Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Summertime Tradition! by Steve Faidley

A Summertime Tradition!

Spring Mill Bible Camp – what comes to mind for me when I hear that name?  Well, a flood of memories from over the past 25 years, but first is how much some of our kids love camp.  Over the years, when I’ve questioned whether I’ve wanted to do this…again…I’ve almost always had one of our kids come up to me and say something that gave me a boost – “I can’t wait for camp!” or “I love Bible camp” or “Are you going to be at camp again?”  The Lord knows how to give us a blessing when we need it.

Before I go further, I want to stop and recognize everyone that makes this tradition and service opportunity possible.  Everyone that goes to camp with us is a volunteer.  They give up those days, they burn vacation days provided by their employers, to give back to our kids.  They are AMAZING and it’s an honor to work with such a selfless bunch of Christians!   I wish I could name them all from over the years, but THANK YOU!  Also, thanks go to all of you that have helped by donating food and pantry items that we take with us.  We try not to use much if any of the Spring Mill Bible Camp supplies.  What our congregation provides helps us fund our camp and keep it affordable for our families and as an outreach to others.  Finally, we have a few “patron saints.”  They like to remain anonymous, but we have a few people that each year provide cash donations specifically as “scholarships” for those families that can’t afford the fees.  You folks are WONDERFUL!!! 

Where did this all begin for my family?  Melanie and I returned home to Indianapolis after graduating from what was then called David Lipscomb College in 1987.  The following summer, wanting to find a way to serve and become more involved, we volunteered to be counselors at Southeastern’s annual Bible camp.  I had only been to “church camp” one time in my life.  Melanie, having grown up at Southeastern, several times.  But I loved the idea of working with kids, trying to be a role model, challenging myself to serve and to try and be a better Christian example.  I was hooked.  I would be back every year except one and Melanie every year but two.  This will be the 26th year since our first time.  Our babies would come, and we kind of changed camp a little into what we called “family” Bible camp – we brought our little ones and opened a cabin for mothers and their pre-camp aged kids for several years so the Davises, Arnolds, Wallises, and others could be together while serving – husbands and wives.  As new and young parents, we built wonderful bonds and memories.  Our kids would grow up and never remember not going to camp.

The memories are plentiful – chapels, crafts, caves, mud, cool bugs, toads, tree frogs, heat, sweat, great meals together, cabin life, Pink Panther, songs and baptisms, and the faces…the faces of so many kids down through the years.  Faces of fun, faces of joy, faces of questions in our classes and nightly devotionals, faces of competition, faces of wonder and amazement.  We know that some of the kids we’ve served over the years never had a vacation – and we were it. Some never got to experience God’s creation like we do at camp.  Some seldom if ever get to hear the Word of God or experience the love of Christ except at camp.  What a privilege it’s been and continues to be to serve our God by serving these kids for a few days a year.

More than just memories come to mind when I think about camp.  I think most who have spent some time volunteering at camp would agree that wonderful relationships are established and built over the years.  Spending a week in a simple cabin, corralling kids from 1st grade or high school, sharing devotionals, preparing and serving food, teaching, playing, leading, relaxing, being a role model and mentor, are great ways for a few women and men to get to know each other.    One of the great blessings from camp that I’ve realized (and I think many others would agree) is the opportunity we have to get to better know people that are in our congregation.  When you’re part of a relatively small team, working toward a common goal, and seeing each other throughout the day for nearly a week in all sorts of conditions (clean and dirty, hot and sometimes cold, dealing with challenges and dealing with fun…and sometimes just silliness), you can’t help but build some bonds and learn things about people that you never would have guessed without such an opportunity.  These are some of the blessings I’ve been given by camp over the years.

When I look around today, when I see and hear the stories of the struggles of our children, the challenges that our “advanced” and “modern” society puts on them, when I see our children struggling to carry their faith from childhood to adulthood, it can be heartbreaking.  We have these discussions about our kids:  is this generation spoiled, given too much, asked to do too little? Is the Church failing our kids?  Is society failing our kids?  Are parents failing their kids?  The schools?  The media?  The music?  The movies?  The internet?  We know that Satan uses these things to undermine faith.  I don’t know the answers to all the challenges our children face.  In fact, I know less now than I did just a few years ago!  But what I’m sure of is we can’t do too much in the way of teaching and demonstrating Christ to our kids.  Our annual camp at Spring Mill is a way to do that.  It’s a way to build relationships with our children that just might make the difference when they reach those forks in the road and have to make faith decisions.  There may be, and certainly are, other ways to impact our kids, but camp continues to be a tool in our belt available and useful in helping our children on their walk to and with the Lord.  I pray that He blesses our work and service to His glory and purposes.

In His service, Steve Faidley

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Glimpse of God's Hand by Craig Hill

The hair on the back of my neck is tingling as I sit here on the plane in Roanoke waiting for everyone to board.  Because I am thinking of what is going on in Dominica between the Lord, Lewis Romaine, and my eldest son Zach.  Something is going on but I am just not sure what.  You may see it too as I describe what has been going on there and between me and the man who baptized me 27 years ago in Texas.

Please let me explain.  27 years ago my wife asked a youth minister named Ralph Bryant to meet with me and talk with me about Jesus, whether he was real, who God was, and why I should believe in Him - the usual soul searching stuff.   He and others persuaded me to to follow Jesus.

Now Ralph had been spearheading mission work in some place named Dominica, not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, a totally separate island and country, but both are in the Caribbean.  Ralph went each year on a gospel mission to Dominica.  He planned and supported churches there.  Eventually he brought back a preacher from Dominica to visit the church in Alvin, TX, where I was baptized.

My wife Regina and I left Texas in 1988, and I've not seen Ralph for 27 years.  But we were Facebook friends in recent years, and chatted occasionally.

Now to my Son Zach.  He's been working to get into med school for a couple of years.  He's smart, like his Mom, and he is a Christian, and he has a decent head on his shoulders.  He's been on a couple of medical mission trips with Frank and LouAnn Black.  He's been working as a researcher at Rush University's Alzheimer Disease Center.  For some reason, we can't quite figure, Rush University, Indiana University, and a few other med schools weren't smart enough to ask Zach to come to their schools.  And Zach wants to be a doctor, if possible and maybe serve as a medical missionary doctor some day.

So Zach had heard of a med school in Dominica called Ross University and he applied there.  And he was accepted.  They'd like to teach him how to be a doctor.  And Zach decided to go there.

So Regina and I decided to take a Caribbean vacation.  We'd never been to the Caribbean.  And we wanted to see Zach's White Coat ceremony, which is held as you go into med school.

So I asked Ralph, via Facebook if he knew the preacher in Portsmouth, Dominica, assuming there was a church of Christ there.  Portsmouth is where Ross University is located.  Ralph told us that Lewis Romaine was the preacher there.  And we introduced Lewis to Zach over the internet, so Zach may have a church home there in Portsmouth.

Now for the interesting part.  Come to find out Ralph was going to be in Dominica the same week Regina and I were in Dominica.  Now what are the odds of that?  After not seeing Ralph for all these years it just so happens that we were going to be on an island 2200 miles from Indianapolis on the same week!

Ralph, Regina, and I had a joyous reunion.  And it turns out Lewis has a day job as a taxi driver, so we asked him to give us a tour of the island one day with Ralph, and an elder from Ralph's congregation in League City, TX.  Ralph is always looking for ways to spread the gospel, as is Lewis.  And so too is Zach.

Zach was able to break away from studying to have dinner with Lewis, his wife, and Regina and I.

Now I think something is going on here.  Zach is persuaded to go to a med school on this tiny island, with a population of 79,000.  Regina and I fly there and spend a week.  And Ralph shows up there the same week.  And Zach is a committed Christian, with a bent for medical mission work, with a med school 15 miles from where he grew up that doesn't want him.

I just think something is going on here.  And I think God is up to something good.  I just don't know what yet.  And that makes the back of my neck tingle with excitement.  Sometimes, if you look close, and you are paying attention, you can see the hand of God at work on this here old earth.  I do believe.

How about you?  What do you think?  Do you get a glimpse of God's hand sometimes?  I hope I am, in Zach's life.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Our Obdurate Nature

I like to read fiction on occasion.  Sometimes it feels like going on vacation without all the hassle and the hotel bills.  Anyway, I was reading this book recently about a man who was given the opportunity to time travel into the past in order to make some serious changes to history.  Without going into detail about the book, I’ll just say that early in the story, the author used a word I didn’t understand.  He said: “The past is obdurate.”


Well, there was a word I’d never heard before.  Usually, in situations like that I just skim over the word and don’t worry about it.  I generally pick up the gist from the context and go on.  But then, he used the same phrase again.  I was perplexed that second time, but still skimmed it.  Then, there was the third time.  Okay, then I got really bothered, but I still stubbornly resisted the need to pull out a dictionary and look it up.  On about the fourth or fifth time he used the same word, I finally overcame my stubborn resistance and looked it up.  I just had to know. 

Guess what it meant!

A stubborn unwillingness to change.

Without knowing it, I was actually doing what the word meant.  I didn’t want to go to all the trouble of actually doing what I needed to do…change what I was doing…in order to learn what the word meant.  I was obdurate.

Since then, “obdurate” has become one of my favorite new words.

However, I’ve realized that I am obdurate in other ways in my life besides the refusal to pick up a dictionary.  For example, I think that eating healthier is an excellent idea, but I’m obdurate about changing what I eat.  I think that becoming more physically active would be so good for my health, but I’m obdurate about getting out of my Lazy Boy recliner.  (I’m sitting in it as I write this.)  I think a consistent morning quiet time would be an ideal way to start the day, but I’m obdurate about getting out of bed any earlier.  I sometimes have a problem with being stubbornly resistant to changing some lifestyle choices.

Can you relate?

Sometimes, I think churches can be obdurate.  The Bible describes some of our spiritual predecessors as “stubborn” and “stiff-necked.”  Those words seem like excellent synonyms for obdurate.

The problem with us is that we are fickle people.  We aren’t the first, and we won’t be the last.  And, we are creatures of habit.  As with the past in the book I was reading, we are obdurate to change. 
We love the idea of change as long as it doesn’t affect our routine.

We LOVE the idea of change…until it actually means really changing something.

We LOVE the concept of growing in our Bible knowledge…until we are asked to attend a Bible class on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening… when we’d rather sleep in or go home to relax.

We LOVE the idea of baptizing new converts to the Faith…until it means that we need to step out there and share our personal faith with someone new; putting our pride or our relationships on the line.

We LOVE the idea of a vibrant congregational worship…until it means that we (…I…Me…Myself…) need to sing out with more enthusiasm; allowing what we feel in our hearts to be seen on our faces.

Folks, admit it.  Sometimes we are even obdurate about where we sit.


But, isn’t change one of the greatest aspects of being a Christian?  Isn’t change at the heart of what we are about?  We start off our walk of faith by changing from a worldly lifestyle to a Christ-centered and Christ-driven lifestyle.  We are told in Romans 12:2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Flexibility with a purpose has been demonstrated to us by the example of Paul:

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.  1 Corinthians 9:19-23

And then, of course, there is the example of Christ himself.  Present at the creation of the world.  Accustomed to the wonders of the heavenly realm.  An intricate part of the Godhead Trinity.  THE SON OF THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE!

Good thing He wasn’t obdurate!

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.  Hebrews 5:8-10

What if he had been obdurate about changing his surroundings?  What if he didn’t want to share his Father with the world?  What if he didn’t want to come down and be with the rest of us?  What if he had been stubbornly resistant to the idea of sacrificing himself to save our souls?

But, Jesus was not obdurate.  He gave it up.  He gave it all.

So, I ask you to examine yourselves.  How do you react when some change takes place or some request is made?  Is your nature to be resistant, or do you look to the ways that the changes might be for the best…to help you grow…or to reach the lost?  Ultimately, will we be known for our heart for the Lord, our love for the lost, and our desire to do what it takes?  Or, will we be known for our stubborn resistance.  Will we be flexible, or will we be obdurate?

And, as for me…will I get out of my chair, exercise, and start eating right?  Will I get my tail out of bed early enough to have a quiet time?  Will I battle my obdurate nature?

I will if you will.  What do you say?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fifty Years of Serving the Lord by John Wright

Fifty Years of Serving the Lord

                                                                                                                                                                                by John Wright


                April 12, 2014 will mark fifty years since the first worship service occurred here at 6500  Southeastern Avenue.  The day is about eleven months away and there will be some discussion soon on what we should do then to celebrate the day.  However, the purpose of this article is to look back and remember some of the people and memories that are part of the legacy of this Church.

            As a people, who are we?  And what are we all about?  To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite songs, a good summary might be: "It's what the Lord has done in me" and you.  We are all standing on the shoulders of many great men and women who have gone on before us.  There are a handful of us that are still around that could remember that first service.  Okay, I'm going to name a few but this list is not complete.  Ralph and Alice Brown, Donna Hall, Jackie Watts, Dave and Doris Law, Jenny Basham, Roger Caruthers, Judy Oakley, Diane Cox, Laura Giroud, Helen Strykowski, and I apologize for missing a few names.

            Some early memories are of my mother, and it was her that made sure we all went to Church every Sunday.  We were riding with the Gaines since we had no car, our ride after that was with Margaret Sterns, then Marilyn, and then later we rode the Church bus.  I remember Sunday School and a teacher who I was fascinated with because she had a finger missing.  It was Donna Caruthers.  I remember sister Riddle.  I did not know she had Parkinson's; I thought her head shaking up and down meant she was agreeing with the preaching, and the side to side shaking meant he wasn't preaching it very well.  The preacher then was Bill Flatt, and my opinion of him was whatever sister Riddle indicated to me by her head shaking.

            In those days we were a people of character who were known for doing good deeds in the name of Jesus.  I remember on several occasions Claude and Becky Cates and Walt and Alberta Troyan helping our family in some very touching ways.  My Father was eventually led to the Lord and delivered from alcoholism through many acts of kindness done in love.

            Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Ordinary people who love their families and living a simple, ordinary life may not sound like the way to achieve greatness.  But I say it has been the people here at Southeastern being themselves and doing small works of service that has had the most profound effect on me.  I may not be able to do great things, but maybe some small thing I do in the name of the Lord may affect another to want to live a life of doing good.  And wouldn't that be great!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Are You a Hero by Frank Black

Are You a Hero?

You probably don’t consider yourself a hero.  Well then, who would you consider a hero?  Do you know any heroes?  A few summers ago at Bible Camp I was teaching a teens’ class on “Heroes.”  My first question to them was the same: “Who do you consider a hero?”  Their answers were – you guessed it – people in the “popular press” a sports, movie, recording stars.  But are they really heroes?  No!  That leads us to the question of who is a hero?  [We’ll use the masculine form, hero, to cover both genders.]

You can look up the word, but the meaning generally connotes courage; sacrifice – often sacrifice in the face of danger; acting for the greater good of others; often acting in acute, unexpected situations.  You can see why with such a definition we often attribute “hero status” to soldiers or fire fighters, etc.  Many other situations would also call for someone acting suddenly with the threat of personal danger.  For example:  someone diving into an icy pond to rescue a mother and child whose car has skidded into the water and is sinking.

Are the above examples the only way heroes can be described?  The answer is “NO.”  Let me explain.  Have you heard of “silent heroes;” “unknown heroes;” “everyday heroes;” a people doing heroic things who are not recognized and don’t desire to be?  No, you don’t have to be recognized as a hero to be one.  These are people who are putting others above themselves; serving others; sacrificing themselves [their time; their money; perhaps their health or even their job; etc.] – serving without any expectation of personal gain; not serving with the flare of one dramatic event, but over time by an ongoing series of small events.  Do you know any people like this?  Are you one?  Then you are a hero!  ----  [Example:  The first example I think of are the caregivers for the aged, infirm, or handicapped of all types – family members or others.  How about those who continually and sacrificially help the financially unfortunate; and then people who perform services for those who are needy – driving, physical chores, etc., and on and on? …..]

These qualities sound quite Biblical don’t they?  Well, they should!

n  Matthew 20:28 – “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

n  Matthew 10:42 – “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

Most of us will never be recognized as a hero by the world’s standards.  But so what!  This is not what we should desire as Christ followers.  We should desire to be the “silent hero” I depicted.  There are many “silent heroes” among us.  If you know them, follow their example!  And tell them that they are your heroes and you’re trying to follow their example – [Isn’t this another trait of heroes – that people want to follow their example?].  Let us all strive to be this type of HERO!!

I conclude with one of my favorite quotes which relates somewhat to this topic.  It is from President Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where those who do things could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who falls and comes up short again and again.  But such a person has great enthusiasm and great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause.  At best he knows the triumph of high achievement.  At the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.  His place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have failed to try and know neither victory nor defeat.”

* Frank Black