The Francis Asbury Society

From the President’s Desk: A Word from Ron Smith

Posted on | April 1, 2014 | Comments Off on From the President’s Desk: A Word from Ron Smith

by Ron Smith

ron-webThe net worth of an organization never rises above the network of its constituencies. From the time I first began to hear Dennis Kinlaw speak of the great resourcefulness of the world God made possible through the likes of Bishop Francis Asbury and his pursuit of raising a group of people “wholly devoted to God,” I have loved to dream the dream that a Society living under that mantra would be capable of carrying the strongest currents for the purposes of God in Christ Jesus. Of course, I will be the first to say, I never felt like I belonged there with that group. But, since the time I gave my heart to Jesus, there has always been a yearning to be numbered there. So my life has been a pursuit of the dream to be numbered among a group of people with the ideals of men like Asbury, Wesley, Kinlaw, et. al. The road has been both steep and difficult. I have been a grave disappointment over the years to colleagues on that journey. Moreover, I have been gravely disappointed by others who have claimed to be on that road. I think I have grown to more fully understand Isaiah’s despondence when he confessed, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” I find myself hoping that God would be merciful to me, like Isaiah found him to be when he supernaturally touched Isaiah’s unclean lips with the hot coals of his love and redemption as he proclaimed, “Your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:7 NIV).

When he was ordained, Francis Asbury was asked two great questions that I believe set his heroic future course. The first was, “Are you moving on to perfection?” The second was, “Do you expect to be made perfect in this life?” If you in The Francis Asbury Society family will allow me the liberty of using the RSV (the Ron Smith Version) for these questions they are, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ can perfect that which concerns you?” And, “Do you believe he wants to—and can do it—now?” I have decided that the hinge of The Francis Asbury Society hangs on the same premises. The only gospel emphasis that can provide hope and transformation for people like me is that Christ has lived, died, and is coming again in self-giving, holy love to transform his own by making his strength perfect in our weakness. This we believe and proclaim, and we find it to be a place of stewardship and emphasis for our Society. Although I am saying a geographic good-bye to the new team that has come together in The Francis Asbury Society, the United Methodist congregation I am serving in southern New Jersey very much will be part of the work of The Francis Asbury Society. Why? Simply because I will forever be in covenant with those people who believe Christ can and will perfect his own if we entrust him with our whole lives for his glory.

Henry Clay Morrison was the founder of Asbury Theological Seminary. He was convinced that pastors who believed the gospel is big enough to transform the world and perfect it to present to God a Church as a Bride without blemish was the greatest hope for the well-being of our nation. I, too, believe that. So I, too, will forever remain a committed part of the FAS mission. I thought I would leave you with Dr. Morrison’s optimism for a Society of believers who trusted that Christ could perfect that which concerns us, and do it now. I sub-title this Morrison quote, “Why I believe in the Asbury mission:”

Give a nation a faithful ministry in its pulpits, [people] who feel the call and awe of God upon them; [people] who will be true to His word, declare His truth regardless of consequences, who will faithfully instruct [people] in righteousness and warn them against sin; [people] who will rebuke wickedness among the rich as well as the poor, who making the word of the Lord the sword of the Spirit, will strike mightily against the sins of the people and warn them of the judgment to come, meanwhile, with tender and loving heart, calling them to repentance and pointing them to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. Such a nation can but be blessed. There will be power in the churches; the fires of devotion will glow upon millions of family altars; there will be order and happiness in the home; the schools will be centers of spiritual and intellectual development; there will be honesty in commerce, justice in the courts, civic righteousness will prevail, moral standards will be high, social life will be pure, the fear of God will pervade the earth, the love of Christ will reign and rule in the hearts of [people], the Bible will become the revered and honored book, and the kingdom of heaven will be set up in the hearts of the people; and our crucified and risen Lord “shall see the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.”

To this end, I go to ministry in the local church, but my covenant remains with the Society of people who bear the name of Francis Asbury and who desire above all things to “be wholly devoted to God.” May our network grow until the full worth of Christ be measured in all the earth!

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