Posted in Uncategorized

20 Questions

While married and still in college Judy and I did a nursing home ministry. I don’t remember how we came about to do it, but we did it every Sunday morning for a few years.

While driving to the nursing home we would listen to a Bible game show that played on a local Christian radio station. It was called 20 Questions. We enjoyed listening to it because it was such that you felt engaged while it was in progress.

The game had a moderator and there were always the same three players. Two of the players were scholars/theologians that taught in the school we attended. They were very knowledgeable and both were considered Greek scholars. The third participant was a regular joe. He ran the local Christian radio station that played the game show. He had no letters after his name and he didn’t know Greek. As far as I knew he didn’t teach any religious classes at the school either.

The three participants had to come up with the answer to what the moderator was thinking within 20 questions. It always had something to do with the Bible. The only clue the moderator would give was that it was either animal, vegetable or mineral. From that they had to come up with whatever the moderator had picked out from the Bible. They could work as a team but they only had 20 questions to come up with the answer.

Many times they would come up with the answer. It always blew me away how they could do it. Some of the answers were very obscure and from very obscure passages. Needless to say I was somewhat in awe of their knowledge of the Bible.

As we listened to the program regularly there was one thing I noticed. Whenever the two scholars couldn’t figure it out the regular joe guy came up with the answer. That was the most amazing thing! He didn’t know Greek, wasn’t considered a “scholar” and didn’t teach Bible in a Bible college. It defied all logic, at least to me. More than anything I wondered how he did it.

One day as I was working at the local gas station this fellow pulled up to the pumps to get his car filled. That was back in the days when someone actually pumped the gas for the customer. We even checked the tire pressure along with all the fluids — plus, we even washed the windshield. All at no extra cost. It’s just how America was back when America was still America. Don’t get me going …

He pulled up to the pumps one day and I thought this would be my opportunity to ask him how he did it. As I walked up to his car I noticed his KJV Bible on the front seat. Nope, not a study Bible. Nope, no fancy leather. I’m confused. How can this guy know the Bible better than the scholars. So, I got my courage up and decided to ask him how he did it. I explained that he always seemed to come up with the answers when the two Bible professors were stumped. How did he do it?

Here’s what he told me. (This was before I met Mrs. Inez Milford, mind you. I think this incident helped to prepare me for when I did finally meet her.) He said he just read the Bible over-and-over starting at the beginning and reading it to the end. Really?? That’s it?? That’s his great technique?? I expected something more. That he poured over commentaries. That he knew Greek. That he cheated!

But, that was it. He just read it over from cover-to-cover. Why did I go to Bible college? They never told me that. All I knew was I needed to learn Greek, buy Bible commentaries and sit under such luminaries like the professors in the game.

Why is it we don’t hear about people like him and Mrs. Inez Milford? Why is it that the people with all the letters after their names are the ones we automatically look to as the ones that should guide us?

There needs to be a resurgence back to a simpler mindset. Just read the Bible — over-and-over from start to finish. Have you done that yet? You know, Duke Ellington read the Bible twice. I dare say he read it more than a lot of Christians. And, he was far from being a born-again believer.

It really comes down to the heart. Not the mind, but the heart. I don’t know about you, but I want to be like that regular joe guy that came to the gas station with his KJV Bible on the front seat having more personal and practical knowledge about the Bible than the scholars.

Have we lost sight of 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Let’s get reading. What do you say?

Warren

Posted in My Messianic Musings

Mrs. Inez Milford, pt. 2

Pastor Green and I drove out the same dirt driveway one day after school. We took a right hand turn and headed up the street. I was wondering who Mrs. Inez Milford was. I wasn’t even sure I had her first name correct. Inez??

We drove no more than a quarter mile when we came to the T intersection. The houses in the area were nice brick houses. They weren’t old but they weren’t really new either. As we pulled up to the intersection, I noticed to my right a house that was larger than the rest. It looked like it had been the only house left over after Noah’s flood. It looked ancient. If it had any paint on it I don’t remember. It was obvious this house hadn’t had any TLC in many, many years.

I hoped it wasn’t the house we were going to. I quickly turned my head hoping we’d pass it or that the house had been a mirage. But, we turned the corner and stopped the car in front of the house. It was the house.

We walked up to the porch. The porch extended the front of the house. I can imagine that in earlier days (long before there were other houses nearby) it would have been very inviting to sit on the porch and enjoy the view.

We knocked on the door. A young man (teenager) opened the door. I believe it was her grandson. He invited us in. The inner entrance was dim and the rest of the house didn’t appear to be much brighter. We slowly made our way into the living room. I wasn’t hopeful …

And there she was …

This little old woman with oxygen in her nostrils sitting on a couch that had been in the family for at least three generations. I was transfixed. My feet wouldn’t move. I was planted in one place. Finally I took a seat in the rocking chair that was near me.

I looked around trying to take in the surroundings. Nothing was new. It was OLD. The windows were the old kind that look sort of wavy as you gaze through them. There were no storm windows or screens. The items in the room weren’t anything that caught my attention as note worthy. No pictures of any Civil Wall soldiers on the walls. No photos of dead family members in an open coffin on the mantle. Not much of anything of “real” value that I could identify.

As I sat there taking it all in, I finally heard Pastor Green’s warm soothing voice talking to her. I came back to reality and noticed she had a Bible with her. It was one of those giant print King James Bibles that have the flimsy covers. It wasn’t even a study Bible. It wasn’t even one of the newer, more accurate, closer to the original Greek Bibles! How can anybody know anything about God and His word without at least a study bible? Plus, she hadn’t been to Bible school either. Maybe she didn’t even make it through school. Can she even read it?

I know … I could help her. I should tell her about study Bibles. I could maybe do some sort of short Bible study with her in the future. After all I’ve been to Bible school, had some Greek and even have some Bible commentaries. Why, I even preach at church some. Plus, look at this nice suit I’m wearing. I could really help this poor ole’ illiterate oxygen dependent woman dig into some of the the more profound things in the Scriptures. I’m her man.

It was about then that it happened. As she began to open her mouth, out came a depth of personal relationship with God that I knew nothing about. It was as if, when she spoke, the Spirit of God flooded the room. All of a sudden I knew nothing. I was the one in need of sitting at her feet and learning what it meant to walk with God. This woman walked with God in a way that shocked me. How can anyone in such dire circumstances (without a study Bible even) have such a joy in the Lord? I mean, surely she has something she wants to complain about. Somebody she’s mad at. Anything. Something! Help me feel better about myself, please!! I need some of that oxygen!!!

I don’t remember much of anything after that. It’s weird. I don’t remember a thing until we walked off the porch and made our way to the car. I wish I could remember what Pastor and I talked about. There is one thing I do remember after all these years though … the serenity that seemed to encompass her.

You see, I learned that day you don’t need Bible school, study Bibles, commentaries or even a nice couch in order to know God like she did. You just need a heart that is willing to draw nigh unto God and to know that He will drawn nigh unto you. We need some more giants of the faith like Mrs. Inez Milford. We’re so smart we’re dumb. It’s about relationship with God , not just knowledge about God. We’ve lost the childlike faith that comes to God and His word knowing that He can and will manifest Himself to us …

It had been sometime since I went by that corner after she had passed. I don’t remember why it had been so long. But when I got to the corner where the house should have been … it was gone. You couldn’t tell that anything had ever been there. No sign that any life had ever been lived on that single plot of land. A whole lifetime just sort of vanished from off the face of the earth. Nobody would ever know that this little old godly woman had lived a whole life there.

I purposed that I would never forget her. And to this day I’m still striving to become like her. I want her simple, childlike faith that knows God is real, that His Word is true and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. It really is just that simple.

In memory of Mrs. Inez Milford.

May she now live on with you.

Warren

Posted in Shabbat Message, Torah Portion

Shabbat 11-12-16 “if ye be Messiah’s,then are ye Abraham’s seed”

Lech Lecha | לך לך | “Go forth ”
Torah: Genesis 12:1-17:27
Prophets: Isaiah 41:8-41:16
Apostolic scripture: Galatians 3

In this message we go through the Torah portion “Lech Lecha” while seeing that Abraham is the example of many of the foundational principles of our faith and walk with God. As we read through Galatians 3 we see how pivotal Abrahams life is to understanding the Apostolic Scriptures, especially Paul’s writings.

Shalom and may you have a good week!

Posted in My Messianic Musings

In Memory of Mrs. Inez Milford

It was around thirty-five years ago that I first met her in the small southern mill-town in which Judy and I were just starting our married lives after college. That day had a deeply profound impact that is alive within me to this day.

We were on our way to be interviewed as the first teachers for a brand new Christian school that was going to start in just a couple months. ——

We took a right turn onto a dirt driveway. Surely this wasn’t where we were supposed to be, was it? On the left, at the end of the driveway, was the only house. Directly across from it was the small brick church. The building sat on a parcel of ground that was probably an acre or so. It was surrounded by trees with the old railroad tracks running right along the backside of it.

A school in that building! It’s not possible. Don’t you need a big fancy modern structure? Not something at the end of a dirt driveway with a dirt parking lot on an acre of land.

I didn’t know what to think. Here I was a Yankee deep in the heart of Dixie. I never experienced anything like this. The little downtown was like stepping into Mayberry where Andy Taylor was sheriff. I half expected to see Barney pull out his one bullet and load his gun. Maybe we could check the jail to see if Otis is there. — It was all strange and wonderful at the same time.

We sat there in the church parking lot waiting for the Sunday evening service. (Can we just turn around and go home, please?) Finally someone arrived and opened the church. We got out of the car and walked up to the little parcel of grass before the main entry. The grass wasn’t anything special. Patchy at best. It sure could use a trim along the edges. Maybe they should invest in a good mule.

I stood there looking at the dirty white double door. Deep down in the pit of my stomach was an overwhelming sick feeling. This was going to be a nightmare. Let’s hurry up and get this over with!

But … as I opened the door and stepped inside that little auditorium — I knew I was home. I can’t explain it. To this day I can’t put words to it. I loved it. It somehow radiated a warmth that I could feel. Unexpectedly I was beside myself with inner joy.

We sat in a pew near the back waiting for the pastor to arrive. We met a few people and they were all so glad to see us … you know, with the warmth only southerners can express — “We’re so happy to have y’all.” Somehow you feel all wrapped up in a big warm hug.

After a short time Pastor Green came in the same front door and headed straight to us. He had a smile that said with every muscle in it that we were the most cherished people there that night. He was joy, love, humility and acceptance all in one brief moment. He held out his hand to shake mine and I noticed the index finger was gone from the knuckle up. What a handshake it was. I’ll never forget it.

We then met his wonderful wife Marcia. She is the sweetest thing you’ll ever meet. A soft spoken Proverbs 31 woman. It’s not an exaggeration to say she was/is almost angelic-like. Marcia is one of the most beautiful people inside and out that I’ve been blessed to know.

Pastor and I went back to his little office and talked before the service. It was like we’d always known each other. He asked if I wanted to preach the evening service. “No!!!” is what I wanted to scream. “I’m not prepared.” I said I’d be glad to.  Can God bless preaching just after you lie?

I had less than ten minutes to come up with something. Looking through my Bible at underlined texts I found one in Luke and preached away for forty-five minutes. It was incredible. I couldn’t believe it was me. The people actually smiled, nodded and gave several hearty Amens!  Yankees don’t do that you know.

By the end of the evening we were accepted into that wonderful family of God’s people. We headed home trying to take in the miracle of that night and all the wonderful folks we met. It brings me to tears as I type.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Pastor Green, Marcia and that little church. It literally shaped the rest of our lives to this day. Our marriage, years in ministry and kids are a product of that wonderful man, ministry and people.

Pastor Green is what you think a pastor should be and a whole lot more. He is the most genuine man of God I know. Even after all these years, when he heard I had cancer he called and prayed with me a few different times. That wonderfully soothing voice brought healing to the deep turmoil I was in.

Pastor Green, I love you.

What about Mrs. Inez Milford you’re wondering??  I had to give the back drop: a Yankee, in an almost forgotten little southern town, down at the end of a dirt driveway, getting ready to embark on some of the happiest and most important years of his life. It’s amazing the impact people can have on us.

And thus we’ll meet Mrs. Inez Milford …

next week …

PS: Though Coy and Luke pride themselves on being from “New England” they are both Southern born. A fact of which I am very, very proud and don’t let them forget 🙂

Posted in My Messianic Musings

God Wrote A Blog

I’m new to this blogging thing. Evidently there is some blogging etiquette that I wasn’t aware of.

  1. For those reading a blog on their phone, they shouldn’t have to scroll more than a couple of times or they might get discouraged and not want to keep reading.
  2. Blogs should be of such a length that they can be read completely while in the check-out line.
  3. While watching TV, if your husband gets up to go to the bathroom the wife should be able to read the blog before he gets back.

I guess I do see the wisdom of this. Blogs are supposed to be an add-on to one’s life. They should fit into the person’s schedule. From what I gather, if a blogger expects to have a large readership he needs to take these things into consideration. Well … at this point my blog is already getting too long and I haven’t even started!

While pondering these things, it hit me (like a right punch I wasn’t expecting) that God has really blown it. What was He thinking? After all His Blog is 66 books — 39 in the Old Blog and 27 in the New Blog. Now I understand why many people, even if they have God’s Blog, don’t read it. It’s too friggin’ long.

If God is really God it seems to me He should have been aware of the blogging etiquette needed to get a large readership. The reality of God now stands in doubt for me! His Blog doesn’t fit the three criteria above!! How can He be God???

Perhaps He should think about condensing His Blog. We already have The Message Translation.  Maybe somebody needs to come out with the The Blog Translation. It should be just long enough so that people will actually want to read it. But, I guess God did try to condense His Blog.  Evidently that is why, at least in part, He sent His Blog. You know the verses.

John 1:1, 14 In the beginning was the Blog, and the Blog was with God, and the Blog was God.  And the Blog was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

Matthew 5: 17 — Think not that I am come to destroy the Blog, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. — Couple that with verses 18 and 19 — For verily, I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Blog, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

On first reading I always assumed the Blog didn’t come to destroy any part of His Blog. That’s why I’m glad I have my Secret Agent Decoder Ring. It helps me to understand verses that I normally would have taken at face value. You see the Blog is in a secret code for which you need that special Decoder Ring.

When using the Ring to decode the Blog one then comes to understand that the Blog actually did come to do away with parts of His Old Blog and give us a New Blog. The Old Blog was too heavy a burden for His people, the Christians. The Old Blog was to show those Jews how bad they were and that the Blog came to get a new people no longer under the heavy yoke of the Old Blog.

Also, when using the Decoder Ring on a verse like Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ (aka, the Blog) the same yesterday and today and and forever” — I realize the verse actually doesn’t mean that. Or take Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not” — He’s really saying He does change.

I’m going on too long.

If you made it this far Congratulations! I’ll be sending out to you your very own Secret Agent Decoder Ring 🙂

Warren

Next week: Mrs. Inez Milford