Who Needs A Visit?

As many in our congregation grow in age, many will eventually find it harder to come to church and join in the activities that we offer.  Some have physical limitations of mobility and other are no longer able to drive themselves.  These are our golden age members, the older seniors, the ones who have served before us, and are the saints of Lakeview. We currently have nearly 35 who are not able to be with us on a regular basis.

The pastoral staff tries to visit every month, family members and friends try to keep in contact with them.  Life tends to limit visits sometimes and unintentionally someone seldom gets a visit or a phone call for some time period.  We are the Church, all of us, and to someone not able to come each week or not at all, we are their link to the body of Christ.  We are called to be shepherds of the flock—to watch over our members and to share the love of Christ with them.

Making a connection with one of our seniors may improve their quality of life.  Time is something they have and we all can help to fill the void where depression, isolation and loneliness may be a part of their daily lives.  Socialization also improves memory, communication skills and brain health in our seniors.  Taking time to connect with our shut-ins makes them feel valued and a part of the church when they are not able to come on a regular basis.  When visiting, ask them about their past involvement in the ministries of the church, be an encourager to help keep their spirits up, pray with them and for their family, share your life story, or how God is using you and working in your life.  This experience is a win for both the visitor and shut-in.

As a pastor, many of those I visit build me up and minister to me.  And we have some who need significant encouragement from us.  Either way we look at it, a visit is a win for everyone involved.  We need more shepherds representing our ministry to our shut-ins.  It builds up the body of Christ.  Jesus is the Great Shepherd to all, and he is the greatest example of how we as believers are to be the light in the darkest of places.   So, let us ask ourselves, “Who needs a visit?”  We all can figure this question out.  We can all do our part.  It’s never too late to become a voice for the church.  It’s never too late to invite others into a vital ministry of the church.  The best gift we can give our elderly…is our time.

Jim Sonnefield, Assistant Pastor


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Upgraded Awareness

Are there things among us that could stand to be upgraded?  Is the car looking a little shabby?  How’s the furniture holding up?  Could the wardrobe use some new additions?  Is the computer running like it used to?  What about coffeepot?  Need a new power washer?  Is the bathroom looking like it came from the 70s?

Ahhh, wouldn’t it be nice if all the items our hearts desired just fell at the doorstep?  If we could ask God for any item to land on our porches today, what would we choose?  A computer?  A backscratcher?  A dog (that actually listens)?  A car?  A hippopotamus?  What would we ask for?

In a faraway land, a young ruler governed a tiny and wealthy kingdom called Estogia.  His throne was cast in bronze and shaped like an eagle.  His robe was made from a rare mink that only lived in the mountains of the land.  Whatever he desired he was able to receive simply by raising his royal scepter.  In addition to having a lavish palace and unceasing smile, he possessed a generous heart; he gave money and items to whoever needed them desperately within the Kingdom.  Too, whatever would be removed from his residence due to replacement by an enhanced item would be given away to a fortunate citizen who was drawn at random.  One day, the ruler was attempting to give away his royal clock that was made of rubies in order to make room for one that was made of emeralds.  Though, the person that was picked to receive the clock of rubies refused to take it.  This had never happened.  The ruler was perturbed that someone wouldn’t wish to accept such an exquisite and royal gift; he decided to summon the “fool” (as he called the man) to his courts.  A plain man meandered up to the ruler’s royal throne and took a knee in honor of the ruler.  “You summoned me?” said the plain man.  With a cool and prideful voice, the ruler replied, “Yes!  Why is it you have rejected my precious and wonderful gift?”  The plain man paused for a moment…Then, the plain man said, “While your gift is stunning and impressive, your majesty, I held it next to my simple clock made of cedar and realized that it told time no better.”

Since the dawn of creation, humans have been making new and better things.  If anything, today we are innovating at the fastest rate we ever have.  A TV with a higher definition rating is going to come out.  A cell phone with more features is going to come out.  A more innovative car is going to come out.  A better “whatchamacallit” is going to come out.

American culture has trained us to jump on the train to “Bettertown.”  “All aboard to a land that never ceases to improve!” says the conductor.  It has made us experts in asking and answering the question of, “What do I want?” 

Perhaps you all are thinking, “Oh no, here’s another preacher telling me to sell all of my possessions for the sake of the Gospel.”  Not quite.  Though, I am suggesting that we might need to have a new perspective in looking at what we have

It is not a sin to possess nice things.  Though, we need to be aware that the sin of lust is not limited to sexual desire alone.  We can lust after things as well.  We say things like, “If I only had this, my life would be better…I want it so bad!”  Satisfaction is a hard discipline to harness in our context—especially when we are exposed to an overwhelming amount of ads that scream, “LOOK AT ME!” every day. 

If all our possessions were taken away from us but we were left with all the food and clothing we would ever need, would we be satisfied (1 Tim. 6:7-8)?  As counterintuitive as it may sound, if we are never satisfied with what we have, it may reveal that we are in love with our possessions (Eccl. 5:10).  The Lord is the most valuable “possession” that we could ever gain (Heb. 13:5).  He never needs to be replaced. He never goes out of style. He is always good enough.  Do we desire Him more than the next item we’d like to purchase?  Do we desire Him more than anything?

Jared M. Webb, Assistant Pastor


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Appreciating Our Pastors

October is Pastor’s Appreciation Month, so it’s an opportunity to celebrate our wonderful pastors at Lakeview Wesleyan Church. Let us pray for them the Apostle Paul’s words from Philippians 1:3-5: “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. I always pray for you, and I make my requests with a heart full of joy because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.”

Here is an acrostic poem to pay tribute to our pastoral team at Lakeview Wesleyan Church.   

Persistent in sharing the love of Jesus Christ with everyone–

Adamant about making disciples for Christ and being in community with them–

Serving Marion, the nation, and the world; one person at a time–

Taking the message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth–

Obeying God, no matter what the task–

Rebuking the works of the enemy in Jesus’ name.    

Happy Pastors Month to Pastor Tim and the entire Lakeview Wesleyan Pastoral Team!  You are loved!

Dr. Mary Alice Trent, Professor of English, Indiana Wesleyan University


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The Importance of Christian Education

In the Old Testament, we read that Samson’s father, Manoah, asked the angel:  “Can you give us any instructions about how we should raise the child after he is born?” (Judges 13:12)  We are not really told how well Manoah and his wife did in following the angel’s instructions, but there are many instructions in the Bible about raising our children in the ways of the Lord.  In the  paragraphs below, you will find a few of the most important ones:

Intentional Daily Instruction

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These words which I command you this day shall be in your heart and you shall teach them diligently to your children . .  . when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.”  In these early words from scripture, parents are instructed to give priority to the task of teaching God’s commands to their children.  Concerning this responsibility, the famous first century Jewish historian, Josephus, writes:  “Our chief ambition is for the education of our children . . . . We take most pains of all with the instruction of children and esteem observation of the laws and piety . . . the most important affairs of our whole lives.”  Parents are told to teach these commands “diligently”.  This suggests intentionality and earnestness. Apparently Timothy’s mother and grandmother had been intentional and earnest about teaching him the scriptures.  We read: “From a child, you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation” (II. Tim 1:5 & 3:15).

Answering Questions Posed By Our Children

Several times, the Old Testament mentions the importance of answering questions that children are asking.  Exodus 12:25-27 says, “When your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ . . . tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord who . . . spared our homes.’”  Joshua 4:6 says, “When your children ask . . . ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them  . . . . ‘The flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.’”  A similar word of instruction is given in Joshua 4:21.  As Jesus spent much of his teaching time answering questions posed by the disciples, so parents must be ready for the teachable moments when their children ask them questions about God and about faith.

Prayers By Family Members

Some of the earliest prayers in the Bible deal with important issues in the family:           (1) Abraham prayed for his son, Ishmael:  “Oh that Ishmael might live before thee” (Gen. 17:18) and God responds, “I have heard your prayer (Gen. 17:20).” (2) In Genesis 24: 12-14, there is a prayer for guidance in finding the right spouse for Isaac.  God answers this prayer by directing Isaac’s servant to Rebekah.  (3) In Genesis 32:9-12, there is a prayer concerning a broken relationship between two brothers:  Jacob and Esau.  God answers this prayer and reconciliation ensues.  While there are no direct references to families praying together, we may assume that children in biblical families were aware of the prayers offered and were instructed by the example of the parents (and related adults) who offered these prayers.

Involvement of Both Parents

The Book of Proverbs often reminds us of the importance of the role of the father and the mother in giving spiritual instruction to the children:  “Listen my son to your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Prov. 1:8) and “My son, keep your father’s commandments and do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Prov. 6:20), etc.  While Ephesians 6:1 speaks of the role of the father in providing nurture and training, I Timothy 1:5 suggests that Timothy’s mother and grandmother were the most important figures in his early spiritual development.   (This should be an encouragement to single parents as well as to women who teach boys in the local church.)  If we take the most common biblical passages about child-rearing, we find that most of them are addressed to both parents while one refers only to the father and one refers to the mother and the grandmother.

Separation

The principle of “qadesh” (holiness or separation) was fundamental to Hebrew religion.  As the family prepared the Passover sacrifice, participated in a Sabbath meal, or explained the covenant of circumcision, children learned that the God’s people were to be distinct and separate.  We tend to think of separation only in terms of separation from sin.  However, Hebrew parents went a step further:  They taught their children to embrace a lifestyle that was significantly different from the customs and behavior of their neighbors. This distinctive lifestyle was both an indication of their dedication to God and a protection from customs and behaviors that might lure them away from their faith.  Many stories in the Old Testament illustrate how individuals (and families) failed to live a life of separation and fell into sin.  The story of Lot in Genesis is an example of what happened to a family whose parents failed to live a life of separation.  Ps. 106: 34-37 (a good summary for this story) says:  “They . . . . mingled among the heathen . . . . and learned their works . . . . They sacrificed their sons and their daughters . . . .”  (This principle of separation is cited by Paul in II Cor. 7:17-18).  In contrast to Lot’s failure to embrace this principle, God said regarding Abraham:  “I know him that he will instruct his children and his household after him  . . . . and they shall keep the way of the Lord (Gen. 18:19).”

Involvement in Church

There are no specific biblical references about children attending church, but we do know that children went with their families to special feasts and celebrations which were an important part of the Old Testament faith.  Separate classes for children and youth (as we know them) did not develop until after biblical times.  However, children were taught God’s law in synagogue schools during New Testament times as well as later Old Testament times.  As schools developed for children and youth in the western world, the church began holding classes for children and youth as well.  Scholarly studies show a correlation between regular church involvement (and the amount of church involvement) and the development of Christian attitudes and actions on the part of children and youth.  If a child or teen attends one (or more) Christian Education class(es) each week, he/she is much more likely to develop Christian attitudes and behaviors.  When I was a child, television and film stars, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, made this song popular:  “If you don’t go to Sunday School, you’ll grow up to be bad; You’ll never know just what you missed, but always wish you had.  If you want the Lord to be proud of you, you’d better start today.  Those who miss the Sunday School are on the downward way.”  We would never sing that song today, but there is an element of truth in it.  If parents do not take their children to Christian Education classes regularly, their children are much less likely to grow up to be life-long Christians.  In Luke 2:52, we read that the child, Jesus, “increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”  Do you want your child to grow in all the ways that the child, Jesus, grew?  Taking your child to church (and to Christian Education classes) is one of the best ways to facilitate this kind of growth.  And while you are setting the example, perhaps you will find yourself growing in a Sunday School class as well.  

Dr. Keith Springer, Professor of Educational Ministries, Indiana Wesleyan University


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Can Someone Else Do That?

A group of ecstatic people gathered together in an impressive stadium for the biggest award ceremony in history.  Various news channels broadcasted the event and discussed who would be the champion.  Chatter about the occasion surrounded the watercooler at workplaces everywhere.  Finally, the presenter walked on stage in his gallant attire with a confident poise while holding a shimmering envelope in his palm.  Never had the world been so silent; never had the world been so attentive; never had the air felt so thick.  “I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting this moment, and it’s finally here.  After much deliberation, it was obvious who was the most deserving of the most prestigious award in history.”  Excited but shaky hands opened the envelope and unfolded the parchment concealed inside of it.  The winner’s name was read, but there was no cheering, no excitement, no celebration; only dumbfounded and blank countenances filled the world that had waited so eagerly.  An elderly woman who no one had ever heard of, who had never done anything extraordinary, who had never been out of her hometown, and who had never been called brilliant in any fashion, took the most prestigious award in the world into her hands.  She looked just as flabbergasted as the rest of the world.

I am convinced that those that the Lord will lift the highest in heaven will be those Christians that we noticed the least.  I am convinced that the greatest reward will not be given to the greatest preacher, evangelist, writer, organizer, or teacher for Christ.  It will be the ones who labored without expectation of recognition.  It will be the one who was willing to do the most tedious and basic tasks for the name of Jesus Christ—believing that He saw it all.  Christ did not come to be served but to serve (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45).  And, most certainly, Christ is the most esteemed human of all time.  Though, the one who will be closest to his footsteps will be the one who is a servant (Matt. 23:11; Mark 9:35).

James and John, before gaining spiritual maturity, wanted to be second to Jesus in His Kingdom.  Jesus replied to them with the upside down statement that they needed to be at the bottom if they wished to be at the top—that they needed to be a slave if they wished to be welcomed with glorified esteem into the Kingdom (Mark 10:43).  I wonder how long it took James and John to realize how ironic Christ’s reply to them was.  I ponder this because to seek greatness through service defeats the very purpose of service.  It is not a sin to desire to be recognized by God, but the heart that seeks to serve simply out of love of God and neighbor is the greatest and purest heart.  A heart of humility is what Christ desires for His Kingdom.  Truly, Christ desires a heart that reflects how He, being fully divine, humbly became fully human so that he might serve us—the undivine, the unworthy, and the sinful (Phil. 2:3-11).

We are called to serve as Christ served.  We are commanded to use the gifts we have been blessed with to share God’s grace with the world (1 Pet. 4:10).  Are we truly utilizing those gifts for the optimum return for the Kingdom?  Are we making time in our busy schedules to serve Christ?  Service is truly a spiritual discipline that forms us.  God does transform us when we read the Bible, pray, worship, and the like; these acts of piety, though, do not encompass the whole Christian life.  Performing acts of service allow God to do a different work within us than when we participate in acts of piety.  It is one thing to read about or watch a sport or activity.  It is another thing to participate in that activity.  True humility is not learned from the mouth of the preacher but from the face of the needy.  True humility is not learned from the hand of the author but from the scrubbing of a nasty toilet that’s not yours.

Is there anything we think we are too good to do? Then maybe we should do it.  Is there anything we are unwilling to do just because we know that we will not like it?  Then maybe we should do it.  As I said before, we need to use our gifts and it is an act of disobedience not to do so.  Though, we need to also be willing to band together as the people of God did under Nehemiah to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 3).  Perfumers and goldsmiths were helping to build a wall—something that was not their specialty or gifting.  So, while we need to find a way to use our gifts in the Church, we cannot shy away from those tedious things in the congregation that need to be done. Perhaps Christ was not particularly gifted in washing feet, but he did it.  Christ dwelled with the lowly and performed tasks that were egregiously below his position.  If Christ can serve when needed, can we?

Volunteering in the local church is an act of service—regardless of whether you are gifted in doing something or not.  Should you be placed in a position where you are utilizing the skills the Holy Spirit has gifted you with for the glory of God and the edification of the Body?  Of course!  Though, as we have seen, sometimes there are situations where no one is specially gifted to fill a position of need within a church.  Buses may need to be driven, coffee may need to be brewed, chairs may need to be set-up, etc.  In addition to making ourselves available for tasks that correspond to our gifts, are we making ourselves available when our church needs tedious and basic tasks done?  Though we can be sure that if Christ were with us he would probably be teaching lessons and preaching sermons, we can also be sure that he would never find Himself to be too lofty to perform any task at a church.  Are we people who serve like Christ’s serves?  Or are we a people who normally find ourselves asking, “Can someone else do that?”

Jared M. Webb, Assistant Pastor


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