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Lenten Devotional 2014

 Our thanks to the the leadership of Doc Menninger and all those who contributed a written devotional or a sketch.

This link will take you to the  on-line, daily version:

OU’s Lenten Devotional Series 2014 

You can also download the PDF or contact us if you would like a printed version mailed out to you:>)


Video Series for the home-bound.

“Taking Care” Video

Above is the link to the video which launches an additional facet of outreach and support to those who are homebound or giving home-care to a loved one. It came for last year's discussions at the ‘Care-Givers Summit’ during Adventures in Faith. 

Our thanks to all who made this possible!
Also...check out this cool video of the Chapel!   

Fredrikson Chapel Video

Featured "poetry and prayer"...


 have you felt the pull of the hunger

 quiet inside your shelter

with the fire humming as the porridge simmers

we have butter for topping the warmth and cream for soothing the heat


and only enough today for a few mouths to taste

and only enough tomorrow for a few more and no there is no making more today

and please stop your asking

your bowl has been filled and emptied and i cannot stop the hunger in your belly

only you can and

i cannot feed it, nor quench my own

i am trying and i am still hungry as i stir atop the heat of fire and smell the comfort of

sweet and meal and wait


the grumble is so loud

distraction pulls at me

i am vulnerable with ears bigger than hands and a stomach small but infinite

perhaps i am not meant for this

here guarding my fire so carefully my tears may extinguish the source and i will fall

cold and forgotten as the masses move to the next and my vessel lays shattered—i am

tired of the fight

ashamed of my losses and myscars and my inability


i scrape the bottom

spoon on pan

and there you are

ladle in hand

had i forgotten

your arrival planned

your bowl meant only to fill mine

your gift to call me forth

the fire to serve

to give beyond my measure

in the warmth of grace

in the steady kindling of faith


come tend with me

quiet inside our shelter

with the fire humming as the porridge simmers

we have butter for topping the warmth and cream for soothing the heat

God of mercy, God of fulfillment, bless us this day, open us

so we might demonstrate the grace to wait with the hunger,

so we might serve in glory and in solitude,

so we might be present at table and at fire


Amid the rumbling, may we hear Your voice and

know the truth of "good things" to come. 


Submitted by Trish Dowd Kelne

Holiness (Part 6)

     W e have set out to examine the concept of holiness in a 15 part series, dividing our series into three sections of five parts each.

The outline of the sections is:
 “Set Apart to God,” Matt 22.37        
“Set Apart from the World,” 2 Cor 6.14-7.1        
“Set Apart for the World,” Matt 5.13-16.

 We have completed section one and now move forward to the next one. We recall from our earlier discussion that holiness is a gift of God; He has called us to be “set apart” and this distinction is ours because of Christ’s death (1 Cor 6.11) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2.13). Yet our “set apartness” is to be lived out in the midst of a world that is bent on doing its own thing and not seeking what God would have us to do. In other words, the teaching of Jesus commands us “to be in the world but not of the world” (John 17.11, 16). It bears repeating that one of the greatest challenges for Christians is how to be true to Christ in thought, word and deed and still be relevant to those who we are in contact with.


 We shouldn’t (and in reality, we can’t) withdraw from the world. We have jobs, responsibilities, neighbors, churches to attend, recreation and so on that prevent us from thinking we can get through this world with no one’s help. We can’t refrain from interacting with people simply because we are afraid the world will lead us astray, for if we do take that attitude we are living out the mindset that says I don’t care if the“world goes to hell in a hand basket.” At the same time we must resist the values and thinking of the world, that is we must not practice the custom of “when in Rome do as the Romans do. John Stott says we must avoid both escapism and conformity. His point is we must practice the concept of “double refusal.” If we make it our goal not to interact with the world we indeed escape its evils and enticements but at the expense of not being available to share the good news of Jesus Christ. In the same manner if we aren’t different from the world and its practices and mindset we again sacrifice the right to share the gospel because we offer no proof that the good news of Jesus Christ changes our life.


 In light of our topic for the second section of this series we must keep before us the goal of our holiness: to ultimately bring God’s grace to the least and the lost. We have been saved by grace that we might show grace. But this witnessing includes rejecting what the world has to offer, for to embrace the world and all its desires reflects a love for something other than God (1 John 2.15-17). We are called to listen to the word of God and share it with the world, all the time listening to the cries of the world while rejecting its ways. This is part of what Paul is telling us in the scripture we will examine over the next four lessons: we must not be unequally yoked with a system that ignores—or worse-rejects God (2 Cor 6.14-7.1). It is to this passage that we will turn in our next session.

Holiness (Part 5)

    We have set out to examine the concept of holiness (“set apartness”) in what I envision to be a 15 part series. In approaching this undertaking I have divided the lessons into three 5-part sections as follows:  
“Set Apart to God,” Matt 22.37
   Set Apart from the World,” 2 Cor 6.14-7.1   
“Set Apart for the World,” Matt 5.13-16.


We are drawing the first section to a close by seeking to apply the lessons we have learned in parts 1 to 4. With what we have learned in mind I would like to offer three practical steps to live a life “set apart to God.”


First, identify when your are closest to God. This clearly is a time when your actions are set apart to God. Note what habits or desires are not that important at this time. Then ask yourself, “How did you get to this point?” What conscious decisions did you make and what intentional actions did you take? Furthermore,consider what happened after the euphoria wore off. Did you revert to business as usual? Could you have done something to continue this experience? Not necessarily staying on the mountaintop but purposely living a life that enhances the possibility of God’s holiness coming through your life.


Second, identify when you are farthest from God.What thoughts crowd Him out? Are you hoping He won’t interfere in your lives? In light of the first suggestion, do we actually take part in actions or conversations that are intended to “disinvite” Him to our lives?In other words do we act knowing some action is wrong but doing it anyway? All this is to say that our ability to live out a holy life, a life set apart to God in body, mind and soul, is from God but we must be willing and active participants in the undertaking. Holiness is good habits, ones that seek to honor God and avoid serving the flesh.


Third, we must constantly remember who we are. David’s prayer was “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17.8). Have we unknowingly wandered off from God, so as to find ourselves like the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), lost and unaware of what his father would love to tell him, “You are my child and I love you!” We may think this call to holiness is a call to live restricted and unfulfilling lives when in fact it is the means to walking closer and closer to God. To live out our holiness is the way to get ourselves out of the way (C. S. Lewis) and allow God to remove the burden of always having to get our own way (Richard Foster).


But you might say these three steps for applying a pattern of holiness to our  lives appear difficult. Will it is but what isn’t difficult that is actually quite worth while? In a recent lecture presented as part of the Hostetter-DeFries Cultural Event, Dr. Robert L. Veninga shared how lobsters shed their shells every year. Doing some research I learned that this shedding “is an ugly, messy process. Under the pressure, the old, hard, protective shell cracks. Then the lobster lies on its side, flexes its muscles, and pulls itself from the cracked shell. For a short time—between the shedding of the old shell and the hardening of a new one—the lobster is naked, feeling very vulnerable to the elements.” Pete Scazzero, founder and senior pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York) concludes: “In a sense we are all lobsters. Our growth into Christlikeness requires we get rid of our old, hard, protective and shells and allow God to take us to a new place in him.”  And one way to accomplish this renewal is the application of the three suggestions offered above. Holiness is a trait of God and His grace says we can partake in this way of living. It is hard but it is worth it for we have been called to set ourselves apart to God in proactive manner. That way our body, mind and spirit will be renewed and we will clearly be set apart to God in all we do or say or think.

Dr. Rich Menninger  
Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion

Holiness (Part 4)

  We continue our look at holiness, a gift from God that we are invited and expected to exhibit in our lives. We have been examining this concept in terms of “set apart to God” and have done so in light of Mark 12.30, which commands us to love God with our whole person. In the parts 2 and 3 we considered how to live a holy life with respect to our physical bodies and our minds. In the present part we will continue our discussion with a brief study of how we must also set our spirits apart to God.
 It is easy to speak or write about our whole person in terms of physical, mental and spiritual, as though we are one being consisting of three separate components. However such a presentation should not cause us to overlook the fact that all three aspects are interconnected and interdependent. That is, each aspect takes its cue from the other and in return impacts the others. Christ died to free us (Gal 5.1, 13) from the penalty, the power and eventually the presence of sin. However, to enjoy this costly freedom we must allow the Holy Spirit to work His way through our entire person, so as to remake us into a new creation that is free to act and love like God. Jesus remarks that we must worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4.23-24). But we must avoid the negative influences that come through our minds and lead to habits that hurt us physically, weaken us spiritually and thus keep us from loving Him with our entire being as well as preventing us from loving others as ourselves.
 It is so natural to fall into dualist thinking, a mindset that says what we do in our bodies or think about in our minds has no impact on our spiritual aspect of life. When you factor in the busyness of our life it becomes easier to neglect so important an area of our life as that of the spiritual nature. It becomes acceptable to skip devotional times, occasions when we meet with and converse with our Heavenly Father. How often do we go out of the way to find time for those we really care about, especially those who will or have become our spouses? Nathan Foster, in his book Wisdom Chaser, pointed out how the amount of time we spend with another person is an accurate measurement of how important they are to us. Or more directly, the amount of time we find for someone clearly says how much we really love them. This may be a point we can agree on but when we apply it to our walk with God, what does that say?
 I heard in a sermon recently that prayer should be a conversation, one speaking directly with another as well as listening to the other. Do we find the time to confess our sins (Isa 1.18; 1 John 1.9), share our fears (Phil 4.6-7), ask to be used by God (Isa 6.8), understand His power for us as well as His love (Eph 3.16-19) and tell Him how much we look forward to that day when we will see Him face to face (Phil 1.23)? Before I was married I clearly wanted to tell one and all that I was engaged and dearly hoped I would have the opportunity to share more about my future bride. Why am so nonchalant about my witness to others about the love of Christ? Is it because I feed the body and the mind but not the soul? Am I like Martha (Luke 10.38-42) and allow the responsibilities I have (and we can learn a lot about ourselves from Martha—both good and bad!) to crowd out the quiet times? More so do I fail to even hear God throughout the day, as He seeks to communicate with me? Do I find myself thinking about the good and lovely things that God has done for me and my family (Phil 4.8) and then imitate Christ in all I do and say and think (Eph 5.1-2)?
  The gospels present us with a picture of Christ, who walked in the Spirit and lived out His spiritual life by keeping His body pure and His mind disciplined. No doubt He was able to do this because of the time He spent alone with God and the time He focused on God by going about the ministry the Father had given Him. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139.14) and that goes beyond our bodies (though they are a miracle in their own right!). But our minds and our spirits are also miracles, for all three compose the ‘image of God.” While it is easier and more “natural” to focus on the physical and the mental, the spiritual is more important in the long run (1 Tim 4.8). We should look to the unseen in order to follow God to the full potential in what can be seen.

Dr. RichMenninger

Andrew B. Martin Professorof Religion

Holiness (Part 3)

      In part two we noted how holiness or “set apartness to God” was a call for us to be wholly devoted to God, in body, mind and spirit. As Mark 12.30 reads Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” In part two we also examined what that means regarding our bodies; in this present piece we will discuss what it means to set our mind apart to God.


What does the Bible mean when it refers to the mind? Simply put our mind is the place where we debate with ourselves whether or not we should do this thing or that action. The Bible has much to say about the kind of mind we should have. Paul blows us away by writing that we have “the mind of Christ,”(1 Cor 2.16). Furthermore we should allow the Holy Spirit to transform our minds (Rom 12.2), a level that must be guarded by “thinking” on good and lovely things (Phil 4.7-8). But you say that all sounds fine but what do you do with those thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere, images that all of God’s children are ashamed to admit enter their thoughts?


It appears our enemy, Satan, can insert into our mind ideas and hopes that are contrary to what pleases our Heavenly Father. It is difficult if not impossible to prevent this attack. But this is where our “holy thinking” must take over. In other words the first look, the first thought, the first impulse remains out of our control; what we do after a “first” is at the heart of the issue and is the arena where we can overcome—with God’s help—an unpleasant beginning. We must take the words of Augustine (354-430 A. D.) seriously, “Lust indulged became habit, and habit unresistant became necessity.” In other words,what our mind approves of can easy lead to behavior that controls us. If our thoughts are focused on ourselves or things of this world we may wake up someday and find we are just like the world. James 1.15 clearly teaches that sin is the result of our not resisting temptation or worse of not even being aware that what we think or dwell on is hurting ourselves and causing sorrow for God. But our minds can also be an avenue that helps us move in the right direction.


Richard Foster has compared sanctification or becoming like Jesus to learning good habits. We must use our mind in a positive manner, rejecting what the world accepts as “normal,” as though we are created to find fulfillment everywhere but in God . That is, the world is very good at selling the line that what we do in the body really won’t hurt us in the long run. But John warns us not to love the world or the things in it, for such will only lead to disappointment and self-destruction (1 John 2.15-17). We must rewire (train) our minds to seek what is pleasing to God. And this is not only in terms of what we might consider as completely anti-God thoughts. What about the “tweeners,” obviously not perfect thoughts but not really all that bad? What about those times getting the grass cut or getting the laundry done takes precedent over making a phone call or a visit? Or those times that the world influences our thinking to the point we accept—as Nathan Foster astutely points out--the popular view that we are defined solely by our accomplishments and we are only accepted by society-at-large when we buy into the myth that busyness and completion are the standards by which to be considered successful? Can the grass wait? Am I really short of clean clothes? I have trained myself to consider deadlines more important than people?


All this is to say that “I must think about what I think about.” When was the last time I prayed the prayer of Psalm 19.14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Do the words of my mouth really honor God? Often what we say or do is the result of what is within us, of what our minds have allowed into the deep recesses of our heart and soul. When something catches me off guard and I say or do something I end up regretting, do I shrug off my actions as unfortunate but justified due to being blindsided? After all, had I been prepared for the unexpected my reaction would not have been so unchristian-like.But perhaps C. S. Lewis got it right when he compared such thinking to having rats in the cellar. Our turning on the light will undoubtedly catch the rodents out in the open and cause them to scamper to hiding. But the unexpected light is not what caused the rats to be therein the first place. Rather it was poor preparation or preservation of the goods in the cellar. The only way to rid ourselves of the rats that are imbedded in our thinking is to purposely and intentionally seek God’s help in order to identity them and remove them from the cellars of our lives. We must “continue to work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [us] to will and to act according to his good purpose,” (Phil 2.12-13). We must ask God to turn our desires to Him, allow His power to cleanse us of what contradicts His will and then surrender to what He can do to fill in the void that was left by the removal of what is unholy in our thinking.


Who we are as a person is a wonderful and mysterious combination of the physical, the reflective and the spiritual. Our call to “be in the world but not of the world” is a constant challenge and opportunity to live for God, all the while rejecting the incessant bombardment of thoughts and philosophies that ignore God. To live holy lives means we reflect God’s behavior and His mind,and that begins with what we put in our minds.

Dr. Rich Menninger
Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion

Holiness (Part 2)

 In our first look at holiness (“set apartness”) we saw that there are different aspects about it. We are to be set apart to God, from the world and for the world. We are looking at the idea of set apart to God for this installment as well as the three that will follow. As we learned before, our holiness is a gift from God; He has given us this special grace through Christ’s death on the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 1.2, 6.11; 2 Thess. 2.13; 1 Pet 1.2). But it is our responsibility to dedicate ourselves fully to living as holy people. The extent of that dedication can be seen in Mark 12.30 when Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” In other words we are to apply ourselves “wholly” to holy living. Jesus’ words simply say we must love (set apart our lives to God) in body, mind and spirit. Our focus in this discussion will be on the body.

The Bible teaches us that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6.19) so the question becomes how do we honor our bodies as God’s temple? This question leads to examine our eating habits, sleeping habits, work habits, exercise habits and so on. All of these areas are normal and important but I must ask myself the following question: Do any of these habits dull my sensitivity to the presence of God? In other words, do I keep everything in moderation and balance in order to be in the best physical shape I can or do I make any habit an unintentional ‘god’ in my life (Phil 3.19; I Tim 4.8)? Part of loving God is taking care of our bodies as a living sacrifice, dedicated to God (Rom 12.1).

But any look at how we are treating our bodies invariably brings us to our sexual practices. The verse right before Paul’s teaching that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit is his command to “Flee from sexual immorality.” God has given us the gift of sex but with the understanding that it is to be saved for and used exclusively with one’s marriage partner. Abstinence outside of marriage and faithfulness in marriage is the plan of God (Gal 5.19; 1 Thess 4.3-6; Heb 13.4). No doubt all can testify how hard it is to remain chaste both in mind and in action. But as someone once told me, “We must endure the blessed agony of chastity.” No sin is more devastating than sexual sin as Paul tells us that the one who sins sexually “sins against their own body” (1 Cor 6.18). We must never forget that what we do in the body impacts our mind and our spirit. Likewise—as we will examine in the next two installments—our mind and spirit impacts what we do in the body. All three are interconnected and all three are to be set apart to God.

I find it amazing that the world says count your calories, eat right, drink in moderation, stop smoking, etc. But little thought is given to how the misuse of sex is a probable cause of a lot of our problems. Let’s be honest, sex sells! Have we ever watched a commercial on TV only to forget what product was advertised because our eyes were glued to the person pushing the product? Or do we go to the movies only to decide to watch a movie about to be released because of an erotic or suggestive preview? We really know what we shouldn’t have too much to eat or to drink of but we somehow rationalize our objections away. But have we really allowed our attitude toward our physical habits to program our thinking that anything done in the body is really not that harmful? Our cholesterol count or blood pressure reading clearly tells us of a problem. But there is no such number for our sexual indulgences! May we ponder this point when studying the kind of life that is holy and honoring to God.

Dr. Rich Menninger
Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion

Check out what else is going on...

for Faith Programming and the Fredrikson Chapel

Holiness (Part 1)

This past November Campus Ministries, under the able leadership of our campus Pastor Bud McCluney, hosted OU’s annual “Braving Discipleship.” This weekend event—held from Friday evening to Sunday morning—is devoted to leading high school students in worship of and learning about God. During this time I had the privilege of leading three sessions for the adult leaders who brought their youth to Braving. The theme for Braving was “Be separate,” based on Lev 20.26 which reads “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” I have expanded my presentations at the three sessions in developing a series of lessons to share with you over the next several months. The three sessions I presented were as follows:
  “Set Apart to God,” Matt 22.37  
  “Set Apart from the World,” 2 Cor 6.14-7.1  
  “Set Apart for the World,” Matt 5.13-16.
        In what will follow over the course of our look at holiness, I will break down each of these sessions into five talks each, thus providing 15 weekly contributions to this website.

omeone has said that holiness is the most mentioned trait of God in the Bible. We read that God is praised as “Holy, Holy, Holy” (Isa 6.3; Rev 4.8). Holiness simply means “set apart” and from the three sessions I led at Braving we can see that there are different aspects to “set apartness.” We can see that the basic idea of holiness is found in the Old Testament for God’s people are holy (Lev 20.26), as is His Name (Lev 20.3) and His temple (Isa 64.11). Likewise in the New Testament God’s people are to be holy (1 Pet 2.9), as well as His Name (Matt 6.9) and His temple, whether as the church as a whole (1 Cor 3.16) or individual believers (1 Cor 6.19). We note that on several occasions Paul describes Christians as saints or holy ones (see opening verses in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians). But a natural question to ask is: what makes a person holy? In other words how can we—who are sinners—be considered holy?


This is where we must be clear on the fact that there is nothing we can do to become holy other than accept God’s work on our behalf. Christ has sanctified us or made us holy (1 Cor 1.2, 6.11), as has the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2.13; 1 Pet 1.2). We are even invited to share in God’s holiness (Heb. 12.10). But to be sure holiness or “set apartness” is God given. We simply reap the benefits. Yet, though we are considered holy God realizes (as we should) that we continue in sin, hence the many commands to live a holy life. That is to say, we must strive to “become” what God considers us to be. For example, when a student takes their first class at OU they are considered a college student even though they have done nothing other than sign some papers, enroll and show up for class. But professors know well that students must be encouraged to live like a college student. Thus, many rules and exhortations are aimed at the student to live out their “college student-ness.” They must overcome their weaknesses and study hard to “become who they are.”


All this is to say that holy living is a lifestyle, an intentional effort to live as people set apart for God. While we all must acknowledge that our holiness is solely from God, we must still make every effort to live out our God-given status.


Hopefully these few words have set the stage of our look at holiness over the next several months. One take away from this lesson is to see that we are called to be proactive in our walk with God, a journey that exhibits some of the holy practices expected of His people. Next time we will continue our look at the concept of being set apart to God as we describe how we are to present our physical bodies as examples of holy living.

Dr. Rich Menninger
Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion 

What’s Your Elephant?


A book by James Sire opens with the following story. A young boy asks his father, “What holds the world up in space?” The father responds, “A camel.” This response satisfies the son for a while until he asks, “What holds up the camel?” By now the father is aware this conversation is not going to end well. To his son’s second question he responds, “A kangaroo.” Soon after the boy asks, “What holds up the kangaroo?” The father replies, “An Elephant.” “Come on, Dad!” the frustrated son pleads. “What holds up the Elephant?” In a fit of genius the father blurts out, “It’s…it’s…it’s Elephant all the way down!”
This story introduces Sire’s thoughts on the concept of worldview. Our worldview is how we see things and is based on presuppositions, which are expressed both in our beliefs/values and in our actions. Put another way, it is by our worldview that “we live and move and have our being.” We all have a worldview whether we have ever thought about it or not. Arguably, the two main worldviews are theism and naturalism. The former speaks of God as the basis of reality; the latter holds that what is really real is simply the material universe will live in.
If we are talking about a worldview, then where does the Elephant come in? “It’s Elephant all the way down” is the basic conviction of our worldview. In other words, if you will trace you actions back to your beliefs and finally back to your basic presupposition, you will discover that you are committed to one of two belief systems: Either God is the foundation of your worldview or you believe we exist “because that’s the way it is.”
The father couldn’t logically or reasonably answer what held up the earth; neither can we. There simply comes a point in identifying our worldview where we can’t do any better than the father. We have to finally admit that our worldview is based on what we can’t see: God or accident. Such thinking doesn’t mean we can’t present our beliefs in a logical and reasonable fashion. But what it does mean is we base our arguments on our commitment to the unseen.

If this last point is true we will surely ask ourselves, “How can I know that I know that I know?” If we rely solely on reason to know reality, then we will be disappointed. But if a person’s worldview provides peace and wholeness and purpose, then that person can say “I know that I know that I know.” The Apostle Paul, an early Christian, said it well: “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Such confidence comes from knowledge that is grounded in love, for in love we learn who we are and what is real. Thus for me “It’s Jesus Christ all the way down.”


What’s your Elephant?


Dr. Rich Menninger  

Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Awakening!

Happy 107th birthday, Dietrich Bonhoeffer!
Birth: February 4, 1906  
Death in a Nazi Concentration Camp: 9 April 1945)

When the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer arrived in New York in 1930 for a year of study, little did he know that what was to happen would change the direction of his life forever. Even less known to him was where this change would occur. He came to New York to attend Union Theological Seminary, located near Harlem. A fellow black student at Union, Rev. Frank Fisher from Alabama, introduced Bonhoeffer to the Abyssinian Baptist Church led by Adam Clayton Powell, Sr.[1] During his time at the church Bonhoeffer taught Sunday school and became involved with the youth.[2]  Through this exposure to black culture including the spirituals, his outlook changed dramatically.

Because of his time at the church Bonhoeffer was impacted in two ways. For one thing, he became aware of the terrible racism in America, which he experienced first hand when Fisher was refused the same service at a restaurant as that of other customers (as it was, both walked out). He identified with and was welcomed into the Harlem community Of this time he writes: [3] . For another thing, Bonhoeffer found the power of the Gospel at this time: he finally understood the demanding call of Christ .

But then something else came along, something that has changed my life down to this very moment. I came for the first time to the Bible. That is a horrible thing to say. I had preached [from it] so often, I had seen so much of the church then and had spoken and written so much – and I had still not even become a Christian, but instead I was my own master in a wild and unruly way. I know that I had made an advantage for myself out of this matter of Jesus Christ… I ask God that I never do this again. I had prayed only little and seldom. I was completely pleased with myself. But the Bible freed me from all that, especially the Sermon on the Mount. Since then everything has been different. [4]


When Bonhoeffer left New York to return to Germany 1931, Fisher said to him, “Make our sufferings known in Germany, tell them what is happening to us and show them what we are like.” [5] Later in Germany, one of Bonhoeffer’s students remarked that he had shared these parting words of Fisher with the class and thus had fulfilled his promise to do so.[6]


Bonhoeffer’s experience at Harlem exposed him to the horrible racism in America and helped him see and oppose the Anti-Semitism in Germany during this time. Moreover, it also helped ignite a fire in him to take on Hitler and the Nazi program. Truly, Frank Fisher and the members of the Abyssinian church empowered Bonhoeffer to write and literally fulfill his most famous statement: “When Christ call a man, he bids him come and die.” [7]

Dr. Rich Menninger
Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion

[1] J. Deotis Roberts,Bonhoeffer & King: Speaking Truth to Power.(Westminster: Louisville, 2005), 46.

[2] Geoffrey B. Kelly and F. Burton Nelson,The Cost of Moral Leadership: The Spirituality of Dietrich Bonheoffer(Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 2003), 12

[3] Eberhard Bethge,Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography.(Fortress Press, 2000): “Given the delicate nature of interracial relationships in the U.S., the extent to which Bonhoeffer became a welcomed guest in the homes of the outcasts of Harlem was astounding. He had a gift for restoring pride and self-confidence to the vulnerable and the sensitive”. 154-155.

[4] Ferdinand Schlingensiepen,Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Eine Biogrpahie(Munich: C. H. Beck, 2006), quoted from

[5] Kelly,Moral Leadership, 12.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Dietrich Bonhoeffer,The Cost of Discipleship(Touchstone: New York, 1959), 89.


  Send or Ask for Prayers...


Next month's theme is: Human Trafficking and You: Act for Justice!

4/20/14 from 5-6:30 in the Martin Meditation Chapel 

Email: with questions or for a coaster at the table!


Thanks to all who attended, lead and contributed to last month's 'ESCAPE!' 

Check out the photos on Facebook!

Recent History: "Escape is a Christian event held at Ottawa University on February 28th-March 1st for college-aged students to grow in their relationship with God and with one another. In light of the upcoming Easter season, this year the theme will be “The Cross” and will cover topics including history of the cross, what it means to take up our cross, what the structure of the cross signifies, and sharing the cross. This weekend will be centered on a heartfelt, in-depth reflection on what Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection means to us and how we should live our lives because of what He did for us. For two days, this will be explored through several workshops lead by invited guest speakers, service projects, and praise and worship music. Jesus said that it was finished (John 19:30): what does this signify and how are we to respond?" 


 Other UpComing Events for Faith Programming and the Fredrikson Chapel


Devotional Filming Project
If you contributed to this year's Lenten Devotional and would like to make a video of you 'sharing' what your wrote, contact

   Here is what the final looked like last year:>)

Our latest Faith/Action Video!

Alum Fonseca Doriano (Zeke) Woodruff ’96 has gone from a popular on-campus radio personality to an emerging filmmaker residing in Atlanta, GA. Zeke’s anti-bullying short film is set to be released online in 2014 featuring some pretty recognizable celebrities like Rodney Perry from Madea’s Big Happy Family.

Learn more at

or watch the film trailer at the link below!

Trailer for movie


Check out our student-project video effort too:>)

Anti-bullyingVideo...Thank you Hayden and crew!


Tweets for a Tangible difference!

Thank you for helping!

We have cleared the list!  Thank you so much for making the 'small miracle' happen:>) 
 This on-going Easter spirit will ensure birthday and special occasion gifts to folk in need for the next year.

 Here are the requests from last two families on our 'adoption' list.  _______________________                                                

FAMILY #3832

13 Year Old Girl

Needs -  Jeans (junior size 1) socks (size 9 inshoes), fuzzy blanket fleece (twin)

Favorite Things - Marvel super heros and horses, favorite color is pink,

Would Like - rebel Nerf crossbow, sunglasses, pajamas, umbrella, mini pillow pet, hotwheelscar, doll clothes that fit 18’’doll, stuffed puppy dog, lisa frank coloring book. 

11 Year Old Boy

Needs- Jeans (size 12), socks (men’s size 9), fuzzyblanket fleece (twin) 

Favorite Things - Marvel Avengers, How to Train yourDragon, Color Orange

Would Like - Pocket knife with straight blade(mom is okwith), micro cars, pillow pet glow pillow, Nerf bow and arrow with a ball on the end.  Nerf bullets, mini pillow pet (wild animal), pajamas (superhero related), bicycle.  

9 Year Old Girl

Needs - Jeans (size 8), boots or slippers (size 3), fuzzyblanket fleece for bed (twin)

Favorite Things - Purple and Leopard printed

 Would Like - Glitterypaint, art kits (stamps orjewelry), furreal friend (cat), dress with leggings , Lisa Frank coloring book, jewelry, large bouncy ball (really large pink),stemmed glass

7 Year Old Girl

Needs - Jeans (size 7not slim), tennis shoes (size 1), socks

Favorite Things - HotPink, Penguins and Ducks

Girly Legos, earbuds, tubes of water color paint, paint brushes, mini pillow pet, drums, Lisa Frank coloring book, slippers (size 1), jewelry, any art kit (jewelry or stamps related)

5 Year Old Boy

Needs - Long Sleeve Shirts/ Sweaters (size 5 nothing withgraphics that he couldn’t wear to church), socks (size 12) 

Favorite Things - ColorLight Blue, Puppies and Dianasours,

Would Like - ComputerGame (Preschool Learning Games forWindows), Robot Hand on stick(grabber),  pillow pet flash light ordream light (especially a blue dog), anything by Imaginext (especially dinosaur or dragon), hot wheels cars

2 Year Old Girl

Needs - Long Sleeve Shirts (size 2T), socks (size 7shoes), 

Play-doh, pillow petdream light, big legos or softblocks, toy food or dishes, pretend Iphone, learning or developmentaltoys. 


FAMILY #2784


6 Year Old Girl

Needs - Pants (size14-16, not jeans as they are hard to fit into), pajamas (14-16), winter coat (14-16)

Would Like - MonsterHigh Dolls and or movies, Barbies

4 Year Old Girl

Needs - Warm Clothes(pajamas, sweatshirts, hat, gloves size 6-6x)

Would Like - La LaLoopsy (dolls , accessories), DocMcstuffins, Dress Up Stuff (princessstuff and makeup) 

2 Year Old Boy

Needs - Hat, Gloves,Warm Pajamas (size 5T)

Would Like - NinjaTurtles, Tractors, Thomas the Train

11 Month Old Boy

Needs - Warm Clothes(size 18 months), Winter Coat (18months), gloves, hat

Would Like - Developmental / learning toys, age appropriate toys (no preference) 


Please email: if you are interested in helping.


Resources generously contributed by:
Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion 
Dr. Richard Menninger        
Advent Devotional Booklets
Lenten Devotional Booklets
Lenten Devotional 2012

    Recent Book reviews...

A Year with God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines      

As the visit of Richard Foster (and his son Nathan) to Ottawa University approaches, I thought it appropriate to review one of his books. Naturally, when thinking of a book to write about most would suggest his classic Celebration of Discipline. And while that was my first thought I eventually came to the realization that I would have nothing new to add to the volumes of praise that have been heaped on Foster and that work. Instead I chose to discuss a devotional I used last year. Although he didn’t compose everything that is included in the book, his fingerprints are all over it. And someone wanting to learn more of Foster’s thoughts won’t go wrong in reading this book.

The book consists of 365 devotions, each normally opening with a scripture and then explained in a short paragraph or two. The devotions are arranged in 18 sections, which include the different spiritual disciplines we have come to associate with Foster. Each section is introduced by a devotion highlighting the particular discipline; a daily schedule for each section is then included to help the reader gain an overall perspective of what lies ahead.

The purpose of the book is twofold. First, the book is intended to help us gain a “mountaintop” view of the scripture. That is, instead of simply looking at the Bible with a microscope and gaining needed insight into a particular passage,  A Year with God is meant to help us obtain a different view, for as we travel during the year with Foster we will capture the greatest themes of the Bible which can only be appreciated in “the sweeping landscape of the divine story; they are expressed more in vistas than in verses”

This first aspect of the purpose for the book leads us to see the second; A Year with God seeks to highlight the concept of the unity of the Bible, seen especially in the idea of the “with-God life.” This type of life is characterized as the Immanuel principle, a life portrayed as the “process of the transformation of our whole person and of our whole life into Christlikeness. ” A concentrated effort on the part of the reader to faithfully use the devotional daily will produce spiritual growth and progress.  And this will be done with the classic disciplines in mind. The present book incorporates the 12 disciplines found in Celebration of Discipline and introduces the reader to five more, none more timely than that of chastity. For Foster sex is like a river that as long as it remains in its banks it is “rich and deep and good.” However, a river that escapes its banks produces destruction and heartbreak. Rather all—including married men and women—must strive to be chaste. In Foster’s eyes one who is faithful to their spouse is chaste indeed , for they are to remain true to their beloved in word and thought and deed. Thus as the readers proceed through the book, they learn of ways to become more like Christ as the Holy Spirit leads them in holiness.

This book is well suited to be read with Celebration of Discipline. To sit and ponder the thoughts of  A Year with God while studying the classic disciplines will instill new meaning and insight into one and all. If there was anything to improve on the book it is simply to include a topic index and a scripture index. The pages in the front cover of my copy show some notetaking that may have been more efficient had these two indexes been included to aid the reader. But these suggestions are minor and should discourage no one from reading this book. I recommend this work of Foster as one more example of how God speaks to His people through His people. 

Richard Foster and Julia Roller, Eds  A Year with God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines.  Harper One,2009.


Wisdom Chaser: Finding My Father at 14,000 Feet.

Have you ever wanted to read a book that would help you understand that you are not alone in your struggles? And in the process of reading would you also want to learn about someone whose books you have read? This is what is in store for those who read the book by Nathan Foster, son of Richard J. Foster. In this book of 180 plus pages—comprised of 20 chapters and an“Afterword” by Richard Foster—you will read an account of a father-son relationship that was dysfunctional for the first 22 years but seemed to ignite and blossom because of the son’s irrational challenge to his father that together they hike some Colorado mountains (these mountains are called “Fourteeners” because they are14000 feet in height). .

The first two decades of Nathan’s relationship with his dad is one that is characterized by tension and indifference. Richard Foster, the well known teacher, speaker and author, was just a man who “taught religion at a university, wrote books on spirituality and frequently spoke around the country.” From Nathan’s point of view the distance between him and his father was not a problem. In fact the feeling of “isolation” seemed to fit well with Nathan’s tendency towards nonconformity and rebellion. It is with this background that the reader embarks on an informative and insightful journey.

The book is Nathan’s recounting the events and the emotions of the hikes he and his father shared; but more importantly the book is a description and examination of the changing dynamics of the relationship between the two over the course of 10 years or so, highlighted by numerous trips up the mountains. In the process he bares his soul as he relates to the reader what has brought him to where he is now. He remarks that his dad didn’t know how to be a father and he didn’t know how to be a son until the period of when the hikes became regular events. But after the trips became a regular occurrence we slowly see how Nathan is learning from his father, as when the latter pointed out that a slow steady pace will get you where you want to go much quicker and will enable you to be more aware of those around you. Such is one of the many examples provided in the book of what Nathan learned about himself and his father during these times.

The book offers many insights into who Nathan is as well as who his father is. For instance, in chapter 5 he discusses the idea of how the amount of time one is willing to give to another is a good measure of one’s love for that person. As a result Nathan was beginning to ask himself just why his father was going on these hikes with him. As the book proceeds Nathan begins to look more and more in-depth into his own journey as well as how he is learning of who his father really is; this discovery is proving to be a means to learn about himself. Through substantial introspection—sometimes painful—Nathan begins to accept himself for who he is. Failure is a natural part of our growth process, one that reaps great benefit when we understand who we are and what are our limits. This discovery was especially acute when Longs Peak (one of the Fourteeners) defeated both Nathan and Richard in denying their reaching the summit. What the setback taught Nathan is that part of the problem of low self esteem is uncritical acceptance of the popular worldview that we are defined solely by our accomplishments and we are only accepted by society-at-large when we buy into the myth that busyness and accomplishment are the standards by which to be considered successful. Another example of how Nathan relates an event or experience of a particular hike to his own adventure is the time he thought he saw in a distance the summit of the mountain they were climbing only to be informed by his father that it was a “false summit,”an illusion that seeks to convince you are nearing the end of your ascent only to discover that much more toil and agony stand between you and the top. To this Nathan relates the “false peak” of humility, the thought that being humble means that when you accomplish something you should give glory to God and take no pleasure in the recognition and encouragement of others. This is not the way to the “substantial humility” that brings us closer to God and to His people but is merely a disguised way of saying how great we are. Yes, our accomplishments for God are a “God thing” but we should willingly accept the compliments of others who support us when we make the right decisions.

Being loved and spending time with those who love us is a lesson Nathan reiterates throughout the book. First and foremost is his appreciation of the love God has for him and how that can be sufficient to carry one in the times of doubt and loss of direction. Also, he comes to the realization that his father is really not like the man he thought he was while growing up;instead his dad is allowing Nathan the freedom to explore and ask questions.What Nathan had received was his father’s “permission to seriously listen to some of the thoughts and ideas in [his] own head.” This is an example of grace and slowly Nathan is beginning to see he is loved and accepted by his dad; in return Nathan must do likewise.

Longs Peak, the one that humbled Nathan earlier, is later conquered (though not on a hike with his dad). This victory is a segue into a look at Nathan’s battle with alcoholism and subsequent recovery through twelve-step meetings. In addition he nearly dies on a mountain where he experiences a case of extreme altitude sickness brought on by a congenital heart defect. His recovery not only provided him further proof of  God’s love (Hussein an EMT, acted as a Trail Angel in Nathan’s recovery) but also the understanding that life can be fulfilling in all circumstances (including the possibility of no more hiking to high elevation).

It will become clear to the reader that as the book progresses (presumably in chronological order) that Richard Foster is becoming less and less an annoyance in Nathan’s life and more and more of a hero. The son is learning that he has learned a lot from his dad, even in his rebellious days. As the book winds down lightening storms and an encounter with dehydration flesh out for Nathan what is really important in life and that is building relationships with others. This discovery is the result of a person risking vulnerability with others. No greater testimony of Nathan’s learning of such truth is the ‘trail name’ he gives his dad in the last chapter.

All in all this is a book I recommend to those who want to know more about Richard Foster and what makes him tick. But more so you will come away with a greater appreciation for who his son is. Nathan has followed his father’s footsteps in taking risks and reaching out to minister to a dysfunctional world. He is presently a university professor after engaging in a counseling ministry. My wife and I had the privilege to visit briefly with both at a Renovaré event last fall at Friends University.One more note, I was given a copy of this book by a friend with the inscription in the front to pass it along to someone else. But I could only resist the temptation for a couple of chapters before I began underlining passages and making notes in the front of my copy. I will meet that request half way; I will keep my notated copy and take the time to buy a copy and pass it along to someone I love. 

 Order a copy of Wisdom Chaser: Finding my Father at 14,000 Feet


 Click the link below to access more of Dr. Menninger’s Book Reviews...

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Materials from the O.U. Pastoral Training Program

Interpersonal Versatility (.pptx, 1747K)
Servant Leadership (.pptx, 289K)
Spiritual Preference Modalities (.pptx, 207K)
B.A.C. (.pptx, 316K)
Blanchard info... (.pptx, 219K)
Performance Contracting (.pptx, 210K)
Picking Winners

Virtual Resources...


I was amazed and utterly surprised when President Eichner and the Board of Trustees of Ottawa University decided to name the chapel the 'Fredrikson Chapel'. I could only accept this as an act of grace, hoping it would be to the glory of God.  


But delighted and deeply grateful when Kevin Eichner insisted the chapel would be a center of faith and church vitality—that this could be a place for chapel services, as well as outstanding theologians and church leaders coming for conferences; that it would be the source of church renewal so desperately needed in our time.


Already Os Guinness and James Bryan Smith have been special leaders for the Center.  We are eagerly anticipating the insights of Richard Foster, (Celebration of Discipline), and his son Nathan, (Wisdom Chaser), March 14-15, 2013.   They will be joining with me as we facilitate our third annual pastors & laity conference, themed “Renewed by Grace.”  I hope you will take note of these dates. As with all programming offered through the Center for Faith and Church Vitality, this offering will be at no-cost to participants.  

Click here to pre-register online!   Complete information will be sent out after the first of the year.

I am profoundly grateful that the Fredrikson Chapel is working to fulfill its ultimate purpose, as an active center of faith revitalization and church renewal!                                      Click here to purchase Roger’s Books online.  




Our history in a nutshell...

In 2011, Ottawa University launched The Fredrikson Centerfor Faith and Church Vitality (named in honor of the Reverend Dr. Roger and Ruth Fredrikson.) The initial goals of supporting and expanding on-campus student ministries have been met. Community leaders joined with O.U.’s president, faculty, staff and guest alumni for dialogue and solution proposals in avariety of areas including ; “How to Strengthen Student Ministries”, “Integrating Faith with Career” and “What Christian Colleges Can do to Better Promote Faith.”

The Center developed and offered programming which targeted faith-based leadership training to undergraduate students and forged additional partnerships among faith-focused (on campus) student organizations, community non-profits and area youth. Guest lectures and seminars included sharing from campus faith leaders, area ministers and national speakers; for example one convocation-series featured renowned author and theologian, Os Guinness.

One year later, the next phase of the Center was underway. In cooperation with the ABC Central Region, ayear-long pastoral training and mentorship program was offered to activepastors in KS, AR, SD and NE. This includes field-work designed to increase the vibrancy and resources of their church families. Additionally, programming was initiated which worked tos trengthen the faith-life of those in education and care giving professions, as well as those providing home-care to loved ones (whether or not they had previous affiliation with the University.)

In September of 2012, we began enlisting volunteers from our student-faith leadership team and the community to join with us in programming designed to connect 19-30 year old participants, at various levels of faith maturity, as they offer assistance to the frail, the elderly or those encountering unexpected need. The next month we launched the web-site that will enable connection and communication, both locally, and with out-reach programming targeting the communities with churches lead by pastors participating in our ‘developmental cohort.’ It includes monitored ‘chat’ functions, forsharing with peers and private conversations with the campus minister, and the Fredrikson Center Director (a triage-chaplain and clinical psychologist who will serve as a life-coach to those interested.) Monthly training offerings for potential volunteers (free of charge and open to anyone) will be posted on this site

The year in review…a brief chronology.

Workshops on Servant Leadership

Lead Partner: Rev. Bud McCluney, O.U. Campus Pastor


2ndAnnual Conference for Pastors and Laity

Guest Speaker:  Author and Lecturer, James Bryan Smith


On Campus, “Adventures in Faith”

Lead Partner: Rev. Dr. Roger Fredrikson


Pastoral Development Training                               

Lead Partner: O.U. President, Dr. Kevin Eichner


Convocation and Seminars                          

Guest Speaker: Author and Social Critic, Dr. Os Guinness   

    Click here for video  Dr. Os Guinness

Church Health and VitalityProgramming                                

Lead Partner: Rev. Dr. Roger Fredrikson


A.i.F. “TheFire of Significance”                                

Lead Partners: Dr. Kevin Eichner and Rev. Dr. RogerFredrikson


Care Giver SupportProgramming           

Lead Partner: East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging


Educators as Servant Leaders                    

Lead Partner: School of Education Dean, Dr. Amy Hogan


Ottawa Spiritus                                                               

Lead Partner: Rev. Bud McCluney, O.U. Campus Pastor


Kindred Spirits    

Lead Partner: Rev. Dr.Rich Menninger , Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion


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Advent devotionals 2012
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