I ’ve driven along the edge of Casey, Illinois, many times but never ventured farther into this community of 2,700 residents than the Dairy Queen near the Interstate 70 exit ramp. That changed a few days ago when an initial stop for gasoline led to following the signs that pointed the way to “big things in a small town” such as Guinness World Records holders for the largest wind chimes, golf tee, knitting needles, wooden shoes, pitchfork, mailbox and rocking chair. The town is also home to many other massive objects that may not be the world’s largest, but they’re likely close.
I’m not sure my wife and son shared my high level of enthusiasm about seeing the giant items, but we now have the selfie to prove we stood near a 46,000-pound rocking chair that’s 56 feet tall. I’m thankful Casey’s signs let us know about these big things and pointed the way to them.
The day after we visited Casey, our pastor, Kenny Martin, preached a sermon titled “Pointing the Way” with emphasis on Jesus’ words in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Earlier in the book of John, we read, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (1:4). John also records Jesus saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12).
Since its founding in 1868 as The Free Methodist, this magazine has pointed people to Jesus Christ, who is the Light and the Life and gives the “light of life” to us. The Free Methodist Board of Administration changed the name in 1970 to “do all we can to get the attention of people who need God in their lives. Both the name and the cover, we hope, will invite further reading.” The board members added, “It is our earnest prayer that Light and Life will be an evangelistic tool.”
LIGHT + LIFE (as this magazine is now known) points people to Jesus through the print edition, two websites (lightandlifemagazine.com and revistaluzyvida.com) and several social media accounts. Many of our readers are not Free Methodists, and some are not (yet) Christians.
I’ve encountered several people who think this magazine is only intended for pastors or other church employees. Actually, LIGHT + LIFE is for everyone. Print copies should be available for free to anyone worshipping at any of our nearly 900 local church locations in the United States. Home subscriptions are also available for less than $1.25 an issue (click SUBSCRIBE near the top of lightandlifemagazine).
This magazine’s former editor, B.T. Roberts, launched an earlier publication, the Earnest Christian, in 1860 with the aim to “set up the Bible standard of religion” and by “uncompromising advocacy of ‘righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’ to make our magazine a favorite and welcome visitor.” That aim carried over when he gained responsibility for this magazine in 1886, and we have the same aim as we focus in 2020 on relevant themes such as unstoppable grace, sanctified sexuality, racial unity and much more.
Free Methodists have a rich history of inviting people to lead and speak into the church’s conversation regardless of their gender, race, income or ordination status (one more reason this magazine isn’t just for pastors). This month, we launch LIGHT + LIFE Conversations, a Facebook group that we hope to reflect the “righteousness, peace and joy” missing in many online groups.
This issue also begins our 2020 themes with the first installment of a three-part look at our mission statement “to love God, love people, and make disciples.” In our new Focal Point section, Bishop Linda Adams reflects on “the astonishing reality that the God of the universe wants your love.” This issue’s cover illustration includes a photo of Adams with newly ordained Pastor Núbia Vieira de Mello from the recent Free Methodist World Conference in Brazil. I think B.T. Roberts, whose “Ordaining Women” book was published in 1891, would be pleased to see the church embrace his biblically based conclusions.
Tourists may be surprised to see Bible verses on or next to some of Casey’s large items. The 32-foot, 500-pound pencil is inscribed with Proverbs 3:3, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Let’s love God and point others to God’s love.
Jeff Finley is this magazine’s executive editor. He also serves as a delegate for John Wesley Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis. He joined Light + Life in 2011 after a dozen years of reporting and editing for Sun-Times Media.4