Thursday, June 4, 2020

THE CHRISTIAN RULE OF LIFE

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ... Mark 12:30-31Having passed beyond life's ninety-mile marker, I find myself once more sitting at the feet of a man that deeply marked my life. I walked into his classroom as a floundering young student, grasping to recover a place as a serious student after having failed one attempt. Some seven decades later I am realizing just how much he impacted my life.

Moreover, I am realizing anew the practical worth of his thesis, which was that "Men ought to act on the faith that human life is capabble of high attainment and ought to seek to prove, by demonstrating .  quality of life of which man is capable, that this faith is not a vain one."  I find it necessary to return to Warner Monroe's classroom via the 1947 text he published at Warner Press after completing his doctoral studies at the University of Washington in 1947.

Who was Warner Monroe? He was the son of early Church of God missionary followers of D. S. Warner who had become the Patron Saint of a body of religious reformers in British Columbia, Canada.   When born, Warner was named after the Northwest Ohio reformer, D, S. Warner, and eventually migrated to America where he came part of the educational Ministry of A. F. Gray and Otto F. Linn. Gray launched the tiny preacher's school in Spokane, Washington and Monroe spent his life teaching in the small Bible College on the relocated Portland, Oregon campus where Gray and Linn were the President and Dean.

There in Portland, he was part of an elite faculty that some considered the finest in what had become known as the Church of God Reformation Movement. When I walked into his classroom five weeks late as a probationary student five weeks late, I had accumulated 17 hours at Anderson College, spent a brief hitch in the United States Air Force, and married a wife that I discovered had a death sentence hanging over her head and no promise of reaching her twenty-first birthday,  We were determined to take all the life the God of our faith would give.

It was a class in Roman History that I walked into that day in early January 1948, but it was Monroe's text in Ethics that would influence the remainder of my days.  Only now, some seven decades later, am I beginning to realize the extent of that influence. It comes at a time when our nation is in a very real sense hog-tied by coronairus pandemic. Cities across the nation have been looted and burned  as people have reacted in thoughtless rage and anarchic behavior as a result of the exploding rage of people who have not found a more effective way of making their lives seem useful and meaningful. And that brings me back to my much loved professor who spent his life so very wisely in a variety of educational endeavors, only to lose his life by losing his footing while smelt fishing, as Oregonians love to do.

Monroe spent his educational career  and his entire life proposing that to live as a Christian one will "Always so act as to cause everyone who beholds your act or is affected by it to realize the great value of human life and the attainment of which it is capable" (Chr Ethics, 75). It is this unique quality that makes us distinctively human, as opposed to being of the animal kingdom. Monroe believed we have a unique and distinct spiritual quality  that gives life a distinct quality that behavioral psychology knows nothing of, and in fact denies. Monroe proposes four levels or forms which our right action may take in accomplishing this realization.

First,
we can lay the foundation for developing this more abundant life, and realize its value, by shaping or conforming our purposes to the demands necessary for a moral order.
Only then can we build  a society in which all men can move freely about and at the same time find the means of their accomplishing truly worth-while purposes.

Second,
we can ourselves realize, and cause others to realize, their value of life
by developing our own capacities in the fullest measure and by choosing worth-while purposes ourselves.

Third,
we can cause others to realize their value
by helping them to accomplish their own worth-while purposes.
This, concludes Monroe, is the most commonly understood way of showing Christian love. It arises not only in the physical welfare of others but in their spiritual welfare. This might well be our most common way of fulfilling the command of Jesus  when he instructed us to love our neighbor as we love our self.

Fourth and finally,
Monroe says we realize, and cause others to realize, the value of life
by helping them to find worthy purposes in life and by bringing them to a knowledge of right and devotion to it.
This is the end result of all Christian teaching and evangelism. Our duty is to honor God most because he is greatest in goodness, It is also to reverence human personality wherever it is to be found,
      because of the heights of attainment of which it is capable,
      and this love for man affects the activities of our lives, perhaps even more than our love to God.

Foundational to Monroe's four Christian rules of life are the words of Jesus, in the traditional translation of Monroe's generation:
                    And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thyheart, and with all they soul,
                    and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; this is the first commandment.
                   And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ...
                   Mark 12:30-31
From walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

JOURNEYING FROM EASTER TOWARD PENTECOST


My sister-in-law Awana spent her entire adult life in Government Foreign Service. She lived between Arlington, VA and whatever Embassy she and Ralph were attached to at the time. They served multiple tours of duty in Taiwan. In those early years of raising her family, Awana visited often in the home of Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek and she and Madame Chiang became lifelong friend.

One day Madame Chiang related this favorite story that described how a certain very ordinary farmer became an extraordinary hero. This particular farmer lived on a high plateau, high above the valley below. One day, he peered out across the valley toward the shoreline and realized an earthquake was causing the ocean to pile up. It would soon create a tsunami.

The observant farmer realized that a tidal wave would wash in over the lowlanders and flood his neighbors far down in the valley below. They would all perish unless he could immediately call them to the hilltop where he was. Quickly, he lit a torch and touched his torch to his dry rice barn. Then he rang the fire gong.

Far down in the valley, the people looked high up the mountainside and saw the rising smoke. They hurriedly scrambled up the hillside to help their neighbor fight the fire. Before they could reach his burning barn, the waves roared in behind them and flooded the fields they had just left. Almost in unison, they all recognized that their friend had just burned all of his possessions to save their lives. He was a hero!

When nineteenth century hymn writer-preacher Phillips Brooks died, his oldest brother confided to their mutual friend, Dr. McVicker: “Phillips might have saved himself, and so prolonged his life. Others do; but he was always giving himself to anyone who wanted him.”

Dr. McVicker replied, “Yes indeed! He might have saved himself, but in doing so, he would not have been Phillips Brooks. The glory of Phillips Brooks’ life was that he did not save himself.”

The journey of Easter was a special time of recalling and re-telling the stories of Jesus, especially those stories as told in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Each reminds us that Jesus came first as the Son of Man, but he also came to seek and to save the lost (Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10). Journeying beyond beyond Easter toward Pentecost makes our journey with Jesus a further time when we recall and renew ourselves in his caring love.

When we celebrate the glory beyond Easter toward Pentecost, we rejoice in the firm faith that Jesus chose to do the will of his Heavenly Father and that he committed himself to save others rather than to save himself.
          
This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com; indeed: how blessed we are!_____ 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

THE TRUTH ABOUT LIFE

"There is a sense in which every man must build his life from the foundations up and must learn all its life from the most elementary to the highest; but through cooperation and the preservation of the wisdom of the past, profitable living should become easier for each succeeding generation." So wrote Warner Monroe in his PhD thesis in the late 1940's.

"The preservation and accumulation of the truth by which men live and the sharing of practical wisdom in the solving of life's problems are the work of a cooperative society," Monroe concluded in his published volume, An Introduction to Christian Ethics (Warner Press, 1947)

The 2020 rendition of our succeeding generations finds itself facing a global Pandemic.  Covid-19 came to us out of Wuhan, China and there is much debate about who is to blame for this this death-ridden disaster. American politics can blame it on the intentional mishandling of truth by the Communistic Chinese Government and trying to control the flow of information, but that does not explain all the rest of the globally viral pandemics we have experienced and survived.

Some people of faith want to simplify life to the point of blaming it all on God, or the behavior of people, and say simply that people are ignoring God and this is God's retribution on them for ignoring him. John Calvin leaned that way, as did Augustine, simplifying life down to a kind of behaviorism that is as simple as God selecting some for election (salvation) and others for judgment and hell.

The Apostle Paul did not find life that simplistic. Once he got over his own arrogance of destroying these Jesus-followers of The Way, he began to understand the relationship between God and mankind in a more relaxed but complicated manner that Professor James Arminius called man's free will. Paul concluded that man had some input in this relationship with God and he appealed to his Roman readers, "by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."

Therefore, concluded Paul, "Do not be conformed  to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" Romans 12:1-2 RSV, italics mine).

Picking up Warner Monroe again in a more lengthy quote, let us see if we can make some sense out of this global pandemic we face today. Monroe affirms candidly, "Though the importance of the legacy of the past cannot be too greatly appreciated, the solution of new problems and the discovery of new truth must not be neglected."  I have italicized this to get our attention for what Monroe now declares as true: There are many problems which are recurrent, for they are faced by men of all ages and can therefore be solved or partly solved once for all."

I am reminded of this every time I see someone questioning this pandemic and asking God for a quick-fix solution. I believe people think God is our eternal errand boy and that prayer is simply a matter of asking God to deliver us from this evil. We have a way of proclaiming a certain faith in God's ability to deliver us from all evil, protect us through all problems, and ultimately free our lives of all problems and perplexities. When it comes time for the rubber to hit the road, we expect God to deliver prosperity for the asking, power on demand, and personal avoidance of all perplexities. We proclaim an evangelical message that focuses on an old rugged cross, but when a difficult time arises, we expect God to shower us with sunshine and roses-without thorns.

This latest pandemic is simply one more reminder of what Monroe wrote in his text on ethics: "More abundant and more baffling are those problems which have never been faced before." Have we been looking at this from a wrong perspective? Well: what does Monroe say about this?

"Life is, and must forever be, a process of change, adjustment to new situations, and  a discovery of new truth; and in this process of adjustment and discovery co-operation is indispensable. The machinery and methods of co-operation must conserve and give stability, but must not become so fixed in nature that they arrest progress or make impossible the solution of new problems as they arise. 

 "The methods of co-operation must be regarded strictly as the handmaid of an outflowing stream of life, and stability should take the form of the permanent posssibility of  adjustment to changing circumstances" (pp 120-121, Italics mine).

I believe we are created by God and in his image. That demands a certain freedom of choice for us, although we acknowledge the Sovereignty of God. So that we do not remain mindless creatures of habit and instinct, God has extended to us the freedom to choose him or reject him, to work out our own salvation by means of his grace, and to face some tough times rather than enjoying a simplistic health and wealth utopia.

There is a lesson for us to learn in Psalm 139; it is that God knows us inside and out. No matter how far we go in life we can never go so far we lose the influence of God, However, we do find we do not escape perplexities and problems either. Somewhere along our stoney pathway there is a stone that will take down Goliath. In other words, life does not avoid problems, but God has filled our bible with stories and illustrations of how He (God) will lead us over, under, around, or through any problem we encounter

We have made it this far, and together we can make it through today and still have hope for tomorrow. With that thought in mind, I offer this poetic challenge, titled DON'T QUIT:

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile,' but you have to sigh,
          When care is pressing you down a bit--
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when your hardest hit--
Its when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.
                                                                               Author Unknown
Be blessed;
This is walkingwithwarner,blogspotcom_____

Sunday, May 3, 2020

CALLED TO HOLINESS

The early church called believers from impurity, to holiness and sanctification (1 Thess. 4:7). Leon Hynson wrote in The Wesleyan Renewal, suggesting that John Wesley regarded holiness as a lifelong process in which God skillfully sculpts us to his image. Using Wesley's analogy, Hynson describes repentance as the porch and faith as the door into the house, and reminds us that Wesley taught Christians to press on into perfect love.

Hynson says that Wesley sought two ends: 1) replacing the spirit of evil with the love of God, and 2) preparing believers to love the world in order to redeem the world. As people of God, it is critically important for us to have a firm conviction of whom and what we are.

The Lord your God has chosen you, Moses announced, and The Lord will establish you (Deut. 7:7b; 28:9). Paul pursued this theme in Rome, when greeting believers he described as chosen by God and actively committed to God's redeeming activity in the world (Romans, chapter 16). Peter insisted, You are a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9).

WE DISCOVER HOLINESS BY PURSING THE HOLY SPIRIT'S GIFTING.  He promises to empower and build up the body of Christ, as we use this gifting for the common good health of the church body, that it may be healthy (Eph. 4:11-13; I Cor. 12:7). As His people, we exercise the ability of dispensing grace (I Peter 4:10).

WE MODEL HOLINESS THROUGH PERSUASIVE LIVING. By making Jesus our model and mentor, we serve, rather than being served (Mk. 10:43). We do what we can for the least of these, because it is of utmost importance to the Lord (Mt. 25:40). We serve lovingly, knowing that anything less is a clanging cymbal (I Cor. 12:1).

WE COMMUNICATE HOLINESS THROUGH DISCIPLING.  Christ's last instructions were to go ... make disciples ... baptizing ... and teaching them everything I have commanded you (Mt. 28:19-20).

WE CONFORM TO HOLINESS BY SEEKING "FIRST" HIS KINGDOM (Mt. 6:33).  We strive  to carry out the will  of our Heavenly Father, staying action oriented, prioritizing discipleship and avoiding what Peter Wagner called St. John's Syndrome, that lukewarmness of spiritual old age and being at ease in Zion (Rev. 2:2).

WE WITNESS TO HOLINESS BY BEING CHRIST'S AMBASSADORS--people through whom He speaks to others (2 Cor. 5:19-20).  He commissions us to regard no one from a worldly point of view. We emulate His example by being His hands and feet wherever we go--living as tangible evidence of reality in a values-distorted world.

In 1995, General Colin Powell advised that he would not run for any political office in the government of the United States, because he lacked the "political passion." God calls us to holiness and charges us to be passionate about it. We are to be people mentored and commissioned by Jesus--focused above all else--on Christ.

As we focus upon His presence, Christ calls us to find each other in unity of purpose and allow Him to form us so that, united, we can make a difference in redeeming the world ... as contemporary as today's newspaper. He calls us to abandon the trivial and the piously self-serving, to separate from attempts to domesticate the Divine, and to become passionately involved in reconciling our splintered and fragmented world to his loving grace (2 Cor 5:19).

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

Thursday, April 23, 2020

YOU CAN BE CHISTIAN

Years ago our friend Dale Oldham told this wonderful story in his uplifting little book, How to Grow Spiritually.  He described 20-year-old Sherman, an Idaho logger. One day the boss left Sherman in charge of the crew and Sherman thought it a perfect time to fire Tony, the sour-faced Italian no one liked. Sherman headed in Tony's direction, but he met the boss on the way. The boss sensed Sherman's mission and instructed Sherman to leave Tony alone. He informed Sherman that Tony was his safest and most reliable crewman in forty years of operation. As a result, Sherman walked over to Tony and repeated everything the boss had said. Tears trickled down Tony's cheeks as he asked, "Why didn't he tell me that eight years ago?"

That evening, the crew verified the Owner's word about Tony's reliability. One said, "That guy threw enough sand to sand a dozen hills, and he smiled all day! Tony later took Sherman home to dinner with Maria and his four kids. When Tony told her what Sherman told him, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him and Tony told Sherman, Marie felt like Christmas when I told her.

She put her kids to bed later, then told Sherman how hard her dark-skinned, poorly-dressed, foreign-speaking kids found it at school and she prayed, "Dear God, help my children to grow up to be good Americans. And try to help the American children to understand them." She shared with Sherman the contemptuous ethnic names they were called; Wops, Dagos, et al. The next day Sherman went to the school, had Tony's kids dismissed, and pleaded for better treatment for Tony's kids. it began a new day. Twelve years later, Sherman saw Tony again--the big Italian was Superintendent of RR Construction, one of the biggest logging operations in the West.

Tony beamed: "If it hadn't been for that one minute you talked to me back in Idaho, I'd have killed somebody by this time. That one minute changed my whole life. And that half-hour you spent at school changed the lives of all four of my youngsters, gave them the chance they needed. Then he mused, "I wonder why more people don't try to understand more and hate less."

From this, Oldham concluded, "Wholesome religion will lead you to worship, but it will also send you out to serve and bless those whose needy lives you touch from day to day;" adding, "And remember, it is 'the gospel according to you' that is being read by many most of whom will never open a page of the Bible" (Warner Press/167-168).

That recalls the two guys that went to a funeral and saw the corpse suddenly bolt upright in the casket. Unaccustomed to such antics, the one fellow walked up and belted the corpse on the chin and announced, "If you're going to be dead, act like it!"

That was in my thoughts when I read the miraculous recovery of Baseball Star, Dave Draveky, after retiring in 1989 with a cancerous tumor removed from his pitching arm. Dave played in the 1983 All-star game; he pitched in the 1984 World Series and again on opening-day 1988. Five days later, in the sixth inning, he had a spiral fracture in his throwing arm. On October ninth someone slapped him on the back and accidentally broke that same arm again.

Dravecky and his wife had converted to following Jesus Christ as Christians in August of 1981 while playing for the San  Diego Padre AA Farm Team in Amarillo, Texas.  On July 4, 1987 he was traded to the Giants and just before the Playoffs he discovered a lump on his arm that was diagnosed as a career-threatening cancer, but not life-threatening. He was told he would never pitch again, but we were all thrilled later when Dravecky came back and beat Cincinnati 4-3.

Shortly after being in the earthquake, he needed surgery again and in January of 1989 he retired; at peace, believing the Lord was leading him in "a new direction." His testimony affirmed, "I'm not worthy of what God has done for me. But because of the gift of salvation he has given me through Jesus Christ, I want to honor and serve him in everything I do" (Comeback, by Tim Stafford).

My Bible tells me, if  you're going to be a Christian, act like it!  "To all who received him. to those who believed in his name," the Beloved Apostle wrote, "he (Jesus) gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12 NIV).
(1)--Reconciling with God opens your life up to new potential; it places you on temporary duty (TDY) in the world, but not of the world.
(2)--Reconciling with God provides new power. Some are saved, sanctified, and stuck with the rest, observed E.E. Wolfram, but Jesus went to the cross rather than backslide in battle.
(3)--Reconciling with God, gives new purpose. "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God."

Decades ago, When still a young pastor, I encountered a young agnostic who described his struggle into Christian ministry: He wrote:"We will pay any price to reach this goal" (Ministry). Unbeknowns to my friend Don, he would shortly find himself in the hospital room, waiting for his lovely young bride who had led him to Christ. She laid on the operating table for open-heart surgery, the splendid young married daughter of a fine Pennsylvania Slovak pastor.

She died on that table and left two small children and a grieving husband. Events changed Don's life, but in his gratitude and praise to God, he found new awareness of God and a new commitment to him. He found God so real that he continued serving God and the church with gifts that were uniquely his.

From all of this, I conclude that God does not call you to be a Christian, like measles, spotted all over. God calls you to become "Christian" like a peanut dipped in chocolate, completely covered, thoroughly immersed, totally saturated until even the nut tastes "chocolaty" He who GIVES UP is a quitter. He who GIVES OVER is a coward. He who GIVES OUT is a weakling. He who GIVES IN  is a compromiser.

He who GIVES ALL ON THE LORD'S ALTAR will discover what John really means in John 1:12: To as many as believed on Him. to them gave he power to become sons of God."
walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

HOW TO FIND AN ABUNDANT LIFE...

"Men ought to act on the faith that human life is capable of high attainment and ought to seek to prove by demonstrating the quality of life of which man is capable, that  this faith is not a vain one," so wrote Ethicist D S Warner Monroe in 1947 (emphasis mine).

Monroe called this a demonstration of realization, and suggested there are several forms we might take to realize or achieve this.

1. In the first place, we can lay the foundation for the development of the more abundant life and the realization of its value by making our purposes conform to the demands neessary to a moral order and by building a society in which men can move freely and find the means of accomplishing worth-whiloe purposes (italics mine).

2. Secondly, we can ourselves realize, and cause others to realize, the value of life by developing our own capacities in the fullest possible measure by choosing worth-while purposes ourselves. In this manner we perform our duty to ourselves and cause others to realize the value of life through the power of example (italics mine)

3. Thirdly, we can cause men to realize the value of life by helping them to acomplish their own worth-while purposes. This is the most commonly understood way of showing Christian love... applies as well to all kinds of altruistic activities...(italics mine).

4. Fourthly, we realize, and cause others to realize, the value of life by helping them to find worthy purposes in life and by bringing them to a knowledge of right and devotion to it. This is the object of Christian teaching and evangelism (italics mine).
p. 79-80, An Inroduction to Chistian Ethics, Monroe.

This is walkingwithwarnermblogspot.com still learning how to love God and love my neighbor as I love myself. Be blessed all . . .
WHO WAS D. S.WARNER MONROE?

Someone asked me that question earlier today. Warner Monroe was a distinguished Church of God educator who taught at Warner Pacific University in Portland, OR, formerly Pacific BibleCollege and later Warner Pacific College. Beginning in 1943, he taught until his death. a lifetime beginning in 1943 and added me as another of his student  in January 1948, when I found myself as a twenty-something sitting in his Roman History class and meeting the new PHd for the first time.
Warner was born in Alberta, CA in a log cabin. The child of missionary parentage, he arrivved in 1909 and grew up in Canada, serving in educational ministry for his entire lifetime He. Eventually completed his PHD in Ethics and Philosphy at the University of Washington in the States and spent his entire professional life teaching Ethics, Philosophy, History etc. at the small Church of God school in the Northwest founded by Dr AF Gray.
Monroe also became a highly distinguished botanist, a well known Oregon outdoorsman, and an extraordinary athlete. He disovered a new strain of Maple Tree. He volunteered many years teaching children out of the travelling suitcase he deveoloped for the purpose of teaching children, volunteering with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Warner also won several post-70 Marathons races. He was a fierce competitor but he spent his entire lifetime in efforts of peace and non-violence.
Warner died accidently and shocked his world while smelt fishing with his daughter Patricia. Altho an avid athlete, he lost his footing and slipped into the cascading waters and drowned before he could be recovered. In his loifetime, Warner Monroe became best remembered as an explorer who was not satisfied until he had done his best to achieve whatever it was he had set out to achieve, discover, or explore aeat the moment.
Warner's textbook, AN INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN ETHICS, was one of several books he authored. I kept that book available on my shelf as one I valued more than almost any other outside of my RSV Bible.  While it may have seem to rest quietly, it probably influened my life more than any other book I ever read outside of my bible. Now that I have reached the decade of the ninitie, I now find that I am once more re-reading Warner Monroe's makestic conclusions regarding the moral life and the majestic teachings of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. Monroe remained quietly out of sight while Gray, Linn and other leaders seemed more obvious, influential, and important.  Nonetheless, Warner Monroe wears well with the years and does not fade with time and study and I find that when all is said and done, he may have in his quiet introspective way been even more influential than the upfront men I thought I admired the most.
AN iNTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN ETHICS by D S  Warner Monroe offers as fine a resume of the teaching of Jesus to Love God supremely and love your neighbor as yourself as any book in print. He writes in long and convoluted sentences and is not an easy readl I wondered if Warner Press lacked editors to help him simplify his text but he is worth wading through. Now in my nineties decade, I find myself once more turning to Warner Monroe and his majestic concepts and pondering the implications of the teachings of Jesus in our world -  a world that surely needs a rediscovery of what true love is all about.
This is walkingwithwarneratblogspot.com