Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Painful Lesson by Chris Kirby

A Painful Lesson by Chris Kirby
*Photos courtesy of Claire Stanton

Several weeks ago the Youthreach had a retreat to Gatlinburg, TN. Last year, it was dreary, cold, and snowy while we were there. This year it was completely opposite! We had sunny, warm weather that made for a real treat after the winter we’ve suffered through. Also, it allowed us to incorporate a hike in the Smokies into our trip. The theme in the youth ministry this year is “Step by Step” and is focused on growing in our faith and living out a life of worship every day in our journey of faith. We used the retreat as an opportunity to develop this concept. We had a speaker share what it means to make everyday decisions based on faith and what that means when it comes to growing in faith, loving our neighbors, and worshiping God on a daily basis.

This leads us to our hike at “Chimney Tops” in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. In addition to giving us a chance to experience the magnificence of nature in a truly unique way from Central Indiana, it gave us an exercise in connecting the metaphor of a physical hike to what it means to be on a spiritual journey with Christ. And boy, did it connect with me! Especially the next day… We hiked on Saturday afternoon. It was a gorgeous afternoon with tons of sunshine. There was just a little nip in the shadows created as the sun hid behind the mountains, but nothing that hindered it from being a really busy day in the park for late winter. If you’ve never hiked Chimney Tops, which is one of the more popular trails in the Smokies, don’t be fooled by the moderate rating. Unless you are someone who is young or in good hiking shape, the climb can really be exhausting, especially the second half when you are going up the equivalent of a flight of stairs for several hundred feet.

The team that made the Chimney Tops peak!
There was a portion of our group that flagged out. They went back to the vans and waited. But, more than half the kids and myself went to the top. I was a little slower getting there, but I made it. Then, we had to turn around and come down. Have you ever had to hike down a steep mountain right after you went up? My thighs were screaming at me. An old football injury in my left knee was reminding me that I was no longer young, while the opposite ankle informed me that I hadn’t fully recovered from the sprain I suffered about 10 years ago and should have worn my boots. But, I made it! And, it was worth it. The views were amazing, seeing our teens excited about a unique experience was great, and knowing that I had outlasted all our other adults gave me a little room to gloat (though I never would). I felt accomplished and all those little aches and pains went away pretty quickly when we returned to the trailhead.

Then Sunday morning came. I rolled out of bed and waddled to the breakfast room. My thighs were so tight. But, they loosened a little. My ankle was in pain, but it was survivable with some ibuprofen. We had worship and then loaded the vans to set off for a land where we wouldn’t have to worry about climbing mountains, Indianapolis. Each time we stopped, I’d have to stretch out my legs and back a little, but I survived the trip OK. Then Monday came. My legs hurt worse than they had on Sunday! Riding all day Sunday had really tightened them up. I contemplated installing an elevator at the house because the steps brought back such bad memories of walking straight up for so long on Saturday. Tuesday was still bad. I walked like I had a cast on both legs. However, gradually the stiffness faded and I returned to normal, but it was definitely a week that taught me something about my spiritual journey- PREPARE!

You see, the day before we left for the trip I told Jill we were hiking Chimney Tops. She gave me the wife look. When I probed, she laughed and said that I wouldn’t be able to make it. I said, “Well, the hiking website said it was moderate. I don’t think we’ll have any issues”.  Jill grew up about an hour from the Smokies. When she was 12 years old her family set a goal to hike Chimney Tops one Saturday. So, they went out for a few weeks leading up to the hike and walked the hills in her neighborhood. Each week they’d add a little distance and got their legs, backs, hearts, lungs and minds ready to go hike a steep trail. She still complained every step of the way on the trail! I laughed her off a bit. After all, I grew up in the mountains. My football team used to run “hills” (with full equipment) on Tuesdays for conditioning. My friends and I would hike the mountain behind our house without even thinking about it. My lungs were conditioned to higher elevations since I lived there. One 2-mile moderate trail didn’t seem threatening to me. Here’s the thing. It’s been a long time since I lived in mountains. My lungs aren’t conditioned to elevation any longer. I haven’t thought about running up a hill, much less in football equipment, in a long, long time. That mountain that my house in Murphy sits on is still there, but I haven’t been there to hike it in several years. Jill had the last laugh.

I wonder in what ways I’m ill-prepared for in my spiritual journey. What parts of my life need to be more fully turned over to God so I am ready to go where he leads? Am I practicing things like loving my neighbors so fully that Jesus has full reign of my heart? Do I take time to know the Word of God so that my mind is engaged and prepared for challenging questions in a culture seeking Truth? Do I find peace in my soul by communicating genuinely with God through prayer and listening? I hope that my daily life could best be summed up by Romans 12:1-2. I hope that each day I am striving to worship God by allowing Him to transform me one piece at a time and more fully appreciating what it means to lead a life relying on his grace! How about you, do you have something that you need to better prepare for on your journey of faith?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Probably Not a Coincidence by Greg York

Probably Not a Coincidence                                                                      

The last two Sundays have been great days for us as a church—a chance to reflect on and celebrate our past two Sundays ago and then remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection last Sunday.
I think we’ve been blessed to have those two weeks back-to-back.

The two weeks got me to thinking about our life as an outpost of the kingdom (probably a good thing) and I thought I might share some of those thoughts with you (probably a dangerous thing). Anyway, here are some lessons I’ve garnered from the last two Sundays, taken together…

1. Being missional is in our DNA.
Did you notice how many other churches our predecessors in Irvington planted?
I may be reading it all wrong, but it appeared that when they reached the bursting point at the Layman Avenue building, the impulse was to start up a new church, sending out members to do something new someplace else.

The move to this location on Southeastern Avenue was motivated at least in part by the desire to use the grounds for children’s homes. You could argue that also was a missional move.

That’s a great legacy.

2. Our story as a church is bigger than any of our individual stories.
Maybe it was just the way we told the story, or maybe it’s just that reality was being reflected. Whatever the case, did you notice as we reviewed our history that there did not seem to have been a time when this church was “preacher so-and-so’s church” or “elder so-and-so’s church”? Clearly there have been strong and influential personalities over the years, but the story of this church is bigger than any human personality. And that is as it should be. A church is not about self-promotion, but about God-promotion.

That, too, is a great legacy.

3. That said, there were some things that, as I reflected, raised flags of concern for me.
Clearly, our “growth trend” has been downward for a number of years. There are reasons behind that which are beyond our control (people moving to a new job somewhere else, for instance). But there are reasons behind that downward trend that maybe we can do something about (and we’ll be talking about some of those in coming weeks in some sermons).

We seem to be caught up with much of our culture in what one person has called the “tyranny of convenience.” I hear a lot of times that this or that activity or opportunity or spiritual discipline is “just not convenient.” I’m sure I’ve used that line myself. And we use it like it’s a trump card—nothing beats it. “It’s just not convenient – it doesn’t fit my schedule.” End of discussion. “It’s just not convenient – it might cost me (or us) time/money/effort.” End of discussion.
But life—especially a life that is spiritually growing—is not always about convenience.

Relationships in which we display love for neighbor may not always be convenient. Representing God and his purposes in a broken world will not always be convenient.

And almost in contrast to such relationships and representation, we are tempted to want the church to do things for us – “ministries,” we’ll call them – that make my life convenient.

That stands in such contrast to the concept of “witness” we talked about in last week’s sermon. To witness is to stake one’s life on the truth found in Christ. To witness will always require vulnerability and risk. It requires of us a commitment that goes beyond the “convenient.”

I had to wonder—have we lost our focus? Have we become distracted from the point of our existence? Do we see ourselves as a company of the committed (to borrow Elton Trueblood’s phrase) or as consumers of convenience? Do we exist to embody the mission of God or do we exist for the sake of existing?

4. And that takes us back to last Sunday: Let’s say we have lost our focus as a church, just for the sake of argument. Let’s say we are a little too focused on ourselves and a little too concerned about meeting our own needs and “having it our way.” Just for the sake of argument. Last Sunday, we were reminded that God is in the business of resurrection and renewal.
What that means is that with God’s help, our future is full of hope. God can raise a dead body to life. And we’re not dead, by a long shot. God can take dry bones and make them live. And I don’t think we’re dry bones. And we’ve got mission in the DNA of those bones.

It’s most assuredly not a matter of “let’s just go back to doing things like they did them in 1964 (or whatever “golden era” you wish to choose).”

Times have changed. Life is lived differently. We are now definitely in an era in which connecting people to the good news of Christ is challenging in ways that could not be imagined just a few years ago. And yet the opportunities may never have been greater. Just as genuine trust in Christ made headway as it was lived out and talked about in the pluralistic world of the church at first, so genuine trust in Christ can make headway as we live it out and talk about it in our pluralistic world.

But here’s the question:
Are we willing to lay everything we are and do on the table and ask God to blow his Spirit over us to show us what we need to be doing and how we need to be doing it to bring him glory? Are we willing to evaluate everything we are and do as a church by whether it serves the mission of God in this world? Are we willing to say to God –and listen for an answer – “God, we’re proud of all this church has done and is doing to serve your purposes in the past, but please show us how you want us to serve your mission as we move into the future”?

Are we willing to pray a dangerous prayer for God’s resurrection power to renew this church for his mission in every passing generation?

What might happen if that became our prayer for the next year? For the rest of our lives?

I really don’t believe it is a coincidence that those two special Sundays came back-to-back. Their proximity to each other may contain a message from God. Are we listening? Are we willing to listen? For the sake of the kingdom, for the sake of the world, let us listen.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Health Ministry April Newsletter by Lisa Fleetwood

Partnering With Your Doctor
Have you been frustrated with your medical provider? Do they seem to understand your concerns and really listen to your needs? It is easy to place the entire burden of your health and wellness on your physician but should he or she really shoulder this immense responsibility alone? How might you improve your health outcomes by partnering with your health care team?

To start, we must consider our bodies.

Psalm 139:13-16
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a] Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

David praises God for the care he took in making his body. He recognized the complexities of his being. He even asks in verse 23 for God to examine his heart and to find ways he can improve himself to please God more. David took a close look at his body and was in awe. When was the last time you took a close look at your body?

Improving your physical awareness will assist your doctor as he is making decisions related to your medical care. Advocating for yourself begins with understanding yourself. What are your expectations for the visit? What is your chief complaint? Take the time to become more attuned to your physical being. Learn what is “normal” and what is not and communicate openly with your health care providers about issues of concern.

Matthew 8:17 (ESV)                                                                                                                                                     
This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Getting the Most Out of the Visit
Before your appointment:
·         When making the appointment, either by phone or online, provide a few details about your concern so that a proper length of time can be scheduled.
·         If it is your first visit to a particular clinic or physician, be ready to provide information about diseases that run in your family and describe current and past health problems and treatments. Write it all down if that helps and bring past medical records, test results, and your immunization records.

·         Make a list of the medications you are taking (or bring in the bottles) including the doses and frequency of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as herbs, supplements and vitamins.
·         Find a friend or relative to accompany you to your visit. A lot of information may be presented at a doctor’s visit, it may helpful to bring a friend or relative to help you write things down, share medical information, and talk with the health care team.

During Your Appointment:
·         Share your symptoms, relevant health history, and the list of medications that you take.
·         Don't forget about your emotional health; it influences your physical health.
·         Your health is worth the physician’s time. Repeat what the doctor has told you to be sure you understand and ask for clarification if needed.
·         Try to reach an agreement about the recommended treatment plan.

Before Leaving Your Appointment:
·         Find out if and when you should return for another visit and clarify any next steps. Schedule a follow-up appointment if necessary.
·         Ask if you need to watch for certain warning signs for your condition, ask when you should be concerned and at what point you need to call in.
·         If you received a new prescription, make sure you ask questions about how it should be taken and potential side effects.
·         Ask how to reach the doctor if you have questions or concerns – by email? By phone? What hours are best? How soon can you expect a response?
·         Don't leave if you're uncertain about your diagnosis or treatment plan.

*Source: Center for Advancing Health

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Our Brief History-The Really Early Days by Terry J. Gardner

A Brief History of the East Side / Irvington / Southeastern Church of Christ
The Really Early Days (1924-1963)
By Terry J. Gardner
On 10 April 1924 the East Side Church of Christ had its first meeting with 15 members in a rented room on East Washington Street. Many of those who began with the new congregation were transplanted southerners.  Elders were appointed almost at once and they were J. C. Hazel, E. E. Ward, W. F. Money and A. L. Russel.  The Elders and others with ability did the teaching and preaching. Occasionally a traveling evangelist would visit East Side and he would be invited to preach.  The first known occasion of this occurring was William Ellmore who visited Indianapolis in July of 1924.  J. W. Vandivier filed this news report:
The writer was with the East Side congregation July 27, and heard a splendid sermon by Bro. Wm. Ellmore, of Covington, Ind.  Had a good basket dinner in the park and got a good drenching.  We were all “strictly in it.”  After dinner all broke for home, but got caught in another rain on the way.  Everybody [was] happy however.  Bro. Ellmore spoke again in the evening.
The new congregation met on East Washington Street, between Grant and Chester.  The first fifteen members were William Money, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Money, Ivy L. Elmore, Rue Elmore, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest E. Krutsinger, Austin Russell, J. C. Hazel, Beatress Hazel, Mollie Jared, Coye Moss, Fay Kranz, Lora Moss and the mother of Coye, Faye and Lora.
East Side enjoyed a slow but steady growth.  On 15 August 1925 the band of disciples moved to the Red Men’s Hall located at 3851 East New York Street. The new location was easily accessible by bus and streetcar. The congregation continued to use “local talent” and an occasional traveling evangelist to teach, preach and edify.  In June of 1925 E. G. Creacy held a gospel meeting at East Side that resulted in “36 additions.” By 1929, just five years after its beginning the congregation numbered more than one hundred members.  The congregation also purchased a “splendid lot” to build their own meeting house.  Many southerners continued to move the Indianapolis in search of employment and East Side made it clear that they would “find a hearty welcome at our place!” “There is,” C. G. Vincent wrote, “no North or South, for Christianity knows no geographical lines.”
Clarence Guthrie Vincent was born 10 January 1881 in Oldham County, near Louisville, Kentucky.  John T. Hawkins, a Christian Church preacher, immersed eighteen-year-old Vincent into Christ in 1899. Vincent learned the printer’s trade in 1901 entered James A. Harding’s Potter Bible College in Bowling Green, Kentucky where he paid for education by hard labor.  Vincent spent five and a half years at Potter and then returned to Louisville where he “took two and a half years’ work in the Southern Baptist Seminary.” Vincent also studied “logic and hermeneutics under” M. C. Kurfees.
Clarence preached his first sermon in 1904 at Fountain Head, Tennessee.  Next, C. G. preached for the Cameron Avenue Church in Detroit, Michigan.  Vincent married Hannah Klingman (a sister to a number of well known preachers) and in November of 1911 they sailed for Japan where they remained for five years as missionaries.
During the First World War the Vincents spent eight months in welfare work among American soldiers in England and France.  C. G. Vincent then was a successful preacher with a number of local congregations including Thayer Street in Akron, Ohio (1926-1929).  It was from Akron that the Vincents moved to Indianapolis on May 29, 1929. C. G. Vincent’s first Sunday at East Side was June 2nd and he delivered three sermons to “large audiences,” in spite of the rain.  Vincent recorded this impression of the East Side Church writing, “The East Side congregation numbers about one hundred and thirty members, and we believe that they have a mind to work.”
Through the influence of C. G. Vincent, the former missionary to Japan, the East Side congregation began to develop an interest in missions.  On 28 July 1929 the East Side congregation hosted Herman J. Fox and his family.  Fox spoke at both morning and evening services and told of his eight years as a missionary to Japan.  The Fox family was about to return to Japan and the “East Side Church was glad to have fellowship with them and to assure them of [their] abiding interest and … prayers.” Vincent himself often gave his “illustrated lecture” on Japan to congregations in Indiana and Illinois. The purpose these lectures were to secure funding for the Japanese missionaries.
On 13 January 1930, C. G. Vincent looked back on 1929 as a year of “normal growth.” The goal for 1930 was “to do greater things” and Vincent wrote, “It is our aim to grow in grace, knowledge, usefulness, and numbers—in the fear of God and in favor with man.” As 1930 progressed East Side continued it steady growth.  In February Vincent wrote, “Three—two by baptism and one by letter.  The attendance and interest are good.”
From 5 May 1930 through 22 May 1930 a young Leslie G. Thomas preached the gospel at East Side.  Thomas, was the minister of the Lewisburg, Tennessee congregation and they supported him through the meeting. Thomas wrote of the meeting, “Charles W. Jack, of Crawfordsville, Ind., conducted the song service and I did the preaching.  At the request of that congregation, my home congregation sent me there, and Brother Jack freely gave of his time and talent.” C. G. Vincent wrote of the brethren in Lewisburg’s willingness to send Leslie Thomas to Indianapolis at their expense that indicated, “a fine and generous spirit” and that he was “very thankful” for this kindness.
Early in the life of the congregation they developed a sense of history.  On the second Sunday in April of 1930 special talks were given to review the past and to look toward the future.  This date was the sixth anniversary of the congregation’s foundation.  J. C. Hazel and Charles Dean gave talks on “The Past and Present.”  Russell S. King and C. G. Vincent spoke on “The Future Of Our Work.”
As 1930 turned into 1931 the effects of the Depression became severe.  On 3 February 1931 the elders and ministers met to discuss the safest banks into which to deposit the congregations funds.  At the time both the Building Fund and Current Fund were deposited in the Forty Second Street State Bank.  During the meeting it was agreed to transfer the Building Fund into either the Fletcher American or Indiana National Bank.
C. G. Vincent was another casualty of the Depression.  This notice appeared in the 1931 Gospel Advocate:
J. C. Hazel and E. E. Ward, elders of the East Street church of Christ, Indianapolis, Ind., commend Brother and Sister C. G. Vincent to any church in need of their services.  Brother Vincent has labored with the church in Indianapolis two years.  The church there is small and the business depression has made it impossible for them to adequately support a regular preacher.  For this reason Brother Vincent is available for work elsewhere.  He should be addressed at 24½ North Chester Avenue, Indianapolis, Ind.
Shortly after the departure of C. G. Vincent, Emmet G. Creacy of Horse Cave was called to Indianapolis for a Gospel Meeting in June of 1931. Creacy reported the results of his evangelistic efforts writing, “thirty-six responses—twenty-one baptized, eight restorations, and seven by statement.”  E. G. Creacy’s interest in the young congregation continued and through his influence a young Hugo McCord moved to Indianapolis on 18 March 1934 remaining until 22 November 1936 and doing a good work leading many to Christ including a young Earl Irvin West who at age 23 became the local preacher on 3 October 1943.  West would preach for the congregation for ten years.
In 1937 the congregation acquired their first permanent building located on Layman Avenue and the congregation soon changed its name from East Side to Irvington.  The first service at Layman Avenue was on 27 June 1937.  E. G. Creacy preached the first sermon and the same day took the confession and immersed Mr. & Mrs. Walter E. Henderson.  Among the preachers during our history at Irvington were J. E. Alexander (1938-40); C. G. Caldwell, Sr. (1940-43); Earl West (1943-1953); Cecil Willis (1953-1957); Paul V. Dobson (1957-1960); S. P. Lowry (1960-61); and John W. Smith (1962-1963).
Plans for growth and expansion led to our move to the current location where first service took place on 19 April 1964 with Bible School attendance of 286 and with 314 at the morning worship.  Today much will be shared about our history from 1964 until now.  May we reflect on the past but look by faith into the future.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shepherd Selection 2014-An Exercise in Spiritual Growth?

Selecting Shepherds in 2014: Can It Be an Exercise in Spiritual Growth?


The elders are using this week’s blog entry to address a matter of our congregational life together, maybe a bit of departure from our usual use of this space.


This is the year for what has become our biannual shepherd selection process. This year, Brian Potts’s and John Wright’s current terms are coming to a close, and should they desire to continue, their service will be brought up for reaffirmation.  Additionally, we would like to open up the opportunity for new elders to be appointed.


In 2004, we began using a system for shepherd selection that was predicated on a number of principles:


  • That the congregation as a whole should be involved in selecting its leaders (and would want to be involved);
  • That the congregation as a whole—prayerfully, having been reminded of the scriptural teachings on leadership among God’s people—was wise enough to see who among us is following in the steps of Jesus in a way that the rest of us want to follow him;
  • That God through his Spirit could and would superintend such a process as we bathed the process in prayer;
  • That being appointed an elder was not like being appointed to a Federal judgeship: no one was to serve longer than four years without the congregation prayerfully reaffirming that this is someone who is leading us in the steps of Jesus;
  • That through participating in the process, all members would be able to feel that our elders were not “the church’s” elders, but “our” elders.


We’re ten years down the line in using that procedure with a tweak or two here or there. Integral to the process is that the congregation is asked to nominate men deemed qualified to serve. Full participation by the church family is key to the success of the system.


One of the things that is concerning to the current elders is the perceived drop over the years in the number of people who participate in the nominating process:


In 2004, 102 people turned in nomination forms


In 2006, 91 people turned in nomination forms


In 2008, 85 people turned in nomination forms


In 2010, 65 people turned in nomination forms


No individuals received a sufficient number of nominations to be considered “called out” by the congregation to serve


In 2012, 88 people turned in nomination forms (although 25 of those checked the box that they did not see anyone in their prayerful deliberations that they wished to nominate)


Again, no individuals received a sufficient number of nominations to be considered “called out” by the congregation to serve


The concern is this: What does the drop in participation (and the accompanying reality that no individuals are receiving sizable numbers of nominations) mean? Does it represent a lack of faith in the procedure? Or, does it mean that the congregation is being very careful in its prayerful assessment of potential elders? Or, is it a sign of an even deeper issue, that we are so disconnected as a congregation that we really would not even be able know who is and who is not qualified to serve as an elder? Has the present process just become a popularity contest, a congregational equivalent to a class election?


This is a topic the elders are prayerfully discussing among themselves right now. In coming weeks, we will be proposing some changes to the current procedure in an effort to increase your participation and to better be able to identify those whom God has prepared to lead Southeastern. And in coming weeks, we will be looking for some input from you on how to make our shepherd selection process something that truly enhances the life of this church.


We ask you to carefully and prayerfully consider your personal responsibility and participation in the process. All members, from the youngest to the oldest are encouraged to invest themselves in the care and development of our church family.


If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to discuss it with any of your elders.