Monday, December 3, 2012

Alzheimers and Other Impossibilities

I met Ron some twenty years ago when he and I attended the same Bible Study group. In this circumstance, we studied the book of Proverbs and Ron and I came to a firm appreciation of one another and the inspiration we caught from each other via the wisdom of Proverbs. Since that time I have become a caregiver of almost seven years and I am now learning of Ron’s similar journey.

Only recently I discovered the difficultness of Ron’s walk with his wife (the girl). I had noticed a change in him but did not know what it was until I received the following communiqué. With Ron’s permission, I am quoting him and readers will understand my reactions rather quickly and why I thought it one of the more beautiful and tender things I have read.

Ron writes:
“…This may sound off the wall, but in a strange way, I feel this whole episode has been a training ground, and God is leading the class. I say this because, it seems the more "Patient, understanding, caring, forgiving, and merciful", I have been towards the girl, the more I have greater compassion, not just for the girl, but for most of the people I know.
“Over the recent years I have found myself shedding many many tears, regarding the girl. It was like several years ago, I realized she was going into her world, there were pieces of her personality, that began to disappear. I found getting angry, did nothing, but destroy my worth first, trash my serenity, and it seemed like I was facing one failed solution
after another.

“Finally I accepted this was what was going on, and when people around asked, I plainly told them of her condition. That acceptance, allowed me to begin to think in a different way. The idea I was going to fix anything, with respect to her, soon was ground into dust, that any breeze soon removed.

“It was then, that several things began to happen, she became more relaxed, more loving towards me, and most of all, more and more dependant. The trick has been learning to adjust to each new change in her, often its memory related, but sometimes it's her just not being able to do things like cooking, laundry, shopping.

“Once I understood her inabilty to function, it then became a matter of just taking on a series of other chores. Thank God we are retired, well at least she is for now.

“One of my great blessings has been, my daily reading of the Word. And of all the chapters God had planned from the beginning of time, for me to be reading, was none other than the book of Job. On more than one occasion, I found myself at a loss for words, patience understanding. Yet I have come to know, His Will, is found in my kindness, love understanding, and perseverance, even when it seems unfair.

“A verse I had to look up, because I forgot the location, but had remem-bered the essence is this "NAU 2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

“The last nine words are the story for me,
“For when I am weak, then I am strong‘. I have no doubt of my weakness, frailty, and more blemishes than I need, yet the Lord finds Grace enough for me. I know joy each day, I fear no tomorrow will pour out bitterness on my life that I will not be able to cope with. And so far while this whole situation has brought many tears, and much anguish, I have held my faith in God. I do often ask that he strengthen me, so as I don't deface Him or the Word, with any of my actions.”

Alzheimers is just one of those more difficult bumps in the road of our human journey. It raises more questions and issues than many can deal with, and many which some of us have had to cope with at some level. My wife helped her sister care for our brother-in-law Bill for twelve of his fourteen years on that journey. We have agonized with John and Jeannette who are still navigating their way, each from their own world of reality and unreality.

There are many things in this life that are not fair … answerable … or even satisfactory. They leave many questions and fewer conclusions. Ron expressed himself in words many of us struggle with but he also draws some conclusions that deserve our most thoughtful attention.

Out of her blindness, Fanny Crosby wrote:
“I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice / And it told thy love to me;But I long to rise in the arms of faith / And be closer drawn to thee. . .”

Four decades of adult life struggling on his bed of affliction that destroyed his career as a traveling evangelist, Charles Naylor discovered,
“Whether I live or die / Whgether I wake or sleep / Whether upon the land Or on the stormy deep / Whether ‘tis serene and calm Or when the wind winds blow / I shall not be afraid-- I am the Lord’s I know …”

We recently shared in the passing of longtime friend Tonda Forsman, as she completed her difficult journey with a sense of triumph. New to me, this old hymn spoke volumes about God’s Word being a “lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105):
“Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart / Nought be all else to me, save that Thou aret / Thou my bst thought, by day or by night / Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light …”

This I know: God is the Gentle Shepherd upon whom we can depend. We do not walk such pathways alone. No matter how dark the night, how impossible the situation; there is strength, and joy, and love. We package it together as faith, and work it one day at a time, but there is the ultimate victory of humanity before us.

This is Warner’s World; I am walkingwithwarner,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Recognizing Our Common Humanity

Gerald Wallace once addressed the convention of the American Association of School Administrators. In that address, he made some comparisons between the Russian Lenin and the American Lincoln.

Lenin allegedly said, “You must not raise the level of the poor because they will rise up and bite the hand that feeds them.” Lincoln concluded, “God must have loved the common man, he made so many of them.”

Lenin pitted class against class, but Lincoln suggested, “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. On the other hand, Lenin urged exterminating all who oppose you, while Lincoln insisted “With malice toward none; with charity for all …”

Lenin wrote, “We will consider nothing right unless it advances our revolution, while Lincoln suggested we “Work toward the right as God gives us the power to see the right.”

When asked what he wanted men to say of him when he was gone, Lincoln reportedly thought a while then replied, “I hope they will say of me that, as I pass my neighbor’s garden, if I saw a thistle in it I plucked it and put a rose in its place.”

Leninism was the Russian application of Marxist economics and political philosophy, that pitted one class against another in an evolving economic warfare led by the Bolshevik party, the vanguard politic that led the fight for the political independence of the Russian working class and ended up with a small dictatorship that controlled every aspect of society and disallowed private ownership.

President Lincoln was elected as our 16th President and the first Republican President, Republicans being the social progressives of that era. They favored common infrastructure at a time when the states were essentially thirteen independent colonies only, brought together by their common resistance to King George and English rule. Lincoln, however, was a bible reader, who took his Bible reading even more seriously than his political partisanship.

So many of our differences throughout history have to do with the teaching of Jesus, who taught us to 1) love God supremely; and, 2) love our neighbor as ourselves. Lenin and Marx utilized a common concern for the masses of humanity by perverting it in the form of Russian Communism that remained atheistic, anti-social, and supremely self-serving for the few in control.

On the other hand, Lincoln’s words reiterate this core teaching of Jesus. His words reveal a behavior that brought together an administration based on ability rather than party. His words reflect a common concern for all humanity as expressed in the Emancipation Act, altho Lincoln was no Abolitionist.

 It is imperative that we love God supremely. Without acknowledging Our Creator, we have no basis for recognizing our commonality as diverse human beings with common blood, common needs, and common aspirations. Only when we understand and accept our commonality, can we love one another as we love ourselves.

Otherwise, we get locked in on serving ourselves … as did Communism … as does much of today’s economic and political partisanship … as does Capitalistic libertarianism … as does fascism. Otherwise, we attempt to “Lord it over others;” we attempt to conquer others; we constantly compete with each other to be the President of the country, the biggest corporation, the best church, the best of all cultures, the right color. The list is endless as we compete to be king of the hill on our global school ground..

I believe Lincoln understood Jesus on the cross, when he said in his oft-quoted address, “With malice toward none; with charity for all …” That has the purity in it of the love that God offered when he so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son … that whosoever believed in Him should have life everlasting (John 3:16).

Lifting up the fallen-down, the impoverished, the vulnerable, the unprotected, the throwaways, is one way we can show that we love God supremely. When we do love God supremely, we will become one with lifting up our common humanity.

From Warner’s World, I am

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Corner Turned

Michael Grunwald is a senior national correspondent at Time Magazine, who has written several successful politically-oriented non-fiction books, in addition to winning the George Polk award for national reporting.

Grunwald's works suggest professional competence in the arena of Beltway meetings and all the politically-oriented news situations in which such journalists find themselves. They commend his writing and journalistic skills for recounting various secret strategy sessions, utilizing numerous new documents, and dependably handling hundreds of interviewees, all of which make his works reliable for reference.

Working with more than 400 sources from both sides of the political aisle, Michael Grunewald “reveals the vivid story behind President Osama’s $800 billion stimulus bill,” which he calls “one of the most important and least understood pieces of legislation in the history of the country.”

Bemoaning the fact it is later than it has ever been before, as if the clock were striking thirteen; the political right capably utilized fear and guerilla warfare tactics opposing President Obama’s efforts to restore our economy. On the other hand, Grunwald calls the President’s successful Recovery Act “a down payment on the nation’s economic and environmental future, the purest distillation of change in the Obama era.”

Admitting that Obama has utterly failed to adequately explain his program to the public, Grunwald offers evidence of a transition toward a clean-energy economy, a doubled renewable energy power, and an unprecedented financial investment in energy efficiency that includes a smarter grid, electric cars, advanced biofuels, and green manufacturing. BUT IT ALL TAKES TIME...

Simultaneously, it "is" already computerizing America’s pen-and-paper medical system; iniating the boldest educational reform in history and the most extensive infrastructure investment since Eisenhower’s new interstate system. It includes the largest expansion of antipoverty programs, which is lifting people above the poverty line, reducing homelessness, and modernizing unemployment insurance.

“It works,” says Ron Book, a Florida Republican lobbyist who chairs the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. “It keeps people off the streets and saves an astronomical amount of money. I’m not a fan of the stimulus, but this is a huge bright spot” (424).

Grunwald recalls Joe Biden having fun at the author’s expense, needling him for his positive reporting when generally more “Debbie Downer than Little Mary Sunshine…” Grunwald admits, “It was kind of funny because it was kind of true. At times, I did feel like I was writing about an alternative universe stimulus. But the facts were the facts. The Recovery Act was on schedule, and was so far under budget that the administration had financed an extra three thousand construction projects with the savings.

“As Biden liked to say, fraud was the dog that hadn’t barked. Experts had predicted tens of billions of dollars in losses, but there had only been 298 convictions, for scams totaling just $7.2 million; the Recovery Act’s unprecedented transparency and scrutiny made it an uninviting target for crooks. And its oversubscribed competitive grant programs--for everything from brownfields redevelopment to emissions-reducing transit projects--really did seem to promote a culture of responsibility, forcing bureaucrats to use judgment instead of just checking boxes. Even when their judg-ments were wrong, as with Solyndra or the busted battery manufacturer Ener1, there was no indication of corruption or cronyism …” (emphasis added).

I found the author competent in reducing such hard-to-read [for me at least] materials into an easy-to-read book. I found the author very convincing of the President’s honesty in creating substantial change rather than simply fomenting political rhetoric. Most politicans are comfortable with the rhetoric but few want real change from the status quo.

I came away with a very bad taste in my mouth, for the partisanship of Beltway Politics, for the politics as usual, with its cronyism and power-grabbing by well-paid people more interested in personal patronage rather serving the common good of the country and creating good legislation. The potty-mouthed politicians who cannot politic without lobbing their f-bombs at their opposition sickened me with their offensive inability to use the English language without slanting it. I saw the Washington World as one inhabited by intelligent but myopic, arrogant, crass, greedy individuals more self-serving than public serving.

And while I tend to view our President as an idealist and public servant--right or wrong--I see people like him thwarted, diverted, resisted and ridiculed. And I see a public that prides itself on its wilfull ignorance and woeful passive resistance through non-involvement - totally unaware of the positive changes already mobilized by a Recovery Act in the first two months of office that will benefit EVERYBODY but the status quo sect..

From Warner’s World,, I admit I was surprised to learn--being totally unaware--just how many ways my wife and I had already benefited by changes effected by the Obama Recovery Plan.
I like it for the change initiated, for the integrity built into it, and for its futurity. Change is seldom popular and it is never overnight.
I am positively sure that had the President not turned us back from the brink as much as allowed to do, the evidence all points to a Depression deeper than any of us has ever lived in (I was a Depression era Baby-1927).
I simply find it incomprehensible how far down the tube I believe we would be today were we following the dictates of John McCain and company rather than Barack Obama

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I recently spent an evening reviewing The Teavangelicals by David Brady (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2012). I wanted a better understanding of this political phenomenon. Is it a healthy correction to unbalanced thinking, as some suggest, or is it an abberation to be avoided?

I quickly discovered the author, David Brady, is a converted Jew in the thralls of his new discoveries of a newly found faith as an evangelical Christian. Assuming that “Tea” Party was a reference to the Boston Tea Party, I quickly discovered it means

Already ___
an acrostic spelling TEA.

Brady offers five principles by which he proposes to identify the Tea Party:

1. Reclaim our Judaio-Christian heritage, which he linked to limited constitutional government. We have a Judaio-Christian heritage in this country. This has been well documented. It cannot be said, however, that we have “lost” our heritage because we maintain a more secularized government today (civil (neutral) government as opposed to a theocratic (church-state) government). I wonder: would he allow the Bible to be our Constitution? How would that work for non-Christians?

David Brady, like John Calvin, would prefer that we re-establish church-state relations rather than maintain our current separation “of” (not from) church and state. Under John Calvin, Michael Servetus was burned at the stake as a non-trinitarian and under David Brady the state would be allowed to make decisions for individual citizens that should be left to the citizen (E.G.: abortion and homosexuality).

2. Smaller government. Most of us agree that only as much government as is necessary to fulfill the needed tasks should be put into place. However, I find little in Scripture and the teachings of Jesus to support larger or smaller government. Jesus did say to give Caesar that which was his and give to God that which is His, which is about as basic as one can get.

3. Fiscal responsibility seems to be in order for all times. Honesty and integrity are matters of faith and without them we have no character. While I support fiscal responsibility as a matter of political responsibility, I find no set principles in the Bible that would establish fiscal responsibility as a political position.

4. Oppose tax increases. I once hated taxes, but like traffic laws, taxes are necessary. The current opposition to taxes is based on the biases of certain people and has little or nothing to do with bible-based faith. Do I mind being taxed to help provide a safety net for those needing it? NO! The system needs reforming, but by all of us sharing together we are able to do things most of us could not do otherwise.

Do I mind being taxed for something in which I do not believe? Yes I do mind, and you say your tax money should not be spent for abortions with which you disagree. I say I should not be taxed just so our government can spend more on military causes than the next 17-20 nations of the world spend in total.

5. Restore free market. Where in Scripture do you find your basis for establishment of a free market or any other kind of market? Free market allows for entrepreneurial ship and calls for private ownership, but nowhere does Scripture negate the cooperativeness needed to bring a diverse culture together.

On the other hand, a strong case could be made against several facets of the current libertarian “free market” politics, which are atheistic at the core. David Brady would strongly criticize a government that restrains “free market” through regulations that demand clean air to breathe and pure water to drink. The last 30 years has seen many such regulations stripped away in the cause of “free market” in both industry and economics, all of which reminds me of the biblical story of the farmer who repetitiously tore down his barns so he could continue building bigger and better, without restraint.

I gladly welcome David Brady to the Christian faith, but I have no intention of allowing him to pervert my faith, or to make of orthodox Christianity something it is not, just to fit the structure of his political likes and dislikes. Rather than shaping the Christian Faith around his biases, I would prefer that he restructure his political likes and dislikes around a solid biblical orthodoxy. That would do much more than is currently being done for our country and it would honor our Common Lord.

From Warner’s World, I am

Friday, October 19, 2012

Warner's World: Living Led By Faith

Warner's World: Living Led By Faith: Led By Faith is Steve Erwin’s reporting of Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story of “Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide” (Erwin/Hay Hou...

Living Led By Faith

Led By Faith is Steve Erwin’s reporting of Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story of “Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide” (Erwin/Hay House/2012), dedicated to Dr. Wayne Dyer, who met Immaculee while on a book tour, heard her story and promised to help her publish it. The rest of it is her story as she arose from the ruins of the 1994 Rwanda genocide that exterminated much of her family.

Ninety-one days of surviving -existing- with six other females in a “tiny, seldom-used bathroom at the far end of his bathroom [Protestant Pastor Murinzi, a Hutu] that became a survival-for-seven in a four foot by three foot enclosure separated only by a thin wall. “That” turned her life as a devout Catholic Christian university student [a Tutsi] upside down; it resulted in her "visionary discovery" of restoration, peace, and reconciliation through personally experiencing the power of forgiveness by forgiving the Hutu man that murdered her mother and brother.

Her story is a revelation in itself of how the living God reveals himself to the most helpless in the most hopeless of circumstances. Her life reveals the restorative powers of a God who loves humanity with all of the pathos of the Christ whose death on the cross is the Christian’s focal point of faith for a personalized relationship with The Almighty and a transformative relationship with all of humanity.

I could not say it better than Rick Warren did, but I can attest to what he writes so pointedly: “Out of the ruins of the 1994 Rwandan genocide have come the most astounding and moving stories of faith, hope, forgiveness, reconciliation, and miracles that “I’ve ever heard. If you’ve had a hard time letting go of a deep hurt, or difficulty in releasing your offender so you can get on with the rest of your life, Immaculee’s story can lead you to the place of healing, restoration, and peace.”

You may be amazed as I was at her utilization of Catholic spirituality, prayer, and meditation, but you will be moved to tears by her story as well as spiritually renewed in your own personal faith by her personal devotion to Christ.

From Warner’s World, I am
suggesting that you can find Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story in your public library, published in 2008 by Hay House of Carlsbad, CA.

Like I say about our library, you may find yours the best deal in your town ... Her original book is pictured at the top - Left To Tell
... Her more recent book that I describe here is pictured at the end of  my post - Led By Faith.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Arab Spring

 The so-called Arab Spring began in Tunisia, in 2010. It brought down dictators, sparked civil war in Libya, and ignited a bloody uprising in Syria. Long-term repercussions remain in Egypt and elsewhere. Tariq Ramadan, a foremost Islamic thinker, examines and explains these events from his perspective (Islam and the Arab Awakening/Tariq Ramadan/ Oxford Press/2012).

This Ph.D. graduate of a French University and Swiss-born Egyptian son of one of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood, is quite the cosmopolitan. He teaches at Oxford University and Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. He is President of the European Muslim Network (EMN) in Brussels, and widely known in Western Educational circles.

Ramadan explores the uprisings, and offers his insights into their origins, significance and possible futures from a Muslim perspective, and provides some serious insights into our Western Culture from which we could profit greatly. Simultaneously, Muslims could profit from some of our cultural practices and educational perspectives, if they better understood how we got to where we are.

To Ramadan's Muslim peers, and those comprising the “Arab Spring“,  he forthrightly asserts “There can be no true democritization unless it is accompanied by the striving for greater social equality and economic justice” (63).

An astute observation for me was his assertion regarding our free market system: “First, it must be acknowledged that today’s states and democritically elected governments find themselves, structurally, in a position of virtual subservience to the economic sphere; which possesses its own imperatives, its institutions, and its multinationals where egalitarian, democratic, and/or transparent administrative practices are not enforced” (107).

In the same section he stated “The doctrine of free markets appears to be assuming the form of a new religion in the very heart of the secularized order.” Interesting perspective, if true.

He interprets Sharia very differently from Muslim extremists (literalists), and at the same time takes a critical view of Western Culture. Regarding “Implementation of the sharia (“the path of faithful-ness to the higher goals of Islam” ) does not mean enforcing prohibitions and imposing a strict, timeless penal code, as it is often understood by some literalist Islamists or as it is perceived in the West (emphasis added).

I liked his paragraph regarding the ethical orientation he believes the Islamic Awakening must provide. “There can be no ambiguity about the ethical orientation,” he insists, “that Islam provides: We have conferred dignity on human beings” - a principle that applies to all humans, women and men, rich and poor, black and white, Muslim or not. It is the primary, fundamental principle of social justice that, in practice, rests on two prerequisites: equal rights and equal opportunities. As John Rawls points out in his work on justice, the two types of equality are not identical; equal rights are of no avail if equal opportunities are not accepted and ensured. The first steps along the path to this goal are education, social equality between women and men (equal rights, equal opportunities, equal pay for equal skill, etc.), the protection of freedoms (religious or philosophical, freedom of speech and/or criticism); they apply equally to all citizens, be they Muslims, of another faith, or of no faith. The principle of ’no compulsion in religion’ must inform the state, as must human rights, which must apply to all without distinction. At the heart of social reality, the management of religious pluralism is strengthened by the internal dynamics of religions themselves. They can exist and flourish--and even spread--in a space free of constraint, through the strength of coherence and persuasion, never by imposition or prohibition” (112-13).

If true that these are consistent with Islamic values; they should by all means pursue this ethical orientation, but it sounds like a page taken from the best of our Western values and reinterpreted as Islamic values. As such, we should have no problem helping them achieve such values. If true, Islam has much in common with Western values. If not, who is misleading who?

One other paragraph I liked: it points to things I believe we must change about ourselves. He writes:

The most recent global crises, particularly that of 2008, have demonstrated--assuming proof was still needed--that states are so inextricably linked to the private activities of the financial sector that citizens are forced to pay for the foolishness, avarice, and dishonest practices of the major private and semi-private banks, which have consulted no one yet mobilize immense media resources to insist on the imperative need for government intervention. Despite soaring public debt, democratic states have bailed out rich but undemocratically administered banks. Nothing really new here: these events reflect the essence of the neo-liberal capitalist system and its management of the system’s cyclical crises. For all that, the frequency and intensity of the crises are sapping the very underpinnings of democracy. Suffice it to observe the fragility and the debt load of the American federal government, or the threat of bankruptcy that hangs over European countries like Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy” (108).

Ramadan would be a good read for many thoughtful American readers, I saw him interviewed: he is thoughtful; I believe he deserves dialogue; I would like to hear more from him regarding solutions, but would also like to correct what I perceive as his misperceptions.

From Warner’s World,
perhaps we need more intimate dialogue than we’ve been willing to participate in;
I am

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

On Being a Positive Force

I hope it is more than just a passing phase of where I am in life, for when I observe the current political campaign, and listen to the dreary drone of repetitious dribble passed off as media coverage, I am very aware of just how bone-weary I am with the negative-thinking pundits out there trying to re-program the rest of us into their infantile way of thinking and doing business.

I am rocked to sleep with endless Obama-bashing by a host of irrational emoters that defy reason. I have had it with Romney rebels who rationalize every sin in Washington as the fault of the President, but remain unwilling to accept the equally foolish blame for Mr. Mit when at Bain Capital. I watch Jerry Sandusky plead for his life, and the Media Circus performing its mental gymnastics, and I have to ask myself just who is right and wrong here.

It would greatly delight me to once more read one of those positive messages from that long-gone friend of so many of us, and smile with his humorous twist, as he would once again remind us, “The rooster crows but the hen delivers.”

One of those tiny vignettes Forrest Plants told in his weekly newsletter, “Hickory Hi Lights” went this way. Two taxidermists noticed an owl on display in a certain store window. They criticized the mounting. The eyes were not natural. The wings were not in proportion to the head. The feathers were not neatly arranged. The feet could surely be improved. Just as they finished their critique, the old owl turned its head … and winked at them.

We all know live owls do not display as perfectly as do dead mounts. Life, it seems, is also that way; it leaves us living it out one day at a time, hoping to get things right. As Christians, I believe we have a commitment to Christ to serve others. One of the best ways we do this is by being a positive force and avoiding the negatives that constantly tug us downward.

There is a little known story of a Presbyterian missionary, repeated by James Denton. Allegedly, a lonely grave remains on a South Pacific island in the New Hebrides bearing the name of the Rev. John Geddie, That grave is marked with a marble slab that bears this inscription:
When he came here,
There were no Christians;
When he went away,
There were no heathen.

I heartily concur with that veteran who told his congregation, “My great desire is to leave behind me a church filled with committed Christians and not even one Luke-warm heathen.” I remember another Christ-follower who wrote this positive word:
“Finally, brethren,
whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Phil. 4:8 KJV).

From Warner’s World, I am

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Whose Shoulders Are You Standing?

He was a new name to me, one I discovered while reading about British and American Abo-litionists; Anthony Benezet was born in St. Quentin, northern France. He arrived 31 January 1713 to a family of Huguenots--French Protestants, during a period of increasing persecution following the revocation of the 1685 Edict of Nantes. In 1715, when two years old, Anthony emigrated to London with his family and received an education appropriate to the son of a prosperous merchant family.

London proved to be only a temporary home, for in 1731, at age seventeen, Benezet’s family emigrated again, this time to Philadelphia. They moved to the British-American colony of Pennsylvania, where young Anthony joined the Society of Friends, Quakers.

His early attempts at a career in trade proved unsuccessful, so in 1739 he launched at Germantown, as a schoolteacher. Three years later, he moved to a position at the famous Friends' English School of Philadelphia (now the William Penn Charter School). There, he became noted for being a fine teacher, and for disliking severe discipline more than was common.

In addition to his day duties, he set up an evening class for slave children in 1750 and ran it from his own home. In 1754, he finally left the Friends' English School to establish his own school - exclusively for girls, the first public girls' school in America.

Dogged by ill health, Anthony became unable to maintain an uninterrupted career. Nevertheless, he continued to teach slave children from home until 1770 when, with the support of the Society of Friends, he set up the Negro School at Philadelphia, and subsequently taught at both of these schools, almost until his death.

Beginning in the 1750s, Benezet increasingly opposed slavery. At first, his campaign remained very much a solitary effort, although taking two forms. At the first, he worked hard to convince his Philadelphia Quaker brethren that slave-owning was inconsistent with Christian doctrine. Second, he wrote and published at his own expense numerous anti-slavery tracts and pamphlets.

Of his published works, Some Historical Account of Guinea, written in 1772, became especially influential on both sides of the Atlantic. It was read, and to a certain extent, imitated by both Granville Sharp and John Wesley. Both men corresponded with Benezet and distributed his works in England.

Benezet's writings helped persuade Thomas Clarkson to embark on his abolitionist career a few years later. His publication, Some Historical Account of Guinea, was reprinted several times during the height of the abolition campaign, but he did not live to see anti-slavery become the tidal- wave that it did, either in Britain or America. He died May 3rd, 1784, and family and friends buried him in the Friends' Burial Ground, Philadelphia.

Although Anthony Benezet qualifies as more American than British, his influence on British abolitionism cannot be minimized or doubted. Irv Brendlinger reminds us in the Wesleyan Theological Journal that when Benezet moved in 1743 from Philadelphia to Germantown, he became a trustee of the Charity School that eventually became the College of Pennsylvania, now known as the University of Pennsylvania (32.1; 2007; 107-128).

Anthony Benezet serves as another of the more obvious and exemplary Christians on whose shoulders we stand as we continue working for a more Christian world for our families and friends to occupy. From Warner’s World, I am

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Forgive us ... As We Forgive...

I started on this same blog journey a couple days ago, but a detour en route left me with conclusions about pastor appreciation. So … let’s do this again and see if I can finish in the direction I first started.

On Sunday I experienced the “worship service” as a cacophony of clashing sounds that hijacked my nervous system and distracted me from the real reasons I went to church; such is the power of contemporary music. In all fairness to everybody and to Worship Pastor Jim Sirks, I have to admit that my hearing challenges are only magnified when I have to deal with artificially magnified sound (sound systems operated by non profession-als).

What I found challenging was the sermon--if you will, the power of the spoken word, well crafted and thought through, when ably delivered. Thank you, Jim Sparks, for helping me redeem my time, and for turning a disruption into a delight. There is an incomparable beauty when the human persona and the proclamation of truth unite into one integrated personality. Such is the power of the sermon, as James Earl Massey writes so ably in his numberless books on preaching.

Back to my theme. Jim has been leading our congregation through the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6:13 provided the day’s text: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thing is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory …” Titling his sermon “Armor”, he drew biblical commentary from Ephesians 6:10, which defines our Christian armor, and from I Peter 5 that describes Satan as a lion on a limited leash.

Four things he asked us to remember:

1. Remember the POWER OF THE ENEMY, so powerful, but powerless.

2. Remember the CUNNING OF THE ENEMY.

3. Remember that GOD IS SOVEREIGN (the enemy lion is on a leash).

4. Remember to KEEP LOOKING FORWARD (on the tiptoes of expectation (Revelation 21:22).

As a fitting conclusion to the Service, we again repeated the Lord’s Prayer in unison. When we came to that phrase “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive our trespassers” I thought of the recent conversations I had on Facebook with church friends regarding our conflict with Iran over nuclear power.

I’ve been advocating with those groups wanting to tone down the rhetoric, stop the war chant against Iran, reduce the strong patriotic rhetoric that demands a firm stand against Iran, eliminate the ratcheting up of pleas for stronger military defense, stop the demonizing President A… of Iran. I also remembered the friendly counsel of a pastor friend that insisted that we take a very firm political stand, and that we accept only an uncompromising firmness on the part of our President.

That allowed a whirlwind of thoughts to rush in: 911, the death of Chris Stephens, bombings in Beirut and elsewhere, Osama bin Ladin ... Forgive us … as we forgive those … I find it difficult to justify these actions, but I also find it tough to justify nuclear power to Israel and deny it to the Palestinians. It is so easy to justify our behavior as the right behavior and theirs as demonic!
However, I cannot justify our irrational defense of Israel’s myopic and self-serving behavior, anymore than I can justify bin Ladin’s radical hatred of the United States. I started to call his hatred irrational; it was radical but not irrational because it was rooted in the blind and unfair diplomacy of the West against the Muslim East, say what you will.

All of which brings up seemingly irreconcilable differences within our world community. As I stood in the congregation at North Avenue Sunday and we repeated those words, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” I felt the impact of this whole situation punching me full in the face - these people are not hearing these words, except in the narrow context of their own little lives as Christians in Battle Creek, MI.

The words of Jesus are meaningful when we apply them to each other, but they mean nothing when we want our political leaders to ratchet up the tough talk, demonize the other side, justify our behavior. It sounded like nice talk on Sunday morning, but by Monday morning it was back to business as usual … I wonder if we comprehend even a shallow understanding of The Lord’s words when He modeled a prayer the disciples could pray by … and live by …

Jesus seems to be a pretty good personal relations counselor but a totally lousy diplomat … From Warner’s World, I am

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Warner's World: Pastor Appreciation Month

Warner's World: Pastor Appreciation Month: Over a period of four and one-half decades I was the Pastor: the scholar with the ability to always find something new and personally cha...

Pastor Appreciation Month

Over a period of four and one-half decades I was the Pastor: the scholar with the ability to always find something new and personally challenging (interesting); the preacher that would woo growing numbers of visitors from the community; the teacher that fed the flock, always with steak & potatoes, and the finest salads; the expected (demanded) visitor when visitation was in order; the administrator that kept life exciting with vision, practical, and individually satisfying; and the friend with an open ear whenever someone wanted to spend a few minutes chattering, meaningful or otherwise.

Sound like a plate full; it was! It was interesting. It was demanding-24-7. It brought something new, constantly. Going into this October 2012, never have I appreciated a Pastor more than right now, as we prepare for “our Pastor” (shown above) to transition into retirement. Frankly, I do not know what I am going to do.

When we retired, our visits to the former Church at Minges Hills never were quite comfortable; we found it necessary to give North Avenue a trial run. For most of these years, we have been out a lot; we needed a church home, a base where we had a sense of belonging, where we could run to and from in keeping with what was going on in our own lives.

For several years, I traveled around Michigan with MICAP, speaking in numerous United Methodist churches + others on alcohol related subjects. Since that time, we have spent much time away, working both in Kentucky and at home with the ongoing ministries of Reformation Publishers.

Throughout the years, Jim and Susan Sparks have remained our friends and our pastors. Needless to say, it has been an interesting ride--a mutual appreciation--watching them grow in their own development, and being their friends (sometimes from a distance) - peers in ministry. We insisted we did not need their special recognition, and they have seldom been in our home, or vice versa. However, with online access et al, we have consistently stayed within hearing distance, done a few things together on occasion, and been mutually supportive sounding boards back and forth. The rest of the time we have tried to be their best Cheer Leaders, while staying out of their way as they ran at their own fast pace.

As they now lead the congregation, assisted by State Minister Bill Jones, we dread the day when Jim no longer stands in the North Avenue pulpit. Very early, Jim was our number one attraction to North Avenue, although we have longtime acquaintances in the congregation, and have made many more new and meaningful friends. All I can say, for the pastor that succeeds Jim is -- Jim set a high standard!

Jim preached a heap different from Lee Sickal (Gloria Gaither's father), who hammered home the doctrinal distinctives of our Movement back in the sixties. At first, I questioned his seeming lack of “evangelistic” preaching, but I quickly discovered new people were in attendance, people were receiving The Word, new Christians were developing, and the old Saints were getting balanced Biblical meals. Moreover, I found that I was learning as well, carrying home sermon outlines that continued churning around in my mind; I found he was churning some pretty good butter--more on this in another blog.

Jim and Susan will continue to live in our city, but they will attend elsewhere, at least for a while--the congregation will need that forced break, for the sake of the new pastor, although the new pastor will have NOTHING to fear.

Thanks to James Dobson, October is now celebrated widely as Pastor Appreciation Month. With that thought in mind, I pay my respects to our senior Pastoral team in particular. We love you, Jim and Susan. We never thought we would see this day of needing to give you up. Perhaps the best thing we can say is that WE HAVE NEVER APPRECIATED THE WORTH OF A PASTORAL COUPLE MORE THAN WE DO TODAY, as we grapple with the huge hole you leave as you prepare for this new stage in your life’s journey.

This brings a change for the rest of the clergy staff as well (and should not be overlooked)--James Sirks, and Dennis Siddal. Jim has done what few Youth Ministers have been able to do and that is to successfully grow into a 21-year ministry at North Avenue. Jim is a Youth Pastor, and while the church has insisted he double as Worship Minister; youth is Jim's niche, not worship.

As for Dennis, it took me a while to become aware of our Children’s Pastor; I‘m not a child, but if I were, I would love Dennis with all the love that children have to give! His journey within the Assemblies of God and the United Methodist Church have left Dennis competently skilled, thoroughly Christian, and deeply appreciated.

North Avenue Church of God is about to discover just how fortunate they have been for the past sixteen years, under the skilled leadership of James Leslie Sparks and wife Susan. Jim Sirks was already on board; Dennis came on board later. They have been as fine a Pastoral Team as could be found anywhere.

As our mutual friend Dr. Bill Jones works with the church to make this pastoral transition, Bill may have his hands full with … the difficult job of maintaining a new high standard … and a congregation that may have to stretch to maintain that standard.

From Warner’s World, this is

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Warner's World: Our Leaking Faith

Warner's World: Our Leaking Faith: Dave Coolidge recently acknowledged his privileged friendship with Jim Williams, dating back to college days at AC/AU where they were fel...

Our Leaking Faith

Dave Coolidge recently acknowledged his privileged friendship with Jim Williams, dating back to college days at AC/AU where they were fellow members of the Booster Club. Dave’s acknowledgement also informed us about the passing of our longtime colleague in Church of God ministry, Dr. James E. Williams.

My earliest acquaintance with Jim probably resulted when he accepted a staff position on our former Division of World Service. Jim had already served thirteen years in pastoral ministry before returning home to Anderson, where he served the church for another thirty-one years.

His passing leaves a vacancy in his position, but we remember him for his humility, his positive smile, and his professional skills. As I pondered the family’s loss, and the departure of another of our Ministry-seniors, I was struck these words of Dave Coolidge: “Though he and his medical team had battled valiantly, Jim finally succumbed to lung cancer (which had come as a big surprise to Jim when it was first diagnosed because he was a non-smoker).”

We all give thanks to God for this our friend Jim. Yet, my mind went off in another direction, and I frankly felt a wee little resentful. I am happy to have achieved five years beyond Jim’s lengthy span of eighty years. Granted, he achieved his three score and ten years. No complaints; yet, I cannot help thinking about how difficult it is for us to correlate our beliefs and behaviors into a pattern of consistent faith.

We Church of God people are fundamentally a non-smoking people. We believe our bodies are temples of God’s dwelling place, and that we have a stewardship to God to be proactive for good health. We do not hesitate to proclaim our belief in what we call “Divine Healing“; we often pray and ask God to answer our prayers for healing and health.
Moreover, we believe the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, or so the Psalmist suggested. In spite of our beliefs, we are hardly surprised when one in our midst dies from lung cancer. Many people die of cancer these days, cancers of all kinds, and from a variety of causes.

I find it difficult to reconcile our theology with the inconsistency of our beliefs and behaviors. For example: few of us question why so many die from cancer and why we are so unwilling to take corrective measures about known carcinogens. I suggest we are very inconsistent in our issues of faith.

Smoking is a BIG no-no; yet we accept the rights of corporations to produce, market, and sell those carcinogens. Although there are far fewer smokers today than yesterday; we are told “passive smoking” is equally or more dangerous than the habit. That leaves many of us helpless to avoid over exposure.

On the other hand, it is more difficult to get a hearing on other carcinogens, like those that pollute the air we breathe, or the water we drink, or that contaminate the food we eat. If we support governmental measures to minimize air and water pollution, we are told that adds to production costs, it costs jobs, and it really is not a function of government.

I have to admit that all sounds like gobbledygook to me. Government is obligated to hire soldiers and policemen to protect my safety as a civilian, but government cannot protect the health of my family without being oversized and interfering in free enterprise. I cannot advocate for such things without being labeled a Socialist, a liberal, a left winger, anything but a Christian, especially a socially responsible Christian.

This opens large areas for us to dialogue about as Christians. It could mean becoming more involved in transforming our culture. It could call for personalizing our faith and subjecting our political views to stricter biblical interpretations - if we are not too closed-minded.

As for Jim, I have no way of knowing why he died of lung cancer. I don’t know that it was caused by anything he breathed or ate; I don't believe he smoked it. I can accept that he died of that cause just by the fate of a long life, but how can I accept the fact that we continue to allow financial interests to sell known carcinogens for profit; that we allow them to pollute our air and our water (to say the least), but we dare not dialogue about it in church because that is politics, and politics do not belong in the church--so someone told me.

It is politically incorrect to advocate for clean air, clean water, or to say that a product that harms people more than it helps them is unethical to sell. As a matter of personal faith, at what point do people become more important than profit? Can people of faith support political views that are inconsistent with their faith, and still be consistent as Christians? Do we have a leaky faith?

From Warner’s World,
I am,
full of questions I wish someone would answer for me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Warner's World: A Word for Communities in Flames

Warner's World: A Word for Communities in Flames: A traveler found a beautiful marble statue of Jesus in a small French village during World War Two. Jesus stood in the courtyard of a quain...

A Word for Communities in Flames

A traveler found a beautiful marble statue of Jesus in a small French village during World War Two. Jesus stood in the courtyard of a quaint little church, hands outstretched. One day a bomb struck too close and dismembered the statue. After the battle was over and the enemy had passed through, village citizens thought to reconstruct the pieces of their beloved statue.

This statue was no work of art by Michelangelo or Bernini, but it was part of their lives and they loved it. They gathered and reassembled the broken parts, but could not find the statue’s hands. “A Christ without hands is no Christ at all,” a villager lamented.

“Hands without scars … yes. But what’s a Lord without hands? We need a new statue,” others exclaimed.

Another idea finally prevailed. They attached a brass plaque to the base of the statue that read, “I have no hands but your hands.” Years later someone saw that inscription and wrote:

I have no hands but your hands to do my work today.
I have no feet but your feet, to lead men on the way.
I have no tongue but your tongue to tell me how I died,
I have no help but your help to bring men to God’s side.

Pastors are not mechanics to keep the church in good repair. Their call involves equipping the saints for the ministry. In following Christ, we learn that it requires more than we have, so we ask for what we need with obvious faith, and depend upon Him rather than ourselves. Sister Theresa dreamed of building an orphanage with three pennies. Her superiors told her it was impossible. Smiling, she said in her dream, “I know, but with God and three pennies, I can do anything!”

Our world struggles in a climactic battle between good and evil, between the way of the cross and the shadow of the sword. As we search for solutions, there is one thing we can know: with God, and our best; we can achieve, whatever it is God wants us to do!

From Warner's World, this is

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Kempin Kindles

The Church of God [Anderson] has long been about the fact that truth matters. Movementally, we have long affirmed the truth that there is ultimate truth, beyond the portable relevancies of humanity. As you would expect, we have also affirmed a theme suggesting God as Loving Grace, to use a title from Dr. Barry Callen.

In that volume, Barry reminded us “a keynoting and enduring characteristic of this reformation movement of the Church of God is its consciousness of God and its radical commitment to God, and to God alone” (Evangel/1996/70). Very much within this tradition comes a new title that reveals both a man and his message.

I first met this man in January 1948 when I relocated from Anderson, IN to enroll in Bible College in Portland, where I began attending the Holladay Park Church. I never forgot that man and his books. Truths That Matter was compiled out of Dr. Kempin’s personal papers in 2010, after receiving them from his daughter Naomi Wright, now deceased. It reveals this man and his message.

Pastor Albert J. Kempin Ph. D. (1900-1974), remained eminent on the horizon throughout my earlier pastoral years. As a man, he was esteemed by the church, a gifted pastor, evangelist, educator, pen preacher; and a friend to many, as he modeled the best of Christian ministry. He served churches between 1927 and the mid-fifties. He was an academic pioneer (Ph.D. East Los Angeles Seminary) and noted for his work among our early pioneers, for his educational pioneering, and for devoting his best years to pastoral ministry.

He modeled good pastoral relations, consistently exemplifying the highest of professional qualities in Christian Ministry, while authoring several books via Warner Press: How to Live a Christian Life; Daniel For Today; The King’s Parables; Twelve Great Chapters; and, Why the Millennial Doctrine is Not Biblical.

Comfortable as a man among the people, Albert Kempin was always a man of The Book; he was a thorough Bible teacher, equally at home in the pulpit or classroom. Truths That Matter offers readers a comfortable compilation of Kempin, an opportunity to discover an early leader biographically they might not know as well as some others, while selectively scanning the fruits of his productive pen preaching.

Last but not least is the news that Reformation Publishers recently began producing early Church of God writings in a Kindle foremat, available at Reformation Publishers, Amazon and such. Coordi-nating this effort is Dr. James Fleming (D. Min. SOT 2012), Ocala Florida pastor.

I believe the Kempin Kindles are among the first to become available. This testifies to more than mere church marketing. It witnesses to the church’s commitment to the truth of Scripture, of God, and of ultimate authority.  Finally, it attests to the commitment of all of us in the Movement to be God's people on mission...

I am comfortable with my computer, but I am not yet into Kindle. Yet, I am told it is a comfortable and convenient way to read. Although some may see this only as a marketing tool, I see it as a church aggressively sharing its marketable truth. Oh but you say, that is only Reformation Publishers, or Pastor’s Fellowship, or … yes …it is a diverse church, not in competition with anyone, but united in Christ; it is a church aggressively searching for more ways to share its message in an acceptable manner - all of which inspires me to take the church more seriously than ever.

From Warner’s World, I am

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Losers

Some years ago a Science Fiction movie came out titled "The Running Man". This same Stephen King novel, first published in 1982 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, unfolds several themes.

One shows a country obcessed with gambling, while sliding a slippery slope into further social darkness. Pursuit of this theme reflects an oppressive government utilizing "Gaming Television" as its strongest weapon for controlling the Nation. We see the nation's obsession [will] to win, which seems to further confirm the direction the Nation drives, and the accuracy of the "Social Metaphor".

Did King intend to point out the social "Horrors" of gambling? I doubt it! It does appear, however, that "Running Man" provides a vehicle for expressing one mans struggle with personal tragedy. Other issues thread their way through the film, although maintaining the focus of "Sordid" events that continue to fill our national pastime with pleasure and gambling, and its inevitable economic and social ruin.

These reflect a force that has few contemporary equals and dramatically hint at the potentially tragic state of affairs of a society that continues to find its relief in even more Gambling.

From Warner’s World come some shared online conversation between my longtime friend Ron and me shared here FWIW, after we chewed on it several times ...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day 2012

Labor Day means the end of Summer; it is our prelude to the Fall term of school. Research indicates President Grover Cleveland signed Labor Day into law only six days after the end of the Pullman Strike, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike. The US Congress then voted unanimously, approving the rushed legislation to make Labor Day a national holiday

By 1894, when it became a federal holiday, thirty states already celebrated it. Oregon became the first state to declare this day a holiday (1887). All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories now celebrate it as a statutory holiday.

Our September date was originally chosen by New York’s Central Labor Union, and observed by many of the nation's trade unions. This September date was selected over the more popular International Workers' Day because President Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent Communist, Syndicalist and Anarchist movements that, while distinct from each other, rallied together in commemorating the Haymarket Affair on International Workers' Day.

The Haymarket affair was a peaceful Chicago rally gone sour in 1886, when someone threw a bomb that resulted in numerous deaths. This calls to mind J. Edgar Hoover’s seeing Communists behind the Civil Rights activities of M. L. King, now known to be false. More recently, Wis-consin’s Governor Walker eliminated bargaining rights for Wisconsin’s Muncipal employees.

Growing up in a Republican household, as I did, we viewed the labor movement as tools of the Mafia and urban Mobsters. Democrats, especially from Detroit,were considered Socialists, Communists, and unAmerican. That was long before I grew to maturity, learned better, and gained a more Biblical perspective.

As an older adult Christian today, I now view all people as God perceives them (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21). That means I do not reject people just because Communists say the person has certain rights. It means I do not support Governor Walker because I see him treating a segment of labor as he would not accept being treated himself, nor would I want such treatment.. Few, if any, of the Governor’s constituents would agree to being treated as the Governor is now treating Wisconsin employees. Financially expedient or otherwise; it is contrary to the Golden Rule.

Somehow, we have obscured the values of ordinary working people. There was a day, when many Americans agreed that the way to obtain laborers was to enslave them. Here, I take the liberty of quoting from Carter Woodson (The Negro In Our History/Associated Publishers, Washington, D.C./1941 7th ed./p216 ff). He describes a slave drive to the Southwest, and the unusual hardships of such a drive … quoting:

"Featherstonaugh mentions his meeting in southwestern Virginia a camp of negro slave drivers just packing up to start. He said, ’They had with them about three hundred slaves who had bivouacked the preceding night in chains in the woods. These they were conducting to Natchez, on the Mis-sissippi River, to work upon the sugar plantations in Louisiana. It resembled one of the coffles spoken of by Mungo Park, except that they had a caravan of nine wagons and single-horse carriages for the purpose of conducting the white people and any of the blacks that should fall lame. The female slaves, some of them sitting on logs of wood while others were standing, and a great many little black children, were warming themselves at the fire of the bivouac. In front of them all, and prepared for the march, stood in double files about two hundred men slaves, manacled and chained to each other...

“Josiah Henson, a Negro brought into this traffic said: ‘Men trudged on foot, the children were put into the wagon, and now and then my wife rode for a while. We went through Alexandria, Cul-pepper, Fauquier, Harpers Ferry, Cumberland, and over the mountains to the National Turnpike to Wheeling. In all the taverns along the road were regular places for the droves of Negroes con-tinually passing along under the system of internal slave trade. At the places where we stopped for the night, we often met Negro drivers with their droves, who were almost uniformly kept chained to prevent them from running away.

“Edwin L. Godkin said: ‘The hardships these negroes go through who are attached to one of these migrant parties baffles description … Thousands of miles are traversed by these weary wayfarers without their knowing or caring why.”

In discussing the establishment of the Plantation system, Woodson quotes one reference to certain older states annually exporting 80,000 slaves to the South, and when the African Slave Trade was restricted, “One writer estimates the number of slaves exported from Virginia at 120,000” (219).

Why remember this ignominious history? Why remember the Holocaust? Or, the first atomic bomb? Because there is a sameness of attitude regarding labor today! When Lou Dobbs wrote his best seller a few years back, CEOs had been paid over the five years prior to his writing an aggregate of $865 million in compensation (CEOs of AT&T, BellSouth, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Lucent, Merck, Pfizer, Safeway, Time Warner, Verizon & Walmart) while shareholders were losing $640 billion. That is to say nothing of the male and female employees.

Statistics are abundant; books are voluminous. They suggest that working people have no more value today than did the slaves during Plantation days. The bottom line is everything! People who criticize the system, who defend the working people and demand more equality are labeled as left field liberals, Socialists, and supporters of Obamania.

I do not ask that we conform our society to Christianity, and I strongly support separation of Church and State. I am convinced, however, that the decadent powers driving today's politics -- those most enjoying the fruits of their Capitalism and unvarnished greed by enriching themselves at the expense of the more vulnerable middle and lower classes, have yet to deal with the eternal verities spoken by Jesus when he said (Matthew 25:31-46):  AND THE KING SHALL ANSWER AND SAY UNTO THEM, VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, INASMUCH AS YE HAVE DONE IT UNTO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE MY BRETHREN, YE HAVE DONE IT UNTO ME.

Today’s political decisions that allow the privileged to economically enslave others will meet their political choices again in the Judgment Hall of God’s Eternal Verities. There will be no changing of one’s party or view, then. The way we treat one another has a strong correlation with our relation-ship to the Eternal!

From Warner’s World, I am

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fruits From Our Behavior

Someone challenged us a while back to remember Enron. That is old hat by now, but the song seems to survive like a cat with nine lives, each time with a different verse: Enron … S&L Scandals … Wall Street breakdown … Real Estate Market … The Bush Depression … the list only gets longer!

Mit Romney is now charged with using business interests to ram-rod a Federal bailout of Bain Capital back in the 90s--a 360 degree inconsistency with his presidential “anti-Obama” rhetoric (cf Rolling Stones Magazine, 8-29-12.

While nothing new for a politician, it reminds me of the comment my friend Ron made to his broker back in 70's . While discussing differences between upper middle and lower classes, Ron popped of with "A poor mans dreams, can be found in the lining of some Rich mans Pocket".

With due respect to the writer that first called us to remember Enron; we should remember Enron as we view the political mess we’re in these days.

Runaway executive pay.
Enron paid its CEO Ken Lay $140 million in 2000, including $123 million in stock options. They set the standard for outrageous CEO pay, and demonstrated how, in search of ever-larger paychecks, CEOs lead companies into ever-riskier schemes that endanger both shareholders and the economy as a whole.
Tax evasion.
Despite reporting huge profits, Enron paid no taxes in four of its last five years and used tax scams and offshore shell entities to dodge paying its fair share. Today, dozens of U.S. corporations use similar tactics not only to dodge Uncle Sam, but claim huge tax rebates. Enron was a catalyst for today’s corporate tax cheats.
Corporate conflicts of interest.
Enron’s chief financial officer profited by using his own company, LJM, to do deals with Enron to cook its books. Heedless of Enron’s example, banks such as Goldman Sachs and Citi later set up synthetic securities, sold shares to clients, and profited by betting against their own clients. Enron helped create a culture of corporations failing to do right by their clients.
Accounting conflicts.
Enron’s accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, approved financial statements loaded up with fraud. Despite Enron’s cautionary tale, so did accountants for Madoff Securities, Olympus, and other firms that have collapsed in years since, damaging investors, consumers and market stability. Enron showed how accountants reliant on revenues from clients can be convinced to look the other way. It’s still happening today.
Credit rating conflicts.
Credit rating agencies gave Enron AAA ratings until it collapsed. They have given the same AAA ratings to toxic securities, failing corporations, and deadbeat banks, often because issuing tougher ratings would cost them business. Enron exposed the unreliability of credit rating agencies that place the search for market share above the need for objective analysis.
Excessive speculation.
Enron speculated and manipulated electricity prices for big profits. Today, speculators whipsaw the American economy with roller coaster energy, metal, and food prices. Enron jacked up the commodity business to everyone’s detriment but the speculators; and without tough enforcement of anti-speculation laws, the damage will continue.
Financial engineering.
Enron designed countless financial engineering gimmicks that served its financial interests but endangered clients and investors. Today, financial firms rave about financial “innovations,” while pushing toxic products like auction securities, naked credit default swaps, and worse. Enron showed how financial engineering creates weapons of mass destruction; a decade later, exotic financial products helped bring the U.S. economy to its knees.
The need for regulators to stop the madness.
In response to Enron, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act banned multimillion-dollar corporate loans to corporate insiders, forced CEOs to certify their internal financial controls, and created new accounting oversight. Those changes helped curb Enron-style abuses.

Congress did minimal reform in 2010 through Wall Street reform legislation, but fell far short due to the anti-regulation atmosphere in Washington that continues to overly protect business. We should all keep Enron in mind as the country elects a new President and hopefully addresses the strong rules that we need for protecting both consumers and the economy.

The Bible says we will know them by their fruits. We are eating the fruits of rampant selfish CEO’S the greed of corporate corruption, and the deviousness of sinful men. It remains to be seen whether or not we can rally together sufficiently to re-write some of our behavioral rules in favor of the common good of America.    

Or, must we have a total breakdown of national morality and become complete victims to America’s need for a moral revival. From Warner’s World, I am

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A. J. Kempin; Pioneer Pastor, Prophet, Evangelist, Educator

Albert and Naomi at Holliday Park, Portland

Arlington College Group
Pastor Albert Kempin (1900-1974) served God with purity, passion, and power. He became a premier pastor-evangelist, and popular author at Gospel Trumpet Company. He loved people and the church recognized him for his Bible teaching and doctrinal writing. He began pastoring at twenty-four and distinguished himself across the next thirty years, serving churches in North Bergen, N.J.; Williamsbridge, (NYC); Lansdale, PA.; San Diego and East Los Angeles, CA.; and Holiday Park in Portland, retiring from Long Beach, CA.

This visionary pastor led Long Beach Pine Avenue in buying and refurbishing an older school property as a church campus--a lovely square city block, including a great parsonage and a rental house. It was said that he loved every moment of his time there, especially his thirty-minute ocean-swims every afternoon.

Retirement launched Albert and Naomi as global travelers. They served Interim Pastorates in Madeira, CA and Portland, OR, also serving as para-missionaries in Grand Cayman, B. W. I. Travel returned Albert to Europe, where he preached in many countries. Being bi-lingual, the Lithuanian-born German often preached in German while in Germany. He also wrote for the American church, detailing their European itinerary and the state of the recovering European church.

The Kempins’ did a “round-the-world trip,’ during which they spoke at Mission Stations in Africa. On their second visit to Grand Cayman, he became seriously ill, returned to home to Whittier, where they diagnosed him ALS--Lou Gerig’s Disease. He transitioned slowly, finally relocating to Corvallis, OR, with daughter Naomi Ruth, and responded to his final call home at the age of 74.

Dr. Kempin authored six books, all published by Gospel Trumpet Company: The King’s Parables, Why the Millennial Doctrine is not Biblical, How to Live a Christian Life, Revelation for Today, Daniel for Today, and Twelve Great Chapters from the Book of Life. He wrote widely for Warner Press Curriculum Editors, furnishing the church many Sunday School lessons.

Born in Villainous, Lithuania, October 20, 1900, Kempin grew up in a devout German Lutheran family that came into the Church of God--German in Philadelphia when his mother walked past this inner-city church one day and heard beautiful music. She decided to go inside. There, God spoke to her and she gave her heart to the Lord. From then on, that family became active in that church, serving the American church significantly.

Albert’s European family came from culture and affluence, but his father was a simple Street Vendor in Philly--an American emigrant. Always a student, young Albert pursued his disrupted studies through Taylor, Temple,and USC, not satisfied until completing doctoral studies at East LA Baptist Seminary. He married Naomi, already graduated from the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, after meeting her at Boyertown Camp Meeting.

With teaching experience as a graduate student, Dr. Kempin began teaching at the new Church of God college in Long Beach, where he served as Founding Dean, later teaching at Pacific Bible College, Portland. Dr. Kempin had earned his education the hard way, having to drop out of school as a teen. During that time he apprenticed as a pattern maker, then did factory work producing baseballs in one factory, and hats in another.

While teaching at Arlington College, he showed his quiet, sensitive soul by secretly working as a pattern maker--learned as a youth--and using those earnings to purchase wife Naomi a new fur coat. Daughter Naomi took many such memories to her death in 2011, recalling their “wonderful life together … during which they were diligently devoted to each other.”

I share this bio of people I met more than six decades ago, because they were lesser known to many; yet, they were among our more significant early Church of God leaders. NOW: Ocala Pastor, Dr. James Fleming is now working with Dr. Steven Williams in making available early Church of God writings via kindle. Friend Jim has extensive experience producing his Logos Series that reproduced hundreds of early Gospel Trumpet volumes on cd. You will now be able to access this new series at book stores like Amazon via kindle, as a product of Reformation Publishers.

Available books will include Kempin’s six Warner Press books: Daniel for Today; How to Live a Christian Life; Revelation for Today; The Kings Parables; Twelve Great Chapters; Why the Millennial Doctrine is Not Biblical, plus a new compilation of the best of Kempin, entitled Truths That Matter, containing significant biographical material and an excellent sampling of this pen preacher from his personal papers now in the Archives at Anderson University.

Of Albert Kempin, Evangelist Wm. C. Neece (a friend to many of us), wrote: "I became a frequent guest in their home. I regard him as one of the most outstanding, and scholarly preachers, I have ever known. His sermons were rich and deep--packed with helpful information. Many times, I sat on the platform with him, and enjoyed observing his preaching at close range. I believe he took more information into the pulpit than any preacher I have ever heard."

Neece leaves us this “Kempinism”: “When I prepare my sermons, I do my research and make my notes. Then, if I want to put the messages into book form later, it’s easy because I have already done the research” (emphasis added).

From Warner’s World,
this is,
and if you’re into kindle,
you will want to pursue this additional resource further.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Prayer of a Hard-Working Man

“Public performance is in direct proportion to private practice.” That came out of Pastor Jim’s sermon this morning on “The Secret of Prayer” (Mt. 6:6). I was a pastor for forty-five years, and now, after having been retired from fulltime church work for sixteen years, I am now watching our pastor wind down his career in preparation for retirement. Never have I valued a good pastor as much as I do today.

That opening statement summarizes his sermon, but it also captures the essential ingredients of success in most any area of life. Jim also suggested that prayer is its own reward, that prayer always rewards, and that prayer has eternal rewards. Having said that, prayer must be measured, Jim reminded us, by its inwardness rather than its outwardness.

He related an interesting event from the life of Joni Erickson Tada, who always wanted to roll into that Jerusalem pool, where it was said that the first one into the waters after the angel stirred them, would be healed. When she finally saw Jerusalem, and that pool from her wheelchair, she had one of those God-moments, in which she realized for the first time that while God had not miraculously healed her of her paralysis, for her prayer had become more important than being able to walk.

I have always said we should pray as if God was doing all the work, whatever the need might be. Simultaneously, I concluded, that we should also work as if we were doing the whole project. Prayer is essential to good, healthy living; on the other hand, although we are always dependent upon God, work is equally essential to good healthy living.

As I step into another new week, a half-century older than I was in this 1961 San Angelo, Texas photo that follows, I am thankful I have mind enough to pray. On the other hand, while I am not as active as I was in past decades, I enjoy health and mobility far beyond that of many my age, which brings me to a favorite poet. I have used Paul Laurence Dunbar's verses many times in my life, but tonight I am using them as the heart-felt sentiments of a hard-working man: - “When all is done”:

When all is done, and my last word is said,
And ye who loved me murmur, “He is dead,”
Let no one weep, for fear that I should know,
And sorrow too that ye should sorrow so.

When all is done, say not my day is o’er,
And that thro’ night I seek a dimmer shore,
Say, rather that my mourn has just begun---
I greet the dawn and not a setting sun.

From Warner’s World,
I am

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Making a Difference in South Sudan

Dan and Teresa Janzen are home this summer. They were at Warner Memorial Family Camp at Grand Junction, MI in July and are preparing for their soon return to Werkok, Republic of South Sudan. They will return to continue working with the South Sudanese employed on that hospital compound. Eventually, the whole family will relocate permanently.

The Janzens work at providing information and resources for enablling the community to help themselves out of the poverty caused by fifty years of civil war and tyranny from northern Sudan. They work under the sponsorship of PARTNERS IN COMPASSIONATE CARE, Box 150278, Grand Rapids, MI 49515.

They can be reached directly at, or, or Here, you can learn about the projects they are currently involved in.

Check them out and learn how this average American family is making a difference. Discover how you can further expand Christian ministry in South Sudan. From Warner’s World, this is

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Walking With Warner's Vision

I have “stuff” on my computer that I occasionally must sort and send to the Recyle Bin; it slows my computer too much. The picture below shows a tour group standing in what was E. E. Byrum’s front yard in Grand Junction a century ago. Byrum succeeded D. S. Warner” as Editor of the Gospel Trumpet and became the spokesperson of the fledgling Reformation Movement.

Today, I am midway between the National American Convention, and preparing for the 120th encampment at Grand Junction--now Warner Family Camp. A product of that so-called religious reformation, I have roots in and around Grand Junction’s “metro area. It is part of Michigan’s “boonies” and shows signs of candidacy for the recycle bin.

What is now The Blueberry Capital was once home to the fledgling Gospel Trumpet Company. That venture is now Church of God Ministries, Anderson, IN, primarily because the Byrum Brothers were Hoosiers before they became Church of God publishers and they liked their old home area of central Indiana as a business home. While growing as the “faith publisher” of an occasional “Reformation Magazine”, The Gospel Trumpet spawned a religious reformation, that sprouted from a limb of the National Holiness Movement and today ministers on every continent, in about 90 countries.

We stand with one foot in that past, and our other foot firmly planted firmly in the future, supported by a minimal complement of qualified agencies supporting our mission and message. Ours is a goodly heritage; we have a wholesome and transforming message, yet we are not always able to “sort our stuff” as well as we should.

This will be our 120th year in Grand Junction, if you date back to that first camp of 1892. If you go back to that “first national encampment” at nearby Bangor (1883), this would be our 129th year. Warner Family Camp is no longer “national”. We are a small district camp, merely one of a great host of state, district, and regional meetings of a similar nature.

We are better prepared to serve today, and are better qualified to share the gospel than a century+ ago. For one, I have no desire to return to those primitive days, but I would like to recapture the commitment and consecration to God, the Word of God, and the Church of God, of those “early saints.” Reports tell of one man walking 170 miles from Ohio to Grand Junction, for one of those early camp meetings. Those early “Flying Messengers” not only preached by faith, but people and preachers alike supported “by faith” their Gospel Trumpet magazine, for which many of them sold subscriptions.

There were people like “Mother Sarah Smith” who traveled with Warner’s musical evangelistic ministry, but the total ministry was more driven by the likes of the young (16-year-old Barney Warren). Warner found Barney in Geneva Township (rural South Haven) and Barney became the bass singer for the team that traveled with Warner. He later penned 7,000 pieces of music, and became a longtime preacher-pastor! Stories abound, telling how idle copies of The Gospel Trumpet became messengers predating organized church ministry in many cities, states, even nations abroad.

Gale Hetrick, when writing his saga of THE CHURCH OF GOD IN MICHIGAN, wondered at the wisdom of locating an exciting but tiny religious movement in the sand pits of Grand Junction. When I was a boy in the 30s, getting over the RR track as we approached the Camp Ground, sometimes required a “good run” if you made it up-and-over the first time; it was a “sand trap“!. That is the crossing just one mile north of town, at the county line, as we approached from South Haven--now decent road

What Hetrick and others of us found through the years, is encapsulated in a poem DS Warner wrote on one of his many subjects. He made a fleeting reference to the place “where the Lightning tracks crossed” - his reference to the 4-way RR Crossing in downtown Grand Junction. North and South it went from Chicago to Grand Rapids; East and West it went from South Haven (on Lake MI.) to Kalamazoo. From that focused spot, they could go anywhere in the world. AND THEY SOON DID, accompanied by “literally tons” of Gospel Trumpets, which soon developed bi-linqual abilities, and became multi-ethnic messages, carried by highly diversified messengers, going into a multi-cultural world.

We have the message they left for us, and we have honed our understanding of it, but we need to express it in fresh contemporary concepts. We have the means they wished they could have. Like Peter and John going into the Temple, they left us their best, along with some stuff we no longer need; but, IF ONLY WE WOULD DO AS WELL WITH WHAT WE HAVE, AS THEY DID WITH WHAT THEY HAD!!! IF ONLY WE WERE AS COMMITTED TO REACHING PEOPLE, as they were!

I’m not romanticizing our history. The truth is, we could shuck a little stuff into the Recycle Bin, sharpen our Biblical vision, and re-focus our message more clearly on healing our hurting world. THE FATHER ABOVE would be more pleased with us if we did; I believe. As a member of our Chog. Historical Society, I value the backward look - but only so long as it helps us better determine our forward direction.

Actually, I could do with a little less looking back, so that we could better look forward. Preserving things like traditions, campsites, saints homes et al has value - BUT WE DON’T HAVE ANYTHING IN THIS MAN’S MOVEMENT THAT WE DIDN’T GET OUR VALUE OUT OF. It could be time to tear down (sort out, send to recycle bin) some of our Museum Pieces and build new for that new future God just might be calling us to transition into -- either that or chip in the bucks for proper preservation while also properly proclaiming the Word.

I have NO IDEA when the Lord will return and bind up this wounded world. WHAT I DO KNOW is that HE CALLED US to go (G O -- G O), not just to Jerusalem and Judea, but Samaria and the uttermost parts. He called us to become a United Church for His divided world! AND, He has provided us fabulous favors for our sharing His healing, distributing His peace, and channeling His grace. Will we do it ... ?

From Warner’s World, I am

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


In his "Monday Morning Reflections" from Wisconsin, Derl Keefer makes the observation that July 4 is not about "fireworks" but about "freedom." I wish my noisey neighbors, who kept me awake for several nights, could have been more sensitive to the true meanings of this holiday--including those firecracker worshippers that accidentally burned down the large St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Kentwood, greater Grand Rapids.

We celebrate this Independence Day by displaying the stars and stripes. We close public offices, banks, and many businesses in honor of this special Day. Parades mark the primary public event in many cities and towns across the land, as backyards come alive with cookouts. Let us also remember people like the former slave, Frederick Douglas. Douglas was not only a former slave but also a member of the human race that was once considered inferior to white people; i.e., sub-human.

We also remember Frederick Douglas as a highly intellectual and generously accomplished American citizen, a brilliant human being, and a man who deeply believed in God and country. He operated a successful newspaper and became an active abolitionist. He may well be best remembered as one of America’s most brilliant orators. On July 5, 1852, Douglas delivered an oration for which we still remember him, after 150 years.

The year Douglas spoke, our very young and still new nation was but 3,000,000 people scattered about in an unstudied wilderness. At that time, we had little--still very undeveloped-- infrastructure. We had a president and a congress, but we had not yet realized our need for a stronger federal government and a stronger cohesiveness beyond the divided interests of competing states.
On this occasion, Douglas spoke to a segregated black audience on the subject of “What, To the Slave, Is the Fourth of July?” He spoke the day after the nation had just celebrated Independence Day 1852. In that interpretive speech Douglas declared:

“I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ringbolt to the chain
of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed., I regard it. The principles contained in
that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to
them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, at whatever cost”
(Frederick Douglas/Preaching With Sacred Fire/Martha Timmons & Frank
A. Thomas/W. W. Norton/NY /2010/141).

Within a decade of the Douglas oration, our forefathers fought a civil war among themselves, trying to determine whether or not these principles found in the Declaration of Independence--taken from the Bible--would protect every citizen or select citizens only. One hundred fifty years later, we have hopefully stopped waging civil war, but we still wage painful and protracted political, moral and spiritual warfare between advocates of what we could rightly call the 99% and the 1%. Ultimately, we will either extend liberty and justice to all, or we will retain special interests for the favored few. And I have to wonder: would Frederick Douglas have guessed that we Americans would still be fighting for the very existence of our national integrity 150 years later? The principles he affirmed in his highly interpretive speech of 1852 need our reaffirmation this July 4, 2012.

From Warner‘s World, we must, as Douglas said,
“be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, at whatever cost” (italics mine).