Saturday, August 29, 2015

Agents of Peace or Agents of War?

Abraham Lincoln became sixteenth president as an agent of peace, but he confronted a nation separated south from north. "One of them would make war rather than let the nation survive,” concluded Lincoln, “and the other would accept war rather than let it perish” (Abraham Lincoln, 2nd Inaugural Address, 4 March 1865).  Thus, the war came!

That war crippled America, scarring its national body for generations to come. It resulted in 418,206 killed and another 362,130 citizens wounded. Half a century later, American politics had become so corrupted that adding pre-emptive strikes to our diplomatic arsenal only transformed American soldiers into foreign invaders.

War is expensive! By any measure, it is excessive, even wasteful! Iraq cost more than 4,400 American deaths. Thousands more were wounded. The 2007 surge added 30,000 additional troops to Iraqi collateral damages--70-76,000 killed (Washington Post, 8-21-07), He paid for it by putting it on our national credit card.


When unveiling America’s new military-industrial phenomenon in 1961, President Eisenhower cautioned us regarding grave implications of the “immense military establishment and a large arms industry.” Ike accepted it, but agreed it was “new in the American experience, a total influence – economic, political, even spiritual.” (Emphasis added). 

He cautioned us to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence . . . sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex” (emphasis added). He admitted the potentially disastrous rise of misplaced power, and rightfully feared it. He further insisted we must never let this endanger our liberties or democratic processes (emphasis added).

From the first, America’s founders gave civilian controls precedence over military powers. Eisenhower warned, take nothing for granted; “only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. . .” (2 Eisenhower's “Farewell Address to the Nation,” January 17, 1961).

 Decades later, diplomatic efforts stumble in darkened corridors of the War Department while Congress marches meekly to the economic ambivalence of the Pentagon. Arms manufacturers “lobby” hard for jobs in the “growth industry” that now includes an unseen army of unaccountable para-military sub-contractors earning prime profit from weapons of destruction.

Should journalists dare to define the philosophical struggles between diplomacy and defense, few would dare to march by the peacemaker’s drumbeat (Stephen Glain, State Vs Defense. New York: Crown Publishers, 2011).

The teachings of Jesus no longer offer relevance to our national debate; therefore Christians ought to withdraw quietly from public dialogue, privatize personal faith, and allow diplomacy to wear its military uniform.
           
If it is true that the Christian message of the cross no longer has relevance, let us delete John Wesley from the Internet of human history. Wesley defined himself homo unius libri--“a man of one book.” He proclaimed that book “the sum of all religion,” which he asserted “is laid down in eight particulars, and he described the Sermon on the Mount as an aggregate total of the New Testament message” (The Works of John Wesley, Vol. V, p. 251).

Jesus challenged humanity to forgive as God forgives (Mt. 6:12, 14; 18:32; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13. Jesus used the cross to interpret God’s indiscriminate love ( Mt. 5:43-48; Luke 6:32-36). Christian discipleship challenges us to integrate personal beliefs and behaviors with actions and attitudes, which Pastor James Leslie Sparks calls “transformation.” Jesus intended for people to negotiate win-win solutions for everyone and eliminate the win-lose system of human relationships.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth,” concluded Saint Paul. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres ... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love ( I Corinthians 13:8, 13, NIV).

Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement by challenging followers to “meet the forces of hate with the power of [Christ-like] love.” Addressing “white brothers all over the South,” King declared, “we will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering … Bomb our homes and we will still love you ... We will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process (Marshall Frady, Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc., 2002, p. 5).

 During the Cold War, members of one local congregation began worshipping above a former missile silo. Seeing potential opportunity, they built their new facility on top the Titan II ICBM site. Solid with concrete, the once destructive missile site became a new symbol of hope for converting swords and missiles into plowshares and worship into peacemaking.

Pastor, Stewart Elson, called it a fitting closure to Cold War and described it as “hope for a world falling prey to its own worst self”. He thought ending the Cold War and dismantling the nuclear defense system a superpower exercise of control, forever hampered by human frailties and political gaming.

Author John Bernbaum called Jesus the consummate peacemaker. He believed the Church of Jesus Christ, by virtue of its multinational character, “should by definition be an agent for world peace!” (John A. Bernbaum,  Perspectives on Peacemaking. Glendale, CA: Regal Books, 1984, p. 254).

Whereas Old Testament Scripture begins with humanity created in the image of God, New Testament Scripture reveals Jesus inviting all humanity to further experience the love of God, and ultimately to share God’s gift of reconciliation and indwelling peace (I John 1:5-7; 3:1-3,  et al).


From Warner’s World, 
this is walkingwithwarner,blogspot.com – wondering: 
agent of peace? agent of war? 
Which are you?        

Friday, August 28, 2015

Think Peace, Not War

In 1861, Town Line, New York seceded from the Union. They raised the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy over their local blacksmith’s shop and remained the site of the original secession for the next eighty-five years. Although the Civil War officially ended April 3, 1865, Town Line voters waited until 1946 to return to the Union, doing so at that late date in spite of the twenty-three voters still opposing the measure.

They corrected their earlier exit from the Union on January 24, 1946, but only after proving that change does not come easily, for there are always a few who would rather fight than switch. War, however, is by its very nature cruel, inhumane, wasteful and destructive. It breeds violence and anti-social behavior. Most often, wars reflect failed diplomacy, and America has never won a war that it did not finalize through diplomatic means that spelled out the victory. Such is the nature of war!
           
Waging war in Iraq required a strong military presence of our “peace-keepers” using aggressive hostile actions. American tax payers were spending two billion dollars a day on a war President Bush reported as “won,” although the Bush staff originally projected it would cost a mere $100-200 million (which he put on our credit card).

This “fight now, pay later” policy paid compound interest with more than four-four hundred dead Americans, plus multiplied thousands of others injured (Later figures were higher). Another 150,000 American children suffered from broken homes, having military parents in Iraq, and epidemic numbers of military families found themselves in varying stages of brokenness and divorce.

Additional collateral costs included the loss of Iraq’s national infrastructure and a citizenry that currently finds itself suffering from ongoing terrorism, a broken government, and a religious civil war, not to mention the fact that Suddam Hussain’s military forces have restructured as IS.

Before his death, Senator Ted Kennedy estimated that what we were spending for  one day in Iraq (emphasis added) would dramatically improve our homeland security in numerous ways, and he named the following:

* improve the communications gap in 40 small cities, 34 mid-sized cities, or six large cities, and            allow federal, state and local first responders to talk to each other.
* provide four million households with emergency readiness kits,
* add 4,000 additional Border Patrol Agents,
* provide 1,285 explosive trace detection portals for airport screening,
* purchase 750 fire trucks for improving local emergency response capabilities,
* employ 4,700 fire fighters, 4,000 police patrol officers, or 6,800 paramedics and                                  Emergency Medical personnel for a year,
* provide 6,000 local law enforcement agencies with bomb-detecting robots,,
* provide 9,400 port container inspection units, or provide 4,700 detectors for dangerous 
   particles.
           
Since Iraq, we transferred our troops to Afghanistan and spent untold fortunes

Now I realize that any nation of any consequence provides some form of National Defense—a Department of Defense at minimum). I once posed the question as to why no nation had yet to establish a Peace Department as a worthy endeavor? A bit of research revealed that we do have a Peace Department, Granted, it does not have Cabinet status, but I followed its progress long enough to determine that it supported the war-oriented politics of our government.

The poet Longfellow once theorized that if we could read the secret history of our enemies, we just might find in each man’s life enough sorrow and suffering to disarm most of our hostilities, and I rather believe that. However, history traces a long vapor trail of wars and rumors of war. Hostility and violence virtually insist on a confrontational “I win you lose” mentality.

Sooner or later such thinking eliminates all hopes of peace - unless one is capable of “thinking outside the box” of normal thought patterns and converts the patriotic hubris of National selfishess into an unheard of mentality of actively waging peace.

Peace requires alternatives to war, violence, hatred and hostility. It requires high levels of optimism, faith , and the risk of trust. Peace commends reconciliation as the preferred choice between war and peace, and worth the risk. War demands spoils and it is the spoils of war that most often create the vehicle for the next war.

Peace steps backs-and-away from confrontation and offers cooperation, complementation, and conflict resolution as the preferable solution. Peace asks how can both sides profit from the conflict at hand. An example of this might well be the Iran Peace Treaty, currently suffering from political hubris from both sides of the political aisle

When Paul met Jesus on the Damascus Road, it literally transformed Paul’s life. He suddenly discovered that broken relationships can experience peace through reconciliation, and each can gain from the experience. As a result, Paul challenged audiences everywhere he went to accept God’s higher authority and value a world filled with individual people for whom Jesus died.

As Christ’s emissary, the Apostle Paul faced citizens of a global community that needed a model for building intentional friendships for the purpose of healing multitudes of broken relationships (Eph. 4:1, 7, 26; John 3:16). Peace comes by being reconciled, first to God, then to one another. God commissions us to introduce peaceful negotiations into hostile environments (2 Cor. 5:16-21).

We become his personal Ambassadors as individuals; our purpose becomes giving “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14, NIV). As we learn to relate individually, we can learn to relate as global nations.

Paul’s conclusion to the matter announced, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18, NIV). Minimal research reveals that Paul did not stray from the teachings of Jesus and one does not go far with Jesus before discovering that we are to love [even] our enemies and think peace, not war.


From Warner’s World, this is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

The Kingdom of Peace

Saul of Tarsus became a Christ-follower at a time when good without God was not good enough. Following Jesus was like swimming upstream, easier said than done. In becoming the Christian Apostle to the Gentiles, Saul entered a global demolition derby dominated by warfare for and against Rome, and racial strife of every demographic imaginable. Special-interests polluted the landscape and undermined individual and community interests at all levels.

As a new Christian, Paul was now a Christ-follower rather than the disciple of any particular religious system, Christian or otherwise. He sought to convert people to his new-found faith by inviting people to repent of their personal sins and confess the failures of their culture or religious system by accepting a new sovereignty under Jesus, God’s Messiah (Eph. 4:1, 7, 26).

Saul had admittedly terrorized people in the name of God before he was himself rescued from the tyranny of his Judaic legalism. Following his dramatic Damascus Road encounter however, Saul, as Paul, now viewed all of humanity through the eyes of the “God, who made the world and everything in it,” rather than “from a worldly point of view” (Acts 17:24 NKJV; 2 Corinthians 5:16, NIV, emphasis added).

His encounter with Jesus redefined his views on humanity, causing him to add a new dimension of the divine to his life. Transitioning from the inside out, Paul turned inside out and about face; he became a truly converted man. As such, Paul became a roving Ambassador for Jesus Christ.

Sensing a special commission from God, Paul committed the remainder of his life to proclaiming God’s eternal Kingdom of peace (2 Corinthians 5:16-21), and Paul spent his life taking his story where it had not been before. By the time of his death, his epitaph could easily have read, “as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

Typical of Paul, when he first introduced the message of Jesus into Athens with its Pantheon of gods and goddesses, he acknowledged their traditional beliefs and tailored his message accordingly. Only after establishing common ground with his audience did he share his new resurrection perspectives and reflect on how God lives, moves about, and resides, or has his being, in all of humanity (Acts 17).

Of course, the sophisticated Athenians rejected Paul’s resurrection message; they tossed it aside as a wild herring. However, rather than reacting and become defensive with his teaching, Paul intentionally elected to trust the Spirit of God to further guide them into the truth and sustain him as he moved on to Ephesus.

Avoiding debating cultural issues, Paul refused to vent ill will toward those who opposed him and moved on like a prophet of old, leaving them in God’s hands. Meanwhile, he leaned hard on the mediation of God’s Spirit, maintaining the good will of the people as much as possible.

When we view one another through our naturally human eyes, we tend to sort out and divide people according to our natural biases and our demographics of difference. Jesus, on the other hand, commissions his disciples to love in ways that unify differences, forgives the wrongs done to us, and reconciles the fractured relationships (Matthew 28:19-20).

While our Lord continually invites us to become peacemakers, we find ourselves confronting wars, rumors of wars, and struggling relationships.  And when we find that we have nothing else to give, he reminds us we can at least offer the stranger in our midst a cup of cold water in Jesus’ Name.

One June evening I encountered a black man at a church convention. Without stopping, he nodded and greeted me with “May the peace of God be with you, my brother” That word of “Shalom” from James Earl Massey prompted me to re-consider the words Jesus spoke to His disciples, when he said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27, NIV).


We were two men simply passing each other in a sea of people. We each carried our own cargo of freight. We reflected differing ethnicities. Each of us was part of a bigger world that could easily assimilate us into in its turbulence, terrorism, broken lives, fragile relationships, and social advocacy. What we shared, however, was that peace of which Jesus spoke when he instructed his disciples “Do not let your hearts be troubled and … afraid.”
              
An early songwriter described this peace as an ode to joy that he could not otherwise express. It became a theme that fortified his life and remained “sweet to his memory.” Envisioning this “Kingdom of Peace” Barney Warren took pen in hand and announced,

               ‘Tis a kingdom of peace, it is reigning within,
                              It shall ever increase in my soul;
               We possess it right here when He saves from all sin,
                              And ‘twill last while the ages shall roll.1

_____
               1 “The Kingdom of Peace” Barney E. Warren. Worship the Lord, Hymnal of the Church of God. Anderson, IN: Warner Press, Inc., 1989, p. 481.

_____

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Eternal Tuning Fork

Author Lloyd Douglas enjoyed visiting an old violin teacher who lived in rather shabby circumstances, but who always had a word of good news. One morning Douglas stopped by to visit briefly with his friend. “Well,” he asked, “what’s the good news today?”

The old man put down his violin, walked over to a tuning fork suspended from a silk cord and struck it sharply with a padded mallet. “There’s the good news for today. That, my friend, was an A. It was an A all day yesterday. It will be an A all day tomorrow, next week, and for a thousand years.

I was midway through our Vacation Samaritan work camp in Baja, Mexico. We were working in a rural village without benefit of either electric lights or running water. Finding that I had some free time, I walked the sandy mile to the Pacific beach where I washed my grit-filled dirty hair in the salty surf. Feeling restored, I walked leisurely back to camp, where I could look in the mirror.

One look in the mirror revealed hair blown in all directions. My once-clean Tee shirt had turned to the color of sand, transformed by the blowing dust. Grey-black blotches of beard marked my face and my skin was the color of baked beans. There was not much way I could make me look like the man my church knew back home, but at home I had the convenience of showers, shampoos, and freshly laundered wash-n-wears.

“That is just how many people feel about themselves and all the circumstantial things they would like to forget. How nice—if they could just wipe it all clean and start over!”

I’ve been in a funk this week. Yet, when I stop and reflect on the opportunities that the challenges of these days offer, I have to pause and once more give thanks for the faithfulness of God. His faithfulness is even more true than the A-note sounded on the tuning fork by the old music teacher.

God is still God. He has been there all the time and he will be this live long day. He will still be the same tomorrow, and next week, or next year, for however long you and I need to get ourselves cleaned up, our hair washed, and our faces scrubbed. And, if a new change of clothes doesn’t do, and you need an internal cleansing, he’ll do a heart transformation on you as well.
 
M. W. Runyan, the poet, found in God the Eternal Tuning Fork and he came up with these words; join me in singing this old and familiar hymn:


Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with thee;
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not;
As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.
_____
Great is thy faithfulness,
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided—
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
                                                                          

From Warner’s World, this  is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Friday, August 14, 2015

Harry the Cop


Race relations are in hard times. Unfortunately, the average cop in America finds the times equally difficult. Having had an Officer in our family for fifteen years, I am not unaware of the pitfalls of police work and the difficulties of working with anything and everything American society throws at them. Working on an unpublished manuscript, I came across a man who brings back some wonderful memories of people by whom I have been blessed. This man just happens to be a good cop.



He has a place among my finest memories that come from a Sunday in the early-1990s. Harry and Bonita worshiped with us from IL. Bonita was an accomplished instrumentalist and by this time, Harry was a veteran Police Officer. On this day, they led us in very meaningful moments of worship by singing a lovely duet as a prelude to my sermon.



Following that service, while we visited among ourselves, I suddenly missed Harry. Simultaneously, I sensed something very special, but very private as my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of this veteran cop quietly kneeling, almost unseen--quite unobtrusively. He was in solitary prayer at the far west end of the Altar Rail his family had helped dedicate earlier in 1989.

           

I still see this gentle man , returning in his retirement years to the roots of his childhood, reaffirming the precious priorities that anchored his long career in law enforcement. For me: it became a special moment--sacred and defining. I saw a man I highly esteemed, bowed in private encounter listening to the hush of The Almighty.



I felt like an intruder to an intimate conversation between two long-familiar friends, but it provided one of those redefining moments in a panoramic sweep of history experienced by his whole clan.



Harry raised his boys in the Christian faith, as his preacher-father had hoped to do, had he lived. Harry’s granddad first served as a Methodist circuit rider in West Virginia and later his daddy and granddaddy became early pioneers in the Church of God Reformation Movement, sometimes called Saints, even come-outers.



As a longtime friend of the family, I knew some of the commitments Harry and his siblings pursued throughout their lives. I knew that from early childhood in the tightly knit South side neighborhood of Three Rivers, MI--pre-1925 into the early 90’s--God and faith had been a vital part of their daily lives.



When Harry died in February 2003, Kalamazoo Gazette reporter, Dave Person, characterized him as a “man of faith, patriarch of his family and public servant,” a man who “stood tall.” Harry left the Kalamazoo Police Department in 1963 to become Chief of Police in Elk Grove IL. He served seventeen years. Later, headed training programs for the Illinois State Police, and ended his career as police chief in Worth, IL.

           

When the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, of which Harry was a former president, announced Harry’s death on January 29, 2003, he began with this declaration, “The great Harry Jenkins has passed away.”



I agreed with son Jim when he commented later, “One line I heard a lot when I was growing up was that if I was half the man my dad was I’d be a good man.” Young James was/is a good man. His character and integrity I would trust anywhere. His four stalwart sons had his imprint indelibly stamped upon them. He was a good man who spent his early life as a preacher’s kid, much of his early vocational life as an ordinary cop, and the remainder of it as a leader among his law-enforcement peers. He was a role model for his sons and all who knew him.



But then Harry had a good role model. Harry’s father was at the time of his premature death the bi-vocational pastor of the Three Rivers, MI Church of God, James E. Jenkins. When he died in 1925 he was in a co-pastor relationship with a man who became much better known than he was, a young black man named Ray Jackson--Dr. Raymond S. Jackson. Dr. Jackson was the finest of preacher-orators in early Church of God life.



I have lived my long life as a member of several communities, coast to coast. My many encounters with Police Departments across the country have been varied, professional, and reassuring. Harry Jenkins contributed two law enforcement men from among his talented sons, as well as one of the most prolific Christian authors ever, and a West African missionary translator for Wycliffe.



Harry reminds me of all the fine officers I have encountered around the country. None stands taller than Harry and most are people just like the rest of us, serving with commitment and integrity and faith. They have a tough, thankless job and among the people they have to deal with are people who are self-centered, lawless, and pushing the envelope. That sometimes requires the use of force. They deserve our full support in restoring honesty, integrity, and character back into our culture that suffers badly from a character crunch. We have laws so that we can live compatibly with one another, so let's all work together for the common good and stop harassing the very people who are trying to protect us. 



From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Church-family History

I returned home just this evening from a 3-week emergency journey to Kentucky, caring for family members. I returned via Anderson, Indiana where I stayed over with Dale and Cheryl Stultz and participated in the Friday-Saturday event of the Church of God Historical Society.

This group has over 300 members and fulfills some important functions but enjoys little recognition from the church at large. It lacks serious standing with Church of God Ministries, yet it is one of the important groups working in Church of God (Anderson) life. How so? Among other things, the Society keeps us aware of our historical perspectives (roots, vision, message) at a time when the church is floundering at the national level and trying to rediscover its biblical purpose.

Robert Reardon played a large part in the founding of the Society after Dale Stultz made some discoveries relative to Barney Warren, the Church of God’s original song writer. Barney composed many of the early hymns and collaborated with D. S. Warner/J.C. Fisher in producing our earliest hymnals et al. Dale Stultz discovered the Barney Warren cabin that now resides on East 5th Street in Anderson after President Reardon used his pen to find funds for Dale’s bringing the cabin from Springfield, Ohio to Anderson.

As Doug Welch tells it (loosely translated), Boss Reardon said to Professor (employee) Welch of the Seminary, “We need a historical society and YOU ARE the Secretary-Treasure.” Dale Stultz eventually became Vice-President and Church Historian and Seminary-Teacher Strege served as president. They funded the Memorial Stone of the unmarked C. W. Naylor grave and engineered bringing the Warren Cabin to Anderson and the Society was in business, loosely speaking.

All the while, Dale Stultz has used his multiple skills in the recovery of many and varied artifacts in becoming the most knowledgeable person among us regarding our history, our beginnings, and our family stories. He has without doubt the largest computerized photographic collection in the Movement and is continually adding new items to his collection and to the University Archives, with whom he works closely.

While Strege gave little visible support, Stultz and Welch produced THE BOOK OF NOAH, OLD MAIN, and THE GOSPEL TRUMPET YEARS. This project cost over $70,000, costing Dale some sweat since it went on his Credit Card, but the books are paid for and many are circulating about in the church today. 

THE BOOK OF NOAH details daily life in the Grand Junction Publishing House between 1887-1898, when they relocated from Grand Junction, MI to Moundsville, WVA. OLD MAIN describes the evolution of Anderson University as it is today, first begun as the Anderson Bible Training School in 1917, a department within the Gospel Trumpet Company. THE GOSPEL TRUMPET YEARS shows the journey taken by the Gospel Trumpet magazine produced first by D. S. Warner, beginning in 1880 in Rome City, Indiana and journeying through Indianapolis, IN; Cardington and Bucyrus, OH; Williamston and Grand Junction, MI; Moundsville, WVA and Anderson, IN until it changed its name in 1961 to ‘Vital Christianity”.


Some call this a revisionist history but it does give us a much less romantic and a more accurate detailing (than A. L. Byers BIRTH OF A REFORMATION) of our early years. The Church of God Movement goes on and we continue recording history as we pursue God’s vision for his people, but the magazine ceased publication the week of September 16, 1996.

When you don’t know where you come from, you are not likely to discover where you’re going. This can be said of most organizations and it can be said of us. We are struggling to wrap itself around its global message, but we are finding ourselves as we learn better how to fulfill our purpose. We are doing better than ever before, in some ways and more poorly in other ways. We have some soul searching yet to do and it may well be that we need to have another “Gethsemane” as Doug Oldham once sung about so beautifully. Such experiences are painful but purposeful.

As the Movement now exists, our Anderson, IN headquarters base has been restructured from a well-established series of serving Agencies and crunched into a single autocratic “Agency” called Church of God Ministries led by a leader dubbed by some as the Jim Lyons Show. This Agency Office seems to be on its way “out of Anderson” and God only knows where it will go. Support for it seems lacking on every hand making some wonder if this is to be another “one-term President” like certain politicians hoped to do to Barack Obama.

The members of the Historical Society love God. They are members because they love our message and our mission as God’s people on mission around the world. Members share the varying opinions of the church at large, but they are committed to being his people, pursuing his mission, and using their resources to accurately record how all of this comes about.

I salute Dr. Gary Agee the new General Assembly Historian and Chairman of the Society, as well as the other officers. This I know: I nursed as an infant from a bottle of milk filled with Reformation teachings at Grand Junction. My birth came but 32 years after the death of D. S. Warner (12-18-95) and  after almost 65 years of Church ministry, had I to do it all over again, I most certainly would!  Yet, I could not have done it without my mentors, Gray, Linn, et company.


Alabama Pastor Loren Sutton said it so eloquently at our closing event Saturday evening, and I certainly agree. We have a message but it does not belong to us; it belongs to our Spiritual Director, the Lord Jesus Christ. It remains for us to be faithful to Him …
on behalf of our church family and those who follow us … I am

walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stranger at the Door

Knock, Knock, Knock. Loudly--even insistently--it sounded again!
Knock! Knock! Knock! “Does someone expect me to stop my Daily Devotions just to open the door?” I wondered as I continued with my meditation.

Again, the rapping came … knock, knock, knock!
Feeling more than a little put upon, I stood up and started for the door. Seeing a stranger standing there, coatless and dripping in the rain, I invited him in.

“Come in” I invited half-heartedly. He looked kinda shabby; fact is. He looked a little unkept--but he moved with an air of importance.  I stepped back and motioned for him to enter, although I felt a little uneasy about being alone with a stranger.

“Come out and see our neighborhood with me,” he responded. Looking me straight in the eye, he insisted, “come out and walk our streets. Share with me the pain and toil.”

“Ah, sir,” I remonstrated; “do not take me to your shame. Leave the wrong behind you. Come in and forget.”

Glancing away from my comfortable home and looking back down the slushy, pot-holed street, he gestured with a droop of the shoulder: “I can’t forget my friends, he said. My children, they are all out here. We need to wash, but we do not know how. Come and wash our feet.

“But, you don’t understand,” I whispered. “Look at my schedule! My calendar is full. See the neat lines boxing in the events stacked event on event. My life is evenly divided into an endless series of events that keep me busy here.”

Spinning around, he looked long and hard as if examining the street. Then, he pointed to a house down on the corner. “Who lives there?” he demanded.

“Why, Mr. & Mrs. Little Worth, I informed him. “They’re no good. They never come to church.”

“Do you know the hell they live in?” He queried. “Do you know about his constant drinking? Of her unfaithfulness, trying to get his attention? Do you know of their young son’s stealing to get their attention? Of their teenage son in jail?”

“Yes, I know,” I sighed wearily. “Everybody knows. Most any of us would help them out … if … only they would just straighten up.”

“But,” pleaded the tasteless looking man, “they need you to go to them and love them and share their problems.”

“Me?” I exploded! “Why me?”
Where are the Welfare case-workers?
Is there no one available from the Substance Abuse Council?
Where are the Law Enforcement people?”

The man turned, stared at me … and … slowly started down the steps. I closed the door as quickly as possible and leaned against it--quietly. But then, from somewhere, I heard it. I could not be sure where the sound issued forth from, but there came those words, I‘d read them many times: “When did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?”

Then, he answered them, saying, “Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.”


Adapted for Warner’s World by walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com