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Love People, Sometimes Be Nice

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bishops

Our lives are filled with beautiful thoughts like “love people.” These beautiful thoughts are easy to clap for but hard to implement — beautiful thoughts like “save for retirement,” “eat less” and “exercise more.” Love people.

It’s a great idea. I mean, what kind of grinch wouldn’t want to love people? It’s a great idea, as long as we let the word “love” be a vague concept and “people” a theoretical construct. The problems come when we start talking about what “love” means and which people, specifically we’re to love. That’s where it gets messy.


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Four Steps for Fruitfulness

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“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

What a privilege we have to walk alongside Jesus in bringing glory to the Father by producing kingdom results. Once we experience the fruit Jesus has chosen us to produce, it goes far beyond a call or duty and quickly becomes our joy and underlying purpose in life. There is nothing quite like seeing the transformational power of Christ at work in our family, church and greater community. Telling the stories of salvation, hearing the testimonies of changed lives and seeing the restoration of broken people take place before your very eyes makes every ounce of effort worth it.

I am thankful for every story of fruitfulness that takes place in our church, but, like you, I would like to see more of it. I long for the days when this is not just happening in a few lives, but in tens, hundreds and thousands of lives. Call it revival, call it awakening, but I just want to see the fruit of Jesus Christ overflowing in our churches and communities. So how do we get there?

I believe there are a few simple steps we can take to build the momentum needed to see more fruit in our churches:


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Finding Community Through Stories

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Reflecting on my years as a student in higher education, I realize that a strong sense of community is what I appreciate most about the two Free Methodist institutions I attended, Central Christian College and Greenville College. Based on my experiences since then, I have come to believe that community cannot be achieved if individual and collective stories are not told.


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Teen Sex Trends

by David R. Smith
“Today’s teens are having more sex than ever!” “They’re not practicing safe sex.” “Their irresponsibility is leading to more pregnancies…and abortions.”

It all sounds familiar. But is it true?

The Rate of Pants Dropping Is…Dropping
According to research conducted by The Guttmacher Institute, it appears as though teen pregnancy, teen birth rates, and teen abortion rates are dropping…all at the same time. Between 1990 and 2010, teen pregnancy fell by 51%. The teen birth rate also tumbled 44% from its highpoint in 1991, and teen abortion plummeted a whopping 66% from its peak in 1988.


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Summit Launches Prayer Movement

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Greenville, Illinois, isn’t normally a spring break destination, but 175 people from 22 states met there March 19–21. They were surrounded by farmland rather than beaches, but they came to seek partnership with the Son — not to party in the sun.

“Prayer is the primary means by which God partners in His kingdom work,” Bishop David Kendall said at the Greenville Free Methodist Church as the National Prayer Summit began.

Doug Newton, the host church’s senior pastor and a co-coordinator of the Free Methodist Church – USA National Prayer Ministry, also described prayer as partnership.

“God saves us to reinstate us as partners in His purpose,” he said. “God creates and raises up people, breathes His spirit into them and releases them for His purposes.”


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Who Is My Neighbor?

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The question, which a lawyer asked Jesus long ago, rings down through the ages to us today: “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

Who are these battered, abused people arriving in our cities speaking strange languages? Can we just ignore them and hope they manage somehow or go back to where they came from?

During the last few years, thousands of refugees have been resettled in the United States. They come from Burundi, Tanzania, Iraq, Burma, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Congo and Nepal. They are those people for whom you prayed because they were being persecuted. Now here they are at your doorstep.


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Transforming Madagascar and the World

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No one was more surprised when I retired from teaching than I was. Creating an English program that integrated social justice into the curriculum had been an exciting departure from the typical classroom agenda, and I loved watching students develop into empathetic global citizens.

I loved watching my students give testimony before the Oregon Senate to urge the passing of human trafficking legislation. I loved watching them accept a life-size oil painting of the Statue of Liberty from a young woman in Afghanistan who had been one of our recipients of school supplies we sent. I loved watching them hold an assembly on creating an understanding and end to generational poverty or bullying. I loved watching them practicing and supporting fair trade and reforestation. This was my calling, and, sadly, it was time to move on, but to what? So with a “Surprise me, God!” in my prayers, I stepped out into my biggest adventure yet.


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It’s Never Too Late to Parent

Parenting is hard, even if you have great kids like I do. What do you do? | by Ed Stetzer

It’s Never Too Late to Parent

Successfully parenting teenagers is a series of resolved crises.

I wish someone had told me that before I became the parent of one. Looking back, I should have known. I was a teen once, after all. And that’s how I’d describe my teenage years­—one seeming crisis after another.

Actually, that’s just about how all parents I know describe their parenting. The crises change, and some are big and some are small, but they are real to all involved.

But no matter the crisis, no matter how many there have been, it’s not too late.

You see, I know that many parents feel that it is too late. They’ve had one too many crises. Or, they were away too much. Or, they’ve made too many mistakes.

But, that’s just not the case.


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A Tale of Two News Stories

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A Facebook post from one of my former newspaper colleagues recently caught my eye. She linked to a New York Times story (fmchr.ch/nydpg) with the compelling headline “One Company’s New Minimum Wage: $70,000 a Year.” I began reading about Dan Price, the founder of Gravity Payments, who “said he would pay for the wage increases by cutting his own salary from nearly $1 million to $70,000.”

I paused my reading and thought to myself: “I don’t know if this guy’s a Christian, but this is one of the most Christlike actions I’ve seen someone take.”

Reading on, I discovered that Price started the company “in his dorm room at Seattle Pacific University.” He’s a graduate of a Free Methodist educational institution.


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Let the Drama Come to You

Patience is a good thing.  It is about more than just waiting.  It is a condition while we are waiting.  I am not sure about the statement, “good things come to them that wait.’  But, I am confident that “good things come to the patient.”  That is true in many scenarios.  Let me give a few.  Don’t pursue or solicit compliments.  Let them come to you.  Don’t run after birds you are trying to feed.  Let the birds come to you- hand extended.  Last year, I had a hummingbird land on my extended finger that was held in place for about 10 minutes.  Don’t pressure people to like you.  Let the relationship come with the long term investment you make.  The list goes on.  Many wonderful experiences come to those who are not forcing or cajoling or manipulating their environment for the experience.  They are not waiting with toe-tapping impatience.  Good things come to those who enjoy the wait.

And, I would say the same about drama.  Many people live their lives pursuing drama or intrigue of the perilous kind.  They are not truly comfortable unless there is something about which to be upset, offended, hurt, wounded or unjustly treated.  So, they create drama, often unwittingly. 


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