Posts Tagged Christian

Green Lake Christian Writer’s Conference Refreshes and Inspires

In August I spent five wonderful days at the Green Lake Conference Center in Wisconsin. I had wanted to go there ever since my friend, Don Bynum, told me about it.  I was attending the 68th Annual Green Lake Christian Writer’s Conference. Green Lake is a beautiful place far away from any population center. It took no time to feel relaxed. Carol and Jan joined me on the trip. They toured while I attended sessions.

The people I met were gracious, interesting, thoughtful, and creative. I made wonderful new friends including Rev. Jim Wooten and his wife, Becky. Jim is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Beaufort, SC. and a fantastically funny story teller. The three of us were there for the first time. Jim is the former pastor at Earl Street Baptist Church in Greenville, SC where I attended as an undergraduate at Furman University long before Jim’s tenure.

Kris Wood did a great job organizing the conference. The speakers were both helpful and inspiring.  Lin Johnson and Wendy Walters both offered wonderful assistance.  Dr. Linda Locke, a former public school administrator, is a crusader against bullying. We talked a lot about the importance of words. She writes and speaks on the subject. I bought a recording of soothing piano music by fellow attendee Darlene Davis. I continue to play it. It is wonderful.

An unexpected bonus was the number of well-mannered college students there from Bethel University attending a leadership conference. One young woman took the time to educate me about Converge Baptists which is the former Swedish Baptist General Conference.

The morning meditations led by Rev. Karen Gygax Rodrigues, pastor of the local Federated Church were very thought provoking and instructive.  She also played the piano, guitar and sang. The church is supported by American Baptists, United Church of Christ and United Methodists.

I welcomed the opportunity to promote Say Something Nice Sunday. Before I left I was excited to learn that the Green Lake Conference Center (American Baptists) will join our movement as will the Immanuel Baptist Church in Minot, North Dakota. Rev. Brian Skar brought a group of volunteers from his church in Minot to do work on the buildings and grounds while he was in sessions. He led a series of devotional services for teenagers in the evenings.

I learned a lot. Met wonderful people, but most of all I was refreshed and inspired, I was reminded daily of the goodness of people and the splendor of God’s creation

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Political Talk: Temper Your Words, Open Your Heart – www.ethicsdaily.com

Political Talk: Temper Your Words, Open Your Heart

Mitch Carnell
Friday, October 7, 2016 6:53 am
Section: EthicsDaily.com’s Latest Articles

President Obama struck the right note when speaking about the police shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“We need to temper our words and open our hearts,” he said following the mid-July killing of three officers.

Words are powerful. They have the power to build up or tear down, calm people down or stir them up.

Arthur Caliandro, the late senior pastor at Marble Collegiate Church, once asserted, “You can never know that your words will be received the way you intended because you do not know what that person has gone through.”

Most people are able to hear hot political speech and let it roll off them, but a few internalize those words – and those words take over that person’s thoughts and actions.

Hate speech is dangerous. You do not know the listener’s state of mind.

The rhetoric in the current presidential campaign is already at a fever pitch with, I fear, much worse to come.

In today’s unsettled political climate, we all need to take a step back, take a deep breath and moderate our speech and behavior.

The president has shown exemplary restraint in responding to his critics. He has the right demeanor that is needed in these times. He has pleaded for calm and civil speech.

Some see this behavior as weakness, but, in reality, such restraint demands enormous strength. Self-control and self-restraint are hallmarks of a Christian communicator.

Parents should discuss these matters with their children and explain to them the power of words.

The wounds inflicted with sticks and stones will heal, but those inflicted with words may never heal and will continue to fester.

Harsh, unkind, hateful words spoken by those who are significant in a person’s life may have an impact that will scar that life forever.

There is a gigantic role for churches to play under these circumstances. They can promote small discussion groups and hold seminars. They can teach people how to conduct themselves in threatening situations.

Here is an opportunity for churches to become more relevant to modern life. Unfortunately, too many churches have elected to become part of the problem.

They use their powerful voices to arouse discontent and sow seeds of disharmony.

The Bible is filled with sound advice on how Christians are to respond to hostile or threatening behavior. People of good will can find solutions even in the face of overwhelming odds.

It is hard to listen to one another when so many of us are so far apart in our thinking, but we can do it. We must do it for the sake of our society.

We must continually ask ourselves: Do our words accurately reflect our claim to be Christian?

Christian civility must become more than a slogan. It must become the way we operate on a daily basis. As Christians, we must communicate in such a way as to reflect the teachings of Jesus.

Christian communication doesn’t mean surrendering our beliefs. It does require us to treat the other with the same respect we demand for ourselves no matter how much we disagree with his or her position.

In fact, the more deeply we disagree with another’s position, the more careful we need to be in fashioning our response.

There are times when the best response is to acknowledge that our disagreements are so profound that we simply agree to disagree and end the conversation.

Mitch Carnell is a consultant specializing in effective communication. He is the author of “Our Father: Discovering Family.” He and his wife, Carol, are members of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina. He blogs at MitchCarnell.comand ChristianCivility.com

Christian communication doesn’t mean surrendering our beliefs. It does require us to treat the other with the same respect we demand for ourselves no matter how much we disagree with his or her position.

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Tragedy Transformed into Triumph – Randy’s Writings

Randy and Sarah Moody have every right to be angry. Their bright, handsome, athletic 21 year old only son died while scuba diving on a camping trip. Randall was a committed Christian and had already decided to become a missionary .He was president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the College of Charleston. He gave his testimony at the group’s annual banquet in 1997.

These grieving parents transformed their tremendous grief into a crusade to memorialize their son and to further his mission. Sarah and Randy used Randall’s writings, diary entries and the hundreds of letters and phone calls they received about him to compile a book, “Randy’s Writings, which they hope will inspire others to follow in his footsteps. It is not a sad book. There is something here for everyone. Sarah and Randy have gone even further. They have developed an oral presentation and a video from the tragedy. Their talk and/or video would make a wonderful program for any Christian organization.

Randy’s Writings, is available at www.amazon.com.

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How Praying the Lord’s Prayer at St Paul’s Cathedral Changed My Life – Christian Today

Mitch Carnell 18 May 2016

It was the last day of our honeymoon and we were headed for St Paul’s Cathedral.

As Rev Tom Guerry said at our wedding, “Carol and Mitch have loved before.” Carol had survived a terrible divorce after 20 years of marriage and my Liz had died suddenly of a brain aneurism after 32 years of marriage. Neither of us had expected to find love again.

Although St Paul’s was crowded, we managed to get inside. What a breathtaking, soul-stretching, holy place! We were simply overwhelmed by its beauty.

Neither of us had ever experienced anything that came remotely close to this. Every nerve in my body tingled with the sheer grandeur of it all. All of the guidebooks put together could not prepare you for this. How could one possibly digest it all?

As magnificent as the cathedral is, and as elated as I was to be there, my real epiphany was yet to come.

At 11 am, the public address system came on. The priest introduced himself and then said, “At this time each day we pause and say together the ‘Our Father’ prayer.”

Then the most unbelievable thing happened. Voices belonging to people from around the world, of every language, of every colour and hue, every nationality, disabled and whole, male and female, child and adult, gay and straight, prayed aloud together, “Our Father”.

For the first time in my 65 years the full meaning of the opening words caressed my soul in a way I had never experienced before. Here in this ancient house of worship, in this ancient city with my new bride, the true meaning of “Our Father” coursed through my veins. I was awestruck. There was no turning back. It was the beginning of a new understanding of my journey of faith.

I could hardly contain the sensation of oneness in God that engulfed my entire being. I knew that my understanding of God had taken a quantum leap. “Our” took on a meaning far greater, far more profound than its three characters would signify. This must be what St Paul had felt on the road to Damascus.

As I struggled to comprehend this unexpected revelation and gain some perspective, my thoughts drifted back to my childhood. Incidents and experiences that had remained separate and unexplored for their meanings for all of these years began to come together and a pattern began to emerge.

Two years later I discovered a prayer by Pam Kidd in Daily Guideposts 2001 that expresses the same phenomenon: “Dear God, in my scariest moments, you point me to the place where, in your time, You fit the pieces of my life together into a perfect whole. Thank You.”

The pieces of my life were slowly coming together. I understood that my revelation at St Paul’s was not the result of an isolated incident but had been a lifetime in the making.

I have been in church all of my life and had become a Christian at 11 years old. I have prayed the Lord’s Prayer hundreds of times, but never had I been so captivated by that little word, “our”.

St Paul’s Cathedral is light years away from the small textile mill village church in South Carolina, USA, where I grew up during the days of racial segregation, but that church too played a major role in my understanding of who God is and who is in his family. Our Father: Discovering Family, is an unfolding of my spiritual journey. The process of reflection and writing it led me to a far richer discovery than I had imagined at the outset. 

Our Father: Discovering Family is available from the publisher www.wipfandstock.com, Barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com in either paperback or ebook

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