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  • "A Musing Pastor"

Navigate wisely.

Nothing worse than getting stuck in mud or snow. Once your vehicle gets pulled into the stuff, you are pretty much done. Assessing road conditions and possible risks ahead of an expedition is absolutely essential. Heeding warning signs and public service announcements is always wise too. We must consider our own skill in driving and the unknown skill level of the other drivers around us. This time of year carries with it driving uncertainties (especially on narrow dirt roads).

Rothrock State Forest issued a friendly reminder to all who desire to explore the park this time of year to exercise caution. Many roads are either still covered with snow, slush, and ice or are a quagmire of mud and slop. Most all entrances to the park have signs posted that say, "No winter maintenance, travel at your own risk." The adventurous types throw caution to the wind and underestimate their driving skill, road conditions, and the skill of other drivers. In most cases nothing drastic happens, but there are those moments.

Traveling on a narrow snow covered road, an oncoming driver fails to share the road, and both sides of the road are ditches filled with misfortune. In an instant, our front wheels are sucked into the mess and once the undercarriage of our car contacts the road shoulder, we are stuck.

If we are fortunate, we can either shovel our way out (If we brought a shovel with us) or push our way out (If we have several Penn State linemen in the back seat). In my experience, most places in the wilderness usually have no cell phone service. If we are stuck, we are at the mercy of the road, the weather, and hopefully another adventurous type who might go get us a tow truck.

Yesterday, I saw a prominent pastor who has influenced many over the years say something quite alarming. In so many words, (Pastor) Rob Bell said the church should cease adhering to the 'holy texts' so the church can remain relevant in our current culture. His stance is akin to the adventurous explorers who drive right by the signs in Rothrock State Park that says, "No winter maintenance, travel at your own risk."

In the United Methodist denomination, of which I am a pastor, our founder John Wesley staunchly promoted the Holy Bible 'holy texts' as the foundation of all things about our faith. He also held that traditions of the church over hundreds of years, our experience of faith, and the ability to reason through it all can assist us. These ideas were in place long before Wesley built a faith community upon them.

"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." (Hebrews 2:1-4, NIV)

The future of faith in the Christian church is being built upon slippery slopes and flimsy theologies that threaten to stick the body of Christ (The church) in a mud pit of despair. God offered to us the Holy Bible 'holy texts' as a revelation to all things godly and holy. It is the book we build our faith upon. Jettisoning God's holy word in order to remain relevant to our current societal bent is a mistake of eternal proportions. Once stuck in eternity separated from God there is no hope of shoveling our way out, pushing our way out, or hoping we have cell service there. Navigate wisely.

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