First United Methodist Church
Hughes Springs, Texas
|Volume 5||May 2016|
It was 50 years ago, on April 8, 1966 that Time Magazine carried the cover story, “God is Dead.” Now, fifty years later, God is still alive despite the best efforts of many people to kill him, or at least kill his Church.
In many states, the current church killing effort is to pass bills that allow people and businesses to discriminate based on “sincerely held religious belief.” It is a bad and thoughtless idea that harms the Church. It makes the Church look intolerant and hateful. It calls into question whether we are the kind of people who really love our neighbors after all. The idea is not biblical. Worse yet, it violates biblical principles.
As I understand the argument for the right to discriminate, religious people claim it would appear they approve of sinful behavior if they have to do business with certain sinners. Christians are not supposed to approve of sin.
They cite Romans 1:32. To give a little more context, verses 29-32 read as follows: “They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”
So, do you think this verse prohibits you from selling Avon to someone who is envious or who gossips? I have never heard of anyone refusing to make a wedding cake for someone’s second or third marriage, refusing to serve dinner to a couple who are living together outside of marriage, or refusing to rent a room to someone because they are haughty, boastful or crafty.
This whole thing is really just about the right to discriminate against homosexuals. I get it – that’s icky. But is our desire to refuse really biblical?
Those who cite the verse claim they would sin if they “applaud” or “approve” or in any way imply that they are OK with your sins. But, the cited scripture is clearly not talking about two different groups of people – one group who commit sins and another group who somehow approves of those sins.
The verse is talking about one group of people because there is only one group – those who commit sins and also applaud others who sin because everyone is in the sinner category. Nothing in this verse can be reasonably interpreted to prohibit anyone from selling a product to a sinner. If that were the case, I would starve to death because I would not be able to buy groceries.
In the very next verse, Paul makes it clear that the scripture is not about implied approval of sin, but about hypocritical judgment. Romans 2:1 says, “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.”
So, we all have sins and when we pass judgment on others, we pass judgment on ourselves as well. These verses are about hypocritical judgment, not implied approval of sin. In fact, these verses which some people claim allow them to refuse service to others because of their sinful nature, actually condemn that very conduct because it is a hypocritical judgment of sinners by sinners.
In Romans 2:4, 5, Paul adds, “Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
“I am convinced by your hateful, judgmental attitude that I am wrong” said no one ever. But someone did say … ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” (Rom. 12:20) If we are really Christians, then we should offer the same kindness, forbearance and patience that God offers. We are told to get along with everyone as best we can (Rom. 12:18) and leave the punishment to God (Rom. 12:19), because we are not the best judges of who should be punished and for what – not even close.
Blessings, Bro. Ed
Introducing the Next Pastor for Hughes Springs/ Cornett
First United Methodist Church of Hughes Springs and Cornett United Methodist Church welcome Rev. Bill Laubenberg and his family as they prepare to serve in East Texas. Rev. Laubenberg and wife Diana will begin serving in July. Moving to Hughes Springs with them will be their oldest daughter Amy. The Laubenbergs have three other children; Nick, his wife and four children live in Massachusetts; their middle daughter Mary lives in Austin with her husband and child; and the youngest daughter Wendy is in the Navy, stationed in Virginia aboard the USS Lincoln.
Born in New York, Rev. Bill moved to Texas at the age of five when Exxon Corporation transferred his father to Houston. Growing up in the Spring Branch area of Houston, he graduated from Springs Woods High School in 1973, attended Texas Lutheran College (now Texas Lutheran University) where he received a BA in Theology. He received his Master of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He has served as a Chaplain at Winnebago State Mental Institute in Wisconsin and at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Nebraska before returning to Texas to go into parish ministry. He first served two churches in the Texas hill-country, then a church near Victoria, Texas.
To meet the special educational needs of Amy, Rev. Laubenberg later accepted the chaplaincy at the Methodist Hospital and returned to Houston.
First United Methodist Church of Katy became their church home, where Bill made the decision to return to the ministry and with encouragement from his pastor there, he began the process. He strengthened his knowledge of Methodist history and the theology of John Wesley at Asbury Theological Seminary. Now he will serve FUMC-Hughes Springs and Cornett UMC as a licensed local pastor.
Rev. Bill and his wife Diana are both certified special education teachers and have worked with emotionally disturbed children. Diana is anxious to settle into their new parsonage home, but may be traveling back to Houston occasionally until they sell their home there. She plans to be supportive of Bill and his ministry here. Amy enjoys reading and likes to paint with acrylics.
Join in welcoming them to Hughes Springs.
If you have not already, please take a moment to look at the new awning in the back of the church. A covered drop off has been placed over the deck and ramp for a very nice drop off area.
Thanks to the trustees for all their hard work.
they are scary
If your organization or committee has an event to be held at or sponsored by the church, please call the secretary’s office at 903-639-2131, so it can be placed on the calendar, in the bulletin and in the newsletter.
This will help prevent double bookings at the church.
Scripture Readings for May
Acts 16: 16-34
Revelation 22: 12-14, 16 – 17, 20 – 21
John 20: 19 – 31
Acts 2: 1 – 21
Psalm 104: 24 – 34
Romans 8: 14 – 17
John 14: 8 – 17
Proverbs 8: 1 – 4, 22 – 31
Romans 5: 1 – 5
John 16: 12 – 15
I Kings 18: 20 – 39
Galatians 1: 1 – 12
Luke 7: 1 – 10