Responding to the Wiser, Echos from the Past

Peter, Freda, Sarah Alice others have asked me to not call myself The Old Fool. They are wiser than I, and I should listen to them. But first I think we should  ponder the following lines I wrote for my own edification 17 years ago:  The title is

The Mystery of our Salvation

Guess who...

A bishop as a clown. I called him Zeke, a nickname from the Prophet Ezekiel

You will remember me as the “Old Fool”.  I am old  – 72 years. I have been a fool many times in the ordinary sense of the word. But when I am on my better behavior I wish myself to be a fool for Christ’s sake.  I”m never a perfect fool like He was, mind you, just a fool, but a fool for His sake nevertheless.  So, like a fool, I go public with these lines for His sake.

In Romans chapters 1 – 3 the Apostle Paul made a sweeping indictment against all humanity with these words, “We know that everything in the law was written for those who are under its power.  The law says these things to stop anyone from making excuses and to let God show that the whole world is guilty.  God doesn’t accept people simply because they obey the Law.   No indeed!  All the law does is to point out our sin.”

Testing the rules

Testing the rules

I know that the law points to my sins and to the sins of others. A statement of the Southeast Mennonite Conference correctly holds that all sins are regarded alike by God and all of us are forlorn and perverted sinners.

I confess to being imperfect from the top of my balding head to the the nails of my fungi-plagued toes.  I’ve never preached a perfect sermon. I know that apart from God’s grace I am guilty of every kind of sin in the Book.  I’ve never prayed a perfect prayer.  I’ve not communicated with others perfectly.  I am perverted.

The degree of my perversion is not a significant factor in my relationship to God. To be only slightly perverted is to be less then perfect. To be less than perfect is to be doomed by the law.  Isaiah wrote, “There is none righteous, no not one.”


My beloved and me

Those who know me well likely know my imperfections better than I.  I am confessing them to you so that may know that I know I am a sinner.  You will help me to accept you if you  acknowledge that you are a sinner.  Integrity requires that we acknowledge this common condition.  You are no better than I, I am no better than you.  We come as equals to the cross of Jesus.

This Old Fool is not
a fool who sleeps unaware.
You know we all know

Of course, this is not all there is to the mystery of salvation. This echo from the past will be continued with further comments on who I am and what I believe about myself.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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8 Responses to Responding to the Wiser, Echos from the Past

  1. myron s. augsburger says:

    There are more of us, so it could be the Older Fool. MSA

  2. Mary Bontrager says:

    I don’t know about labeling anyone, even oneself. I think I like Martin Lehman the best.

  3. Grace Miller says:

    As to calling yourself an Old Fool – I would like to remind you, my dear friend Brother Martin, that it depends from whose perspective you are seeing yourself whether or not you are a fool. The Father sees you through Christ as “Accepted & Righteous” and a “Son”. Jesus says you are his “Beloved”. Wouldn’t true integrity be to see yourself as God sees you? You could call yourself “Martin; a Son of God who is Accepted, Righteous & Greatly Loved”. It might make some religious folk uneasy as they question your humility. But I believe your Heavenly Father would shout “AMEN my son! You got it!”

    I love you Brother Martin. I know where you are coming from, but I see you from this side of the cross. In this discussion, I am siding with Peter, Freda, Sarah Alice. 🙂

  4. Alton Longenecker says:

    I like your current moniker, theoldmennofool. Just what was the Apostle Paul writing about in I Cor 4:10 when he writes “We are fools for Christ” I just wonder about that sometimes. What does it mean to be a fool for Christ. Secondly, I like the moniker because it suggests that at least one Mennonite has the humility to state he does not know everything.

  5. Carl Metzler says:

    Martin, I have never been comfortable with your self identification as an “Old Fool”; but I never objected, since I give you the right to label yourself as you will. Remembering that in “My Faith Pilgrimage” you had related how you first took on the title, I read that piece again. Again I was impressed how wisely you led in the Southeast, with love and patience, and a knowledge that at times the voice of the Spirit leads to change. Certainly not a fool as we usually use he word. So could you unpack for us why and how you use that title?
    And I didn’t find much help in today’s blog, since Perfection and Foolishness are not two absolutes without gradients between.

  6. Freda Zehr says:

    Martin, I understand your jovial nature which caused you to name yourself the old fool. It is difficult for me to think of you as the fool, because to me you are one of the wisest and most interesting personalities I have met. But, as I say, I understand and it and I will overlook it! Just take good care of the “old fool” so that we can enjoy your contributions to our lives for a long time, as we read your writings. Your old mennolink friend, Freda

  7. Judy Stoltzfus says:

    Dear Uncle Martin,
    I too am turned away from the title “the Old Fool”, even though I understand how you came to call yourself by that title. In one sense we could all be called that since we are foolish in our decision making , to the point of sinning and so we are all in the same boat, sinners saved by Grace. If God sees us as Beloved Creations of His, who are we to call ourselves anything derogatory especially if it is offensive to some that care and love us.
    I love you Uncle Martin,
    Your niece , Judy (Lehman) Stoltzfus

  8. Raymond Martin says:

    I have no need to think of you solely this way therefore I have no problem with this moniker. We all might learn from it. I do not see it as degrading. Your blogs are positive and self affirming. If they were not I would not read them. A sense of humility about the human condition is in order for all humans. Maybe you are identifying a truth we do not like. Actually, I don’t like it but I do not deny it. I too am a fool and loved by God and that makes all the difference.

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