Monday, April 25, 2011

Konstantopoulos Books

The boy, Vasilis, poses among the foothills of his beloved and native Greece, where he grew to adulthood. I tried to reproduce his photo in his native dress, but failed at that. His appearance on the front cover of his new life story entitled Vasilis introduces a story you will want to read. You will be challenged by a journey that begins in Greece, moves to Houston, TX and crisscrosses the world from there as a Church of God pastor, missionary, and evangelist.

"Brother Bill" and wife Kay are greatly loved across the church. I, for one, personally benefited by his friendship and his pastoral ministry during his 14 years of serving the church in the Winchester, KY Bluegrass area.Now retired, he continues to serve through pulpit and pen preaching. You will be the better person for reading this venture in daring, discipline, and christian discipleship. His formidable faith will truly inspire you.

Vasilis is but one book by “Brother Bill” (as many of us know him), to be introduced at the coming Pastor’s Fellowship in Winchester, KY, at the Colby Road church, May 2-3.

Other titles to be introduced include a Word In Due Season, Piercing the Darkness, Rediscovering the Master and Discipleship, The Kingdom of God and the Millennium, and The Virtues of a Healthy Church.

In total, nine Konstantopoulos books will be available this year at either Reformation Publishers or directly from Bill (home address: Bill Konstantopoulos, 310Emerald Chase Circle, Johnson City, TN 37615.

From Warner’s World, we are

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Sister Lillie"

Newton Falls, Ohio is a pretty small place to make much of a mark on the world, although it does have neighbors like Canton and Akron. Lillie McCutcheon helped her mother, then took oversight of a small congregation begun by her mother in this northeast Ohio town. She shepherded it for four decades, leaving a flock numbering several hundreds. Revered as “Sister Lillie” this successful pastor, evangelist, radio minister and author has now graduated to the beyond, but she lives on in the memory of a multitude.

Many remember her as the author of The Symbols speak--a consistent seller at Reformation Publishers. The unseen Spirit of Lilly broods over the Pastors Fellowship as it meets annually in Winchester, Kentucky. This regional meeting will gather again in a few days--May 2-3, much as it did the past thirty-five years.

I tend to think most people remember her for her reincarnation of F. G. Smith’s writings on the biblical book of Revelation. Although now held by only a minority within the church, this seems how most now remember her.

On the other hand, I recall male preachers in past decades poking fun as they callously mimicked her high-pitched female voice (lady preachers were not at all respected in some quarters). One instance came after she challenged the view of a respected Ohio leader, saying, “Why Brother _, I am surprised at you …”

I have not forgotten those men making great sport of her behind her back (involving at least one close friend of mine). The time came, however, when Sister Lillie gained maturity and earned much respect within the national church.

She led her church in successful growth that made her flock a leader in the Movement. Over time, she succeeded as a community spokesperson, a radio-TV personality, and a highly successful pastor, evangelist, counselor, author and doctrinal interpreter (theologian ?). In time, she became a national figure. By her success, the magnetism of her personality, the force of her powerful intellect, and her public appeal as a powerful lecturer who seldom, if ever, used notes, she earned respect.

I watched her up-close some years ago and saw her giftedness while serving as a Camp Meeting Evangelist, and again as she counseled a troubled lady from my congregation. I see another aspect that is frequently mentioned yet scarcely recognized.

Perhaps we know her best, not for those years of service, or her gifts as a leader and author, but perhaps by the quality of her influence on people she touched as she passed by. People touched by her grew into potential leaders, they attended our educational institutions, and they serve among us.

Barry Callen had a distinguished career at Anderson University and School of Theology. Barry is perhaps our most prolific author and interpreter of Church of God life. The Norm Patton’s went to school in California, and after a successful venture in Santa Cruz they came back to successfully lead our Global Missions program before returning again to the pastorate. I admired Norm’s preaching skill!

Robert (Bob) Moss developed a small church in Cody, Wyoming, then moved back east and led St. Joseph, MI to become the state’s largest congregation. After serving with Indiana Ministries, Bob now is investing heavily at Salem, in Dayton, Ohio.

There was a young farm girl back in Newton Falls that came to Christ through Sister Lillie. She went to Bible College and launched into pastoral ministry, just like her mentor--Jeannette Flynn. Jeannette launched a successful career with Gerald Marvel, then served as Senior Pastor at Walla Walla, WA, before giving fifteen years to our national agencies,

Jeannette recently relocated to the Church of God in Florida. An extra responsibility she will carry is the editorship of the magazine Truth Matters--newest publication of Pastor’s Fellowship. Working from her Florida base with her associates, computer technicians, and writers, Jeannette compiled a practical introductory issue, that could powerfully impact the church. Emphasizing truth, it promises potential breadth that could prove prophetic in power.

Barry Callen; the Norman Pattons’; Bob Moss; Jeannette Flynn; each touched by Sister Lillie. Most of us would be happy to introduce any one of them into the church. They are but four--perhaps the best known--of many touched by the shadow of Lillie McCutcheon in smalltown Newton Falls, Ohio.

If there were no more than these four, these would be sufficient cause to pay tribute to Lillie McCutcheon. I have long since moved beyond her interpretation of The Symbols Speak, but I recognize the powerful impact of one of God’s anointed when I see the impact of these four people in the church; all of whom I count it an honor to number among my friends.

God give us more such pastors who can impact lives as they pass by.
From Warner’s World,
I am

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The best way to export an idea is to wrap it up in a person. I believe, based on the Bible, that God did precisely. He sent a babe into our world, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, cradled him in a manger, and we call that Christmas.

Growing into manhood, Jesus learned the all-important lessons about God’s love for humanity, and of God’s hatred of all that distorts and destroys humanity. Experiencing the love of God as Jesus did, he took up the way of the cross--died. We call that Good Friday. What some did not know or recognize, SUNDAY WAS COMING.

Some days after that first Easter Sunday, the disciple Peter told a Jerusalem audience, This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:23). Life for Jesus included a cross, but he ultimately exchanged that crown of thorns he wore at his crucifixion for a crown of everlasting life. NOW, He offers it to as many as will receive it.

As Peter told that same audience, “But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it (Acts 2:24). Easter is more than the climax of the Christian calendar, the apex of the Christian teaching; it is the hinge on which all of history swings.

Go anywhere that humanity has thrived and progressed and see who-or-what made the most difference. It is in those countries where the influence of Jesus has been most felt that human culture has made the most progress. It is in those places that have been most influenced by the teaching of Jesus that we see the most remarkable differences from the rest of the culture.

Where Christ has gone, hospitals, schools, orphanages, leper asylums, homes for the blind, nurses and doctors have appeared. Where Christ has gone, prosperity and plenty have followed without regard to politics. Where Christ has gone, beggars have disappeared, homes have raised up and filled, and the comforts of life have come most readily.

Where Christ has gone law has taken over and justice has been exercised. Where Christ has gone women have been exalted, educated, reverenced and loved. Christian marriage has replaced polygamy. Where Christ has gone life has value and is protected as something sacred. Most generally, prosperity has been protected, and individuals have enjoyed more opportunities to develop business and prosper. In effect, they have been most able to care for their families and leave something to them.

Some attribute this to the American dream, but there is more to the story than that! It is the Christian gospel that appeared first as Christmas, then showed itself as Easter, that has made the major difference in human history. Eventually, when Jesus comes to claim his church, and God judges between the living/dead, and the Kingdom of God is most fully realized, the difference will then be fully realized.

What would life in our world be worth, had Jesus not appeared at Bethlehem?
And had he not gone to Calvary?
What would your life be worth without his story?
What would your life and property be worth in a churchless community?
What would daily life be like in a world where no Jesus-followers came teaching that life is more livable when people are loveable and peaceable?
What would life be without Easter to deter us from populating our world with rich fools and educated fiends?

From Warner’s World, I wonder, “What would life be without Easter?”
This is

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bat Theology

Bats give me the creeps! Yet, I have to accept them if what AP Reporter, Rudolph Schmid tells me is true: this greatly feared little creature of the dark far surpasses our vaunted modern technology.

Schmid suggests “Bat sonar is so much better than anything devised by humans.” He reports Brown University researchers admit, “the little creatures seem to enjoy rubbing it in.” The researchers admitted, “The bats were essentially turning to us and thumbing their noses.”1

Sonar systems operate by emitting sounds and listening for the returning sounds. The time it takes the bouncing sound to return suggests how far away something is and in which direction it is. A major factor in this research is the bat’s ability to differentiate between two echoes arriving almost simultaneously.

Researchers know electronic sonar discriminates between echoes twelve millionths of a second apart. Sophisticated technology shortens that time from six to eight millionths of a second. Bats, however, can reduce that time to two-to-three millionths of a second with apparent ease. This means the lowly little bat can tell the difference between two objects only 3/10’s of a millimeter apart - about the width of a pen line (emphasis added).

Although the United States Navy trained the versatile dolphin to help them in finding mines in the ocean, researcher Simmons suggests that bats promise faster performance and broader-based learning potential for research. They may not do quite as well chasing insects through the trees in the nighttime darkness, but they continue to show up fat, happy, and largely successful.

Humans have a lot of work yet to do to perform as easily as those quick and cooperative bats observed by Simmons. However, this gives me a better understanding of what I would call “bat theology,” for even the little bat that makes my hair stand on end (which I find so creepy) adds serious evidence to the perception that God is continually trying to get our attention, even though some of us may find the fearful little creature rather frightening.

God leaves messages for us in various and sundry ways. Some times we are at home but screening our calls. At other times, we are simply out of calling distance. Most of the time we don’t really believe He would call us, so we hang up when He does call.

That little bat, like some of the bad experiences we often face, should obviously not be ignored. Rather than ignoring such wonders of our Heavenly Father’s creation, let us take a closer look at life. When we see life as it really is, we will find that instead of ignoring God and His creation we need to join the Psalmist in giving God our long overdue praise and adoration.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me. . .
How precious also are Your thoughts
to me, O God! . . .
If I should count them, they would be more in
number than the sand. . .
I will praise You,
for I am (we are) fearfully and
wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works (Psalm 139:24, 17-18, 14).
1 Battle Creek, MI. “Enquirer,” Oct. 13, 1998, “Bat sonar puts human technology to shame,” by Randolph E. Schmid, reporting on Oct. 12, 1998 “Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,” by James Simmons.

From Warner's World, that's my take on today, still

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bro. SV & Reformation Publishers

Picture at the left: Steven V. Williams - (He looks younger than I do...

“Brother Steve...? … Is this Reformation Publishers? … Is this Williams Printing? … I’m trying to reach Steven Williams.”

I’ve taken literally hundreds of variations of the above calls over the past few years. It varies from covering the office phones at the shop in Kentucky to answering calls transferred to me elsewhere, while I answer them offsite. Last night I talked to two individuals from Prestonsburg 1st Church (looking for "Pastor Steve" after Prayer Meeting).

I just got off the phone with a retired southern pastor who ordered a hard-to-find volume by a Revelation Preacher. He wanted to know if it had been sent yet. I take many such calls. Earlier today, I talked with a couple of authors checking on the status of their pending publications. One is an older gentleman from the area that is compiling a new edition of his extensive poetic works; he needs copies for a soon-to-come family reunion. The other was from a highly respected holiness Para-church educational ministry awaiting an already proofed-and-paid-for book on the life of one of their team members.

IF you are a history buff, or like original Church of God publications, you may know who Steven Williams is. If you attend Winchester Pastor’s Fellowship, you likely know “Brother Steve” rather well. If you are a local customer of Williams Printing Company, you probably enjoy the personable printer, who also preaches at the brick church behind the Dairy Queen. To others, he may be simply a name or an unknown quantity.

Steve has owned and operated Reformation Publishers since 1992. He grew up in Jackson, KY, graduated from Anderson University and School of Theology with undergrad and graduate degrees, and has served in ministry since enrolling at AU in 1980.

In his 10+ years back in SE KY, Steve has completed his Doctor of Ministries degree and continued reprinting out of print Church of God literature, while pastoring Prestonsburg First Chog, and operating Williams Printing Company. To achieve this, he wears numerous additional hats.

Here are unsolicited reasons why we [my spouse and I] personally support RP ministries:
1. RP fills a significant niche in the national life of the Church of God and its Anderson agencies through resourcing needed writings.
2. RP serves as an unofficial liaison with several Church of God [as I call them] splinter groups that formerly had little interaction with us.
3. Although RP does not fully fund itself, through no fault of its supporting customer base, Williams Printing Company partially fills that role. Wearing this hat, Steve prints locally, publishes School Program Books and services a variety of area authors and local businesses. We view this like E. E. Byrum expanding the original Gospel Trumpet Company from Warner’s writings to providing church and religious resources. Steve uses his printing expertise to help underwrite his RP Ministries.
4. While Steve is a printer-publisher, he is foremost an ecumenical Christian minister and local pastor at 1st Church of God. When necessary, he supplements his efforts by driving school bus for the local School System. He remains a popular driver and this allows him and his handful of volunteer-associates to keep the digital presses running.
5. Working with Steve and Martha for more than a decade, I know them as the competent,honest, and hard-working people they are at their core. I cannot tell you the number of people who have said to me or my wife, “I [we] appreciate what you are doing!”
6. And yes, I must add Martha, the other half of this skilled team. An RN and Vo-Ed Teacher with complementing doctoral studies in Education from Moorhead State, Martha is Principal of the Kentucky Vocational School at Inez over in Martin County. She was also a contributing member of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Education--very talented. Steve’s mother and I agreed before her death, “Martha is God’s gift to Steve.”

Even the finest customers in the world sometimes become impatient. I know, because sometimes my wife reminds me of the number of hats Steve wears--when I become impatient. I experience that same impatience with the church at large, wondering why we don’t rally to the job needing done. At such times, I realize we are not always pleased with God’s responses either. When I go back and re-read Job's drama, I see God grinning as he asks Job, “Where were you when I established the foundations of creation …? “ Duh…!

On the other hand, I know people sometimes fail to understand when they don‘t hear from Steve ASAP, or when a book is slow in delivery. I know Steve experienced burn-out this past year and that slowed him ... for awhile. Beyond the economic slowdown that is currently hurting him, he is functioning quite well today.

His responses are sometimes slower than I like, but I know the pace he maintains. I know he is giving all of us his best shot - as he pursues his God-given vision of publishing first seen as a high-schooler.

Now, I’m trying your patience with my many words … so ... be patient and possess your souls. You can help yourself by buying books from Reformation Publishers, or from our friend Joe Allison at Chog Ministries. RP is here to serve you - 1-800-765-2464.

From Warner's World, you can find RP’s website online but that is one of the things still needing improvement … best to call - toll free.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Recognizing Those Who Walked Before Us

Enoch E. Byrum, minister, editor, administrator, praying for the sick.

Donald Ray Barnes of Girard, IL is a layman with a great love for his former pastor and friend, R. Ruthven Neff. Now retired in Bluford, IL. Neff was a fixture for many years on the church scene, and well known throughout the earlier years of my career. In fact, he returned from pastoral life in Logansport to Anderson College to complete his undergraduate work while I was beginning my college years.

Ruthven Neff was converted at the age of 18 at a Youth Convention in Akron, Ohio (9-13-30). He served as a music director for Evangelist E. I Everhart in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania throughout 1931-33. In July-August of 1933 the two men conducted a tent meeting that launched the new Madisonville congregation in Cincinnati. With that, he enrolled at AC as a music major (2-24-34).

The young music student preached his first sermon at the Anderson Way-side Cross Mission on February 16th of that year and in October assumed the role of 1st Tenor in the new Gospel Trumpet Male Quartet known as “The Radio Trumpeteers.”

Neff continued with his education and ministry, serving as Senior Pastor of nine congregations in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, in addition to an Associate Position and traveling as a song evangelist. Eventually, he did interim ministries with thirteen different congregations, fulfilling sixty-five years of ministry.

Some of my best friends are preachers. I find them interesting and multi-faceted; Neff was no exception. He built 2 parsonages, 2 Gyms, and 5 church buildings. While supervising construction, he often did the brick-work, and he built the furniture and kitchen cabinet for the Bluford church, starting his last church at 81 years of age.

He wrote as a Contributing Editor to our national church magazine, “Vital Christianity,” and wrote adult curriculum. The General Assembly elected him 3 times to the National Board of Pensions, and he held numerous State offices, serving a term as Editor of the Ohio State Paper. He led the Ohio State (OSU) Chapter of Warner Fellowship, performed all manner of duties from Emergency Room Chaplain in Springfield, IL, to ministering in the correctional facilities, working with Billy Graham and Leighton Ford Crusades in Columbus, OH and Springfield, IL … not to mention accumulating credits at Ohio State in Marriage Counseling while doing extensive marriage counseling.

Don Barnes compiled an extensive summary of the ministry of R. Ruthven Neff, which I will pass on to Vivian Nieman for filing at our AU Archive, home of a substantial body of Movement Memorabilia and History.

Neff reminds me of my deceased friend R. E. Bowden. I kept Robert Bowden‘s business card clipped to my bathroom mirror during my final years of pastoring. He printed his card acknowledging 50 years in ministry, but he continued to serve. Finally, he drew a diagonal line across 50 with his pen and carefully inserted the number 65--still doing things few others would attempt.

These men inspire me. They call me back to the truth that there is always something I can yet contribute, that the call from God has no real retirement date. Bowden left this scene of action approaching the century mark. At the upper right, you see a scene I attended in 1939--Warner Memoral Camp Meeting, Grand Junction, MI--where the elderly E. E. Byrum did what he always did--pray for people's healing.

Barnes adds this note regarding Neff: “since retiring from being the pastor of the Bluford church, Ruthven Neff preached several times as the guest preacher at Benton, Mt. Vernon, West Frankfort Camp Meeting, and Bluford. His last and most recent sermon was preached at Bluford on September 13, 2009, at the age of 97 years.”

I find it easier to appreciate such retirees as I write from Warner’s World at this stage of my life. More than ever, I realize the value of keeping these battle-scarred veterans on the action track. We need their example, their fortitude, and their inspiration. They beckon us to stand taller and to become better than we could be without them--our best selves.

That’s the way I see it and this is

Monday, April 4, 2011

Maintaining Focus

What holds your attention today? Politics? Poverty? Purposeful faith? Jesus told his disciples that entering the Kingdom of God requires keeping a narrow focus of faith. Walking with Jesus calls for us to make God’s will, Kingdom issues, and seeking Him a priority above all else. A well-focused faith, suggested Jesus, acquires dividends obtained no other way (Mt. 6:33).

Jesus recognized the importance of our focus when he told the parable of the pearl of great price. One obtains that pearl of great price by first determining the location of the treasure, by keeping the field of dreams in full view, and by sacrificing whatever else it takes to obtain that coveted site.

The pearl of great price is that one supreme goal for which you will sacrifice everything else. It is the one objective for which we will gladly surrender anything else that dilutes our focus (Matthew 13:44-45).

When Thomas worried about the uncertainty of not knowing the way, Jesus answered by saying of himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well” (John 14:6-7).

Following the kingdom call of Jesus is like writing a magazine article; it calls for a clear vision and a narrow focus. I faced this problem a while back when an editor returned something I submitted, with this comment: “Material you’ve been sending lately doesn’t seem as tightly focused.”

Lack of focus on the part of a writer allows potential readers to wander off at some point and end up on a side track, or at a dead-end, asking “How did I arrive here?”

Lack of focus in our walk with God may result in our not achieving God’s purpose for our life. In turn, that may leave some observer of our witness on a side track, wondering how they got there.

Young Jim Garfield, entered Hiram College fully intent on acquiring an education. By focusing on that single objective, he squeezed six years of study into three years.

Garfield earned his coveted degree while teaching school to feed himself. With singularity of purpose, he “shut the whole world out from his mind save that little portion of it within the range of his studies; knowing nothing of politics or the news of the day, reading no light literature, and engaging in no social recreations that took his time from his books” 1

Staying focused enabled Garfield to win an eventual seat in Congress. Later, that singularity of purpose boosted him into the Presidency. His intensity of purpose show when he reflected on those people who criticized him most severely. “I would rather be beaten in right,” Garfield concluded, “than succeed in wrong.”2

Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven, said Jesus, and the other "stuff" will be added in as you need it.
1 General James S. Brisbin, James A. Garfield. Philadelphia: Hubbard Brothers, 1880, p. 72.
2 Garfield, p. 28l.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vasilis, That's His Real Name

I became aware of Vasilis (Va_si’_lis) in the early 1960s. I was pastor of the Ridglea Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and frequently on-and-off the campus of the fledgling Bible College Max R. Gaulke founded in Houston a decade before, shortly after I entered the ministry of that state.

Vasilis arrived in the Greek village of Agridion at the home of Dinos and Dina on January 30, 1938. He spent his childhood there although the family is now resident in at least three nations: Greece, America, and Sweden. He early years in the tiny village centered around lamplight, the village well (the vrisis) and the caffeine at the village center, a bit primitive for most of us, but a good family life and a happy childhood.

This bright young Greek lad later connected with Amrican Christians and President Gaulke invited him to Gulf-Coast Bible College. Missionary Nick Zazanis had a hand in Vasilis coming from Athens to America and I had met son, Paul Zazanis, at Anderson College, along with Tim Conkis. Tim Karametris, Toula Veikos, and others from our Greek speaking congregations of that era.

Following those early student years in Houston, Vasilis and his new bride made a striking couple whenever we crossed paths with them at North American Convention, the Houston-based Ministers’ Institute, et al. I was newly retired when I finally became personally involved with Vasilis. From then until he retired, we shared as peers, but I sat under his ministry as often as circumstances would allow.

I thrilled with his mastery of the scriptures and the English language. We became fellow pilgrims and on occasion, he became our family pastor, visiting both my daughter and my wife when she was in coronary care in Lexington’s St. Joe East.

I knew of his pending life story, and encouraged him to write it, but it was practically a done deal when I discovered I was privileged to proof read Vasilis. What I found was a 260 page story of faith, adventure, and commitment, complete with pictures in abundance.

Not only did I get to suggest some corrections, that I hope made it more readable, but I read portions of it aloud to my companion and we laughed, shed tears, and re-lived a few of our own years as we followed him around the rocky village of Agridion, journeyed to Houston, to Kankakee, Asbury and beyond.

He took us to places like Saltville, VA and Johnson City, TN. We followed him across Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. On our journey, we endured some childhood experiences quite different from most American-born, but experienced family experiences familiar to every family of whatever nation.

We saw flickers of his exposures to WWII atrocities and the horrors of war in another culture. We encountered the family dangers of Civil War. On the other hand, we encountered the ever familiar ministering angels that touched his life. Reading about some of them formed a re-run of similar experiences we had encountered, and some of them were people we had met on our own journey. It read like Hebrews 11, the honor roll of the faithful.

His personal spiritual journey deeply impressed me and I saw the imprint of God upon his life. His love of-and-for The Scriptures challenged me deeply; I saw something I see lacking in many pastors today. Ultimately, my life was greatly enriched by the fourteen years Vasilis spent in Winchester, KY, from where he retired.

The loving compassion of Vasilis, the friendship, and the God-given anointing as a messenger of God (equally shared by his wife) have blessed many . In reading this true story of Vasilis, you will get to know the heart and soul of the man we know today as Dr. Bill C. Konstantopoulos, retired pastor, missionary, Bible teacher, and now author of more than a half-dozen books.

On the humorous side, you may learn in reading why Vasilus chose pork chops on his first dinner date with Kay (only to learn neither liked them). On the serious side, you will get a real look at life as it is often experienced around the globe. You cannot possibly miss the spark that fired a young boy’s heart with a passionate love for Scripture and you will thrill with the guiding touch of God’s hand upon a willing life. You will not doubt that God exists, nor that God influences the people and places where we journey.

Vasilis; that’s my friend, Brother Bill, as parishioners and friends affectionately refer to him. Benefit from his story and re-discover your own story as you walk in the peace of God amid the hostilities of humanity.

From Warner’s World, I tried to add some pictures but failed. Enjoy ...