Monday, November 25, 2013

After retiring to Michigan from Texas, retired pastor Frederick Davey came out of retirement from a career that culminated at Houston, Texas First Church of God, to spend several retirement years as pastor of the Crystal Springs Church of God in Benton Harbor, MI.  Fred has now returned to another of his passions, writing. The Longing of God for His Own offers Fred’s latest contribution to the church.

If you check Fred out on Face Book, you might come up with some silly family snapshot of Fred & family at a recent Tiger Ballgame or even this one with a family member.

However, if you check him out as an author, you will find this small self-published volume of 95-pages well done, easy to read, simply written, and easily understood--printed by Reformation Publishers. Aside from a few editorial errors I really did not expect to find, since Fred has a daughter retired from the Editorial Department at Warner Press, Otherwise, it is a good job well done by both the author and the on-demand printer, Steven Williams.

Fred launches his book with a recollection of Weldon Johnson’s popular poem “Creation.” He pursues his focus with a series of “C” words in 13 short chapters that range from the Creation, which God pronounced good, to the Creation of family life, and the Cataclysm of the flood. He includes chapters on the Covenant, the Chosen Family, and the Covenant People, while also confronting the new Covenant, the Cross, and the Church, before concluding with the Culmination.

Should you read the book, you may encounter some new ways of looking at things, as I did. I like Weldon Johnson's Creation poem, but I encountered some new thoughts right off, then settled into a kind of ho-hum reading a little at a time on going to bed. Half way through the book I awoke to the awareness that I was holding in my hands a rather well-written handbook that offers an excellent resource for pastors and others who might want to help people clarify their thinking about the church on mission in ministry, the present reality of the Kingdom of God, even what it means to be part of the laos (people) of God.

I especially liked chapter 12, The Longing of God – the Church. We have always liked to preach and teach on the church and the Priesthood of Believers. In view of the renaissance taking place in the Church of God today regarding the church’s ministry and God’s intentions for the church, consider this quote from pp 87-88:

“Just a layperson? What a tremendous claim that is; to be a part, a member of God’s own people. It says you are a minister to the world, a mirror of God himself, to show his wonderful deeds and love. What a privilege—to know God personally, intimately. And that privilege is yours if you will accept it. Open your heart, and He will come in, will commune with you, and make you a part of the greatest enterprise ever, the building of His church” (Italics and bold emphasis mine).

Every chapter comes with an appropriately selected scripture passage at the beginning, scriptural references throughout, and practical questions for good dialogue at the end. Fred tells me he did his own test-run recently when given opportunity to share it where he currently worships. He felt it was well received and he was so comfortable with it that when people asked about the book, he refused to name a price, asking only enough to cover his costs.
For anyone interested in reaching Fred, you can reach him at his Yearbook address:
Frederick J. Davey
3017 Johnson Rd., Lot 65,
Stevensville, MI 49127

From Warner’s World, I am suggesting you give Fred's book a try; you might just like it  - The Longing of God for His  Own.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reaping As We Sow

As my friend and I discussed professional football, he admitted, “While I still remain an avid fan, I too, don't like the violent part of the Game.”

Then referring to when the New Orleans Saints were found putting "BOUNTIES" on the best players of opposing, he added, “That not only is distasteful, it speaks volumes to the extent that "Winning" plays in our culture.”

He then made this statement, which brought both of us to agreement: “There has been more than one occasion when either the violence, or the extreme rancidness that is rampant in some cities, I nearly swore off the sport altogether. I think my changing attitude has something to do with age, but more than that for me is the effect the Word of God has on me. It’s not just watching sports, it is the whole spectrum of life that seems like God has lifted a veil from my eyes, and I now see so many things differently. Politics more so than any other subject.”

Think about it. Human history is filled with violence. The occupation of North America came by means of a great deal of violence, against First Americans, even against one another. Global news is war, genocide, poverty, child soldiers… Hollywood movies feed an insatiable public appetite with what – violence: murder, mayhem, shoot’em up Westerns, you name it. Until more recently, even ESPN football commercials featured the brain-damaging violent crashing of human bodies against one another as reason to anticipate the game.

The ugly truth is we are little different from the early Romans going to the Coliseum to watch bloody gladiators compete to the death. Now young thrill-seekers are sucker-punching strangers for the sheer thrill of knocking them unconscious. Words are now seeds of violence called bullying.

Seeds have natural life cycle. Plant a seed and it will eventually reproduce itself, be it an apple, an act, or even a thought. The seeds of violence we are sowing are like a dangerous cancer; they will destroy people, nations, and will eventually destroy our very culture.

From Warner’s World, this is reminding each of us that as we sow, so shall we reap.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Who Never Heard of God?

Who never heard of God? I met such a lady some years back. Born in Baffin land, 400 miles south of the North Pole, she admitted, “Only after becoming a Christian did I know inner satisfaction.”

When her husband died, she took her orphan child home to Aberdeen, Scotland and waited for opportunity to return home to Baffin land. Once back in civilization, she admittedly “got lost.” Eventually; she found herself in America, where she became a lecturer.

On moving to Indianapolis, IN she found a home just two blocks from Glendale Church of God. On Sunday she went to church to hear the music and singing. There, she met my friend through the years, E. Joe Gilliam. She referred to her experience as happening on what she called the “quiet day every now and then.” On returning home, she announced “I’ve been to church!” adding, “We’ve been going ever since.”

Her growing understanding brought increasing faith and she became a devout Christian. By the time I heard her speak to our pastor’s conference, some time before her death, she recognized that “God found me a long time before I knew he was looking for me.”

I thought that story was the most beautiful I had ever heard! It is also the ageless story of the centuries. It describes how God finds the unfound. It becomes the history of real people discovering failure, admitting it, and finding faith.

It is no sin to fail! It is a sin to trip over your failure and not use it to good advantage to find faith. Admitting failure positions one to face one’s problems and one’s possibilities. There came a day when I had to take a hard look at myself and admit to myself that I was a failure. I was bitterly disappointed in myself. Only slowly did the realization become clear: “You are what Christ came into the world to die for.”

That realization of personal failure became a revelation of personal faith, faith in a God who already knew and loved me, faith in a community of believers that accepted me with the same Grace by which they had been accepted, faith in a revelation that opened the door for a personal resurrection.

This is suggesting 
it is never a failure to fall, but it is a failure to fall and just lay there. So, why not make today the first day of a new life with the God who has been searching for you all of your life?  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Let Go and Let God

The Duchess of Buckingham attended Lady Huntingdon’s Chapel of Bath and heard the plain teachings of those people called Methodists. “It is monstruous,” she protested, “to be told you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl the earth.” I do not wonder that her ladyship relished such sentiments so much at variance with high rank and good breeding.

On the other hand, do you remember Fleur, old Soames Forsyte’s daughter in John Galsworthy’s novel, Swan Song? Fleur caused a destructive fire on the family homestead through willful negligence. Watching the firemen try to save cherished paintings, Soames sees Fleur directly in the path of a heavy frame about to fall. He pushes her out of the way,  but is mortally wounded. Kneeling by him, she takes his hand and in remorse penitently promises “Yes, Dad, I will be good.”

Soames gave his life for his daugher’s sinfulness, loving her at the highest cost he could pay. She was redeemed and forgiven. Men have fallen on their knees in the face of love like that and thanked God. Yet, these people did not redeem the other person the way Christ did. They did not substitute for God working in us, but their sacrifice would never have been made had not God first loved us at the cross.

But, what if this father who sacrifices himself for us is none other than God, our Heavenly Father? What if He willingly takes the consequences of our willfulness and turns to us still with love. This becomes the power of sin broken, for it has nowhere else to go. This is grace! William Temple concluded, “In Christ’s agony, we see what our sin cost God; and in his bearing before his enemies we see how God regards us as we inflict the blow ... We cannot go on wounding one who accepts our wounds like that; we are filled with fear, not the old craven fear of punishment, but the fear of wounding the tenderest of all hearts.”

On the deepest level of life, Christ intercedes for us by bringing us back into full fellowship with our Heavenly Father. A young woman was stabbed and taken by ambulance to the great hospital. There she was assigned a nurse to sit with her, until she died. Looking at the lines in the young girl’s face, the nurse thought what a pity for such a pretty face.

Then the girl opened her eyes, whispering, “I want you to tell me something and tell me straight. Do you think God cares about people like me? Do you think he could forgive anyone as bad as me?”

Not daring to respond until she asked for God’s help, she responded, “I’m telling you straight; God cares about you and He forgives you.” The girl sighed and slipped into unconsciousness, her facial lines softening with approaching death. But something happened between God and that girl. In that moment, something happened that reminds us of another day on a green hill outside a city wall long ago. John Masefield described it in The Everlasting Mercy:

Saul Kane was a depraved, lecherous man, fastening his sins upon young people and pulling them down into his pit. Drunken, profane, full of lust, he was confronted by a gentle Quaker lady:

“Saul Kane,” she said, “When next you drink
Do me the gentleness to think
That every drop of drink accursed
Makes Christ within you die of thirst.

That every dirty word you say
Is one more flint upon His way,
Another thorn about His head,
Another mock by where He treads,
Another nail, another cross.”

Saul Kane saw in the horrible light of God’s judgment what he had done; children ruined, life depraved, a mother’s broken heart. What a burden for one man to carry! In the mystery of God’s goodness he realized he did not have to carry it any longer. He felt the presence of Christ close to him.

I knew…
That Christ was standing there with me,
That Christ should plough, and as I ploughed
My Savior Christ would sing aloud,
As I drove the clods apart
Christ would be ploughing in my heart.

Through rest harrow and bitter roots.
Through all my bad life’s rotten fruits.
O Christ who holds the open gate,
O Christ who drives the furrow straight…
O clover-cops half white, half red
O beauty from behind the dead,
O blossom, key to earth and heaven,
O souls that Christ has now forgiven.

Saul Kane found God had not forsaken him in the darkness of his sin. What he could not conquer in his his own strength, he conquered by the power of God through Christ. When our life harbors rotten fruit, we need not hold it for harvest. We can plow it under, burn it with consuming fire, and say experientially what Saul Kane said poetically:
The water’s going out to sea
And there’s a great moon calling me;
But there’s a great sun calls the moon,
And all God’s bells with carol soon
For joy and glory and delight
Of someone coming home tonight.

inviting you to discover the God who transforms life from sorrow to peace. Let Him delete the condemnation of sin from your life. Like Saul Kane, let God fill you with his own strength and joy. When sin leaves you with no other way to go, God will do for you what you could never do in your own strength! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Winchester Sun, a central Kentucky newspaper, picked up an article that caught my eye when visiting there recently. Written by AP reporter Josh Lederman, the article was entitled “Obama nurtures his faith away from the spotlight.” The story featured a photo of Joshua DuBois, the President’s informal spiritual advisor. The article grabbed my attention because of persistent claims by well-intended but poorly informed individuals trying diligently to denigrate our highest elected official by portraying him as a closet Muslim, a dangerous subversive, a faithless socialist.

Dubois, I noted, administered the President’s faith-based office until earlier this year. He continues to write-and-supply the President with Blackberry devotionals that weave Scriptures with reflections from well-known literary figures as Maya Angelou and C. S. Lewis. Consequently, DuBoise reports he has “certainly seen the president’s faith grow in his time in office,” adding, “When you cultivate your faith it grows.”

DuBoise’s digital dailies have been compiled and will be published in a forthcoming volume titled, “The President’s Devotional.” A typical response from Mr. Obama says, “A snippet of Scripture for me to reflect on. And it has meant the world to me.” The President admittedly plans to continue with the morning meditations, the birthday call with pastors and ad hoc prayer circles” according to a senior advisor not authorized to comment by name.

“This office tends to make a person pray more,” Obama told a reporter in an interview with Cathedral Age magazine. “And as President Lincoln once said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”

From early on, as when Obama announced his candidacy from the Lincoln Memorial in Illinois, I have followed his interest in our sixteenth president, which parallels my own. One cannot miss the parallels, such as similarities in leadership style, between Presidents Lincoln and  Obama. Doris Kerns Goodwin described it well in her magnificient masterpiece, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

I have also observed some of the spiritual advisors Mr.Obama retains in his inner circle. I know he distanced himself from Jeremiah Wright, proclaimer of the “God Damn America” sermon. But as I have frequently observed after researching that sermon and carefully reading the verbatim: “I’d have to confess that in proper context I could easily have preached that sermon myself!” The problem was people read it totally out of context.

On the other hand, Dr. Joel Hunter, pastor of Orlando’s 15,000-member Northland Church is a solid white theological conservative, although I must admit, he does have a social conscience that many conservatives lack. Vashti McKenzie is a venerable bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a highly respected and historic black denomination dating back to the slave days of Richard Allen. Dr. Joseph Lowery  remains as one of the stalwarts of the Civil Rights Movement and a respected religious figure among black Baptist clergy.

It interested me to note that when young Obama’s Chicago friends noted his social concience, it was the young Chicago black Baptist pastor Alvin Love that referred him to Jeremiah Wright, because Wright was the social activist in Chicago church circles. Love, however, remained Obama’s influence. 

Maranis further reported young Obama’s experiences in Chicago, after arriving in the city to work for a faith-based group as a community organizer. Obama later admitted this “forced me to confront a dilemma that my mother never fully resolved in her own life: the fact that I had no community or shared traditions in which to ground my deeply held beliefs. The Christians whom I worked recognized themselves in me; they saw that I knew their Book and shared their values and sang their songs. But they sensed that a part of me remained removed, detached, an observer among them

"I came to realize that without a vessel for my beliefs, without an unequivocal commitment to a particular community of faith, I would be consigned at some level to always remain apart, free in a way that my mother was free, but also along in the same ways she was ultimately alone.’” (Maranis/556, italics mine).

Wright became Obama’s pastor/friend but Obama left organizing because he began to see the ultimate limitations of it. A couple of quotes from Maranis are highly suggestive.

From Kenya, Maranis reported: “After the story was finished, and after Barack had been shown some of the tangible remnants of the lives of his forebears, the registration book that his grandfather had to carry as a native servant, a letter that Betty Mooney had written trying to get his father admitted to an American college, he stepped out of Mama Sarah’s hut and into the yard, walked to the corner by the mango tree, fell to his knees between the graves of Hussein Onyango and Barack Hussein Obama, and wept” (570).

Following Kenya, Maranis noted: “A life of leaving and being left had come full circle. He would be leaving soon, but never again in the same way. ‘I made these enormous attachments, much deeper attachments than I would have expected,’ he said later of that time. This made leaving difficult in one sense, but easier in another. ‘I knew that I would come back … I had relationships there, people who cared deeply about me and that I cared deeply about’” (570-71).

However, adds Maranis, it was “In Chicago he had found the place to which he could always return.”  The life of Barack Obama has been a long journey filled with the void of atheism, religion, social values, but it was in Chicago that he found Christian friends, values he deeply cared about, and the love of Michelle Robinson and her family of faith, that ultimately brought the future President to a deeply personal--be it private--faith in the Bible and Jesus Christ.

I, for one, prefer that he quietly nurture it away from the spotlight, rather than parade it frivolously for political gain. From Warner’s World, I am …

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Neighbors: Jean Fremion-McKibben - KPCNews: Home

Neighbors: Jean Fremion-McKibben - KPCNews: Home

As you watch this, you will observe the headstone of Joseph C. Fisher, D. S. Warner's early compatriot in ministry, long since ignored and neglected... 

Monday, November 11, 2013

NASSER FARAG - The Virgin Mary in the Light of the Word of God