Friday, February 15, 2013

“The Trumpets Are Sounding”

B. Gale Hetrick spent a year researching and writing his very fine history of the Church of God in Michigan—LAUGHTER AMONG THE TRUMPETS. Now more than three decades old, Gale’s work came out as a centennial volume in 1980. We all appreciated his work and saw it as a fine tribute to Gale’s twenty-eight or so years as Executive Secretary of the Church of God of Michigan.

Knowing that his book will soon be updated, I re-read portions of the original work this week, and was especially challenged by Chapter 8, “The Trumpets Are Sounding.” That title comes from Isaiah 18:3, a scripture used on the masthead of the GOSPEL TRUMPET when printed at Grand Junction. Gale quoted Rudyard Kipling’s lines:

“There’s no use in going further so they said and I believed them,  Built my barns and strung my fences in a little border station tucked away among the foothills where the trails run out and stop.

Then a voice as bad as conscience rang interminable phrases in one everlasting whisper day and night repeated so; ‘Something hidden, go and find it; something lost beyond the ranges; something lost and waiting for you. Go!”

Anybody might have found it but the whisper came to me!”

If the movement” Gale suggested, “is to have any major relevance in its second century, it is essential that we look to the quality of our life as a people,” and his call was “to be a people biblically aware—spiritually alive”. He further suggested “It is time now for our congregations to fulfill both the theology and the spirit of Christian unity>"

What captured my attention was this paragraph: “We face the real question as to whether the fire still burns today or whether we have been vaccinated with the substance of the movement and are incapable of’ ‘catching its burning fever.’ As with the past, the future also rests on the question of passion” (Italics mine).

I became a child of the Movement in 1927. I heard “the whisper” and became an ordained leader in the Movement in 1952. I look at Gale’s world in 1980 and compare it to 2013, and I have to wonder: are we so indoctrinated with perfectionism, calls of heart unity, “come-outism” and numerous Movemental themes that we are no longer capable of catching that burning fever that drove our pioneers in flagrant disregard of themselves and all else?

Gale spoke of the passion our pioneers had to (1) restore the church, (2) save the lost, and (3) deliver the gospel to the world ASAP. Passion today prompts some toward the firebrands of religious radicalism, others toward the terrorism of the Taiban or Al Queda, and others to other bizarre behaviors. Those first disciples in the first century church discovered life’s deeper demensions in an” Upper Room”, where they were touched by the Spirit of God and a new realization of God’s indwelling presence that produced a personal and powerful relationship resulting in healing, wholeness, and holiness in their own day-to-day lives.

Some can only see a world of politics that preaches fear; “protect” yourself with a gun. This is a hostile world  that remembers only centuries-old wrongs, and forever feeds hatreds. It is a world that finds forgiveness and reconciliation utterly incomprehensible. Occasionally, the church splatters a lot of mud spinning its program wheels and revving up its ecclesiastical motors for competition in the drag race of public attention and social power. BUT, WHERE IS THE HEALING WHOLENESS AND THE HOLINESS THAT RESULTS IN WELLNESS?

I suggest the answer may be found in the quiet, consistent, and well-lived life modeled by the Godly saint that has experienced a re-birth of Galatians 5--life in the Spirit. This is a life where God’s loving grace predominates legalism and judgment, or even justice. This is a life lived as a pipeline of God’s loving grace. If the church is the BODY of Christ; if WE are His hands, then it seems to me that if the world is to experience goodness and mercy, undeserved forgiveness and reconciliation, loving kindness rather than retaliation, justice rather than retribution; it must begin with us. They must experience it from us!

The church can no longer echo the words and thoughts of the society of which it is a part. The church is in the world but not of the world. The church must once more speak only the words of Him who said “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32).

From Warner’s World, we are

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