Saturday, November 29, 2008

OU wins & attendance booster idea

Well, OU pulled it off! Boomer Sooner! Hats off to the cowboys for giving it their all. They are about 5 players away from being a real contender.

I got some ideas from a fellow Sooner fan and church member on how to increase our attendance at church. May be onto something here...think about it:

1. We're going to replace our cushioned pews with steel benches and remove the backs (Our elders will have backs for rent.)
2. We're going to make people sit very close to each other. Especially close to those we don't even know.
3. We're going to take the top off the building. There must be something about having a top on the building that keeps people from coming in.
4. We're going to have someone holler real loud in the loud speaker. I guess that will be me since I am the preacher.
5. Oh yeah, one last thing. We're going to make everyone pay $150.00 to get in, even before they know the outcome. The average in attendance at college football games is 81,000. You know, I think we would settle for 81,000 at church. Oh, one more thing. We're going to change our services to 3 hours instead of one and a quarter. Boy, with these changes, you'd better come early next Sunday in order to get a good parking place. (The elders may charge for "good" parking.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is the big day. Thanksgiving is a great time to focus our selfish hearts on God. Too bad we can't do that throughout the whole year. I think often that this shouldn't be an annual event in the believer's life. Thankfulness should be a non-stop everyday occurrence. A true believer's heart will always be grateful to God.

Sunday night our church had it's annual Thanksgiving Dinner. It's a great time of fellowship and focus. We offer a time of "open mic" if you will. At this time people come up and express how thankful they are to God for something that He's done in their lives in the past year. Some ladies from a women's shelter and rehab center shared their stories of life change. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. We got to witness true thankfulness through their stories of God's redemption and goodness.

I shared a little at the end about what I was thankful for. I shared some stats from our church, not for bragging rights or any accolades for any man. These are God's stats. These are stats that show how good God is to people as He changes them for eternity. We had a total of 108 decisions in 2008. That 5 times what we had in 2007. We've had 28 baptisms in 2008. That's 4 times what we had in 2007. We've had 27 families join our fellowship this year. That's 2 and 1/2 times the families that joined in 2007. As you can see, God is still doing His amazing heart work in people. These, lives, souls, saved and changed forever, are something to be thankful for.

God is doing His wonderful work in our church. I'm most thankful for that!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bible Belt

I've been watching all of the doom and gloom of economic news every day. I think that it's hard to avoid it if you are an American. It's everywhere. I've heard several financial analysts over the last few days that say the economy is not as bad in the south, southwest, and midwest. The housing market in these places aren't bad, in fact, some are still growing. Last night on Fox News, one guy mentioned that things are horrible in New England, California, Las Vegas, but that places like Dallas, Houston, and Oklahoma City and other places in the center of the country are actually doing okay. I found this very interesting. He went on to say that on the coasts, everybody is frantic and panicked about the economy and finances, but in the Bible Belt center of the country, there's concern, but no one's freaking out about it.

I wonder...is that because the good 'ole Bible Belt states have faith? Could it be that God is taking care of His people? Maybe it's just that when Jesus is your Lord, things like the economy aren't eternal so Christians don't waste time worrying about temporal things. Or perhaps God is supernaturally taking care of the Bible Belt folks.

I don't have all of the answers. I do know that when I heard the interviews and saw the report, it confirmed a lot of what I had been feeling myself. Things aren't that bad in Enid, OK. We have several business people in the church that I've spoken with over the last few months that confirm that things "aren't that bad here!" Praise the Lord! God is taking care of us, period! Whether He's taking care of this part of the country in a supernatural way by sustaining our businesses, or God's people just don't sweat the economy because our faith is in Him, God is seeing us through. Just as He always has, God takes care of His people.

Let me clarify that I'm not saying that God is pouring judgement on California or something. Just a few weeks ago, the great people of California passed an amendment known as Prop. 8 to most of us that protects the sanctity of marriage. There are some great, great brothers and sisters in the Lord that live in these places where the economy is bad. I'm not saying that God is absent from their lives or situations. He may be supernaturally protecting the Christians in those places as well! I'm just pointing out what I see and hear about the economy is not that true for here and I want to give God the glory for that. Go Bible Belt!

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Look out!


Too funny! I'm glad that we don't have that problem at Oakwood!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bible Survey Results

On Sunday in church I took a survey using our communication card. I asked the question, "What version/translation of the Bible are you bringing to church to study from each week?" I asked our people to write it down on their card. The results were much as I had anticipated they would be:

NIV (New International Version) 62.1%
NLT (New Living Translation) 9.5%
NASB (New American Standard Bible) 8.6%
NKJV (New King James Version) 8.6%
KJV (King James Version) 7%
NCV (New Century Version) 2.6%
AMP (Amplified Bible) .8%
ESV (English Standard Version) .8%

Overwhelmingly the NIV's took the cake. Since 1978 when the translation was completed, the NIV has been the standard bearer for accuracy of translation and universal understanding of God's Word. In our Bible colleges, the NIV is the Bible of choice by scholars & professors. The Bible colleges use this primary version as the core instruction for students, even after 30 years. In Christian Church circles, almost 95% of Christian Church pulpits preach from the NIV each week.

I've been in a personal debate about what Bible I should read from on Sunday mornings. When I study, I usually look at the NIV and the NASB side by side. I preached from the NASB my first few months here at Oakwood. Sometimes the wording of the NASB can get pretty thick. The NASB is a word for word translation and the NASB translators tried to maintain the word and thought order as much as possible. Sometimes that means that you have to read it 4 or 5 times to fully understand the meaning because the sentence structure is hard to follow. I like the NASB because where else can you find words like "propitiation". I don't want to lose some of those words that give the text rich meaning. In my personal study time, I usually use the NASB.

My tentative plan is to preach/read from the NIV in the pulpit on Sundays. I'm not conforming to the popular vote or from any pressure. My heart is that people would be able to follow along and understand what we are reading on Sunday mornings. When I find richer meaning or better explanation or understanding from the NASB, I will site those words or verses and use the NASB then. But by in large on Sunday mornings I will read from the NIV because I want people to be able to follow along with me as we read and talk about God's word. My hope is to educate, challenge, and preach for life change each and every week. I believe in my heart that it will be most helpful to meet most of our people where they're at and read from the NIV. I will be using the NIV primarily from the pulpit, unless God leads me otherwise in the days ahead. I'm probably making a bigger deal out of this than it should be, but I have to keep the flock in mind as we strive for education and life change. Sometimes I think that works best when people in the pew can follow the Bible reading word for word, especially when we get into long passages.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Flying Solo

Amy is at Women of Faith and I'm flying solo with the 3 daughters. My girls are pretty good for the most part, truly. But...they are girls. Girls are just different than boys. They cry about everything!!!! There's long hair everywhere! In the bathroom, in the car seats. It's crazy. But I love them all and wouldn't trade them for anything.

In the morning, Madalyn has a birthday party to go to. Problem: I don't do cute hair. It's going to be very interesting to see how my 7 year old reacts to daddy's hair style. Might want to pray for us there.

The sermon I've been working on this week is good. It's amazing how much it can change from Sunday night to Thursday every week. I honestly go into the whole process with an open heart and mind and all ow God to guide it as I study and develop. I've thought about blogging the process sometime, but I don't know who all would find that interesting. If you want me to, leave me a comment to that effect and I'll take it under advisement. Or I may pray about it and do it anyway, Lord willing.

I got to get to bed soon. One last read through my sermon and I'm off (that is if I don't fall asleep in my read through)! Ha!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Much talk

I've had many conversations this week with people concerned about the world coming to an end, Jesus' return, rapture, Armageddon, you name it, I've heard it. I think that I'm not overreacting to anything because I truly believe in God's sovereignty. He knows what's going to happen. He knew what's already taken place was going to take place. Nothing surprises Him. He's God. I'm just trusting that He knows what He's doing and He's going to take care of us His kids no matter what. I don't know if the economy will turn around now, in 6 month, or in 4 years. I don't know what's going to happen between Israel and Iran. I don't have to know. I trust in the name of the Lord our God. That's all I need. I pray that for any who that really struggling with worry about these days ahead will rest and trust in God. If nothing else, now is the time to figure out in your heart whether you are really going to take God at His word or not. My prayer is that everyone who has ears to hear will listen and accept Christ. Then trust Him to be on the throne and be our God. We must be as faithful on our end as He's called us to be. That's what people of faith do.

Keep the faith!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Anatomy of a Tax Cut

Hope this helps everyone to understand. I got this via e-mail from a friend today.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3; the seventh $7; the eighth $12; the ninth $18; the tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until one day; the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a "Tax Cut"). "Since you are all such good Customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man (who was paying $1) and the sixth man (who was paying $3) would end up being PAID to eat their meal.

So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so the fifth man paid nothing; the sixth pitched in $2; the seventh paid $5; the eighth paid $9; the ninth paid $12; Leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man, but he, (pointing to the tenth) got $7!".”Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar too...It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!” "That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2?" "The wealthy get all the breaks!” Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" So, the nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! And that is how the tax system works.

The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction because they paid the taxes in the first place. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy and they just may not show up at the table anymore. Where would that leave the rest?

Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straight-forward logic!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Some comments from David Reagan (No relation to Ronald)

From Mr. Reagan:

"Our nation has just elected the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-Capitalist, and anti-Israel president in our history. In short, God has given us the kind of leader that we deserve — the kind we have been begging for. The new President now has the power to put his radical secular imprint upon this nation for decades to come through the appointment of activist liberals to the Supreme Court. I fear that our nation has been irrevocably changed for the worse.

Two factors in this election were particularly disappointing to me. First was the fact that only 59% of eligible voters bothered to vote. That was less than in the last presidential election. How could people be so apathetic in an election so important? The second voting statistic that hit me hard was the revelation that even among self-identified Evangelicals, the majority voted according to economic considerations rather than moral ones.The financial woes of our nation are not going to be solved by any economic strategy, for they are rooted in our spiritual rebellion against God. We cannot kill babies in their mother's wombs, promote same-sex marriage, produce filthy movies and TV programs, worship the dollar, and pressure Israel to give up its heartland, and expect God to bless our economy. Our economy will be healed only when we as a nation get right with God."

Here, here, brother. Couldn't have said it better myself. Sometimes it seems we like our money better than we like our Lord. Priorities have to change. (And I wonder if the other 41% would have voted, would that have changed the outcome?)

Here's a link to David Reagan's website. He's an end time prophecies brainiac. He spoke at Oakwood at the Fall Bible Conference about 4 years ago. http://www.lamblion.com/

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Get real

I think that all that we deal with in regards to families these days are direct results of the devil's attack on the way God wanted families to be. Homosexual rights, fragmented families, divorce being so rampant, "domestic partnerships", it's all a part of Satan's plan to thwart God's intention for the family. I've dealt with yet another marriage this week that's on the rocks. Married for 15 years, 2 kids, and what gets me is that this has been going on for years and no one knew about it. They never reached out to anyone in their church or otherwise. Maybe it was because of embarrassment or maybe it's just the fact that many Christians think that they need to act like they have it all together and put on their churchy happy face when inside their dying because their marriage is on the brink of divorce. I don't know, but that's what I want to change most about Oakwood as a church of God. Let's take off the masks and be real. Let's be able to look each other in the eye and admit that we're not perfect and that God is still working on us. Let's be able to reach out to each other and help each other. Oh, that we would know that we can talk to each other about real stuff without fearing judgement or pretending. This is the church that I see in the New Testament and this is the church that, with God's help, might just save the family unit in the future. A church culture of realness...how about that.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day of Reckoning

Today is the day of reckoning for America. I've felt this way for weeks now. This election may decide whether we are to remain "One nation, under God". This election will determine if we are a Christian nation or not. This may be the one where God steps back a little bit and says, "Alright then, have it your way." We've asked God to leave our schools, our government , our subjective morality, and to leave us alone. God is always sovereign and in control. I think that lately he feels like we don't really want him anymore as a nation. There is so much on the line here. I'm just praying and begging that God's will be done. Tomorrow we will all wake up and there will be a new elected president. We must remember though, no matter our circumstances, when we get up tomorrow, God will still be on the throne!!! That's something to celebrate, regardless of the outcome of this election!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Encouragement

Thought this was great and wanted to share it with everyone:

Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams to be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark.

Today I will make a difference.

I will be grateful for the twenty‐four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self‐pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.

I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. No failure is fatal. It’s OK to stumble; I will get up. It’s OK to fail; I will rise again. Today I will make a difference.

I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends.

TODAY I WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!!! (From On the Anvil by Max Lucado)

FOL was great

Festival of Light went without a hitch on Friday night. It was great to see so many come through our Halloween alternative. It's amazing how when you change your view of people, and see them like Jesus saw them, how that can change how you relate to the lost. We saw a huge crowd of people with many issues Friday night, but I also saw our people loving on the lost. That will have impact that echoes into eternity someday. When the time comes, God waters the seed and grows it into what He wants it to be. I think that I speak for the whole church when I say, I'm just glad to be a part of what He's doing.