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What did the wise man of Proverbs have in mind?

Yours truly, E4Unity

Yours truly, E4Unity

I’m going to have another birthday in a few days so I guess that explains why I’m doing a little more cogitating than usual, thinking about life and how to live in a manner pleasing to the Creator and Sustainer of all life.
This phrase which comes from the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament,
caught my eye and off I went looking for just what the wise man meant.
There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death”. (14:12 and 16:25)
If you have a couple of minutes I’ll try to tell you the gist of my thoughts and then tell you what I discovered, from all people, Charles G. Finney, who seems to have come to the same answer.
I always took it for granted that in keeping with so many of the wise sayings about life by the wise man of Proverbs, that this “right way” of living was in stark contrast to all those he labels as “foolish”, “wicked”, “sinner”, “scoffer”, or even “backslider”, etc. It just made sense that this expression also referred to a specific, observable class of individuals who seemed to be radically different (by observation) than these others. And yet it struck me that he says these folks, living a way that seems to them to be the right way to life, ended up instead coming to the same end- death.
So I thought about other parts of the Biblical narrative, wondering if the answer was not clearly revealed in other places both in the New as well as the Old Testaments. Could it be, I mused to myself, that this has reference to the “religious” folks- those that not only believe this is the right way to live, but actually practice a specific codified system of rules of an organized religious order? In the context of the Old Testament, the keepers of the Old Covenant-those who lived by the rule of law?
Now I’ve speant a lot of time in Paul’s letter to the Romans over the last forty years or so, and I remember that part of Paul’s thesis in that letter is that there is something that the law, as perfect as it is, just can’t produce: the right way of living before God (righteous living). So to make a long time of meditating as simple as I can, that is exactly the conclusion I came to, not only reflecting upon one book of the Bible, but reflecting on the entire story-line. The reason why the announcement to the Shepherds that Jesus had been born was such good news, “tidings of great JOY to all peoples” makes sense to me now as I prepare for Advent season. Read the following Scripture and see if you see what I see:
“2) For the law of the Spirit of life has set you  free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (3) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,  he condemned sin in the flesh, (4) in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”  (Romans 8:2-4)
FinneyTo see what Finney said about
this in July, 1859, Go Here! (approaching his 67th birthday)

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Dr. Kenn Gangel (1935-2009)

Dr. Kenn Gangel (1935-2009)

 

The year was 1966, I was twenty-four, happily married with three great kids. In June I left a job with Cessna Aircraft in Hutchinson, Kansas, and moved back to the Kansas City area to return to College. One of my professors that first year was Kenn Gangel. I never considered him the most important teacher I was to have in preparing for a vocation in the Christian ministry. That honor would be a toss-up between my Theology professor and my missions teacher. But still, I always knew that I owed something special to the one I would have three classes with in the field of Christian education; Introduction to the philosophy and history of CEd, Visual arts and methods, and in my senior year, Educational psychology.

Still, though I respected Kenn as a teacher, and even attended the same church that Kenn attended during my first year, I never really knew this man. Once out in ministry, I would learn from another Christian educator just how critical the “with-relationship” is between teacher and students. You know, the kind of relationship that Jesus had with his twelve disciples.

The funny thing is, that it wasn’t the age difference that kept me as a student from any kind of relationship- Kenn was only seven years older. When he first came to the College in 1960, he was about the same age that I was when I showed up at the same college six years later. I did follow Kenn’s own ministry trajectory off and on- I graduated in 1969 and he moved on tobigger and better schools in 1970. When the books started to come out, I would always say with a certain amount of pride, “This guy was my Christian education prof in college”.

Only now, as I read his on-line biography at Talbot, in a colection of twenty leaders in the field of Christian education, do I get a fuller picture of who this man was, where he came from, and how much influence he had on evangelical Christian education begining in 1970 when he went to Trinity Evangelical Divinity school to build their Christian education faculty. I hope you will read his bio, but I will list some of the more interesting details:

  • Kenn was a first generation American, son of immigrants from Austria and Switzerland.
  • At age 10, his father divorced his mother and abandoned the family; his godly working mother placed Kenn in a boarding school, the famous Stony Brook school of legendary Frank Gaebelein, for two years. Then after she obtained a job as a cook at Wheaton Academy, Kenn went to high school as a benefit of his mother’s employment. (someone was looking out for this lady and her son)
  • Kenn had a dramatic spiritual turn-around that gave him the high motivation in Academics, leadership, and the Christian family.
  • Kenneth Gangel authored or co-authored some 50 books on a wide range of topics including education, leadership/administration, family, and the Bible.

Begining with the College where I met Kenn in 1966, Kenn went on to serve on the faculty of four other Christian schools including Miami Christian College where he served as President, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Toccoa Falls College, where he spent his retirement years.

Dr. Kenneth Gangel Biography at Talbot School of Theology

 

 

 

 

 

These are not your ordinary Dentists

 

 

First, some thirty years ago, there was this real neat Brazilian, named Haroldo.He was recommended highly by our neighbor, an old man who himself was a Dentist in Campinas, Sao Paulo,Brazil. Haroldo worked pretty  hard on a particularly bad tooth with major decay, and ended up putting in a cap that looked more like a “block”, in fact that’s what he called it in Portuguese-um bloco. After what was left of my tooth was cleaned and prepared, this bloco was put in place with some kind of cement. It has held for those thirty years, until yesterday.

 

Enter my present Dentist who I’ve known now for the best part of twenty years, Paul Wong. Paul is a near genius and a real gift from my heavenly Father, who knows me well enough to know I have a real problem with going to the Dentist, that dates back to my early years at the Dental College in Kansas City. Paul is a graduate of Berea College, and after he finished his graduate degrees, he returned to Berea to set up his practice in Berea and he’s been here ever since. He has made a massive contribution to the community over the years. Besides his degree in Dentistry, he also earned a PhD in one of the sciences. Paul was born in Borneo, of Chinese parents, who raised seventeen children. I can’t begin to tell you the respect and admiration I have for this great human being and his place in this world community of ours. And he makes annual trips to Malaysia to be involved in projects to save endangered species.

 

As I left his office today after he rebuilt the tooth that will later receive a crown, if I can find the money to pay for it, he gave me a very precious gift. I’ve known for several years that one of his brothers is also a Dentist. I am not going to tell you everything I now know about his brother, I want you to follow the link I will provide so that you can have the enjoyment, or should I say feast, of seeing this for yourself. His brother is a very good photographer, and since 1982, a student of scuba diving. He has published two books of his pictures, and I believe has come out with a third one featured on National Geographic. Paul gave me a copy of his brother’s book, ”Malaysia – Beneath the waves”, and I’m dying to share them with you. The pics are literally out of this world- they’re in the sea world. As you enjoy the samples on-line, I hope you will pause and give thanks for the humble parents that have given the world such precious gifts. Oh yes, the brothers name is Michael Patrick Wong, and did I mention his practice is in London? The love and respect he and his brother have for the creation can definitely be felt through his photography.

 

This link will take you to the end of the picture presentation but will allow you to read about two books and then go back to the beginning. Enjoy, courtesy of the Wongs from Borneo. http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/underh20/htmls/end.htm

 

Time to say something about the passion behind my e4unity blog. You have been transparent with me on your blog, and I want to reciprocate in good faith and let you know what my hope is for this blog.

Am I wrong to assume that there is some purpose, something you are passionate about that you want to share with anyone who will pause long enough at your blog to hear? Is this in fact what generally makes some blogs stand out more than others; not just aimless wandering about whatever is blowin in the wind that day, but something very personal, something you have invested a significant part of your life in? No, you say I’m getting a little carried away here; chill out, relax, “It’s just another way to entertain yourself.”

I don’t think I’ve misread you. If so, I’m sorry and will blog somewhere else. Because there is passion in my blog, and for me, I want it to be a blog worth the time and effort. That’s why it must be about integrity, about mutual respect, about the ultimate worth of every individual we encounter here in the blogging community. It is all about the unity of the human community that is becoming more and more evident. Some have called it the new reality of this generation. Oh there have been plenty who have admitted it in previous generations, but they were for the most part ahead of their time.

Simply put, e4unity blog is about the reality that we are now as never before in the history of the world all in this together; we are in the same historical narrative and we are our Brother’s keeper. What affects one life on the other side of the planet, affects us all in some real way and we must find ways to share our pains and sufferings as well as our resources, our wisdom.

Now so that you who read this will not jump to conclusions about the unity I’m speaking of I want to begin to clarify it. How did I arrive at what I’ve stated thus far? I would say that while we are very different we have all come more or less to the same observation pragmatically and from realizing that it is fundamental to some very basic needs that we all face, starting with survival itself. The pyramid is constructed upward from there- the need to make some sense to life and what happens to people we love and care about; to find solutions to the injustices, to give us significance and purpose to go on living, not simple existing.

We all want to believe that the greatest satisfactions and enjoyments in life are found beyond instant gratifications of material or physical attractions but something that goes down to the level of the soul and spirit.

 

The way we are made

I firmly believe that is the way we are made, created. Yes, I think we suspect that those who keep telling us that there is in fact a Creator God are probably right. Forgive me, if I’m taking too much for granted at this point.

I consider every human being on a path moving towards belief in God. At any given moment, in any given life, where along that path we might be, may in fact be impossible to know; but we are all moving in the direction of an inescapable encounter with the God who made us. That is what my blog insists gives us a unity as the human race that says we really have much more in common, regardless of who we are, than we can imagine.

And this gives us a lot to write about and have some very interesting and hopefully profitable conversations along the way. And it does much more than that; it places eternal worth of the individual into the equation-

which I think is exactly what is often lacking.

Thus far I think there will be much agreement; I have confidence in my fellow world citizens that there is indeed not only the desire for such unity but a commitment to be among those who work for it and not among those who would destroy it.

 So whether you visit regularly or abandon the blog altogether, that’s our starting place.

Obviously within this unity, there is another very specialized and universal unity which I hope to tell you about among those who identify themselves as belonging to the new humanity that is being formed in union with The Christ of God. I wouldn’t be completely honest with you if I didn’t put that out on the table at this point. I hope you will stay- you are important to me and I’m looking forward to walking a while along the path together.  

For related post: I belong to the True Church


‘Killing Fields’ Journalist Dies

When I listened to NPR on Monday this week, as I often do in the morning, I was suddenly reminded of how one solitary life far away in another culture can have an enormous influence on the rest of us. Dith Pran, the Cambodian-born journalist whose experiences inspired the movie The Killing Fields, died Sunday at age 65. It was Pran that coined the term “Killing Field” after seeing the remains of victims of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime. He was my age and he had a great impact on my life and how I’ve been able to view other such human tragedies ever since.

I want to pay tribute to his memory though I never had the privilege to meet him. It’s possible, because of those things that so easily keep us from speaking across artificial barriers, that someone reading this has an entirely different opinion regarding Mr.Pran. I’ve been told that in the Khmer Republic today, this is one subject, which is not spoken of openly. But I ask for your patience to be able to tell you how personal this became to me and has been part of me these thirty-five or so years.

I was in New York in 1973-74 preparing to go to then Cambodia, doing post-graduate training in Missiology (the Science of Missions). As part of my studies, I was doing a field research on the land, culture, and people of that country. It was more than just an intellectual exercise of history and statistics: I was prepared to leave my own “comfort” zone and invest my life in helping others whom I had never met. The special area of interest for my cultural study was the religious history and in those days it seemed to be one of the most excited places in terms of a Sovereign God who works in mighty ways fulfilling his purposes for all creation. God was at work in undeniable ways as a national church was coming alive and growing as never before. Years of dedicated, slow work were suddenly showing remarkable results; it was truly “a movement of a people” toward Christ. I personally met at this time, one whose life work had been the printing of the Cambodian Bible- which had been done right there in Nyack, New York.

But there were other forces of work at the same time. The terrible evil of war was even then escalating and there was a growing sense of urgency for those in the country. I found myself deeply identifying with the Khmer people and what it must be like “on the ground”, as they say. I felt a love being created in my being for real people as I read some of the personal stories coming out and the efforts of others to be of help. I met a medical doctor who had persuaded the Cambodian government to allow him to build and staff a much-needed hospital and then was raising support in the States through the auspices of World Vision to make it a reality.

And then in the midst of such hope, the whole story changed abruptly as the war in Southeast Asia went from bad to worse. The door of opportunity for the gospel of the redeemer sent from God suddenly shut with devastating results. With were not to learn the enormous dimensions of that tragedy until much later, and that’s where Dith Pran and his incredible story comes in. I remember the awful anguish I felt when it was clear that I was not going to be able to go to that land that I had already, in a sense, given my heart to. I was reassigned to Brazil and arrived there in 1976. I was just beginning to make the transition culturally from all that I had learned of one new “people group” of the world to a totally different one, the Brazilian when Dith made a personal appearance. No, he didn’t come to Brazil, but his film did. I was with my family when he reached out of that film and touched my life so deeply.

If there is a God, why is there evil? Why did the “killing fields” happen? How can the rest of us not remember the next time the decision is made by someone to go to war? Any faith system humankind can adopt to live by must be able to face these realities of our human condition and find satisfactory answers, or else it will fail to be the inner brace we require to live by. If you are an atheist, surely you know that you have your own faith system and you have discovered some way to live with these realities too and your answers will be different from those who have a faith system that begins with a Creator God, whose sovereign control over all things past and present, presents its own challenges. When I saw the Killing Fields and didn’t turn Dith and his story out of my life, I was forced to review my own faith system to its very roots and that was a major crisis for me. My system, or I should say the God of my system did not come to pieces as I faced the dimensions of this human tragedy. That there could be such joy and hope for a people one moment and the reality that it could be dashed to those ruins we see in the film, has taught me profound lessons that I intend to never forget. Without one man’s courage and determination against impossible odds to tell the rest of us in the watching world the story from within, my next thirty-fives years of life would have been very different. Because of him, my understanding of a personal God who is deeply involved in the earth’s peoples has been greatly enlarged and so I have learned to trust this God for whatever we encounter in life- be it the starkest evil that one human can inflict on another, such as displayed in the Oklahoma bombing, or be it a completely unexpected “natural” disaster such as we saw in the Tsunami of southeast Asia.

As I come to the end here, one disclaimer is needed. I’m not speaking out of any one “ideology” here, but rather out of the great narrative that informs us about how this God has been personally identifying with and acting for humankind’s deliverance from all the evil and oppressions of life since the beginning of time. The narrative is not god, but it points us to the living God responsible for the narrative as well as the faith it creates in him for those that accept his testimony. “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life”.

READ What Others Say ABOUT DITH PRAN

The KILLING FIELDS (film)Warner Brothers trailer