Friday, October 21, 2016

Finding a Working Faith

Al Early went through college and seminary and learned it all well enough that he became a pastor of a church. When he started trying to apply his learning, he did not find it working very well. When God answered his prayer for a parishioner in the hospital one day, he  became so convicted that he promised God he would start doing ministry as if the bible were really true! This resulted in his seeing God more clearly than he ever had.

Now days the Reverend Early prays, does ministry, and lives as if the Bible really is true. That prompted him to begin to challenge people and this is his challenge: I share with you his challenge for today. Decide to live for one year as if the Bible were true.

I will let you work out all the details of how you apply this, given the world of Bible times  and the world of today are so different from one another.

“Don’t get bogged down in that” he advises, but “focus on things like faith in Jesus Christ, salvation to eternal life, trusting God with everything, being a cheerful giver,   noticing the countless miracles going on around you every day and developing a servant’s heart.” He finds these all being good places to srart.

I feel confident, he says, “in saying that a year from now you will not have any regrests” (Winchester Sun/10-21-16/pA6).  

“Now” he admits, “I no longer struggle with the truth and authority of scripture. I see the miraculous hand of God at work in my life and ministry every day. It is a wonderful place to be?”

Are you having difficulty finding  life workable? Are you tired of facing life all by yourself? Do you have difficulty in taking the Bible seriously? From Warner’s World, I am 
suggesting that you accept the Reverend’s challenge. 

If you are teachable, you will lose absolutely nothing and you just might come out far ahead of where you are presently. Take the challenge for just a year and “live your life as if the Bible really is true”.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Transformed People

People, like roads, all go to some destination. Otherwise, they are a dead end in themselves and going nowhere in particular. Alice grew up with a privileged Puritan New England heritage. She learned to be responsible, respectful, and resourceful, as well as a religious adult. Preparing for college at Chauncey Hall, she graduated from Radcliffe, in spite of losing her father and caring for her grandmother during her senior year.

With the weakening of the family fortune, Alice became Editor of the Cambridge Press. Becoming a literary success, she soon married a successful newsman. “Sadly,” and at “the height of her literary success” she “seemed to be overshadowed by her health problems” concludes Jerry Davis (Miracle on Caney Creek/1982).

Staunchly immersed ethically and philosophically in helping other people, although chronically ill, partially crippled and somewhat paralyzed, Alice allegedly determined, “…if I have only a short time to live I’m going to use it for some good purpose’” (Davis/26). 

A short time later, Alice encountered one of her Presbyterian minister friends who had built and later abandoned a mission at Ivis, KY on Troublesome Creek.  Alice and her mother occupied that Knott County site of poverty and perversity in 1915 after making the trip via horse and buggy. With that, she launched what was left of her deteriorated life and began pouring her energies and resources into the best possible career then open to an articulate, dedicated, and caring young lady: helping other people to help themselves.

When June Buchanan’s road intersected with that of Alice Lloyd, the two devotees of improving the lot of humanity became lifelong companions. These two young women invested their lives  (42 years together) in the work begun by Alice Lloyd. The rest is a fascinating history of literally creating a community on Caney Creek and developing a role model as a self-help Community Center.

From its very humble beginning, Caney Creek Community Center evolved into an ongoing educational and ministry center that is today Alice Lloyd College. This four-year institution holds a strongly recognized commitment to Alice Lloyd’s original purpose and philosophy. Located in Pippa Passes, KY the college guarantees to meet the financial needs of mountain students. High academic and moral standards are demanded, and all students earn their way toward graduation by working part-time, while also developing personal character and a sense of purpose.

Graduates here are not a dead-end road! They are going somewhere, as all roads (and all people) should do. What many men would not attempt without government subsistence, two uninhibited and idealistic young women that did know any better than to trust in the Christian principles they had been taught from infancy, began helping others become the leaders their region required, if life deep in the mountains was ever going to get any better.

Reading this volume aloud to my wife, we were fascinated (Jerry C. Davis/Miracle on Caney Creek/Host Communications Printing/ Lexington, KY 1982). This was not a book about poverty and pollution, or the pros and cons of the coal industry; this was a book about people and possibilities. 

We were reminded of our friend, the Reverend Garland Lacy and his ongoing Applachian Ministries in Powell-and-Lee Counties, this being a continuation of both the Pine Crest Ministry carried on by Naomi Randal and that of Moses and Ruby Kitchen. We had helped support Garland when still in active pastoral ministry and I was privileged to visit him again only recently. The value of such ministries is beyond any price one can put on such, and is so deserving of ongoing and dedicated support.

When people experience the transformation of Christian character and directed purpose anything becomes possible. From Warner’s World, this is 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Principle and Practice

Editor Harold Phillips (GT/VC) is a friend from yesteryear. He was a friend to all young writers in the church. In the October 19, 1969 issue of “VC”, a year that found me both a pastor and a seminarian, Harold editorialized on the theme of “Principle and Practice”. He told this insightful story from  Daniel Callahan (Honesty in the Church, Scribner 1965).

A certain Christian layman owned a supermarket. He made the difficult decision to stay closed on Sundays, although that gave a decided edge to his competitors. A short time later he bumped into a friend at church and she encouraged him to continue his announced policy of Sunday closure.

Splendid! That same afternoon, however, the grocer chanced to pass the establishment of one of his competitors and guess who he saw! “Emerging with a heavily laden cart of groceries, was that same lady. Now says Harold: “This is not to say that the matter of matching practice with principle is simple or easy. That is not the case. It’s tough, and elusive, and perplexing. But the gap between professed principles and obvious practices is much too wide today.”

Is it any wonder that we are so often labeled ‘hypocrites’ and ’phonies’, Harold wonders as he calls to mind comments of an anti-Christian philosopher who concluded, You Christians don’t look very redeemed to me.”

This was a problem when Editor Phillips wrote his op-ed. It remains a problem in 2016, even as it was a problem when I accepted my first pastoral charge in Harrison, AR in 1951.

It is the perennial problem of the ages! Matching practice with proclamation, of practicing what one preaches, is always easier said than done. The Editor is quite on target when he opines, “Words cost less than deeds.” I suggest, he added, “that in some cases at least, the ‘conversion’ experience has been only verbal and tearful and not deeply penetrating.”

Is it possible that “believing the doctrine” sometimes becomes our Church of God substitute for actually committing our lives to God and living in biblical obedience to his will? It appears to me to be a problem In this election year, when we are electing a President that will be a global leader of the world God has placed us in, Too often the opinions expressed are political prejudices that shape the contours of our biblical interpretation rather than our principle shaping our practice.

Consequently, too many Christians become so focused on the politics of ne-or-more favorite moral issues that when push comes to shove they simply fail to think through so as to biblically structure their lives consistent with how Jesus lived. I find D. S. Warner a man ahead of his time when he stepped out of denominationalism so as to fellowship every “blood washed believer” as the old song suggests.
I further conclude that “Warner’s followers” may not have always been right in bashing Babylon and insisting on walking the path of holiness and unity in solitude, rather than establishing a basis for cooperating in the larger Christian context.     

May God open our eyes and heal the blindness that in the language of the Editor fails to “see the discrepancies between what the church commonly professes and what the church usually does.”

From Warner’s World this is

offering a prayer that we both see our shortfalls of discrepancy and that we have enough discipline
to be transformed by the renewing of our minds,
thereby proving what is the will of God that is good
and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2 RSV)