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.
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:
P.O. Box 132076
The Woodlands, TX 77393-2076
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,
Renew Network Team Leader