Friday, November 25, 2011

Post Giving-Thanks Day Friday

Pictured, Dr. Daisy Century of Philadelphia who presented an outstanding historical monologue of Sojourner Truth's life.

I cling to my right to walk to the Post Office,the same way my wife claims her right to maintain her Driver’s License. I don’t walk like I used to; she does not drive unless she has to. So, when I have a sunny mid-fifties post-Thanksgiving Friday, I take full advantage while the sun shines and the weather holds.

The Post Office, across from Kellogg’s Corporate Headquarters, is a 3 ½ mile walk that I used to do in something under an hour, in the midst of a busy day. It now takes me something over an hour and I take a pain pill before launching.

En route home, I found myself at Monument Park, across from 1st Methodist Church. I observed 3 carloads of African-Americans receiving some kind of lecture from a person obviously addressing the group. Noting the Illinois tag, I surmised they were visitors present for the Sojourner Truth Observance.

Before they left Monument Park, I feel certain they walked over to the 12’ bronze statue of Sojourner Truth nearby. It is a place where I have often stopped to meditate in my own sojourn.I had not known of Sojourner until I moved to Battle Creek in 1973, but it did not take me long to learn that she is the city’s most famous personage, along with Dr. John Kellogg.

Kellogg had the advantage of being white and free, a brilliant medical doctor and a prominent 7th Day Adventist, the man who pioneered breakfast cereals.Sojourner, on the other hand, had the disadvantage of being born black, and a slave, as well as illiterate.

Once she determined that God had not created her for slavery, her slave days were numbered. One day she walked away. She fled to the Quakers, where she learned more about her human birthright. Eventually, she discovered the Methodists, where she learned more about holiness, and she responded to the call of God upon her life--a holiness preacher.

Over the past three decades, I have read Sojourner’s autobiography and numerous other biographies about her. None, more than Nell Painter, catches for me the significance of this humble black female, and former slave. The Princeton historian, describes her as, “Pentecostal that she was, Truth would have explained that the force that brought her from the soul murder of slavery into the authority of public advocacy was the power of the Holy Spirit … Without doubt, it was Truth’s prestigious faith that transformed her from Isabella [Bomfrey], a domestic servant, into Sojourner Truth, a hero for three centuries - at last” (Painter/SOJOURNER TRUTH, A LIFE, A SYMBOL/Norton/2000/4).

Two of the three bronze tablets behind Sojourner in Monument Park remind the public:
“… and Truth shall be my abiding name.”
Another concludes: “Lord, I have done my duty and I have told the truth and kept nothing back.”

Sojourner Truth withheld nothing as she became a simple holiness preacher, woman’s rights advocate, one of the first of a long line of abolitionists, and the first person to bring national prominence to Battle Creek in the late 1800s, following her first visit in 1857.

On this post-Thanksgiving Friday, I view Sojourner Truth as a person who changed her name and spent her life in pursuit of truth. In that pursuit, she maintained her integrity, limited as she was by race and illiteracy. Her life shines like the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor, a beacon of truth pointing out the beauty and blessing of being born American. Her achievements, moreover, reflect the overwhelming redemption found in the Christian Faith.

Tomorrow I hope to be in the audience of those “Celebrating the Legacy of Sojourner Truth” at 2nd Baptist church. Dr. Daisy Century of Philadelphia will present an “Historical Reenactment” from Sojourner’s life, along with other community responses.One person I am certain will be there is Tommie McCleichey, 5th generation descendant of Sojourner, and my friend, with whom I worship on many Sunday mornings at North Avenue Church.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, Bless His Holy Name …
From Warner’s World,

Monday, November 21, 2011


This is Thanksgiving Week - "Blessing" week. Shown in the picture are 2010 Thanksgiving Volunteers at Central Community Church (Riverside, CA, with Pastor Eric Denton).

A few days ago our North Avenue Family gathered for yet another Blessings Banquet. This year proved to be one of our larger dinners. Plentiful food, tastily prepared by the family’s many family cooks, produced a familial atmosphere of genuine caring and happiness. This blessed event left us keenly aware of blessings, abundant both long and short term.

We Warner’s arrived in Battle Creek late in August 1973, to assume leadership of then Capital Avenue Church of God. Coming from California’s Bay Area, our children thought we had landed in the jumping off place. Our move introduced us to a declining ministry at an inner-city church--a new experience.

Over three years, we saw wholesome progress and some of our most difficult times ever. Reduced mortgages, downscaled debt, and stabilized membership, signaled renewal. We purchased 10 acres in the city’s SW quadrant, and eventually sold the facility. Our relationship did not, however, prove long term, and we eventually moved on.

This November 20th, Dr. Bill Jones conducted the final service for that congregation. After about 130 years, it is now closed, sine die. I never thought I would live to see the day they closed, but they were terminally dysfunctional. Even the oldest congregation of the Church of God in Michigan is subject to such measures, and this ministry will now continue, scattered elsewhere.

Of course, I am saddened, but fifteen years into retirement, we are part of North Avenue’s family, a congregation that spun off from Capital Avenue through the "strange politics" that replaced Pastor Emma Burgess with young Henry Hartman of Kalamazoo. The recent Blessings Banquet, thereby, serves as a reminder to me of blessings too numerous to enumerate here.

Greatest of all blessings, is that so beautifully captured by Dottie Rambo, when writing, “He looked beyond my deeds, and saw my need.” That brings all of us to our knees! Good health allowed me to continue to travel several years with Michigan’s Interfaith Council on Alcohol Problems (MICAP) and give more than a dozen years in various capacities with Reformation Publishers, while becoming a care-giver. For these, I am grateful!

I am blessed by the nearly 65 years with the mate for whom I am now primary caregiver. Doctors said she would not finish the year 1948---In September 1947, Air Force Doctors gave her 3-12 months of life---but here we are … such as we are … blessed beyond measure! These have been years greatly blessed by our involvement in the North Avenue family. This marvelously loving church family of more than 400, is wonderfully shepherded by Jim and Susan Sparks, Jim (Lisa) Sirks & Dennis (Jan) Siddal.

I am also appreciative of the good works of the Capital Avenue (1st) Church over the past century. Talking to someone at church this week, I discovered "Hope’s uncle" was V. A. Wilcox who reported to the Gospel Trumpet in 1913 on his leadership at Capital Avenue. As we continue to worship at North Avenue, we want the good things that happened at Capital Avenue to continue, while avoiding the pitfalls that brought dysfunction and demise.

I have discovered in my 80+ years that God has a way of sorting out our lives. We often pay a high price for the bad judgments we make, but God sifts through the good and the bad, as much as we allow Him, and He transforms this accumulation into His creative good. God, as The Creative God, is not yet through creating.

While humanity has now learned to recycle profitably, we can take lessons from History‘s Great Recycler. The greatest lesson of the 7 last words of Christ on the cross is God’s ability to transform humanity’s worst into God’s Best. I tried to capture that thought when writing Conclusions From the Cross in 2002. It is a lesson that releases [un-dams] a fountain of blessing - when we can confess our worst, and trust ourselves to the best of His transforming re-creation.

Pastor Sparks enlarged my understanding of this when concluding his recent sermon series on David. King David was the shepherd boy become King ... a man after God’s own heart. But, how could this adulterous husband and bloody soldier be a man after God’s own heart? By daring to honestly examine himself, confess his sin, and trust in the mercies of God. “The mercies of God are always safer than the securities of humanity.”

We will continue to live in a world polluted by the violence of wars and rumors of war, says the Bible. That is our delemma. Nonetheless, reaffirms the Bible, even as the violence of the human heart escalates, the goodness of Divine Grace proves ever the more powerful (Romans 5:20).

Here and there, human hearts are being transformed and peaceful relationships continue to expand and grow, like the tiny seed of life in the womb of a pregnant mother.And for this, we can continue to be thankful to God -

“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Psalm 103:1, KJV) - This is Warner’s World,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Overexposing Human Nature

“When did it become acceptable” to put “explicitly gruesome footage” on newspaper websites? Asked Indian knight. Not only are we now showing pictures of dead people on the front pages of newspapers--which not long ago was considered disrespectful of the dead and lacking in taste--but we are also linking to videos of people being killed.

Last week I received a video link on my Face book page showing the tragic tale of that little Chinese girl being run over twice and left to die. Why did that story need accompanying video footage and “who presses play?” Correspondents point to the exposure of Muammar al-Qaddafi, begging for his life, while being kicked and beaten, and about to die, and conclude, “There is such a thing as too much information, and last week showed that we’re drowning in it--drowning in our own voyeurism, drowning in ghoulishness, drowning in other people’s blood” (p.14, THE WEEK).

We may be drowning in a tsunami of ghoulishness and gossip. Serious consideration of a Biblical perspective of gossip, slander, and idle curiosity would put half of our publications out of business today. Yet, perhaps there is another consideration here.

I did not know of the little Chinese girl being run over, until I received the FB link from a very highly incensed friend who wanted my opinion. I understood her to be greatly offended by the careless neglect of people seeing such an event take place and literally going about their own business ignoring it and doing nothing. She was deeply angered by the passiveness of people too preoccupied--too wrapped up in themselves--too narcissistic, to get involved.

Mostly to answer her question, I studied the link, unable to believe what I saw. I replayed it 2-3 times, questioning whether or not it was merely “staged” video--for effect. What I saw was an inexcusably inhumane act perpetrated for God only knows what reason, but mostly ignored by people overwhelmed by the utter inhumanity of humanity.

There are too many people who have their opinions about things and do not want to be forced out of the rut they are in--the status quo that says “don’t bother me, I am satisfied with me the way I am, and I don’t want to be bothered by the facts of life.” On the other hand, some of us are so deeply offended today by humanity’s inhumanity to humanity that we are determined to shake people out of their bored existence by giving them with a dose of reality.

That may be a little like the old fashioned treatment of electro-shock therapy for emotionally disturbed people, but there are times when I would like to shock some people I know with “some of the reality they conveniently sweep under their rugs.” I would just like to give them a good “jolt” and get them involved in some humanitarian cause outside of themselves.

So, while we drown in this “overexposure of human nature”; which is the more preferable: delete it from public view and deny the existence of what we can do given the right set of circumstances? Or, expose such behavior as a means of protest; renew personal accountability, and reestablish more sociable mores of honesty, integrity, and public trust. Human nature remains highly susceptible to corruption, but the Grace of God remains ever redemptive for the worst of us ...

Without personal and social honesty, integrity, and public trust, we have drifting sand and no relational social structures ... Warner’s World,

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Battle Hymn of Aging

I picked up one of my favorite books this week and unexpectedly found a long-forgotten piece of verse neatly folded inside the back cover. The book was A theology of Aging by my favorite professor of Biblical Theology while at Southwestern Seminary years ago. I have long-forgotten where it came from and have no idea who wrote it.

Now that I am somewhere beyond the 65 mile-marker, I occasionally feel like the bent tree shown above. The following bit of doggerel catches a spirit I want to maintain, so I share it with you for whatever use you might find for it. I passed it out in our Wednesday night group at church.

The lyrics are written to the tune of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic.” It sings easily,recalling a significant time in the lives of some of us. I like the determined spirit of the lyrics … As we go marching on …

For whatever value it may have to a reader, I offer it here FWIW, as the BATTLE HYMN OF AGING:

We reach the age of 65,
Our golden years are here;
They tell us that the age begins
A happy new career;
For now our Uncle Sam becomes
Our permanent cashier,
As we go marching on!

Our Social Security
From Baltimore is sent;
We buy a little bit of food,
And maybe pay the rent;
And after that we’re stoney broke,
And left without a cent,
But we go bravely on!

And as for checks from medicare,
Will someone tell us how,
They always find some doctor bills,
They sadly disallow;
And dental cost, as we all know,
They wholly disallow,
But we go bravely on!

We don’t know how we make it
As we live from day to day;
With income fixed and prices up,
There’s always more to pay;
So minding our arthritis,
Let’s get on our knees and pray,
That we’ll go bravely on!

And first of all, let’s thank the Lord
That we are still alive;
The dreams we have may still come true
When we are ninety-five;
So please Dear Lord, give us the strength,
Our troubles to survive,
As we go bravely on!

From Warner’s World,
as I take my spouse to our all-church BLESSINGS BANQUET this evening;
know that my interactions with you who pass by this blogsite are one of the great blessings of my life …

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Responding Responsibly

One of the blessings I enjoyed in my recent venture to our Lansing Church Assembly was being thoughtfully prodded by guest speaker, Dr. James Earl Massey to think further. In the 7 p.m. service on 11-4-11, Dr. Massey used four scriptural references, beginning and concluding with 2 Timothy 2:8, and including Ecclesiastes 12, Psalm 139, and Hebrews 13.

He launched by reminding us of the unsteady times we find ourselves in. We need to look no further than the Occupy Movement to realize that people everywhere are “reacting.” Just this morning, the news came of the release of the Venezuelan ballplayer from his kidnappers, the kidnappers being reactors of the criminal variety.

People react in all kinds of ways, but the call to Christians is to respond responsibly. While Massey did not enlarge upon this, thought, it is obvious to me that we have a real responsibility for responsible reaction, especially to react thoughtfully and positively in a time when people find it easy to react emotionally, without thought, and more negatively than positively.

The Christian begins by remembering “Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David” (2 Tim. 2:8, NIV). That was Paul’s gospel, and it should be ours. The Christian faith has many facets of truth involved in it, but it begins with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, who is the Lord of Life for the People of God (those spiritual descendants of Abraham in the Davidic Kingdom).

In times like these, Massey said, we remember our Creator (Ecclesiastes 12; Psalm 139). As the people of God, our prayer becomes “Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Therein lays the secret of joy.

Hebrews 13 is filled with exhortations to love each other as brothers, to entertain strangers, remember those in prison, and honor the marriage relationship, et al. The writer assures the reader of God’s ever-present help and verse seven declares, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

Here, it is hard for me not to begin recalling leaders who helped mentor my life, from the likes of A. F. Gray and Otto Linn, to Harold Boyer, to Samuel Hines; this list would be endless of people who enriched me by their friendship, example, and teaching. Massey used a political illustration that must be “depoliticized” to appreciate.

Somewhere in his life Barak Obama learned to deeply appreciate Abraham Lincoln and from the day of his inauguration he has periodically returned to Lincoln. His inauguration saw him lay his hand on a Lincoln Bible to repeat his oath of office. More recently, Obama followed Lincoln’s pattern of quietly and rationally speaking to the affairs of the day while the masses clamored for him to respond with confrontation and clamoring. Many criticized him for not “fighting back,” but he followed the example of Lincoln facing a divided nation and “sucking it in” so to speak.

Remember your leaders. The problems we face are essentially the same old problems, just a new generation.

Finally, Massey returned to 2 Timothy 2:8 - Remember Jesus Christ … raised from the dead … At this point, Massey spoke directly to us as Ministers of that Gospel: God will vindicate our ministries. What Jesus taught, he lived intentionally. “Pray for us” the writer of Hebrews continues, and “may the God of peace … equip you with everything good for doing his will” (vs. 18-20).

May the message be fruitful, and “may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (v. 21). The 92nd Michigan Assembly was about following Jesus and about being connected to one another.

From Warner’s World, our times are little different than they have been throughout history. Our First Response as People of God yet remains to respond responsibly …

Thursday, November 10, 2011

From Fugitive to National Treasure

American to the Backbone, is the compelling story of The Life of James W.C. Pennington. Pennington is the Fugitive Slave Who Became One of the First Black Abolitionists, a historical biography by Christopher Webber, who is himself an ordained member of the Episcopal clergy (NY: Pegasus,2011).

James Pembroke (aka James W.C. Pennington) decided at about 20 that he could no longer be a slave, but he had no alternative vision as to what or who he could be. He knew what he could NOT BE and fled to safety. Circumstances led him to William Wright, a Quaker, where Pembroke requested work, Wright invited him in with this life-changing sentence: “Well, come in then and we will talk about it.” That, says the author, was the first of five transforming moments for young Pembroke.

That invitation at Wright's door introduced Pembroke to his first plenteous lunch in many days and an exploration of his life as a human being, no longer simply Master and machine. Webber describes a second defining moment when Wright challenged Pembroke by introducing him to stories of Phyllis Wheatley, Francis Williams, and Benjamin Banneker, black people who demonstrated an ability to be as creative as their white counterparts. That opened a new window for the first time to young James.

The third transforming moment came in a Brooklyn schoolroom when Pennington) discovered there were 700,000 children in slavery. This pointed him in a new for his life, like a child that runs off to share a new gift.

A fourth transforming moment came when Samuel Cox introduced James Pennington into the Christian Church. His conversion brought membership in a New Light Presbyterian Church and planted his feet upon a confidant path that believed God’s purpose would prevail as a powerful remedy over the discouragements he would encounter in a culture that was against him because of the color of his skin.

A final and fifth transforming moment resulted through the Negro Convention Movement, in which Pennington became a significant figure. Encountering a strong movement to colonize blacks back in Africa and elsewhere, Pennington knew he was a
3rd generation American slave and “American to the backbone: for better or worse, he was part and parcel of America’s future.

A statement Pennington made to a Scottish audience while traveling abroad, declared:

“The colored population of the United States have no destiny separate
from that of the nation in which they form an integral part. Our destiny
is bound up with that of America.Her ship is ours; her pilot is ours; her
storms are ours; her calms are ours, if she breaks upon any rock, we break
with her. If we, born in America, cannot live upon the same soil upon
terms of equality with the descendants of Scotchmen, Englishmen, Irish-
men,Frenchmen, Germans, Hungarians, Greeks, and Poles, then the fundamental
theory of America fails and falls to the ground”
(Emphasis added).

Nineteen-year-old James Pembroke fled his slave quarters six miles south of Hagerstown, MD in 1827. Although a skilled blacksmith, he remained an illiterate fugitive, yet a curiously determined young man. He quickly became a leading black spokesman against slavery. Ten years after his escape from slavery, Pennington made his way to Yale, became a leader in the Presbyterian Church, a world traveler, and the recipient of a well-deserved honorary doctorate from the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

Pennington wrote the first-ever “History of the Colored People” as well as a careful study of the moral basis for civil disobedience, which would be echoed decades later by Gandhi and M. L. King.

The struggles for human rights versus slavery is one I find especially intriguing, and the thing that challenges me most is that much of the argument between abolitionists and slavers is readily framed in similar arguments yet today between the political powers of the haves and have-nots. I don't find the pre-Civil War era that much different today, with our political struggles between Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, et al.

The Rev. Dr. Pennington became a distinguished pastor, human rights advocate, and academic of international acclaim. I found so much about him that I deeply admire, especially his incisive arguments based on a solid moral defense, anchored in God. Interestingly enough, his profoundly moral insights convinced no more people then, than do such arguments today.

We work up a real sweat over a political debate, but ground it in a moral foundation and commercial pragmatism will win every time. No wonder Jesus said there would always be wars and rumors of wars . . .
From Warner’s World,,
a new book well worth your time.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Us and Them" vs We Are One

The largest surgical procedure in the world is said to be Lansing, Michigan--where I was last Friday--92nd General Assembly of the Church of God in Michigan. Lansing means different things to different people:MSU - Spartan Country - home of Ransom Olds who founded Olds Motor Vehicle Company in 1897.

Some credit Henry Ford for the first assembly line, but that honor belongs to Ransom Olds and his 1901 Olds Curved Dash. Purchased by GM in 1908, Oldsmobile’s brand moved to Detroit, relocated back to Lansing, and played a large role in the life of Metro-Lansing and mid-Michigan--until its demise.

For me, Lansing is where the Church of God in Michigan first organized as a State Organization in 1920. The Church of God in Michigan became the first state assembly in the Church of God. It has remained a leader until today and I attended to represent Dale Stultz and the Church of God Historical Society, to introduce the third volume of the Stultz-Welch trilogy, The Gospel Trumpet Years.

I also went was to see and hear my friend, Dr. James Earl Massey, the Assembly’s Guset Speaker. James is one of America’s premier preachers and as fine an example of personal excellence, academic quality, and pulpit ability as produced in the Church of God. Dr. Massey and I grew up on opposite sides of Michigan. about the same time, unknown to each other. I came from Republican white West Michigan and ”Jim” from strongly black Detroit. As peers, we intersected, bonded, and strongly appreciate each other today.

The theme of Assembly-92 centered in “connections. Dr. Massey and I illustrate that in a social manner. He grew up mentored by Dr. Raymond S. Jackson, a brilliant young man, with a very bright future as a piano prodigy. Music was his forte, but ministry became his calling. I came from a very mediocre white home with a modest future. Our mutual faith led us to fall in love with the Church of God Reformation Movement. At Lansing, we were two native sons nearing the end of our careers, both in our eighties, both deeply immersed in the experience, the importance of, and the joy of connections and “connnectedness.”

The Church of God has always been about connectedness, black and white, majority with minorities, male preachers and women preachers, connected at all levels from local to national to global. We found ourselves a united church in a divided world, where we extended the hand of fellowship to “every blood-washed one.” Unity was our forte, altho we preached it better than we practiced it. And although we had a problem with organizing--being somewhat anti-organization--we were a “family” of faith.

From our beginnings, we rallied together. We now understand that more of our early history came out of Michigan than was sometimes understood, but our first national Camp Meeting and Assembly came to Bangor, Michigan, 1883. In one of those earliest assemblies, a “brother” walked from Ohio to Bangor, some 170+ miles, to attend. Such has always been our love for one another.

As a young pastor living on a shoestring in West Texas, it was nothing for me to drive more than 140 miles to attend camp meeting, or to drive 90 miles to attend and support a revival at my neighbor-pastor’s church in Big Spring. A half-century later, I still recall the warmth and love shared with John & Julia Kolar in Big Spring, formerly of Alpena, MI.

I always called John a “Bohunk!” He thumbed his way out of Bohemia with a knapsack and comforter provided by his uncle, and emigrated to America with $9 in his pocket. Over the 45 years of my pastoral ministry, John represents a “cloud of witnesses” as spoken of in Hebrews 12.

We had to organize as we grew in number, but we have always attempted to remain biblical in our organizational principles, and I believe we have. And, we have always stood on equal ground, as at the foot of the cross. We were interrelated parts of a functioning Body of Christ, under His leadership and mind. We remain are as democratic as our American roots, but we are learning to cooperate together more effectively and efficiently, while seeking His Leadership at all times.

This has proven hard to do in a culture that has become intensely individualistic over the past half-century, selfish, narcissistic, and individualistic, almost to a degree of being politically atheistic. But, as the physical body is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” so is the church of which we are a part.

While technology makes it easy for us to become loners, Lone Rangers, individualists and even anarchists, the Bible points us to the way of bodily “connectedness”. That sense of “body” means we are interrelated and interdependent. I am partly who and what I am today because of … and here, let me throw out a few names and brag like Paul: A. F. Gray, Otto Linn, Mack and Irene Caldwell, D. S. Warner Monroe (a Canadian), or Harold Boyer, chairman of our national General Assembly for 17 years, who read my wedding vows, or Bill Hutton who “brothered” me in some tough times, and the list is endless.

Dr. Ron Duncan of Church of God Ministries has been trying to help us with this problem of authority, hierarchy, and relatedness et al. Some love Ron; some fear Ron as trying to usurp power. Having worked in several state organizations, as well as states with no paid organization, I will affirm unequivocally, that we are closer to the ideals of our Heritage (both theologically and organizationally) than we have ever been.

Michigan’s 92nd Assembly rejected the recent term of State Overseer recently adopted by our Association of State Leaders (by whatever name you know them). Dr. Bill Jones is our Michigan elected leader, now re-named STATE PASTOR. In that position, he works for us and is charged with leading (directing, managing, being CEO) of our state work, under the Board of Directors.

Bill Jones is my elected State Pastor, but first he is my personal friend, and brother. This applies to Dr. Ron Duncan and every Agency Leader in Anderson. I entered Lansing Lexington on Friday intent on unloading my 10-12 heavy cases of books, but I got unexpected help--not from the Lexington Hotel, but from the Board of Pensions of the Church of God. There was my friend Jeff Jenness, Director of the Pensions Board, and his new Associate (Jim, if I remember, a former Indy Banker, now a Ministerial Candidate). These guys were younger and stronger than me and made play out of handling my 900 pounds of books.

I hope you get my message, because it is essential to our mission in the Church of God: we can do so much more (and better) together than we can by ourselves as individuals. We are a voluntary Association, deeply interdependent. One thing we must never become is an occasional gathering of Lone Rangers. We belong to each other as surely as my arm is part of my body.

From Warner’s World,

it’s time to forsake that “us and them” mindset and return to being the Body of Believers God called us to be, and the World needs us to be …

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Psalm 91:4

I’ve been retired from the pastorate 15 years, during which I have missed several of our State Assembly meetings. For me,it was a most joyful reunion to be present for part of this year's 92nd General Assembly at the Lansing Lexington. Most of my failures to attend have been due to conflict of schedlule, and being in Kentucky at Reformation Publishers. In a few instances, I simply did not have the price of registration and lodging.

It was incumbent that I be present this year, because I had ten cases of The Gospel Trumpet Years, the new historical pictures-and-text update by Stultz and Welch that so many people were waiting to see. Stultz and Welch, were dependent upon me to represent the Historical Society. People like my new friend Paul Hein of Lansing Pennway--a history buff--were waiting for me to bring their copies of the book. Moreover, it was a day of seeing old friends-and-peers, but also of confirming new friends. Paul and I have been emailing for some time now, sharing our historical interests, but we had not yet met in person--until now.

Instead of staying overnight for the full Assembly, I made one long day of Friday, leaving town at 7:20 a.m. and arriving home to my waiting spouse about 11:15 p.m.. I hope I can follow up with a few appropriate comments regarding the workings of our Michigan Assembly that peers will find relevant, as well as anyone reading me. For today, however, I want to hi-light something that happened en route home last night. If offers a thoughtful perspective,following up on what Dr. Massey said last night.

I had a joyful day ... a beautiful Fall Day, so typical of Michigan football. It offered me a day filled with connecting and re-connecting with this Assembly in which I have been an active participant since 1973--friends old and new. “Connections” was part of the Assembly theme, about which we have in recent times been quite dubious, questioning the value of connections.

For me, it provided a full day of absolute affirmation of the connectedness I have enjoyed since I first became a pastor of what was then a new mission church in Harrison, AR.,--June 1951--a story all its own.

Last night I made my first night drive in a while’. There was a time when I almost preferred night driving, thriving on the quietness of the night, the peacefulness of the traffic, and the general solitude. At my current age, however, I was a bit apprehensive, until I had a chance to cat-nap at the evening dinner hour. So, after I reloaded my cases of books--assisted by Pastor Kerry Hurd--I took off on westbound 496 and was quickly out of Lansing, en route to BC.

It was a pleasant drive, late enough not to be hamopered by “deer” traffic. Approaching Battle Creek, I thought I should try the new I94 exit at the 104 mile marker. It is simple enough, and we had tried it one, except the other time, I jogged left at 11-mile and crossed over to Michigan Avenue, at the familiar intersection.

Last night, I thought I was up to it, so instead of turning left--over to Michigan Avenue--I crossed 11-Mile, certain that I new where I was going. I did as intended, and followed this new exit straight across and intersected Michigan Avenue just west of the main intersection. When I came to Michigan Avenue, I stopped and looked all directions. Any other time, I would have turned right, and drove into town. In the darkness, however, with my tiredness (more deceptive than I realized), the intersection simply did not look right to me.

After a momentary hesitation, I slowly turned left and followed Michigan Avenue for 4-5 miles until - I suddenly realized I was approaching Marshall rather than Battle Creek. Anyone who knows this area is going to enjoy a good laugh at my expense. However, I was just tired enough, and the darkness was just deceptive enough to my aging eyes, that my perception of things was not as clear as it should have been. The consequence was that I had to do a “Georgia Loop” (U turn) and head back into town, somewhat chagrined at my own stupidity.

My reason for telling you is to follow up on Dr. Massey’s sermon last night, regarding the deceptiveness of the times in which we live. The stress, the lack of jobs, the inequity between the haves and have-nots, people losing their homes and/or jobs, and the list goes on--all of which cloud our minds like the tiredness of the evening and the darkness of the night. As hard as we study our situation, it does not look the same in the darkness and weariness as it does in pure daylight. We make wrong turns, wrong decisions. We end up in unintended places.

This morning, after a good sleep, I could hardly believe I was so “foolish” last night as to make a mistake that looked almost too funny to be stupid. Yet, my head reminds me how easily I sometimes get confused in the darkness of the night, when everything looks so different, and the perspective just isn't right.

Are you at a dark intersection and cannot see it clearly? Are you at an intersection you should recognize, but which simply does not “look right”? Look at the picture that follows; see the mother bird with her little ones tucked one under each wing. Remember the words of the Psalmist: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust…” (Psalm 91:4, KJV).

The times may be difficult and strange. Things don’t look right enough for you to make a clear choice. Yet, your Heavenly Father knows WHO you are and WHERE you are. HE knows your need! He will not forsake you!

From Warner’s World,
I have to remind myself, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have ever been where you currently are, HE KNOWS …