When Ohio Governor John Kasich entered the presidential race last Tuesday, he brought with him an interesting dynamic. He is a Republican who sees Christianity as deeply personal, a factor that influences his decision-making. While that may be true of other candidates, Kasich does not allow the party line to affect his Christian-based views. And that's why he's different.
Pastors, who are often in the position of providing some comfort following a death, have a unique vantage point from which to recognize the most beneficial actions to a congregant's family upon the death of a loved one. Often, friends of the deceased are left at a loss, not knowing what should be said or done to be a balm to those grieving.
Over the years in the role as pastor, I have come to see that the death of a loved one (whether expected or unexpected) often leaves people feeling not only grief and a sense of loss, but also anxiety - anxiety over what they should be doing and feeling in the wake of such a personal tragedy. In that regard, please accept the following as friendly advice I see as consistent with the Christian faith.
By the time you read this, you will have seen and heard a great deal about the senseless shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Let me offer perspective somewhat different from what you may have encountered until now.
This past week, I was reminded how important it is to keep the essentials of the Christian faith in mind. Too often, we Christians get wrapped up in tussles about the non-essentials. And it is precisely those non-essentials that often make the news, which keeps those outside the church from appreciating the essence of the faith.
Those who know me and have seen me walking around occasionally in orange and blue are aware that my undergraduate degree was from the University of Florida. If that troubles you, please be comforted with the knowledge that all my children have gone to the University of Georgia, and I have sent much more money to Athens than I ever sent to Gainesville.
The legacy of Bishop Marion Edwards was enhanced May 17 when Springfield United Methodist Church dedicated a new education and conference center in his honor. Edwards was a pastor and Springfield native who ascended to the highest ranks of leadership within the United Methodist Church before his death from cancer in 2011.
Nearly 81 years ago, Scotsman Eric Liddell refused to run a heat in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris because the race was scheduled on a Sunday, which he understood from his faith to be a violation of the Sabbath.
This past Monday, a young man came to see me at Armstrong. He was referred to me and my department in the College of Health Professions because he had been essentially kicked out of the professional health care program in which he was enrolled, and he was looking for a new major. He was simply told that he wasn't cut out for that job.
If you ask a local pastor the phrase he is most likely to hear when counseling a couple struggling in their relationship, my bet is that somewhere in the top three is the statement, "he (she) has changed."
In the book of Acts, chapter 8, we find the account of St. Peter witnessing to an Ethiopian eunuch, baptizing him and presumably sending the faith back with this new Christian to Ethiopia. Regular church-goers know the story. We can also presume that this convert was the forerunner of the Ethiopian church, which we rarely hear much about, at least not until recently.
One of my favorite radio personalities is the late Paul Harvey, who died in 2009 after 65 years in broadcasting. To me, Harvey was exceptional at getting to the heart of any matter in his topical broadcasts, called "The Rest of the Story."