Sunday, September 17, 2017

Right to Write

I want to write … as I have written
since my teen letter-writing years. 
I want also to read, but of the writing of books there is no end.

But I have read all my life and time is fast flying, passing me by more rapidly than ever before.
It is passing fast and there are activities to which I must attend as I find my way into the new life I now have 
... after seventy years of two walking as one.

Now that she has taken her long flight to her eternal home,
I must do which is most natural to me … and that is write.
But tonight I'm satisfied to ponder Ella Wheeler Wilcox's
well known verse, "I Will Not Doubt".

I don’t write poetry but that does not prevent my taking pleasure in her verse
so beautifully crafted. What is right for me today, is write where I am at this moment in time and
this is what she concludes:
I Will Not Doubt:
Though all my ships at sea come drifting home with broken masts and sails
I shall believe the Hand which never fails
From seeming evil worketh good to me.
And though I weep because those sails are battered,
Still will I cry when, my best hopes lie shattered,
“I trust in Thee”.

I will not doubt though all my prayers seem to return unanswered from the still white realm above
I shall believe it is an all-wise Love which has refused those things for which I yearn.
And though at times I cannot keep from breathing
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing,
Undimmed shall burn.

I will not doubt
Though sorrows fall like rain and troubles swarm like bees about a hive
I shall believe that the heights for which I strive are only reached by anguish and by pain
And though I groan and tremble with my crosses I yet shall see through my severest losses
The greater gain.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Finding the Mind of Christ

I am reading snatches of Dennis Kinlaw (The Mind of Christ, 1998, Francis Asbury Press) in my sitting times with Tommie.  Kinlaw was the protégé of Henry Clay Morrison, founder of Asbury College and Seminary. He was also a leading conservative Scholar and proponent of Wesleyan holiness. He makes a significant observation (64-65) that I find most interesting, one that it seems to me many current conservative Christian political pundits choose not to see or else naively overlook when they theologize/theorize about life on Main Street. Perhaps it is merely my political bias; I’d like to look at it.

“Dr K” diiscusses how the Gospel of Mark reveals 1) who Jesus really is, and  in the latter part of Mark 2) who we are in our human need.  “The next chapters,” he concludes, “detail Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In chapter 14, Jesus predicts that all of the disciples will forsake him (v. 27). Two verses later, Peter denies that he ever will. Two verses after that, the other eleven deny that they will. And nineteen verses following that, the Bible says, ‘they all forsook him and fled.’ In the courtyard, Peter denies that he ever knew Jesus’ (14:66-72)

This is no coincidence,” Kinlaw believes: “The first half of Mark reveals who Jesus is; the last half reveals who we are. It is a picture of human nature in its common form tainted with self-interest and lust for status” (emphasis mine). Take note he suggests: “that these problems of spiritual dissipation and the clamor for status nevertheless emerge in the intimate fellowship with Jesus and other disciples.

A person does not realize this self-centered bent so long as he lives in isolation. One needs to live in community to realize the problems in his own soul” (emphasis mine). Thus; Kinlaw defends Wesley’s motive for bands and classes as part of early Wesleyan worship: “a painful part of church life” (p. 66), which he describes as “necessary” as a way to teach holiness and go beyond being edified and on to experiencing examination and self-disclosure.

I well remember my seminary years when Professor/friend  Dr. John Drakeford borrowed my 14-volumes of Wesley when researching his  INTEGRITY THERAPY  (Small Group Therapy) Movement founded  in study with O. Hobart Mowrer, U of IL Research Professor.  I heard both Dr. Mowrer and his Professor-wife Mollie testify to the validity of this Wesleyan insight as related to examination and self-disclosure and their personal  experience.

One reason many find it so very difficult  to become a Christian today is that before one can truly find one’s self in Christ, one must process through that ugly insight that “all” (I) have sinned and fallen short of the glory  of God and deal with the issue of Confession. Mowrer acknowledged the importance of this concept that many evangelicals have thrown out with the bathwater (Mowrer’s language) because of their Protestant view of Confession as belonging to the Papal system.

Dr. Kinlaw proceeds biblically (p. 66) to show how theology is shaped in relationships (emphasis mine). He concludes chapter-4 with 3-laws of Christian discipleship: (1) Find out who Jesus is and learn his adequacy; (2) Find out who we are (I am) and realize our inadequacy; and (3) Find the Holy Spirit’s power to displace your human weakness. With the fullness of Christ (thus the book title: How Every Christian can have The Mind of Christ).

The signposts in Mark (8:33) point to Holy Spirit transformation found in Acts and Romans 8:1 where Paul confirms “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ  Jesus.”

At this point I ask: “Is it too big a stretch to acknowledge that God created us as social beings, and that as social beings we act and interact either socially or anti-socially? That seems totally rational to me and not over-simplified! Thus, I conclude that when I apply biblical theology to my life in the Market Place, I need to apply it in terms biblically acceptable rather than politically motivated; otherwise I go against all that Jesus taught, simply because Jesus definitely taught us to live relationally inside and outside the church doors. I perceive that for the Christian on the “far-right” to call social elements of our gospel relationships “Communist, pink, red, or other political terms only suggests to me at least that they are more politically guided rather than guided by the mind of the Christ who builds us up through our social relationships,

It is the ”mind of Christ” that I want! It is that choice that he has made me responsible for choosing. It is that choice he has given me the opportunity of selecting out of all the choices life offers. Kinlaw concludes his chapter with this summary of Mark: “The essence of Mark is summarized in Jesus’ statement of Mark 8:33, where he says in effect, ‘You do not think the way that God thinks.’ Not until the disciples received the baptism of the Holy Spirit would they be delivered from the enslavement of self-interest, the hallmark of the natural mind” (p. 68).

This is

seeking the mind of Christ.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Believer's Prayer

“And forgive us our trash passes, as we forgive those who passed trash against us,” prayed six-year-old Susie, as she repeated what she thought she heard earlier during Morning Worship. While it is important that we hear correctly, it is equally important that our daily walk  gives credence to what we pray. Nowhere is this more important than when we pray what I choose to call the Believer’s Prayer.

The Believer’s Prayer is what Jesus taught his disciples to pray. This prayer of Jesus teaches us much about living and praying, about believing and behaving (Mt. 6:9-13, KJV).

I can pray OUR only if my prayer provides room for others and their needs. I can pray FATHER only if I demonstrate this relationship in my daily living. I can pray WHICH ART IN HEAVEN only when all of my interests and pursuits are centered beyond earthly things.

I can pray HALLOWED BE THY NAME only when I, who am called to hear his name, live a holy life. I can pray THY KINGDOM COME only when I am willing to give up my own sovereignty and accept the righteous rule of God.

I can pray THY WILL BE DONE only when I intentionally pursue his will in my life. I can pray IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN only when I truly surrender myself to his service here and now.

I can best pray GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD only when I put forth an honest effort to obtain it but I seriously consider the genuine needs of others. I can best pray FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS only when I forgive and release my grudges against everyone else.

I can honestly pray DELIVER US FROM EVIL only when I make preparation to fight in the spiritual realm using the kingdom weapons of prayer and discipline. I can best pray THINE IS THE KINGDOM only when I give my disciplined obedience to my King as his loyal subject.

Moreover, I can pray AND THE POWER only when it does not matter what my neighbors and friends may say or think or do. I can pray AND THE GLORY only when I actively pursue his glory first and avoid my own.

I can pray FOR EVER only if I trust in His promises rather than fret anxiously about the events of each day. I can conclude my prayer with a hearty AMEN, only when I wholeheartedly affirm, “Cost what it will; this is my prayer!”

After all … what is the difference between the atheist that does not support any church and the church member that never actively supports the church to which s/he belongs? Or: what is the difference between the skeptic that rejects the bible and the negligent Christian that never opens the bible? And for that matter: what is the difference between the people of this chaotic society and the professing church member that lives like all the rest of society?

In his deepest moment of devotion and meditation, the Psalmist prayed, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O lord, my strength and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14, KJV). As true believers, let us enter the Market Place behaving as we have believed.
© 2017Wayne M. Warner

This is


     Our Father in heaven, hallowed by thy name, your kingdom come,
     Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
     Give us this day our daily bread,
     Forgive our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
     And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Mt. 6:9-13, NIV)._

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (3s)

Strength for Today; Hope for Tomorrow

Thirteen year-old Ralph rode his horse home from school on some very dark nights. One murky evening young Ralph approached a flooded stream and his horse refused to enter the swirling waters. Just then, a neighbor opened his farmhouse door, somewhere out there in the darkness on the other side of the stream. That open door laid a gleam of hope across the stream that rushed across Ralph’s pathway so rapidly; it allowed the hesitant Horse and the cautious rider to enter the stream with renewed confidence and make the crossing safely.
Years later; that distinguished radio minister, Dr. Ralph Sockman, recalled that significant incident from his boyhood. He confidently proclaimed that Christ opened the door on the other side of death’s sullen stream, that Christ “brought life and immortality to light,” that God broke in upon our world with the light of Easter. I’ve told this story before, but it speaks to me where I live today.

God wants us to find our way out of this great darkness that engulfs us. Some experience Easter only as a time of offense because the minister fails to recognize them from one year to the next. Others, like Sockman, discover in Easter an experience that offers life mends broken lives. The light of Easter exposes a gleam of hope that nurtures people through dog days, dreary events, and hopeless times.  It promises an equal opportunity occasion for nurturing new life, accompanied by the living Christ. It offers me the hope of eternal life with a living Heavenly Father as I await the soon departure of my spouse of 70.5 years.

In walking with this Christ we/I find forgiveness for past sins. In His continuing presence, she and I find promises of abundant life and ultimate victory over personal defeats. This God that was in Christ invites us to lay aside our spiritual uncertainties, walk with Him, and be liberated from the chains of doubt.

Easter brings His invitation for us to accompany Him on this grace-filled trip, free from the onslaughts of death, devastation, and defeat. Easter marks the ultimate turning point of faith by celebrating the true and certain defeat of death and darkness. Easter reveals the further promise of life unparalleled in victorious grace, mercy, and light. Easter offers this life on a 365-day-a-year basis rather than an annual spring holiday.            

Walking with Our Lord, we (now) live on rich dividends that result from His companionship. In seeking first His Kingdom, his companionship becomes our primary objective. As we pursue this ongoing journey, we await His future return with unabated eagerness, all the while welcoming any-and-all that will willingly accompany us.

On one hand, we no longer await some unknown future when Christ "will" bind Satan and cast him into the fiery pit. In reality, we live with him "now" in his victorious presence and we “celebrate” His faithful counsel and comforting presence.

Shortly after the liberation of Rome during World War Two, an Army Chaplain prepared  to participate in a special Memorial Service. Taking note of the circumstances, a young American GI begged the Chaplain to announce the soldier’s presence in the service. He explained that he left Italy ten years before and moved to America. He had not seen his mother during that time, but he knew she would be present in this service.
The Chaplain not being in charge of the service, could not honor the request. He agreed, however, and instructed the young GI: “When I am introduced you stand beside me. I am sure your mother will recognize you.”

Carefully following the Chaplain’s instructions, the anxious soldier stood beside the Chaplain in silence. A cry of recognition was heard buy all as a tiny woman in the audience jumped up and ran down the aisle toward the platform. Their mutual belief in the God of Easter dramatically reunited this elderly mother and her emigrant son after ten years of being separated by war and distance.

That which appeared in Bethlehem as a gleam of hope became a vision of reality when the God of history revealed himself through the resurrected and eternal Christ. In His Company, Tommie and I find God’s best for each one of us--both here and hereafter. The promises of the prophets became a living presence in Jesus. The  Easter event reveals the unending victory we experience today. It is a day in which Satan has no tomorrow.

From Warner’s World of 8-20-2017,

I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com___

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Desk As Altar

Church of God Historian, Dr. Merle Strege has written an excellent analysis detailing Anderson University’s first century of Christian service to its Church of God sponsor, its local community where it carries a vital role, and to the cause of Christian Higher Education... After spending time with Merle at our annual June Historical Society, followed by personal conversation, I eagerly anticipated reading his historical critique. I completed that reading recently and I offer the following personal response to this well-written newest volume of Church of God historical literature.

I excerpt the author's own words:
"James Edwards retired as Anderson University laid plans to celebrate its centennial. A tiny denominational Bible school had evolved in ways unimagined by the boldest dreamers among its founders. Once comprised almost exclusively of students and faculty drawn from the Church of God, one hundred years later AU has become intentionally pluralistic.

“And yet its identity rests in ties to its sponsoring church. From a sectarian Bible school and young college, the institution has stepped into a wider religious world as it continues to mature into a complex university. Anderson University defies simple categorization. Unashamed of its Christian character, it prides itself in not imposing faith statements or creeds as a condition of employment; instead the institution asks applicants for a testimony of their Christian pilgrimage.

“Formally tied to the Church of God, AU celebrates the freedom of 'academic and Christian discovery.' The sponsoring church and its oldest university have undergone substantial growth and change over the course of Anderson's lifetime, but at the end of the day, university leaders insist on belonging to the church that has given Anderson University its distinctive shape”

…"At one hundred years of age, the stated mission of Anderson University is ' educate for a life of faith and service to church and society.' ... Since the days of Morrison and Olt, the development of such lives has been at Anderson's heart. The goal remains the gift and burden of each generation ... Signs abound that the latest faculty generation has taken up the task. In the words of one of its members, 'Our "unifying theme" is a life of faith and service ...set free by VERITAS, ...empowered ... by FIDELITAS, and naturally manifested through UTILITAS. Here I suggest is the common language AU must strive to protect, and our unifying theme.' John Morrison would smile" (pp 414-415).
Merle's fundamental unifying theme seems accurate in every sense of the word. Moreover, it reassures me as I look back across the span of and my personal relationship with the adolescent Movement, beginning as ABTS/AC and was but ten years old at my birth. Later, I would spend several decades serving that Family of Faith (Movement) in pastoring several of its newer (and some older) congregations from coast to coast, and I candidly admit Merle’s documented  insistence that TRUTH, FAITH, and SERVICE have been the net result of AU's century-long educational contribution to the mission of the Movement coincides with my experience. But also: he gives me insight and better understanding into issues I might otherwise question.
 I have had some very good and some very bad experiences with AC, both as a student and as a parent of students. I have one deeply serious issue with “my friend” Bob Reardon that came about during my years of being the parent of a student. That in my view still remains a problem John Pistole must correct and improve but that is outside the purview of this review. Some may not agree with the perceived liberalization and/or the academic freedom students have today. Not all will support the "progressive" view Dr. Strege puts forth. Some will reject various trends that differ in varying degree with our original manner of identifying ourselves as a Movement, et al. Still others would be more comfortable for AC/AU to be more dogmatic and less diplomatic while others would be more comfortable if our church/Movement was more sectarian, more doctrinal, and somewhat less experiential and pietistic. And that’s OKAY. 
SOME might even like Professor Strege to be less academic and more assertive about this or that issue, according to the interest of the particular person or congregation. At the end of day, however, I know of no one better able to gauge this assessment of our cooperative investment in Anderson University. Our investments of time, money, and energy have paid off in dividends both excellent and highly profitable (valuable).
I salute our friend and my fellow alum from WPC for this most recent of his several "significant historical assessments." Merle understands and can assess with considerable accuracy who we are as a people, what we have achieved through our efforts, and where we are headed in our future of uncertain times
This is asking that you
“Be blessed!” as you thoughtfully read your copy of THE DESK AS ALTAR / Strege/AU Press/2016

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Work of the Holy Spirit

PART THREE -- The Work of the Holy Spirit
-Wayne M. Warner-

 Life is always a probation. The will is free . . . the holiest saint on earth may, if he chooses, sin and go to hell. Everything hangs upon the choice. Thank God we need not fall. Falling is possible, but not necessary.
                                    Byron J. Rees,
                             The Wesleyan Advocate

A wretched stench confronted Chuck Swindoll’s family when they returned home from their midsummer vacation. Chuck described their non-humorous dilemma of finding their house filled with the indescribable aroma of a dead possum in the attic over the bedroom.

Racing to find the best solution in the shortest time, they found a product guaranteed to rid their house of the offensive odor of decaying flesh---”Anti-Icky Pooh.”

The Church, like the Swindoll family, sometimes faces offensive odors. Decadent TV ministries leave a bad smell. Churches that tolerate unacceptable beliefs and congregations that allow members to live in Sodom while hobnobbing with the city elders, leaves a poor witness.

Paul described such behaviors as holding to a form of godliness, while denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5). The antidote for this anemic spirituality is the Holy Spirit, a true Anti-Icky-Pooh product guaranteed to fulfill true righteousness.

There is power beyond the norm practiced by many in today’s church. There is life under the administration of the Holy Spirit, but this truth frequently finds itself effectively wedged between ineffective teaching and misunderstood practice.

From the age of Genesis, Judaism taught the unity of God within one-God (monotheism): Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness (1:26 NASV, emphasis added).

The Old Testament consistently shows God (the Father) at the center of all moral authority---the prime mover toward the human rescue. Yet, piercing through the fog ever so dimly, we see the mission of the Son manifesting the visible God to human eyes, to instruct the world, and finally to atone for mankind’s sin through His own death.

It is the Holy Spirit who administers God’s Department of Grace; applying and distributing what originated through the joint High Command. He revives recollection of Jesus. He quickens the conscience, renews the mind, and attests acceptance with God in practical living.

He sanctifies one’s whole being. He takes possession of a purified temple, makes the heart His home and converts it into a sanctuary of unending comfort. He expands it into a fruit-bearing garden that produces love, peace, and joy.

Pentecost simply served as the Installation Service that brought about the transfer in the command of power. Although people sometimes find themselves drunk on the sensual and sensational, thus void of reality, God’s people throughout the ages have enjoyed the Holy Spirit’s power and presence in several ways.

First, the office of the Holy Spirit is to awaken and arrest one’s attention, to excite the feelings, and produce conviction for sin (cf. John 16:8). Lacking power to rouse themselves, and shake off the stupor, people left to their own devices pass through this life, meet death, and enter eternity with their sleep uninterrupted.

Second, the work of the Holy Spirit is to renew (cf. Titus; John 3:5). Chaos, corruption, and death begin in the carnal mind. Carnality estranges the soul from God and dismantles the divine in humanity.

Third, the Holy Spirit restores and enlightens spiritual perception; penetrating the soul, repairing vision, revealing truth. He renews vision with perspective. Sin obscures vision, leaving us drifting on an ocean of error in a moral fog, void of true relationships.

Fourth, the Holy Spirit implants and nourishes the seeds of character-producing grace. Regeneration clears the soul of poisonous weeds and the bitter root of sin. It allows God’s Spirit of Truth to become the foundation of right principles, true virtues, and correct practices.

The Holy Spirit, moreover, acts upon these plantings, like the quickening rays of warm sun on spring flowers. He conditions the greenhouse of our heart, producing lovely bedding plants for beautifying the yards of our lives.

Fifth, the Holy Spirit assures us of our acceptance by God, reaffirming our justified relationship to Him (cf. Romans 8:6; Galatians 4:6). Although greater things were reserved for the gospel era, these functions are normal to the Holy Spirit.

Immersed in clouds of worldliness, today’s church sometimes finds itself debilitated and sickly, in spite of John the Baptist’s introduction of Jesus. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire, John announced (Matthew 3:11 NASV, emphasis added).  

By introducing Jesus as the King, John also introduced God’s Kingdom. In proclaiming the arrival of the Promised Child, whose presence brought the power of the Savior-Sanctifier, John called for fruit worthy of repentance. He declared Israel already axed, rather than resurrected (cf. Matthew 3:10). He proclaimed the cleansing baptism of the Holy Spirit, rather than legalizing water baptism.

Believing in Jesus requires us to accept a Trinitarian view of God. Thereby, it acknowledges the era of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we learn there is life that comes to us from beyond mere human discipline.

Without explicit preaching and solid testimony we may fail to understand this truth, which is the fulcrum on which the lever of the Spirit rests.

Faith provides the conveyor belt that carries salvation, but the Holy Spirit provides the power that creates the cleansing, quickening, and beautifying we all need.

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about His coming kingdom, He told them it’s neither here nor there, but within you (cf. Luke 17:21). There is a level of life to discover beyond mere discipline, an internal power far beyond the norm practiced.

This is reaffirming the Biblical truth that there is a Sanctifier beyond the Savior, and Jesus himself insisted that among His disciples if anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word  (John 14:23a NASV). 

Be blessed!