Monday, March 24, 2003

It's March. And this is Indiana...

A "maddening" pace is going on here in Indy -- it's been a whirlwind March so far, going by too fast to even blog about it at the speed of light. And with the war going on, there's way too much to begin to cover everything here. So here's a 'quick lap' of recent people & events here in Indy of significance in my life this month. But first, let me say that I'm thankful we have a God who is not surprised by unsettling news re the war. [Btw, at we're encouraging folks to follow the link to a prayer-site for our soldiers, and to add the names of their loved ones who have put their lives at risk, for the sake of freedom.] God Almighty cares enough that He humbled himself to come and be crucified at the hands of sinful people like ourselves, that He might bring eternal peace to those who would but accept His sacrifice on their behalf and make Him Lord of their lives. So indeed, though we cannot understand it all, we at least know that He cares deeply about all this, and about all mankind.

Early in the month, Jan & I celebrated our 31st anniversary together. Anyone who knows me very well, knows there must be an awesome Creator who made a patient saint like her. To be sure, I do not deserve her... but love her more every passing day.

I met with the accountability group whom I've been with for several years now. What a collection of leaders (they are). I'm awed to even be associated with them... thanks to Eldon Kibbey, CBMC-Indiana director. Also was able to attend the "Transform Indiana" initiative planning group meeting again this month... this time at the Unleavened Bread Cafe. It's gathering steam, as some of the"driven Christians in the Racing Capital of the World" are forcing themselves outside the box, and quizzing... "What can be better accomplished TOGETHER, than separately here in the Greater Indianapolis sector of the kingdom?" Also spent considerable time this month with the neat collection of God's people at Crossroads Bible College. Attended church at River Oaks Community Church, as always... but they're now getting their evangelism-focused people together... so now they're getting increasingly "dangerous". This reminds me... I met with my good friend Mike Wildey -- and now that we're encountering Spring temperatures here in Indianapolis, it's time for us to head back out on the Monon Trail, to again start gathering some "spiritual temperatures"... using EE questionaires. Anyone interesting in going along sometime, just let us know. Met with my mentor, Henry Date... a godly man in every respect (except who he hangs out with **LOL**). I've been fortunate enough to be around some godly peers as well, at the Urban Collaborative Center. Thanks to some great Christian techs in our area, we've now been able to open the doors on Saturday mornings, to help urban folks with computer/internet stuff... and more importantly, form multicultural friendships because of Jesus' model of reconciling love & justice. One of the 'co-conspirators' there -- Marvin Gainer -- also made it possible for me to tag along with him, to go hear Dr. John Perkins speak this past week in Indy. [Years ago, Marvin had spent a summer in Mississippi with Dr. Perkins. What a blessing to get to be around Marvin here in Indy on a weekly basis.] As always... Dr. Perkins was awesome. Thank you, Don Palmer, for all you're doing to build Christian leaders in our community.. and bringing us such men as Dr. Perkins. Met some neat Christians while there -- I can't begin to name them all... but stay tuned... undoubtedly we'll get to each of them in the coming weeks/months of this 'behind the scenes' log at . And thanks to Russ Pulliam, associate editor of the Indianapolis Star, the rest of Indianapolis was also able to read about Dr. Perkins' reconciling message. Btw, I bought another couple of Dr. Perkins' books... but also one from Dolphus Weary -- head of Mission Mississippi. I was struck by his last chapter, called... "A Vision of a Transformed Life" (you can now see why it caught my attention), in which he referred to his wholistic approach to ministry using the phrase "this WEB of services" [emphasis added]. Bear in mind, that was written in 1993, before any of us had heard of the WWW. But doesn't this WWW now offer an increased capability for significant potential impact together? We'll see. Speaking of the Indianapolis Star... its editorial cartoonist, Gary Varvel, gave his testimony this past month here in Carmel. Where did we get all these Christians? And how is it, that they all share the same core message? Btw, Marvin & I were asked to do a WISH-TV interview called "Religion in the News". While the message of the Christian Collaboration Network is well worth taking the risks on-camera of "hoof in mouth disease", we took some consolation in the fact that it aired at 5am on a Sunday morning. LOL. Actually it turned out just fine, thanks to Marvin, and the host... Dave White. Hope we can do some win-win ministry together with Dave someday; he's a talented media productions guy here, making a difference for Christ. Let's see... what else? Oh yeah, a group of Wheaton College kids came to Indy on their tour, making it possible for some of us Wheaties to get together. And as a result, perhaps we're better connected now. This could have its effect next month when Wheaton alumnus Jasper Bacon (interesting audio clip, btw) comes to Indy for a breakfast event. I had the pleasure of talking with Jasper on the phone this morning. What a great ministry he has, in Canton, MS. Some of our Indy kids are headed his way for a missions trip real soon. Now, last but not least, sports fans -- this is Indiana, so we didn't fail to take advantage of it being "March Madness" time. And I'm not just speaking of the 5 Indiana teams that made it to the NCAA playoffs -- btw, keep your eye on this year's Cinderella team, the Butler Bulldogs. I'm also thankful to Jon Ware, a young Christian friend who took me with him to a Pacers game (great seats, Jon!), and get to see Mark Jackson return to Conseco Fieldhouse, even if only to play against us. But he got quite an ovation when he came onto the floor... especially since it was Indy Youth Explosion night there, and Mark's a long-time Christian favorite from his playing days with the Pacers. But now, getting to play with Karl Malone and John Stockton -- who could blame him for making the switch? Summing it all up so far... here's a 'Mark quote' from Christianity Today, in reference to his assists... "the greatest pass I ever made was when I gave it all to Jesus Christ." This reminds me of another local favorite bball guy, now running Indiana Basketball Academy here in Carmel... Tom Abernethy... whose decorative t-shirt caught my eye. It said on the front... "LIFE is... Jesus Christ". And on the back side it concluded... "Everything else is just basketball." Now there's a 'tall Christian' in my eyes, who gently loves and solidly impacts every young life that comes through his training academy.

All this is right here in Indy... so again I find myself reiterating King David's words... "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." [...or perhaps the Apostle Paul's... "In whatsoever STATE I am, I have learned to be content." **smile**]. It's March. And this is Indiana. Praise God.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Speaking Engagements Coming Up:

I would prefer to remain as "the man behind the curtain" and just stimulate & facilitate change through the cost-effective channel God has given to us in recent years -- the internet. But considering the importance of the mission at hand, a well-integrated life calls for us to frequently break out of our comfort zone and reach out to others in the way THEY wish to understand things. So we need to use every means in order to be effective and productive in the Kingdom of God. In this case... I need to be willing to talk in front of some groups occasionally.

So I've consented to give my testimony at an upcoming luncheon for businessmen here in downtown Indianapolis. And I may be doing a gig on (middle of the night -- thankfully **LOL**) tv soon. And then I'm looking forward to speaking with the statewide staff of Child Evangelism Fellowship next month. May God give me special graces to do these, in a way that would honor Him (in spite of ME).

In preparation for these, I've now built my bio (online of course).

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Prayer Tomorrow:

An appeal is being made around the world to specially take advantage of the unique date, 03/03/03, to pray in concert with one another at 3:33pm (in whatever time zone).

The World Prayer Center certainly welcomes anyone to log-in there and submit your prayers. But a further idea occurs to me... What if some of us went to a common chatroom from 3:00pm -- 3:59pm and prayed online TOGETHER.... time-zone, to time-zone, to time-zone. And people could come join in at any time, even.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

How we change -- often through adversity & diversity (Part II):
Ultimate adversity -- martyrdom... tends to validate one's purpose. Eg., dying for attesting to the truths they'd written about Christ, the martyred apostles added credibility to their message. Conversely, Chuck Colson speaks of the inability of Watergate conspirators to hold their lie together for even 2 weeks when under fire. Compared to the martydom of saints... it made the compelling argument, he said, for the TRUTH of God's word -- and thus the basis for his conversion in a jail cell.

At age 5, Steve Saint lost his father -- martyred jungle-pilot Nate Saint. Steve and other family members of the 5 missionaries killed in that attack, later went in to live among AND LOVE that tribe. Last week, Steve gave his testimony recently in front of our govenor and those gathered at the Indiana Leadership Prayer Breakfast. Further, a compelling new (secular) documentary film called "Beyond the Gates of Splendor" -- about the transformation of that tribe -- is now starting to make the rounds to the various film festivals. Jan & I were fortunate enough to have gone to see it at the Heartland Film Festival here in Indy. It was indeed moving. Adversity (Martyrdom, in this case) and Diversity (extremely different cultures being reconciled in the pattern of Christ's love).... makes a powerful case for the Gospel.

Many books & articles have been written, and stories told... to the ends of the earth... about this famous group of modern-day martyrs. In one such article, Christianity Today succinctly captured the question which plagued the murdering 'Aucas', and the answer which transformed their lives & community into what they are now, called 'Hourani':

"They had to know the answer: why would the cowodi [white men] let themselves be killed rather than kill, as any normal Huaorani would have done? This question dogged Gikita until he heard the full story of why the men wanted to make contact and about another man, Jesus, who freely allowed his own death to benefit all people."

Steve went further, imbedding a vivid picture indelibly in our minds & hearts.... Although the missionaries had guns with them (for protection against wild animals), yet one of the Americans simply bear-hugged an Auca in an effort to try to stop further killing... and was himself killed from behind.

The warriors later asked, "Why did he wrap his arms around the smaller warrior, when he could have killed him?"

We could only hope to be so obvious with our love for people NOT like ourselves.

[Btw, any other day, I'd make a pitch for the value of "technology" when combined with reconciling Christ-like love -- but Steve's pictures say it all.]

Application: In my life, how can I apply these lessons of adversity & intentional diversity? Hmmm. As we start-up our "Urban Tech Center" here in Indy, may we be able to apply the principles of faith, expressing itself through sacrificial love, and by being intentional about 'crossing great divides' among people not like ourselves.