What is Wrong with Our Country?
If you looked at the title of this newsletter and were hoping that I have the answer to my question, you might be disappointed. I do know that our country is in a bad shape. We are divided with Red States and Blue States and with Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter. It seems like we have lost the ability to even have a civil discussion about our differences. For those of you that are in my age bracket, you may remember the phrase that we said when someone was picking on us. We responded by saying “Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!” Yes, if someone hits you with sticks or stones it will hurt, but words may hurt even more because they hit us deep in our hearts.
Writing about this subject,a local Nashville pastor quoted singer Mariah Carey who said one criticism will instantly overrule 1,000 praises. We always seem to remember the criticism more than the praise. In Proverbs 12:16-18 we read, “A fool is quick tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted, an honest witness tells the truth, a false witness tells lies.Some people bring cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.”
I believe the question we have to ask ourselves is this: Do I want the words that I speak to be words that hurt or words that heal? Hopefully we want words that heal, but how does that happen? Luke 6:45 says, “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” Our words are healed as we replace what fills our heart. And what should fill our heart is Jesus. One of my favorite passages of Scripture comes from Colossians 3. It says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only that which will build others up who hear them. Because Christ has changed your life , put off such things as anger, rage, malice, slander and abusive language and do not lie to one another.” It goes on to say, “Because you belong to God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.”
Wow! What a challenge has been put before us. No one will do it perfectly, not me or you, but we can make our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches and our country a better place if we will practice words of healing instead of words of hate.
Thank you for your prayers and continued financial support! Grace and peace,
An Important Message
We are currently having a problem with our donation button on our website. The majority of donors to Fishbowl Ministries send their donations either by personal check or have their regular donation sent through their bank.
A few of our donors, however, send their monthly donations through Paypal. Please note: You will not be able to use Paypal to make your donations, so please send it by personal check or set it up as a recurring payment through your bank. Thank you for your understanding!
FINISHING WELL…WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
The Mission Statement for FishBowl Ministries states: Offering Hope, Encouragement, and Friendship to all those in Ministry SO THAT THEY MAY FINISH WELL!
Linda and I met at a very small College in Marion, Indiana in 1966.The school was then called Marion College. It struggled for many years to see enrollment reach 1,000 students. Some years later the school changed its name to Indiana Wesleyan University and this past school year they had 4,000 students that graduated. WOW!
In a few months I hope to be at IWU to celebrate the 50th year of my college graduation. (It was really last year but Covid 19 took center stage) I hope we all wear name tags because some of us may have changed in 50 years! I want to tell you about two people that finished well in what God had asked of them. Their names were Dr. Wilbur Williams and Dr. Ardelia Williams. (No relation)
Dr Wilbur Williams served Marion College/IWU for 50 years as Associate Professor of Biblical Literature. 8 times he was awarded the Professor of the Year award by the students. During his 50 years as a professor, he made156 trips to the Holy Land, taught 17,250 students and volunteered 40 years participating in archaeological excavations in Israel and North Africa.
Dr Ardelia Williams was also busy. She spent 35 years as Associate Professor of Art and Coordinator of the Arts Department. She designed and crafted 6 stained glass windows for one of the major buildings on campus. She also spent 40 years leading students on trips to Italy and England. On the IWU campus there is a small, but beautiful prayer chapel that was built a few years ago in their honor. The best part of this story is that this couple deferred their salaries for 22 years to fund the building along with five sculptures of this prayer chapel.
As I read this story a few weeks ago I thought, “this is what it means to finish well”. You and I will not do what Wilbur and Ardelia Williams did but we can follow God and do what He wants us to. We can finish well and hear Him say: Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your reward.
Thanks to all of you for your financial gifts and your faithful prayers. You are an integral part in helping all of our FBM pastors to finish well!
Blessings and peace, Lyle
How many times have you seen a really tall person trying to get through a doorway without hitting their head. As we get older it seems like bending down becomes harder and harder. In fact I have found myself bending over to pick up something off the floor and looking around to see if there is anything else I should get while I am in that position. (Now, don’t laugh at me because some of you do the same thing.) If you are a person who enjoys working out then bending over several times helps to strengthen those abs!
Do you remember when your children were small or when your grandchildren needed help to tie their shoes or help them get dressed. What did you do? You bent over to help them. (Some of you at this point are thinking This is a strange newsletter. What is Lyle trying to say?)
I am currently reading through the Psalms as a part of my morning devotions.
I have read through the Psalms many times and each time I find something fresh and new that grabs my attention. Recently I was reading Psalm 116 in the New Living Translation. I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.
A few days ago, a pastor that I have known for many years called and told me that he was really struggling with some personal issues in his life. As we talked I said: I just discovered a new verse in the Psalms”. And then I read it to him. That day he needed God to bend down and listen to this pastor’s cry for help.
When our conversation was about to end he said, The Scripture that I was drawn to this morning was Habakkuk 3;17-1.
“even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no
grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty
and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.
What do you need God to do for you today? If you ask Him He will bend down to listen. Thank you for your continued prayers and financial gifts. It allows FBM to bend down and listen to the hurts and struggles of pastors!
Blessings and peace,
To Tell The Truth
Many of you will remember the old game show entitled “To Tell The Truth” The idea was that the panel had to decide which of the contestants was telling the truth. I recently discovered a song written by contemporary singer and songwriter, Matthew West, entitled “Truth Be Told.” It reminded me of a Sunday long ago that I greeted a lady in church that I knew had a lot of struggles in her life. She was smiling when I asked her how she was doing. She responded by saying, oh I’m fine. That’s the way we are supposed to be when we come to church!
I invite you to carefully read these lyrics:
Lie number – one you’re supposed to have it altogether. And when they ask you how you’re doing just smile and Tell them “Never better”.
Lie number 2 – everybody’s life is perfect except yours So keep your messes and your wounds
And your secrets safe with you behind closed doors. Truth be told, the truth is rarely told, now.
I say I’m fine, yes I’m fine but I’m not, I’m broken
And when it is out of control, I say it is under control but it’s not and you know it.
I don’t know why it is so hard to admit it when being honest Is the only way to fix it. There’s no failure, no fall, There’s no sin you don’t already know.
So let the truth be told.
There’s a sign on the door, that says, “Come as you are” But I doubt it cause if we lived like it was true, every Sunday morning the pews would be crowded.
But didn’t You say the church should look more like a Hospital, A safe place for the sick, the sinner and The scarred and the prodigals, like me.
Can I really stand here unashamed knowing that Your love for me won’t change?
Oh God, if that is really true then let the truth be told. There’s no failure, no fall, there’s no sin you don’t Already know.
So let the truth be told.
FBM Ministries 2021
I know this newsletter is a little different than what I normally write. However, I hope it will speak to all of our hearts. I hope that we all have someone in our life that we can be real with and also know that it is a safe place to be real.
That is why FishBowl Ministries was started, to give Pastors and all those in ministry a safe place to be real.
Thank you to each one of you who pray for us and give generously so that this ministry can continue to offer hope, encouragement, and friendship to those in ministry so that they may finish strong!
Blessings and Peace to all of you! Lyle
WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE……
Think back with me (for most of us) many years ago. Most of us, in our childhood years envisioned something we wanted to be “when we grow up” ……. a dancer, a firefighter, a teacher, a police officer, a mother with a house full of children…. well maybe a few children, a preacher, a singer, or even a movie star. When I was 4 years old, I was riding in the car with my Dad. I turned to him and said, Daddy I want to be a preacher and truthfully that is all I ever wanted to be. In all the things we said we wanted to be when we grew up, did we ever say, I WANT TO BE LIKE JESUS!?
I grew up in a musical family. I was a singer, my sister was excellent on the keyboard, my mother had a lovely alto voice, but my dad …. well not so much, but he enjoyed the music that the rest of us produced. My father did have favorite hymns and one day, not long ago the words to one of his favorite hymns popped into my mind. I would like to share those words with you. For though they were written many years ago, I believe they have a message for us today.
OH TO BE LIKE THEE
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm 1897
O to be like Thee! Blessed Redeemer this is my constant longing and prayer. Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. O to be like Thee full of compassion, loving, forgiving, tender and kind, Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinners to find.
O to be like Thee! Lowly in spirit, Holy and harmless, patient and brave. Meekly enduring cruel reproaches, willing to suffer, others to save.
O to be like Thee, while I am pleading, Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love. Make me a temple, meet for Thy dwelling, fit me for life and heaven above. Chorus
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer.
Pure as Thou art; Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness. Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
A special prayer request:
April 8, 2021 will mark one year since Linda, a precious wife and wonderful mother, made her entrance into her Heavenly home. Our family will be meeting together to place some flowers and share some memories (and I am sure shed a few tears). Your prayers will be greatly appreciated on that day.
As always, thank you for all your love and continued financial support for FBM.
2020 REPORT TO THE BOARD
What a year this has been! I wish I had a dollar For every time I heard the word
Most people, at the beginning of a new year, make all sorts of resolutions as to what their new year will look like.
Of course, by the end of the first week, most people have broken those resolutions. At the beginning of 2020 I decided to focus on one resolution and choose one word that would be my word for the year. I sensed that the word that God gave me was “stillness.” Little did I know at that time that I would have plenty of chances to need and use that word. As we started to hear about Covid-19, there was plenty of time for stillness. And then came April 8th when Jesus called Linda home to be with Him. I had then, and still have a need for times of stillness in my life.
Even though I struggle with technology I am grateful for what it allows us to do. When I could not meet in person with pastors, we knew we could talk on the phone or have a ZOOM meeting. We could laugh together and pray together, and in the loneliness of being a pastor they knew that there was someone who cared about them and wanted to encourage them. Several times during the year I would hear “We really appreciate FishBowl Ministries, and we are grateful for what you do.”
There is one thing that God continually reinforces in me, year after year, and that is the passion and love that I have for all those who are in ministry. This has not been an easy year for pastors as they have had to make decisions about “do we open our church for people to come in person?” “What do we do with the issue that some want to wear masks, and some don’t, and then hurtful remarks are made on social media?” How about the finances? (Interestingly enough, pastors that I talk to have said “During Covid-19 our income has actually been higher.”)
God is good! He takes care of His Church and those who serve him.
I am grateful for our FBM Staff and for each of you who serve on this board and for your prayers for this ministry, myself, and my family. Most mornings I take a prayer walk. I pray for my family and I pray for you! God is still at work and I want to be a part of what He is doing!
I wanted to take a minute to thank you and let you know that if it were not for all of you reading this newsletter, Fishbowl Ministries would not exist. I thank you for your continued faithful prayers and your generous financial gifts.
We are going to make some changes this year. (or as my daughter told the board, we are moving Dad into the 21st century.) The major change that we are making will not affect you until the end of 2021.
Every year, each staff member sends me a list of their donors complete with their address and amount they have given and then I hand address all the receipts for all the donations that have been given. This year I did 175 of those. It is not only time consuming, but it is also costly.
January of 2022, I will be sending out all of the receipts by email. This will save FBM at least $200 in postage and printing. I am asking all of our staff to make sure they have email addresses for all of their donors throughout this year.
Here is the one request, and it is a simple one, I ask of you – Send your email address to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Blessings and Peace to all of you!