“On April 26, Dr. Ray surrendered his credentials as an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. Our pastor’s actions were done with a heavy heart, but also with a clear conscience.”
Most of you have likely not heard of Mt Bethel UMC in Marietta, Georgia even though it’s the largest Methodist church in north Georgia. This church has been a beacon in that area for over 175 years. They believe quite simply, “At the center of our mission is a great desire to evolve and stay relevant in our community–to find new ways to share an unchanging Gospel in a changing world.”
Sounds good, right? Well… this church has been in the religion news outlets the past few weeks. Why? Because the pastor of this very large, growing church believes in the truth of the Holy Bible. Rev. Dr. Jody Ray has been the senior pastor of Mt. Bethel for five years and has made it quite clear of his unwavering orthodoxy belief. The North Georgia Conference… well … it’s led by a very progressive bishop. Without so much as a consultation, the pastor received word he was being reappointed effective in less than a month. He and the church were caught off guard and requested the bishop reconsider. The answer was a strong, “no.”
“As an elder in the church I certainly understand the appointive process,” said Ray. “Unfortunately, my options were to accept the move, take a leave of absence, or surrender my credentials. That’s not exactly the way colleagues in the Order of Elders expect to be treated.”
So Rev. Ray announced today he was surrendering his credentials rather than stay embedded in the nightmare that the United Methodist Church has become because of the battle between good and evil.
For those not familiar with the ordination process in the UMC, it’s a long, exhausting process reaped in unobtainable expectations. In other words, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s easily 10 years from start to finish, and more intensive then many residencies. Beyond the incredible hard work, time, and tears, the road to ordination is deeply personal because God calls us to the ministry and God ordains us. Unfortunately, many people have forgotten that very powerful fact. God is the ONLY one who can ordain us.
So why am I talking about all of this? Because I’ve been in a similar situation as Rev. Ray. Being placed in that position — new appointment, leave of absence, or surrender credentials — it’s incredibly painful. When you surrender your credentials, your life does not simply gone on. Your life is changed. You are changed. You ache deeply. You question yourself. You even question God. It’s not a simple choice. But it’s a necessary step when you can no longer represent a denomination because of their departure from God. And just like Ray, it all came down to being pro-sin or pro-Truth.
There are more and more of us who are being pushed out of the UMC simply for our unshakable faith in the inerrancy of scripture. It’s hard to even process that a church is no longer a place to hear Truth. It’s no longer a place to learn accountability to what’s right and wrong. It’s a place where the world has been embraced while God has been replaced. But so many churches from many different denominations are taking this approach. I focus on the UMC because of my personal experience.
There are several private forums online for those of us who are traditional believers. These forums provide a place for us to listen, lift each other up, discuss scripture, and pray together. Unfortunately, we are forced to be in hiding for our beliefs. Recently, we were warned to be very careful because we were being targeted. One person wrote, “Some one invited a friend of mine who could lose his/her job if affiliation here [the forum] was known. I recommended NOT participating here. Some clergy and lay conference staff are very vulnerable.”
It’s difficult for most people to understand the gravity of the pain clergy and laity are in because of the progressive leadership of the UMC. Threats, verbal assaults, loss of jobs, loss of friends… and this is only the beginning. With the split of the UMC looming , many more innocents will become victims of this fight.
For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. — 2 Timothy 4:3-5
Scripture tells us over and over to be aware of false teachers. God knew that this day would come. And He clearly knew we would fall prey without constantly abiding in Him.
Friend, if you find yourself in the midst of this battle, the time has come for you to rise up. Remaining lukewarm is no longer an option. Eternity is on the line. So I leave you with these words from the Apostle Simon Peter:
But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They’ll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other—biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They’ve put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can’t tell right from wrong.
They give the way of truth a bad name. They’re only out for themselves. They’ll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won’t, of course, get by with it. They’ll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on.
God didn’t let the rebel angels off the hook, but jailed them in hell till Judgment Day. Neither did he let the ancient ungodly world off. He wiped it out with a flood, rescuing only eight people—Noah, the sole voice of righteousness, was one of them.
God decreed destruction for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. A mound of ashes was all that was left—grim warning to anyone bent on an ungodly life. But that good man Lot, driven nearly out of his mind by the sexual filth and perversity, was rescued. Surrounded by moral rot day after day after day, that righteous man was in constant torment.
So God knows how to rescue the godly from evil trials. And he knows how to hold the feet of the wicked to the fire until Judgment Day.
God is especially incensed against these “teachers” who live by lust, addicted to a filthy existence. They despise interference from true authority, preferring to indulge in self-rule. Insolent egotists, they don’t hesitate to speak evil against the most splendid of creatures. Even angels, their superiors in every way, wouldn’t think of throwing their weight around like that, trying to slander others before God.
These people are nothing but brute beasts, born in the wild, predators on the prowl. In the very act of bringing down others with their ignorant blasphemies, they themselves will be brought down, losers in the end. Their evil will boomerang on them. They’re so despicable and addicted to pleasure that they indulge in wild parties, carousing in broad daylight. They’re obsessed with adultery, compulsive in sin, seducing every vulnerable soul they come upon. Their specialty is greed, and they’re experts at it. Dead souls!
They’ve left the main road and are directionless, having taken the way of Balaam, son of Beor, the prophet who turned profiteer, a connoisseur of evil. But Balaam was stopped in his wayward tracks: A dumb animal spoke in a human voice and prevented the prophet’s craziness.
There’s nothing to these people—they’re dried-up fountains, storm-scattered clouds, headed for a black hole in hell. They are loudmouths, full of hot air, but still they’re dangerous. Men and women who have recently escaped from a deviant life are most susceptible to their brand of seduction. They promise these newcomers freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, for if they’re addicted to corruption—and they are—they’re enslaved.
If they’ve escaped from the slum of sin by experiencing our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ, and then slid back into that same old life again, they’re worse than if they had never left. Better not to have started out on the straight road to God than to start out and then turn back, repudiating the experience and the holy command. They prove the point of the proverbs, “A dog goes back to its own vomit” and “A scrubbed-up pig heads for the mud.” — 2 Peter 2