Archive for the ‘Michael Coyner’ Category

The View from Here

Thursday, August 16th, 2012 | By Mike Coyner
Filed in: Michael Coyner, The View from Here


“Hospitality and the Hospital” – August 15, 2012

Unfortunately we just had the opportunity to test out the hospitality
of a hospital while we were on vacation.  Marsha and I have been on a
short trip, and she became ill – which prompted a trip to the ER and
eventually a surgical procedure or her.  It could have been a terrible
experience going to a hospital in a town and state where we had never
traveled.  We were uncertain even of the location of the hospital, and
we were quite uncertain what level of care we could find.

To our relief, the hospital was clean, the staff was courteous, the
medical care was excellent, and everyone we encountered in the
hospital was so very hospitable.  Not only did my wife receive the
care she needed, but she received that care in an environment of
hospitality which helped move her toward wellness.

As I reflected on that experience in the “strange” hospital in the
“strange” city, I wondered how many congregations would measure up to
their standard.  Let me list a few of the ingredients of the
hospitality of that hospital to allow you to compare to your

1.  Excellent signage so I could find the ER entrance even in the dark of night
2.  Free and plentiful parking
3.  A person greeting us as soon as we entered – who took us to the
right place to start the admission process (she did not just point and
tell us where to go)
4.  An admissions personnel who was an RN and really knew how to ask
the appropriate questions to determine the level of medical care
5.  Prompt attention from a nurse and then a physician (we waited less
than 10 minutes)
6.  Many expressions of care, asking about Marsha’s level of pain,
offering words of comfort, and many comments about “I am so sorry that
has happened during your vacation”
7.  No one – NOT ONE PERSON – looked or acted strangely toward us
since we were from another state and not “local” persons
8.  The volunteer staff in the surgical waiting room gave me an
electronic caller (like you get in some restaurants when you wait to
be seated) that would locate me anywhere in the hospital when they
needed to alert me how Marsha was doing.  Those same volunteer staff
took the time to show me to the next location where I needed to wait
for Marsha in recovery.  Just like the greeter listed in #3 above,
they did not point and tell me where to go, they took me since I was
obviously new and did not know my way around
9.  The doctor gave me his business card and wrote his cell phone
number on the back, saying. “I know you are new to this area, so if
anything goes wrong or if you have any further concerns or questions,
just call me – even if it is 2 AM”
10.  The volunteer who wheeled Marsha out to my car took the time to
offer suggestions for places we could visit during the remainder of
our vacation, since our plans for bike-riding were changed by her
medical situation.

I could name others, but you get the point.  Hospitality means caring
enough to put oneself into another “shoes” and to try to provide for
their needs even before being asked.  Hospitality is really about the
Golden Rule of Jesus:  doing for others what we would want done for

I pray that every congregation can offer as much hospitality as we
received at the hospital while traveling.

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

“Leaving a Legacy” – July 17, 2012

I Chronicles 22 tells how King David began stockpiling materials for the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. David had been told by God that he would not be the one who would build a temple for the Lord, because of David’s many sins and many killings in war. Rather than pout about that fact, David put his energy into stockpiling materials in hopes that his son Solomon could build the beautiful Temple which was indeed accomplished under Solomon’s reign.

David understand the important of leaving a legacy. He understood that each generation should stockpile resources for the next generation. He accepted that his own failures and inadequacies would prevent him from accomplishing everything he wanted to do during his own lifetime, but he used that fact as a motivation for the future success of those who would come after him.

Perhaps ministry today in the church is not just about the NOW but is also about the NEXT. Perhaps church leaders should always be stockpiling resources (financial resources, new leadership development, strong traditions) in order to help the next generation to fulfill its own ministry.

I am finding that more and more churches and pastors are wanting to develop “succession plans” for their future. Veteran pastors want to see their churches thrive beyond their own retirement, so they are thinking ahead about how best to provide their churches with the next leaders. I applaud such thinking, but I know it takes a great deal of humility and maturity to admit that our current leadership may not accomplish everything. Accepting our own limitations, including the limitation of time, can lead us to do what King David did – to stockpile resources for the future and to leave a legacy of faithfulness.

May it be so in all of our lives and ministries.

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

The View from Here

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 | By Mike Coyner
Filed in: Michael Coyner, The View from Here


“Walk, Walk, Walk” – June 19, 2012

My granddaughter Leah is only 17 months old, but already she loves to go for walks. In fact one of her favorite pleas is to look at us with her beautiful blue eyes (her name Leah actually means “beautiful eyes”) and to ask, “Walk, walk, walk,” She wants to go outside and not just walk but run down the sidewalk. Of course we have to watch her carefully to keep her from veering into the street, and it is actually hard to keep up with her. Her little legs really move!


I like her spirit, and I believe she is reminding us that the Christian life is a walk, a journey, a following of Jesus and his ways. Sometimes I read various blogs, websites, articles, and books which seem to imply that being a Christian is all about having the right set of beliefs. I am sure there is some truth to that. After all, as one writer has said, eventually we must decide whether Jesus was a liar, a lunatic, or a Lord when he gave us his commands and spoke about his own role in bringing in God’s Kingdom. It is not enough to know about Jesus, we must come to know and believe the truth of Jesus.

But certainly being a Christian is more than just a set of right beliefs. The most common invitation of Jesus in the Gospels is: “Come, follow me.” He does not say, “Figure out who I am” or “develop a right set of beliefs and an impressive theology.” He does not even say, “You must have complete faith.” No, he says, “Come and follow me.” Or in the words of my granddaughter Leah, “Walk, walk, walk.”

The invitation of Jesus is an invitation to come along with him on the journey of faith, to learn along the way, to be tested, and to be stretched (after all, walking is good exercise). To follow Jesus is to walk with him, to discover that he is the way, the truth, and the life.

Want to be a Christian? Then put on your walking shoes and get going. Don’t wait until it is convenient or understandable. Don’t wait until you think you are worthy, and for God’s sake don’t tell anyone else on the journey that they are not worthy – if Jesus invites them, that’s good enough. Just get going. Follow Jesus.

And “walk, walk, walk.”

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

The View from Here

Thursday, May 17th, 2012 | By Mike Coyner
Filed in: Michael Coyner, The View from Here


“Exclamation Points of Joy” – May 16, 2012


My mother died nearly two years ago, and since then we have moved my father twice into a retirement center and now into assisted living in the retirement center. All of that has caused us to sort through my mother’s things. We have made a delightful discovery that none of us kids nor my dad knew: Mother kept a personal journal of every family vacation and every trip where she accompanied Dad on business trips. Those journals are very precious, because they help us to know what Mother was feeling and experiencing.


Here is the thing about those journals: they are filled with exclamation points!!!! Nearly every day of every trip she found something to exclaim about with joy, such as: The airplane was really big!!! The food was delicious!!!! The scenery for the drive was gorgeous!!!” On and on it goes, her journals are filled with what I would call “exclamation points of joy.”


That tells you a lot about my mother, and it also tells you a lot about how the Christian life is meant to be lived. Along our journey with Jesus, we can expect to find “Exclamation Points of Joy” nearly every step of the way. Is the journey with Jesus also filled with challenges and tough times? Of course! But the journey is worth it, simply because we are traveling with Jesus.


So, here is my prayer for you today: As you follow Jesus this day, this week, this month, this year, and this lifetime, may you find many Exclamation Points of Joy along the trip!!!!

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

The View from Here

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 | By Mike Coyner
Filed in: Michael Coyner, The View from Here


“First Time at the Beach”


My grandson Austin is 20 months old, and he was with us on a little vacation in Florida where he had his first encounter with the ocean and the beach. It was great fun to watch him have that first experience.


At first he was scared, reluctant to walk on the sand, fearful of the waves, worried about the little birds that were walking and flying around, and even unsure of what to do. But it did not take long for him to settle down, dig in the sand with his new shovel and bucket, and even chase the birds along the beach. He tried the water, was still a bit unsure, but kept wanting to experience it. Of course it helped him to know that his parents and grandparents were there with him, holding his hand at times, and always ready to help.


So much of life is like that. New experiences, new people, and new movements of God’s Spirit cause us to be fearful, reluctant, and unsure. At that point we have a choice: give in to our fears and seek to maintain our current comfort levels; or give it to our curiosity and move fully into that new experience.


In my ministry as a bishop, I see too many churches which give in to fear and seek comfort in the past. They use “tradition” like a weapon to beat down new ideas, new opportunities, and even new people.


But I see other churches, often ones in tough situations, who are open to a new future, ready to allow God to lead them, and able to overcome fear with faith.


What makes the difference? I think it is knowing that God’s presence is right there with us, holding our hands at times, allowing us to walk on our own at other times, and yet always present. We can face any new future if we use that faith to overcome our fear of the new.


May God bless you today with an assurance of God’s presence as you move into new experiences of life and faith.


Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

The View from Here

Thursday, March 15th, 2012 | By Mike Coyner
Filed in: Michael Coyner, The View from Here



Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner


Last Sunday was a special day for me.  I was able to visit and attend worship at the Henryville United Methodist Church which is located in the town so recently devastated by a tornado.  Amazingly the UM church building survived (I guess that is because those older churches were built like a small fortress), and it is now the center for much of the relief and recovery effort.  During that worship service we heard from two women of their church who were secretaries in the school and had to “ride out” the tornado.  Both affirmed that they were not afraid, but felt like God’s hand was hovering over them and protecting them and the children in their offices.  Another woman shared what it was like to be on the first EMT team to respond to the tornado.  As a recent graduate of the high school, she was able to navigate through the wreckage and help the survivors to get out of the rubble.


All in all, it was a very moving worship service.  People in Henryville are “survivors” and not just “victims” of that tornado.  I use those two words carefully, because I believe that all of us in life must choose whether to live as “victims” or as “survivors.”  All of us are victimized by various events and people and tragedies in life – and I certainly don’t want to minimize the pain and anguish of those events and the hurts that are caused.  But I have observed that people have to respond to such events by choosing to be either a “victim” or a “survivor.”  The “victim” attitude does not help a person to heal, to endure, and to move on.  Some people fall into the trap of holding onto the “victim” mentality, and such a mentality really hampers their healing.  Other people seem to realize that they are not just victims, they are survivors, and that “survivor” attitude helps them to conquer the pain, hurt, heartache, and suffering they have endured.


What makes the difference?  I think it is having a rock-solid faith in God.  That is what helps us to go through victimizing events without giving in to the victim mentality.


So I am proud to say that I met a lot of people in Henryville who are real “survivors” – persons who have moved on from being victimized and are learning to survive and conquer.


May God help all of us to follow their model and to live our lives as those who survive, conquer, and even thrive.

“The Greatest Love” – February 14, 2012

Mike Coyner and family

Mike & Marcia Coyner and their grandchildren

As I write these words it is Valentine’s Day, and it is also the days after we all heard the shocking news of the death of Whitney Houston. The juxtaposition of those two events is really hard to overlook. Whitney Houston sang a beautiful song about “The Greatest Love” as our ability to learn to love ourselves. Valentine’s Day is a beautiful holiday about loving those who love us. Both events miss the point of the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus taught (in his Sermon on the Mount) that if we simply love those who loves us, there is no big credit in that. Everyone loves those who love them, even the most evil and devious persons somehow learn to love those who love them. Jesus said that his followers must exceed that limited understanding of love. He taught us to love God first, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Whitney’s sad life is a witness to how hard it is to love ourselves. Her beautiful voice and life devolved into a familiar pattern of self-destruction which has plagued so many other celebrities. It is almost haunting to hear the recordings of her singing about “The Greatest Love.”

How do we achieve that kind of appropriate self-love? I believe Jesus shows us the way. Learning to love ourselves appropriately comes only as we first discover the depth of God’s love for us. Once we know we are loved, that we are lovable, then we can be so filled with God’s love that we are able to love ourselves, our neighbors, and God.

So, it is good to tell those who love us that we also love them. Too many people go through life without ever hearing from their loved ones that they are loved.

But let us not stop there. Let us learn to receive the wonderful and complete love of God who enables us to love ourselves appropriately and to love one another generously.

The love of God is truly the greatest love of all.

The View from Here

Friday, January 20th, 2012 | By Mike Coyner
Filed in: Michael Coyner, The View from Here


“First Steps”

Two of my four grandchildren are toddlers.  Austin is 17 months old, and Leah just had her 1st birthday.  Austin is walking  already, and Leah is taking her first steps around furniture and walking as we hold her hands.

It is fun to watch these two little ones learn to walk.  Both are courageous but careful.  The really want to walk, but they have fallen enough to know that walking is not easy, so they hang on and hold on and move carefully as they learn to walk.  I admire their persistence, and I resist the temptation to help them too much – walking is something they really have to learn on their own, even as we stand watch over them to protect them if they start to fall.

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

I wonder if that is how our faith journeys appear to God.  Surely God has to allow us to try and fail, to slip and fall sometimes, and yet God is always hovering over us with eternal love and grace.  From our perspective, it sometimes feels like God has abandoned us; meanwhile God is there all along, simply giving us the freedom we need to learn faith on our own.

It is a joy to see my little grandchildren take their first steps.  It must be a joy for God to see any of us step out in faith, learn to trust God, and yet risk to serve and obey God in new ways.

So, keep walking in faith, keep trying, keep risking, and keep trusting.  God is there with you, every step of the way.

God bless you.


“Blue Christmas”

Blue Christmas

Blue Christmas

While I was serving as bishop in the Dakotas Conference, I found many small towns where the local funeral home teamed up with the local United Methodist Church (or sometimes with several churches) to offer a “Blue Christmas” service on December 20th  which is the longest night of the year.  They often called this a “Blue Christmas” and even played the Elvis Presley song (“It will be a blue Christmas without you”), and the gathering was for families who had lost a loved one in the past year.  The idea was simple but very caring:  those in grief need a time to name that grief (and the longest, darkest night the year seemed appropriate) in order to them to heal and be ready to celebrate Christmas.

Having lost several loved ones in the past three years, I know how hard it is to have that first Christmas without a loved one.  So those “Blue Christmas” services were a wonderful way to help persons in grief to deal with their grief – and then to start moving on with life.

If you are someone who has lost a loved one this past year, please know that God’s healing love is for you.  Christ came especially for those who are poor, poor in spirit, heart-broken, and in need of healing.

If you know someone who has lost a love one this past year, maybe now is the time to call them or drop by and see them, to say, “I remember your loved  one, too, and I know that this Christmas may be tough for you.  But you are not alone – you are in my thoughts and prayers.”

If your local church has never considered offering a “Blue Christmas” or a “Longest Night Service” for persons in grief, maybe it is not too late to offer it this year.

And most of all, every one of us can pause and give thanks for the loved ones in our lives – those who have passed on, and those who are still with us – and to ask God’s blessings on our loved ones.

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

Christmas is not all fun and games.  Sometimes it is a sad time for those who are grieving.  Sometimes it is a lonely time for those who are left behind.  And always it is a time to offer love and peace to our loved ones.

Have a blessed Christmas – even if it is a Blue Christmas for you this year.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

“Changing Time Zones” – November 15, 2011

I am currently on a trip following the journeys of the Apostle Paul.  It has involved many changes of time zones.  The Sunday we left was the change from daylight savings in Indiana, so we dropped back one hour.  After flying all night, we landed in Rome which was 6 hours ahead.  Then after touring Rome we traveled to Crete which was another hour ahead.  The next few days we toured Athens, Corinth, Istanbul, and Ephesus.  Now we are on our way to Sicily which is an hour behind, then back to Rome to fly home which will be 6 hours behind Rome.  Lots of time zones, lots of changes, and it is hard to adjust and adapt.

Change is hard.  I just finished reading “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath.  Their book is very helpful, and I wish I had read it before I tried to lead some changes earlier in my life and ministry.  One point in particular they make is that “self-control is ban exhaustible resource.”  We can’t make changes simply by our own willpower, we have to tap into other sources of power.

I agree.  As a Christian I need the power of God and the strength that comes from Christian community.  I can’t lead or make changes on my own – no matter how worthy or right those changes may be.

In the meantime I will keep changing my watch and adapting to changing times.  But for any real change, I need power beyond myself.

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