Friday, July 27, 2007

A Life Changing Event

I am still overwhelmed with what took place at Ridge Church on July 12th! Never in my wildest dreams did I think that we would get the response that we got. Especially since many of us are on the verge of Ridge Church meal burn-out. July has to be the craziest month of the year with our 3rd of July party, the float in the parade on the 4th , the corn crib for the youth at the Jazz and Blues Festival, and then, of course, Vacation Bible School. Working in one more thing seemed not only overwhelming, but impossible.

Back in June, shortly after Tim Lukoshus headed up to Mayo’s to battle his cancer, one of his friends, Chris Bakker came by to ask for my help. He said that Tim’s friends wanted to do something to show their support, and to help Tim out. Chris asked about a pancake breakfast, and I suggested, why don’t we try a spaghetti dinner. Chris, Nicco and Nick took off running with the idea. They secured donations from Zuni’s House of Pizza in Dyer, The Olive Garden in both Lansing and Merrillville, as well as a huge donation from Giovanni’s right here in Munster. They lined up the football team to help, and friends and parents, and together, along with a number of people from Ridge Church, (especially Nancy Caddick, Beth Kitchell, Jack Conley and Chuck Horton) they did the impossible!

Our best estimate is that we feed about 1,400 people (an average fish fry has been around 250 people), and more than that we received donations so that the total amount raised for the Lukoshus family was close to $16,000.

Tim is home right now, and came by the church on Thursday. He looks great and is doing well. On August 20th, he will head back up to Mayo’s to have surgery on the 22nd. This is going to be a BIG surgery, so keep him in your prayers as they seek to remove all of the cancer from his knee. Following the surgery, Tim will go through an extensive period of rehabilitation.

While Tim was at the church, he visited with Julie Crary’s V.B.S. class. They had been praying for Tim every day and writing him notes. What a treat it was for the class to meet Tim, and for Tim to meet them.

To be honest with you — July 12th was a life changing event. Everyone who was involved witnessed firsthand a miracle and was changed by it. The Lukoshus family too, was changed by your love and generosity.

One of the Bible passages that came to mean a great deal to me following the death of my brother Stewart is Psalm 81:16: “With honey from the rock, I would satisfy you.” I came to understand that God does not cause the hard places in life, but that, if I am willing, I can experience, ‘honey” — good things — from those hard places. God did not give Tim cancer, but because we refused to let the rock crush us, we found “honey” in the midst of the rocks. When I came to see the “honey” that came out of Stewart’s life and death — I was a new being, and had a new and healthier perspective on life. After WE experienced that “honey” on July 12th, I know that Ridge Church will never be the same — and for that I give God thanks!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

More Reading

I just finished a couple more books that I thought I would share with you.

The first was a novel much like The DaVinci Code. Steve Berry's The Alexandria Link is about the quest to find the lost library of Alexandria. The reason why it is so important to find the library is that it will prove that the basis of Judaism and Christianity is all wrong. The Jewish people never were settled in Palestine but in Saudi Arabia. It is a little far fetched, but it was an exciting past passed mystery nevertheless. I would highly recommend it Just don't see it as history.

The second book is very different. Malcom Galdwell's The Tipping Point. I had read this book a couple of years ago, and decided to read it again. It is an attempt to explain why certain things/events succeed and others do not. From Galwell's website he defines the book as:
It's a book about change. In particular, it's a book that presents a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. For example, why did crime drop so dramatically in New York City in the mid-1990's? How does a novel written by an unknown author end up as national bestseller? Why do teens smoke in greater and greater numbers, when every single person in the country knows that cigarettes kill? Why is word-of-mouth so powerful? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? I think the answer to all those questions is the same. It's that ideas and behavior and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease. They are social epidemics. The Tipping Point is an examination of the social epidemics that surround us.
He does a great job explaining how and why things "tip". But the practical application becomes very difficult.

I think the one thing that I gleaned from this reading of the book relates to why new churches grow large and established churches have such a hard time changing. But that is a discussion for another day. Overall, I would suggest this book. If you do choose to read it, their is an excellent study guide on

Pay It Forward

Last Wednesday I had the privilege of attending the annual dinner of the Jim and Betty Dye foundation. This foundation is set up to award college scholarships to students who live in many of the communities of Northwest Indiana.

The James W. and Betty Dye Foundation was established to provide tuition scholarships for qualified high school graduates at selected high schools in Northwest Indiana. Jim and Betty Dye Scholarships are awarded to high school seniors to recognize academic achievement, demonstrated leadership and future potential. The awards are for students selected to attend Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana University Northwest, Purdue University West Lafayette or Purdue University Calumet. In addition, degree specific scholarships for Nursing, Teaching and Entrepreneurship are available for Ball State University Muncie.

Of special interest to the James W. and Betty Dye Foundation is the economic development and general welfare of Northwest Indiana. The Foundation believes a better educated population will enhance the quality of life for all its citizens. Some of the ideals of the Foundation will be realized if those who benefited from the Jim and Betty Dye Scholarship program live and work in Northwest Indiana following graduation from college. While not a specific criteria for receiving a scholarship, the Foundation would like to know the interest each candidate has in this regard.

What fascinated me was the students who had received a scholarship 5-8 years ago, now were out of college and wanted to pay back the gift that they had received. Not pay it back in the sense of paying back to the scholarship fund their gifts, no, paying it back by making a contribution to the communities that they were now working and living in.

I am excited that I have been invited to participate on the foundation. I am looking forward to watching these young people grow and become generous people, because of the gift that they have received.

If you would like more information about the Jim and Betty Dye Scholarship, go to:, or drop me a note, I would love to tell you more about it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dinner For Tim

Last night Ridge Church hosted a dinner for Tim Lukoshus, a 19 year old, who is battling cancer. The dinner was organized by some of Tim's friends --- particularly Chris, Niko and Nick. And we could not have done it without Munster High Football Coach Leroy Marsh and Jamie his wife nor Munster High Baseball Coach Bob Shinkin and his wife. Nancy Caddick and Beth Kitchell were unbelievable, and Chuck Horton is the best!

We really have no idea how many we served, but we guess somewhere around 1,400. Our best guess before we started was that we might, at the top have 700. If I thought that we would double our best guess --- I really would have gone crazy yesterday!!!

I cannot say enough about the generosity of people in this community. Olive Garden Restaurants in Cal City and Hobart donated enough food to feed 240. Zuni's in Dyer gave gallons of sauce and Giovanni's in Munster was unbelievable. Initially the gave 5 gallons of sauce and noodles, but twice during the evening when we ran out, the came through with sauce, and noodles. When they ran out of spaghetti noodles they then gave us fettuccine. WOW is all I can say.

Thanks to everyone who helped --- who worked (I did more dishes last night than I think I have done in my life!), who donated desserts, bought tickets, made a donation etc. You did a great thing!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

What kind of God do you believe in?

I am always fascinated in how we as Christians understand God. I came across this sign the other day. At a first glance it is nothing but cute. But think about what this says.

The thing that gets me, is the implication that what we need in a god is one who is a life guard --- and what is a life guards job? To keep us safe. And our life guard is better than anybody else's life guard because our life guard isn't constricted to the natural laws that the rest of us have to live with. This life guard doesn't swim to save you from drowning, this life guard is so good that it can walk right out to you.

Again -- at first glance there is nothing wrong with it.
BUT, and you know me, there is always a but, what about those people who believe, but are still drowning? Still being ravished by cancer? Is this god fickle? Does this god like some people but not others?

As long as things are going smooth, this type of god makes lots of sense. But what if things aren't so smooth, and don't seem to be getting better. This type of god becomes nothing more than a pie in the sky, an unrealistic hope.

The BIG QUESTION is who is God and how does God operate in the world? Is God a rescuer? Is God a life guard? Or is God something else, and if something else, how in the world do we articulate that?

I believe that we as Christians need to develop a faith that is consistent. A faith that has integrity. It is a huge challenge, because to do that, we have to seriously examine much of the baggage we have about God.

Wish I had the answers, I just know, that God doesn't work the way that the sign suggests and it is time we start wrestling with how God really works in the world.