I wrote this for Facebook, but decided it should be a blog post...
You can embrace the now, and still remember (and love) where you came from.
Most of my friends/followers here on FB are intelligent enough to grasp this concept, but something came up today that made me think I should address the issue again (even though I've already covered this topic extensively in my book and on my blogs).
Bottom line, I thank God for my classical Pentecostal heritage, first in the Church of God, and then in the Assemblies of God. They are both great organizations that I am proud to have been a part of, if for nothing more than out of respect for both of my grandfathers, who were COG pastors and officials.
I graduated from an AG university and started CHURCH IN THE NOW in that denomination. My father pastored churches in both of these denominations for over 56 years.
So, God bless the Pentecostals.
I also appreciate the influence of teachers and preachers from the Charismatic Renewal who were a part of my life for many years, and those with whom I worked in the Word of Faith movement. There are things that I learned in those years from people in both camps that I walk in to this very day...precepts that are forever a part of my consciousness and belief system.
God bless the Charismatics.
And I am grateful, too, for all that was imparted to me from my Uncle Earl about the Kingdom of God, and all that came from the movement that he fathered, which has ended up all these years later to have apparently had a profound influence on the church, regardless of the obvious things that his detractors never fail to bring up about his personal life.
God bless the Word of Faith people and the Kingdom people.
I thank God for every part of my spiritual journey, and have the utmost respect and highest esteem for those who have spoken into my life, whether they claim me now or not.
A few years ago, when I began to publicly preach what I had always really believed from my own studies about the triumph of the Last Adam over the first Adam (some call it Ultimate Reconciliation...others call it Christian Universalism or Inclusion, although none of those labels really define my ministry, in my opinion), there was a huge fallout from it in my church and bishopric that cost me a lot, which I will not elaborate on at this time...or maybe never again, because that's really old news.
But, suffice it to say that for a brief time, regardless of the people in my life who were rejecting me for not preaching that non-believers would be eternally punished, I became the darling of the Ultimate Reconciliation people, who were more than happy to accept me into their ranks.
But that ended rather abruptly as soon as I came out. Turns out, the people in that flow don't think I'm going to hell for being gay because they believe that Jesus is the "Saviour of all men, especially them that believe"...they just don't like gay people.
Ahh, but that's really old news, too...probably won't bring it up again, either...
Oh well...God bless the Ultimate Reconciliation people.
But after coming out, I still couldn't really connect with most gay Christian ministries because they typically brand me as a universalist, and refuse to fellowship with me because they say my theology is too extreme for them.
Let me tell you, it's a trip to preach in a gay church that has an openly gay pastor who is hosting a gay Christian conference, and the whole time you're preaching, the all-gay intercessory prayer group is standing in the back of the sanctuary with their hands outstretched toward you, speaking in tongues and binding the devil and the "spirit of universalism", so that you won't spread your heretical false doctrine of inclusion in their gay church.
Some times I just have to laugh at it all...
...but God bless the religious gay Christians, just the same.
Anyway, something was said in the last few hours that I've actually heard before, and it's what brought all this up. It was something to the effect of "We still embrace our Pentecostal heritage, and don't believe that stuff that you and D.E. (my cousin) preach"
They are referring, of course, to "Inclusion", or one of the other aforementioned labels that I'm sure they use when referring to me or my cousin (for the record, my cousin would be the first to tell you that he and I don't exactly embrace the very same theology, but we consider any point of disagreement that we may have to be a non-issue, and have been able to preach together on many occasions with no problem...in a word, we're grown-ups.)
But he would also agree with me that neither of us would be here if it were not those who have gone before us. My maternal grandfather was considered radical by his Baptist relatives for preaching on the The Baptism in the Holy Spirit. My uncle was considered radical for re-connecting the Pentecostal church with the historical/liturgical church, and for changing the way many of us viewed the concept of "end-times".
We are who we are and we believe what we believe, but we honor our past and thank God for it.
So, in the immortal words of Tiny Tim, God bless us, every one.
At the risk of sounding smug, I am happy to announce that I have put away the childish things that so many Christians obsess over these days...the thinking that if you have progressed, that you are somehow dishonoring your past.
And let it be known that...
I honor my past.
I honor my heritage.
I honor my ancestry.
I honor the call of God on my life.
I honor the anointing.
I honor and bless the Ministry of Reconciliation.
And I speak into the atmosphere that a new day is dawning, one in which we never have to hear unkind words spoken, or suffer the pain of rejection and division...one in which we see ourselves as one, as Jesus prayed in John 17.
Paul asked the Corinthians "Is Christ divided?"
My answer to Paul is no...a thousand times no!
I love all and forgive all, but I live in the now.
I thank God for the new world that is coming, but I live in the now.
This would be a good place to quote the lyrics here, "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...", but that may sound like something a universalist would say...
Ok, ok...no more sarcasm. That's the last time...
Let there be peace on earth!