Thursday, December 25, 2014

Simply Amazing by Chris Kirby

Simply Amazing

By Chris Kirby


A really huge event happened in our family this past Sunday.  As we drove toward church we noticed the new “fly over” bridge was open from 465 West to 65 Southbound. Our kids, especially Tatum, were pumped! The minute we got back in the van from worship service they were asking if we could go drive over the new bridge. As we drove over it for the first time, I’m going through the civil engineering aspects of the bridge. I thought the approach and exit were a little steep and curve a little too tight for a new project that will be in place for years to come. I thought it was a shame you couldn’t see over the retaining wall to get a nice view of downtown. I wondered why they didn’t replace the other insufficient bridges at the interchange while they were at it. It was a little aggravating that other drivers were going slower than I wanted to go over the new more efficient path home.

My kids didn’t think about any of those things for a second. They were just really excited.    Tatum has asked every time we’ve driven through the construction zone for 6 months when the bridge would be open. Every time we drove around the little tight turn of the old exit she’d point to the new bridge and ask why they were building a new bridge and why it wasn’t open yet. And on this day, December 21, 2014, she got her wish. And it didn’t disappoint. She giggled all the way across and talked about how awesome it was to be high up in the air. She even asked why we didn’t get to drive on the old road anymore (she is a very sentimental type). And you know what she asked as soon as we came off the bridge? “Daddy, can we go across the bridge again tomorrow?” On the way home Monday, she giggled and laughed. Guess what she asked as soon as we came off? “Daddy, can we go over the bridge again tomorrow?” On the way to the church building on Tuesday morning she doubled checked that the plan for the afternoon included a trip on the new bridge. It’s incredible how much excitement a bunch of concrete and steel can bring to a 4 year old.

Isn’t it great when you think back to when you were a kid about the simple things that brought amazement and joy? Some of the things were tiny. In hindsight, many of the things don’t even make sense as to why they got us so excited. I still remember when I was 5 or 6 years old we would go to the Andrew Church of Christ and Mr. Elrod would have a peppermint waiting for me and both of my brothers. We would get so excited about that little piece of candy. Not a piece cake, not money, not a new toy, a 5 cent peppermint.

During this week of Christmas I particularly think about what this means. The “magic” of this season just makes kids float. The anticipation of what the packages hold under the tree, that one special holiday treat that mom would only bake at Christmas, waiting to see grandparents from a long way away, pressing your nose against the window hoping for even a single flake of snow to fall (a very depressing process if you grew up in the Southeast), the Christmas decorations illuminating the night, and watching the sky on Christmas Eve to see if Santa would slip up and come before you went to sleep. I still remember once when I was 17, um I mean about 7, seeing a blinking red radio tower in the distance and wondering if it just happened to be Rudolph. What an awesome time of year for amazement and awe at the simple things in life.
As I think about the amazement that children have in their approach to the world, I can’t help but recall when Jesus called His disciples to receive the Kingdom like a child (Mark 10:15) and the implications that is held within this command. I would love to have a freshness in my faith that bears amazement at the simple things the same way that kids see so many small things in their worlds. As Paul Short talked about Sunday morning, I hope that I still read the Word of God in such a way that astonishes my heart and mind while transforming who I am. I hope that when I take communion I never lose the depth of selflessness, love, and grace that comes through the sacrifice of Christ. I hope that as I sing with my family of believers, that the timeless nature of some of our old hymns recalls God’s working in my life. And that I can still learn from new songs that the Spirit’s creativity still flows through a song writer’s pen today in ways that bless both my heart and my mind. I hope that when I see God moving in powerful ways to bring light into a dark world it reminds me how He desires to bring hope to the brokenness caused by our sin. What are some of the aspects of faith that you think are easy to take for granted and lose amazement over? If we shared these things with each other, it would be quite a list! By reminding ourselves of these simple, and sometimes complex things, we can help point each other toward the awesome nature of God.
One of these days my family will travel on the fly over bridge and Tatum isn’t going to say a word about it. She’s not going to laugh and get excited. She probably won’t even notice as she is reading a book, playing with a toy, or arguing with Jack. It will be a little heart breaking. Those moments are so great as parents. Jill and I laugh about how excited she gets in her wonderment as a child. At some point you realize that even at a $40 mil price tag, it’s just concrete and steel and the result of the action is hopefully the same every time. You drive up the bridge, go around the turn, and drive down the bridge. This bridge will gradually get older. Someday, 50 years from now, there will be another family hovering over a new bridge at that same location. Hopefully there will be a new little girl giggling and laughing about that bridge. However, the awesome thing about living in the Kingdom of God is that it doesn’t get old. It doesn’t die. It won’t have to be replaced someday. If we strive to see God through fresh eyes and open hearts, we might just find ourselves living in the amazement of how awesome God is, even in the most simple of moments.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Health Ministry Newsletter-Care for the Caregiver by Lisa Fleetwood

Care for the Caregiver
Taking care of the sick is our spiritual calling. Sometimes the sick person is an immediate family member, other times he or she is a beloved member of our faith-community or someone we encounter by chance. In all situations, our responsibility for caretaking is clear.

Luke 10:30-38 (NIV) In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

In this famous example, the Samaritan saw a need and was willing to expend his physical, emotional, and financial resources to ensure the injured man was restored to health. Jesus commended his “mercy.” One can imagine that this story ended well. The injured man was healed with the loving interventions of the Samaritan. But what if the injured man required long term care? What if the Samaritan would have been required to move the man into his home, expend his resources for months or even years? Does God call us into that type of care? Many people find themselves in just such a situation. Navigating this labor intensive lifestyle that is focused on meeting the needs of another can be rewarding, yet unimaginably exhausting. Follow these easy tips to lessen the burden.

Collect the Facts. The single most important thing you can do to function effectively as a caregiver is to create and maintain a comprehensive file of information about the person you are caring for. Make sure to include medical history, allergies, medications, insurance information, and legal documents like power of attorney and living will. Keep the file somewhere that you can access easily for doctor’s appointments and emergencies. Update information regularly. In maintaining organized records, you will reduce stress and anxiety as you navigate the healthcare system.

Get support! Ask for help from others when needed. Find a support group of those who share similar circumstances. Support groups can be disease-specific (Alzheimer’s), relationship based (children caring for parents) and be offered in person, online, or via the telephone. For more information on groups, contact your local hospital’s social services department, adult care centers, area agencies on aging, or your own faith-community. Many times, caregivers can feel isolated and these feelings can lead to depression, anxiety, and outbursts. Simply sharing your struggles with others can add needed perspective.

Keep your own life going! Put the time into taking care of yourself, too. Make sure you get adequate sleep, eat nutritionally, and get some exercise. Take a few minutes to get away, take a walk, read your Bible, meditate and pray, or do your favorite hobby. Don’t sacrifice your own relationships with your spouse and children. Ensure that you carve out time each day to do something that revives you. Caregivers are susceptible to stress and burnout so don’t be afraid to ask for help and, if necessary, demand that others bear some of the burden. In advocating for yourself, you will be more likely to provide care in the long term.

Give up the guilt! Surprisingly, those who provide care to their loved ones never seem to feel they have done enough. They often regret harsh words or time spent away. Sadly, many caregivers don’t want to ask for help, feeling as though they should be able to meet all their family member’s needs without assistance. When they are forced to reach out, they are crippled by guilt and shame. To avoid these toxic caregiver emotions, establish expectations that are realistic. Understand that some guilt is normal because your intentions are good but your time, resources, and skills are limited. Accept that you're just going to feel guilty sometimes -- so try to get comfortable with that gap between perfection and reality instead of beating your-self up over it.

ElderSource of Greater Indianapolis 317-259-6822,
Families First Indiana 317-634-6341,
Hancock County Senior Services 317-462-3758,
Hendricks County Senior Services 317-745-4303,
Indiana Hospice & Palliative Care Organization, Inc. 317-464-5145, 800-254-1910 (Helpline),
Shelby Senior Services, Inc. 317-398-0127,
Indiana 2-1-1 (Connect to Help)
CICOA’s Aging & Disability Resource Center at 317-254-3660
Eldercare Locator 1-800-677-1116 or

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I am in the Right! by Terry Gardner

I am in the Right!
By Terry Gardner
How do you react when you are mistreated?  When people gossip about you?  How do you feel when you are “done wrong?”  I sometimes talk to people who got mad because of some wrong (real or imagined) and they are no longer involved in any local congregation but think they “are still alright with the Lord.”  How should a Christian react to mistreatment, trouble and persecution?

The first question any Christian must ask is, “What would Jesus do,” in similar circumstances.  Fortunately we don’t have to guess.  Jesus taught, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  Matt. 5:10-12.

Jesus not only taught us how to live but he left us his example.  Christ “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”  I Peter 2:22-23.  We sometimes sing the song that Jesus could have called 10,000 angels to destroy the rulers who sneered at Him and the soldiers who mocked Him while he was suffering in agony on the cross.  Instead He prayed, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34.
Jesus was perfect in both thought and action.  I, on the other hand, fall way short.  Perhaps my experiences may help us all to improve in this important area of Christian living.  There are several questions I ask myself that help in this challenging area.

I moved to Indianapolis in 1984.  I was twenty-seven years old and one of the youngest Regional Managers in my Company.  I worked with a Human Resources Manager who was also very young and we tended to argue about things a good deal.  On one occasion he called me and he was mad!  He tore into me and instead of responding in kind, I just listened.  The more I listened the madder he became until he began to lose his credibility.  Finally he ran out of steam.  Rather than arguing my case, I simply responded, “I am very sorry you feel that way.”  He now became very embarrassed.  He realized he’d had gone over the top and now he apologized profusely.  We never had another argument and from then on we each strove to see things from the other person’s point of view.  “A gentle answer turns away wrath.”  Prov. 15:1.

We are all sometimes consumed with being right.  One of our facility managers did a detailed study on parking lot lights.  She determined most lights did not need to be on at night due to low lot usage.  A new president asked her to leave the lights on.  She was very upset because she knew the right answer was to leave the lights off!  I asked her, “Is this really a hill worth dying on?”  I added, “Leave the lights on and get to the know the new president.  Once he knows you better you can revisit the issue.”  We not only want to be right, we want to right right now.  Solomon tells us not to be “excessively righteous” and they “destroy” ourselves.  Eccl. 7:16.  His point is that sometimes we make a huge issue of something that we are “right” about but it is a small issue.  In fighting about that issue we destroy a lot of our influence and then people will not listen to us about the more important matters.  The facility manager was 100% “right” but she would have destroyed all of her influence on a very small issue.

Immediate responses when we are mad and when we are sure we are right (even if we are right) get us into a lot of trouble.  A few years back a senior manager wrote an email taking me to task and copying my boss and my bosses’ boss.  This manager’s criticism of me was not only wrong, it had nothing to do with my job.  They had confused me with someone else.  I was composing my own very HOT email to put this person in their place when the phone rang.  It was my boss.  He knows me very well.  The call began, “Don’t reply.  I will handle it.”  End of call.  I would have done the wrong thing in my anger and my haste.  To reply to such an email in anger would not have increased my standing in my company.  I have tried to make it a rule to never write an email when I am mad.  If someone is mad when they write me I either do not reply or I pick up the phone and call them.  “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.”  James 1:19-20

Being slow to speak has never been my strong suit.  Many years ago I made a very quick glib remark in a meeting at the expense of someone else.  Everyone laughed except the person about whom all were laughing.  That person was not happy as I found out the next day.  I immediately went to the person offended and apologized for my sin.  I asked for their forgiveness.  Their reply was that they would have to think about it.  Now before you judge the one withholding the forgiveness remember you were not there and cannot judge how badly this person was hurt.  Solomon tells us “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.”  Prov. 18:19.  I gave this person some time and space and forgiveness was granted, love and respect were restored.  We should always be quick to forgive but never forget that words are weapons and some people once wounded, will have a difficult time forgiving.

Think before you speak.  Ask if the matter that you are upset about is really a hill worth dying on.  Ask the question, “Even if I am right does this really matter more then the love I have for others.”  Remember our great example who for the “joy set before Him endured the cross” and sat down “at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Heb. 12:2.  Try rejoicing when persecuted rather than crying about how badly someone mistreated you and extend to others the love you want for yourself.  It will make life more pleasant and you will find the peace that passes all understanding.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Requirements of Love by Greg York

The Requirements of Love                                                                         


I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

-- John 13.34-35


I know we’ve considered this passage at least in passing in the last couple of sermons as we considered “brotherly love” and “love” in the list of godly character qualities in 2 Peter 1.5-7. We can talk quite a bit about love. We can “know” that the love we are called to is about attitude and action, that it is motivated by decision not feeling. We can even imagine, perhaps, that such a call to love lays some obligation on us. But for the most part, it stays a very theoretical discussion. We end up, too often, being very loving people in theory, but maybe not so much in practice. How many of us, though, take the further step of trying to identify specific requirements of living such love as Jesus lived? To love as Jesus loved requires something of us.


If you pursue a university degree in any field you will have to fulfill the requirements identified to entitle you to that degree – there are courses and internships to take, not just to earn a grade, but to learn material and skills needed to be qualified in that field of endeavor. You cannot just walk into an office and ask for a degree because “I’ve always thought of myself as a doctor.” Or engineer. Or teacher. Or whatever.  There are requirements to be identified, pursued, and (to the best of one’s ability) acquired.


Do we, as Christ-followers, ever intentionally “go to school” to learn to love as Jesus loves? Or, are we satisfied to say, “I’ve always thought of myself as a loving person”?


Recently, I was reminded of a list I’d seen many years ago in a book by the late Brennan Manning, Lion and Lamb; The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Chosen Books, 1986). He lists some questions on pages 50 and 51 that I found challenging when I first read them almost twenty years ago. The fact that I still find them challenging probably shows how good Manning’s questions are. And the fact that I still find them dauntingly challenging definitely shows how shallowly I took the challenge all those years ago. Coming across the questions again was convicting. So, I thought I’d share them (in a slightly adapted form). Some of the questions help us to see what Jesus-like love is not. Some help us to grasp what the practice of Jesus-like love might be like. Maybe like me you will find them challenging… challenging you to step up to the requirements of love. Maybe they will challenge you to come up with your own specific ideas for living out the requirements of love. Above all, maybe they will challenge us all to do what 1 John 3.18 calls us to do: Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.


Here they are:


Have I missed the point of Jesus’ statement that it is the “peacemakers” who are blessed? Have I failed to take the initiative to do what I can to settle disputes on a personal, local, and even global level?



Have I indulged in “habitual contempt” (Manning’s phrase) of any group of people: people of different ethnic background from me, of different economic status, of different educational attainment, of different race, of different political beliefs, of different religious understanding, of different age?



Have I stifled the personal development of someone else?



Have I expected to be respected while not respecting someone else?



Have I often kept others waiting?



Have I carelessly forgotten or not kept a commitment to someone else?



Have I been “too busy” to connect to others? Have I made myself difficult to reach so that I won’t be bothered (not on occasion to “recharge,” but habitually)?



Have I not really been paying attention to the person speaking to me?


Have I kept silent when I should have spoken out (whether it was to let someone know my heart better, or to defend someone, or to say what needed to be said even if it wasn’t what someone wanted to hear)?


Have I responded warmly only to those whose friendship might prove beneficial to me?


Have I besmirched the character of someone else by making harmful remarks, whether true or not?


Have I betrayed a trust or violated a confidence?


Interestingly, Manning adds a final question, anticipating that all of us come far short when it comes to learning to love in Christ-like ways, in living as if love (in specific ways) is a requirement of life in Christ. That final question is: Will I be merciful with myself in my failure, as the Master is merciful? Will I simply acknowledge that the Word is still not fully realized in my life and continue to pursue his ways in the light of his mercy and love?

In the end, that is the path to growth in Jesus-like love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Violins and Second Chances by Mike DeCamp

As a child, one thing that my family never did on Thanksgiving was actually give thanks.  Sure, we’d all get together at someone’s house.  Early on, I remember going to my uncle’s place.  We’d eat, then the football games would come on, and the adults would smoke while the kids went outside to (breathe) goof off or maybe play our own game of tackle football.  I always…ALWAYS…got hurt.  As I grew older, we began to have the dinner at my folk’s house.  Mom didn't want to mess with a turkey, so we always had a ham.  We might watch a parade, but football wasn’t really a big deal to my core family.  Instead, I’d often end up going to a movie with my niece and nephew.

But, as I grew, I did eventually notice that being thankful on Thanksgiving wasn’t something that we paid a whole lot of attention to.  And, that bothered me.

When enough time passed that we began having Thanksgiving dinner at MY house, I decided that we would give thanks to God, and we’d make it a tradition to go around the table and each person would share just one thing they were thankful for.  The first time we did that, we were going around…adults and children alike…and everyone shared.  When it came around to my great nephew Nathan, who was just in middle school at the time, he said:  “I’m thankful for violence.”


I think everyone’s mouth dropped open!  I gruffly said, “What?  What did you say?”

His dad was upset.  There was a real risk of actual violence happening as a result of the answer.

Then, he answered my question.  He said, “I’m thankful for violins.”  (He had been doing band in school and was enjoying learning to play the instrument.)

Around the table, there was a collective sigh of relief, and we all shared a nervous laugh as we relaxed.

Of course, the whole tone of the dinner changed.  We went back to smiles, laughter, and good times.  The food was delicious.  The turkey was wonderful.  The pies…oh, the pies!

More time has gone by since then.  The family that’s left has come to expect to share.  But, one thing I’ve realized about myself this year is that I am still not thankful enough for my actual family.  My mom and dad have passed on.  I lost one brother when I was only seven, and my other brother died just a few years ago.  I still have nieces, nephews and their kids, and I have my wife and kids, but of my original core family, it is now only my sister and me.  And, I nearly lost her last week.

My sister was seventeen when I was born, and she has been through a lot in her seventy years.  A couple of years before I was born, she was in a terrible traffic accident and nearly died.  Her heart stopped and they had to crack her chest to get it going again.  Several years later, she had a perforated ulcer and had to be rushed to the hospital.  Just three or four years ago, she had a bowel obstruction that burst.  And, all the while, she smoked like a freight train.

Yet, she always…seemingly miraculously…pulled through.

Then, last week her COPD/Emphysema nearly took her.  I got to the hospital just as they were about to give her another dose of medicine to try to get her heart rate to drop from 200 bpm.  They did, and it went to zero…flat line.  And, just before they were about to attempt to shock her, her heart started again.  Over the next few hours, she stabilized, and by the next day she was talking up a storm like nobody’s business.

I came back to see her last Friday.  I wanted to try to have a spiritual discussion with her.  This is something we just have never been able to do.  It was just too awkward, and she wasn’t open to listening.  However, Friday was different.  Frankly, it was the best, most honest talk we may have ever had.

She knows that she has been blessed.  She knows that God has saved her life more than once.  Neither of us knows why…when so many others don’t get the same blessing…and her life has never shown the first inkling of gratefulness toward Him for doing so.  But, there it is.  God had pulled her through again.

I said, “You know, with your emphysema and COPD as bad as it is, and your age, there can’t be too many more times when this is going to happen.  What do you think about your spiritual life?”

She replied:  “I know God has saved my life several times, but I’m the kind of person that if I can’t see something and touch it, then I just have trouble believing in it.  I’m ashamed to say it, but despite all the things that He has done for me, I just can’t seem to have faith in Him.”

My heart was hurting for her as I answered, “But, Kay, you do have faith.  You’ve been talking about God for the last hour.  It may be small and weak, but you do have it.  Just turn your heart toward Him and reach out for Him.  He’s not far away.  He’ll help you.”

“How will I know,” she asked, “If He’s listening?”

“You’ll know,” I said.  “You’ll know.”

We couldn’t go much further at that moment.  But, it was a start.  And, I had asked God on that night just over a week ago, when her heart was racing over 200 only to stop and restart again,…I had asked Him to bring her back, if I could still make a difference in her life.  So, that talk was a start, and I’m hopeful that God will bless me with more opportunities in the coming days and weeks to turn that start into a new life for her.  If you are reading this, please pray for my sister.  Not so much for her health, except that God would grant her the time to finish reaching out for Him.  But, more so, pray for her faith.  Pray that God will help her find it…and help her to find Him.

And finally, be truly thankful this Holiday season for the family that you have.  Those that are easy to love, and those who are not.  And, take the time to love them.

From one man he made all nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. -Paul to the Athenians, Acts 17:26-27

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Be Patient with the Chaos by Craig Hill

Be Patient with the Chaos

A year ago I was riding in the backseat of my business partner’s car with his daughter Lindsey, as he drove us to dinner, along with his wife Sue. Lindsey was 9 at the time. I asked Lindsey who her favorite teacher was. She said, “My math teacher, because I’m not good with math and she taught me to just be comfortable with the chaos, and be patient, and if you are, then after a while, it will all start making sense. I used to get frustrated and just give up, then I could never understand. Now I’m doing better at math.”

I was amazed. I looked at her, sat forward and looked at my partner, Aubrey. I said, “Aubrey, did you hear what Lindsey just said? That was amazing.” I said to Lindsey, “You are a wise little girl. That was a very profound thing to say!” Sue and Aubrey were also impressed with what their little girl had said. Aubrey and I still talk about what she said – just today in fact, we told a couple of people about it as we were talking to them at a conference in Boston.

And isn’t life like that? Sometimes, oftentimes, we have a bad day, or a bad week, or a bad year. And we wonder what’s going on. We say, “God, what is happening here? I don’t get it. Why are you putting me through this?”

Isn’t that what Mathew 6: 31 to 34 is saying to us? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink? Or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As for Lindsey ,doesn’t the Bible say that Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’ ?”

And of course there is this scripture:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

If Lindsey can deal with the stress and chaos of math better by being patient, then we should be able to deal with life’s trials and tribulations better too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Health Ministry Newsletter-November 2014 by Lisa Fleetwood

What to Pack? Preparing for Our Journey to Heaven
When you consider your last moments on earth, do you have fear, excitement, or anxiety? Perhaps, you have all of these. We often are apprehensive about the unknown but when it comes to heaven, there are some things we do know!

None of the bad stuff! Revelation 21:4 (ESV) “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” In heaven, we won’t be burdened with the sadness of this world and we won’t have the limitations of the physical body that include pain.

It’s our last stop! John 10:28 (NKJV) “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” Heaven is a place where we are infinitely tied to God, never to be separated or bothered with death again.

We will get an awesome new body! Philippians 3:21 ESV “Who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” God has thought of everything, including removing the weakness of our flesh by giving us a new body that is like his!

Despite the promises God gave about heaven, we still have some anxiety.

I recently flew to California for a vacation that our family had planned for over a year. I knew it would be an amazing trip and an opportunity to spend quality time with those I love, but I still had some jitters. Would I forget something? Would the flight go well? Would the weather cooperate? Heaven is much the same way. We have complete faith that God will deliver on his promises but getting there gives us some uneasiness.

Here are a few suggestions to make sure the trip goes well.

Plan your accommodations. Everyone dies, yet most are afraid to discuss it. If you could pick the best environment and conditions for your passing, what would they be? Would you want to be at home? Do you want a crowd around you or just a few people in the room at a time? Do you have a favorite song or scripture that you want to hear? Is your preference to be pain free or do you want to be more alert? You may not get the chance to decide any of these things, but you might. It’s worth it to have an honest discussion with those you love to ensure your wishes are met up until the end.

Print Directions. An advance directive is written instructions that provide information on future medical treatment. An advance directive allows you to decide who will make medical decisions when you can’t speak for yourself. If you want, you may use an advance directive to prevent certain people from making health care decisions on your behalf. Advance directives DO NOT take away your right to decide your care, as long as you are able to express your wishes. This is true even in the most serious of medical conditions. Your advance directive will only be used when you are unable to communicate or when you no longer have mental competence, which only a physician decides. If you do not have an advance directive, and you are unable to choose medical treatment, Indiana law will decide who can do this for you. This responsibility will fall to any member of your immediate family (parent, spouse, adult child, brother, sister). If you never communicated your wishes, family members are left to guess what you would want. This often leads to bitter disputes, misunderstandings, and permanent relationship strain.

Advance directives cover a variety of topics including:

ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION A person who wants to donate organs may include their choice in their living will.

HEALTHCARE REPRESENTATIVE This document allows you to select the person to make
healthcare decisions when you cannot.

LIVING WILL This document puts into words your wishes in the event that you become terminally ill and unable to communicate and often includes directions about artificial nutrition, breathing maintenance on a respirator, CPR, and blood transfusions that may be used to prolong life. The opposite of a living will is a LIFE-PROLONGING PROCEDURE DECLARATION. This document is used if you want all life prolonging medical treatments used to extend your life.

OUT OF HOSPITAL DO NOT RESUSCITATE DECLARATION If an emergency occurs outside the hospital, emergency medical professionals will begin life sustaining treatments unless you have this written declaration. The law allows a qualified person to say they do not want CPR given if the heart and lungs stop working in a location that is not the hospital. This document may be cancelled at any time.

PHYSICIAN ORDERS FOR SCOPE OF TREATMENT (POST) This form is a direct physician
order for either a person with chronic progressive illness, advanced progressive frailty, condition that no recovery can occur without the provision of life prolonging procedures, or that resuscitation would not be successful. This form is signed by your physician (and yourself or your legal rep) and reflects your wishes with regards to CPR, comfort measures, antibiotics, and artificial nutrition. Both you and your physician retain a copy of the document and the form is used when you are admitted to a healthcare facility.

POWER OF ATTORNEY A power of attorney, or durable power of attorney, is another kind of advance directive. This document grants another person power over your affairs. The document may cover financial matters, healthcare authority, or both. It must include the name of the person you appoint, list of the situations which you want to give them authority to act, what you want them to be able to do, and what you don’t want them to do. This document must be signed by a notary public.

AN ABSOLUTE MUST! One of the most important aspects of advance directives is communication. Make sure you discuss your healthcare wishes with your physician AND family. Your doctor can only follow your wishes if they are aware of them. When you discuss your future healthcare expectations, your physician will record them in the medical chart for future reference.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stop and Smell the Bison by Mike DeCamp

A Bison Blockade

Earlier this year, in late June, my wife and I enjoyed a long-awaited and long-planned vacation to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  If you’ve never been there, God’s creation is amazingly on display: mountains, canyons, streams, lakes, eagles, elk, bear, and bison.  Everywhere you turn there is something incredible to see.  And, after planning for months, saving for equally as long, flying across the country, driving six hours from the airport to the park, I was more than happy to take my time to see what God had created.

One of the commons experiences in Yellowstone is the “Bison Blockade.”  Rather than being the prowess of the Harding University football team’s offensive line, it is the effect on traffic that occurs in Yellowstone when the bison decide to take a stroll down the road.  In effect, they rule the road, and our self-important selves have no choice but to pause and let them pass…at their own pace.  It may be one bull strutting his stuff, or it could be a whole herd just trying to get to the greener pasture; either way, humanity has to stop and make way.

Another common experience is the traffic jam caused by a rare animal sighting just off the side of the road.  A few times it was a group of elk or more bison, but the biggest jams were caused by the occasional grizzly bear or a wondering wolf.  All it takes is someone to throw on the brakes and pull over to the side, and then all bets are off.  People would pull to the shoulders, onto the grass, wherever they could get the vehicle stopped, and then sprint over to see the wild creature.  People running this way…that way…crossing in front of other cars.  Cars stopping in the road…from both directions.  Rangers directing traffic.  It was exhilarating, but also a little bit scary.

Most of us were happy to stop and enjoy the experience.  After all, these things are not something you see every day in Indiana.  But, somehow not everyone shared that perspective.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know what the issues were in their lives.  But after going to all the time and expense of traveling to that amazing wild paradise, those people were so intent on getting to the next tourist spot that they would lose all composure during the wildlife traffic jams.  Or, they would pop a gasket because they had to follow the slow pace of other tourists as they enjoyed the views.  Laying on the horn.  Passing on mountain roads.  Speeding.

Too intent on their destination to enjoy the journey.

Seems like I have done that.  In my spiritual life.  So eager to get that Bible chapter read that I fail to grasp the detail of the message.  Too eager to say what I need to say to hear that need someone else is expressing.  Feeling too much pressure to conform to the rules to allow my heart to be free to experience God’s most amazing creation—Grace.  Tooting my own horn.  Passing people by as I hurry to my next project or plan.  In too much of a hurry to get to the next stage in my life to enjoy the stage I’m in.

Can you relate?

I need to slow down and open my eyes.  I need to see the world around me.  The good.  And, the not so good.  If God notices the sparrow falling to the ground, maybe I should notice their beauty as they flitter around.  If God clothes the grass of the field with flowers, maybe I could give a shirt to someone in need.  And not worry about what it will cost me.  (See Matthew 6:25-34)  If Christ can carry the burden of my sin on the cross, perhaps I can carry the burden of someone’s pain long enough to give their spirit a boost.  (See Galatians 6:2)  If God gives me living water, the least I could do is share it with my neighbor.  (See John 4:9-10)  And, even more basic…if someone is hungry…I could give them something to eat.  If they are thirsty, I could give them something to drink.  I can be someone who meets needs.  (See Matthew 25:34-36)

Can you see the cute ground squirrel?
God has set us on a great journey.  Our destination is life eternal in a place that is so magnificent that we can only grasp the edges of its wonder.  But, as we drive down the roads of our lives, striving for that final goal, let’s not forget that God has placed important stops along the way.  Things He wants us to see.  Things He wants us to do.  People we need to help.

I heard Monte Cox share in a sermon last week:  “God is looking for people who are looking for people who are looking for Him.”

Let’s do it….you…and me….Let’s open our eyes to the wonders of God working around us.  And, let’s not skim past the adventures He has placed in our paths.  Let's not be so self-consumed that we fail to stop and smell the bison; experiencing the day to day wonders of the journey that God has presented to us. Let's look for God looking for us, and then look around for those who are looking for Him. 

This guy kept getting between me and the elk I wanted to photograph, so finally I just took his picture.  An illustration that sometimes, it is unexpected people who need to draw our attention.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More than Words by Joey Kincheloe

More Than Words

Her Facebook post, her plea, broke my heart. At least the first part of it did. Then it annoyed me the further I read. This is what it said (I did not get her permission to quote her so I am paraphrasing):

It’s about time that I had some caring people in my life. I mean I didn’t know that kindness, especially from the people that are supposed to love you, would be such a big thing to ask for. I’m fed up with the hatred. I don’t deserve it. I’m done with it.  
Oh, and the first person that says I should go to church or find God, blah blah blah, is getting deleted from my friends list.

This was from a friend of mine from high school. She was a very sweet girl that had a very rough home life and who made some choices that led her to some difficult places in life. She struggled with a teenage pregnancy that really stemmed from a complete lack of love in her life. Searching for love and acceptance that she did not get from home led her to some places that she regrets deeply. The sad thing is, it does not seem as though she has ever found it since she left her home.
I can tell you what she did find. She found a whole bunch of friends, family members, and former church acquaintances that told her to go to church. They told her that God loved her. They told her that she was searching for love in all the wrong places. The problem was, after saying these true statements to her, they left her to fend for herself in a dark, lonely world. These people of faith said the right things, but then abandoned her. They said, “God is the only way to really find what you are searching for” and “That hole in your heart that you’re trying to fill…that’s a God-shaped hole and it can only be filled with God.” 
But they did not live it. 
The folks around this sweet child of God gave her the information but failed to give her hope. And that is why I was annoyed at the second part of her post. God has been given a bad name to her because the people of God failed to act like they should. Her saying that she did not want to hear about God is not because she doesn’t know God is love (in theory), rather it is her communicating that she is tired of the empty words. The beginning of the post proves that. She needs the action that come with the words. 
This very same girl contacted me recently and asked me specifically to pray for her. She knows that God is love. Unfortunately, from her experience, she also knows that many of the people of God do not love her enough to do something loving for her. Shame on us.
We are called to give hope to the hopeless. We are called to give more than words.
Matthew 8-9 shows Jesus going out and giving hope to the world around Him. Just read through the headings of the two chapters and you’ll see him offering hope to those that are hopeless. From touching the quarantined sick (and of course healing them), telling a storm to hush for some frightened followers, pulling a lame man off his mat and giving him the chance to dance, to yanking a girl from death’s grip, Jesus handed out hope. Then he looked at his disciples and said (paraphrase again), “Hey, its your turn. Get out there and do the same.”

When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  Matthew 9:36-38

Then Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach and heal and generally give hope to a world of people that are hopeless. He gave them a job. The job of showing, not just saying, the love of God to the hurting and lost.
More than words. Words are good and words are powerful. But action…action gives those words even more power and goodness. 

What good is it my brothers if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  James 2:14
More than words.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Health Ministry Newsletter-October 2014 Breast Cancer Awareness by Lisa Fleetwood

October is national breast cancer awareness month. Do you know someone who has had breast cancer? Chances are, you do. Breast cancer affects one in every eight women and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Each year over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed and 40,000 will die. Did you know that breast cancer can occur in men as well? It is rare, but an estimated 2150 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year .

Here are the fast facts….
About 1 in 8 U.S. women (just over 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 64,640 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

About 39,620 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2013 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989 — with larger decreases in women under 50.

For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women. However, in women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women.


The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A mass that is painless, hard,
and has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or
rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass or
lump, or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast

Other possible signs of breast cancer include:

· Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
· Skin irritation or dimpling
· Breast or nipple pain
· Nipple retraction (turning inward)
· Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
· A nipple discharge other than breast milk

Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
Contact your physician to schedule a mammography screening today.
Need assistance? Many facilities offer discounted mammograms. Check out the Indiana
mammogram facility guide to find a location near you.

Little Red Door of Indianapolis offers mobile screenings. Call (317) 925-5595 to pre-register and
qualify for the mobile.

The Good News!
Recent years have brought an explosion of treatment options for breast cancer. Instead of just one
or two options, researchers have developed a vast array of treatment choices that include targeted
therapies and complementary medicine. Certified Breast Cancer Navigators are now available to
guide patients seamlessly through their journey by providing education, resources, support, and
self-care skills. For more information or to speak with a navigator, call 317-355-4114.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Keep On Keeping On" by Frank Black


       On May 10, 1996, 17 people were preparing to make their final assault on the summit of Mt. Everest.  After all their lengthy preparation and expense, their goal was in sight.  The weather conditions were near perfect.  Beginning around midnight they began their final ascent.  GET TO THE SUMMIT !! (the top of the world), was their solitary cry and focus.

       Did they reach the summit?  Yes, they did.  Their goal had been reached.  But had it?  What have I left out?  What had many in the group forgotten? This is summed up in what one of their experienced leaders said, “The summit is really only the halfway point. Any impulse I might have felt toward self-congratulation was quickly extinguished by overwhelming apprehension about the long, dangerous descent that lay ahead.”  Another leader was more blunt about it by saying, “With enough determination, any idiot can get up this hill, ….. the trick is to get back down alive.”

       Perhaps you know this true story; but after reaching the summit, things drastically changed.  Through some delays, some errors in judgment, and an unexpected severe weather change; their descent began. With fatigue, oxygen deprivation, looming darkness, minus 70 degree wind chill, hurricane force winds, and zero visibility - disaster loomed.  In all, 9 people died on the descent – this included some of the hardiest climbers and previous conquerors of Everest. For these 9, was their goal achieved?  NO!  They didn’t successfully conquer Everest – which includes both the ASCENT AND THE DESCENT.

       Why am I reliving this story?  Because it’s a valuable lesson in life for all of us.  It’s about preparation, work, goal-setting, leadership, completion – which encompasses PERSEVERANCE / PERSISTENCE. Perseverance is about continuing; about “keep on keeping on” – whether you’re a student; a worker; on a sports team; dealing with aging; or all of us in our Christian lives. 

       So many things can get in the way of our persevering: fatigue; boredom; unexpected obstacles or detours; influence of others; health or aging processes; stagnation or inertia (slowness of process –
“nothing seems to be happening”); anticlimactic (like descending the mountain); etc. Our God who made us knows all this about us. That’s why there are many Bible passages dealing with “perseverance”.
·         Hebrews 10:35-6 – “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
·         Colossians 1:11 – “Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that you may have great endurance (perseverance) and patience……..”
·         Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

We need to persevere in many areas of life but none more important than our Christian journey!  Just like the other promises from God, claim the one for PERSEVERANCE. Pray to receive this.  This goes for us of all ages.  An especially critical time is for those of you between 18 and 25 – when you finish High School and may be on your own for the first time.  Now you must decide for yourself.  It’s a time when you listen, think, study, explore; BUT sincerely pray for our God to direct  you during your quest.  Another important time is when the aging process intervenes (perhaps 40’s and older).  You may feel stagnant with life – and your religion.  Now it’s time for you to pray for perseverance; to follow others who are persevering well; to read and study more in order to learn; to get more involved (even if you have to force yourself) – all these and more in order to stimulate your mind and your activity.

You know I like quotes, so I’ll conclude with a few:
·         “God sometimes moves mountains one pebble at a time.”
·         “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins ……..not through strength, but through perseverance.”
·         “May God grant you the wisdom to discover the right, the will to choose it, and the strength to persevere.”

                                                      F. Black – Oct. 13, 2014