Sunday, August 28, 2011

InterDependence vs Independence

I grew up in a white, Anglo-Saxon, strongly protestant home with a strong Republican bias against Democrats (who were urban union-mafia mobsters). My socio-political and personal faith journey has come a long ways, much to the dismay of some. To some, it may appear I have simply moved from the extreme rightfield bleachers to the far leftfield bleachers.

I see my journey as escaping from Redneck Haven, exploring Libertyville in leftfield, but settling into deep centerfield, more deeply entrenched than ever in the centrist views of an a-political Jesus, who is at the core of my evangelical Wesleyan-holiness faith.

Having said that, I’ve just been reading a biographical sketch of Milton Friedman, as I explore the world of greed. I quote:

“Above all, Friedman argued, no one will take advantage of others (emphasis mine). “So long as the freedom of exchange is maintained… Thus, Friedman summarized his moral philosophy. If individuals are given the choice, free of government rules and regulations,
of where to work,
where to invest their retirement funds,
where to send their children to school,
where to buy their health care,
and where to rent or buy their homes,
competition to supply the best goods or services will result in a greater number of cheaper and higher-quality options. In this way, Americans will have more high-paying jobs,
a more secure retirement,
schools of surpassing quality,
a possibly cheaper but surely more efficient health care system,
and more affordable housing.

"He argued further that with reduced government and lower taxes,
the poor would be better off,
inequality would be minimized,
and discrimination eliminated;
coercion would be minimized
and material prosperity maximized.
It was nearly a utopian or religious promise, and that was its broad appeal, a moral call for the protection of personal freedom. Economic freedom is also the way to achieve political freedom, according to Friedman“ (Madrick/Age of Greed/Knopf/NY/2011/41).

This is the gist of “free market economy” in a paragraph, propagated by all Republicans, Tea Partiers, and that grand multitude that believe that individual liberty without intervention is the ultimate of American freedom.It not only defines "free market" economy but it defines anarchy and/or libertarianism.

Because Friedman’s bias said, “The fact is that the Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government management rather than by inherent instability of the private economy,” he blamed the depression on the Government--pre-FDR! This is no different from those who today blame the current depression on Obamamania and his stimulus spending, rather than facing the truth of George Bush spending us deeply into debt via the Iraq War and putting it on our Chinese credit card.

Whether or not I learned anything else, I learned a fierce sense of telling the truth as a child. I can tell you it is not comfortable to be taken back and forced to tell the truth to someone you misled. I learned better as a child and Mr. Friedman and company should be made to tell the truth, that a “free market” will not automatically adjust itself, and rather than people in that “free market” treating everyone else by the Golden Rule, people will lie, cheat, steal, and defraud you, just because they think they can get away with it. The Bible calls it sin, but that word is not in vogue these days.

Nonetheless, Friedman’s “moral philosophy” was MORALLY FLAWED from its inception. HE WAS WRONG, as are all extremists of this far right political persuasion. I know little about economics and the philosophy of financial management, but I know that when people anchor themselves to Capitalism and Freedom (authored by Friedman), I know they are working with a flawed system.

I know that such a free market system evolves until it becomes a cannibalizing process of economic survival of the fittest (ask any MBA graduate how that works). Walter Wriston built First National City Bank into the largest in America via the free market. He grew the company large enough that it was too big to be allowed to fail. On the several occasions it did nearly fail, it was the government that bailed him out because it would be detrimental to the economy (cf Madrick, pp 10-25 for Wriston story of regulatory revolt).

All democratic nations face that tension of individuality versus government. Democracy can survive only with a good balance. Without regulators (referees and officials) any game will become unequal, unfair, dirty, and compromised; the players need objective assistance. An overly-regulated game will be no better. What I do know is this: to attend Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY and watch the Wildcats play, properly assisted by a well refereed game, may look like far too much governmental regulation, but it produces a satisfying game for the customer (especially if KY wins), and it produces a huge economic windfall for the Bluegrass--players, coaches, scouts, officials, fans, university, business community, et al.

I may not understand economics adequately, but I know athletics well enough that if “free marketers” were correct, two basketball teams could play without officials, BUT it takes those regulators (NOT JUST 1 referee but SEVERAL OFFICIALS, TIME KEEPERS, SCOREKEEPERS, AD INFINITUM) to keep everything fair and above board from the 7 foot center to the 5’ 6” guard.

From Warner’s World, I still believe in interdependence more than independence; this is

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Gospel Trumpet Years

“I believe in a clean, separate and distinct work for God, but I also believe that we should keep the sectarian stink out of the distinction… ” declared E. A. Reardon, the pioneer father of Anderson University’s longtime president, Robert H. Reardon (p214/The Gospel Trumpet Years/Welch & Stultz/2011).

Reardon concluded his message to the church that day by admitting “There is such a thing as stressing the reformation to such an extent as to cause our people to be reformation-centered reformation sectarians.”

Mention the Gospel Trumpet years and Church of God people become nostalgic. This newest volume from the Church of God Historical Society (authored by Welch & Stultz) is now in the final editing/proofing stages and will bring you the most comprehensive overview available of the Church of God (General Offices, Anderson, IN).

It will clear up questions some of you wonder about. It will raise further questions for some. You will not just read it and lay it aside for it will be a resource you can turn to again and again, for information contained therein, and for historical pictures, a valuable timeline of important events (1867-1961, and other special items like the charts on the inside front and back covers.

It promises to be a fine resource for your coffee table. It covers the developing years of the magazine, the years the magazine was birthing the church; that period when the magazine was called The Gospel Trumpet (up to 1961 when it became “Vital Christianity).

The book divides into three parts. Part I offers an excellent introduction and overview before discussing the magazine itself, followed by the 6 editors of that period: Warner, Fisher, Byrum, Smith, Brown, Phillips. Of special interest will be the insights into the role of J.C. Fisher.

Part II deals with the magazine that birthed the Church and offers excellent insights into the role of the Gospel Trumpet, Songs of the Evening Light, Camp Meetings in the Church of God, the developing Global mission, theological education and the Christian Brotherhood Hour. I especially enjoyed the informative piece on the development of Mission Homes.

Part III offers a resourceful appendix with excellent appendices on the Holiness Movement, Restorationism, The Ohio Odyssey, and Sidney the son. Dave Neidert contributed an excellent segment on D. O. Teaseley. Other subjects include Healing, Making Music, and related segments on RR Byrum and EA Reardon.

The appendice on “Whatever became of? Is informative. For me, reading Dr. Gene Newberry’s final written word to the church he so dearly loved was priceless. This proved to be the final word to the church by the 93-year-old theologian and former Dean of the School of Theology--great wisdom.

From Warner’s World, I hope I whet your whistle a little and increased your interest in this soon-to-be volume awaited by many of us …

Friday, August 19, 2011

Islam Without Extremes

Looking over the new book selections at Willard Library, I picked up Islam Without Extremes, a Muslim case for liberty. That sounded like a different Islam than I knew from reading the daily news, so I thumbed through it: 290 pages, plus notes and index; written by Mustafa Akyol, a columnist for two Turkish newspapers. Alyol’s articles have also appeared in Foreign Affairs, Newsweek, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, since his studies at Bogazici University in Istanbul, where he lives.

Akyol obviously is a man of questions, as well as a devout Muslim. For example: is it possible that current authoritarian Islamic regimes derive not from Islam but from deep-seated socio-political structures in the Middle East? Going back to the genesis of Islam, Akyol digs in the roots of the 7th century Prophet Mohammad, whom he sees ushering in a “medieval war of ideas” and something of a religious renewal.

He offers a different version of Mohammad than I had previously read, a more tolerant and reasonable man than I had previously known. Akyol then traces the development of Islamic political thinking through several schools of thought, with strong emphasis upon reason, free will, and pluralism. He reveals a “more rigid, dogmatic, and exclusive interpretation (traditionalism) ascending to the top in later centuries, after a more liberal, inclusive, and religious beginning.

My lack of familiarity with his subject made it hard for me at times to keep reading. On occasion, I felt he assumed too much for Islam, too easily blamed none Islamic forces, and throughout I had the feeling that something was lacking, but was unable to quite put my finger on it. I think I felt his whole approach was too much of human origin; too dependent upon human reasoning, but also more dependent upon prior Christian influences than he recognized.

Mustafa Akyol likely began his journey when as an eight-year-old lad he accompanied his mother to the suburbs of Ankara, where he visited his imprisoned father, a Turkish journalist, imprisoned for speaking out as a Muslim against the State. Akyol is knowledgeable about Islamic culture; he is admittedly a more reasonable Muslim, not of the authoritarian theocracratic views, and he quotes freely from Western sources, with some 40 pages of notes in the back.

Here and there I found hope for better cooperation between Muslims and Christians, as well as potential common ground for a political state in which each could exist. His description of the Ottoman Empire revealed Ottoman leadership drawing considerably from Western socio-political-economic influences. Speaking of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, I found this paragraph especially interesting:
The collapse of the empire would have other tragic consequences that only time would reveal. Yet Archibald Wavell, a British officer, had the foresight to see them as early as 1918. Watching the victorious European powers happily carving up the Ottoman Empire in Paris after ’the war to end war,’ he dismissed the optimism. What the Europeans achieved instead, he said, was ’peace to end peace’” (cf Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace, Holt, 1989).

This “peace to end peace” (Versailles Treaty) is a theme I find common among journalists and historians).

The author offers some insight into Muslins intent on Islamizing the United Kingdom, which he discounts. On the other hand, he offers hope for many of the issues that concern Westerners, and especially Christians, about current Islam. He suggests that neither the Qur’an nor the Prophet offered a definition of government. He believes “accepting the secular state could also help Muslims focus on what is really important,” suggesting that what they really need from the state is not religion “but freedom of religion.”

Throughout, the author argues that Islamic authoritarianism as we know it today is more of a cultural issue than religious, that Islam was not so in the beginnings, but is a more recent aberration.

From Warner’s World, for what it is worth …
If we are going to live and serve in a world that includes Muslims, and other equally difficult people groups, we need to learn how to dialogue with them and be sure that we extend to them the Spirit of our Risen Lord. This is not a conflict that will be resolved by military might …

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beyond the Peak

The E. C. Lee family was a well-known Church of God pastoral family in east Tulsa back in the 1940s, and well known to the girl I married in 1947. Two Lee sons, Byrum and Curtis, became pastors like their well-respected father, and there were other siblings.

I would meet Byrum, and Genevieve, and the three children when they moved West to pastor the Church of God in Oregon City, OR. We were students in Portland at the time. Before graduating in 1951, we would spend many hours and days mingling in the Lee home in Oregon City, doing the things students do in assisting the work of the church.

The last time we would visit in their home in such comfortable surroundings would be in Caldwell, ID in late May 1951. We were en route to AR., to our first fulltime charge, and the Lee’s had just relocated from Oregon.

In time, the Lee’s would relocate to the East Coast and we would follow their paths but seldom cross paths. I remember Curtis serving in Northern Kentucky, but our paths went different directions. Eventually Genevieve died and we lost track of the family, except that Byrum remarried in time and relocated back to Oklahoma.

Byrum was a music-lover. I can still hear his strong baritone voice and remember that one of his very favorite songs was “The Unclouded Day” by J. K. Alwood. It was a song I enjoyed as a boy back in southwestern Michigan:

O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
O they tell me of a home far away;
O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds, rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.
O the land of cloudless day,
O the land of an unclouded day;
O they tell me of a home where no storm-clouds rise,
O they tell me of an unclouded day.

It sounds pretty “other worldly,” as Irene Caldwell taught us many of those songs were. Yet, sixty years later, it has a very comfortable ring to it. I’ve long since lost track of the Lee family, EXCEPT that I still see the name Byrum C. Lee attached to occasional poetry, and that is what sparked this bit of nostalgia.

In the recent June 2011 issue of the occasional newsletter from Christian Triumph Publishers I found these lines entitled, “That’s What I Seek!” Not all poetry is good enough to catch my attention, but I liked the flow as I read Byrum’s words: it offered a message with which I strongly resonated--reaching the peak:

I’ve climbed the mountain thus far;
My eyes fixed on that distant star.
But I have not yet reached the top,
So this is not where I should stop.

I must pursue my upward climb,
Forgetting what I’ve left behind.
To stop before I’ve reached my goal
Would never satisfy my soul.

The air is rarefied up here,
And tho’ faint, I must persevere
Until I’ve reached the mountain’s peak;
To be with my God--that’s what I seek!

From Warner’s World,
Byrum has been climbing many a year, as have others of us. I‘m not interested in stopping halfway up the peak; the view on the other side promises to make the climb worthwhile. Remember when Terah left for Canaan with his family, but settled in Haran (Genesis 12:31-32? Not satisfied to settle, Abraham picked up from there and moved on (12:1-4). I too want to clear the peak …

Friday, August 12, 2011



I read in the news where you refer to yourself as a born-again Christian, a man who ended up in politics, but thinks seriously about the Christian Ministry. You offer yourself as a Christian politician who is a man of prayer, and a born again Christian that believes in righteous living and Christ-like behavior.You appeared recently at a public rally praying for God to bless Texas with the rain she needs.

In watching today's evening news, I learn that Texas has a program called the Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program. You fund this program by collecting $1.00 a month from each energy consumer. The purpose of the program, as I understand it, and as publicly stated, is to subsidize people unable to pay their electric bills when the electric bill gets out of hand during the high-use summer months.

This very evening, millions of Americans watched CBS News report that while Texas collected this money in the name of poverty, Texas has now changed its collective mind and Texas politicians will hold a huge block of this money to balance the budget, leaving many impoverished people unable to pay their electric bill.With the debt in Texas higher than the national debt, and getting higher, you would balance your budget with misappropriated monies.

I know you have had fires, and I know you could have a hurricane. Nonetheless, what this tells me is that you consider it good financial politics, ethical behavior, and honest behavior to


Dear Brother in Christ: as a fellow evangelical Christian (and a minister of the gospel) I call upon you to change your behavior or give up your name. Christians do not lie, steal, misappropriate funds, or treat the poor as shabbily as this action does.

Dear Sir: I am happy that I am only a former citizen of the Lone Star, for such action cannot be justified politically or economically, especially when Texas Oil producers that made your administration possible are recording record profits. Are you telling me they could not increase their support and balance your budget? They would not even have to downsize their executive salaries to achieve this worthy objective for the citizens of the Lone Star State.

For Texas to raise monies for charitable purposes, as appears to be the case here, and spend it for political purposes is to say the least, blasphemous, and whether or not you like it, the buck seems to stop at your desk

From Warner’s World, I suggest you call yourself a politician, or any other thing you wish, but don’t call yourself a Christian and perpetrate this kind of “un-Christ-like” behavior.
I am

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Faith in Public Life

“Things have come to a pretty pass,” thundered Lord Melbourne, “when one should permit one’s religion to invade public life.”

That statement expresses the contempt Lord Melbourne felt for the enthusiasts of his day (those pesky religious peasants that followed Whitfield and Wesley and insisted on taking their religion seriously. They were shaking up the social order of the wealthy status quo of Great Britain(Metaxis/Amazing Grace/Harper/San Francisco/2007/xix).

In that statement, Lord Melbourne also expresses the GREATEST FEAR OF MANY CURRENT CITIZENS who want either to eliminate religious faith in the marketplace, or chain it to the church pew and confine it to the limited boundaries of ritualized worship.

By invading public life with his faith, Newton the slaver became a public icon as “Amazing Grace” and the Rector of Saint Matthews Anglican Church in England. It was Newton that a certain young politician sought out privately, much as Nicodemus the Pharisee sought out Jesus under cover of night.

It was the converted slaver, a true evangelical, who helped the highly successful politician understand that he could serve God without giving up his successful career as politician-legislator, and intimate friend of William Pitt the Prime Minister.

That 25-year-old dedicated the rest of his life to serving God in the public arena of the British Parliament. True to form, there were those like Lord Melbourne who shot off their verbal artillery, attempting to suppress the presence of divinity in the public arena. On the other hand, because William Wilberforce stayed true to God for the remainder of his life, while filling his role in a half-century of public service, he saw legislation passed that ended slavery in Great Britain, and virtually ended the world of slave trading.

From Warner’s World,
slave-traders like Isaac Newton are now a relic of the past. However, hundreds of former slaves owe their freedom to that one life-long member of the British Parliament who dared to take his religion into his public life. Today, no man, woman, boy, or girl worries about being forced into legalized slavery, although there are numerous new forms of human slavery today.

The “slave trade” is no more, all because one man took his personal faith in Jesus Christ into the public arena and consistently worked at making human rights a public issue. The next time someone tells you religion has no place in the marketplace, you remind them that had not William Wilberforce spent his Christian life in public service, we might still be buying, selling, and trading slaves on Wall Street. I am

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"You've Been Hacked"!

Mike called last night; he and Sue are area church friends. He asked about the recent scam message they received, purportedly from me, abroad, robbed, desperately needing funds in the far country to return home. This remains an oft-repeated story. Recent weeks brought calls from MI., TX., Canada, and numerous other places, all for the same purpose.

I was hacked online. I was trespassed, violated, robbed of numerous contacts, and used for selfish purposes--scam my friends and family. That describes Satan in the Old Testament story of Job. Anyway you read Job, he was invaded--trespassed. The writer claims Satan’s primary role is that of trespasser on posted property that belongs to God by creation.

The Bible abundantly describes this trespassing of God’s posted property. My numerous callers represent today’s church [church member] in current society, which brings me back to my recent week at Warner Memorial Camp.

“Tracks” (the daily camp newsletter), reported “many generational families on grounds!!” The observer reported “4 families of 4 generations” and sought to learn of more. That is nice, perhaps, but I suggest this is normal procedure for the average church family. When we remain alert to those forces trespassing God’s posted property (our families) and alert them to the “hackers in their lives” that is going on, we are only acting as parents that love our kids. This seems only normal, rational, and the “Christian” thing to do!

Having shared this opinion, let me go one step further. From the same issue of “Tracks”, the reporter shared from Pastor Gary’s message the night before. Gary introduced his theme (sermon if you will) by recognizing a problem in our churches. He suggested we need to return to the example of the early church and learn from them. He claimed the Bible is our manual for learning how to live (we claim it as “inspired“ but we too often ignore it).

Going to church will neither save us, nor change us where we need to be changed. Cleaning up a pig and tying a bow on it will not prevent that pig from doing what it does naturally--wallow in the mud. Improving our economics, and changing our circumstances, will not stop our “hackers” from trespassing our lives and using that information to scam still others. It happens all the time, from government to the gutter.

I enjoy the historical aspects of Warner Camp. I love the religious heritage I learned via the Church of God (Anderson Convention). I do not enjoy the fact that we have so many spiritually obese people waddling around full of historical tradition and theological certainty while overlooking the obvious fact that our world is full of people needing someone to call, email, or otherwise contact them and let them know they have been hacked.

A trespasser lurks in their lives, seeking whomever he can devour. Many are oblivious of their hacker; they fail to recognize the scamming taking place. They see only this or that misfortune, or lack of opportunity, or some other social-or-moral diagnosis. And, some plainly do not care; they are too full of themselves and are intent only on getting WHAT THEY WANT, which is what they have been led to believe is what they need. THIS IS THE BIGGEST SCAM ever been perpetuated on our society, by profit-seeking social designers.

We are in an economic CRUNCH, for several reasons. However, we are in an even LARGER MORAL CRUNCH. We remain a rudderless society sailing around in a social mud puddle, looking in all the wrong places for the right solution. Going back to what Gary talked about--we need to change our lives. We need to give evidence of Holy Living. We need as Christians to live like Christians (little Christ’s) or we need to change our name from Christians to something else. We need to share that sense of family (we call it unity), which means we need to be more interested in taking the message of Jesus around the globe than we are concerned about all Christians coming to our Sheep Pen at Anderson, IN.

We have a bigger mission than that. Christ’s mission did not begin with D. S. Warner in 1881; it began with the “1st century disciples” when Jesus instructed them to go into ALL the world and share His Story. Jesus is the gate on which history swings, and as nearly as I can tell, it is His story … this is Warner’s World …

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pictured is “Doc” Stevens, who for the past 16 years has been the living icon representing all the best qualities of all that Warner Camp represented. An MSU grad and avid Spartan fan, Doc left a 30-year career of working with Kellogg Community College. He was a living legend in Battle Creek area sporting events as KCC athletic trainer, one time Athletic Director, et al.

Behind Doc you see Warner Lodge, probably the first major renovation involving the Selents' in the 70s (more about that in another blog). Doc became a key figure in the lives of Grace and Leslie Ratzlaff. Grace probably came closer to filling that empty place left by the death of Doc’s mother than any other; she was his close friend, confidant, role model and longtime mentor.

Les, was what he was, one of the hardest working men you could find anywhere between “Heart” (the survival training camp in Florida) and Warner Camp in Michigan--a SD farm boy--a Churchman steeped in book lore.

In the following paragraphs, we conclude Grace's recollections of how she and Les made their plans and God directed their steps, several years of which Doc was an intimate part.

“It took two weeks to get the tests done, and the biopsy, but we still had not received the doctor’s report as to exactly what was wrong. He didn’t realize how sick he was and neither did we, but he still did not want to go home.

“Ray and I finally convinced him that we needed to get him to his doctor. We arrived home on Sunday afternoon. I had talked with Leslie’s sons and told them they needed to come see their Dad. We still had not received the report from the doctor; all we knew there were some cancer cells.

“We knew he had that cancer mass in his one kidney, but were told that was not growing. Paul [son] came on Tuesday and we had an appointment with Leslie’s cancer doctor on Wednesday. Paul went with us and that was when we got the results of the biopsy. Doctor said no more tests or appointments and he would schedule hospice to come in. We were shocked! He said they did not know where the cancer was coming from (not the kidney--different kind of cancer), but it did not matter as it was all across his chest and abdomen and his neck--no wonder he was so nauseated and no appetite.

“On our way home from the doctor we stopped at Denny’s and met Dale and Marcie [other son] for lunch. Leslie ate a couple spoonfuls of soup. We did not know what the prognosis was, doctor just said it was really hard to tell. So we just assumed he still had at least several months. Paul went home on Thursday. On Friday, hospice came in and the coordinator/nurse got all the preliminary work done--equipment, nurses, etc. round the clock.

“Saturday, Leslie was in terrible pain. I called hospice and in a short time the hospice nurse came and prepared him for bed (hospital bed), gave him morphine, and made him comfortable. In the meantime, the head nurse had called my son, Ray and told him not to go anywhere, that I would need him. She told him Leslie had only 36-48 hours, but did not tell me when I asked her.

“Leslie was not communicating on Sunday. However, my grandson and his family came over from Winter Haven about 18 miles from here and Lauren (6) and Kolson (4) stood by Leslie’s bed and sang “Jesus loves Me” for him. He smiled and mouthed “thank you.” Dale and Marcie and their girls came, but stayed just a little while. Leslie did not say anything more after that.

“On Monday, Sept. 6, I went in to see him and spoke to him. He did not say anything, but I think he heard me as his eyelids moved a little, so I think he heard me tell him I loved him. About an hour later, at 7:15, he went to be in the arms of Jesus. It was such a shock that he went so fast. What a Divine Appointment that we came home instead of going to VA, and that Ray came to help me drive.

We had traveled 9600 this summer. God is so good. I am so glad I listened to that still small voice that cautioned me about going to VA, even against Leslie’s wishes. He was “still determined that we not go home. Praise the Lord” we did, but little did any of us know how seriously ill he was. Leslie didn’t even know--he was sure he would get better.

“God is so good. Leslie is not suffering anymore, but I miss him (Grace, 2010).”

From Warner’s World,
we do not grieve as those without hope, nor are we knee-deep in mere sentiment. We rejoice and stand deeply in awe of what God does in people’s lives, ever mindful of His gracious and beneficent love.

I look back across the span of two totally different church families and saw how they served the church so differently in their individual ministries in varied places--later linked by a second marriage for each of them.

I bow my heart before God and thank him for His Angel Messengers that he allowed to touch me and my spouse, as well as a whole host of others … I am

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Following Grace & Les - #2

A few campmeetings back, this blogger and Dr. Les joined a tour group led by church historian/archaeologist Dale Stults in examining the fired remains of the Gospel Trumpet Offices which burned back in 1898, the same night those earlier Saints had moved on to Moundsville. We later blogged about Dr. Les obtaining his Higher Degree.

As recently as late July, we worked with Grace in the Camp Dining Hall as she was still working through her grieving, accompanied by several of her adoring family, including son Dave and various grandchildren. That was a special joy to us, and I remembered the year that granddaughter Andrea worked on our Dining Hall crew. She was an area highschool basketball star then, now she is a gracious and mature wife and mother.

First it was the sons/wives who helped dad and mother in camp; later it was the grandkids, and always they each had that delightful "Selent" stamp upon them. They come back and bless us at Warner Camp, but they now live their own lives across the country, serving God diligently, just as they learned at Warner Camp. I'm leaving names out, I know, but when I received Grace's recollections this week, I felt compelled to share them, thus this second part of how Les and Grace made their plans, and God directed their steps (*again, slightly edited).

"Normally we would go to South Dakota at the end of July, but Leslie’s grand-niece (Jessica) was getting married on July 10 and asked Leslie to perform the ceremony. So, July 4th weekend we took off. Leslie performed the ceremony and did a good job, but was absolutely beat. He also baptized his niece, grand-niece and grand-nephew, with the help of his brother Leroy who is father of the niece. This took place in the public swimming pool in Highmore (S.D.) after it was closed to the public. It was warm and worked out very well. Someone had inadvertently left the heater on so the water was warm--another blessing.

"We visited with relatives there for several days. Leslie was asked to preach on Sunday, but declined because he was too weak. We headed back to Grand Junction and I helped with the youth camps and Leslie rested. He would not give up and go home. Doc Stevens, Camp Director and friend, allowed us to use his golf cart the whole time we were there … another blessing as Leslie was too weak to walk to the activities.

"We attended the camp meeting (at camp) and I helped in the cafeteria--end of July. I suggested we go home, but Leslie wanted to stay and attend the wedding of my granddaughter, Michelle on August 13 and another wedding of my granddaughter, Andrea on August 27th. He was feeling really terrible by this time, but would not give up; I felt we should go home and I could fly to MI for the weddings, but he would not hear of it at all. He wanted to be there, too.

"He had lost about 15 lbs. and was not able to eat hardly anything. I would get him milkshakes--he liked those and would drink a little at a time. We had planned to go to VA to visit my grandson, Eric and family after the weddings. My son, Ray, had come to MI from FL to help me drive to VA.

"I need to back up … on August 15 a lump appeared on Leslie’s neck on the right side just below the ear and the next day it was much bigger, so back to the doctor. He scheduled an ultra-sound, but it was inconclusive: they did not know if the lump was inside the carotid artery or attached to the outside. He scheduled a c-scan and then a biopsy which showed lots of infection and some cancer cells. It was a Divine Appointment that Ray came to help me drive, since I would not have been able to drive and take care of Leslie also. Against his wishes, we headed home on the 28th after the second wedding."

From Warner's World, we'll conclude Grace's journey tomorrow, but we continue our friendship with her, as a lady who represents the highest and the best of the tradition of the Gospel Trumpet Saints that have inhabited Warner Memorial Camp over the past 119 years ...
I am

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We Made our Plans--but--God Directed our Steps

The pictured scene is mostly symbolic of an earlier generation when the Church of God moved to Grand Junction, MI. because D.S. Warner envisioned "taking the gospel" around the globe from the place he called in one of his poems, "the place where the light'ning tracks cross." They gave everything they had to encircle the glob from that insignificant place that now ships blueberries globally.

It was recently the site of our 119th Church of God Camp Meeting, as well as the ongoing place where much Church of God leadership and youth training goes on year-round. The following comes from my mailbag today and came from Grace Selent-Ratzlaff. "Amazing Grace" is one of the finest women I have ever known. I met her when she and (first husband) Ray had just become the "first fulltime Resident Directors" and Warner Memorial Camp became a serious year-round facility.

This may be repetitious to some, but for me it is a warm and wonderful recounting of the goodness of God that I have watched unfold in the lives of people with whom my own interfacing has been, as Grace suggests, a "divine appointment." I have lightly edited Grace's account, and divided it into three sections, lest I overload you all at once. Following is section one, from Grace's own hand:

"Our plan [Grace writing] was to go to Seattle to take the inland passage cruise to Juneau, AK, round trip. We left Lake Wales May 1,2010 in our motor home. We visited family in OK., ID, and OR en route. Leslie had not seen several of them in over three years, including his brother Sidney.

"We stopped at Warner Pacific University, where Leslie served as Dean for about seven years, visited several persons there and toured their complex. We contacted a couple we knew, Dave and Monica Monroe--had a nice time with them--went to dinner --to their home, and back to the University where we parked for the night. During the night, a water leak happened--all over the bathroom floor. Leslie contacted Dave, who knew exactly what to do and where to get the needed parts. He put it all back together while Monica washed and dried the rugs; what a blessing they were. Our contact with them the day before definitely was a Divine Appointment.

"We went on to Elgin, OR., to visit Leslie’s brother Sidney and two sons--Dave and Steve. It so happened that Sidney’s granddaughter was graduating with a Doctor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine from a college about a hundred miles away in Washington on Sunday. They had room for us--a real blessing--since Leslie had not seen Sidney’s son Dan (father of the graduating girl) for many years and did not know his family. Another son, Mark and his wife Margie, were also there for the graduation. Leslie had not seen Mark for a number of years either; so, it was quite a reunion for him--another Divine Appointment.

"We left Elgin and went on to Seattle to take the cruise. Weather was chilly, but we didn’t mind. Leslie rested a lot, but we had a great time on the cruise--saw a number of glaciers. Juneau was warmer than anywhere else we had been. Vancouver was gorgeous.

"We left there and went on to Minneapolis through rain, then snow--lots of it--sometimes a complete white-out, but PTL we had a good trip--lots of beautiful scenery--mountains were beautiful covered with snow. In Minneapolis we visited two of Leslie’s relatives, Walter and Pearl Ratzlaff and Walter and Lois Ortman whom he had not seen in a number of years--nice visit with them--great blessing for Leslie even though he was not feeling the greatest--nauseated much of the time and very tired. I did most all of the driving by this time.

"We left Minneapolis and headed for Michigan, taking the northern route, crossing the famous bridge and on down to Grand Junction, MI. Arrived at Warner Camp (where I have a campsite) May 20th. We helped with Youth Camp - I in the Cafeteria and Leslie on the grounds when he felt like it - which wasn’t very much because some of the time he was in pain and no appetite - when he did eat a little he couldn’t keep it down and he was getting weaker all the time.

"I contacted a doctor I knew and he was able to see Leslie quickly. He diagnosed a pulled muscle in his back, after checking him thoroughly where Leslie described the pain. Doctor gave him pain prescription and something to help rid the nausea and be able to eat. That didn’t help much, but he was determined to go on to Anderson, IN Convention [NAC] in June.

"Leslie could not walk to any of the conferences he wanted to attend; I had to take him to all the meetings. Visited with several friends and relatives before CM started. The day CM ended [NAC] Leslie was in so much pain he wanted to go to ER, but I suggested we return to camp and to his doctor rather than start all over, which we did--just a four-hour drive. The doctor was really puzzled since the pain would come and go and the way Leslie described the pain, he was sure it had to do with a pulled muscle. Sometimes he could not even bend over to put on his shoes.

"At this time, I went to Wal-mart to get his medication and took a bad fall in their parking lot--stepped in large pot-hole and fell, badly injuring my right shoulder and ribs on right side. Ex-rays showed nothing broken, but seriously injured: could hardly use my right arm, which made it difficult since I had to do all the driving ..." (to be continued).

From Warner's World,
purely selfishly, I marvel when I remember the quality and quantity of people
God allowed into the obscure life of a little boy that found the presence of God and chased the dream of that place where the lightning tracks crossed at Grand Junction decades ago ...