In 2009, Chad and Ashley Justice discovered that their unborn son, Eli, suffered from spina bifida. Their doctors advised abortion, but Chad and Ashley chose life for Eli. Many parents make this noble choice, but too many don't; upwards of 80 percent of mentally- or physically-challenged babies are aborted simply because their perceived value does not measure up to society's expectations.
In Business For Life finds Chad's story especially inspiring because of the initiative leadership that Chad takes in the decision-making process to save Eli. The New York Post article and the interview are both good to read and watch in their entirety, but pay attention especially to Chad's retelling of the temptations they faced at minute 4:15--which represent the temptations and fears that we all face when we resort to our own natural thinking--and his sudden realization that the Holy Spirit was calling them to love.
Easter reminds us of physical laws like birth, life and death as well as spiritual laws like resurrection. We ignore both laws at our peril.
By Brad Lindemann
Spring time anywhere is special, but this time 40 years ago, it barely felt different from the bitter winter. During the spring of 1975 on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington, I was heavy laden with academic pressures and post fraternity pledgeship depression. My relationship with my girlfriend found me exhausted and gasping for air by early April. I had all the spring air I could inhale, but I needed something more.
Then, I met Tom who showed up at my frat house during dinner one evening with an Olympic champion wrestler in tow. I can’t remember what he said that prompted me to join them in the living room after dinner, but I’ll never forget how he got my attention. He recalled a time during his college days when some of his friends started behaving rather strangely. Claiming to have found God, they stopped doing “typical college things” and started acting all religious.
Tom sensed that he needed more than a change in the weather, so when school let out for spring break, Tom jumped on his motorcycle, kissed his mother good-bye and set out for Colorado, hoping to clear his head. Something wasn’t right in his spirit and Tom had a growing sense that his friends may have found what it was. He said that he had not gone looking for God, but rather God seemed to be looking for him.
So, on a mountaintop in the Colorado Rockies, Tom looked up at the starlit sky and said, “God, if you’re real and if you want me to know you the way my friends do, then I’m all ears. If not, then please go away and leave me alone.”
God accepted that invitation, and Tom’s life changed so radically that upon graduation a few years later he joined a campus ministry organization called Campus Crusade for Christ. His first assignment was on the campus of Indiana University amongst the fraternities. After sharing his Rocky Mountain High story, Tom asked if anyone would like to meet one-on-one the following week and I quickly accepted the invitation. Maybe he would have some insight into my disquieted spirit. Maybe he could help me understand why I felt so empty while living a life that seemed so full.
When Tom and I met, I felt at ease and drawn to his dynamic personality. He quickly sized me up, and then eased into a conversation about spiritual things and introduced me to a small booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws as a guide. As he explained things in a way I’d never heard them before, I started to realize that I knew about God, but I didn’t really know Him.
The booklet starts out by saying, “Just as there are physical laws that govern the physical universe, so there are spiritual laws that govern our relationship with God.”
That eminently made sense. Laws like gravity and inertia exist and don’t ask my permission or seek my consent. It also made perfect sense that God’s spiritual laws would rule and exist completely independent of me.
Tom shared about sin, Jesus and my need for a reconciled relationship with God. The message that God loved me and wanted an intimate relationship was the news that my weary, worried soul needed to hear, and on April 13, 1975 in room 18 of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on North Jordan Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana, I prayed that God would forgive my sins and begin an intimate relationship with me.
Lightning didn’t flash and thunder didn’t boom, but my life was radically transformed in that moment. Though my circumstances hadn’t changed, my heart had. In a very powerful way that words can’t express, Immanuel—a type of nickname that the Bible records God giving himself, and means, “God With Us” was with me too. And, as promised, He’s never left me.
40 years later, I’ve doubted just about everything else at one time or another, but since that fateful spring day of my freshman year in college, I have never doubted the powerful presence of the Living God in my life. (Like my glasses, I’ve wondered where I last set down that powerful presence, so to speak, but the older I get, the more I learn that if I’m not feeling Him, it’s not because He has left me.)
Four decades later, spring air is once again warming the corn fields of Indiana as the church of Jesus Christ prepares to sing its annual Easter anthem, “Because He Lives.” For me, it’s my 40th annual reminder of how my need is so much more than spring air, so much more than earthly stuff. I need resurrected, spiritual life…life abundant. And, because He lives in me, that’s just what I have.
Indiana Right to Life is now accepting applications for the Thomas Marzen Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship established to assist Indiana students who exhibit leadership and involvement with pro-life activities to pursue college degrees. The scholarship is in the memory of Thomas Marzen, an Indiana attorney who devoted much of his life to protecting the disabled, the medically dependent and the unborn. Applications must be postmarked or emailed by May 1st. MORE INFORMATION.
Pro-life, pro-family rally set for Monday, 3/16/15 to encourage legislature to pass SB 101
Come join an important rally at the Statehouse on Monday, March 16, at 9 am in the North Atrium to show your support for the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Senate Bill 101), also known as the "Hobby Lobby" bill. This is important legislation needed to safeguard the rights of pro-life persons, businesses and ministries from being forced to support abortion. Please come to the rally and wear green to show your support.
Purdue Students for Life are telling their classmates: You Are Not Alone: Call on Me!
In Christ, I'm shamelessly rediscovering the joy of being shameless
Due to an unseasonably cold August, my wife began lamenting the coming of winter before summer had officially departed. Knowing neither of us could take another winter like the last one, I suggested to Elaine that we conduct a “working snowbird experiment.”
In a sense, the experiment would be poetic. We used to own a condo in Florida (see “Condo from Hell” post, coming soon) that we’d rent out to Canadian snowbirds and they demand bargain-basement prices from us. Time to turn the table.
So, I told Elaine if she could find something acceptable at the same price we used to rent out our condo, and if the renter would allow our dogs, we’d head south for the winter. It didn’t take her long to find a charming carriage house (AKA efficiency apartment above the garage) with 485 square feet of open living space—about the size of our master bedroom at home in Indianapolis. There was no bedroom per se, but at least there was a door on the bathroom.
I grilled Elaine pretty hard over just how accommodating the space would be. She assured me that we’d adjust…just like we had to the dog world. Sure we would.
After two nights of “cozy comfort,” we were still adjusting. The barely functional WIFI connection wasn’t helping matters. The connection went down every twenty to thirty minutes.
While troubleshooting the problem with the homeowner , he casually asked, “Why don’t you guys just move into the main house for the rest of the month until the February renters show up? All I would ask is that you pay half of the additional cleaning fee…a hundred and ten dollars. Would that be okay?”
I was stunned at his incredibly gracious offer. Before he made it, I wasn’t sure we were going to last a week in our cozy little apartment, never mind the two months we’d signed up for. I’m pretty sure Elaine was packing before I hung up the phone.
We soon found ourselves in a gorgeous three bedroom, three bathroom beach house with a stunning second floor balcony upon which we enjoyed full sunlight from sun up to sunset. Most importantly, our two dogs, Sky and Bentley, had their own bedroom. Come what may in February, we were living large in January, thanks to technical difficulties over the garage. Adjustment complete.
For the better part of the last decade, my business and my wife’s health have been at the top of my prayer list. I’ve prayed more about these two things than perhaps all others combined. That’s why when we prepared to head for Rosemary Beach on New Year’s Day, I packed hopes of a breakthrough on both the business and health fronts right next to my Bible. Persistent prayer is a much discussed topic within Christian circles. Entire books have been written on how and how often to pray. I’m no expert, just another desperate relief seeker who cannot bear the weight of these burdens alone. And so…I pray:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Towards the end of our first week, I met an intriguing woman during a morning walk on the beach. Given the early hour and the blustery conditions, she was the only person I saw during my walk. Wearing brightly printed flannel pajama pants and donning one of those knitted hats with ear flaps and cable yarn ties hanging loosely, she had a childlike whimsical appearance. She was collecting sea shells in a plastic sand bucket. As I approached her, she crossed my path gently holding a star fish and lovingly placed it back into the life-giving sea.
“You made a difference to that one,” I said, without stopping to further engage her. After the turnaround, our paths crossed again.
I had a mysterious sense that I was supposed to engage this perfect stranger in conversation. So, I removed my ear buds, but before I had a chance to say “hello” she asked, “What are you listening to?”
“Praise and worship music by a band called Jesus Culture. More than a band really. They’re a movement, particularly among young people.”
“Interesting,” she said, “I’ve never heard of them. Where are you from? What brings you here?”
When I told her that we were primarily here in an effort to break my wife’s chronic pain cycle, she got a very intense, quizzical look on her face.
“Do you woo her?” she asked.
Not sure I heard her correctly, I asked her to repeat the question.
“Do you woo her?” she repeated. “Love on her. Do you love on her real good? She needs that. You should kiss her on the forehead like a papa. She has deep hurts causing her pain. I can feel it. It makes me cry just to think about it. She really needs you to love on her.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Rarely at a loss for words, I was speechless after my encounter with Mary. I thanked my beach angel for her kind words and gave her a hug before moving on. The entire exchange only lasted a few minutes, but the impact of her message should last a lifetime.
That evening, I kissed Elaine on the forehead like a papa. I did my best to love on her real good, but I knew all too well that I would soon fall short of the bar Mary had set for me. That’s why I decided to tell Elaine about how her heavenly Papa had sent her a clear message through a most unusual messenger.
The following evening, I told Elaine about Mary. I wanted her to know that God felt her pain, heard our prayers and was with us even when it hurt the worst. She seemed deeply moved by my Mary story.
Towards the end, she began fumbling with her phone, looking for something. I wasn’t sure what. Had the stage been set differently, I probably would have really blown it at that point. Saying something about how annoying it was trying to talk to her while she’s preoccupied with her phone.
She was soon showing me a music video of a song by Sarah McLachlan entitled, “Mary.”
Down to the water's edge
And there she hangs her head
To find herself faded
A shadow of what she once was
She said "How long have I been sleeping
Oh, why do I feel so old, why do I feel so cold?
My heart is saying one thing but my body won't let go"
With trembling hands she reaches up
Stranger's flesh is offered
Oh and I would be the last to know
I would be the last to let it show
I would be the last to go
Take her hand
She will lead you through the fire
Oh and give you back hope
And hope that you won't take too much
Respecting what is left
She cradled us
Oh, she held us in her arms
Unselfish in her suffering, she could not understand
No one seemed to have the time
To cherish what was given
Oh and I would be the last to know
I would be the last to let it show
I would be the last to go
Feel, feel harsh
Oh, I would be the last to know
I would be the last to let it show
I would be the last to go
I don’t pretend to know what message these lyrics might have for my lovely bride and me. Perhaps none at all.
What I do know, however, is that on January 7, 2015 God answered one of my top two prayers in an extraordinary way. He didn’t give Elaine the healthy thirty year old spine I’d been praying for. Nor did He take away the chronic migraines. He simply let her know that He felt her pain, while letting me know what I should be doing about it…love on her real good. Just like He loves on us.
Four days later, I was taking the same beach walk. Again, it was early morning. Sunday morning. As usual, I was listening to worship music on my iPhone. Since I was the only one in sight, I did some rather lame worship dancing near the water’s edge at the turnaround point. On the walk back, at about the same spot I met Mary the beach angel, the Spirit clearly nudged me. No voice, but the message was clear – check out Craig’s latest blog on the Ransomed Heart web site. Now, I've only read Craig's blog a couple of times and not at all within the last year or so. I knew nothing of his latest post, but clearly "heard" God tell me to read it.
The latest one.
So, I sat down in the sand to see what God was up to. The post dated September 9, 2014 was simply entitled, Dancing. The picture was that of a little girl in a red tutu dancing, you guessed it…on the beach.
Just as I had been doing minutes earlier, though you could hardly call what I had been doing dancing when compared to this little ballerina leaping for joy atop the wet sand.
Then, my eye was drawn to the last line which read, “Don’t let anything keep you from dancing.” Reading that post literally took my breath away. Through it, God had spoken clearly, tenderly, yet oh so powerfully to me...me! But, He wasn't finished speaking....
As I tearfully continued my homeward trek, a few minutes later the Spirit nudged me again. This time a bit more forcefully. His message was brief and business like.
The God of the Universe clearly “said” (again, no audible voice, but a clear message) to me, “I might have more interest in blessing your business plans if you had more interest in executing mine.”
I knew exactly what He meant. Plan A…the one in which the God of the Universe entrusts the truth of the Gospel to knuckleheads like me. It’s a simple plan really. Just tell everyone you meet about Jesus. And, it really helps if you actually know Him, as opposed to just knowing about Him.
With that, I cried “uncle” to my heavenly Papa and my beach dancing lesson ended. I felt so loved in that moment, it was as if God had bent down from heaven and kissed me on the forehead like a papa would.
Though Elaine’s health and my business challenges remain, my perspective on both has radically changed. By telling me what I needed to do about each, God had effectively told me what I desperately needed to hear:
“I’ve got this. Just love your wife and others as I do. I’ll take care of the rest. You wait…you watch…you’ll see.”
I believe I will.
You might be struggling, as I did, to connect the dots between my dancing lesson and the business admonition. From my experience, God never wastes a moment and He’s able to fulfill multiple purposes within a single one. While lame worship dancing is better than none, it’s even better to praise our great God by dancing before Him like He’s the only one watching.
This was an important message unto itself, but it also set the stage for the one to follow. By confirming the first message through Craig’s blog post in such dramatic fashion, God paved the way for the second message about my business to be received. Absent the first message, I may have questioned where the second one came from. It sure sounded good, but maybe I just made that one up? As it was, I had no doubt about the source of both messages.
Since participating in a spiritual retreat in 2012 with Toth Ministries in Colorado, I’ve been known to cut a spiritual rug or two whilst worshipping God through music. I would commend the practice to anyone who considers themselves a Christ follower and desires to follow Him more closely. To encourage you, I thought you might enjoy reading Craig’s entire (brief) post on the subject:
I came across a young college student friend’s Facebook post:
Jon wishes that when he ran into a room and started dancing that other people would get up and dance. and not just sit and stare. Ya!.
Someone quickly commented:
Maybe he’s running into the wrong rooms.
I paused, eased back into my chair, captured and wondering, “Am I dancing?” With a little reflection, I thought, “Sometimes, for some reasons, in some circles… yes and no.”
Soaking in the question...I’d love to run into rooms dancing and have others get up and join me… and not just sit and stare.
What rooms am I running into? Lord, am I running into the wrong rooms? (Church, small group, circle of friends, etc.)
After steeping a bit on my life and its effect upon others, I hear God my Father clear his throat and in tones of strength, warm invitation, and urgency, perhaps insistence, whisper to my heart, “Don’t let anything keep you from dancing!”
Don’t let anything keep you from dancing.
Joy in the aftermath of murder
I had lunch last fall with Todd, a local businessman whose wife and daughter were brutally beaten to death in their home in December of 2013 by a disgruntled former employee of the man’s company.
This has been the longest 14 months of Todd’s life. Having just passed the one year anniversary of his tragic loss, his suffering is far from over. But he is determined to persevere through it because, he says, so that his character would continue to be refined by the event and so that the living Christ within him, the hope of glory, will shine brighter because of it.
Impossible, you say?
Todd agrees. This is impossible by his own strength. He would also tell you, however, that he literally could not take his next breath but for the fact that “when I am weak, He is strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Todd actually initiated our luncheon after hearing me share a prayer request in the small group Bible study where we recently met. It turns out that one of Todd’s children had been down a similar path to one of mine—the one who was the subject of my prayer request. He was anxious to share the story of his child’s miraculous turnaround in hopes of encouraging Elaine and me. Imagine that. A mere ten months after losing his wife and daughter, this grieving husband/father is taking me to lunch to see if he can put a bit more pep in my step.
Who does that?
Seriously. Wrestle with that for a moment. Who does that?
Answer: Someone who believes with all their heart: “…for this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
So I asked Todd, “As you’re anticipating that painful one year anniversary, I’m sure one of the voices that you’re hearing is the one saying that to be anything but despondent around that time would somehow dishonor Marylyn and Kelley’s memories. Right?”
His answered surprised me. “Maybe a little”, he said, “but it’s more knowing for certain that Marylyn and Kelley would not want me to be that way. They would want me to be joyful, knowing that they are experiencing perfect joy in heaven right now and that we will be together again someday.”
Wow. Joy in the aftermath of tragedy. This is impossible. Yet, it is happening. Why: because God is giving His joy in Todd.
“Hey boys, come over here, I want to show you something!”
It was hot and I was tired and more disposed toward a glass of ice or a dip in the backyard pool, but I had been that kind of dad for the past twenty years, and I knew better. It was time to man-up and help my son, Bradley, Jr.—and his fellow 13 year-old swimming buddies—do the same.
“See that bungee cord wrapped around the umbrella stand?” I asked the lads. I had fixed (“fixed”) a slightly-injured patio umbrella stand by connecting a bungee cord to an outdoor couch leg. They gazed at what surely would grace the next cover of Popular Mechanics.
“You know what that is an example of?” I asked as if I’m about to unveil the secret of the universe.
“Uh well, Mr. Lindemann,” ventured Andrew, Bradley’s best friend. “It looks like a bungee cord to me. Am I missing something?”
“Look closer boys,” I said. “What does that bungee cord represent?”
I paused for dramatic effect.
They looked at each other, unaware that this amateur handy man was still a veteran dad and, therefore, an expert at reading the gigantic thought bubbles emanating from their wet, shaggy heads.
One thought bubble read, “It’s…a bungee cord, for crying out loud.”
Another read, “Um, can we get back in the pool now?”
Still another read, “Poor Bradley. Looks like dad is wandering a bit too far off the reservation.”
One boy’s thought bubble congealed into a quote bubble. “We don’t know,” he offered on behalf of the brethren. “What is it?”
I can’t remember a single time during my childhood when my father purposely taught me something.
Now, to be certain: At the tender age of 58, I’m quite sure that I’ve forgotten a few things. Probably more than a few things. The point is that the father-son knowledge baton thing didn’t happen very often.
Today, I’m the founder of an IT consulting company, where I’m surrounded by brainiac fix-it guys and gals, so you might think that I would have overcome my aversion to fixit stuff and worked hard to teach my three sons many of the things my father never taught me. The truth is that I have given my boys little more than my father had done for me.
Why? There are probably two main reasons why I repeated the “sins” of my father. First, being self-taught, I didn’t think I had much to pass along to my boys. Second, with five children and the prevailing chaos that defined our family for many years, it was just easier to do things myself than to patiently teach my sons. I deeply regret this.
Seeing this pattern, I would occasionally seize a teachable moment in a clumsy effort to make up for lost time, which brings me to my pool-side moment of choice to either fail in the classical sense of the term, or “fail” in a kind of forward-looking, positive, and even competent way.
“Improvisation, boys,” I continued with my crowd of young men. “That bungee cord is a perfect example. Improvisation is what you do when you have a problem to solve but you lack the proper experience and tools to solve it in a traditional way. So, you improvise. If you learn how to improvise, you’ll be able to do things that others cannot do. Got it?”
My dad had to improvise. I had to improvise. Bradley, you’re going to have to improvise.
Please warm up to this early and pre-forgive your father for passing on too many opportunities to carpe diem. Hopefully, your sons will have the same grace prepared for you.
As a grandfather, I am focusing more time and energy to helping my grandkids experience stuff that sometimes requires us both to climb a steep learning curve. But, I’m picking up speed and look forward to making some great outdoor memories with my grandkids.
Brad Lindemann is the founder and president of Ambassador Solutions, an IT consulting business based in Indianapolis, Indiana. A speaker for men’s retreats, Brad is the author of “Unique Inspiring Culture” and a new book scheduled for release in fall of 2015, “Live Ammo Living.” Brad and his wife Elaine live in Indianapolis and are the proud parents of five children and grandparents to seven. Contact Brad at Brad.Lindemann@PumpJack.me.
by Chris Mann
My childhood was spent between the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio and Arlington, Virginia. I have no idea who represented my hometown of Solon, Ohio between 1978-1984 but Congressman Frank Wolf was so unique that even a politically ignorant kid like me was aware of this man's work. Renowned as a deeply devout Christian who walked circles around the talk of liberal human rights advocates, Congressman Wolf has built an amazing career as a conservative congressman representing a very liberal demographic in Northern Virginia, part of Washington's suburbia.
This week, World Magazine named Mr. Wolf as Daniel of the Year 2014for his 30 years (17 terms in Congress) of tireless work around the world on behalf the poor, downtrodden and oppressed.
Highlights from World's report:
"Wolf’s blunt style isn’t always popular, but it’s often effective: Starving people have eaten, political prisoners have gone free, and Christians have found relief because of his tenacity. Even when he doesn’t prevail, he persists."
"Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship once called Wolf “the patron saint of unpopular causes.” He added: “There is no one in American public life I admire more.”""Wolf focused on at least two things: reading presidential biographies in the library and overcoming a debilitating stutter. He eventually took multiple speech therapy classes to battle the impediment, but the most useful treatment helped forge his political career: He forced himself to speak when it was easier to stay quiet. "
"WHEN U.S. LEGISLATORS VISIT FOREIGN COUNTRIES, they often travel in groups, stay at Western hotels, meet with government officials, and avoid danger. Wolf on his first trip overseas left behind that checklist. ...The trip galvanized him. When he returned, Wolf asked to brief President Ronald Reagan as a member of the appropriations committee handling foreign aid. Within a few days, Reagan authorized food shipments to Ethiopia."
"[Cold War-era Romanian] Government officials tried to shut down one congregation before the congressmen visited. Instead, the church was packed and the members were singing a hymn when they arrived. Christians pressed notes into Wolf’s hand with messages like: “My son is in prison,” and “My husband disappeared.”...[Congressman Wolf] gave [President Ronald ] Reagan a copy of a Romanian defector’s exposé of the Ceausescu regime and met with the president in person. In November 1987, Reagan wrote in his diary that after meeting with Wolf and others he changed his mind: “I’ve proposed … to drop Romania’s most favored nation status until they clean up their human rights act.” Two years later, Ceausescu’s regime fell.
Meeting with Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng"Wolf’s concern for religious freedom doesn’t extend only to Christians facing persecution. In 1997 he slipped into Tibet and managed to tour the region without Chinese handlers—something no other member of Congress had done since China took over Tibet in 1959. (Wolf didn’t inform the U.S. government of his plans.) "