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.