Monday, June 20, 2011

Expanding our Thinking as Citizens

Long interested in issues of environmental pollution, my current reading fascinates me (Prud’home/The Ripple Effect/Scribner/2011/77-78).

Multiplied books on environmental issues over the past twenty-plus years, thoroughly convince me that many of the current issues we face are problems of Christian stewardship and physical health. We have not yet begun to correlate the relationship between certain health problems and environmental pollution.

Explore some fresh thinking with me, as I read Prud’home’s review of chemical pollution and some of its health effects: EG; “A growing body of evidence suggests that certain man-made chemicals released into the water and the air have led to a surge in serious health issues, such as breast cancer, leukemia, asthmas, neurodevelopment disorders, and physiological changes” (77). Nothing new here.

New to me, hoever, is this issue of “intersex.” In fish, it causes females to develop male stumps and males to develop female eggs, among other things. Perhaps related is this: “It is well documented that Western women are beginning puberty earlier and going through menopause later; age 17 in 1800, 14 by 1900, and 12 by 2000" (77). This leaves doctors “particularly concerned about the role of endocrine disruptors, which may fool the body into undergoing hormonal changes early” (77). Factors causing this include cleaning products, pesticides, flooring, air fresheners,, and plastics …”.

Especially interesting to me was this: “In 2000, Anne Fausto-Sterling, a biology professor at Brown University, conducted the leading study on the frequency of intersexuality and found that 1.7 percent of the population develops in a way that deviates from the standard definition of male or female” (77, emphasis added).

Cited as a possible example of “intersexuality” is the track star Caster Semenya of South Africa. This 18-year-old won the 2009 Olympics, only to be challenged about her gender, having the muscle strength of a male). After much debate, she was allowed to continue competion and in 2010, at the same Berlin track, she again won, only to be challenged when “her competitors demanded that officials define what constitutes an acceptable biological baseline for female athletes” (78).

Consider this: fish are said to be “most susceptible” to endocrine disruption when they are still “in their eggs in river sediment or are very young …” So … if human babies are exposed to endocrine disruptors when at a similar stage of development, could they “theoretically suffer immunosuppression or possibly intersex“ (78).

This raises two issues for me. First, the author has cited pages of reading that prove the probability of a long list of medical drugs and industrial chemicals in our water habitats and our drinking water: cannabis (pot), ecstasy, LSD, amphetamines, and heroin, among other drugs, not to mention a long list of industrial chemical wastes. Most local water treatment plants neither test for, or filter, these kinds of drugs and chemicals. This leaves me wanting stronger government regulations to purify my drinking water, rather than fewer regulations--as dictated by certain politicians.

The second issue that concerns me is homosexuality. I support the civil rights (none abuse) of all individuals, but I am comfortable in strongly opposing homosexuality on moral-ethical grounds, as well as other reasons. I believe this “learned behavior” is not a biological result of changes in our genes.

Having said that, when I read that certain pollutants potentially lead to “1.7 percent of the population” developing “in a way that deviates from the standard definition of male or female,” I have to ask what part pollutants play in this matter of “immunosuppression or possibly intersex”? Is homosexuality one of the possible ripple effects?

These are no longer issues of any liberal left or conservative right! These are human issues we must all wrestle with. Our political positions and moral standards may vary individually, but we must come together in a common politic of public safety within which we can confront and properly regulate our pharmaceutical and industrial products for the good of all concerned.

From Warner’s World,

Sunday, June 19, 2011

North American convention--June 15-22

Joe Allison wrote a most provocative piece last week on his blogsite ( ). Joe is a former managing editor editor of “Vital Christianity” and long involved in Church of God publications and elsewhere. He summarized our past efforts this way: “… so we've invested a major part of our time and energy in developing Sunday School curriculum, training events for pastors and teachers, and a convention that brings together thousands of people every year for several days of workshops and seminars on how to improve the ministry of local congregations.”

Then he added this insight, which he and I discussed briefly: “But we're beginning to realize that making Christian disciples involves far more than gathering large audiences and developing high-tech classrooms. It involves drawing people into transformative relationships. It involves mutual accountability. It involves the joy and sorrow of getting involved in other people's lives -- and letting them get involved in ours.”

I dared suggest there is yet a place for how we did things in the past, considered by some as revivalist (mass meetings) and perhaps out of date. Joe strikes fire in the previous paragraph. We need far more today than a massive national camp meeting, a successful national publication that faithfully reproduces our teachings, and all the trimmings we worked at producing,whose worth we now debate.

First, I appeal to the worth of our North American Convention and accompanying General Assembly. I attended my first NAC/GA IN 1952, driving 1700 miles from San Angelo, TX. Later, I drove the furthest distance via the I80 exit at Vallejo, CA. Between 1952-1996, the times I missed could be counted on one hand.

I did it to visit my parents in Michigan (at least once a year). I did it because it was part of my job (my ministry) and because I felt the biblical bond of 1 Corinthians 12, and elsewhere. I did it because I felt part of some much bigger than me, something that connected me globally, something that also enhanced my local ministry. I did it because I felt connected with my church family. I found lots of reasons to disagree at times, but we were family.

I remember yet the day my little daughter of 3-4 years heard a voice she knew from our radio at home. Instantly, she broke into a run toward a group of preachers nearby, saying “That’s my Dr. Oldham!” Dale wheeled around, saw the child coming, and she scooped up into his arms as he held her and wept. They were friends who had never met--we were family.

The Convention Grounds were a safe haven for children and one day our 4-year-old son got lost in the crowd. I was preoccupied, but my wife looked frantically around the Convention grounds. Finally, a couple came from down near Park Place Church, towing a boy who had lost his parents. New Christians from Falfurrias, TX--the Chapmans--they knew how to reconnect lost child and frantic mother.

We visited many a year after that, watching young Bob grow up and enter into Ministry. Bob is now deceased, but his sister Shirley is a retired Pasadena, TX schoolteacher and esteemed acquaintance--Facebook friend. More than all the mass meetings (quite massive by the standards of the day), learning experiences, and other program, WE WERE FAMILY. Names and faces flood my vision as I write ...

Camp Meetings are no longer what they once were, so we lash out at the changing times. Truthfully, we are so busy maintaining our technological networks that we no longer talk to each other; yet, we need each other more than ever. We blog, text, and tweet, using our laptops, cell phones, ipods, ipads, and every other gimic. As a Culture, we turned inward, and away from. We live myopic, narcissisistic lives--a thousand FB friends but no meaningful relationship that keep us accountable and involved in the ordinary joys and sorrows of daily living.

The Church of God family has gathered in Anderson, IN since 1906. Part of the family will reassemble on the old Convention Grounds--aka AU campus on June 15-22. I cannot be there this year (except in spirit), but I sent my absentee ballot and I send my greeting. On Sunday, I will relieve an area pastor who will be in attendance. We will not stop attending until Jesus comes, or until we are no longer physically--we value our family.

With that confession, we will continue working with Reformation Publishers and supporting our North Avenue congregation when home. What I am most convinced of is this, as Joe says: “discipleship is long, slow, difficult, risky work. But disciple-making is the Lord's work, and we Christians must be about our Father's business.” It isn’t a matter of Joe’s small groups or my mass meetings; it is both and …

I would go so far as to suggest that if and when we get it together in our home congregations, get everyone involved, and make the best use of our small groups (fellowship and educational), we will soon discover that our regional and national meetings might once again return to the size, stature, and glory that we prized so highly at one time.

From Warner’s World … I am

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Friend Bill offers a positive word for these hard times we are experiencing. He claims a new mood now fills our airwaves and shocks us. He believes this new mood is “incompatible with the traditional and historical American spirit.” He calls it a “mood of pessimism, negativism, doom, and surrender.”

Let me quote a couple of paragraphs: (A WORD IN DUE SEASON/Konstantopoulos/2010:
“We are magnifying our enemies, broadcasting our weaknesses, publicizing our fears, and openly declaring that our foundation and faith are shaky. Our songs are filled with the blues, lacking an affirmation of faith, confidence, and adventure. The rising unemployment, the economical index, the threatening wars, and the possibility of a nuclear holocaust are presented to us as undeterred monsters for whose devouring we should helplessly wait! The effects of such a mood are paralyzing, and it has led us to a procrastinating attitude that steals both time and purpose from us.

“Of course, we face hard times. Without a doubt uncertainty hangs like a dark cloud over us, but should we surrender to the doom-sayers and forget the faithfulness of God? Should we withdraw into the hard shell of self-protection and hang up our harps, and offer no song of joy and no message of hope to a highly pessimistic age? Should we retreat and not advance with clean-cut principles, pursuing our divine purpose and destiny?”

These are hard questions. They dig deep in out gut. Hear what Bill is saying: “The Christian spirit, the Christian message, and the Christian hope can best be exemplified and demonstrated during hard times.” In other words, the proof of the pudding is not how something works under comfortable conditions; rather, how dies it work when life is difficult, trying, even impossible?

American Christianity has enjoyed relative security. True, denominations compete with each other, but the rights of each is protected by government. That is all most of us have ever known. Honestly confession: I have never faced serious persecution, abuse, or loss of life and goods because of my faith, nor have most American Christians.

Bill calls us to a higher standard: “The deeper the darkness is, the brighter the light. The harder the times, the more Christians give of themselves to the spirit of surrender and service.” Life was never cheaper than during the days of Rome’s empire, if you were not a Roman. Perhaps that is why the life of Jesus continues to shine so brightly. Jesus lived successfully and died victoriously in the blackest of times; no wonder, his life shines so brightly.

So I suggest we look to Christian believers in other parts of the world to determine the true worth of the Christian faith. Christian Correspondent Elizabeth Kendall, writing from Australia, speaks to the skyrocketing number of Christian refugees:

Those with financial means may fly out and apply for refugee status in the West, an arduous enough process. However, poorer Christians seeking refuge in a neighbouring state must risk death traversing deserts, oceans and dangerous cities (emophasis added), while dodging bandits and people-traffickers. As the 'Arab Spring' becomes a hot inhospitable 'summer', many Eritrean and Middle Eastern Christians find that nowhere is safe. Elsewhere in the world, refugee North Korean, Hmong, Montagnard and other Christians likewise suffer perilously. Though our Lord Jesus was born a King and Saviour, he fled and lived as a refugee in Egypt for years. Yet even during that time -- which was prophesied in Hosea 11:1 -- God was always in control. Please pray for fleeing Christian refugees.

Global conditions make the following statement by Bill only that much more obvious. He suggests, “Our age calls for a new spirit, and only Christians can offer that gift’s hold on to the faith in a faithless generation.” If you want to see Christianity in action, look to India, China, or a Muslim country where believers continue to increase inspite of facing martyrdom or harrowing conditions at the least.

Bill believes we need to hang on to the promises of God and hope where no hope lives. As FDR said, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

I join Bill in saying “Christians ought to do better than that!” What I would add is this: Now is the time for American Christianity to move beyond its self-centered vision of cheap grace, easy living, and upward mobility, and recognize the inequities being experienced by believers in other places and begin lifting-sharing that burden so that we each share a little more equally.

From Warner’s World,
I have learned that whether it involves the loss of a finger tip or the pain of an injured ankle, my whole body quickly knew what was going on and felt the affects of it. So should it be in the Body of Christ around the world ...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Big Fire

I am cleaning out my files--looking for some pictures actually; I need them but cannot find them. I’ve needed to do this for a long time, rid out a lot of old papers I’ll never use again or that are simply claiming space.

What I found is this vignette from Warner Memorial Camp--early fifties before the camp transitioned, reconfigured, and updated. Current campers will find it hard to imagine but it brings up old memories for me. :-)

Written in longhand by Andy Bos, a former Kalamazoo camper, it arrived via Andy’s niece, Barb Akright, both longtime acquaintances. It happened in that interim after I left home and then pastoring out in Texas, but after my recent involvement of 38 years n camp life I easily visualize it and those mentioned (I also remember 1953 as a stormy summer with several destructive tornado’s from Texas to Mich.). Here is Andy’s verbatim:

“We, Andy and Helen Bos had purchased a cottage at the ‘old Camp Ground.’ As often as we could we drove out to Grand Junction (about a 35 mile trip) and stayed over a night or two. We played around, enjoyed the lake (Lester Lake), fishing and swimming.

“It was the year of 1952 or 1953 that a severe storm struck during the night, a storm that could have destroyed the entire camp. The camp store, the dormitory and about ten cottages surrounded the Tabernacle, so, if a fire got started it could spread from building to building and so burn the entire camp including the tabernacle.

“It was a Friday evening, we with our four children, Dave, Ron, Jer and Ben had driven out to the cottage. We enjoyed a swim and a visit with a retired minister and his wife, Rev. and Mrs. Adrian De Ward. Then, Helen fixed a delicious supper. As we tucked in to bed we said, the sky looks stormy.

“It was after midnight that the thunder and lightning illuminated the sky and rain was pouring down. Soon after the storm hit we heard someone pounding on our door. It was old Rev. De Ward. He said, lightning has hit Merle Underwood’s Cottage, its burning fiercely and the wind is blowing flames toward Arend Bos Cottage, we need the Fire Dept!

“Helen and the family were up as Andy and Dave drove downs the road to find a house with a telephone, so we could call the Pullman Fire Dept. In the early 1950’s telephones were scarce and those people who had phones were on a party line with 10 or 12 other family’s.

“Andy and Dave roused a neighboring farmer who called the Pullman Fire Dept. They said, its not our district, and, even though they were only 4 miles away they would not come. The farmer finally got the Bangor Fire Dept. to agree to come to help us. The Bangor Fire Dept. was 10 to 12 miles away and they didn’t know where the Church of God (Warner Camp) was, so, Andy tried to give them directions.

“The party line was noisy and crackled, but, they said they would come. We promised to be downs the road with flashlights to help them find us. It was now about 2:30 a.m. and the Merle Underwood Cottage was burned totally and the Arend Bos cottage was burning. We continued to look for the fire dept., but, they were not in sight. The rain was pouring down, but the Arend Bos Cottage was burning furiously.

“The next cottage in line belong to the Rev. Hank Hartman. This cottage was shaped like a small chicken coop about 14 ft x 14 ft. and it sat on cement blocks. About 4:00 a.m. some neighbors came over to watch the big fire, We suggested the possibility of tipping the Hartman Cottage over, thus stopping the progress of the fire.

“So, Andy, Dave, Rev. DeWard and a few neighbors agreed to try to roll it over. It was about 4:30 a.m. when we finally rolled the Hartman Cottage over. We watched the Arend Box cottage burn to the ground and the rain continued to pour down on the fire and we thanked the Lord! The fire was stopped!

“The Bangor Fire Dept. drove into the camp about 5:30 a.m., but, the fire was out. It had beebn a wild night and we must have looked like drowned ratws. We wee all soaking wet and dirty and smoky.

“We stood around looking at each other and smiled and admitted that we were utterly exhausted and paused to thank the Lord … the camp did not burn down! Yes, we were exhausted, but, none of us got hurt! All we needed now was to take a bath in Lester Lake, then a little breakfast and some sleep.

“As we stood thanking God, Rev. Cironi walked up neatly dressed in his good suit, white shirt and necktie and raincoat and umbrella. He looked at Rev. De Ward whose felt hat was drooping down over his dirty face, his muddy shoes and dirty, smoky pants and shirt spoke of a wild night. Rev. Cironi said, Brother, I’ve been praying for you all night. Rev. De Ward lifted his rain soaked hat, looked at Rev. Cironi and said, “Faith without works is dead brother” (s/ Andy Bos, Dec. 2004).

From Warner’s World, Camp grounds and Camp Meetings are much different in today’s church life. However, Brother De Ward’s brotherly rebuke of their Pastoral Leader, Joe Cirone, (longtime pastor at Wayne St., Jackson) remains a fitting bit of wisdom even today, Faith without works is dead (cf book of James/Bible).

Monday, June 13, 2011

God's Peace Corp

“I have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in the world,” Robin Meyers told a 2004 conference in Oklahoma City. As the greatest power on the face of the earth, America has “an obligation to help the spread of freedom.”1

Since peaceful negotiations pay greater long-term dividends than war and military violence, why do we view soldering as patriotic and diplomacy a last resort? Force achieves short-term military goals but does not build political peace, provide positive relationships, or leave funds for human resourcing.

“Think” Peace!
Violence is toxic! Infected by violence and greed, war creates dysfunctional relationships. Nationalism motivates power grabbers, political profiteers, and an arms industry that thrives on broken relationships, untamed hatred, corrupt diplomats, polluted diplomatic efforts, and polarized religious nuances. Warriors decimate humanity by means of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and political purges, while purging the common good in favor of special interests.

America entered the Iraq War, ill-advised, as political War Hawks introduced a new doctrine of pre-emptive strike into American politics. The President quickly announced a military victory, while leading the nation into a political quagmire of terrorism, an escalating war in Afghanistan, and a severe economic depression for which his economic policies could not pay.

Mounting costs of war depleted our resources, ruined our economy, left us hopelessly in debt, and encouraged unregulated speculation motivated by free market greed. President-elect Barack Obama came into office facing the challenges of attempting negotiation, re-building bridges with untrusting nations, and trying to convince Americans to re-invest in the politics of life, liberty and property. The nation has rewarded him by blaming him for the fruits of his predecessor and left citizens deeply polarized. Such are the results of “thinking” war!

Only one man in history ever devoted his life solely and singularly to peacemaking, Jesus, called the Christ. Whereas Jesus spent his life enlisting peacemakers and creating his church as a spiritual Peace Corp, Mohammed followed in the ruts of human thinking by converting others to his Islamic reformation of Christianity through the use of the sword.

Whereas Muhammad took up the sword, Jesus died turning the other cheek rather than compromise. Jesus’ unflinching refusal to compromise may be the greatest fault anyone ever found with him. As a result, his own people--the Jews--rejected him and turned his non-political kingdom of moral righteousness into a political dream in which they would rule the world.

America’s second President, John Adams, voiced deep satisfaction at “having achieved peace.” He concluded: “I desire no other inscription over my gravestone than: ‘Here lies John Adams, who took upon himself the responsibility of peace with France in the year 1800.’”2

Former President Carter spoke out of deep Christian conviction when he accepted his 2002 Nobel peace prize, admitting “war may sometimes be a necessary evil, but no matter how necessary, it is always evil.”3

Whereas an increasing number of people are inspired by the teachings of Jesus, humanity continues to pursue wars and rumors of war.

Support “People”
Wars confuse patriotism while benefitting special interest groups, intimidating politicians, and obfuscating public policies for the common good. Regrettable are the wounded and dead civilians, destroyed infrastructures, and issues of national security, all of which become mere statistical “corollary damages.” Only peacemakers offer hope for the common good of the largest percentage of humanity.

When President Clinton faced his nuclear crisis with North Korea in 1994, his greatest fear was not winning or losing the war; it was the economic impact of the 52,000 American casualties and 490,000 South Koreans projected by his advisors for the first 90 days--not to mention civilian casualties, etc. That offered huge political implications. Beyond that, North Korean would suffer enormous casualties. Without a doubt, the advisors knew America could win, and avoid spreading radiation, but they projected a cost to the nation of $61 billion.

War divides people, destroys nations, and wastes resources. It always leaves some kind of unresolved situation that requires a diplomatic resolution--a peacemaker reconciliation. That is the nature of military conflict.

World War Two’s most popular general and President-elect, General Dwight David Eisenhower concluded in 1953:
“Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired,
signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,
those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not
spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers,
the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”4

This is not a way of life in any true sense, added Eisenhower. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. With more than 4,400 deaths, over 30,000 casualties, and a host of other collateral costs of the Iraq War, America now finds itself hanging from that cross of iron in Afghanistan.

Practice Partnership
Thinking peace, and considering people, calls for a radical attitude adjustment. It requires a new win-win model of international diplomacy for replacing the old “I win, you lose” model. Ask any citizen of the world what they want most and they will tell you life, liberty, and the pursuits of happiness, wholeness, and security. The common bond that unites the people of the world is the common need for personal acceptance, and a safe place to live one’s life with family, faith, and a craft.

The military-industrial complex profits from the anti-social behaviors of war that sacrifice blood and prevent nations from partnering in common cause. Peacemaking removes the muzzle from Jesus and elevates a Samaritan outcaste who went out of his way to assist a mugging victim. The Jews hated Samaritans, but Jesus described this man as an exemplary neighbor (Luke 10:25-37), and concluded that we should “go and do likewise.”

We need new international policies of neighborliness when nations around us are mugged, so to speak. We need to become catalysts who think and act outside our global boxes of “hatred, discord, jealousy. . .selfish ambition. . .factions and envy” (Gal. 5:20-21). Paul, that early Christian Apostle, believed there is but one word that satisfies the criteria: “love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another” (cf. Gal. 5:14-15, 18-22).

Improving international relationships will require creating new partnerships that provide new opportunities for overcoming evil with good. New partnerships that provide more peaceful relationships would offer positive win-win options, as opposed to political greed, economic power,and ethnic hostility.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good” wrote the Biblical Prophet, “and what does the Lord require of you To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, NIV).

Be Pragmatic and Eclectic
Jimmy Carter’s 1994 unofficial meeting with North Korea’s dictator, when Carter went as a private citizen 6, yielded “general and Korea-specific” lessons that could still prove useful to current U. S. policymakers. “They are especially valuable” wrote Marian Creekmore, “if the employment of the military weapon is to be regarded, as I firmly believe it should be, as the last resort for dealing with international disputes between countries (italics added).

Our ‘War on Terrorism’ has not changed the validity of this proposition.” It remains to be seen how many other international crises “peacemaking negotiations” might defuse without adding the unbearable and non-productive costs of war.

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace,” declared Eleanor Roosevelt, “One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it,” she concluded, “One must work at it.” True peacemakers pick and choose--being eclectic. Carter’s approach with North Korea offered three outside-the-box possibilities:
1. Decision-makers talk directly--unfiltered.
2. The State Department rethink its position denying diplomatic recognition
to rogue states (we seldom help anyone by isolating them).
3. Closer cooperation between elected officials and non-governmental personnel(NGO’s). Wise utilization of an NGO should be sufficient when successful, without a political administration needing to claim credit (politicizing). If unsuccessful, the President loses nothing.

I object to war because Jesus taught peace-making and peaceable relationships. War in the name of God is especially objectionable. I reject the spinning of half truths into defensible arguments for violent means. Profiteering in the name of patriotism, and peddling fear to protect selfish interests, also seem contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

From Warner’s World, although I enjoy living in the greatest country in the world, I question the political assumption that views the world’s greatest super-power--America--as being obliged to spread freedom through forced means …

1 Robin Meyers, Why the Christian Right Is Wrong. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006), p. 118.
2 David McCullough, John Adams. N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, 2001, p.567.
4 General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1953 Cross of Iron inauguration address.
5 Marian V. Creekmore, Jr., A Moment of Crisis. New York: Public Affairs, 2006.

Gallows Laughter

Who said it hardly seems important, but someone spoke a great truth: “When dishonesty, immorality, violence, injustice, and rebellion against the moral and spiritual principles becomes a way of life in a society, that society faces its worst enemy—the deterioration of its morals and spiritual fibers, without which it cannot survive” (emphasis added).

Even worse--when a society loses its moral compass, its spiritual conscience, it turns its moral and spiritual ills into entertainment. Rather than accepting the moral diagnosis and correcting the ills, it seems--sadly enough--we turn our corruption into a profitable state of pleasured humor. And that seems to be where we are in our present state of culture--gallows laughter.

Things that threaten our very existence have become the source for creating our laughter. Moral corruption, unfaithfulness, injustice, and violence are no longer just the leprosy on our Social body; they provide as our primary source of humor and live entertainment via reality TV and the Media. As consumers of this conglomerate cesspool, why should we wonder at the mood of despair that hangs like a dark blanket over our people.

Should we be surprised that the news is gloomy and discouraging from all directions? Should we think that the growing rate of illegitimacy, divorce, and crime is purely accidental? Should we not recognize it as a fulfillment of the Word of the Lord, when it says, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me
the fountain of living water, and hewed them out cisterns,broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13)?

From Warner’s World …
you cannot ignore the moral and spiritual principles of the word of God and expect to be sound in judgment and character. We will reap what we have sowed as individuals; we will reap what we have sowed as a nation.

We are

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Nature of Evil

EVER WONDER what keeps our world from falling into worse crime and total corruption of our human system? Do you ever stop to realize the psychological truth that evil by its very nature is separatist; it conquers by separating and dividing? On the other hand, goodness by its “very goodness” is unifying, creative and full of life.

Consider this: evil, by its evil nature separates itself both from the good and from other evil as well. Thieves sooner or later fall out from each other. That is the essence of their character. The self-centeredness of their core being--what is antisocial in them at the beginning--later turns into anti-others.

The Hitler’s and Stalin’s of history could not maintain nonaggression agreements for long. Tyrants often end up being assassinated by their own lieutenants whose evil aggressions can be neither trusted nor tolerated. By its very nature, evil is self-defeating.

In the darkest days of Germany’s war with the world, Dietrich Bonhoeffer found light and personal redemption in the regenerating power of love, which he discovered was the essence of that Almighty God that so loved the world (John 3:16). Bonhoeffer found unmistakable hope, even when hanging at the end of Hitler’s noose at age 39. Bonhoeffer; lived and died in that hope, a symbol of victory while Hitler slowly crumbled in abysmal defeat.

That global struggle continues today, between nations, between the repressed and the oppressors, between the lawful and the illegal. Repressed and suffering people lift up hands of hope--even picking up weapons of rebellion. The world looks ominous and threatening as political powers tighten their evil grip--politically, economically, even religiously.

At times global peace seems almost impossible and it appears there is nothing to cling to. None the less, good people can take hope in remembering that evil by its very nature is a self-destructing parasite. As the Christian Apostle described it, we see in the mirror now only partially, with distortion; we have only partial knowledge. In the creativity of God's goodness, there is faith and hope and ultimately love, but the greatest, most long lasting, and most filled with life is the love of God.

It is love, then, that you should strive for, concluded Paul (I Cor. 14:1 TEV).
From Warner’s World, I am

Friday, June 10, 2011

Recipe for Tomorrow

I started this back in April, with yet three weeks until May. May came and I tiptoed through the tulips, May being one of my two most favorite months of the year (May and October).

As the April winds died down, I enjoyed a brief hiatus in Kentucky, including a couple of feverish days promoting books at the Reformation Publishers Book Nook at the Winchester Pastor’s Fellowship. Most of all, I enjoyed the flowering trees and other beauties of Central Kentucky’s historic Blue Grass region.

I returned home in time to watch the tulips bloom in Michigan--I love the tulips! They bloom so profusely in Michigan and in such variety. As far back as I can remember, thousands of families have journeyed annually to Holland, MI--mid-May--to be dazzled by the exquisite beauty of the Dutch Culture's annual Tulip Festival.

Throughout the Spring, I studiously studied most every blade that promised any kind of growth in my small yard. While still early, I became rather amused at most of us--myself included, for it seemed to me that even the weather prophets behaved more anxiously than usual, impatiently awaiting the arrival of Spring. We all needed that fill-up with sunshine--a good warm-up.

Winter has now made its departure. Spring is rapidly transitioning into Summer. The tulips strutted while my Irises flaunted their best blooming season in several years--3 weeks and counting. Roses are attempting a takeover; even my peonies show improvement, and now I‘m waiting to transplant my tomatoe seedlings--low-acid yellow Ponderosa's.

All of this points me to the recipe I want to share with you for the remainder of the year--a year-long gift of Spring. You will need only the following ingredients and may it be one of your best-ever years.:
4 cups of Love
2 cups of Loyalty
3 cups of Forgiveness
1 cup of Friendship
5 spoons of Hope
2 spoons of Tenderness
4 quarts of Faith
1 barrel of Laughter
Pour in your Love and Loyalty. Mix them thoroughly with an abundance of Faith. Blend with adequate Tenderness, Kindness, and Understanding. Sprinkle this freely with Laughter and bake it with summer Sunshine.

Serve it daily in generous portions, and do it as often and as regularly as you possibly can. May the coming months be the best of your whole life.

Yours from Warner’s World, for one of your better seasons …

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Best Way to Communicate

Currently appearing in the Free Methodist Sunday school Evangel is a valuable lesson I learned some years ago (6-26). My neighbor pastor gave me a piece of advice. “Take I-20 by way of Dallas,” he said.

Well, I admit two hundred miles of two-lane traffic on Hwy 287 did seem like a long drive to Youth Camp. I wanted to avoid Dallas traffic, but I went ahead and followed his suggestion. Very quickly, I discovered I could drive on Interstate highway most of the way, which left me only 20 miles of two-lane driving.

“I will show you a still more excellent way,” Paul told his Corinthian readers (1 Corinthians 13). Using such contrast, Paul argued for a spirit of love. Without love, wrote Paul, words sound brassy. Although Paul spoke eloquently and proclaimed the gospel with prophetic powers, his witness left his hearers cold and unresponsive--unless tempered with love.

That suggests to me that although I reflect a wide range of knowledge, a deep understanding of truth, and exercise a mountain-moving faith; without love, I really achieve little. For as Paul concludes, the letter kills. Life comes by way of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6).

Paul drills deep into the core of this issue: “words without works equal waste”. Only a mature love understands the inadequacy of right desire and adequately pursues right conduct. “Reception of perfect love is by faith alone,” writes Otho Jennings, but “the practice of perfect love requires knowledge and improves with experience” (Geiger/ Further Insights Into Holiness/Beacon Hill/1964).

Outward values hold only temporary meaning, suggests Paul. They lack life--unless prompted by that deep, immoveable love that brings beneficial blessings through dedicated service that is prompted by knowing the true ways of God.

What we are matters even more than what we do, for what we are ultimately determines what we do (emphasis added). If we are right, we will do right. If we are not right, no abundance of rules and regulations will produce right living. Living the Christian life comes out of the overflow of God’s love that spills over into the heart of the receptive believer. Where we go and what we do only reflect further who and what we are within.

The best way to communicate an idea is to wrap it up in a person and send that person out. When God wanted to reveal His idea of love, He exported it into the world via the birth process. A hurting humanity reads that message in the journeys of Jesus, as He became the living embodiment of God’s love in its purest form, en route to the cross.

Long ago, Henry Drummond spoke to departing missionaries. His message to them drives home the insight we need for more effectively sharing our message this turbulent and hostile environment: “You can take nothing greater . . . than the impress and reflection of the love of God upon your own character” (emphasis added).

Love is the one universal language. Languages and dialects can take years to master and speak persuasively. Everyone understands the “unconscious eloquence” of love when it is poured out in compassionate service.That love makes the person the messenger, not the words spoken.

From Warner's World ... Our character--who we are--becomes our primary vehicle for communicating our message ...
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