Thursday, May 16, 2019

Old School Face Time

My mother once told me a few years ago that some of my nieces and nephews were visiting her. They were all in the living room and on their devices. She said that she sat there while no one talked to each other. Suddenly she clapped her hands and exclaimed, “Put those things down and you are going to talk to one another for awhile.” Quietly the phones were turned off as she started the conversation. She has since gone to be with the Lord but believed in old-school “Face Time”. Many studies have shown that social contact can protect against loneliness, suicide and other disorders. But can social media do the same? An article from the Journal of Affective Disorders, Jan. 15th edition notes a study on Veterans, “According to a recent study in an online survey of 587 veterans who all used Facebook, researchers identified participants showing signs of major depression, PTSD, alcohol use disorder, and suicidal behaviors. Their results showed that those who engage in face-to-face contact at least a few times per week had a 50 percent lower risk for major depression and PTSD compared with participants for whom Facebook was the main social outlet.” Studies need to continue on alcohol and suicidal behavior. How many times do we hear about incidents where mass murder occur and the person was a loner, isolated on the internet? God created us to have relationship with direct contact; talking, listening, crying, laughing with one another. Paul once said to the Thessalonians, “17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18) Does Satan rob us some times when we get focused on impersonal social media or internet activity that takes time from intimate contact? Maybe God is telling us to put those devices down and spend some time with family and friends. Maybe He is clapping and saying, “put those things down and spend some time with Me.”

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Belfast Community Gospel Choir

When you spend time with Marie Lacey you are introduced to someone who just loves life. Marie is from Northern Ireland and to be more specific Belfast. She was born into a time of turmoil and was a young teen the “Northern Ireland Troubles” began in 1968. Terrorism took 3,600 lives as her country was shackled by hate and disunity. Some close to her were killed. Instead of cursing the darkness she kept close to the light of the Gospel. She led others in Worship and Music at home and abroad but felt a new sense of hope when a cease-fire and peace was finally agreed upon on April 10, 1998 now called the “Good Friday Agreement”. Marie has the gift of bringing people together and led an observance by forming a community choir. She did the same when the British government asked her to lead a celebration at the turn of the millennium. Mac Davis once wrote, “Music is the universal language, and love is the key, To peace hope and understanding, and living in harmony, So take your brother by the hand and come along with me, Lift your voices to the sky, tell me what you see.” Marie could have just as easily written these lyrics and loves to integrate “oldies” into their concerts. The flicker of community choirs she organized over the years became a raging fire in 2009 when she formed the Belfast Community Gospel Choir (BCGC). Their message of peace, love and joy with a Gospel flair gets your hands to clapping and your heart forgetting your troubles. The choir is not only Irish but composed of members from Nigeria, South Africa, Greece and Spain modeling diversity instead of division. They have performed for Heads of State and Hoosiers. From Belfast, London, New York, Boston and South Bend. But most importantly you will see a smile in the Irish eyes of Marie because love always wins. I hope you can join us on Good Friday, April 19th, 7PM at Lakeview Middle School Auditorium, 848 E. Smith St., Warsaw for a free concert (Freewill offering to be taken to support Heartline Pregnancy Center). The message of Good Friday and Easter will be shared that there may be trouble but Jesus has overcome this world!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A United Church For A Divided World

There are many who talk about what we need today. Everyone has an opinion. But one I know we need for sure is a “A United Church For A Divided World”. The sad thing is that many times the church, the Bride of Christ, is as disjointed as our culture. I have told others that Christianity is like an ice cream shop. There are many different flavors but you are always getting ice cream with its basic ingredients of water, milk and sugar. As followers of Christ we gather around the fountain of living water given to us through Jesus. As our thirst is quenched we share His love to a world that is parched and dry. We desire the milk of the Word (The Bible) that calls us to repentance and humility before God the Father. We celebrate the sweetness of the New Life through the Power of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:1-6 says, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” When folks gather on a hot July day at an establishment they don’t argue about the best flavor or sit in the Moose Tracks, Mint or Buttered Pecan section! They just enjoy ice cream! The same should be for people of The Way even though we may have the flavor of Pentecostal, Methodist, Baptist, etc. We should welcome each others company because of Jesus! We strive for unity because we serve the Prince of Peace...and how the world cries out for those who promote accord!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

False Witness

There is a frightening trend in our society where folks accuse or make up stories about others. In this era of the 24 hour news cycle and social media people are not just implicated of something, they are indicted before all the evidence is in. I know that some think the Ten Commandments are just suggestions but God hates false witness or slander. Words have consequences and the innocent have their lives ruined by lying tongues. In our polarized culture infected with “tribalism” one side is always trying to get “one up” on the other in hopes to “win points” for their constituency. The sad thing is that lives and reputation are destroyed in the process. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” False witness is a sin because it destroys, the reason the 8th Commandment says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Followers of Jesus are called to speak the truth in love, building one another up. My grandmother hated when people were talking about someone else and would reply, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Lord, in this age of falsehood, may I speak words of encouragement and truth to my neighbor. When we are tempted to share “news” without facts help us to put our tongues in neutral and stay silent. May we all be careful with our Social Media posts. Starting lies about someone or spreading them is bearing false witness, a terrible offense in the sight of a Holy God.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Conductor of the Universe

Dr. Don DeYoung, recently retired professor from Grace College and President of the Creation Research Society has a passion for sharing God through Science. Years ago I was working on a degree program and needed some science credit. I decided to take an Astronomy class at Grace where I first met Don. I was amazed at how he could take complex ideas and make them understandable. We learned about stars, planets, comets, our sun and other celestial objects as the classes progressed. One of the requirements was to observe the stars at night together. It was winter and the evening “the Prof” picked for us was frigid with crystal clear skies. We stood huddled together listening as he took us on a tour of the universe from our vantage point in Winona Lake. He said something I will never forget, “See the orchestra? All of the pieces of the symphony of the stars and planets are directed by God. The conductor is the Creator of the music of the heavens and keeps everthing in place..” Who can’t look into the night sky and not at least wonder? The Psalmist once wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” This past January 20th I stepped out into the cold to view the wonder of a Super Blood Wolf Moon. The satellite slipped into the Earth’s shadow turning it a beautiful red when the eclipse was full. The Conductor reached a crescendo with His solar and lunar sections complimenting one another just as I had been taught. Thanks Don for teaching me and hundreds over the years that God has everything under control!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Coach K

1977. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. Star Wars was the top box office draw. Atari 2600 was released in the United States. Jim Kessler started coaching Men’s Basketball at Grace College. 42 years later and over 1300 games “Coach K” has decided to hand the baton off to Scott Moore next season. Over 780 victories, 10 Conference Championships and an NAIA National Championship in 1992. Who can forget that season in the little “cracker box” gym when the cheers were, “Is this not a basketball?” Gathering during the Championship game to watch it on the “big screen” as we cheered David James, Scott Blum and the rest of the Lancers to victory. When I read about his retirement “Coach K” is more than statistics and accomplishments as he “retires”. (He is going to serve as Special Assistant to the Athletic Director). What has set him apart these four decades is that he loves his players and students. How many has he mentored over the years and helped to develop into winners not only on the court but in life? I do not know him well but just watching one can tell how much he cares for others. The amazing thing is that he has done this over four decades at the same institution which now has a court named in his honor at the MOCC. Philippian 3:14 is his favorite verse, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” We need more like Kessler in 2019 who as Followers of Christ put their faith into action. When the last buzzer sounds and his coaching career ends we all will say, “Well done good and faithful servant!” When time runs out on the clock of our lives may Jesus say the same to all of us in eternity!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Choose Life

My mother went to be with the Lord this past summer. I have had many moments remembering times when I visited her in Iowa. One time we were in the living room watching the news when there was a report about abortion. “How can anyone kill a child?”, she lamented as tears rolled down her cheeks. In February 1963 on Lincoln’s Birthday my mother lost my sister, Sandra, in childbirth. She grieved the rest of her life up to the day she died asking, “Do you think I will see her again one day?” The recent news on the abortion front has been appalling. This is not a political but a moral statement. A nation that allows the killing of children from conception to birth will not survive. History has proven over and over that any nation that devalues life, especially children, the disabled and elderly eventually collapses. The early Christians rescued Roman children who were put out for “exposure” to die if the parents did not want them. I have read about my Viking heritage where the Christians made an impact by rescuing the unwanted and changed their society. They did so because life does not come from the mother (or father) but from God Almighty. He is the giver and taker of life, who even in the Constitution of the United States is called the Creator. The Bible puts it poetically in Psalm 139:13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” This obsession with infanticide does not go unnoticed by God and He will judge America no different than other nations. But He also has mercy and grace. For the one who has been involved in having, encouraging, performing or legislating abortion there is forgiveness in Jesus. He calls us individually and as a nation to repent and turn from our sinful, wicked ways. There is also hope as a follower of Christ. If you have lost a child, even from abortion, one day you will see them again because they are held in God’s hand. My sisters and I encouraged our faithful Mother in her last moments, “Sandra is waiting for you.” She turned and looked at us with the biggest smile. When she died she left a testimony of peace on her face. It must be quite a celebration in Heaven! Choose Life...