Wednesday was travel day for me. In the morning I briefly watched the plenary meeting, and caught some of Nina Gunter’s message. The one phrase that caught my attention was “the church is not in crisis; the church is in Christ.” I wondered if she had seen one of my postcards which I passed out to some folks this week. I will be responding to that one statement in more detail soon. It raises a significant question.
Since my access to information was limited yesterday, I want to just talk briefly about some things on a more personal basis. Here is a link, however, for you to catch up on all the voting results for the various resolutions, and for the General Superintendent: Resolutions & GS Voting
I will also be writing some thoughts soon regarding the new second General Superintendent, Gustavo Crocker, probably in my final wrap up assessment of the General Assembly 2013 and its ramifications for the Church of the Nazarene.
A Word Of Thanks
First, I want to sincerely thank my hosts Charlie and Sharon. Last month I realized there was no way I could really go to GA and spend all that money for six days in a hotel. Family needs came first, including my daughter’s summer tuition. Some good friends sent me money to help me for the trip, and it helped pay the airfare. But I was ready to send it back to them, when Charlie and Sharon emailed me and offered me their bed and breakfast (their home) for me to stay. It allowed me to come to Indianapolis to do what I could to warn the people. But even better than saving money was the fellowship I had with two friends, which was really priceless. My bucket list however still has about 500 names with the plan of having a face to face visit!
These two friends, as many others have done, are an example of what Concerned Nazarenes is all about. They have been Nazarenes for a long time, but are no longer Nazarenes since last December. They are not hateful or bitter; and they love the church. Yet even as they have left the COTN, they continue on with a desire to warn who they can about the cancer spreading in the church. They enjoyed the fellowship they had while it lasted, but when they were pressed to make some hard decisions, they had to choose either faithfulness to the Lord, or loyalty to an organization.
What struck me today in thinking about Charlie and Sharon is one of the things that really bother me. I have gotten used to the insults, the accusations that I hate the church, or that I am unloving or un-Christlike; or that I do not have the credentials to really understand God’s word; or the predictable and incorrect instructions that I should never judge. I get it, I understand. Those whose consciences I have struck with the truth of God’s word will use the only tactic they have to strike back. Their capacity to correct me with God’s word is invalidated by their very disbelief in God’s inerrant word! A new tactic might be one that was tried this week, when a pastor asked to pray for me. Somehow I just could not let him do that, because our ways seem so opposite. I had a check in my spirit, if you will, that made me think that it was not a wise thing to do.
As a recent example, here is a comment made by a Nazarene pastor. I will keep his name anonymous to avoid embarrassing him, as this is simply an example:
“Personally I don’t much care what some (uncredentialed) naysayer thinks; he clearly hates the church and the direction the Holy Spirit is leading us and is only interested in causing division and making a name for himself by driving a personal agenda.”
Note the underlined parts of his quote (and he did not give any support for his accusations). I am not alone in what I am doing, nor am I alone in my assessment of how troubled the church is today. There are thousands of Nazarenes who think exactly like I do about these things, and who are grieving as they see a holiness denomination sliding into apostasy. And so when they insult me, and call me un-Christlike, they are also calling thousands of Nazarenes un-Christlike, or hateful, or too judgmental. What this pastor said, in a manner which contradicts much of what Scripture outlines are the requirements of being a good pastor, is that all of us who are like-minded are un-credentialed, hate the church, and are causing division. And making a name for myself, as if any of us who are speaking out are enjoying making a name for ourselves! The only truth he may have spoken is that since we are standing for truth, we certainly are causing a separation of the wheat from the tares.
I briefly met another believer and concerned Nazarene, Esther, at the Assembly, and I can tell you she is not hateful. She too has a burden for the COTN. I met some folks who came up to me and said, “aren’t you Manny Silva? I’ve been reading your blog.” They told me that they too have a great concern for what is happening to the church. What a rare blessing to run into believers who see the truth, and care about the church! I met at least four pastors who I never met before, and was encouraged with their stand for the truth, and their determination to preach nothing but the Gospel of Jesus Christ! These were the good things I saw this week, as I am reminded that God has a remnant that will remain faithful to the end.
A Word Of Caution
So to those who hurl insults all day long, or laugh and snicker at General Assembly, and refuse to correct me through God’s word, remember you are not just insulting me. You are insulting a lot of other Christians who actually love the church, and want to help it. To those of you who are pastors and church leaders and who join in the name calling; you are the ones who are devoid of truth. You are the ones who are more interested in power, in your position, in your paycheck, or in receiving the praise of your fellow man and your congregation. You are more concerned about your future pension than in preaching the truth and defending it. You relish in the praises of your fellow elites who have a PhD, but are devoid of wisdom. You know who you are. Be happy to receive your reward now, because that is all you will get.
There is scripture that aptly speaks of those who care more about receiving honor for themselves, instead of giving honor to God.
11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried aboutby the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. (Jude 11-13)
As people start preparing to leave the Assembly and say to each other, “what a wonderful assembly, God is good and He is blessing us, isn’t He?” I wonder if they have any idea of what is really going on. I wonder if they realize that the people who are getting the blessing are those who are truly obedient to God’s word, have suffered and been vilified for it, and were not willing to compromise the truth for a brief season of man’s comfort and approval. And as some of these same people start questioning their pastor or leaders someday soon, they will soon realize the same thing will happen to them, just like it is happening to us now.