Category Archives: Meditations
By Pastor Nathan Richardson, Heartland Community Church
When my family moved to La Porte City we were welcomed with open arms, not only at Heartland Church but the rest of LPC as well. It was not long before we really felt it was home and that we belonged here in LPC. Belonging is important. We all want to feel like we matter to the people we spend our lives with. It starts with welcoming but goes far beyond that. It is about feeling accepted and secure.
Each year we live here we become more accustom to the ritual and traditions of LPC. We can set our clocks to the sirens and our calendars to Festival of Trails, Union Football, and the Fire Dept Fish Fry. As a parent of a three year old we frequent the parks and are able to ride our bikes to Tootsies and the Bakery. Everything is close. We sure love this town.
Belonging in community is vital to LPC life. This past summer the community became a little more tight knit as the churches worked together to host a Vacation Bible School. I was able to meet and form many new friendships; I cannot wait until we partner again next summer. We were also able to host RAGBRAI as they rode through our town. It was truly a day to remember.
Our community also has resources like LPC Community Food Pantry hosted here at Heartland but supported by all the churches. We have a community center where we deliver meals on wheels to the elderly and Crosslines that will help our community with Vouchers for Gas, Groceries or a night at the Motel. Heartland will even start up a Celebrate Recovery for those that are looking for help with their addiction. Many resources are provided in our community but maybe you were just unaware of what the community had to offer.
Maybe there is something that we need to do as a community to support the evolving needs of our town. So I am looking to hear from you. What are the needs that go unmet? How can the churches and community come together to support each other? Do you feel like you belong or do you feel misunderstood? Do you feel like you are missing out on something? How can we support you? Please email me at email@example.com or call/text 319-540-5727. I look forward to hearing from you.
By Christopher Simon
“Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” ~ Psalm 19:4
When I was a schoolboy, in the 1960s, Christopher Columbus was celebrated as the heroic discoverer of America, and every child knew that “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred ninety-two.” By the 1980s, when I was in college, history was no longer taught as if the great explorers were heroes. Their exploits were subjected to reasonable criticism, and the fact that Columbus was seeking wealth and slaves took the luster off of his image. It is worth noting that even in Columbus’ own time his treatment of the native Americans was subject to criticism.
But perhaps we shouldn’t judge Columbus too harshly. In the late 1400s slavery was still a near universal practice; Columbus had a lot of “bad apples” among his crew, and some of the “Indians” Columbus encountered were hostile. Furthermore, Columbus really did see his role at least partly as spreading Christianity to a benighted race of people who he thought would make good Christians.
Columbus belonged to the Franciscan third order and he took to wearing the monk’s robe after his third voyage, which he returned from in chains. After successfully defending himself, he spent time in a Carthusian monastery, where he wrote a Book of Prophecies which attempted to place his explorations within a larger divine plan. Columbus genuinely believed that he was doing the will of God, and so maybe this year on Columbus Day we should take a closer look at his exploits and his legacy.
By Christopher Simon
Are Your Goals SMART?
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” ~ Proverbs 21:5
Having meaningful goals is an important part of a happy, fulfilled life. We should always have some worthy goals to work towards, both in the short-run and the long-run.
If your goals are worth having, it helps to think about them systematically, and there is a nice acronym from the discipline of project management that can help in that regard. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (or Relevant), and Timely.
Specific goals are better than vague ones; “I want to give $10.00 to charity each week” is better than just saying you want to be more giving.
Goals that can be measured are easier to keep track of; better to keep a log of those weekly charitable contributions than to just guess at how much you’ve given. The goal should be both achievable and realistic. Don’t try to give $100.00 out of every paycheck to charity if you earn $300.00 a week.
And finally, your goals should be timely. That is, you should put a timeframe on your goals and it can also help if your short- and medium-term goals support your long-term goals. For instance, if one of your long-term goals is to leave a large sum of money to a favorite charity, then it will help to have short-term saving goals which support that.
God wants us to be happy, and one of the ways in which we can fulfill God’s plan is to make our goals align with His.
By Christopher Simon
Raising Happy and Healthy Children
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
~ Deuteronomy 11:18-19
Raising children is no easy task, and it never was. Adults have always complained about how difficult it is to get kids to eat right, behave and to respect their elders. But there has been ample research over the last 50 years about the child-rearing practices which offer better chances of raising happy and healthy kids. The Stanford Marshmallow experiments were a set of studies which looked at delayed gratification. Children were given a marshmallow and told that if they could wait 15 minutes to eat it they would be given another marshmallow. Most of them couldn’t wait, but those who could were shown to do better in school and to have a variety of better life outcomes, even years later.
Studies done in the 1980s by Betty Hart and Todd Risley looked at how different social classes talked with their children and found that upper and middle class parents talked much more to their children and that this had an effect on their children’s vocabularies and their IQs. Finally, there is ample evidence that the things which parents do recreationally with their children, like playing sports, going to museums or concerts, and reading will continue to be enjoyed by their children into their adult years.
So if you want to raise happy and healthy children, teach them how to delay gratification, talk with them as much as possible, and enjoy healthy and intellectually engaging activities with them. Be sure to include the Bible and its lessons in your activities.
By Christopher Simon
Walk or Drive? What Would Jesus Do?
It is encouraging that fewer teenagers are learning how to drive, or are putting off learning until somewhat later, when their judgment is probably much better. Many cities and towns are making their streets safer and more convenient for walking, riding a bicycle or using public transportation. Perhaps in the future many of
us won’t need to own a car to get around.
Driving safely and cooperatively with the other people on the road says a lot about your character. I have often wondered if Jesus was around today whether he would drive a car, or perhaps ride a bike, or just stick to walking. The New Testament portrays Jesus as frequently walking, and scholars
have estimated that Jesus may have walked over 20,000 miles in his 33 years on earth. The one instance where he rides (Matthew 21) has him riding on a colt (or perhaps a donkey) into Jerusalem—a pretty humble ride for the King of Kings.
Perhaps Pope Francis is right in his choice of vehicles, a used 1984 Renault which was donated to the Vatican. No need to be driving anything too fancy.
And regardless of what kind of car we drive, we should all follow the rules of the road and be extra cautious around motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, all of whom are imperiled by careless drivers. So buckle up, keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your head out of your apps!