Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thank God for the Body of Christ in Holland, Ohio!

I have such wonderful Christian friends. I walked into my music S.S. class this am and there was Sue C. with a table set up in china and stem ware and a bouquet of flowers --and musical motif in the decorations on the table. A menu of spinach quiche, orange juice, coffee and tea, water, iced rolls, and fruit pieces on skewers with fruit dip. Her daughter and my daughter were among those in attendance. I never have time for Sunday morning breakfast after getting me and my mother ready --I fly out the door to get there for my class.

Then after a beautiful service and sermon on the Gifts of the Spirit --and music centering on the love of God and His care for us, the pastor annointed me with oil and several gathered around me to pray for God's blessing and healing for my upcoming surgery. I felt the presence of God and the love of His people as several offered eloquent, Spirit-filled prayers.

They are going to open me up, take things out and see if there is anything in me that ought not be there --alien babies or whatever! There were some cells in a biopsy that"looked suspicious for endometrial adenocarcinoma." And I'm not looking forward to any part of this very commonplace upcoming trial. But especially the possibility of painful aftermath. I'm told that this procedure is usually all that is needed to take care of the problem--if I haven't procrastinated too long.

But they prayed that no matter what, I'd know the presence of the Christ who died and suffered for our sins, and be confident in His love and mindful of His presence --come what may!

I can't over-recommend to you this position as a child of God.

"To those who believe on His name, He gave the right to be called children of God."

It's just a step of faith to call on The Great Physician, and resign myself to whatever He takes me thru -- and my church surely buoyed up me and my faith today!

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Saturday, January 30, 2010

From Dr. Judy Ann Fisher in Haiti --on Sun Cookers There

From Dr. Judy Ann Fisher in Haiti:

By the way, our solar ovens are cooking up a storm in Petite Riviere De Nippes.
Thanks to Pastor Jack and his loving heart, our project is cooking rice, beans, bread for over 300 people a day affected by the quake! Praise Him. And, we are starting up our BioSand water filter production again for clean water.

Bro Yoder, many people are eating cooked food because of our vision and love for Haiti. How can we say thank you for all the years you believed in solar cooking and worked hard to promote it in Haiti. Well, I am following in your foot steps with the gospel of solar cooking with the Sun and the SON! (smile).

The oven from FOHO is earning it's keep! We are promoting the Global family size, too, especially since the one I purchased in 1994 is still cooking beans with the sun!! Now that's quality merchandise, Paul Munsen!! (smile).

Every camp city needs a Villager oven! I believe God gave the inventor, the late Tom Burns the vision and knowledge to invent the Villager. His work lives on today, and is saving untold number of lives. Just having a bag of rice and beans is not enough....unless you can cook it. Has anyone ever had uncooked rice and beans for a meal? It just won't work...even for starving people.
Regards - Have a Son-filled day!!


"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

GOP vs. OBAMA and My Suggestions for Solutions

Obama might be innocent of the GOP charges --some of them--but the fact is that he has indebted us for decades ahead far more than GW Bush. And Bush helped him with the bail-out idea --and I don't know what would have happened if they had not bailed out AIG, etc. --to people's ins. and pension plans, etc. --but why should any of those same CEO's, etc. get million dollar pay if their company had to borrow from the gov? Because of their contracts? Makes no sense at all.

Obama is legitimately suspect by Americans because of his attempts to put known radicals and socialists in high positions.

Obama really does believe that federal solutions and federal spending are panaceas--instead of starting incrementally in health care with the reforms that the democrats should support --but won't, because their lawyers make their livings suing doctors and hospitals and driving insurance costs up. Give us tort reform and let people take policies with them, continuing to pay their portion of them, when they change jobs or states. Otherwise, their pre-existant conditions incline ins. companies to refuse them for fear of going broke. A logical decision on their part.

Obama wants feds to take over healthcare, not just reform it.

They should also address the huge fraud problem and go after genuine fraud more aggressively before overhauling the present system. Medical ethics and the value of honesty and charity in healthcare charging should be stressed nationally. MOST people do not have to carry the burden of the huge costs as it is. But people should all strive to get health insurance and be part of the solution.

I know people who are continual drug seekers --and for vague ailments --and they pile up the unused meds on top of the frig --never looking through to see if they already have a remedy for their common cold but instead preferring the "daddy care" of a doctor.

Someone should do a survey and see if fatherless people --and people estranged from either parent or both-- spend a lot more time in doctor's offices and ER's than the well-parented. I think you would find that family breakdown correlates with high use of physicians.

We also have too many people getting free rides in taxation and healthcare because of their family breakdown. They need help --but why are there SO MANY who need help? Breakdown in national morality, that's why.

We have several just waiting for unemployment to run out before they'll even seriously seek a job, change states, etc.

I think Obama's best bet is to give tax advantages to employers for every new hire. If every employer would hire one or more, could we drastically reduce unemployment? What about a tax credit for men and women who stay married? who marry their baby-mamas! I know of 2 guys who have had babies with at least 3 or 4 women --and they are raising none of them. But would that even work? They'd get the marriage license but still live as before, probably. We are more and more a dysfunctional society of single parents and shacked up and gay couples. As our tv media push, push, push immorality as the norm. Our heroines and heroes sleep together in tv programs, reality shows --with nary a blink of shame for not being married. That didn't used to be --when I was a kid. Shacking up was very rare and very frowned upon. We cared what others thought --and we believed in a God of morality.

I also think any gov't subsidized business --or business that downsizes -- should have limits on top salaries.
I was astonished to hear that the CEO's or presidents of Mercy medical and Pro-Medica, each make almost 2 million dollars a year! WHY? Do we really think these guys wouldn't work for less??? What's the matter with these boards of directors? They could afford to hire, insure, and pay really well 15 more employees at 100,000 each and still pay their CEO 500,000 annually!

It is inequity like this that leads to counter-productive revolts --unions, strikes, etc. Greed at the top is no more respectable than greed and/or laziness at the bottom of the pay scale.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Friday, January 29, 2010

FM Bishop's Famine Relief Fund --Money for Haiti Relief Work

Judy Litsey writes to the Church:

We celebrate the generosity of worldwide Free Methodists as we come alongside our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

U.S. Free Methodist Church
As of January 26, $366,682 has been received from U.S. churches through the Help Haiti Heal fund and the Bishops Famine and Relief Fund. This figure will continue to grow as other offerings and gifts reach the FM finance office.

Free Methodists Around the World
Currently, Free Methodist World Missions has received word from the FM church in these countries that an offering for Haiti has or will be taken:
Hong Kong

Praise the Lord for this response! Pray giving will continue in order to support long-term recovery efforts.

I was intrigued by a TV report showing Mexican disaster relief teams preparing to show Haiti what they have prepared to do since their own earthquakes. Sometimes all we hear of Mexico is about the kidnapping, drug murders, illegal aliens. They appeared well-equipped and very professional.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FM Haitian Update --by John Hay, Jr.

Tuesday evening, January 26, 2010
Port-au-Prince Report #5
Reported by John Hay, Jr., ICCM [Intn'l Child Care Ministires --a Free Methodist Ministry] Director of Advancement:

Free Methodist Haitian Earthquake Response Team #2 concluded its mission on Monday and returned to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Tuesday to brief Team #3. Team #3 makes the seven-hour drive to Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, January 27, with more relief supplies, a well-drilling team, logistics experts and International Child Care Ministries (ICCM) leaders.

The Tuesday evening briefing between the two teams yielded a sobering assessment of conditions in Port-au-Prince. "What you see on TV is not true; it is much worse," one team member said. Another reflected: "It is so overwhelming, you cannot put words to it." The team described people living in tent villages on every available open space, calling out for water and food, and afraid to go inside buildings and homes that are still standing.

They also described heroic efforts of rescue and people sharing with each other the food and water they are able to access. An informal economy is beginning to supply essential needs even as the formal economy of the city struggles to come back online. "The people of Port-au-Prince are still in shock," one team member declared.

Structural engineer Ken LaBelle inspected ten ICCM schools, along with churches and homes, with the assistance of Haitian ICCM and church leaders. Many schools and FM church facilities will need to be rebuilt in the months and years ahead. The task ahead is immense, but the faith of many in the Haitian Free Methodist Church is strong.

Response Team #2 was also able to restore electricity to the ICCM office so it can serve as a center for helping schools across the country resume classes as soon as feasible.

Team #3 will begin its service on Wednesday, January 27. The team includes well-drillers Curt King and Kevin Kate. They will attempt to find water that will be a life-giving resource for many. Two team members will focus on logistics for relief and recovery teams going to Haiti over the next several months. ICCM Director Linda Adams and I will work with the Haitian ICCM staff, visiting schools, finding ICCM-sponsored children, and distributing supplies.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Update No. 4 --Finding FM's and Helping Them --Making Help in Haiti Personal

CHALLENGE TO MY ATHEIST ACQUAINTANCES BELOW --see updated amendment on it --1-27-2010

Subject: Update #4 from Delia Nuesch-Olver

Port-au-Prince Report #4
Reported from Port au Prince, Haiti, by Delia Nüesch-Olver on behalf of the second response team
Monday, January 25, 2010

Starting at 6 a.m. today, we divided into two teams. Ken LaBelle did many inspections of church buildings, schools and pastors’ homes, checking for structural soundness. It was his sad job to tell Superintendent Clovis and Pastor Jean Marc Zamor their homes are structurally unsafe and have to be torn down immediately to avoid further loss. When Pastor Clovis was informed he simply said: “God knows. God cares. God will provide.” – and continued ministering to other people.

Ken LaBelle has been coaching Pastor George, a Haitian leader, how to do building inspections. My favorite moment of the day was when Ken turned to Pastor George and said: “You do the next inspection.” From then on, Pastor George, a civil engineer, did them with the backing of Ken. He can now continue until more engineers come.

Many people were prayed for after we listened to their stories. Some children are starting to smile.

As we leave Haiti tomorrow, the International Child Care office is almost ready to be used, generators are re-set and working, and tools have been recovered from the FOHO building ready to be used by work teams. We also worked on preparing for the Fourth Response Team, arriving from Spring Arbor next Monday.

We are very impressed with the caliber of Jean Marc Zamor, the new Field Coordinator for FMWM Haiti response. Under his leadership, pastors have formed teams to locate church members in the refugee camps and are delivering water and food to many with the resources you send through us.

As this team returns to the U.S., we bring back information that will allow a prioritization of response according to the wishes and vision of Haitian leadership.

Thank you for all you are doing in prayer and giving to support our sisters and brothers in Haiti and around the world.

DAN ROSS BACK TO HONDURAS --Dan was part of our own church's work team that made friends with Honduras FM's there . He is going back there this week with a Toledo mission team (his dentist was going to the same town with a medical team? through other sources and invited him along) with decent tools to do work they had trouble doing previously because of faulty equipment. I think he is leaving the tools with the church perhaps as he invited us to donate more tools. Dan is a kitchen and bath designer/builder by trade, a craftsman. Our church had gone there last fall to do work on a church building.
I challenge you atheists to get your teams together and help in these works! But what comforting words will you have to offer about better days to come in the hereafter --for those who died and their loved ones?

I know --you think eternal death, eternal non-existance is preferable to Judgment Day, but hope is greatest for those who put their faith in Christ. His yoke is easy and His burden is light --why pass up His offer of Grace --unmerited favor--gained through faith and repentance alone!

I know --you say it's because you simply do not believe --cannot believe. But I marvel that you think it is preferable to spread this gospel of hopelessness to the world as though it is good for people --and I think it's an even harder sell than the demands of the self-denying godly life--though obviously preferable to you.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Friend Found in Haiti ~ Watch to Whom you give the Money for Haiti!

Judy Litsey sent a message to the members of Free Methodist World Missions.

Subject: Haiti Update from Delia Nuesch-Olver

Reported by Delia Nüesch-Olver on behalf of the second response team Sunday, January 24, 2010

Standing in rubble Sunday morning, I had the honor of preaching at one of our Free Methodist churches. The church and school buildings were unsafe so we met under a tarp in the school’s patio. Surrounded by unbelievable pain and destruction and odor and bugs and thirst and hunger, it was very moving to join with our Haitian sisters and brothers in singing, “For I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able …”

We attempted to bring words of comfort and hope and arranged to have water delivered. A team from the Dominican Republic will continue to deliver water and food to people from the church and neighborhood we visited for the foreseeable future.

Some reflections from members of the team after visiting downtown Port-au-Prince this afternoon:

Flattened … It looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off … Total, breathtaking destruction beyond any kind of description. Overwhelming ... People burned, still alive. Sorrow …Visible decaying bodies. Smell … Hard to process the suffering.
And finally: “The pictures you’ve seen in TV are not true; it is much worse.”

There was an aftershock this afternoon. We fear unstable buildings may no longer be standing.

Alice Judy had asked her husband, Larry, (one of our team members) to find out whether their friend Bill was alive. Larry asked around to anyone he thought might know. No one had heard from Bill since the earthquake, and Larry was increasingly concerned. Today as we returned from church Larry was sitting in the back of an open pick-up truck. Suddenly, Larry heard his name called out and saw his friend Bill waving at him animatedly. Bill and Larry hope to connect again tomorrow. In the midst of so much sadness, devastation and masses of people in this capital city, this felt like a wonderful moment to all of us.

On Monday the team will divide in three. We will start work again at 6 a.m. Ken LaBelle will continue doing building inspections. Dr. Dale Woods and I will meet for a third strategy meeting with the Haitian leaders, after which I will visit schools and pastors with Andy Yardy. Meanwhile Dale will fix generators to make it possible for the ICCM central office to start functioning again.

Be wise in your giving toward Haiti. We have seen people from international organizations jumping out of cars for a quick photo shoot, and then speeding away with their media material. I recommend the Bishops Famine and Relief Fund and Help Haiti Heal.

Thank you for your prayers for Haiti and the Haitian people.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Subject: Haiti Update from Delia Nuesch-Olver

Reported from Port-au-Prince by Delia Nüesch-Olver on behalf of the second response team.
Sat. Jan. 23, 2010

“Will we ever get over this trauma?” Gaity said. “I had an appointment with Pastor Jeanne but she was praying; so I went downstairs to wait for her to finish. Then the earthquake happened.”

“It was terrible, terrible; and now it is terribly sad, terribly sad. But this I know: God is in charge.” – Robenson Herman, Pastor Jeanne Acheson-Munos’ translator at the Bible Institute.

While Ken LaBelle and Larry Judy checked buildings for structural safety, Andy Yardy, Dr. Dale Woods and I visited schools and met and prayed with pastors and Free Methodist brothers and sisters. Some of those we prayed with are among the thousands and thousands living in “tents” made of sheets draped from poles.

There are deep cracks on the roads and hillsides that have slid into roads, making driving a nightmare. It takes hours and hours to get anywhere.

We have been in buildings where the destruction took our breath away, such as L’Eglise and School Rensberry Metodist Libre. We saw mile after mile of collapsed buildings; some looking like powder. And that was on the main roads. When we went into the communities we realized that many people – many of our people – are living in the midst of total destruction.

At the Fontamara FMC people told us what happened: a crowd was waiting for prayer meeting to start when the earthquake happened. Four died. The local pastor reports that many children have died in that neighborhood of Port-au-Prince – some of whom are “our” sponsored children through International Child Care Ministries. If schools had been in session, many more would have died. I walked into the site of a FM school and saw the blackboard: “January 12, 2010. Homework for tomorrow.” That school is no more.

Food and water are huge issues. We prayed for many people; we sang together and brought them words of encouragement. As we left, they often said: “But we still need food and water.” Heart wrenching.

We had the joy of finding some people whose friends in the States had asked us to check whether they had survived.

This is a dangerous place. Even if there are no more aftershocks there is still much physical danger. Precarious buildings that are still standing might not survive a thunderstorm. If the building is on a hillside, a mudslide will take other buildings with them.

Dr. Dale Woods and I did a training video for all VISA teams so they know what to expect if God calls them to come here. We strongly recommend that all FM VISA teams watch this video and discuss it with their spiritual leaders before coming to Haiti.

We understand a FM medical team arrived at the Dessalines Hospital (3 hours north of Port-au-Prince) today at 4 PM, but cell phone towers were knocked out, making communication a huge problem for everyone in Port-au-Prince throughout the day.

As we look to the future, there is a great need of small teams of structural engineers to determine the safety of all buildings – churches, schools and pastors’ homes. Many of our pastors are homeless, living in the streets with their families. Their homes need to be assessed for safety so they can be free to minister to others.

We saw people walking – just walking – with a completely vacant look in their eyes.

With the blessings of Bishop Roller and Dr. Art Brown we have asked Jean Marc to become Field Coordinator for FMWM response. He is a Haitian leader, qualified for this role. He will be assisted by Pastor Rick Ireland as his administrator. Pastor Jean Marc is assembling his team for this role.

Please continue to pray for us. Dr. Woods and I are both preaching tomorrow (Sunday) in different churches.

The Free Methodist Church in Haiti
► 73 full churches
► 28 church plants
► More than 8,900 children sponsored through International Child Care Ministries ► 117 primary schools / 22,122 students ► 20 secondary schools / 2,859 students

[These are larger numbers than before, I notice.]

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Friday, January 22, 2010


Bishop David Roller received the following report from Response Team A at 9:30 a.m. (EST).

The team was one hour away from the Haitian border. They experienced minor vehicle troubles which have been resolved. The team is traveling in a three vehicle convoy - one truck with the team and the other two trucks with Dominican Free Methodists. The trucks are loaded with relief supplies such as water, fuel and emergency provisions. As soon as the team arrives in Port-au-Prince, they will meet with Haitian church leaders to continue relief efforts. The team is doing well and asks for your continued prayers.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

FM's Sponsor Haitian Children

What I didn't know about FM works in Haiti:

This is a ministry of the Free Methodist Church. Anyone can participate in child sponsorship. Americans and Canadians sponsor 4000 children in Haiti and have 53 schools there.

My own sponsored children are two in Africa and one in India.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From Bishop David Roller --FM ACTION in HAITI ---UPDATE!

Free Methodist Church Response Plan - ABCD

After visiting Haiti on Saturday I realized the response plan I had initiated was too slow and too cautious. Once given the "go-ahead," the Free Methodist World Missions team jumped into action, accelerating the plan. Following are the sequential elements of the FM response plan.

Team A
FMWM is sending team "A" on Thursday, via Dominican Republic, to evaluate, prioritize and establish a rudimentary infrastructure for relief. The "A" team will be on the ground in Port-au-Prince until the following Tuesday. Priority will be given to:
• evaluating the structural integrity of the standing schools because they can serve as temporary housing and relief centers.
• connecting with aid and government distribution points for water, medicine, food and temporary shelter.
• creating a plan for effective deployment of relief teams.

Team "A" is five persons: FMWM's Director of Mobilization, Area Director for Latin American Ministries, FMCNA's videographer, a structural engineer, and a long-time FOHO (Friends of Haiti Organization) leader.

Team B
At the same time, team "B," focused on medical relief, will be working from Dessalines Hospital (four hours north of Port-au-Prince). Many injured are being transferred there. This team "B" will be working through northern points of entry into the country.

Team C
Next in the sequence are "C" teams: relief teams from FM churches. It's a testimony to our people that many are volunteering to serve. What a wonderful people, these people called Free Methodists! Several teams already had tickets (even before the earthquake) and are awaiting resumption of commercial flights into Port-au-Prince. But, as you can imagine, we must have a way to keep "C" teams housed, fed and usefully deployed (vehicles, communication, etc) or it will be a waste of money and energy.

We ask that you honor the following process for "C" teams:
1. all teams coordinate through FMWM's VISA office.
2. all teams have VISA insurance (trust me, the insurance saves lives - we can't be coordinating with individual insurance companies).

Team D
Then, the first week of February, the "D" team, made up of Canadian Bishop Keith Elford, Dominican Republic Bishop Cecilio Osoria, and me (U.S. Bishop David Roller) will go to coordinate leadership and relief between all four countries.

Please continue to pray for Haitian superintendents (Clovis, Delamy, Charite, Devariste, Clodius, Bathelemy). Those most directly involved are emotionally drained and near the breaking point. Also remember Linda Adams and her ICCM team - they carry a heavy burden too. Pray for "A" and "B" teams; they have planning and packing to complete, shots to get, and perhaps some fear.

Stateside, this has been Free Methodist World Mission's finest hour. I know the focus is Haiti, not North America, but I have to say this: they have responded in the most noble, most Christ-like ways. They scrambled all resources, personal and institutional. They laid aside every convenience, they didn't sleep, they didn't eat. For nearly seven days they have had telephones glued to their ears - evacuating personnel, developing multiple plans, juggling possibilities, consulting with experts, challenging the giving church. Even though they didn't have enough information (much was unclear those first few days), they did not hesitate, and then made a thousand mid-course corrections. Only God will know how to reward you. The church simply thanks you!

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Monday, January 18, 2010

Katie Zook's Rescue --in Haiti

Subject: Katie Zook's rescue story as told by her father, Greg Zook

Katie was finishing her day on Tuesday, January 12, in the fourth floor apartment of a four-story building when the earthquake hit. She sought protection in a doorway when, at the last moment, Katie chose to dive under a table when the building began to crumble. The next thing Katie remembers is finding herself under rubble, unable to move but able to hear the cries of people in the street. As Katie struggled in the dark unable to move, the aftershocks continued to shake the now destroyed building causing Katie to fear that she had survived the initial quake only to be killed by the aftershocks.

Eventually, Katie heard the familiar voices of friends and co-workers, digging in the rubble and calling out for her. Our Haitian friend, John Willair, who works for the mission was digging with his bare hands and praying for Jesus to show him where to dig. Eventually, more help came and after three hours Katie was pulled from the wreckage of the building. Our friend Dr. Dan Snyder was there to provide Katie with some initial medical care and transport her to the U.N. Hospital. Katie was Med-Vaced to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she was treated in the U.S. Naval hospital and then rushed to her current location here in Ft. Lauderdale early Thursday morning. We have been holding vigil over Katie and sharing with her your expressions of love and support. Our Superintendent Matt Whitehead along with his wife, Melanie, happened to be in Florida for a working vacation and have been a great support to us.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Saturday, January 16, 2010

HAITI UPDATE --3 FM Missionaries Presumed Dead

Judy Litsey sent a message to the members of Free Methodist World Missions.

Subject: Haiti Update

With profound sadness, Free Methodist World Missions reports Rev. Jeanne Acheson-Munos, Merle West, and Gene Defour, the three missionaries who have been unaccounted for, have not been located and are now presumed to not be alive. Today Bishop David Roller conducted a funeral service at the site of the building they were in which collapsed when Tuesday's earthquake hit. These three individuals gave their lives in service to the Haitian people whom they loved deeply.

Rev. Jeanne Acheson-Munos, and her husband, Jack, were appointed as career missionaries to Haiti in March 2004. Together they worked alongside the national church to develop and strengthen the conference, pastors, church leaders and members. Jeanne's deepest desire was that Haiti, the Pearl of the Antilles, would shine again with "Haiti for Christ" becoming a reality.

Merle West had been ministering in Haiti since 1978. He served as president of FOHO (Friends of Haiti Organization) and supervised construction of the new FOHO building. Merle was active in Craftsman for Christ and worked construction in the Miami Haitian churches. He also took three trips to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Gene Defour had been on three trips to Haiti and one to Africa. Gene, along with Merle, was active in Craftsman for Christ and worked construction in the Miami Haitian churches. Gene and Merle were good friends, enjoying each other's company and sharing a heart and love for Haiti.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reminiscence --Tribute to Pastor Roger S. Lewis

In 1974, our family with 18-month-old Stephanie and newborn Chrissy first visited the HFM Church on a mid-summer Sunday night when the new minister, Roger Lewis, was being received, with a “pounding” if memory serves me. In a "pounding," people brought “pounds” of food as gifts for the new pastor at a reception. He was handsome and the family beautiful with their 4 blonde teen girls and younger Chip. We had lately arrived for my husband's residency in family practice at Toledo Hospital. We were grads of a Free Methodist College, so wanted to check out the FM churches in the area. We heard the church on the air, when the “song birds, Trudy and Tammy” sang a special, so I’m thinking maybe Roger preached when we heard that service, as I think he was the one who called the girls Songbirds. Or maybe Joe Conklin called them that. Jim Beam and his wife particularly noticed us and took the children to the nursery for us. Stephie loved her "Jim Beam." Ruth Barnes was a lively personality of note whom we came to enjoy. Joe Conklin led the singing in what is now the pre-school section of our church –as that is where the smaller Sunday night meetings were held. Joe impressed me as a male leader in the church, a serious and admirable Christian. We heard that other lay leader, Jim Karns, preach early on, in the transition from the old pastor to the new, perhaps the next Sunday, and I commented to him that he was gifted for preaching.

By Christmas time, I had talked my way into directing a John Peterson choir cantata, “Love Transcending.” Stephanie stood in the pew beside her Grandma, singing “love Transcending” with the choir in her little clarion voice. In those days, we soon developed an annual concert tour to the malls and the prison and a nursing home.

Roger Lewis filled our sanctuary like no other minister we have had before or since. You could count on a stirring, passionate, annointed delivery of God’s Word each week. And that’s not to say our preachers since aren’t also excellent –young Keith is truly under the anointing of God these days with his deep thinking and well-crafted, earnestly-delivered Biblical sermons and I believe we are going to enjoy great growth when we are ready –I believe Keith is preparing us for loving fellowship and outreach that will flourish.

Pastor Neville was also a godly and joyful minister loved by all; he made a successful transition when Roger left—but the fact is, we enjoyed unparalleled growth under Roger’s ministry—aided in part by Jessie Geis’s Ladies’ Bible Studies at Gayle Woods’ home and by Jim Karns’ S.S. and home teaching and community popularity. The church was a revolving door of people coming in-- and going out-- if we didn’t get acquainted and get them assimilated fast enough. People look for friendship in the smaller churches, and we were challenged to stretch out of our comfort zones to embrace all the new faces.

Before Roger, Pastor Kettinger surely laid careful groundwork with the smaller body he faithfully nurtured and discipled. Two of the assimilators of our church were the softball and basketball teams; the latter started under Burt Kettinger; in both we were Winners! The basketball team brought us the aforementioned laymen Jim and Joe, Lutherans who wanted to play basketball together. And they got converted to a more vital faith as a result. And I believe it was Jim who started a Memorial Day tradition at Camp Palmer and there was the successful youth ministry of first Joe , then Roy Webb and then Ike Ruckman and their wives in the Roger Lewis days. Assistant pastor Paul and Cheryl Walter are fondly remembered and also assistant pastor Gene Stevenson's family.

I remember the Roslyn Lewis Winter Picnic for Youth and Others as a well-attended event –and was it Bethels or Simpsons who started the Pokagon/Michindoh weekend in January? Ike always had an annual Cedar Point Day "for Youth and Others.” Aunt Betty always had the affection of the children who remember jr. church with her and the Yoder musicians fondly–and I directed the first VBS (after some years of having none) and we had 200 students and no room for them! (The women’s Bible study group had really promoted in their neighborhoods.) After that, we started to pre-register more and I think we even charged money --attendance dropped in half after that --but more recently we are growing in VBS again under Jenni Klever King.

We are back up to over 130 or so for VBS (total registrants) and 60 or so for CLC. Inga's devotionals in CLC are hitting all of us where we live --she's inspired off the cuff, she says --little prep needed. I'm enjoying teaching 4th graders to find their way around in the Bible and to know what it means to be the "children of God." We are now a diverse group in our children's ministries, racially, ethnically --and it is good. I feel we see growth in these youngsters we've had since first grade, e.g. I can see their little mental wheels turning as they contemplate the Bible verses and how it should impact their relationships and behaviors. Stephanie is teaching them the books of the Bible, Bible verses, Christian attitudes and praise in song. Junior Church always performs in the cantata.

New ministries are Angel Arms (clothing) and Angel Food Ministries --headed up by Sarah Hand. Angel Arms is not run by us but a continuation of the Clothes Closet effort which got stuck in my basement! and we still have the Food Pantry as maintained in the Lewis era. We have a knitting group for charity, also.

Roger was the leader for a lot of leaders (and thus an enabler to them in general) and the Bill Gothard home school movement also brought many earnest Christians to our church and was a discipling means for several families.

With Roslyn’s and Sue's full support and participation we enjoyed many years of a weekly church choir, attracting musicians and a now 35-year-tradition of Christmas musicals, carried on by Steph and Chris.

All of these people demonstrate the difference that committed leadership makes in a church –some events are no longer in our church because the people who led them aren’t doing those things or are not with us any more. In the case of a weekly choir, I was willing, but the singers came to feel too busy for it. I think weekly worship team became so labor-intensive, utilizing so many of our musicians, that we didn't have any more energies for a weekly choir. As it is, the weekly ensembles are sounding lovely, featuring many fine voices and a few instrumentalists.

Dave Simpson is surely the turbo behind our annual mission trips. Who would think our people could afford the cost and vacation time to go outside the U.S. to do ministry projects, as Roslyn did, showing love for Christians abroad? We’re still doing that! Who will take his place in the future to spearhead this ministry? He also took several teams to work on the Katrina relief efforts. Of course, the Winckles are our missionaries in Budapest, investing their lives in that work, sewing seeds for future generations to live out the Gospel in that land.

The Christmas cantata is still an ongoing and cherished tradition with an annual following –audiences were 200 plus at each performance this year. We still have our costume/décor lady in Sue –and our steady gate-keeper in the house of the Lord, Joe. And their daughters (one moved) who will always be active church teachers and singers. And our Sunday morning men’s meeting. And the Cherry St. Mission ministry. The Worship team and techies under Stephanie’s trained musicianship have improved in harmony—musically and otherwise. Bob Sutton leads the tech fellows now and he and Cindy are active in music and she in women's ministries. Worship services are still very moving, anointed, as in times before. Youth ministry continues under Tom Wood and Patty Bersinger and the Winckles with the Quiz Teams. We are seeing youth attendance in the 20’s –and we sent around 50 kids to the FM camps in Michigan last year. As the well-attended jr. high moves into h.s. we shall probably double or triple attendance in the future, as our CLC grows up and kids bring their friends.

Christmas baskets, funeral ministries under Rhoda's leadership, Operation Christmas Child, --who started that--was it Shidelers? And Salvation army bell-ringing--all thriving ministries at HFM. Sunday School for all ages offers options for adults and draws an attendance of at least 100.

Roger was a pillar of leadership in a continuum of the Free Methodist community of Christ in Holland. And one who put us on the map more than ever before as a dynamic, GROWING church. We have enjoyed many “ups” and suffered some “downs” in the years since –and all of us from Roger’s and Roslyn’s time with us have MANY MANY fond memories of friendships and activities and worship services from those days.

One activity I remember fondly is singing at the annual Thanksgiving and Easter community services at Providence Lutheran and the United Methodist Churches. Keith has recently revived our community involvement which we enjoyed under Roger's leadership.

What’s interesting to me, is that most all of the families discipled by Roger's ministry are still in Biblical churches, still leaders somewhere –we have sent musical leadership out to many other churches, e.g. –and it’s gratifying to see how many of our young men are ministers or leading laymen and even contenders for faith in the blogosphere. Steve Altman pastors a Reformed church; Keith Simpson is our own pastor, grad of Moody Bible Institute. Our Rob, a philos grad, witnesses to atheists at a philosophical level on the atheistic blogs and has led our young adult studies sometimes. Craig and Matt French and Kevin Simpson are church lay leaders in Reformed church and also active bloggers for faith and pro-life. Paul French will be our first to graduate with a masters in church music?, a true professional. Chrissy also uses her masters in choral directing for our seasonal choirs with her sister in charge. Jon Flory is a leading musician/pianist in a charismatic mega-church; our John does church music for us and his wife’s church; Alex Rodewald has come back from the military to bless our young adult group. His sister is a Christian physician in Cleveland. Carolyn Lewis Bell is musically active in a local Assemblies congregation. I know the other Lewis kids have a vibrant faith with church involvement. The Bryants run music at a Church of God. The Zywockis, Shidelers, and Geises followed Carolyn and Chip to the Assemblies Church --and are presumeably all active laymen still. As are the home-schooled Florys, Altmans, Weemes, Eversons and their children still active in other churches. The G. Knapps are active Baptists. The Squiers attend Perrysburg Alliance, where Chuck continues in sound tech ministry. A great loss was the move out of town of the Ruckmans and the Brillharts --blessing other churches, too. Sharon does music still in West Unity FM Church. Ike is a worship leader/guitarist for a small group. I imagine Kristen Klever is church involved with her husband in Spring Arbor area and her mother is with the Apostolic Church of God. I think Woodwards may be at Westgate and Thorntons are at our sister church, Crossroads, nearer their home.

We are happy to have retained many from the Lewis era in our own church, such as the many laymen mentioned above: also Mayor Yunkers, and Twp trustee Bob Bethel and family, Davolls, Phyillis Sullivan, Donna Flory, Fulshaws?, Haines, Mary Harris, Heisingers (Kathy still ministers in many ways --and we hope to get John more for singing), Honeywells, Ilsleys (Robbie Walerius), S. Knapps famiy, Courtney Lucas (Simmons), Konzens, Doris Lyon, Chuck Miller, Wartons , Peg Price, Etts, Rosie Altman, Archers, Traci Squier Bash, Colledges, Harrises (Bea Goodman), Claytors?, Camille Singh? (? means I'm not sure they come when you were pastor or later) --and we have gained many wonderful people since you left, also, like the Dusseaus? Perezes, Swans, Dawleys, Corey Fritch (Eva H's husband), Ringgers, Aaron Patchett and too many others to name --some even I am not well acquainted with yet! I'm sure I missed mentioning several who were and are vital to our church body --forgive me, dear readers. Reminiscing is imperfect --but bringing back fond memories for me and I hope for you, Roger and Roslyn. I remember fondly Inga's parents, Bob and Ingrid Lambert, both in glory now --who would have loved their 5 outstanding grandchildren being raised in our church today.

Some of our church "alumni" are home-schooling who were not home-schooled themselves. And some home schoolers now send their kids to public school! Much of OUR church leadership today came through public school –and our pastor, of course, from TCS. Our Stephanie is home-schooling for the time-being --but made sure she lived where she could have the Anthony Wayne option. She directs a music program with concerts for a home-school co-op.

One of my fond personal memories is when Roger vindicated me before the church cabinet. I had said to some people in our car for the White Water river rafting trip, that Jesus’s words were like the Pearl of the Bible –and trumped any other verses that might seem contradictory to the spirit of Christ. E.G. “eye for an eye” is biblical –but Jesus gave us a higher standard –beyond justice – which is mercy. And someone thought this was heretical to put Christ’s words above anything else, as though to argue with the inerrancy of the Bible.

So when I was brought in with my husband for interrogation on the issue, Roger said, “Is that what you said, Barbara?” “Yes.” And he said, “Well, Gentlemen, she’s absolutely right, you know. Jesus is the pearl of the Bible and His words are.” Thank you, Roger. We don't use the cabinet for such "disciplining" any more, thank goodness.

Roger did allow lay leadership to flourish –and we had many earnest young disciples who could all teach, given the opportunity. And Jim and Joe, in charge of Adult S.S., gave these young men the opportunity to develop. Ted Weemes, e.g., is still earnest in his faith and pastoring a Baptist church himself.

Perhaps some have grown and developed even more in faith and love by branching out and going to different churches. What we learn, for one thing, is that perfection isn’t found anywhere on earth, not even in churches –but God is strong and mighty to keep us on a straight and narrow path for life. Many of those discipled under Roger Lewis’s ministry are still strong in their parenting, their marriages, and their church involvement –still earnestly following Christ-- still Bible-believers and Christ-followers—after the pattern of their pastor and mentor, Roger Lewis --who is still, I've no doubt, an exemplary man of God.

Happy 80th Birthday, Roger! May the Lord bless you and keep you –may His countenance shine upon you –and give you peace! And joy! and healing for your lovely wife Roslyn, whom I also love—though I’m never in touch. I have nothing but high regard for you both and special affection for Roslyn as my always supportive, musical buddy.


Barb for me and Jon


"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


Subject: Report on Haiti from Bishop David Roller

We join with the whole world in grieving this tragic earthquake in Haiti. Our hearts and minds cannot imagine the level of devastation, and we fear the news of the next few days will compound our grief. I write on behalf of Dr. Art Brown and FMWM, as well as the Board of Bishops.

Yvonne and I left Haiti just 48 hours before the earthquake. All last week we celebrated a wonderful annual conference with the Haitian church. The Free Methodist Haitian Church is vibrant and strong, numbering some 15,000 members, and our hearts break with yours in this time of loss.

We do not have any good information yet from the Haitian church leaders as to the level of destruction of churches and schools, nor regarding the loss of life. We are working to open lines of communication with Haitian FM leaders, but have so far been unsuccessful. As soon as we can, some of us will go to assess how we might best respond to the needs. I am confident that the worldwide Free Methodist Church will again show itself to be a generous and faithful partner with our Haitian brothers and sisters.

There were 17 North American FM missionaries in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, and unfortunately Jeanne Acheson-Munos, Merle West and Gene Dufor are still unaccounted for. We believe they may have been in the multi-story FM work-team building in Port-au-Prince. That building collapsed in this seismic event, and we have grave concern for those three. We call the church to pray for them.

Another two of the 17 missionaries sustained injuries and are being med-evac'ed out of Haiti. We are hopeful, praying and expecting a rapid recovery for these two. The rest of the 17 are well, although not without minor injuries.

Free Methodist World Missions is proceeding with a plan to extract its non-essential missionary personnel from Haiti. We of course want to be available to the Haitian church for assistance.

We appreciate the many volunteers who have stepped forward offering to help in Haiti. However at this time, sending more people to Haiti would be non productive and would only complicate matters for those on the ground. We ask that no one travel to Haiti unless FMWM calls upon you as part of the response team.

We do know that our brothers and sisters in Haiti will have immediate and long-term financial needs. You may respond by giving to either Operation Hope or the Bishops Famine and Relief Fund at P.O. Box 535002, Indianapolis, IN 46253-5002. Both funds have already released money for Haiti. An on-line giving option will be announced soon.

Again, thank you for your solidarity with the Haitian church. Your prayers and love are extremely meaningful to them and to us in these days.

We will send updates as information becomes available.

Bishop David Roller

If you have concerns regarding a loved one in Haiti, call the U.S. State Department at 1-888-407-4747.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mudrake's Latest Hysterical Fear --that Palin will be Elected!

Occasionally, I wade over in the muck-bog at Mudrake's new Wordpress blog. I don't give him the satisfaction of trying to register there, however, to comment there, as he, a mysogenist, will not print the comments of Christian women. I'm sure I'm already blocked.

He wrote recently about Sarah Palin and her critics:
As I understand those who critiqued the book, it is essentially a
fantasy that deflects the blame of her defeat to all but her. She, as
portrayed, appears as the jilted princess, the heroine who was continually
stabbed in the back as she attempted to bring her message to the American
masses. A Shakespearian play. A Greek tragedy.
And they believe her.
really believe all of the nonsense between the covers of that
That is the real tragedy. That is what dims the bulb of hope in
this nation.
If tens of millions of American citizens believed her to be
qualified to ascend to the Presidency, then this nation is in terrible

Mudrake would do well to note that some of Sarah Palin's book reviewers, including him, didn't even read the book. How smart was that??

We can have Bubba, notorious, lip-biting rapist and philanderer as president, whose daddy was a crook, whose mommy accidentally killed someone as an anesthetist in surgery and tried to cover up the ineptitude that led to the incident; we can have a near-socialist with ultra-radical friends and Muslim loyalties in office now, who has increased our national debt and deficit tremendously in a few months, whose wife is the most self-indulgent spender with the largest personal staff seen in the White House yet--

but the little housewife, beauty queen, popular governor, former mayor, fisher-woman, hunter, mother of 5 appealing kids, daughter and daughter in law of 2 normal, married couples, wife of a very appealing husband who seemed comfortable in his role as "first gentleman" from Wasilla, Alaska , is dangerous. And stupid.

You know why she's dangerous? It has nothing to do with her intellect --that's just the liberals' excuse. They fear her popularity and charisma in combination with her evangelical, conservative, pro-life, pro-family values perspectives. They fear she's electable!

They will work this intellectual deficit issue because it's all they can think of!! They did it to Dan Quayle, Geo. Bush, and tried to do it to "just an actor" Reagan. It intimidates candidates and probably leads them to more rhetorical blunders than they might otherwise commit. It's an offense tactic that too often works --because millions of people really ARE easy to fool --as Mudrake observes --and they WILL believe the negative press.

Liberals/democrats always claim to be intellectually superior --with their liberal social and religious views. The rest of us are all "kool-aid drinkers," "provincial," "racists and homophobes," and selfish with money, uncompassionate, etc.

The real problem with Sarah Palin is that she is a successful person in every realm of endeavor -- so of course she feels persecuted by liberals --SHE HAS NEVER BEEN UNPOPULAR BEFORE! SHE NEVER HAS HAD SUCH VICIOUS ENEMIES IN HER LIFE! What should she conclude from all this criticism? That they are out to get her.

and so they are.

May God's Will Prevail --whatever it is!!!

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Site Meter consistently shows a reader located on the equator south of Nigeria, on the ocean --as though in a boat --and one in Indonesia --and 2 in New Zealand and a couple in the British Isles, one in Australia, one in So. Africa and one in Denmark or Sweden. Sometimes a couple in the middle east.

If you are going to visit me from some exotic far location, I wish you'd also drop in and say Hello.

I have met Gandolf, from New Zealand --but the rest of you from out of states, I'd like to meet here. As well as those of you whom I do or don't know from in-states.

So, check in and say hello from time to time! The world is shrinking!! And friendliness is a good thing --regardless of our ideological differences.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Sarah Palin --Going Rogue

I'm reading Sarah's best-seller, and so far enjoyed all the many photos and her early life and courtship.

Contrary to liberal howls and rants, this book does sound like Sarah's voice --her way of speaking, her knowledge of life in Alaska, her affection for many friends and her family. And the book does make her seem likable and virtuous. I'm impressed with her work history and all she has accomplished while being a wife and mother. Few politicians have gotten their hands dirty as she has --working in the fish industry, e.g.

She says it took 5 years to finish college because she took semesters off to work --to finish debt-free. Some have used it to suggest she was a poor student. Actually, she admits that she and her friends enjoyed the sun and surf more than their studies that first college year in Hawaii.

I can see why she encouraged her daughter to marry when she got pregnant --because she and her Todd were high school sweethearts who have succeeded at marriage.

I wouldn't wish the presidency on this lovely family --but she does have an intriguing and attractive family--with strong parents on both sides. And America loves looking at her family.

I was disgusted with Jay Leno, whom I like normally, because he has chosen to make Sarah a butt of his jokes lately. I don't think she deserves it, so I'm thinking Jay deserves to be kicked out of prime time. Maybe God is punishing him!!!

I say that not altogether facetiously, because he and others have made fun of Sarah for calling it God's will /plan that she ran for veep. Jay said it must, therefore, have been God's will for Obama to win. Well, maybe it was! So we could see just how unpopular "Change" might be! Meanwhile, Sarah, a real Christian, has ascended to national fame.

You know, that's the way we evangelical believers see life's events --because we believe in God. The Bible says if we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths. So she felt it was a call by God to run for office and nothing she sought for herself.

I've no doubt she could be a good president --with all her good values, work experience --and her passionate support for LIFE and FAITH. I'm betting she could draw good people around her to make up for any lack of Ivy League elite "brilliance," we want in our presidents. She isn't as eloquent as some, and I find her speaking voice "shrill" more than mellifluous --so those things won't help her in this media-driven age. I would recommend she speak more slowly and thoughtfully --and simply say less --and not feel obligated to "know everything" though she should bone up on "social studies" to avoid those blunders which the media so loves to exploit.

She is a "populist" more than a slick sophisticate --yet, very attractive. All the more reason for the liberals in media to demean her. If they can succeed at making her into a joke by their constant mockery, they will try to do just that.

What I hope is that Sarah and Todd will just relax and figure out how their family can make a living --and then if the GOP clamors at her door eventually, she can "follow God's will," and go where the call leads her.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Thank You, Brit Hume! He Recommended Jesus!

See Bill O'Reilly ask Brit about his comments re: Tiger Woods here on Utube.

It's refreshing to see an intelligent, respected, handsome, charismatic tv journalist take a stand for Jesus Christ.

He was talking about Tiger Woods and said Christianity was a way out of his mess. Of course, the cynics would say Brit was talking about those who USE Jesus to claim transformation and get out of trouble. But, it turns out he was quite serious in saying that Jesus offers redemption and forgiveness --which Tiger sorely needs from God first, and his family and fans 2nd.

Of course, there are those voices out there who will say, "Why? It was only sex!"

Whoeeee! Sex over and over again with women not his wife. Grounds for divorce --even by the words of Christ.

Hume is a believer. I didn't realize that. May God bless Him for confessing Christ before men. Jesus said if we don't do that, He will not defend us before the heavenly father. We all need to take that stand if we call ourselves Christians.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A response to Chuck O'conner on Homosexuality

from Rob,

The following is a response to Chuck O'Conner to questions he posed to me in another topic on another blog. I didn't feel that that topic was the appropriate place so I have answered him here. As usual, I'm posting now and this will be proofread later.


You can take my silence as evidence that I'm a busy man with several irons in the fire and more discussions than I can handle in the limited time I have.

Secondly, as of late, I am more concerned about answering the topic. Are we serious about dealing with this point or not? Is agnosticism really the best Christians can do? As far as I am concerned, I've already dismantled this argument. But dguller doesn't think so and I'm hoping to respond to his points first. What you ask me is very important, but they are red herrings. I'll happily discuss them, but I don't want the topic lost because we've allowed red herrings to do what we don't want them to do, throw up a smoke screen. I could just as easily be dealing with the question of homosexuality in a thread on that, and someone could cry foul because I raised theological issues and then they'd want to ignore points I've made challenging me to prove God exists. So I'll answer your questions, and my answers will probably lead to more questions, but I'll go only so far and afterward, I want an honest grappling with the topic with the realization that we can only deal with these issues with a reasonable thoroughness one point at a time (not that I'm asking you personally to deal with the topic, but I mean in terms of what is expected of me here in this blog topic). This whole homosexuality question is very far afield of that topic. Of course, there is the connection that you mentioned (human dignity and worth) and everything is connected, but it's still reasonable to expect focus that doesn't insist on every single consideration of one's world view all at one time (which just isn't practical and thus not fruitful).

Regarding the persecuted church, if I implied that my particular church was persecuted, it was a typo. I'm a member of the body of Christ which is persecuted terribly in many parts of the world.

As for Barb who is my mother and her blog, The Barb Wire, we generally agree on many things but we have important disagreements. There are a few matters regarding homosexuality that I would not see with her eye to eye. I don't know if she brought up her "first thought" theory, but I'm not a fan of that. I do believe that many if not most homosexuals frequently have their attractions without the instigation of a choice, and just because a first thought is suppressed doesn't mean there won't be a second, third and fourth and so on. We share a blog and we agree on many things, but we are independent thinkers and I'd be cautious with a guilt by association approach. For one thing, in some ways, I am not as conservative as she is. And she is not as theologically nuanced as I am. I'm pretty sure that John Loftus himself has said that he wouldn't necessarily agree with everything that anyone wrote for a topic on his blog.

The thing about gender is that it goes to the very heart of who we are. Our sexual natures are sacred and the sexual relationship provides a foundation for gratifying both the individuals and the couple in a way that nothing else does. Marriage, the union in general and the sexual union, involves a gratification where the significance and worthiness of each one's existence is exalted. So in Genesis, with this issue, it is extremely inadequate to note that God created humanity as male and female and stop there. The whole formula is that God "created the human in the image of God, male and female he created them." Our relationships with neighbors, friends, siblings, children and parents all reflect the image of God, but only the marriage relationship was explicitly mentioned (though I think community in general is implicit as well) in that passage that describes our divine likeness which I think is the most metaphysically important statement anywhere. Nothing is more important nor more sacred than personhood in general and persons in specific (with God as the supremely personal being) and gender is part of the design that manifests the sacred.

We don't have to fully express that sacredness (we can stay single, though we still will almost always relate to people in a gendered way.) There are disappointing ways (which were tolerated) in which our sacred nature can be expressed (particularly polygamy). And then there are ways that trample and disgrace that aspect of our reflection of the divine image. Infidelity does this and so does homosexuality.

As a Christian, I know I am at odds with the world in much that I believe. The world reverses this claim (above) about homosexuality which I believe is one of the powerful deceptions of our time. Supposedly, we are to believe that homosexual orientation is innate and immutable. To the eyes of the world, suggesting to someone that they should seek healing is the real profaning of the sacred, of the dignity of humans and turning these people into a shell of what they are supposed to be. They look to science to support these claims, and yet the appeal to science has been without integrity and should make us skeptical. For years, the voices have been shrill, insisting that it has been demonstrated that homosexuality is biologically determined and those who don't accept this are bigoted, uneducated, hateful and so on. They take statements like this from the APA on homosexuality and run with it: "There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."

The APA however has reversed this statement, now noting that there is no scientific consensus on the origins of homosexual attraction (click to page 4 to see the exact quote). Maybe the science was never so intemperate in these claims, but the culture and the homosexual movement have used them as a weapon to promote a view of orientation as innate --though the science could be stretched only so far and has blunted that weapon.

You ask about homosexual 14th amendment rights. I agree that people with same- sex attraction should have all their legal rights. I certainly don't consider same-sex marriage to be one of those rights because I don't believe the basis is a matter of equality since homosexuality isn't an innate, normal, immutable expression of humanity and homosexual relationships cannot be equal to heterosexual ones. I oppose violence against gays, not only because it is something that is wrong to do against people who are redeemable, because there is no biblical justification for it (as we are no longer under the old covenant but under the new which is entered freely and not via birth) and because the sympathy spurred by anti-homosexual violence is mixed in with support for homosexuality itself.

As for this last question:

Your faith commitment to entrust revealed truth equal to (or greater than?) empirical evidence as a basis for decision making leaves open the question of human rights.

Christianity does not provide support for denying anyone human rights. Of course, under the old covenant, those who lead people from God were punished by death. I see in this a lesson that our relationship with God is measured as important as life itself, but this cannot be used as a basis to deny unbelievers rights under the new covenant in which evil is to be opposed through peaceful means. There simply is no room for denying the rights of believers on that account, though believers who are unfaithful may be expelled from the body of believers. That is the model we are given, not legal sanctions against unbelievers, not a denial of their rights.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

David Baumgartner writes against Lutheran Church

On December 30, 2009, the Toledo Blade printed a letter from a Mr. Baumgartner of Bluffton, Oh., saying that St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Maumee was "judgmental" because most of their members voted to pull out of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America "because that denomination approved allowing its pastors to be homosexual."

He says "Jesus's message of love was not selective and indeed encompassed society's rejects, the poor, and the scorned."

True enough. So why does that mean homosexuals should pastor churches?

He says, the church is "ignoring Jesus' express, vital, institution-defying, inclusive teachings of love, which never judges and is unconditional."

Well, true enough that the love is unconditional. But righteousness has Biblical definition and homosexuality is biblically defined as "an abomination", i.e. sin in God's sight.

As for judging, Jesus said He is going to judge and separate His sheep from the goats on the basis of their compassionate works toward the poor and imprisoned --or lack thereof. We know elsewhere in scripture that we are saved by faith and not by works --and yet, "faith without works is dead."

We are to repent of sin as Christians --and not continue in willful, unrepentant doings. A practicing homosexual in the pulpit would be doing just that --willfully unrepentant and therefore not qualified to lead Christ's flock.

Ah, but Mr. B. wants us to know that science is sure that homosexuality is congenital --from the womb --intrinsic like left-handedness. That's one theory --which has not been proven. Another idea is that since we see some homosexual activity in nature among other life forms, it must be "natural" among humans. Yet, humans have always prided themselves on not being animals. Promiscuous creatures, predators and those who eat their young and hump your leg are ALSO found in nature. Doesn't make it right for humans. Many psychologists believe there are environmental/experiencial reasons why people are homosexual. Just as a pedophile has often been a victim of pedophilia himself, so a homosexual has been influenced in various ways to have abnormal sexual interest. Compassion is an appropriate response for the Christian toward the homosexual as toward all sinners; condoning homosexual acts is not.

Until Christ gives me a clear message otherwise, I will continue to theorize that homosexuality resembles adultery, pedophilia, incest, and rape -- sexual temptations to avoid at the first inkling. I believe we can bar the mind's door to illicit sexual thoughts and activities and not have any of these addictions. Granted, heterosexual inclination is VERY strong in most people --as God intended. He DESIGNED woman for man to fulfill that sexual need in covenanted marriage. Sodomy, however, is NOT His design for sexual union.

A pastor or church elder should be, as the Bible says, the husband of one wife--or celibate like Christ and Paul.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church has made a Biblical decision while the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has not.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible