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.