The Junior High Philosophy


llm-jan15_discipleshipThe junior high years are full of challenges, but making friends has to be among the toughest. Students’ identities seem to be based on their friends. I learned quickly the philosophy “who you are friends with determines your worth.” The only ticket to “cool town” was to become friends with one of the cool kids.

When I was in junior high, one of my favorite movies featured a high school homecoming queen befriending a social outcast. This pairing astounded me. How could one so cool befriend one so not?


Prayer Summit to Launch National Prayer Ministry


llm-jan15_newsEvery week we hear about some historic moment: the first-ever spacecraft landing on a comet or Peyton Manning becoming the first-ever quarterback to throw for 509 touchdowns. These historic firsts happen frequently enough, but it’s rare to have the opportunity to be present where one happens.

How would you like to have that kind of opportunity? How would you like to be present at the first-ever National Prayer Summit of the Free Methodist Church – USA? The bishops are calling our people to gather together from across our nation to pray in preparation for General Conference 2015 and form an ongoing National Prayer Ministry. My wife, Margie, and I are honored to serve the denomination as the coordinators of this new ministry.


Cultivate Health


llm-jan15_action1As we learn together from the Word of God, encourage one another in faith and life, practice healthy accountabilities and serve together in the cause of Christ, we contribute to the health of each person and help keep them from falling away from love for God and others. These principles and practices will support and nurture healthy order in the church.  — “Book of Discipline” on healthy biblical community

Health within the local church is a key determining factor of fruitfulness for the kingdom. Our individual lives alone are not a complete witness; only as we do life well together will that witness reverberate with healing and hope to a fractured world.

Three practitioners of church health, all Free Methodist pastors, are working diligently in preparation for General Conference 2015, which will be held July 13–16 in Orlando. Denny Wayman (Santa Barbara, California), Alma Thompson (Fredonia, New York) and Doug Newton (Greenville, Illinois) have been commissioned by the Free Methodist Church – USA to develop training materials, assessment tools and practical resources for churches to use in their quest for health and wholeness.


Scarred and in Love


Bishop David Roller  To read more from  Bishop Roller, visit

I saw a young girl with a scar on her face, and I winced. I knew she’d carry the scar through high school and employment interviews. I knew she’d always fight the first impression, always have to overcome the assumption of damage. I knew it would be hard for a lover to love her. Someone would really have to like who she really was to look beyond the scar.

One of my great disappointments has been to realize that I am not the center of the universe. Apparently everyone else on planet Earth didn’t get the memo that they were all created for my pleasure.


Parent’s Progress 1.22.15

We are passing this contract idea along for parents of teenagers. But some of these ideas would be good for tech users of any age. 

A Cell Phone Contract to Help Build Sticky Faith

Photo by sally anscombe.

In celebration of the release of The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, is hosting a “Blog Tour” to share some of the book’s research highlights and practical ideas. This cell phone contract emerged from the research we conducted for chapter ten: “Home Sticky Home: Making Your House a Hub of Faith”.

Dan and Denise’s fourteen-year-old son has two cell phone contracts: one with his cell phone carrier and one with them. In order to clarify their family’s cell phone expectations and protocol, Dan and Denise printed the following guidelines and had their son sign them and post them in his room.


Not Witness Protection


llm-jan15_foundationA witness protection program is offered by the government in exchange for testimony that could convict a dangerous criminal. After testifying in the courtroom, the witness is given a new identity.

The protected witness’s new identity includes a new name, Social Security number, birth certificate and place to live. Every effort is made to ensure that the person’s prior identity is destroyed so a new (safe) life can begin. The intent is to protect the individual, who essentially goes into hiding, possibly permanently.

This is not the case in the Christian faith.


Never Too Old


llm-jan15_featureBefore working with International Child Care Ministries, I was not a particularly child-focused person. Oh, my own two kids were my pride and joy, the sheer delight of my heart as a mother. Nate and Carrie amused and amazed me from the time they burst onto the scene for my husband, John, and me. I still remember gazing into our tiny son’s eyes when he was minutes old and marveling at the wonder of procreation. I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of bringing a life into this world and couldn’t hold back the question — “What have we done?

This firstborn son was ours, yet not ours. He was his own person, yet ultimately God’s. That humbling realization struck me again when Carrie was born — she is precious, she is ours; yet not fully ours. She is an individual, her very own self, yet belongs to her Maker. Within weeks of their births, John and I presented our babies in dedication to the Lord, formalizing a covenant that recognizes His ultimate place as their Source and Destiny.

Now that my focus has expanded from two children to 20,000,


Light & Life Magazine – January Issue


llm-jan15_coverIdentity Crisis

Throughout my life, I’ve felt like I’ve had a different identity in different settings.

Growing up, I was known as the picky eater in my family. When I got married, my wife’s family referred to me as the guy who would eat anything.

In some groups, I was labeled the funny guy. My dry sense of humor seemed to be a hit with these folks, so I cracked a lot of jokes. Unfortunately, when I tried to make a serious point, these friends assumed I was joking and laughed.

In other situations, I was considered the serious guy. When I tried to make a joke, silence followed, and I had to explain I was joking.

When I’m discussing issues with different friends or relatives, my views sometimes are labeled “conservative” or “liberal.” The views I present are the same, but they are being interpreted through vastly different worldviews.

This month’s Light & Life Magazine discusses our identity in Jesus Christ, which is far more important and constant than how other people identify us. According to 2 Corinthians 1:22, God “has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us” (NLT).


Downloadable PDF: LLM January 2015

Get Social

Keep in mind that all LLM content is social.  Share articles on Facebook and Twitter.  Comment on stories. Tell yours.


We will be posting several of these articles on our blog this week. 

Parent’s Progress 1.15.15

Thursdays on the blog means help for parents. Pass it along to a parent of a teen you know. 

Cyber Gossip
The Power of Words Taking Their Toll in Online Environments
An article from Jonathan McKee and David R. Smith

Dynamic Image

“next time she talks to my man, shes gonna get her b**ch a** beat!”

“omg danielle wore the same shirt yesterday.”

“We lost tonight cuz Kevin can’t kick for sh*t smh”

That’s just some of the (not so passive) aggressive examples of cyber bullying recently found on my Facebook feed….

Digital Death Zones
In addition to needing a grammar lesson whilst communicating their discontent in life, many of today’s young people also need to be taught how to play nice in the digital sand box known as the Internet. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Google+, a growing number of teens are employing the damaging tactics of cyber bullying in their social media exchanges.

Of course, most kids don’t see themselves as “bullies” (an overused buzzword of the last decade) when they talk trash about someone else in the social media landscape. They’d just call it being real.

Until it happens to them.


Transition Coming to WLFMC

The announcement of Pastor Roland’s upcoming retirement was given two weeks ago. For those that missed it, here is the letter Pastor Roland read. 

Dear WLFM Church Family,


Last Sunday morning (1/4), I announced at the close of our Morning Worship Service that I am planning to retire at the end of this month (January, 2015).  Below is the text of the announcement I read to the congregation:



Pastor Roland E. Kramer

January 4, 2015


When I interviewed with the Wabash Conference Ministerial Education & Guidance Board and with you in March of 2011, I was asked regarding the number of years that I would be willing to serve if appointed as pastor at WLFMC.  At the time, I indicated that I expected to continue in the role of Pastor until I turned 69 or 70 years of age―still about six or seven years from now.

However, during the 3 1/2 years I have served as Sr. Pastor here, a number of factors have prompted me to reconsider that timeline and think about retiring sooner.  In fact, I met with Supt. James about a year ago and told him that I was planning to retire at the end of the 2014/2015 conference year.  The reasons I gave to him at the time were a combination of personal reasons and factors relating to positive changes that were occurring in our congregation.

I had told Supt. James that I was willing to continue serving until annual conference of 2015, but if he found a replacement who was available earlier than that time, I would also be willing to step aside earlier.  Now, Supt. James has been in contact with a well-qualified individual to serve as Sr. Pastor here who is available to begin next month.  I am happy to work with him and with you as the Lord directs us all, to affect a smooth transition in pastoral leadership.  However, I will be finished with my official duties as Senior Pastor at WLFMC as of the end of this month.

I am very grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve in this church family.  Elaine and I have added many more Christian brothers and sisters to our circle of friends within the Free Methodist Church as well as a number from Winona Lake, Warsaw and the surrounding communities and the Wabash Conference.  We are very blessed.

I have greatly enjoyed working with Pastor Rick and Jen Nier, Lynette Merkler and all of you to help each other follow Jesus and to build the kingdom of heaven.  Your partnership in the Gospel and your loving support, encouragement, and fellowship in Christ have been great blessings to us.  May the Lord of the Church continue to pour out his Holy Spirit upon you to empower you all for effective kingdom service to one another, to those who need Jesus in this community and to many others around the world.

Your annual conference delegate, Rick Swaim is going to explain more of the details regarding the transition in pastoral leadership as they have already occurred and the plans going forward from here.

Thank you, again, for your demonstrations of love, care, and support expressed in so many ways to me and Elaine during our time here with you.  May the Lord bless us all as we continue to follow Jesus and work to build his church and advance his kingdom on earth.  I am confident that God’s grace will indeed be sufficient for all of us.

Pastor Paul and Kay Parker will begin their new ministry at WLFMC on Sunday, February 1, 2015.