-of-year giving, I hope you will include Renew Network. In addition to all that I have described, your contributions will help us launch a new updated website and a scholarship for female evangelical, orthodox seminary students.

Stand with us by going on the Renew website to download or print the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:

Good News
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
Fax: 832.813.5327/p>Renew’s wish is that you will find hope, peace, joy and love as you celebrate the coming of the Christ Child this Christmas.

In His Service,
Katy Kiser
Renew Network Team Leader

August 2017 Newsletter – Monitoring: Nothing New Under the Sun


Dear RENEW Network,

I hope you have been enjoying the celebration of the Good News 50 Year Anniversary. Our editor Steve Beard has done an admirable job reminding us why Good News came into being. I was asked to write an article for the July/August magazine, “A Woman’s Voice For Renewal,” which was a brief history of the role RENEW Network played and continues to play in the renewal movement. As I prepared, I was led to reread many of the reports and analyses that chronicled the challenges and concerns faced by women in the United Methodist Church. Interestingly, many of the issues encountered in the decades of the 70s, 80s, and 90s are still concerns today. I found plenty to prove that old adage: “there is nothing new under the sun.”

One particularly interesting report I came across was a history of the accomplishments of RENEW written by founder and president, Faye Short, at the time of her retirement. Faye recounted the role RENEW played in bringing the Re-Imagining Conference to the attention of not only Good News and the other United Methodist renewal groups, but also evangelicals in the Presbyterian and American Baptist denominations. It was while monitoring one of the Women’s Division board meetings that RENEW picked up on the planned 1993 Re-Imagining Conference.

The Re-Imagining Conference was the midpoint event of the Ecumenical Decade: Churches in Solidarity with Women developed by the radical World Council of Churches. The Ecumenical Decade was designated to celebrate and study feminist, womanist, and lesbian theological perspectives. What originally made it noteworthy to the women of the church was the fact that the Women’s Division had gained General Conference sanction to participate in the Ecumenical Decade. A study book by the same title was offered to United Methodist Women as a resource. Faye Short explains,

“When I, as president of RENEW, reviewed this workbook, I was shocked at the blatant radical feminist content, promoted by well-known feminist authors such as Virginia Mollenkott, Barbara Lundblad, and others. It propelled me into a year’s research on radical feminism and its incursion into the church. Good News hosted a summer celebration, at which RENEW presented a workshop on the Ecumenical Decade, exposing the radical content of the study book.

Not long after, while attending one of the Women’s Division board meetings, RENEW’s press representative picked up printed material promoting the upcoming 1993 Re-Imagining Conference, which was the midpoint event of the Ecumenical Decade. The material revealed that this conference was to be a “coming out” of radical feminism. I alerted the women of our network to the potential danger of this event, and, as I recall, encouraged them to discourage the Women’s Division from participation. As the event drew closer, I had a telephone call from a Catholic women’s leader in California encouraging RENEW to send a press representative to the meeting. She was not able to attend, but recognized the radical nature of the event, saying she believed it would be a “high water mark” for radical feminism.”

If you have read the article by Jim Heidinger, titled, Re-Imagining And The Trivialization of Doctrine, also in the July/August Good News Magazine, you know the conference was indeed a high water mark for feminist and lesbian theology. You know that the Good News staff listened to the recordings of more than 34 presentations given at the Re-Imagining Conference. And, in addition to goddess worship, you know the egregious attack made on biblical human sexuality, the family, the deity of Christ, and the core tenets of the Christian faith. And you know the woefully inadequate response of our bishops.

Annual Re-Imagining Conferences continued for several years during the remainder of the WCC’s Ecumenical Decade. The Women’s Division continued to participate, never acknowledging the escalating egregious nature of the gatherings. Renew had press reps at every Re-Imagining Conference, and Faye Short wrote many articles and letters to the women of the UMC. No doubt, the Women’s Division’s commitment to Re-Imagining was a major cause of UMW funding and membership loss.

Yes, there is nothing new under the sun. The church, the gospel, and all we hold dear is still being challenged. Vigilance remains essential. RENEW’s monitoring of the Women’s Division played a huge role in alerting Good News and the entire church to the theological crisis brought on by the Re-Imagining Conference. It played a role in 2016, when I was monitoring a UMW board meeting and learned that the spiritual life study The Bible and Human Sexuality would question the moral teaching on sexuality found in the Old and New Testament, and instead teach our young women a new sexual ethic based on mere consent and safety. And it will continue to be important in our present theological crisis, as we patiently await the proposals of the Bishops’ Commission.

This fall, a press representative and I will again attend the UMW board meeting to be held in their New York offices at 475 Riverside Drive and the Church Center for the United Nations. On one hand, it is tempting to think that we will hear nothing but the same-old, same-old. Nevertheless, it will be an important meeting.

We at RENEW are confident, because we know the day will come when everything will be new under the sun, or rather everything will be new under the Son of God, Jesus the Christ who is the beginning and the end, and who is, and who was, and who is to come.

Until that time, in addition to monitoring, RENEW has been working with women and pastors who have sought us out to help them find ministry models and materials for programs that meet their needs for spiritual growth and authentic kingdom mission. Our website is being updated to better serve these requests. You will find much that is new there.

As we leave the days of summer behind and begin a new school year, let us all recommit to fight the good fight and after having done all – to stand firm. Many thanks to you who have stood firm with us over the years. Your prayers and support make our monitoring and ministry work possible. If you haven’t made a contribution to RENEW recently, we trust you will. I promise you it will be put to good work.

Is the Moral Teaching of Christ really “tired Christian lady stuff?

Is the Moral Teaching of Christ really “tired Christian lady stuff?”

Good News is celebrating 50 years in the renewal movement of the United Methodist Church. If you haven’t read the magazine’s excellent articles in the last two editions – please do. They informed my deep appreciation for the role Good News has played to bring about renewal and revival of classical Wesleyan doctrine.

As our church in the states has become more influenced by secular agendas in our decaying culture, Good News has been faithful to proclaim the gospel and challenge the church to be faithful to the faith once delivered to the saints.

Renew has been a part of these past 50 years. As the church drifted away from classical orthodoxy, founder Faye Short began to shine light on the theological error coming out of the Women’s Division and now the UMW National office. Whether it was liberation theology, the Sophia movement, tying the mission of the church to the goals of the UN, advocating radical feminism, or substituting progressive public policy for the proclamation of the gospel, Renew has been faithful to report these disturbing developments.

Today Renew must challenge the United Methodist Women’s teaching on human sexuality. Let’s just call it what it is. It is the cultural issue that is pressuring the church to adopt unbiblical false teaching. Let me give you an example.

My last two updates drew attention to the UMW spiritual life study, The Bible and Human Sexuality, which was taught to women all over the country in Mission U last summer. This study asked the church to embrace a new sexual ethic based on consent and safety. It casted doubt on classic orthodox moral teaching on sexuality in favor of “new interpretations” that undercut our understanding of sin, repentance, righteousness, and holiness.

Even worse, in 2017, the UMW reading list added another book, Femmevangelical: The Modern Girl’s Guide to the Good News. This book illustrates the UMW National’s commitment to transform the church’s sexual ethic so it is inclusive of current sexual practice.

Author Jennifer Crumpton speaks of discarding “tired ‘Christian lady’ stuff about purity, piety, patience, prudence, and obedience.” She advocated for overthrowing the “slyly suffocating, subordinating effects of male-dominant religion.” She wants to build a relationship with a “different God.” She uses the words of Jesus in Luke 12, “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?” to give women the evangelical license to determine for themselves what is right and good and sexually acceptable to God.

What is Renew’s Response?

It saddens us to recognize that do-it-yourself morality is being substituted for the clear, righteous, holy ethical teaching of Jesus. We should remember that liberal progressive influences have brought the church to the present crisis. They cannot lead us out. We must see attacks on our faith for what they are.

New at Renew

Renew is indebted to our founder and president emeritus, Faye Short for a thorough analysis of The Bible and Human Sexuality. This resource can be found on the Renew Website. It details and combats the revisionist teaching of this so-called spiritual study. It will be helpful to the women of the church not only to recognize false interpretation of scripture, but also can be used to steer our congregations away from teaching that does not show us the way, the truth or how to find real life in Him.

Also you will find Sacredness in Sexuality by Mary Lambrecht. Mary points us to God’s true plan for sexuality which stems from His love, not man’s, which is holy, sacred, joyful, and life-giving.

Renew continues to minister to the church with truth and love. Please check out our website and Facebook page for new resources including critique, vibrant ministry, and mission ideas. And feel free to contact us by phone; we are blessed by your calls, your prayers and continued support.

Stand with us by going on the Renew Website to download or print the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:
Good News
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
Fax: 832.813.5327

Please be praying for the Judicial Council, who meets next week to decide the legality of the election and consecration of a lesbian married bishop.

I hope to see many of you in Memphis, April 28-29 at the Wesley Covenant Association meeting. If you haven’t made plans you can do so here.

In His Service,
Katy Kiser
Renew Network Team Leader

Holy Week Update 2017

April 10, 2017

Dear Renew Network,

It is Holy Week as I write this update. I can’t help but wonder what the disciples were thinking in the days leading up to Christ’s resurrection? Did they experience despair; did they want to give up and leave? Given that many of them fled and hid in fear, I think it safe to say they did.

Certainly the crisis of the disciples when Jesus was arrested is different from ours in the UMC. But ours is a crisis all the same, and many of us have become impatient and fear it is too late. For over 40 years our church has implemented secular and culturally-driven agendas that have brought us to an impasse. And now we find ourselves in a holding pattern waiting for the Judicial Council to rule on the legitimacy of the election of a married lesbian as bishop and the findings of the Commission on a Way Forward.

In a recent letter, Rev. Rob Renfroe, president Good News reminded us that waiting should not be confused with doing nothing.  We can pray, fast and prepare ourselves to take action.

At the Good News board meeting we heard from two presenters who were from mainline denominations which have experienced division and split. Each had valuable lessons and seasoned advice to share. Each had watched as their denomination undermined its own scriptural and doctrinal foundations. One speaker described the process as “spiritual genocide.”

Both our speakers offered some very salient advice, which I share with you.

First, we must read the sign of the times. In Matthew 16, Jesus chided the Pharisees and Sadducees for not discerning the signs of the times. We should be prepared for what happens next. We know what likely is to happen. It should not throw us when it does happen. We stand having done all.

Secondly, we should be studying the scriptures that admonish us to beware of false teaching. The crisis we are in is not about a difference of opinion on non-essential matters. It is not about allowing a diversity of legitimate interpretations. The crisis has been caused by the clash of godly, biblical, gospel teaching on one side and on the other, false teaching that gives rise to a prophetic mission to change our understanding of human sexuality. We were reminded that the UMC will either be – “Biblically orthodox or not – Christ honoring or not – Christ centric or not.”

Thirdly, we were advised to enlist those who would do spiritual warfare on behalf of the church and the renewal efforts of Good News, Renew and our other partners. We were reminded that what we are up against “does not come out by anything other than prayer.”  We were told:

“This is spiritual warfare, and the devil loves division, distraction, depression and deceit. He hates the Bride of Christ and he will stop at nothing to humiliate her.”  

Finally, we were encouraged to focus on gospel mission and be real missionaries even if the institution is not. This means we should be discipling someone at all times.

A Call to Prayer

In this time of uncertainty, Renew encourages you to stand in prayer with Good News and Renew. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might that we will stand against the wiles of the devil, our true enemy. This is not a time to become hasty or weary. We must stand in truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, and faith;

  • Discerning the signs of the times. 
  • Standing in sound doctrine while rejecting, not compromising with false teaching. 
  • Engaging in serious prayer and spiritual battle for the soul of our church and our culture.
  • Reaching out to others to both make disciples and grow them in truth, righteousness, peace and faith.

Please join us in fervent prayer. I believe the Lord’s timing is perfect. We are on the threshold of revival and new life in the church.

As we prepare for Easter in 2017, let us remember that first Easter. Confusion and fear abounded when Jesus was taken from the disciples in the garden. They did not realize they were on the threshold of an unfolding of events by which our enemy would be overthrown and the salvation of the entire world would be made possible.

Thank you

Renew is blessed by your prayers and continued support.

Stand with us by going on the Renew Website and download or print the Donations Form. Or you may designate a check to Renew Network and send to:
Good News
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
Fax: 832.813.5327

I hope to see many of you in Memphis, April 28-29 at the Wesley Covenant Association meeting. If you haven’t made plans you can do so here.

In His Service,
Katy Kiser
Renew Network Team Leader

 

renew@goodnewsmag.org