Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Acceptable English

Clayton Potter served a church in the North Texas neighborhood where I lived. He described his boyhood years, between thirteen and nineteen, when he engineered for threshing crews in the grain fields of Denton County. When a team of mules balked on the bundle-wagon, or the grain separator broke down, or the pulley-belt came off, or the engine died, or the chuck-wagon arrived late when changing locations, Clayton encountered “first-hand exposure to fervent and sincere profanity and obscenity” erupting from “the lips of real artists!” Adolescent that he was, he tried to emulate them!

We are sometimes told, sdays Clayton, "that we should be ‘relevant and realistic’ in the Church. Yet, after opreaching many years, he realized, “Not a year in thirty years of pastoral ministry but what I’ve had to deal directly with people trapped by alcoholism, homosexuality, drug addiction, immorality, adultery, and what-not. Sometimes my heart has been near-to-breaking as I shared their anguish and tried to bring the redemptive ministry of our faith to meet their need.”

“I don’t believe I’ve been over-sheltered from the facts of life at the more primitive levels!” he adds. Yet, these people, suggests Clayton, “did not have to use coarse, profane or obscene language to tell me their difficulties or to convey their feelings. I could understand what they were trying to tell me and what they were feeling when they used plain and ‘acceptable’ English. They could not have added clarity with crudity” (emphasis mine).

Were I to resort to anything so juvenile, continues Clayton, “there is no doubt in my mind I could produce considerable shock if next Sunday I described the crucifixion of Jesus by saying in the pulpit, ‘Those blankety-blank, double-crossing so-and-sos framed Jesus with a bum rap and may their (censored souls burn in hell…”

In doing so, he would be reporting some of the Christian message and he would also be conveying feeling. But, how much would he have enhanced or clarified the Christian message, which has survived more than two millenia couched in the language of modesty. “It might be considerably debased,” he concluded.

The question is, do we really believe that we should equate crudity with Christianity, or that gentility is unable to convey Christ’s message adequately. As a matter of fact, how much does our conversational crudity, vain vulgarity, and obscene profanity enhance our ability to problem-solve or create friendships, or build bridges over impossible controversies?

I am weary with the coarse, crude, profanity, and the often obscene language that fills our airwaves,movie houses,and now fills Living Room TV screens. It only becomes the more wearisome when protruding into Christian circles. And if you dare protest, you are told, “But, it has a message!”

It may have a message, but it may not be the message intended. It may reflect more intellectual laziness and emotional immaturity, than verbal ability with words and communication skills. Few things are worse than an empty mind occupied with fevered feelings, leftover garbage, and decay. What was it Goethe said? “By nothing do men show their character more than by the things they laugh at.”

It is true that we live in an age of information, but what does our information communicate? From Warner’s World, at walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Saturday, October 15, 2011

THE GOSPEL TRUMPET YEARS complete Historical Trilogy

The Gospel Trumpet Years completes the Stultz/Welch trilogy of Church of God historY books. Nine years of work, by two very different men, bonded by a common love of Church of God history, gives us this added research. Until now, we utilized secondary research, using A. L. Byers as the major interpreter, with much second-hand information. Dale Stultz brings us some new and original research that makes these volumes our most authentic todate.

Douglas Welch is a Canadian-born, missionary to Kenya, former teacher at School of Theology, and former Archivist, where this book was conceived, now retired. Stultz is a retired crafts teacher in the Anderson Schools, with excellent skills in photography and digital processing, who dedicated his retirement years to doing original research of people, places, documents, and collecting all kinds of memorabilia.

Bound in common purpose allowed them to combine their editorial skills and creative investigative skills resulting in these 256 pages of text, and pictures numbering in the hundreds, many of which have not been viewed by the public.

The Church of God (Anderson) is an interesting family. “Anderson” is the largest of a disingenuous number of church bodies claiming Daniel Sidney Warner as the Moses of their Theological Exodus. “Anderson” remains the primary body, along with others that have different doctrinal lenses that cause them to perceive “Anderson” as somewhere between liberal and apostate.

The Anderson Body divides itself when interpreting the church and church history. Some view the church through “prophetic” lenses that cause them to view Warner’s Followers as the “final reformation.“ Most of us today view the church through a more commonly accepted historical view. Without drawing conclusions here, this issue seriously affects how followers view Warner’s Anderson Church of God, and how liberal-or-conservative you consider it.

Reading this should help you know better why you stand where you stand. The authors describe the book’s birth (pp 1-7), suitably introduce it (pp 8-13), and give you a good historical overview (pp 14-20).

Part I traces the development of the Gospel Trumpet magazine by examining the editorial lineage, editor by editor, through 1961 when the magazine changed its name to “Vital Christianity”. Of interest here is that we do not traditionally list Joseph Fisher in the editorial sequence. You will also learn more about the Williamston years (1884-1886). You may even wonder why we became Warnerites rather than Fisherites … :-)
Part I: The Gospel Trumpet and Its EditorsThe Gospel Trumpet (1881-1961) 15
Daniel Sidney Warner (1842-1895) 22
Joseph C. Fisher 32
Enoch Edwin Byrum (1861-1942) 36
Frederick George Smith (1880-1947) 91
Charles Ewing Brown (1883-1971) 103
Harold L. Phillips (1913-2006) 111

Part II describes the evolution of the magazine and how the magazine and the supporting church-body developed and intertwined together. This informative section on our church development could shed new light on some of your old questions.
Part II: The Gospel Trumpet and the Church
The Role of The Gospel Trumpet 118
Songs of the Evening Light Saints 122
Camp Meetings 130
Into All the World 137
Mission Homes 152
Theological Education 160
Christian Brotherhood Hour 167
Afterword 173

You will find the 17 appendices in Part III informative reading, and perhaps explanatory of numerous threads of thought regarding who-and-what we are as a Movement. I particularly liked learning more about D. O. Teaseley, whose songs I have sung all my life, but knew so little about. I found this section an invaluable resource.
Appendices 183
Appendix I: The Holiness Movement 183
Appendix II: Restorationism 189
Appendix III: The Ohio Odyssey: 1882-1884 192
Appendix IV: Daniel Sidney Warner, the Son 203
Appendix V: The Gospel Trumpet Company (G. Newberry) 205
Appendix VI: Christian Unity (R.R. Byrum) 210
Appendix VII: Problems of Christian Unity (E.A. Reardon) 212
Appendix VIII: Present Awful Truth (D.S.Warner) 215
Appendix IX: The Anti-Cleansing Heresy (C.W.Watson) 217
Appendix X: The Anti-Necktie Controversy (C.W.Watson) 223
Appendix XI: D. Otis Teasley (David L. Neidert) 232
Appendix XII: The Greater Evangelism (A.L. Byers) 235
Appendix XIII: Divine Healing (G.L. ; C.W. Naylor) 240
Appendix XIV: Russell R. Byrum (Merle D. Strege) 243
Appendix XV: Whatever Became Of...? 245
Appendix XVI: Making of Music 250
Appendix XVII: The Loss of D.S.Warner (F.D. Rayle) 251

As a personal aside
I made some trips with-and-for Dale, to Court Houses, to cemeteries, and around. I observed some of his collectables and spent hours at his home viewing literally thousands of photos he has collected, cleaned, and performed miracles with. I have read documents I never expected to see in my lifetime, let alone read them. I have participated in group sessions, like that day in Grand Junction when a group of us talked and prayed with, and sang to, Jerald Frederik (F.G.’s 101 year-old son that distanced himself from the church but found new life via Dale).

These were times I will take to my grave, but they affirm for me what you can expect to find in the pages of this book. These authors do not walk on water, but they do get their hands dirty, and they have done a lot of thinking about what you will read in these pages. I salute them for their academic integrity and as my friends. Being a friend has been an education all of its own, and I commend this volume to you, having higher hopes than ever for this Church Family known as the Church of God, the Church of the Christian Brotherhood Hour, the Church of God, Anderson, or whatever other handle you use.

From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blessings and Cursings

I “heard” a really tough sermon in church this morning. WOW!. It was a lesson I had not recognized in that text and it challenged me down right down to my core values. Using Pastor Jim’s talking points, here are some ways I would say it.

Whatever Jim called his sermon, he talked about contrasting “Blessings and Curses.” That is about as basic as you can get with life; you can bless people and the events of your life, or you can curse them. Either way, life goes on, but the reaction is mostly up to you: life becomes a blessing or a cursing.

Jim has been preaching out of the life of David. Today’s lesson came from 2nd Samuel 16:1-14. Vs 1-4 finds David in tough times, past sins catching up with him, his family in a mess, his son Absalom competing for dad’s kingdom … a real mess.

In v1 David meets Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, who is loaded with goodies for buying favors. Mephibosheth was the crippled son of Saul that David befriended years before. Mephibosheth has sat at David’s Dining table for years, under David’s protection because he respected Saul, as a man God honored, although he replaced Saul as king.

When David inquires of Ziba about his goodies, Ziba lies to the king, thinking to flatter him and curry favor, and maybe regain some of David’s floundering kingdom that had once belonged to Saul.

David accepts Ziba’s answer and extends to him a blessing … “all that belongs to Mephibosheth is yours…” (v4). With that, David proceeds on his journey and meet Shimei, son of Gera. Shimei “came out cursing … threw stones…” and as he cursed him, he declared to David and his party, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed and worthless fellow!” (vs. 5-7).

One of David’s defenders, Abishai, offered to cut off the head of this rabble-rousing critic, whereon David responded with a soft answer, a generous blessing, and words that perhaps acknowledged his own shortfalls: “What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the Lord has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’”

David responded … “…Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him. Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day… “So David and his men … arrived weary and he refreshed himself there” (vss 5-14).

While Shimei cursed and insulted him, David moved on; he trusted God and returned good to Shimei for his evil curses. When David was restored to his throne, and Absalom was dead, Shimei apologized to David for his bad behavior. David, rather than getting even, proved to be a giver instead of a taker. Again, he extended generosity and reconciliation, filled with gratitude to God.

The descendants of Shimei live among us today--in the family, in the office, and elsewhere. They are our critics and competitors, throwing dust, cursing and insulting us.

I liked Jim’s illustration of the 2nd grader. Mom and her 2nd grader are preparing valentines to send to his class mates. All goes well, and he signs each one she hands him, “Love, Jimmie.” … until Mom hands him a card with the name of “that girl” who is mean to him at school. He strikes out “Love Jimmie” in favor of something more fitting.

Wishing to share a “learning moment” with her son, Mom urges Jimmie to be kind to the girl; extend a blessing rather than returning the hurt feelings she causes him. She asks her son to protect the girl from the pain he feels and give her his blessing.

The lessons are obvious. Iranians imprison Americans. Muslims behead Christians. Wealthy Wall Street investors defraud a public that pays via default and is then insulted with higher tax rates because they lack the deep pockets for legal defense. Closer home, thorny issues become even more personal and hurtful.

From our international clashes, to our Wall Street occupation, to our local guerilla sniping in the office, or home, or across the backyard fence, the applications abound. Whether we strive with a sibling, or face our worst enemy, somehow the words of Jesus take new meaning as we hear him say. “if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same … But love your enemies, and go good, and lend, expecting nothing in return … and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men" (Luke 6:33, 37, NASV).

You will bless people, or curse them, and we all do one or the other. What goes around, comes around, and it seems to me that life lives a whole lot happier when we bless people and circumstances rather than cursing them. Thanks Jim, for that word, I will intentionally focus more on what our mutual friend Berquist described as "The Miracle and Power of Blessing."

From Warner’s World, I am

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Recently I read a book describing America’s greed in detail. The author told me how some of our nation’s top financial executives played the game of business versus governmental regulations and parleyed their money and their investor's funds into obscene profits for the top management (only).

I learned how investment bankers tweaked the rules of their game and made huge profits that eventually cost their banks and the public a lot of bailout-money. Even now, hundreds of people are protesting on Wall Street and others are already in jail for their protest efforts.

Such events disturb me, as my blogs reveal. Thus, when I ran across this favorite old poem, it seemed like a timely reminder--probably more to me than anyone else--but I want to share it. Some of you will remember an incident in the Bible where the man asks the Prophet this question, “Is there any word from the Lord?”

Is there any word from God today? I have to tell you there is! This particular word I first found in a collection of poems gathered by the girl I married. I loved the beauty of its message then and I find its metaphor even more meaningful today. Alice P. Moss reminds everyone of us, GOD’S BANK AIN’T BUSTED YET!

The bank had closed; my earthly store had vanished from my hand;
I felt that there was no sadder one than I in all the land.
My washerwoman, too, had lost her little mite with mine,
And she was signing as she hung the clothes upon the line.
‘ How can you be so gay?’ I asked; ‘’Your loss, don’t you regret?’
‘ Yes, Ma’am, but what’s the use to fret? God’s bank ain’t busted yet!’

I felt my burden lighter grow; her faith I seemed to share;
In prayer I went to God’s great throne and laid my troubles there.
The sun burst from behind the clouds, in golden splendour set;
I thank God for her simple words: ‘God’s bank ain’t busted yet.’
And now I draw rich dividends, more than my hands can hold,
Of faith and love and hope and trust and peace of mind untold.
I thank the Giver of it all, but still I can’t forget
My washerwoman’s simple words, ‘God’s bank ain’t busted yet.’

Oh, weary ones upon life’s road, when everything seems drear,
And losses loom on every hand, and skies seem not to clear;
Throw back your shoulders, lift your head, and cease to chafe and fret,
Your dividend will be declared: ‘God’s bank ain’t busted yet.’
Alice P. Moss

Today is the first Sunday of a new month. Social Security checks will be in tomorrow. From Warner‘s World,
I remind “us that God presides over a bank that never has to wait until the first of the month,
never runs short on dividends,
never needs bailing,
and always has a full account whatever the time of the month.
Best of all, God’s Bank is NOT LIKELY TO FAIL anytime in your future ... walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com