Sunday, December 30, 2012

Share the Light

Pastor Joyce Swingle preaches on John 9. She challenges us to read the full chapter, and her husband, Rich Swingle, encourages us to read the whole Bible in 2013. Communion by Pastor Randy Solomon, preaching from John 6. "This Little Light of Mine" is in the public domain. Words and music by Harry Dixon Loes.



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WCCC Worship 12/30/12 by RichS on Grooveshark

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I challenge you!

[A note from New Year's Day 2017: By God's grace I've been able to finish the Bible every year since this post, and I find it completely worth the effort.]

When I was in my teens I read through the whole Bible. It was a stupendous experience, but I didn't repeat it until I married Joyce. One of her early disciplers laminated a reading plan that she continues to use to this day. For the first seven years of our marriage I read through the whole Bible year after year. Out of that process I wrote my plays The Revelation and The Acts. My knowledge of scripture was better than ever, and it drew me closer to the Lord.

Then my schedule got busy. My reading plan fell by the wayside. I was reading most days, but I was just dipping in here and there. That was beneficial, but last year I committed to reading through the full Bible again, and the difference is night and day! I highly recommend it.

In fact I challenge you!

I have friends reading my posts who are atheists. I even challenge you to read through the whole Bible in the coming year. There is a long list of atheists that found the Love of the Lord at least in part through scripture reading: C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Franz Mohr (the piano tuner for Horowitz), and personal friends of ours. 

Even if you've been a Christian for years I recommend reading through the whole Bible every year. There's so much false teaching out there some of it can sound great if you're not grounded in the Word of God. 

As you read you may run into things that don't make sense. Though we can draw principles for ourselves from most passages of Scripture they were all written for people who lived when it was written. For instance in John 10:27 Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." I was honored to take an evangelism class from Dr. J. Christy Wilson when I attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He told how, when he was a missionary to Afghanistan, he happened upon a group of shepherds. Their sheep were all mixed together, but when one of them would call to them, his sheep would separate themselves out from the others and follow that shepherd. Thinking it was a certain command that had brought the desired effect, Dr. Wilson approached one of the shepherds and asked if he could try it. The shepherd laughed at him, and said, "They don't know your voice." Grab a good commentary, and it will help these passages come to life and make sense. Reading the Bible for All It's Worth, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, and the IVP Bible Background Commentary for Old and New Testaments are all great resources. 

Also, trust that God is loving and wants the best for his children, even when we who are not omniscient don't understand everything. Joyce shared a teaching in which she shared how a passage troubled her every year until one year it made sense. She also spends some time in the sermon talking about the power of reading scripture through every year.

Now you need a reading plan. I suggest YouVersion. You can read on your computer, smartphone and/or tablet, and it keeps track in the cloud. One of the ways I was able to stay on track... Okay, it's confession time: I didn't actually get all the way through in 2012. I started in October of 2011. There's a "catch up" button that adjusts your start and finish days so that you don't have to find where you are on the calendar if you get off pace. It just sets the next reading at the current day. ...Now, for the way I've been able to stay on track to finish by New Year's: My friend, Max McLean. The NIV version has a button you can click and Max reads the passage to you on your device. So you can stay on top of your reading plan while you're doing dishes, folding laundry, commuting, exercising, etc. 

The last thing you need is to pick your reading plan. YouVersion has 24 different reading plans for reading through the whole Bible in at least a year. They have a number of others that are shorter, if you want to start there. I read through a fabulous Advent plan this Season. I just finished the Chronological plan which allows you to read in the order it was written (as much as is known). So while reading Acts, after Luke tells about Paul in Corinth, it jumps to his letters to the Corinthians. They also have a plan that, like Joyce's laminated plan, mixes Old Testament and New Testament. That would be a great one if you've never read through the Bible before because on genealogy days it will be paired with the stories of their Descendent Jesus. By the way, over the years I've used those long passages of names to remind me of God's faithfulness through family lines, that each individual listed had a unique story, and I've even prayed for their descendants. 

I was commissioned long ago to write a one-man play that covers the whole of Scripture in the course of an hour or so. When I was looking up YouVersion's reading plans I noticed one that covers the whole Bible in 90 days. That's the one I'm going to tackle. Pray for me.  [A note from New Year's Day 2016: Thanks for your prayers! I finished that plan, and it was a great experience.]

How about you? Go for it!


This post can be found at www.RichDrama.com/BibleReading.

Joyce's sermon at MasterWorks

Joyce preached the opening sermon at the MasterWorks Festival on June 17, 2012.

Greetings and prayers by Dr. Patrick Kavanaugh, director of the Festival. I read Deuteronomy 30:1-10, and Barbara Kavanaugh reads 1 Corinthians 13.



Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm so impressed with Compassion!

Joyce and I have sponsored four children through Compassion: Carolos and Riquelmys in the Dominican Republic, Roxanita in Bolivia, and Wendy Yoselin in Honduras, who is pictured here.

The sponsorship process has been delightful! We know we're impacting their lives in a significant way by the letters, drawings and pictures we receive from them. And those letters, drawings and pictures (not to mention their prayers!) impact our lives as well. 

I've travelled with Compassion to Bolivia, Honduras, and Guatemala so I've seen first hand that sponsorship money is being used wisely. In fact they made the The American Institute of Philanthropy's list of Top Rated Charities. Most of the folks we met who work with the children were sponsored as children themselves, so they really have a heart for this work.

Compassion is the world's largest holistic child development organization. They have received the highest honor for 11 consecutive years that is bestowed on nonprofits by the watchdog group Charity Navigators. Compassion was also named the number one Christian charity by Worth Magazine in terms of fiscal responsibility. Compassion continues to pride itself on being completely transparent in nature and has one mission only, to release children from poverty in the name of Jesus.

You can read my Honduran Journal with pictures, and watch a video of my last trip: 


I hope you'll choose to sponsor a child today. It will change the world for both of you: Sponsor a child Now!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Song of Thanksgiving

Pastor Linda Warren continues the sermon series O Come Let Us Adore Him, preaching on Revelation 4 and 5, passages that are considered to have been songs about Jesus in the original Greek. Rich Swingle shares excerpts from his one-man play, The Revelation. The reference to the woman in the plaid skirt is referring to Fran Warren, who expressed the Lord's desire for The Revelation to be written, and who is now dancing at the Throne of God. You can hear the Celebration of her Life at www.WestchesterChapel.org/FranWarren.

Opening prayers and lighting of the Angels' Candle of Advent by Pastor Joyce Swingle.

Short excerpts are included from Samhill Road and Westchester Chapel singing from "The Revelation Song", "Nothing but the Blood" and "Jesus Loves the Little Children".


Visit power.watchgmctv.com to vote for Samhill Road in the "Most Powerful Voices Contest.


John and Adrienne C. and Vinnie and Meg N. made a presentation to thank Westchester Chapel for taking part in Operation Christmas Child by gifting Pastor Linda with a unique gift.



Rich Swingle performs The Revelation.
This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

The Revelation © Copyright 1998 and 2012 by Rich Swingle. All rights reserved. For booking information visit RichDrama.com/Revelation.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Celebrating a well-lived life


When Joyce and I were courting there was a certain point that Joyce confided in her friend and mentor, Fran Warren, that it appeared that  Joyce and I would only be friends. Fran, who had as close of a walk with the Lord as anyone I know, said, "Don't you dare get in the way of what God wants to do." I have Fran to thank for one of the best marriages in history. Fran became a friend and mentor to me as well, so we were deeply grieved for us, but excited for her, that she is now dancing with the Lord.

On December 21 we celebrated her life and home-going. The service was so moving that we wanted to share it here. Whether you knew Fran or not I know you'll be blessed by this celebration of a life well-lived.


Opening and closing prayers by Pastor Joyce Swingle.

Worship was led by Joe Santucci. Joe has graciously allowed us to insert a studio recording of his song "Bethlehem's Child" in the place where he performed it in the service. You can find links to Joe's music at JoeSantucci.com.

Eulogy written by Jim and Linda Warren, read by Rich Swingle. Testimonies by Rich Swingle, Tamara W., John and Paula M., and Pastor Randy Solomon. Scripture reading from Song of Songs, chapter 2 by Rich and Pastor Joyce Swingle.

Sermon by Pastor Linda Warren.



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Please post your memories and thoughts about this amazing woman of God along with prayers and condolences to the family in the comments below. Upload photos to your favorite photo storage page (Flikr, Shutterfly and Google+ are all easy and free) and paste a link below.

Here is Pastor Joyce Swingle's announcement:
It is with mixed feelings that I tell you that our beloved Fran Warren went home Wednesday to be with Jesus.

She became ill with what looked like pneumonia and was being treated at Cabrini when -- in her frailty -- she succumbed in the early evening.
Please praise the Lord for her amazing life, given over to the glory and honor of the Lord, and please pray for Jim, his sisters Debbie and Dona, Linda, Rebekah and all Fran's grandchildren. Pray for peace and comfort.
--Pastor Joyce Swingle 
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
John 14: 1-3

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Step into Christmas



On the first Christmas God stepped into our story. This Christmas Eve you have a chance to step into God's story. 

Westchester Chapel Church of the Nazarene (www.WestchesterChapel.org) is hosting a bibliodrama of scriptures that tell of the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Rich Swingle (www.RichDrama.com), who has performed and/or taught bibliodrama (among other forms of drama) in 25 nations will take participants to Bethlehem via The Crowne Plaza in White Plains, NY, where the church meets.

No one will be forced into the enactment, but all will be invited to walk in the sandals of those who were there and explore what it must have been like for humans to encounter God as He joined us as a baby in a feeding trough for animals. No memorization is required. Those who take part will read scripture and talk from the heart as they explore the subtext for those whose lives were so profoundly changed that night. 

Photo by Kevin Hanse, staff
photographer for MasterWorks
where Swingle has taught bibliodrama.
Bibliodrama was developed in Germany shortly after World War II, and separately in America in the late '80's by Peter Pitzele, Ph.D.: www.Bibliodrama.com. Its form is inspired by sociodrama, developed by Jacob Moreno in Vienna in the '20's. Swingle's thesis for his masters degree from Hunter College, NYC, was focused on sociodrama. Swingle has taught at more than 30 colleges and universities including an annual presentation skills workshop he leads with Graceworks (www.GraceworksInc.com) at Princeton University. He also spoke on a panel at the Congress on Faith and Action for students of all Ivy League Schools, hosted by the Christian Union at Harvard University: www.RichDrama.com/IvyLeague.

Several members of Westchester Chapel did a bibliodrama atop Mt. Nebo in Jordan as a part of a Christians in Theatre Arts (www.CITA.org) trip to Jordan and Israel. Tom Michael played Moses, and Swingle interviewed him as he looked down one side of the mountain to see the rock that he struck in anger, an action that kept him out of Israel, which can be seen from the other side of the mountain top. A gentleman approached the group afterward to say, "That man (Tom) really knows God. How is that possible?"

Before the bibliodrama Swingle will perform “Thomas Tornado Tinglehoop and the Three Christmas Clues” (www.RichDrama.com/Tinglehoop), a children’s book he co-wrote with the illustrator, Jim Warren, who was the founding pastor of the Westchester Chapel.

Join Westchester Chapel Monday, December 24, at 6pm at The Crowne Plaza, 66 Hale Ave, White Plains, NY, to experience the Christmas story in a whole new way. Christmas carols will be a part of the event.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Song of Adoration


NicolettiPhoto.com
Pastor Joyce Swingle preaches on Hebrews 1:7-12 as a part of the series O Come Let Us Adore Him: Songs About Jesus from the New Testament.

Opening scripture reading by Bill H., John 1. Prayer for Newtown, CT, by Pastor Linda Warren.



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Minor Revisions

Joyce and I were at the Faith Film Festival in Brooklyn last week with our friend Jenn Gotzon, who was in two films with me (Alone Yet Not Alone and The Screenwriters). 

While we were there we heard a producer talk about a show she was doing on a woman who was an atheist that is now a committed Catholic. It's just phenomenal. I wish it was airing on one of the networks at prime time.

Thanks to a technical glitch brought on by more viewers than expected for the premiere's simultaneous web stream, the producers of the show have put it on YouTube in its entirety: http://brandonvogt.com/revisions-youtube/

Also, here's the schedule for the upcoming episodes and rebroadcasts: http://netny.net/minorrevisions/episode_schedule.pdf

Here are the other ways to watch: http://www.conversiondiary.com/my-tv-show

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Song of Humility

Pastor Randy Solomon, former engineer for NASA, tells behind the scenes stories from Skylab as he explains the immensity of God, who humbled himself to visit us as a baby while preaching on Philippians 2:6-11. This is a part of the sermon series O Come Let Us Adore Him: Songs About Jesus from the New Testament, based on scriptures that are songs in the original Greek.

Pastor Joyce Swingle leads the lighting of the Bethlehem Candle for Advent. Bill H. opens and closes the service.



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Our annual Christmas
party  followed the
service.


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Merry Christmas

We wish you and yours the very best for this Christmas Season, and have a blessed New Year!

Four of our MasterWorks theatre
students on Times Square after opening
Off-Broadway.
For the first time we brought the MasterWorks theatre program to New York for performances Off-Broadway. You can find a full report at RichDrama.com/MWF.


This year I performed in two films (Christmas Grace and Beyond the Mask), performed, spoke and/or taught in 14 states, plus Toronto, Puerto Rico, Transylvania and London for a total of about 225 appearances. Thanks so much for all of your prayers and support through all of that!


Rich with Ian Sadler, organist for
Chariots of Fire.
My performance of Beyond the Chariots in Toronto was bookended by Ian Sadler playing the same pieces on the organ as he did in the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire. To hear "Jerusalem" played as it had in the film, just before I walked out to perform my play about Eric Liddell, one of the main subjects of the film, was a very special moment indeed.  Two of the daughters of Eric Liddell also spoke that evening, marking the fourth such performance, starting with Heather Ingham, Eric's middle daughter, speaking after an Off-Broadway performance in 2006. Heather found out I was performing the play at Trafalgar Castle School for girls the following Monday, and she was kind enough to speak there, as well.

Rich with Eric Liddell's daughters
and their husbands.
The highlight of my time in Toronto was when Heather told me upon my arrival about the story told about her in Our Daily Bread, about how her faith had been "rekindled" through a prayer for her aunt which was instantly answered while they were in China preceding the 2008 Olympics, visiting the key places Eric and Flo Liddell had lived.

Puerto Rico, Transylvania and London were all during the two weeks of the Summer Olympics.

In Puerto Rico I taught with fellow board members of Christians in Theatre Arts at a conference for applied theatre practitioners. In London we had four performances in various parts of the city, and three were within five miles of the Olympic Pavillion. We were surprised that Transylvania was the highlight of the trip. We found ourselves laughing at everything, and it occurred to us that, in a land scarred by persecution, we were bringing healing through our laughter.

By the end of the second week of the Olympics we had reached people from 30 nations and every inhabited continent.

We're finalizing a documentary on how drama ministered to people across cultures and languages during the Olympics. Once that's finished, we'll post the announcement through our emailing: RichDrama.com/Updates.

Catch a sneak preview at CITA.org/PR12.


Indescribable, the film in which Joyce and I play husband and wife was chosen as a semi-finalist for the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF), where it will be screened in February. Alone Yet Not Alone, in which I play a land speculator, will open in theatres April 5, and For the Glory, in which I play a soccer coach to a future Olympian, seems on the verge of a release date announcement on Facebook.

Have a blessed 2013. Wherever you are in the world, I'd love to bring one of my one-man plays and/or workshops to your community: RichDrama.com.

At the Eric Liddell Legacy Breakfast with world-record breaking Olympic gold
medalist Madeleine Manning Mimms, with whom I performed during the
Beijing Olympics, and Ashley Null, who served as a chaplain during
previous Olympics.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Candle of Prophecy

Joyce opens the Advent Season at our church, Westchester Chapel, this morning by lighting the first candle of the Advent Wreath, for prophecy.

Afterward Rev. Jim Warren preaches on 1 Timothy 3:3-16, opening our Advent preaching series, "O Come Let Us Adore Him: Songs About Jesus from the New Testament." I made the comment on singing carols in the Shepherds' Cave of Bethlehem.



Here are the commentaries Rev. Jim mentioned:



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