I’ve been a little tardy in posting to the blog. No excuse really, just busy. But we all could say that, couldn’t we? Well, I was thinking about writing this post this morning while I was mowing my lawn–or more precisely, while I was on my lawn tractor. Yes, I have a riding lawn mower. I really don’t need it with my present lawn, but I purchased it while I was in Ohio and had a bigger lawn to mow, and I kept it. You see, I was raised on a farm and somehow riding that lawn tractor around my lawn takes me back to many enjoyable hours riding the old Allis Chalmers W-D across our fields plowing, discing ground, planting, etc.

Anyway, this morning as I mowed I realized that I was using a skill taught to me long ago. It was how to drive a tractor across a field in a straight line. Today’s tractors have GPS, but back then, to drive in a straight line you would pick out a distant object in line with where you wanted to go–a tree, telephone post, building, etc.–and then drive while keeping your eye fixed on that object. It was amazing how well it worked. When you got to the end of the field and looked back, you would see that you had driven in a pretty straight line.

I have been in a number of serious conversations over the past months. But last week I was told a joke that struck me at the right time in the right way and I had to laugh. And I laughed, and laughed and laughed. It felt so good. It was one of those deep belly laughs. You know the kind. You shake, get control, then think about it again and start the process all over. Other people nearby wondered what in the world had taken hold of me. It felt like the sun shining on a cloudy day, bringing light and warmth.

Scripture speaks about laughter. Sometimes it is associated with the drunken laughter of fools. But more importantly laughter is portrayed as the natural result of the joy of seeing the Lord work in powerful ways. He brought the captives back to Israel, and they were filled with laughter. He brought Job out of his troubles and he laughed. He made outlandish promises to Abraham and Sarah laughed thinking about it. God is not puritanical. He is the God who created and celebrates laughter.

Be clear: There is a time to laugh and a time to mourn. (Ecc. 3) So laughter must be appropriate. But we are made to laugh. When was the last time you laughed? Did you know that we who are a part of a congregation are to so obey and follow our church leaders that their work is a joy, bringing laughter? (Hebrews 13:17)

If you’ve been too serious lately, find something to laugh about. Something simple, pure and joyful. You will be amazed the effect it will have on you. It will make those around you wonder what got ahold of you.

From the 150th anniversary celebration of the United Brethren church in Canada. (larger)

The United Brethren Church in Canada  celebrated its 150th Anniversary this year. Bishop Brian Magnus sent this report about their celebration:

“In June we had a huge outdoor event and invited people from every church to attend. It was partly a picnic and partly a giant revival service. The day began with a bus tour of historic sites. This included visiting the very first UB church in Canada, and also visiting a UB church building from 1861, which is still preserved in that old style today.

“In Canada, the picnic part of our 150th anniversary included lots of games for the whole family, contests, pony rides, picture-taking in old fashioned costumes, and displays of historical pictures from each of our churches. Youth bands played Christian music in the big tent while all this was going on, and there was a tea room for those who just wanted to sit quietly and chat with others.

Students from Huntington University performing the play “Godspell.” (larger)

“After a large meal, a revival service was held in the big tent. Praise and worship singing was led by the worship team of our newest church plant from Cambridge, Ontario. Some songs from the musical Godspell were sung by a group from Huntington University. A sermon on revival from the book of Nehemiah was preached by Rev. Dennis Bells, and the celebration concluded with communion.

The statistics say that we have an average attendance of 875 in our churches on a Sunday morning, and we had 600 of them gather together for this 150th Anniversary celebration of revival and inspiration!

Follow the link below for more photos.

Our missionary family has a new addition. Macau missionaries David and Melissa Kline are the parents of a baby girl (right). Mia Jean Kline was born at 10:52 a.m. September 26 at the Saan Deng Hospital in Macau, China. She weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and was just under 20 inches long.

Emmanuel Community UB church in Fort Wayne, Ind., will host a national Christian college fair on October 5, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. The event will bring together representatives from about 30 other Christian colleges and university from across North America to answer questions and provide information to students and parents. Huntington University will host the event for the North American Coalition for Christian Admission Professionals.  Approximately 30 other Christian colleges and universities from across North America will be present to answer questions and provide information to students and parents.
Parents and students will be able to attend sessions at 6:45 and 7:45 designed to inform them about the financial aid process. these workshops will provide parents with the latest information on making the college experience feasible and affordable. Senior students will also have the opportunity to register to win a $500 NACCAP scholarship.  
The NACCAP headquarters ranked the 2005 Fort Wayne fair first out of 100. Each fair is ranked on overall attendance, number of colleges and universities that sign up, and overall satisfaction of attendees. 
For more information about the fair, visit www.naccap.org, or contact Amy Mattox, the coordinator, at 260.359.4013. This event is free and open to the public. Emmanuel Community Church is located at 12222 U.S. Hwy. 24 W. on the southwest side of Fort Wayne.

George Rhodifer reports on the results of a fundraiser held Saturday, September 16, to benefit the Park Layne UB church of New Carlisle, Ohio, which was destroyed on June 6 by an arson fire. He writes:

“The fund raiseer was very successful and was attended by about 100 people. The music was great and the people enjoyed it under a tent with the sides rolled up. They had crafts and much food for a donation. One of the music groups sold their CDs but donated the money to the church even though they were not getting any money for there participation.

“The donations reached $795. That money was given to the Park Layne Rebuilding fund. The congregation plans to break ground the first week of October.”

GaryJen_200.jpgIn a short-term world, we’re grateful for those who make long-term contributions to God’s work. Jennifer Blandin has completed ten years as one of our missionaries in Macau. Director Gary Dilley (right, with Jen), during his August trip to Macau, presented a framed certificate recognizing Jen’s ten years of service there. The presentation was made at the new Living Stone UB church on Taipa Island. Jen is from the Mainstreet UB church in Walbridge, Ohio.

We need another 15 sponsors for children in India, so they can attend school. This is part of what is called the Beautiful Family–children of parents who have leprosy or AIDS. Sponsorship for one child involves $20 a month ($240 a year). If interested, contact Darlene Burkett in Global Ministries.

We need a teacher to serve in Macau in 2007, from March 1 to June 15 (or longer). The responsibilities include teaching in the English Language Program, and helping with Bible studies and children’s ministries. A college degree (doesn’t need to be a teaching degree) is required for a work permit. If interested, please contact Global Ministries. We would need to begin working very soon on acquiring the permit.

A 4.5 minute video or DVD is available from Global Ministries. It features Director Gary Dilley giving an update on our investigation into mainland China. This video was made for Thank Offering, but is equally suitable for a short UB mission update in your worship service, apart from Thank Offering. If you’d like a copy, contact Darlene Burkett.