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Social Influence in a Rapidly Changing World



Then Bible includes a story of a young man with remarkable social influence: Joseph, who saved a region of the world from a savage, seven-year famine.

The story starts off as an account of Joseph’s father and his family. In late Genesis, Jacob (Joseph’s father) settles into a foreign land with his family. Jacob assigns his son Joseph to take care of some property and animals. Joseph is supervised by his half-brothers. Joseph is loved by his father and publicly recognized as a preferred son. Jacob gives Joseph a special robe of many colors. All of this causes jealously and hatred toward Joseph by his brothers.

Joseph has a dream one night, and when he tells his brothers, they hate him even more. He says, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it” (37:6–7).

“Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” reply his brothers (37:8).

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Hashtags and Wholeness

This issue’s title originated during a phone conversation that a colleague and I had with a bishop of the Free Methodist Church, which has the vision “to bring wholeness to the world through healthy biblical communities of holy people multiplying disciples, leaders, groups and churches.” We decided the issue would include discussion of technology and the ways it can help us be “whole church” (the General Conference 2015 theme).

Before putting #whole on the cover, I searched social media for existing use of that hashtag. If you don’t know what a hashtag is, Merriam-Webster defines it as “a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text.” In several social networks, if you click on a hashtag, you will see other posts with the same hashtag.

I turned first to Twitter — the medium on which hashtags became popular. I found #whole referring to grain, personal fulfillment and a grocery store chain nicknamed Whole Paycheck. On Instagram and Pinterest, #whole usually accompanied food and beverage photos. A Facebook search repeatedly brought up a televangelist’s meme about healing for the whole body.

Many other mentions of #whole also discussed a person’s body or what a body should consume. Some dealt with having a whole mind. Few promoted a whole spirit. We need more emphasis — online and offline — on being “healthy biblical communities of holy people.”

That phrase also is a good description for Free Methodist colleges and universities. Each school offers liberal arts education that provides wholeness through instruction in multiple disciplines integrating faith and learning. Community happens in the classrooms, dorms, dining commons, gyms and chapel services.

Within these pages, don’t miss our higher education guide featuring these colleges and universities contributing to the church’s effort to multiply disciples and leaders.

We’ll be posting articles from this most recent edition of Light & Life Magazine here on our blog. 


5 things i tell parents tech_768x480

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at a few conferences on the subject of technology, social media and how it’s affecting our kids and what parents can do about it. I was surprised and delighted by the response of parents and ministers who wanted to better understand this subject.

Since these conferences weren’t recorded, I thought I would compile the presentation and deliver them to you in a two part series. In part one, I’ll cover how technology and the web has changed in the last 30 years. These changes will set up part two, in which I will cover five significant ways that technology is impacting our kids and what we can do about. Here’s part one:


First, let’s talk about how we got into the situation that we’re in. We do that by looking that three major technical revolutions that occurred in the last 30 years.

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Called Out

by Pastor Rick Nier

Have you ever been called out in church? I have and I’ll never forget it.

I was sitting in the back row of church, safely away from my parents and, I thought, anyone who could see me not listening to the sermon. That particular Sunday, an older leader in our church was filling in while the pastor was away.

A teenager at the time, I was doing what I’m sure none of the teens in our church do. I was passing notes and making jokes with my friends, who were very clearly being a negative influence on me. (Insert tongue in cheek here.) That’s when it happened.

The substitute-preacher called out, “You boys may think this is funny, but death is a serious thing!”

Fortunately he did not call us out by name, although that did not end up keeping me out of trouble from my parents after church was over. Since I could not actually tell them what the sermon was about, I had no defense.

The only solace is that I’m sure I won’t be the last person to have been called out in church. Nor was I the first. The letters we read in the New Testament were often read in a church service, then passed around to other churches. If we read the letters like sermons, then we often find shout-outs at the end. This was Paul’s pattern, greeting people he knew in each town.

In Colossians 4, one such shout-out ends up looking like a callout.

“Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” ~Colossians 4:17

‘Hey Archie! You’ve got a job to do; don’t forget it!’ Honestly, I see this verse and try to imagine what the previous conversations have been like between Paul and Archie. I imagine that while Paul was in Colosse, these two established a relationship and discussed what God might have for Archie to do. And now Paul was reminding him to get it done.

Today this sort of thing would likely be done by email or text message. We rarely see private conversations being held in public worship services and I’m not suggesting that I might try that from the stage.

However, I will point out that we have very likely had conversations. If we haven’t, then you and God have. I’ll also point out that much ministry is happening within our church family. But we haven’t escaped the declaration by Jesus in Matthew 9 that ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’

Many exciting things are happening right now. Make sure you’re a part of completing the work ‘you have received in the Lord.’


Missions Update

by Pastor Henry Church

We have a young man and his wife who have given their life to service in an amazing way where I am now visiting.  This young guy has been visiting smaller villages and has run across large numbers of Yazidi refugees. There are about 70,000 of them in the 5 or 6 villages where he has been distributing relief supplies and copies of “The Word.”

He has opened up 6 of our group home meetings and has lots of opportunities. We have added him to our staff, working under the superintendent here.

The attached photo is of a picture drawn by a Yazidi refugee child who attends one of these group meetings. He described it to us. He used to live in a Yazidi village symbolized by the green trees. But one day he met Jesus and his life changed.  He crossed the bridge to a new life in Him, symbolized by the cross near the bridge.  He is now “in the family!”  He was one of those rescued from the mountain top when pursued by ISIS.  Quite a story!




Seasons Change

by Pastor Paul Parker

Seasons change. Demands on our time remain consistent. With the turning of the pages of the calendar, maybe it would be good to pause and ask ourselves if we are aligning our lives with plans that are in keeping with the Savior’s plans.

“I don’t have time.” “I’m too busy.” “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” All these statements and more begin to describe our days. Most of us try and get as many projects squeezed into 24 hours that we possibly can. It also seems to be a fact of life that part of what we squeeze in are projects other people want us to adopt. I have to admit, I am terrible at telling someone that I don’t have time to do something. Usually I try and find a way to make it happen.

One of the biggest struggles I have is rushing to do what seems urgent and not always getting to what is important. I can usually find a way to fill all of my time with busyness and still not get to the things that make a difference in other people’s lives. I have to be purposeful about connecting with people that need God in their lives, or else I find myself only interacting with God’s children.

Let’s make October a month dedicated to fulfilling God’s plans. I am guessing the feeling at the end of the month will be one filled with far more satisfaction than the feeling we get from our usual busyness, and the bonus is that we may help someone change their eternal destination.

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and            not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


GC15 Through the Bishops Eyes, part 3

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Editor’s note: This article was written for readers of Light and Life Magazine. The original posting, which can be found here, included all 3 of the Bishops thoughts in one longer article. We have split it into 3 days for the purposes of our church blog.0

By Bishop David Roller

From around the globe and the far corners of the United States, delegates and participants funneled through the Orlando International Airport, not intent on seeing a huge mouse but intent on answering two questions. We all wanted to know, “Is this still my church?” and “Is God’s hand of favor upon us?”

Even the most stalwart Free Methodist wanted to see if the heart of our church could sing, cry and celebrate together in a real-world venue, a venue called the Grand Sierra Ballroom. Old-timers recalled that B.T. Roberts had converted a theater; perhaps God could move in a ballroom. Those newer to the movement wondered why we didn’t just call him Benjamin.

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GC15 Through the Bishops Eyes, part 2

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Editor’s note: This article was written for readers of Light and Life Magazine. The original posting, which can be found here, included all 3 of the Bishops thoughts in one longer article. We have split it into 3 days for the purposes of our church blog.

By Bishop David Kendall

Granted, we named a goal for General Conference 2015 that sounded lofty or pretentious: To be whole as a church. By “church” we meant the FMCUSA and annual conferences but, most of all, local churches. We planned and prepared so that churches might pursue life and mission with Jesus locally and globally and thus become “whole.”

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GC15 Through the Bishops’ Eyes

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Editor’s note: This article was written for readers of Light and Life Magazine. The original posting, which can be found here, included all 3 of the Bishops thoughts in one longer article. We have split it into 3 days for the purposes of our church blog.

By Bishop Matthew Thomas

General Conference 2015 was a unique experience for me and others with whom I spoke. If you missed this one, make plans for the next one in 2019. We came together to reconnect with our whole ministry family, renew relationships, reaffirm our identity, respect our church’s history, and review our commitment to mission and vision for the future of the Free Methodist Church. We did all of that in the context of seeking God in worship and prayer, learning together in strategy groups and deliberating on matters important to us all. And it didn’t hurt to do so in an enjoyable environment conducive to building families and relationships.

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5 Things You’ll Never Regret


5 Things You’ll Never Regret

Yes, it really was a bad idea to give your six-year-old access to the finger paints while you did the laundry. Or to let your fourteen-year-old son stay overnight at his friend’s place without triple checking to make sure his parents were home.

And maybe it wasn’t all that wise when you had that fight heated conversation in the kitchen when the kids were watching cartoons.

We all have regrets.
But the flip side is also true.

We all have things we’ll never regret doing as a parent. And if you think about doing things you’ll never regret, you can actually do them more often.

Here are 5 things I think you’ll never regret as a parent:

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