Greetings to Friends

Dear Winona Lake Friends,

Greetings in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
This letter includes reflections during Ramadan.
We are looking forward to seeing many of you this fall.
PS In the last few days an uptick in violence to the south of us has created a new wave of refugees. We have experienced no problems, gasoline has been available although more expensive, and the usual rationing of electricity.
Please pray: there are many refugees, they have lost everything: home, possessions, money, sometimes even Identity Documents. Evil is on the March.
May God richly bless you in 2014 as you intercede for those in need.

Ken and Linda

Good Job!

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

It is encouraging to us as followers of Jesus Christ to see others who are committed to following him and serving in his church and in his larger kingdom.  It is helpful to know that we are not alone in our efforts to serve the Lord and to walk in his holy ways.  So, the writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers to continue meeting together regularly for worship and fellowship in order that they might be mutually encouraged.

Some people might think,


A Lament for Friends

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Yesterday we learned that our good friends and partners in ministry Ron Balzer, along with his wife Tammy and 4 year old granddaughter Hayleigh, were killed in an auto accident as they were on their way to enjoy a family vacation.  The Balzers leave behind four children and a wider circle of beloved family members as well as many, many brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ.  For the past several years it has been a privilege for Lavone and me to become acquainted with Ron and Tammy.  Although we did not work and share directly with them on a regular basis, still we had grown to love and appreciate them as fellow overseers in our church.  Here is a lament for our friends and colleagues, adopted

In the abstract I hardly ever ask those why-questions. I often rather easily draw fine distinctions: when bad things happen to good people my world can be rocked but not my world-view.  But when it’s someone you know well, it’s different.  When it’s someone you know, it feels right to ask, “Why?” And besides, you can’t help yourself.



For the next 8 Thursdays, we will be posting a series originally posted by Mark Oestreicher, longtime youth ministry guru and partner with The Youth Cartel.

The young teen years summed up in one word: transition

Nikki is 11 years old, and in 6th grade. But she looks more like a 16 year-old. And I’ve had more than one mom comment to me that they would pay big money to have fingernails as nice as Nikki’s. But Nikki still loves to play with Barbie dolls. In fact, it’s not uncommon for her to bring a couple with her on youth group trips. The other kids tease her about it – but she’s naive enough to think they think it’s fun that Barbie is in tow. It’s not that Nikki is neither a child nor a teenager: she’s bits of both.


Under Authority

Firefighters who have done the heroic; soldiers that have developed unbelievable camaraderie in the face of death; Superbowl champions and World Series champions; orchestra musicians who are both skilled AND employed; astronauts.  If this were a game of Jeopardy and these were the answers the question would be, “Who are those who have learned to live under or submit to authority?”  Or another possible question could be, “Who are admirable people we would all like to be?”  One cannot achieve any of these feats of greatness without being willingly dependent upon others who are over them.  They have all learned to be dependent upon and in submission to orders.

And yet.  Yes, and yet . . .


How to Help Child Immigrants

Image is courtesy of National Latino Evangelical Coalitio.

Free Methodists care about marginalized people because Jesus cares about them. In fact, He identifies so closely with them that He says we serve Him when we serve them (Matthew 25:31–46). From the beginning of our movement, we have passionately sought to follow Jesus, no matter the consequences. The freedom celebrated in our name provides powerful incentive for responding to the immigration crisis facing our nation.


Hatmakers debut on HGTV

the Hatmaker family (Courtesy of HGTV)

A Free Methodist family is starring in its own reality television show on popular cable network HGTV.

Austin New Church Lead Pastor Brandon Hatmaker and his wife, popular author Jen Hatmaker, are featured with their five children on the series “My Big Family Renovation,” which premiered Aug. 7. The series chronicles the Hatmaker family as they sell their home and embark on the biggest adventure of their lives — buying a 105-year old farm house that requires them to pitch in and live through its major overhaul. The renovation includes the addition of bathrooms and a rec room as well as the conversion of old attic space into bedrooms.


What Addiction Feels Like


llm-may14_discipleshipAddiction is pervasive in our society. It is as common as caffeine or shopping and as complex as illegal drugs.

I travel nationally and internationally, speaking about addiction and the impact of alcohol and drugs on youth. It’s hard for people who have never experienced addiction to understand what it feels like. “Why can’t they just stop drinking, pull themselves together and stop for their family?” makes sense to the non-addicted, but the addicted brain works differently. Asking an addict that question is like speaking French to a native English speaker.

Here is a glimpse of what addiction feels like.


Welcome to the World of Doubts

For the next 8 Thursdays, we will be posting a series originally posted by Mark Oestreicher, longtime youth ministry guru and partner with The Youth Cartel.

A nervous set of parents met with me. Tears came quickly. Judy, the mom, spoke in-between honks into her tissue: “Johnny, our 7th grader… [honk!]… he’s always been such a good boy. And he’s always loved Jesus.”

The dad nodded.

Judy continued: “But the other night at dinner… [honk!]… Johnny said, ‘I’m not sure I want to be a Christian anymore.’” [honk!]

A big smile broke out across my face.


From Addict to Assistant Pastor


Ken Hunter (left) shakes hands with Bishop David Roller. (Photo by Michael J. Metts)

Free Methodist Church of Greensburg (Pa.) Assistant Pastor Ken Hunter grew up attending church, but he had divided loyalties.

Looking back now, Hunter said he had “one foot in the world and one foot in the Word.” He experienced religion rather than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“I would try, but when I would fail to follow the rules, I would throw my hands up and throw myself into sin,” Hunter said.

He began using drugs at age 12 during a tumultuous year that included the birth of his sister and the death of his stepfather.