Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas friends! May you be blessed with the love of Christ this season!
Special thanks to our friend, Pamela Rodriguez Claytor, for capturing our sweet family moments. You can check out her page here:

Christmas Ornaments 2020!

We love our annual family tradition of ornament making for our church family. We still have a few of the 2020 star at the Central Church office for anyone who didn't get one on Sunday. The star was made from our PowerPoint sheet music of "Angels We Have Heard on High," the topic of our Sunday sermon. When folded correctly, five parts of the star come together with a short message "Merry Christmas Wiles Family 2020." Stop in to get your 2020 ornament.
Be a light for Christ!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

All Pro Dad: 6 Ways to Prep for Your Daughter’s Suitors

For those that don't know, I've been invited to write submissions for All Pro Dad, a great honor!  The material that I write for All Pro Dad's website, blog, and emails is owned by APD.  I post it here simple as a way to store my writings.  If you have any questions about this great organization, feel free to ask me or go check them out on their website here:

Submission for March 2021 the article

 6 Ways to Prep for Your Daughter’s Suitors

By: Topher Wiles

Think back to your last Hulk moment. It was that time when some external life event triggered your internal gamma radiation to mutate you into a massive rage-fueled protector of innocence.  When a young boy ran up to my daughter and kissed her on the cheek, other adults may have laughed at the cuteness, but my internal transformation was anything but funny.  The beast I felt unleashed inside me in that moment would do anything to protect my daughter from any young man with nefarious intent.  Damage and destruction is not my goal as my daughter grows but I do desire to positively guide her relationships with boys.

That is why I’m enacting my DPP (Daughter Protection Plan) now to prevent the raging Hulk inside me from doing more harm than good for my little girl in the future.  Here are six tips we can use to prepare for our daughters’ suitors.

Pray for her and her potential mate - I began praying for my daughter’s future the night the doctor said, “It’s a girl!”  I believe God knows the plans He has for my daughter; plans to prosper her and not to harm her; plans to give her hope and a future.  The odds are that she will be married at least once in her lifetime, so I pray regularly that God’s plans come to light for my girl and her potential spouse. Specifically, I pray that God prepares a young man’s heart to be the perfect complement to hers.

Establish Her Identity – Sadly, too many young ladies fall for the first guy that flatters them with kind words and gifts.  Set the bar high for your girl as you routinely take her on nice dates, buy her thoughtful presents, and compliment her as the beautiful young woman she is.  Remind her throughout her developing years that she is valued as your daughter, that you are proud of her, and that she is beautiful to you.

Model a healthy relationship -  The hard cold truth is, if we want our daughters to seek healthy relationships with young beau’s, we must show them years of what a great marriage looks like.  When our wives feel physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and relationally stable with us, our daughters will witness that peace and likely seek out a similar relationship for themselves.  

Present Expectations Early – Does her date need to meet with you before they ever go out?  Does he need to come knock on the door rather than sit in the car and honk the horn to call her out?  Does church need to be their first “date” together? Whatever your expectations are, discuss them with your wife and clearly present them to your daughter before the fellas show up.

Be Present in Her Life –You can’t encourage your beloved toward the good guys and away from the heart-breakers if you aren’t present in her life.  Take time off work for her tennis matches so you can be present when those young guys start noticing more than her ground strokes. Volunteer to chaperone that band trip so she can have the time of her life in safety with her female and male friends.  Be ready at the school football game to firmly shake hands and look him respectfully in the eye when she says, “Dad, I want to introduce you to my friend John.”

Prepare Surrounding Suitors – Invest in the lives of the young men around you.  Throw football with the boys living in the neighborhood.  Write an encouraging note to parents and sons when you see those boys serving others in church. Look for ways to grow faithful men in the fields around you in hopes that they will one day bless some young lady, if not yours.

Dads, we are preparing our valuable girls to successfully leave the nest one day to begin families of their own.  Be prayerfully proactive rather than hulking gamma-reactive when the searching suitors come and enjoy the gift of raising a daughter.

How to Connect Digitally with Family

  1. Communicate (thru text, email, or phone) with your fa  mily to decide on a family gathering time (i.e. Dec 24th at 5pm Central time). Make sure to include the time zone for family & friends that live father away.
  2. Create a free Zoom account. ( Only the gathering host needs a zoom account.  Participants can join the event without creating an account or downloading the software. Note that free accounts limit g
    atherings to 40-minutes.
  3. Click the “Schedule a Meeting” tab after logging into the Zoom website and fill in the appropriate information. Make sure to set a passcode that is easy to remember.  Click the “Save” button at the bottom when finished.
  4. Copy the Invitation Invite Link provided on the page and send it to your family and friends in the group text or email. It will look something like this:
  1. Send reminders the day before or morning of the event to all family members and friends. Emails are easy to forget!
  2. Login and start the meeting on your decided day! For us, downloading the Zoom App or Software for hosting a meeting has proved easiest, so we recommend testing that out before the actual gathering.  To easily find your meeting, click this link: .


Topher’s Tips for getting the most out of your Zoom gathering.

  • Choose one person to be the “Moderator” for the Zoom meeting.  It’s tough to understand others when people are talking at the same time.  Ensure everyone gets time to share by choosing a moderator who is always “unmuted” and has microphone control.
  • Plan in advance for someone to give a musical performance or a Christmas reading. It warms our hearts
  •  to see a grandkid strum the guitar or one family to sing a Christmas carol.  Remember, singing is laborious on Zoom due to the half second delay.
  • Play an easy Zoom game to enjoy with family. Some of the easiest are 20 Questions, Bingo, Trivia, Pictionary, and Charades.
  • Always include a prayer, thanking God for family past and present. Make sure to thank Him for the ability to meet on Zoom!

 The Covid-19 vaccines will arrive a little too late to give greater freedom for family gatherings, meaning that many of us will miss a valuable tradition this year.  Here in 2020, many people are finding a first as they are forgoing the annual office parties, family meals, and New Year’s Eve blowouts.  Our hearts break for families in this season but we take solace in the tools God has granted to still stay connected even though staying socially distant. Here is how you can host your own Zoom family gathering.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Family Forte: What is Your Marriage GPS?

By: Topher Wiles

Don't try to drive from
Lost Creek Falls to Virgin Falls
on your own!
Don’t you just love GPS?  I know I do.  When I moved to White County a little over three years ago Google Maps was like a voice out of heaven giving me directions to all the best things in life.  My GPS guided me to some of the most wonderful destinations like Bino’s Restaurant and the Trolley Stop in Rock Island where the hamburgers and milkshakes are made to perfection.  Without my GPS heavenly natural sites like Welch’s Point and Lost Creek Falls & Cave would still only exist as a legend instead of the beauty that I’ve witnessed as I’ve visited them many times over.  It was my GPS that let me know that I could not easily drive from Lost Creek Falls directly to Virgin Falls even though they are only 1.5 miles apart as the crow flies. 

The best function of GPS is the gentle way it corrects me when I have made a mistake.  Yes men, sometimes our internal cardinal direction compass proves wayward and it is that blessed GPS that lovingly turns us around.  One time, when speeding on the way to a funeral up the mountain in Spencer, I hurried right past the turn for Layne Funeral Home.  Grateful was my emotion when my GPS said, “Rerouting… In a half mile make a left turn..."

As grateful as I am for my driving GPS, I love more the Marriage GPS that I have which guides me to my goals and reroutes me when I make marriage mistakes.  It is my Marriage GPS that has guided my wife and I on our way to financial freedom.  My Marriage GPS has blessed me with 16 great years of marriage that just keeps getting better each and every year.  It is my Marriage GPS keeps me going on weekly date nights with my beautiful bride, keeping the spark alive.  It is that Marriage GPS that continues to guide us toward the goal of one day being old and beautifully wrinkled swinging on the porch holding hands while our grandchildren frolic all around us.  My Marriage GPS even said, “Rerouting…. Make a U-Turn” when I mistakenly entertained the idea to uproot my family again and move to a distant job that recently offered me a huge salary increase.  Yes, I’m grateful for my Marriage GPS. 

What is my Marriage GPS that gives me directions and reroutes me when I make a mistake?  Mine consists of three parts; my Bible, my church elders, and older successfully married men.

The Bible as Married GPS.  The Bible is filled with great marriage advice and examples of commitment even if it doesn’t mention marriage specifically.  Read your Bible every single day asking the question, “What direction does this passage give me for my marriage?”  You’ll be surprised at the inspiring guidance that it gives you toward your goals.  Often I’ve come to a fork in the road of life and marriage, unsure of which way to turn to reach my desired destination.  Low and behold, the answer routinely jumps off the pages of the living Word of God in my morning devotional reading. Some of those beautiful instructions include:

Good marriages don't just
happen. They need guidance.
  • "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." – 1 Peter 4:8
  • "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." – Ephesians 4:32
  • “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” – Hebrews 13:4

The Elders as Married GPS.  At Central Church of Christ, we choose to practice church leadership like we read it in the churches that Paul, Timothy, and Titus guide in the Bible.  In this church leadership structure, we choose multiple leaders, called elders, bishops, shepherds, or overseers instead of one singular pastor.  Each one of these must possess the qualities listed in Titus & 1 Timothy: having a good reputation, married to one woman, exhibiting self-control, sober, respectable, hospitable, willing to teach faith, peaceful, gentle, not argumentative, not greedy, and having managed his own household well. 

As a minister, I serve these elders in the church.  It is also these men who do regular checkups on my marriage, my finances, my health, my children, and more.  These men are respected in my life and guide me along the challenging trials of marriage as my GPS.  It is also these respectful men that can lovingly re-route me when my course goes astray.  Just this Monday, when I let work take precedent over my wife, one of my elders messaged saying, “Stop texting me and enjoy your date night!”  I encourage each of you to involve yourself in a church that has respectably married leadership that you can look to as your Married GPS.
(Read more about our elders here:

Older successfully married men as Married GPS. Each month on a Tuesday I choose to go have a biscuit with this one old codger who is hilariously funny and thought provokingly pensive.  We spend an hour, mostly with me listening, about what it is like to grow old, to love a woman who is aging, and to still be useful in a rapidly changing world.  After each breakfast he thanks me for bringing a biscuit and listening to his ramblings to which I reply, “Brother, you don’t realize how much this benefits me.”  I’m taking notes now on the directions I need to be a loving husband for 10, 20, and even 60 years down the road. Each and every married man should have an old married fella to sit at the feet of and learn from.   All it costs me is one biscuit a month. 

I know some men navigate their marriage the way they navigate roads in White County.  They just wander around doing what feels right until they get there, give up, or run out of gas.  Get the right directions, guidance, and re-routing instructions by using Marriage GPS.  Grow old together, hold hands, and enjoy the blessings marriage has to offer.  You’ll be glad you did. 

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email,, or through our website,

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Family Forte: The Telling of Three Tree Ornaments

by: Topher Wiles

    I admit, I’m a Thanksgiving/Christmas purist.  Don’t even talk to me about Christmas until I’ve Friday morning after I’ve enjoyed a good turkey dinner the day before.   But when Friday comes, The Wiles family goes full force into Christmas mode with trees, lights, ornaments, the Christmas activity jar, Advent calendars, and more!    

    Putting up the tree every year as a family together is a great bonding and remembering time for the Wiles.  Grandma Nell was so sweet when she gave us her dilapidated metal & plastic tree about 17 years ago.  That Christmas tree has seen a lot of years and we were happy to keep putting it up year after year when she no longer could.  As our first Christmas tree in the Wiles family, our ornaments took on the personality of the tree.  We began decorating with mostly hand-me-down ornaments donated by Grandma, my mom, sweet friends, and dirty-Santa game winnings.  Every year we add new ornaments that people give us and hand-made ornaments by the kids. Now that old tree is completely filled with memories of sweet times and sweet people long past.  I’d like to tell you about three of our ornaments that will bless some families this year who may find some struggling moments during the Christmas holiday season.

     One of my favorite ornaments to put on the tree makes me laugh out loud as it comes with a story.  As we pull this delicate ornament out of the box my kids wait expectantly on the edge of their seat for the coming hilarity of the story.  During our first Christmas together as husband and wife, my Ashley decided to cheaply make ornaments for our tree.  Her chosen materials for the ornament were cinnamon and apple sauce.  Did you know you can bake them together to make a cute star shape, bell, or heart through which ribbon can be threaded?  Yes, we have cinnamon based ornaments that have been on our tree for 16 years.  And they taste horrible.  I would know, because 16 years ago I took a bite out of one of those ornaments.  They may smell sweet, but they taste like dirt.  My kids laugh every year as I tell the story of my ornament tasting time.  Some ornamental memories make us laugh.

      I have another ornament that I alone get to hang on the tree near the top.  It is a little blue plastic star framing a white nativity scene.  It’s not an ornament that originally cost much money but it means the world to me. My family growing up didn’t profess or practice a lot of religious faith, so this nativity ornament from my late Grandma Marge’s tree makes me smile as it signifies her own belief in Christ.  She hung it every year at the top of her tree, and that ornament is one of the few things I have left from my grandma who passed away 25 years ago.  When I hang the ornament I remember the sweet times of eating chicken pot pie at the bar in her kitchen or visiting the humane society taking care of stray cats and dogs with Grandma.  I smile at the faith and memories it brings back.  Some ornamental memories make us smile.

     There is another ornament that completely caught me off guard as it drew an emotional response from me.  My mom was always crafty and handmade so many things for us kids through our years.  Annually, my mom would handmake a few new ornaments on our tree, most of them were odd, like crocheted lollipops or paper stars, but I kept them every year anyway and dutifully hung them on the tree.  When mom passed away in May a few years ago, I didn’t think a thing about those Christmas ornaments until I started hanging them on the tree.  I pulled out the pink crocheted lollipop and was surprised as tears started welling up in my eyes.  I didn’t cry much when mom passed, perhaps because I was so busy doing all the funeral responsibilities.   Yet here I was six months later breaking down in tears remembering mom and all her handmade ornaments.  Some ornamental memories make us cry.

     Laughing, smiling, and crying together are healthy events in the life of a family because it helps all of us to remember.  For the health and strength of your family, I encourage you to actively find an annual tradition to help your family remember.  Maybe it’s watching your wedding video every anniversary. Perhaps it’s pulling out the photo albums every Easter.  You may even be able to create a large family tree to hang in a prominent place in your home.  Whatever the method or the emotion it produces, your family will be blessed as you remember.

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that the Lord has done; I ponder the work of His hands.” – Psalm 143:5 

The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength.  Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself.  If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email,, or through our website,