Augusta District

 

Augusta District Newsletter, 5-11-17

1.  Pre-Conference Briefing

We will gather at Macedonia UMC at 3pm on May 21st.  Take exit 165 (Camak) on I 20 and head north half a mile.  We will receive our conference handbooks, hear reports about issues we will be voting on at Annual Conference, and we will vote on our District budget and officers.

A PDF of the conference handbook will be on the conference website for downloading by June 1.

2.  Leadership UMC

Be considering laity who might be primed for Leadership UMC.  Linda Culpepper will be at the pre-conference briefing with applications in hand.

3.  Robing for Ordination Service

From Jane Brooks - This year for the service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination, we are beginning a new tradition.  Bishop Sue is encouraging all clergy, active and retired, to robe and march in the opening processional for the service that is on Wednesday night, June 14 at 7:30. 

So that adequate seating can be reserved for the processing clergy to sit surrounding the candidates, clergy must register in order to be in the line up.  The link for registration is

https://northga-reg.brtapp.com/ServiceofOrdinationandCommissioning

4.  Finances Checklist

I have had occasion to send this out to several folks recently, so I have attached here the most recent version.  Pastors and treasurers - please attend to internal controls before cases of fraud or embezzlement occur.

5. From the Attic of Methodism – “Shouting Methodists”

I attached an old article from Encounter Magazine which details a forgotten part of our past.  In a rural church I served, people still fondly remembered how old Uncle Ralph would hand his hat to Aunt Sally.  He would say, “Hold my hat, Sally – I’m gonna shout!”

I don’t know who said it – Yogi Berra, maybe? – but when asked about progress, replied, “ We ain’t catching up with as much as we’re passing by.”

6.  From the DS - God’s Love – Is it “Unconditional?”

A few weeks ago the Upper Room had a daily devotion titled, “Flaws and All.” It focused on God’s Unconditional Love, which accepts us - well - “flaws and all!”  This picture of divine grace and the salvation God offers us, however, is a glittering half-truth.  It is preached from our pulpits and adorns our bumper stickers, but like many half-truths, it is poisonous.  The devotion made no mention of sin – either original sin or the practice of sin.  It spoke of “love” as if the kingdom of God says, “Come as you are; stay as you were.” Such a gospel never confronts sin, never demands repentance, and never transforms us from sinners to saints.  It is heavy on justification – what God has done for us – but it notoriously empty on sanctification – the indwelling power of God’s Spirit who empowers us to grow and bear fruit.  Whole swaths of the Bible are simply ignored by this trite heresy.[1] 

I looked at several passages about divine love in the Scriptures– and the ways that love is shown – and found at least three costly conditions placed on that love.  We should not be surprised that conditions are placed on the lover, God; but the beloved is held accountable as well.

1.  First, Divine Love is shown on the cross (John 3:16; I John 4:9, 14; Romans 5:6-8)

As a poet once said, “Love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice.”  When we were powerless, Christ came for us and died for us. 

2.  Secondly, Divine Love is shown by God imparting new life (Eph. 2:4-5; Eph. 3:16-19; Romans 5:5; John 3:16; John 4:9-10).

When we were dead in our trespasses and sins, Christ gave us new birth. In fact, Christ breathes into us His own breath/spirit; Divine Love personally indwells us! 

3. Finally, Divine Love is shown in discipline.

Heb. 12:6 …because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his a child…10 (Earthly fathers) disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.

Often our theological errors creep in because we think statically, as if something that is true at one moment is true in all other moments.  Yes, God’s loving grace loved me while I was yet a sinner – BUT once that grace is implanted in me, God’s love insists that I grow, bear fruit, and cease sinning.  Yes, God’s grace gave me life when I was dead and powerless; but once His life is born in me, God’s expectations of my behavior change! [2]

The God revealed in the Bible is not my therapist, nor is He a doddering grandfather who only wants to spoil the kids. [3] The paternal love of God disciplines the children He loves.  God’s love is intolerant of sin, because sin is fatal to the human soul.  Sin is poison, disease, corruption, and God’s love is furious against the sin that deceives us and seeks to kill us.  Love is capable of loving the child yet hating the disease that wounds the child.  We must, in the words of my grandparents, “get shed of it” before it kills us. And love will not stand idly by while we continue to surrender to sin (read Romans 6, for starters, and then all of I John).  God’s goal is not simply to remove sin but to give us something better; a “share in His holiness,” until we are “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” and become “partakers in the divine nature.”[4]

I will never forget the last time my father spanked me.  I was thirteen – thirteen!  A friend came home with me after a football game on a Friday.  In the middle of the night, we slipped out of the house and went downtown.  I had no clue that my little town had a curfew!  I found out.  At 2am, the police called my father and said, “We picked up your son.”  A cruiser brought me home and dropped me off.  My dad said, “Go to bed.  We will talk in the morning.” 

I did not sleep well.  In the morning, we talked. My father calmly removed his belt (spoiler alert – this is not politically correct!)  That was the last time my dad ever disciplined me physically.  And yet…the older I get, the more I love and respect that man.  He wanted to know that I got the lesson.  I did.

I am thankful for the real love which holds me accountable. God’s love believes I am worth the effort to discipline me.  God has a plan, like a master builder or a gardener or a potter, to shape and guide me into maturity and fruitfulness. This is no fictional doctrine but the ongoing story of my life in God’s kingdom.  Thank God for the conditions by which God’s love holds me accountable.

[1]The study of theology always tends toward balancing truths – grace and law, faith and works, God’s initiative and human responsibility, righteousness imputed in the mind of God and imparted in the nature of the believer (Phil. 2:13).

[2]This is why the study of Paul’s tenses is vitally important.  I was saved; I am being saved; I will be saved. Justification – sanctification – glorification. 

[3] Thomas Odens claims that he was at least one of the ones who made the term “unconditional love” popular in the 1960’s –

“At the same time I was writing on the uncharted theme of unconditional acceptance, a theme I found in Carl Rogers. I argued that it was a fitting description of the forgiving God, and that unconditional love corresponded directly with commonly acknowledged assumptions in effective psychotherapy…Carelessly, I had invited pastors and theologians to equate the unconditional positive regard that had proven to be a reliable condition of effective psychotherapy with God’s unconditional forgiving love for humanity.  In doing so, I had absentmindedly and unfortunately disregarded all those powerful biblical admonitions on divine judgment and the need for admonition in pastoral care. Few of these homilists mentioned the wrath of God against sin as Jesus did.  I had drifted toward a Christ without a cross and a conversion without repentance. It still makes me wince to hear sermons today about God’s unconditional love that are not qualified by any admonition concerning the temptation to permissiveness.”  - Thomas Oden, A Change of Heart (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014), 89-90.

 [4] John Wesley put it eloquently: “Now one who is so born of God, as hath been above described, who continually receives into his soul the breath of life from God, the gracious influence of his Spirit, and continually renders it back; one who thus believes and loves, who by faith perceives the continual actings of God upon his spirit, and by a kind of spiritual re-action returns the grace he receives, in unceasing love, and praise, and prayer; not only doth not commit sin, while he thus keepeth himself, but so long as this ‘seed remaineth in him, he cannot sin, because he is born of God.’"  - The Privilege of the Children of God

 

Yours for the Kingdom,

 

Terry Fleming

Augusta District Superintendent

PO Box 204600
Augusta, GA  30907

Office:  706-651-8621

Fax:  706-651-8622

Cell:  678-447-6034

 

"Mockers can get a whole town agitated, but the wise will calm anger."  Prov. 29:8

 


 
 

 

District Superintendent


Terry Fleming
(706) 651-8621
terry.fleming@ngumc.net
View Bio

Administrative Assistant

Tina Lancaster
(706) 651-8621
agst@ngumc.net

Contact Information

Office Address:
3332 West Cliffe Court
Augusta, GA 30907

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 204600
Augusta, GA 30917

(706) 651-8621 Phone
(706) 651-8622 Fax

agst@ngumc.net
http://www.ngumc.org/agst