Saturday, September 24, 2016

Our Friend Pete

I never knew anyone who disliked Pete Meyer. I met Pete in 1945. I was an incoming freshman at Anderson University and he was a popular outgoing senior. Pete later served with the Board of Church Extension and Home Missions back in the days when we maintained in-house Agency people where pastors could find help they could find nowhere else. I had been in pastoral ministry more than four decades when Pete delivered his personal testimony to Park Place worshippers in Anderson, IN, in the Spring of 1993. His cancer hastened his death Christmas week--the following December 23rd.

Pete’s sister Evelyn came from Sweetwater, TX as did Pete. Their parents were sturdy church-going people and essential to the life of the Church of God in Sweetwater. Wife and I were privileged to stay in their home back in the early fifties—lovely people—mom and pop to many of us who were younger then. They enjoyed the strong leadership of such pastors as Robert E. Bowden and Alta, and Frank Couvisier and Roma Lee.

As young pastors frequently cutting out new ministries, many of us benefited from the devotion, dedication and unique skills of Agency personnel like Pete Meyer. In our desire to be ecclesiastically lean and clean we have ridded ourselves of most such services today and have lost our sense of outreach and missionary direction in the process—an unfortunate calamity that we continually pay for with our lack of direction and staying relevant.

Like other leaders I could name, Pete was not only uniquely skilled, he was also a man of strong spiritual character and disciplined integrity. When finally faced with an incurable cancer, he simply drew closer to the Christ of the Cross and found his answers to life in the power of the resurrection. Following are the printed remarks he delivered that day at Park Place (cf. p20/VC/Apr 1994):

“It is indeed a rare privilege that I have to share with you, my colleagues, and our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. I was asked by the staff just this week if I could muster up the courage and the strength—that’s not only just mental strength but physical strength, because the disease is a debilitating disease. It takes a lot of energy just to take care of the daily functions of life.

“What was Easter like last year? In this intervening twelve months, word has come that I have an incurable disease. There is nothing more that can be done, according to four specialists we’ve contacted. That is not to say there is no hope. That is not to say there is no help. So I would say first of all in this particular Holy Week, the difference between this year and last year is that I am much more focused right now than I was a year ago. I seem to focus in on what is real. It seems that God has given me a clarity of mind and of thought to help me realize that some things are not quite as important as I used to think they were. And so I am a little more focused, I think.

“As I study and reflect and listen to radio and television and other ways of communicating, it would seem our world would have us think that our purpose in life is to be a celebrity—to be a superstar. This Easter the power of the resurrection tells me again that this is not why we are here. We are here to be just simple every day, loving people caring for each other.

“That’s the message of Easter. In living out this Easter I have discovered anew that one of life’s most difficult assignments is that of living with uncertainty. It is true I don’t know how long I have to live, but neither do you. Just because I happen to have a disease that doctors have found no cure for, does not mean that there is no cure. There is uncertainty, but the power of the resurrection takes away that uncertainty.

‘In these past few months many of you have been contacting me through letters with your wonderful support, your love, your prayers, and your reassurances. Some of you get down to the very essence of life itself; you’ve been sharing with me some of your fears. I realize I had some fears; we all have fears, but there is a great deal of fear among us. One of the things I would like to say this Easter is that there is an excessive fear of death.

“I’m not running to death; nor, on the other hand am I running away from it. I feel that death ought not to be looked at as my worst enemy. Just reread your Good Friday story. Jesus did not give up, tough the physical pain he had was such that he couldn’t bear it. Jesus turned it over to God.

‘‘So, let’s take a look this morning at this Easter as the power of the resurrection for ourselves and not view death as the worst enemy. It has already been licked once and it can be licked again (If you will pardon a colloquial expression). Hope offers a great power in our search for healing. You do not know, those hundreds of you who have sent cards and letters, the hope you have brought to my life, which in turn has given me the sustenance I have had olive up until this moment.   

“This hope offers great power in our search for healing. I don’t know if my body will ever be healed. That’s not the point to me right now, but I do have the hope that I will be healed in my mind and in my spirit and in my soul. I do have the hope that God will help me be the best person I can be and continue to be the message to others that God intends for me to be. Life/’s miracle to me is kin the hope rather than in the healing.

“This Easter I have discovered something that is not necessarily brand new but I have renewed its acquaintance. There is great power in humor. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth, the man—the human being—had a lot more fun than a lot of us today who claim to represent him in this life. I think he saw humor in life. He saw the funny things in life. He saw the funny things in life, and humor is a great healer. I thank God for humor and I thank you for sharing your humorous experiences with me.

“The power of the resurrection, the real test, is to leave the future in God’s hands without demanding a detailed road map. That requires much more trust than many of must have. There is the lesson of Easter—the power of the resurrection.

“Let us all ask more for more peace of mind: God, I don’t know about that, but give me peace of mind about my not knowing. There is peace of mind available in that sense. There is hope. God can be trusted. There are no conditions, not even death, that can rob us or have the power to divert us from the path to abundant life. May God make it so in your life.”

From Warner’s World, I am

saying thank you Pete for the lighted torch you held up for us to see and follow ...

we remain better focused in our own spiritual walk as a result … 
*Picture at top shows Jack Barnes (Ft Worth, center) visiting with Rod Bennett (right) and a 3rd unidentified friend in kitchen at former Eastland Camp Inspiration.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Democratic Government, for by, and of the People

Historian D. K. Goodwin wrote  regarding William Howard Taft in her history of THE BULLY PULPIT (Simon and Schuster, NY, 2013, p. 741). "While William Howard Taft had embraced the role of the conservative during the presidential race" with Theodore Roosevelt, wrote Kerns, "he, too had long since rejected the laizzez faire philosophy, that had dominated politics since the Civil War, committing himself instead to the progressive belief that the government had a responsibility to remedy social problems, improve working conditions, safeguard public health, and protect our natural resources."

Governments must work hand in glove with the citizenry for the common good. Otherwise that government is a failure, whatever its national status, and its citizenry will be disenfranchised in one way or another. Government that is of, for, and by the people, as most of us believe in America, will be a popular government; i.e. democratic, or of the populace. Dictatorship is an undesireable form of government that is neither of nor by the people. Neither is it for the people in most circumstances. It tends to be autocratic, myopic, self-perpetuating and self-centered, as was the case with England's King George, who claimed the right of divine sovereignty.

Our founding fathers forged a nation together out of the people, that was for the people, and by the people. Government became a cooperative friend rather than a predatory enemy but many Americans forget this today. They revert back to the old laizzez faire that ignores the truth that government should be the friend of the people as practiced by the people, all of which takes education and cooperative practice.

They maintain status quo for the privileged and focus on representing the privileged, and they vigorously oppose efforts to be inclusive of all peoples of all classes, colors, and cultures.
Government cannot replace the people, nor should it be totally responsible for the citizenry, but neither is it the enemy. On the other hand, no nation can long be successful unless the people and the elected governmental officials work together for the common good of the culture, unless they maintain safe and healthy working conditions, and safeguard public health, while protecting natural resources (as opposed to treating our natural as our own to spend without thought of following generations).

By the Grace of God and our own good luck we Americans are a blessed lot of people and we are the envy of the whole global community, none of which can be attributed to our deserving it. We did nothing to be born into it, but in our gratefulness we need to practice the wisdom that former Basketball player and media commentator shared with his son, when the younger Kellogg and his college team entered the NCAA Finals Sweet Sixteen: "Lose yourself in the game."

The world watches as we Americans elect a leader to become the "point man" of our government. That person will also be in a position to morally influence the administrative affairs of global nations around the world. Let us throw off the weights of personality celebs and of misguided issues, and let us lose ourselves in the game of making our society a more fair and just society, and a place of equal opportunity for all of God's Children (red and yellow, black, and white, as the Christian Hymn suggests.

Let us lose ourselves in the game of making this a more livable place for everyone in America so that as a nation we may in turn be used to transform global relationships into something to be enjoyed and shared, rather than feared and avoided.

From Warner's World, I am

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The UNITED States of America

American Creation discusses the Triumphs and Tragedies of the Founding Republic. Written by Dr. Joseph Ellis, the author is a controversial among scholars but his skills are recognized as a foremost University History Professor turned popular author. He is described as likely the most widely read author today on our Founding Fathers. He has authored several award-winning books, particularly on John Adams, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, in that order. He viewed Adams as greatly under-valued and focused his studies on our earliest founders.

At the time, I noted his thought suggesting the success of the individual (Bill of Rights) came in protection of the whole (Constitution), rather than just Washington, Jefferson et al, including Clay, Lincoln and etc. I further noted how he viewed our first two presidents, which I found most interesting:
               1. Adams - pragmatic provization
               2. Washington - control of space (West of Mississippi)
               3. Control of pace - race put off (slavery) although okay with the Indians.
               4. Space and pace not matched with Race (black).

As Ellis noted, America’s founders developed in an age when they would have been otherwise confined because they lacked aristocracy. When you view our Founding Fathers, whatever else you may determine about them individually; for the most part they offer a group portrait. They were our founding fathers, not just George Washington, or Adolph Hitler, or Donald Trump, they were the group.

As a group, they won colonial independence, established a nation sized republic by popular consent, that was also a secular state (as opposed to a theocracy) that also included overlapping authorities (which I see for example in the balance of power with the presidential leader, the congress, et al, and again in the separation of church and state). Moreover, they established Institutionalized channels for dissent while failing to settle slavery and failing to resolve/implement the issue of Indian settlement.

Ellis suggests to my mind that we can charge America’s founders with failure because of the multiple issues of slavery, Indians, women, equal economics, et al; but he seems to say “not so fast!” He believes they established a context for resolving those issues and the rest is up to us. And that seems to be where many of us hang up and square off at one another today.

I am well aware today of two opposing forces in America. One suggests the Constitution is a sacred document as written, very much like the King James Version of the Bible, and that although it was written expressly by scholars approved by King George of England and had to pass his approval, it was nevertheless good enough for the Apostle Paul and should be good enough for me. 

On the other hand, there are those who accept the fact that the Constitution, as inspired as it was, did not finally resolve for all time the issues of slavery and human rights and that it gave more citizenship rights to a white male landowner than it did to women and slaves etc. Moreover, it was written in a time when we were thirteen separate colonies with each colony having its own independence, infrastructure et al and it left a lot of the development of our nation to be worked out by succeeding governments working in their own times.

The author quotes Adams (p49) in 1776: “When asked, Adams would always concur that a republic was bottomed on the principle of popular sovereignty, but the political expression of that sovereignty in any government must be plural rather than singular because the interests of ‘the people’ were diverse and often mutually exclusive. Hindsight again allows us to detect a truly modern idea entering the conversation in ‘Thoughts,’ the idea of multiple or shared sovereignties.”

Concludes Ellis: “While Adams was a firm believer in making the American Revolution happen slowly in order to cushion the shock of abrupt change, this particular feature of his political thought represented a fundamental break with past wisdom that contained truly jarring implications for any singular definition of political authority.” Thus, Ellis would conclude that Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence owes its acceptance to John Adams “Thoughts” that enabled colonies to oppose King George’s top-down authority from the bottom up.

It is an American tragedy that so many Americans today do not, cannot, will not, accept the wisdom posited by our second president, John Adams, for had not our founders agreed with Adams, they would never have found mutual basis for allowing a bunch of commoners spread across thirteen British colonies in North America to dissent from King George and break away to found the “United” States of America.

I am at Warner’s World, praying

God again enable us to become sufficiently devout so as to be grateful enough to again be the United States of America. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Sudden Wonder: Strange Grief shared by Jeff Ingram the son of our longtime friends

Sudden Wonder: Strange Grief: Because of the layout of our living room, our TV faces the window. I hate it, because it faces the afternoon sun and we're constantly c...