Monday, August 4, 2014

Are We Overlooking an Obvious Answer?

Paraphrasing Phillip Yancy; we claim to be people of The Book, which suggests we ought to be a people of books. One such book is William Barclay old volume entitled The Master’s Men, 1959.

Barclay primes the pump with this thought: “In the vision of the writer of the Revelation the twelve foundation stones of the wall of the Holy City had inscribed upon them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14). The twelve apostles,” suggested Barclay, “are the foundation stones of the Christian Church.” 

It is right he concluded, “that we should study them, not only to learn the facts about them, but also to see what apostleship meant for them and what discipleship must mean for us” (p. 11). This fine little book of splendid character sketches surveys both the biblical and non-biblical content for each of The Twelve. Barclay is biblical scholar as well as a well-versed academic in classical literature. He uses his vast knowledge of detail to remain true to the biblical record while opening windows for new and greater understanding for contemporary readers.

The profound lesson I found in his sketches revealed the wide ranging diversity of this group. These hard working, blue collar commoners, lived in explosive times. Living under the seeming quiet of Roman rule, this tiny Jewish state literally crawled alive, a nest of rebellious maggots. They remained a potential holocaust, ready to explode at any moment, at a given word of rebellion from any of numerous sources. 

Yet, the disciples of Jesus lived peacefully and harmoniously in their common bond with their beloved Teacher. From first to last: Simon Peter to Simon Zelotes (Zealot), Matthew the publican to the sons of thunder; these men in any other social context would have erupted into irresolvable conflict that exploded and utterly destroyed any  and all possibility of negotiating a common life. 

Perhaps the most overlooked lesson to be learned from the relationship of these men with Jesus is the common bond with him that utterly transformed their irresolvable differences into a harmonious symphony of a loving relationship.

When I look at the cacophony of conflict in today’s Middle East and I consider the centuries old dissonance of distrust, hatred, and revenge, I see only the hopelessness of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. Yet, when I behold the social transformation of these twelve men living in their mutually loving relationship with Jesus, I have to wonder why our global community prefers living with dissonance rather than a harmonious symphony of peaceful living.

These men living together proved beyond any shadow of doubt that there is a transforming power that unites the most diverse and flawed of men and binds them in a common life more powerful than the strongest of human bonds.

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

wondering why our global community continues to discount this all important resource for peaceful living, when no one else has a better answer.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Gospel Pearl

Legend tells of the King sitting on his throne in heaven will go down and redeem my lost creation?” The angel Uriel volunteered to go as the light of example. Raphael volunteered to go as reason. Michael countered by offering to go with his sword. On the other hand, Gabriel offered to go with a song. When the Son said he would die, the King quickly responded by declaring, “Eternal Son, go down! Go down! For you alone are worthy to die for man!”

The Old Testament tells us when King David accepted the admonition of the widow of Tekoa, his banished and disgraced son Absalom was allowed to return home … unforgiven. The New Testament, on the other hand, tells us that when Christ died on Calvary, He cried out in the pain of victory, “It is finished!” 

We have no parallel for God’s finding of the unfound, but the banishment is over; the banished can come home. Reconciliation has been made.

The bridge over the gulf of man’s sin has been built and the road lies in readiness. The welcome banners flap in the breeze. God’s banished is free to come home. THIS IS THE GOSPEL, not one side of it, not the most important or beautiful part of it; this is the Gospel! Without it, there is no gospel. The unfound has been found. The sinner can come home.

God waits to receive you – like the good shepherd who looked for his lost sheep until he found it – like the woman who looked for her lost coin until he found it and brought it home. That gospel becomes the pearl of great price for which a person must willingly give up all else.

Warner’s World invites you to make Christ’s gospel your Pearl of Great Price  - the one issue in your life for which you would willingly give up all else. 
WHY? 
Where else can you find such a parallel? Where else can you go and make such an investment and get such a good return on such a small investment?

walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Friend Obrad


*The author of the following Testimonial is Obrad Nikolic, Nis, Serbia, pastors in Nis, Serbia. Obrad formerly operated the Church of God, Reformation Movement Website at www.geocities. com/chogrefmov. He can now be found in frequent discussion on various Facebook pages.        
===============
  Testimony of Conversion 
I was born into a family that was nominally Eastern Orthodox, but practically unbelieving. In our neighborhood there was an old lady who was a practicing Roman Catholic. She had some Christian influence over my sister and me. I still remember how she taught us to pray before going to sleep.

Also, from time to time she used to read to us from the Young People's Illustrated Bible. I was very much impressed with these beautiful illustrations of such Bible stories as the flood, the tower of Babel, and the great exodus of the children of Israel.

Unfortunately, when I was five years old, we moved away, and this was the end of this good woman's Christian influence.

Atheist Indoctrination 
At seven, I started to attend public school where I was systematically indoctrinated in atheism. At that time, my country, formerly Yugoslavia, was under a Communist regime, although it was not behind the so-called "Iron Curtain" and a bit more open to the West.

During my eight years in elementary school, I often wondered how anyone at the end of the 20th century could possibly believe in God, Adam and Eve, angels, heaven, and other names and places presented in the Bible. My conclusion was that believers were probably people raised in such an environment that they could not overcome such Christian indoctrination even when they grew up. I did not realize that, in fact, it was I who was being indoctrinated!

But when I was about 17 years of age, as I was leaving childhood and growing into adulthood, life became complicated and harder. Due to many circumstances, I entered a deep, personal crisis that lasted for a few years. I withdrew from my usual company of friends and, as a result, became very lonely and isolated.

I felt disappointed by the injustice, cruelty and hypocrisy of people around me. Life seemed gloomy and meaningless, like a cruel joke. We humans, I reasoned at that time, come from the darkness of nothingness. Then we live for a short while, only to vanish again, as if we had never been.

In between birth and death, there is only pain and suffering, I decided. The next question was inevitable: Why do we live at all? I was on the edge of suicide.
So, I started to search for answers.

I went to a public library and checked out a book by Lao Tse, a Chinese Confucian writer. Everything looked so bright and promising as I began reading his book. There was peace, harmony, love, and integrity.

But by the next morning, I realized that the world still was the same as before I'd started reading, and, most important of all, I had not changed at all, either. It was not hard for me to conclude that books like this one promise much, but do not accomplish anything.

First Ray of Light
Yet, I kept on reading and searching. Soon I came across the works of a German philosopher named Arthur Schopenhauer. He agreed with me that all life is really as it seemed to me--cruel, unforgiving, and unpromising.

In spite of all his pessimism, old Artie showed me one more thing. His writings convinced me that Christianity is a saving religion. Of course, Schopenhauer was an atheist, and his definition of "salvation" was a bit different from the Christian definition. Nevertheless, the Lord used an atheist to witness to me about His Son and salvation! (God's ways are strange, indeed!)

Soon, I was reading the books on Christianity. Most of the books I read were from a Roman Catholic perspective because these were the ones I could find in the library. I was especially impressed by a biography of St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th century monk and one of the most faithful followers of Christ of all times.

As I read about St. Francis, I said to myself, If there is a life worth living, this is it, the life of unselfishness, humbleness and love for all men. From that time, I started visiting that old Roman Catholic lady I had known as a child when we'd lived nearby.           She was the only practicing Christian I knew at that time.

I would borrow Christian magazines and books from her and take them home to read. Still, I did not have any Bible, nor could I get one to read. But in these Catholic magazines and books, I found some quotes from the Bible. I would write them down in a small notebook and carry this with me in my pocket. Reading these verses and learning about Christianity was like finding a jewel. I would sell or give up anything to get this fortune!

One Scripture passage especially impressed me: "Now, therefore, says the Lord, Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him - a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God?" (Joel 2:12-14).

As I read these words, I felt that God was already "rending my heart", but I did not know that what was happening in my heart is called "repentance." There was no one to teach me this wonderful truth!

Struggle with Sin
A few months later, at the age of 19, I was called into the army to fill my obligatory term of 12 months for every young man. This proved to be the worst time in my whole life, even worse than when I thought life had no meaning!

My conscience had been awakened, so I was trying hard to resist sin and not to conform to the people around me. But I had no actual strength to do it. So, although I was trying hard to fight the sinful nature within me by shunning the evil around me, it was to no avail.

After a month or so, I would give up and begin doing the very things that I had abhorred before--drinking, swearing, fornicating, and so on--until I would get sick of it all. Then repentance would follow and another period of struggle and austerity. But soon sin would overcome me again.

This pattern went) on and on for some 12 months. My experience resembled that of Romans 7, but there was no one to show me the hopeful verses of chapter 8 of the same epistle. I did not have a Bible yet to find it myself.

After being discharged from the army, I felt totally sick of sin. A friend of mine, whom I hadn't seen in years, came and asked me to go to the cinema with him to see the movie "Scarface"! He obviously wanted us to become good friends again and to enjoy our evenings together by visiting pubs and such things. I had no heart to say no to him, but my behavior in those few days we spent together was such that he obviously concluded I was no good for company.

I was glad. All I wanted at that time was to be holy, to become a saint, and to live the kind of life I read about in those Christian books. I was tired of sin and weary of the world.

Coming to Know God and Myself 
Soon I started to attend a church where I got my first Bible. As I was reading and studying it, I even came to believe in God, Adam and Eve, angels, heaven, and all those names and places I had scoffed at when I was in elementary school! My great discovery was that it is not enough to want to be a Christian. Before that, I thought that all one needs in order to become a Christian is to wish it! But my experiences in the army and afterwards taught me otherwise. There was something inside of me that was "bringing me into captivity," as Paul says. That was my innate sinful nature.

I realized I was a slave to sin. "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24,25).

And He did deliver me: He saved me by His grace, regenerated me from death to life, justified me, sanctified me and adopted me into His family as a son! Life was not meaningless anymore! I knew now who I was, where I came from, and where I was going. Life made sense.

There was destiny and hope before me. The world was still wicked and full of suffering, but all of this had been overcome (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19,4,5)!

I have found God, His grace offered in Jesus Christ, the Savior, and victory over sin! Praise the Lord for His indescribable gift! More than 10 years have passed since that day, but the sense of destiny and a calling to a life of meaning, love and joy have not vanished. In fact, that life has already started. And the fullness of it will come when my Lord comes to take me where He is!
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Warner’s World, walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Monday, July 21, 2014

Flying High

John Gillespie Magee, Jr. was an American airman during WWII who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. McGee was killed at the age of nineteen, flying a Spitire during the Battle of Britain. He was born in China and lived in Washington, D. C. where his father served as Rector of St. John’s Church across from the White House.

“High Flight” was said at one time to be among the best-known poems among aviators and could allegedly be found, elegantly framed or carelessly tacked, on home and office walls around most military airfields. It can be found in its entirety on page 243 of Michael Collins book , An Astronaut’s Journey.

Following is an excerpt from “Carrying The Fire by Michael Collins, An Astronaut’s Journey, p. 198, entitled ‘HIGH FLIGHT” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered  wings:
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless  halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

From Warner's World ... the prayer of my heart is that amid the darkness of our global community we never lose our sensitivity to flying high enough to put out our hands, and reach beyond space and time, and touch the face of God ... I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 20, 2014

God's Loving Grace

God’s Loving Grace   
God’s loving grace spans a huge gulf between time and eternity. It allows us to love ourselves as He first loved us and connect into a fully-human family that excludes neither the Death Row convict nor the lonely Aids victim. God’s grace knows no limits when we accept what He freely offers.

George’s challenge proved very different but equally difficult, for he could not speak in public without stuttering hopelessly. By the time I met him, he had become a gregarious young Bible College student with a marvelous talent for singing. However, George was so bashful that he circled the school campus three times before mustering sufficient courage to enter and enroll.

Eventually, George found his place for serving God, through singing. He proved enormously popular with the youth and his music and personal testimony left everyone with a song. Following graduation George had a highly successful career as a Church of God pastor, convention preacher, and Family Life Counselor.

His path crossed mine frequently as we crisscrossed the country in our travels. He always greeted me with that thick West Georgia accent, a warm handshake, and a relaxed smile. His cheery words reverberated with passionate joy, even after the doctor told him to quit preaching or lose his voice.

Cancer finally conquered George’s body but it never captured his song or his smile. Friendship with George gave me guidance for experiencing God‘s loving grace.

Read the rulebook before playing the game

The writer of the book of Hebrews offers a repository of biblical characters that found the faith to succeed. Abraham became the Father of the Faithful, but not before exposing his wife Sarah to compromise and finding redemption for own is flawed character.


Act by faith, regardless of feeling
You may spend a fortune analyzing your fears, frustrations, and failures, if you choose. Your Analyst may offer the perfect rationale, or label your problem with the right cause-and-cure, and never give hint of possible recovery. This frequently results in a “paralysis of analysis.”

However, there is One, through whom God’s Kingdom becomes personal, active, and dynamically present. His major message and mission remains that of transforming people’s lives (Romans 12:1-2).

Live life as a means of grace

The light by which I write requires that I wire electricity into my home. My light waits my switching on the light. At any time of day or night, I can enter my room, flip on the switch, and allow the current to do what electricity does best--light my work area.

Like George, we all have frailties from which we need to freeing, as only the Gospel can free us. When we allow God to empower our lives; we can switch on the current and enjoy the light that comes with being connected to the power. We then do our work as extensions of that power to which we have connected ourselves.

Myron Augsburger defines this believing faith as “behaving in relationship.” He suggests salvation and discipleship offer an experience of grace through which we say “yes” to the Lord daily. Failed marriages, criminal behavior, unholy addictions, and hate crimes linger like terminal illness, but God’s well of grace never runs dry, no matter how bad the drought!
____________________________________________________________

               1 Myron Augsburger, Walking in the Resurrection. (Scottdale/Kitchener: Herald Press, 1976), pp. 21, 33.

__

Friday, July 18, 2014

God Is Not Dead. . .

God is not dead, but Moses is! The unfolding life of Moses slowly narrates the fulfillment of divine purpose in a single life and in the life of a body of people. It jumps from the royalty of Egypt to the slavery of Israel as it unfolds a glorious dramatization of the Hebrew people. It was Moses that fearlessly faced Pharoah then defiantly led Israel through the Red Sea to the foot of Mt. Sinai, the Mount of the Law.

Under Moses, Israel became a nation. Following him, they experienced the glory of God at Sinai, only to fall into idolatry under Aaron. Moses was all that the leader of one and one-half million people could be - for forty years!

In that time, he thanked God with them when their babies were born. He prayed for them in battle, as they upheld his hands. He pled with them in their sins, and was disappointed and angry at their idolatry. He shared with them in feast and famine. He buried their saints and laid away a whole generation of disobedient, complaining Israelites, all the while instructing the new generation in the moral concepts of a loving and just God.

Now, Israel the chosen of God, is ready to march into Canaan, but Moses lays entombed in the soil of Moab. Israel mourns his death. But what do they do now? The weak readily admit Moses couldn’t get the people into Canaan: “He obviously wasn’t up to leading Israel into Canaan, nor can anyone else, so let’s quit!” More courageous souls suggest, “We just need another Moses! Find him, and we are as good as there.”

It was time for a change, obviously; it was time for Moses to move to the next level of his journey and God so ordered it. God also had a man ready to step in the moment Moses stepped out. This new man did not part his hair just like Moses. He never threw back the walls of the Red Sea, nor brought sweet water from the bare rock. He never faced Pharoah and he never saw the glory of God’s face. He had no staff with which to frighten off the enemy. He had no tablet of stone by which to govern the people, and he had no eloquent brother to be his spokesmen to the people.

But, Joshua was God’s choice and Joshua had a divinely sanctioned program to offer the people. When he presented the blueprint, the church began to move forward … Moses or no Moses!

Without dwelling on the giants in our lives, our North American General Assembly of the Church of God went through such a transition as Dr. Duncan retired and the Assembly agreed with the Ministry Council that Joshua was in the wings in the person of Jim Lyons. Jim’s first year has been tough sledding for him and for us, almost as climactic as transitioning from Moses to Joshua. And, God’s challenge seems to little different than what Joshua faced … occupy Canaan!

Jim has been well received. He has also been thoroughly discussed in social media and elsewhere for the baggage he brought to the office, decisions made in accepting the office, and choices rendered in the pursuit of his office. Several observations are valid when we think of Moses and Joshua.

1. The church is in a time of transition
That is not all bad. I learned long ago to “Get Ready: God uses Transitions!” That is more than a slick slogan; it is a time-honored biblical truth. It is however a good time for us to have healthy dialogue.
2. God is to be reckoned with. 
God ordered the change for Israel but his plans for them did not really change. Both the pulpit and the pew must be sensitive to the voice of God and neither run ahead, or discount, the other.
3. God had a man for the job and a job for the man. 
Moses taught the people and led them to the Jordan. Joshua’s charge was to cross the Jordan and “Occupy Canaan.” Every pastor has experienced this at some time. A good Drum Major never leaves the band too far behind ; on the other hand, a good marching band keep the leader in sight. When doing their job, each will make the other look good. Too many congregations are satisfied with their status quo and become like Israel complaining about Moses’ leadership. Remembering only how good the Leeks and Onions were back in the security of their slavery and how difficult it had become to be a responsible and free people.
4. God’s man has a sense of God’s direction
Joshua had a firm dependence on the Book of the Law, taught by Moses, and he knew the people’s need of it (Read Deut. 34 and Joshua 1). There is no place for dictatorial autocrats, in an attempt to be prophetic. Neither is there place for agitators, but we do need to learn how to work together.

I already know that Jim Lyons is NOT Jesus; he doesn’t walk on water. He puts his pants on just like I do and he is as flawed as I am. I disagree with some trends I see; but, I voted for him hoping he would bring some fresh thinking into a Movement grown stagnate in its lack of understanding itself. Moreover, I probably voted for him for the leadership potential I believe he has … as we learn to work together.

From Warner’s World,

we can make Jim God’s man of the hour by becoming the people God calls us to be; or we can break him, if we choose, and I know without doubt that most of us love the church (and God) too much for that ... walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Monday, July 14, 2014

MINISTRY COUNCIL:Time to "Man Up!"

I attended my first Anderson camp meeting/youth convention in 1944, the year E. Stanley Jones spoke. When I attended Global Gathering 2013 following years of conventions/camp meetings my family and I attended, following my Dallas, Texas ordination in 1952. I could count the number of times I missed during those years on one hand. I was never good at being a “yes” man, but I remained keenly aware of the institution. My family afforded those things even when we could not afford other necessities and if I didn't, my wife insisted!.

Yes, I was a “company” man. If pastor of a Church of God congregation, I made it part of my job description to attend state and national camp meetings, although I was never what you would call a “camper.” I made it part of my expectation that the church I pastored used Warner Press materials by Church of God writers. I felt attended General Assembly although I seldom said anything. I was comfortable to agree or disagree with whatever, BUT, I always respected the word and ways of the Assembly.

Bob Reardon told this story at the close of the 1992 General Assembly. E. A. Reardon, Bob’s father, was the first chair of our Assembly. As chairman there came a time when he offended the Assembly with some blunt remarks about the sectish spirit building in our midst at that time. Consequently. E. A. Reardon was voted out as GA Chair. When the Assembly met the following day, everyone cautiously awaited Reardon’s response.

As Callen reports it, the senior Reardon stood to his feet, faced the Assembly and said in his typically blunt manner: “Well, I’ve been over and looked at the Assembly vote. I see you voted me off both of these boards (Missionary/ABTS). Amid the dead silence, the disenfranchised chair said, “I have just one thing to say to you. The Assembly gave, the Assembly has taken away, blessed be the name of the Assembly” (Callen/Journeying together/1996/17). Italic added.

 With all due respect to God’s prophets who brought the word of the Lord from time to time, this Movement has generally found the voice of God within the body politic—God works through His People. And while I personally have always emphasized the democratic nature of our polity, I seldom strayed from the unanimity of The Body, locally or nationally.

Thus, it comes as quite a surprise when I read the letter of protest by my respected friend, Dr. Jerry Grubbs, former dean in the AU system. Grubbs is an institution within itself in the Church of God, going back to J. C. and J. D. as far as I know. I became familiar with the Grubbs brothers when pastoring in the old South. They reared sons and cousins who have had great ministries. Best known of all now is Marty, by virtue of being the popular pastor of the Oklahoma City mega-church at the crossings. And what a ministry Marty has had, a real tribute to Dave, his dad, and his upbringing at old Dayton Salem aka Clayton Salem.

As host to our recent 2014 Convention/GA Marty received a letter from his cousin, Dr. Jerry Grubbs, protesting some of the protocol in relocating the Convention from Anderson to Oklahoma City (see attachment). When first I heard of the move, I applauded guardedly, having supported a relocation of the Assembly from Anderson from the mid-sixties forward, with counsel from some of our national leaders

I still remember the year my friend E. E. Wolfram took me aside as a pastor in Mississippi attending Birmingham Convention. Sitting me down in a quiet corner of the Pinehurst narthex, Ewald encouraged me with, “There was a day when you could not do this!” I was editor of the Mississippi Co-ordinator and actively campaigning to move our Assembly back and forth across the four time zones, in a manner similar to Southern Baptists Messengers.

We still find it difficult to deal honestly with our diversity and so we struggle with dialogue, either honest or dishonest. This year is no exception, except circumstances continually force us to reconsider “our diversity.” So, although a midwesterner, I applauded the election of Jim Lyons, a west coaster and his diverse ways—sometimes different, as was Bob Pierson, another westerner, except we fired him.

However, I candidly confess that when I first heard of the “tickets at the door” to which Jerry alludes; that was so utterly contrary to the Church of God’s open door policy of camp meetings that I thought my informant had “lost her marbles!” My wife had talked to someone in OKC via phone and learned of it. She has been critically ill, and I questioned that she was sliding into dementia—only to learn that she knew whereof she spoke … an ungodly truth.

Historically, the Gospel Trumpet Company underwrote Anderson camp meeting and grounds, until the church found it expedient and necessary to assume that cost. If the Assembly cannot find support in “our budget” for this needed item, then lets chuck it – kill it dead!  

Needless to say, this minister of more than 60 years was mortified … appalled … shamed that the Ministry Council had supported Jim Lyons in doing what was done in OKC recently. Making someone pay to get into one of our services is OBSCENE AND SINFUL. Experiment with moving the Convention! Call it NAC! Call it whatever, or meet wherever! BUT, DON’T USE A TECHNICALITY TO END-RUN AROUND THE ASSEMBLY.  AND, don’t insult the majority of our ministers and parishoners by putting a price tag on our most institutionalized meeting.

From Warner’s World, this is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com asking the Ministry Council to “man up”! How could you do this to us? (following is Dr. Grubbs letter to cousin Marty, with permission.)
REFLECTIONS ON UPCOMING CHURCH OF GOD NORTH AMERICAN CONVENTION 

As I am packing and getting ready to go to Oklahoma City for the Church of God North American Convention, I am thinking about the theme that has been selected for this year.  It is BE BOLD!

Is it being bold to ignore the vote of the General Assembly two years ago to “experiment with a satellite site outside of Anderson in 2014?”  That was an affirmative vote by those present and voting.  No one to my knowledge (and I have talked to scores of persons who were present) assumed that Anderson, Indiana, the headquarters of the Church of God for over 100 years, would be the “satellite” and the convention moved to another city.  If acting independently of the vote and wishes of the General Assembly is being bold, then, I am not in favor of being bold.

Is it being bold to ignore twelve congregations of the Church of God in Madison County, their Pastors and Members in making the decision to move the convention?  These congregations have graciously hosted the thousands of persons who have come to Anderson each year.  And if being bold is to ignore them in the decision making process then, I am not in favor of being bold.

Is it being bold to ignore our largest university which has graciously hosted this convention for nearly 100 years?  Anderson University has opened its campus, living facilities, dining facilities and classrooms to the convention.  And if ignoring this fine institution in the decision process is being bold, then, I am not in favor of being bold.

Is it being bold walking away from the city of Anderson whose leaders, people and businesses have opened themselves to hosting this convention for over 100 years?  Is it being bold to speak in such negative terms in newspaper interviews about the people and facilities of Anderson?  Anderson, Indiana is more than able to provide everything needed to host and support the Church of God convention and to imply otherwise is a slap in the face of our Headquarter City.  I have checked the prices of lodging in Oklahoma City and it is clear that only those with real financial means will be able to attend the convention. If this is being bold, then, I am not in favor of being bold.

Is it being bold to insinuate in an Anderson newspaper interview that the Church of God has become more cultured than in past times whenever people came in their campers and RV’s to the convention?  What does such an insinuation say to the thousands of persons across the years who have come and enjoyed the family atmosphere of the “campgrounds” and met and made friendships that have lasted a life time?  What does it mean that we are “more cultured?”  By the way, I am attending the Oklahoma convention in my RV, uncultured soul that I am.  If such put downs of the thousands of persons who have found this experience fulfilling is being bold, then, I am not in favor of being bold.

Is it being bold to structure the program of the North American Convention so as to totally exclude children and youth from participation?  For decade upon decade, this convention has been a place where children and youth are instructed in the way of Christ and in a call to service within this Reformation Movement. 

Literally thousands of youth across the years have made their way to the altar or to a prayer room where they have received Christ as Savior and Lord and for many thousand more who have received a call to Christian ministry as Pastors, Teachers and Missionaries.  If ignoring these precious children and youth is what it means to be bold, then, I am not in favor of being bold.

Is it being bold to move away from conferences which provide opportunities to explore Worship, Christian Education, Church Administration, Church Finances, etc.?  Pastors and lay persons alike have come to the convention for learning opportunities that could be applied in their back home situation.  If being bold terminates these learning opportunities, then, I am not in favor of being bold.

Is it being bold to price the convention out of the reach of many persons?  Is $95-$120 in Oklahoma City and $40 to sit in front of a screen in Anderson appropriate in this economy?  What does such a financial requirement say to those who have experienced  for over 100 years worship and educational opportunities at little or no cost?  Are we being asked to underwrite high priced entertainers to come and perform as we watch instead of asking our own Movement worship leaders and preachers to plan effective worship services which are consistent with our heritage and traditions?  If such a change in our approach is being bold, then, I am not in favor of being bold.

On a more deeply personal level, I raise the following.  Our Grandson is serving in the United States Air Force and is stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.  We discovered that he would be able to attend the Tuesday evening service of the convention with us.  When I contacted the National Office I was informed that he could attend and they would be selling tickets at the door.  I was shocked.  In almost 74 years of being in the Church of God I have never paid to here the Gospel or charged anyone to come in to hear the Gospel.  For 100 years our convention has been open to any and all and thousands across the years have come in freely, heard the Gospel message, responded and went out to serve their Lord.  I am absolutely appalled that we now tell those who might want to come in to one of our “performances” that they have to buy a ticket.  What, dear Lord, have we come to?  If this is being bold, then, I am not in favor of being bold.

Instead of a theme of BE BOLD, we would have been better served by choosing a theme of BE FAITHFUL.   What would it really mean for the Church of God Reformation Movement to reflect on being faithful to her founding, history, heritage, theology, message, mission and ministry in the 21st century?   I see the Church to which I have given a life-time of commitment and service slowly slipping away under the guise of being bold.  I, for one, am really saddened by what I see taking place.  I may just be one voice crying in the wilderness…or maybe not.
 Dr. Jerry C. Grubbs
Anderson, Indiana
June 10, 2014