Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trying to Please Everyone?

You can try to please everyone, but someone is always going to be unhappy about something. I go back to that beatitude as I mentioned before, "blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape"!
Thank God that we have programmable thermostats that no one sets!!!!
I hope that every family in our church has a very safe and happy New Year. As the calendar crosses into 2010, may it be a year of huge spiritual growth for each one of us. Blessings!

Grandpa Changes the Diaper

One of our church members (Dennis the Menace) sent me this one this morning. My only question is...what did you feed that girl? Seaweed?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Living Stones

A good thought from a devotion this morning. Chew and enjoy!

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.— 1 Peter 2:5

If you were in a restaurant with some friends and said, "Now, I have a secret I want to share with you. I don't want you to share this with anyone else, . . . " you can be sure they would start leaning forward. The people seated at the tables nearby would too. That's because everyone likes a secret.

Acts 2 contains what seems to be a secret to many people: the secret, if you will, of the early church. Yet it seems many churches today are in a race as to who can have the biggest church or the fastest-growing church or the coolest church. But I am far more interested in a biblical church.

The template given in Acts 2 for the church was followed by a handful of believers who left their world a different way than they found it. Yet the time in which they were living was difficult. There was rampant immorality. The Roman government was corrupt. Most of the religious establishment was corrupt as well. Everywhere the Christians went, they were ridiculed, opposed, persecuted, and even physically assaulted.

So what was the secret of the early church? They were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were sent out by the Holy Spirit. And they understood that everyone was called to do their part. Every person mattered.

A Spartan king was boasting to a visiting ruler about the walls of Sparta when he pointed to his bodyguard of magnificent troops and said, "These are the walls of Sparta. Every man is a brick."

In the church, every person is a brick. We are living stones placed in the church, each with gifts that God has given to us to contribute toward the work of the church. How are you doing your part in the church today?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bring on the Snow!

As I went to bed last night around midnight, after finishing my work, I was watching the rerun weather forecasts. They were saying that we might get a dusting to an inch and that things have shifted, so on and so forth. This morning I had to take my car to the shop and all everyone's talking about is how much snow we're going to get. It's like everything's shifted back now and the chances are going up for a white Christmas (and a white Christmas Eve)! I'm excited. I love winter, and I love snow. I say bring it on! I'm sorry if that spoils anyone else's travel plans because I would wish that on no one, but as for me, I'll be enjoying the white stuff. I hope that many people around here will to. It's been a long time since we've had a white Christmas, and they don't come too often in this parts. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

You Never Know What You're Going to Get

As a pastor, you just never know what call you are going to get. That's why Jesus said in the beatitudes, "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape!" (Well, maybe He didn't say exactly that.)
Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

White Christmas

For my following, I'm sorry that I haven't blogged in over a week. As I mentioned before, ministry has seasons where priorities must shift and and some things get put on the back burner. Thus, the blog suffers.

Last Wednesday night, we had 6 groups go out and carol many of our church members, the elderly, and shut-ins throughout Enid. It was a great time of spreading Christmas cheer and sharing the message of Christmas through song. I had my girls in my group and we had a blast. One of the houses we stopped at had an older gentleman and his wife. His wife is in a wheelchair, but they come to church faithfully, even when the weather isn't so good. As he rolled his wife to the doorway, we began to sing Christmas carols. She just smiled with tears rolling down her face. At the end of our time, she made the comment that "people just don't do this kind of thing anymore". You could tell they were touched, but I think that our group of carolers were touched even more. Great times of sweet fellowship as a church body ministering together.

I'm originally from Iowa. White Christmases were much more common up north. In Oklahoma you could have it 70 degrees or -2 degrees. But the white stuff only comes every so often at Christmas. I think in all of the years in Oklahoma that I lived, we've only had 3 white Christmases. Well, it looks like we might have one this year. Chances for snow are going up for Wednesday and Thursday and this Iowa kid is excited. I don't mind the chill or the snow. I think that it's great! Keeps the wife closer cuddling and makes everyone stay indoors in the warmth. I don't know what it will mean for our Christmas Eve service, but God's will be done.

It was a great service yesterday. I had many comments from many of our people. The presence of God was especially heavy yesterday and the Holy Spirit was doing His divine work. I praise God for who He is and what He has done for us. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. What a great and mighty and wonderful God we serve!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Almost Christian

Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." — Acts 26:28

Almost is an interesting word, one that we sometimes use when we are delaying something, when we are not quite ready to commit. Maybe you've been in a restaurant where the menu is the size of a small phone book. When the server arrived at your table and asked if you were ready to order, you said, "Well, almost."

We will use this word when are not sure about something. We also use "almost" when we're procrastinating. For example, if a husband and wife are going out to dinner and he asks her if she is ready to go, she will say, "Well, almost."

While we like to use "almost" for a number of situations, there are certain words that don't work with almost, as in "almost pregnant." A woman is either pregnant or she is not. Another word that doesn't work with almost is "won." You either won or you didn't. I'm sure that our local Oklahoma Bible Academy (where I'm going to speak at chapel this morning) can relate to this as they lost 14-7 in the state championship for football this past Saturday. The winner is the winner, so you can't almost win.

Another word that doesn't fit with the word almost is "Christian." Either you are a Christian or you are not. You may be well on your way to becoming a Christian. You may be looking into the claims of Christ and investigating them. But you cannot be an almost Christian.

When the apostle Paul presented the gospel to Herod Agrippa, he said, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian" (Acts 26:28). Almost. He was close, but not close enough. Apparently Herod Agrippa was moved by Paul's powerful and persuasive presentation of the gospel, but then he turned and walked away from it. He was the almost Christian.

I think there are a lot of people like Herod Agrippa in our world today: almost Christians who think they are Christians when they really are not.

Friday, December 4, 2009

1 Corinthians 13 Christmas

Got this from a church member this week and thought I'd share.

1 Corinthians 13 - Christmas version

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust.

But giving the gift of love will endure. -- Author Unknown

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time and now and forever." Jude 24-25

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Wanted to share these excellent thoughts. I got these from Greg Laurie. This is not just the duty of ministers or those in church leadership, this is the duty of every Christian. Are you serving the Lord faithfully in this way?

"Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately." — Ezekiel 3:17

The apostle Paul saw himself as a watchman, someone who would be positioned on the wall of a city to keep watch for the enemy or any other danger that was approaching. A watchman would then run and warn people about what he saw. Paul told the Ephesian elders, "I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it's not my fault, for I didn't shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know. So guard yourselves and God's people . . . " (Acts 20:26–28).

Paul was drawing on the words of Ezekiel 3:17–18, where God said, "Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately. If I warn the wicked, saying, 'You are under the penalty of death,' but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths."

Declaring the truth of the gospel is a serious matter—a matter of life and death. And when we meet someone who doesn't know it, we have a responsibility as watchmen to proclaim it. If we know a believer who is going astray or who is doing things that are contrary to what the Bible teaches, we have a responsibility as watchmen to warn him or her of what could potentially happen. We don't do this out of hate, but out of love, because we want to help. We want to protect them.

The job of watchmen is not unlike that of lifeguards, who constantly scan the water to ensure that everyone is safe. Because lives are at stake, it is crucial they do their job well. So how are you doing as a watchman?


Just to update everyone...yes, I survived the shopping trip at 4am. It was a little crazy (and full of people!), but I was successful in my tasks. I actually got everything on my list for the really cheap price. I couldn't believe it! For the most part, people were very polite and not too pushy. The environment was good and many people were helping one another. There was some hoarding going on, but that's expected from some people. Overall, I think that Wal-Mart did a great job organizing it and it was kind of fun for me.

As for the me-monsters, I only saw a few. One lady had a basket and rammed it into my hip trying to get by, but other than that, there wasn't too much nastiness.

As I was standing in a long line waiting on an item, I had some great conversations with some people in the line. We were stuck for about 25 minutes at a standstill, so that was pretty cool.

All in all, it was a success and a surprisingly good experience. I will definitely try again if there's a worthwhile deal next year.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kicking off Christmas

Well, call me a glutton for punishment, but I'm going to try and brave it. The last 3 years I've been one of "those people" who get up at the crack of dawn, or rather the middle of the night, and try to go and get some deals on Christmas gifts the day after Thanksgiving. It's not that I'm obsessed with it, I just like the challenge a little, I guess. The only part I really don't like about it is the other people who are on a mission and will do almost anything to make sure they get their way.

If my newspaper adventure is any indication how tomorrow may be, then I might rethink this shopping thing. I wanted a paper today to see what the ads were. I looked for papers at Wal-Mart, K-Mart and outside 6 convenience stores. They were all sold out of newspapers! Are you kidding me? When I got to the last gas station, I got the last paper in the machine there. I hope that this is no indication of what shopping is going to be like tomorrow.

My father-in-law was commenting tonight on something that happened at Lowe's last year. He said that 2 ladies got into a fist fight over a crock pot that was $20. Are you kidding me? That's the kind of stuff that crazy people do! It's a crock pot for crying out loud! But, I must admit and I've seen it myself, some people take this "black Friday" shopping thing WAY too serious. I think that it's "Black Friday" because of the way people act. When people get hurt over getting a good deal...I think that it's time to reevaluate your life's priorities. I want a deal as much as the next guy, but I'm not going to break someone's teeth about it! It's like we're shopping with a few obsessed "me monsters" who are all about themselves and their agenda and don't care about anyone else. Remember that tomorrow as you see them making a fool out of themselves with fire in their eyes running around pushing their way through the line trying to get the last crock pot. I just imagine them hollering at the top of their lungs, "ME! ME! It's all about ME!!!!!!!!" When I do that, I laugh out loud sometimes...then I pray for them.

What I'm most excited about is what happens to the Christian radio station tomorrow. 98.3 KLVV goes to all Christmas music!!! I love the Christmas music. It seems to brighten up every day. They play Jingle Bell Rock and all of the stuff, but they also play the Christmas hymns and songs that remind us all of the reason for the season.

So, have fun out there tomorrow, but beware the "Me Monsters". I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving with their families and friends. I got to get to bed...I've got to get up in like 4 hours, ya know!

Monday, November 23, 2009

For the Parent of a Wayward Child

This was sent to me via e-mail from a friend today. I thought it was too good not to post. If you are dealing with this as a parent, or you know someone who is, maybe this will be an encouragement to them.

12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child

By: Abraham Piper

My son Abraham, who speaks from the wisdom of experience and Scripture, has written the article that follows. I read it with tears and laughter. It is so compelling that I asked him immediately if I could share it with the church and the wider Christian community. There is no greater joy than to see your children walking in the truth—and expressing it so well. The rest is Abraham's untouched. -John Piper

Many parents are brokenhearted and completely baffled by their unbelieving son or daughter. They have no clue why the child they raised well is making such awful, destructive decisions. I've never been one of these parents, but I have been one of these sons. Reflecting back on that experience, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child.

1. Point them to Christ.
Your rebellious child's real problem is not drugs or sex or cigarettes or pornography or laziness or crime or cussing or slovenliness or homosexuality or being in a punk rock band. The real problem is that they don't see Jesus clearly. The best thing you can do for them—and the only reason to do any of the following suggestions—is to show them Christ. It is not a simple or immediate process, but the sins in their life that distress you and destroy them will only begin to fade away when they see Jesus more like he actually is.

2. Pray.
Only God can save your son or daughter, so keep on asking that he will display himself to them in a way they can't resist worshiping him for.

3. Acknowledge that something is wrong.
If your daughter rejects Jesus, don't pretend everything is fine.
For every unbelieving child, the details will be different. Each one will require parents to reach out in unique ways. Never acceptable, however, is not reaching out at all. If your child is an unbeliever, don't ignore it. Holidays might be easier, but eternity won't be.

4. Don't expect them to be Christ-like.
If your son is not a Christian, he's not going to act like one.
You know that he has forsaken the faith, so don't expect him to live by the standards you raised him with. For example, you might be tempted to say, "I know you're struggling with believing in Jesus, but can't you at least admit that getting wasted every day is sin?"
If he's struggling to believe in Jesus, then there is very little significance in admitting that drunkenness is wrong. You want to protect him, yes. But his unbelief is the most dangerous problem—not partying. No matter how your child's unbelief exemplifies itself in his behavior, always be sure to focus more on the heart's sickness than its symptoms.

5. Welcome them home.
Because the deepest concern is not your child's actions, but his heart, don't create too many requirements for coming home. If he has any inkling to be with you, it is God giving you a chance to love him back to Jesus. Obviously there are some instances in which parents must give ultimatums: "Don't come to this house if you are..." But these will be rare. Don't lessen the likelihood of an opportunity to be with your child by too many rules.
If your daughter smells like weed or an ashtray, spray her jacket with Febreze and change the sheets when she leaves, but let her come home. If you find out she's pregnant, then buy her folic acid, take her to her twenty-week ultrasound, protect her from Planned Parenthood, and by all means let her come home. If your son is broke because he spent all the money you lent him on loose women and ritzy liquor, then forgive his debt as you've been forgiven, don't give him any more money, and let him come home. If he hasn't been around for a week and a half because he's been staying at his girlfriend's—or boyfriend's—apartment, plead with him not to go back, and let him come home.

6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them.
Be gentle in your disappointment.
What really concerns you is that your child is destroying herself, not that she's breaking rules. Treat her in a way that makes this clear. She probably knows—especially if she was raised as a Christian—that what she's doing is wrong. And she definitely knows you think it is. So she doesn't need this pointed out. She needs to see how you are going to react to her evil. Your gentle forbearance and sorrowful hope will show her that you really do trust Jesus.
Her conscience can condemn her by itself. Parents ought to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that they want their child to return to.

7. Connect them to believers who have better access to them.
There are two kinds of access that you may not have to your child: geographical and relational. If your wayward son lives far away, try to find a solid believer in his area and ask him to contact your son. This may seem nosy or stupid or embarrassing to him, but it's worth it—especially if the believer you find can also relate to your son emotionally in a way you can't.
Relational distance will also be a side effect of your child leaving the faith, so your relationship will be tenuous and should be protected if at all possible. But hard rebuke is still necessary.
This is where another believer who has emotional access to your son may be very helpful. If there is a believer who your son trusts and perhaps even enjoys being around, then that believer has a platform to tell your son—in a way he may actually pay attention to—that he's being an idiot. This may sound harsh, but it's a news flash we all need from time to time, and people we trust are usually the only ones who can package a painful rebuke so that it is a gift to us.
A lot of rebellious kids would do well to hear that they're being fools—and it is rare that this can helpfully be pointed out by their parents—so try to keep other Christians in your kids lives.

8. Respect their friends.
Honor your wayward child in the same way you'd honor any other unbeliever. They may run with crowds you'd never consider talking to or even looking at, but they are your child's friends. Respect that—even if the relationship is founded on sin. They're bad for your son, yes. But he's bad for them, too. Nothing will be solved by making it perfectly evident that you don't like who he's hanging around with.
When your son shows up for a family birthday celebration with another girlfriend—one you've never seen before and probably won't see again—be hospitable. She's also someone's wayward child, and she needs Jesus, too.

9. Email them.
Praise God for technology that lets you stay in your kids' lives so easily!
When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple lines and send it to your child. The best exhortation for them is positive examples of Christ's joy in your own life.
Don't stress out when you're composing these as if each one needs to be singularly powerful. Just whip them out one after another, and let the cumulative effect of your satisfaction in God gather up in your child's inbox. God's word is never proclaimed in vain.

10. Take them to lunch.
If possible, don't let your only interaction with your child be electronic. Get together with him face to face if you can. You may think this is stressful and uncomfortable, but trust me that it's far worse to be in the child's shoes—he is experiencing all the same discomfort, but compounded by guilt. So if he is willing to get together with you for lunch, praise God, and use the opportunity.
It will feel almost hypocritical to talk about his daily life, since what you really care about is his eternal life, but try to anyway. He needs to know you care about all of him. Then, before lunch is over, pray that the Lord will give you the gumption to ask about his soul. You don't know how he'll respond. Will he roll his eyes like you're an idiot? Will he get mad and leave? Or has God been working in him since you talked last? You don't know until you risk asking.
(Here's a note to parents of younger children: Set up regular times to go out to eat with your kids. Not only will this be valuable for its own sake, but also, if they ever enter a season of rebellion, the tradition of meeting with them will already be in place and it won't feel weird to ask them out to lunch. If a son has been eating out on Saturdays with his dad since he was a tot, it will be much harder for him later in life to say no to his father's invitation—even as a surly nineteen-year-old.)

11. Take an interest in their pursuits.
Odds are that if your daughter is purposefully rejecting Christ, then the way she spends her time will probably disappoint you. Nevertheless, find the value in her interests, if possible, and encourage her. You went to her school plays and soccer games when she was ten; what can you do now that she's twenty to show that you still really care about her interests?
Jesus spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes, and he wasn't even related to them. Imitate Christ by being the kind of parent who will put some earplugs in your pocket and head downtown to that dank little nightclub where your daughter's CD release show is. Encourage her and never stop praying that she will begin to use her gifts for Jesus' glory instead her own.

12. Point them to Christ.
This can't be over-stressed. It is the whole point. No strategy for reaching your son or daughter will have any lasting effect if the underlying goal isn't to help them know Jesus.
It's not so that they will be good kids again; it's not so that they'll get their hair cut and start taking showers; it's not so that they'll like classical music instead of deathcore; it's not so that you can stop being embarrassed at your weekly Bible study; it's not so that they'll vote conservative again by the next election; it's not even so that you can sleep at night, knowing they're not going to hell.
The only ultimate reason to pray for them, welcome them, plead with them, email them, eat with them, or take an interest in their interests is so that their eyes will be opened to Christ.
And not only is he the only point—he's the only hope. When they see the wonder of Jesus, satisfaction will be redefined. He will replace the pathetic vanity of the money, or the praise of man, or the high, or the orgasm that they are staking their eternities on right now. Only his grace can draw them from their perilous pursuits and bind them safely to himself—captive, but satisfied.
He will do this for many. Be faithful and don't give up.
© Desiring God. Website: http://www.desiringgod.org/

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Praying in Your Group Time

One of the struggles I see with many Christians is how to facilitate a prayer time in groups. It bothers me to see people struggle with prayer. Prayer is simply communication and conversation with God. What's so hard about that?

In a group setting when we share in prayer together, there seems to be a switch that's flipped from time to time. People pray for trivial things. You take prayer requests for 20 minutes, but all of the requests are simply to make lives easier and better. When was the last time that you prayed for life change and repentance in your group? When did you pray for spiritual healing more than physical healing for someone? In a group setting, people pray for many things non-spiritually (and non-essentially) related to life. Some begin to pray in the old King James language, as if God might understand that better?!

It pains me so as a pastor to see so many struggle with prayer in a group setting. Many people never utter a word in corporate prayer times. Here's some quick tips that I use with group prayer times to make them more how I think God would like them to be:

1. Be real. Don't fake it. You are not fooling God or anyone else in your group with your spiritual condition. If you can't be real with brothers and sisters in the Lord, who can you be real with? God wants authenticity in prayer, even with a group of Christians.

2. Speak English. No King James. Practice conversational prayer in group time. Allow yourselves to cry out to God...just cry out to Him in normal verbage. God isn't interested in who can pray the most flowery words. He's more concerned with the condition of your heart. Pray from the heart.

3. Lay ground rules for requests. Yes, you can have ground rules and still be spiritual. Keep requests real and personal. Try to stay away from superficial "Santa Claus" requests in group time. It's okay to pray for freedom from pain, but let's avoid the requests for "a bigger house" and "a new television". Pray for what God wants more than what you want. Bear one another's burdens through prayer. Don't allow all of the requests to become superficial. Pray for life change in people, yes, even yourself.

4. Keep it simple. Praying with one another shouldn't be hard. Talk to God and intercede on behalf of your brothers and sisters in the Lord. There's no right or wrong way to pray (well, except for the King James "holier than thou" prayers). Don't ramble if you don't have much to pray for. Instead, use those times to thank God for all that He has done and is doing in lives.

We must remember that prayer is our lifeline to God. We cry to Him and praise Him in our prayers. He can handle your anger or disappointment, but also wants the adoration and thankfulness. Praying with a group of people should be no different than prayer between you and the Lord personally. If you find yourself putting up a mask or trying to be or talk or act like someone you are not, settle down and make it about God and not about you. As Christian brothers and sisters, we must be able to keep our prayer life real, even when we share and pray with others.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Dinosaurs & the Wedding!

We just finished loading out and setting up the dinosaurs. Incredible! Absolutely incredible! I can't believe how big they are and how cool it is to see them up close and personal. (Wait till you see the sanctuary!) If you haven't caught on yet, (or you've been under a rock), Creation Truth Foundation with Dr. Tom Sharp is going to be here Sunday morning through Wednesday night of next week. I talked to their guys today. This conference will be a huge faith builder for anyone who has questions about how dinosaurs fit into the biblical story, the truth about creation and evolution, and how the flood has impacted our world even till today. You will find your questions answered and your faith built stronger. Plus, you will be equipped with the knowledge you need to speak clearly about these things. It will be great. Don't miss it! And...bring ALL of your friends!

Now for the dinosaurs and the wedding. With the remodel and all of the events of October (Festival of Light, concert, Christmas in Action, etc.) this pastor's brain hasn't been its sharpest. (That's probably putting it nicely). So...here goes. They are setting up the dinosaurs in the sanctuary today. I've got my day planned out. I know that I have remodel stuff to do. I know that I have a wedding tonight at 6PM and all of that.... Wait. I have a wedding in the sanctuary at 6PM tonight and the sanctuary is infested with dinosaurs! My wife came in and was checking it all out about noon and she said, "Honey, are you forgetting you have a wedding tonight at 6?" And I'm thinking, duh! No! I know I have a wedding sweetheart. Who do you think I am? (I'm still not getting it!) Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. We have dinosaurs all over our stage that we just spent hours setting up and.... Anyway, it's just too funny now. At that moment, I'm not laughing. I kept trying to tell myself, it will be okay and laugh it off. But now I'm nervous. Now...I have to call the bride.

So, I call the bride and she is handling it really well, but I know this will make for some challenging wedding photos for sure! Anyway...thus it goes. Keeps it real. Keeps me humble. I'll be doing a wedding tonight with dinosaurs as the maid of honor and the best man! And there's even dino-poop on stage (see picture above). I'm thinking, is this book material or a sermon illustration or what?

Come and see the dinosaurs...after the wedding, of course!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Maybe It's Time to Move

I laugh when I read these church funnies, but sometimes I wonder if they could be true in rare cases. If you are used to sitting in the same place in your church, and you've been sitting there for 42 years, then maybe you should move. Change is painful, but most useful! Maybe you would meet some new people and get a new perspective on some things. If we church folk are stuck in our ways, how can we expect the world not to be stuck in theirs?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mike's Home

Mike got out of the hospital this morning. What a turnaround! To God be the glory for this miracle. Please continue to pray as he still needs to rest and clear those lungs. Going home is going to feel great to Mike! PTL!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

FOL & Mike's Turnaround

Our Festival of Light was a huge success! We had more than 3,000 people come through and share with us that night. We had several opportunities to share with people at the event and it was great! Please continue to pray that God will bless the seeds that were planted at FOL. All of our volunteers did a tremendous job making everyone feel welcome!

At around 10:45PM Saturday night, the elders and myself went to the hospital to pray with Mike, our drummer. If you don't know Mike, he's been a member at Oakwood for 20+ years. His daughter and wife had called during FOL and asked for prayers because Mike was not progressing as they would have liked. He was in ICU on a ventilator and had been for a week.

The elders and I did what the Bible says in James and prayed for Mike and anointed him with oil. If you haven't heard by now, there was almost a complete turn around in Mike by Sunday morning. He was off the vent (which is a story in and of itself) and was breathing on his own with oxygen. We got out of bed for the first time in a week. When I called up there Sunday afternoon, his sister told me that he was sitting in a chair watching football.

We need to continue to pray for Mike and for his healing. He is doing very well, but still has a long rode ahead as he rehabs and gets his lungs healed. But we must also acknowledge the turnaround that God did in him early Sunday morning. Thank the Lord for his provision and healing for Mike. He is still our greatest physician and healer!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What You Missed....

Here's some pics from the concert from Sunday night. It was awesome! Enjoy the pics. (If you didn't make it to the concert, look for another one coming up in late spring!)

Yes, that's Chris Sligh jumping off the platform. He's got ups!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From Concert to FOL

The concert was great Sunday night! Everyone I've talked to was blessed and had a good time. Pretty cool deal to host. The artists were genuine and really have a heart for ministry. Thanks to everyone who came out to support the concert. It's sometimes hard to get the BIG acts to come to Enid, OK so we appreciate everyone who came out to support the concert. We're looking at another one in late spring with Steve Fee, Matt Maher, and some others. So, stay tuned into the church website for further details.

Now it's on to to getting this Children's Remodel finished as well as Festival of Light. On Sunday we reached and even went over our goal on candy! That's amazing! We appreciate all of the donations from everyone for candy. Now we are sure to have enough for Saturday night and then some.

It's a buy week if you are on staff at Oakwood. Almost every day there's something going on in the evening or a special project that needs you attention. Plus, we have all of our regular week in and week out duties to fulfill. It's fun, fast, furious, and a full schedule, but the benefits for the Kingdom are out of this world! (Literally!) We're just praying for a successful outreach this Saturday night and for everyone to have a great time. If even one is brought to the Lord, or the seeds are planted for the future, we have done what the Lord has called us to do. I'm just glad to be a part of it.

If you are not involved, get involved. Just call the church office and we'll hook you up with a place to serve. If you are planning on attending FOL, we'll see you there. Be blessed this week!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Aaron Shust in our service on Sunday!

It looks like Aaron Shust will share with us in our morning worship service this Sunday. That's pretty exciting. So, don't miss Sunday's worship time at 10:30AM. Good worship, good message, sweet communion, and Aaron Shust sharing with us, and ultimately, another encounter with the Savior of the world. Does it get much better than that?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Big Concert Update!!!!

The big concert this weekend will be awesome! It's great to see Christian artists of this quality make a stop in Enid, America. This Sunday night at 7:00PM we're hosting the Aaron Shust concert right here at Oakwood Christian Church with artists Chris Sligh, Lanae Hale, and Andrew Witt. That's 4 acts for $10! And it includes a free t-shirt for the first 500 tickets purchased. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't miss it! It's some quality music that we don't see too often in these parts. There are also $30 VIP tickets available that get you a tour t-shirt, CD, early entry to the concert, a private acoustic set, and a meet and greet with all the artists. There are only 100 of those tickets available and their sold first come first serve (we have only a few left). If you want tickets, you can buy them here at the church or at Ruth's Christian Bookstore in Oakwood Mall. VIP tickets are only available here at Oakwood.

Here are some links to the artists so you can hear some of their music: (Awesome!!!)

Chris Sligh "Empty Me" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olDS-QlwpDw

Aaron Shust "My Savior, My God" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNeOmrq37MI

Aaron Shust "To God Alone" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT-QWSxV0Hs

Aaron Shust "Give It All Away" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sy1QxvKZjbY

Lanae Hale "Alive Again" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTxl0K3OJY0&feature=related

Lanae Hale "Start Over" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDdmtBSEgu8&feature=related

Lanae Hale "Burning Heartbeats" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCnBN5A1iiw&feature=related

Andrew Witt "Here" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJYeZDdX4VA

Hope to see everyone here at the concert this Sunday night. If you are on the fence...go! You won't regret it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hasn't Happened...Yet....

Too funny. Had to share this one. Just glad Derek hasn't gone there and hopefully never will. Though he does have a lot of youth pastor in him....

Causing a Disturbance

Sorry I've been away from the blog for a few days. It's been pretty slammed and I had a really LONG week last week. That happens in life. I think that it's God's way of reminding us that we are strangers in this world and are just passing through. We would not want to stay here. Perhaps if you are suffering or going through some type of pain this thought will give you some perspective. Long for heaven, not for this world.

I wanted to share this thought from Greg Laurie that I received this morning:

"The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.— Acts 9:31

Acts 9 tells us that after Saul's conversion, the church had peace. Why could they heave a sigh of relief? Because Saul had stopped hunting them down, arresting them, and throwing them into prison. But for as long as he lived, the world never had peace again, because he took the same zeal that had driven him to hunt down Christians and applied it to preaching the gospel.

I wish that Christians would serve God with as much zeal as they once served the devil. Many of us did whatever the devil wanted us to do. He would tell us to jump, and we would ask how high. But once we became Christians, we suddenly became timid. Instead of being bold men and women of God who are making a difference, we think, "Well, I don't want to offend anyone. . . . Well, I don't want to say that. . . . Well, I am not sure if people would like that." The world didn't have rest because Saul was the kind of guy who got things done. And when he was filled with the Holy Spirit and led by God, he was out preaching the gospel and causing what could be described as a holy disturbance.

Are you causing a disturbance in a good way? Or are you just fitting in—blending in with the woodwork? Instead, may God help you to be the man or woman He has called you to be. I thank God for heroes like Paul. But I thank God for unsung heroes too. So whether you're a hero or an unsung hero, make your life count. Because you don't decide when your life starts, and you don't decide when it ends. But you can decide what you will do with the days in between.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We're Just Not That Good

Almost every week I receive phone calls, e-mails, and written notes about how God is changing someone's life. Every Monday the staff and elders receive a printout of the decisions made from the service. I see and hear many stories about how God is changing the hearts of people and is radically saving them from the destruction of sin. I know that two weeks ago a decision was made to be baptized that had been put off for years. I know that a recovering meth addict gave her life to Christ. I've seen a married couple who were in denial about their problems come and deal with them and see their marriage renewed and their commitment restored. I've seen teens that were headed down a path of darkness be totally turned around and given new life.

Almost every week I see people whose lives are radically changed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God can do anything He wants to do and is still moving and saving people today as He has throughout history. So many times I get thanked for the work that God's been doing. I'm sure it happens to the other staff too. Perhaps the elders receive some affirmation or even some of our small group leaders or Sunday School teachers. The bottom line is...I haven't saved anyone, restored anyone's marriage, helped turn anyone's kids around. God does all of that. He should get ALL the credit.

Let's face it. Though our church staff is wonderful. Though our elders are Godly men of integrity. Though we have many great people living out the "one anothers" as lay servants in our church, we're just not that good. We can't do anything without Christ.

So, though we may sing well, speak well, testify well, teach well, and serve well, we need to remind ourselves that even our best is shambles compared to the work that God does. We can plant the seed. We can water the seed. (And we should!) But God is the One that makes it grow.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Candy Collection

It's tradition every year for me and my girls to collect and count the candy for Festival of Light (http://www.oakwoodchristianchurch.org/445033.ihtml). The girls have a good time coming up with me on Sunday afternoons and evenings to "collect" the candy and donations for the event. It builds the excitement and anticipation toward Festival of Light. After we collect enough, we come up here for 3 or 4 hours a week and "mix the candy", filling the candy cans and getting them ready to distribute. It's fun for the girls and helps me get it done all while having a lot of fun doing it!

What church traditions are you doing with your family? What church traditions are you creating for yourself and some friends? One of my earliest memories of family ministry was coming up to prepare communion on Saturday nights. The way that they did it back in the 1980's was to have a family sign up for one month a year. When it was your month, your family came up and prepared the communion on Saturday night for Sunday morning. I remember all of the process and procedures that we had to follow to keep it sanitary. I also remember using the little push button cup filler. I remember counting the trays and the cups, making sure the break doilies were in place. Good memories. These are things that will grow up and old with you and that will bring even more fondness as you remember your church.

Oakwood is a special place. Special memories are made here each and every day. Make and memory with you and your family and friends and get involved. You'll be glad you did because you'll have some fond memories down the road.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Anatomy of a Sermon Part 1

I've had many people ask as time goes on, how do you write a sermon? How do you know which passages to preach? How do you put series together? Where do you get the ideas, illustrations, stories? What is the process of study and preparation? In my next few blog entries, I'm going to attempt to answer these questions and walk my readers through the process. Understand that I cannot put everything here because it would take eons. However, I will attempt to give everyone an idea of how I do it.

One thing you must understand, every preacher is different. Every preacher has his own personality, style, way of teaching, creative ideas, and rapport. But one thing that every good preacher will attest to, every good preacher will agree on, is that it all starts and ends with the Living Word of God. The Bible is where every message must start and finish. It's the only book that will change hearts an lives completely because it is the Holy Word of God. These words are life. These are words that preach. These are words that will change eternal destinations.

Every sermon I preach usually starts with an idea. The idea usually comes out of something I've read or studied or heard. During most weeks, I'll read, study, listen, and pray for many hours. During these times come some of my best ideas for preaching, series, etc. God brings the His Word to me. Through this, there's always a verse or passage that comes to the surface and is the backbone for the message. Sometimes, I think preachers work backwards. They come up with an idea or thought and then try to find some scripture for it. I find myself with the scripture first and the thoughts and ideas coming out of that verse or passage.

At this point, some direction comes together for the sermon. What is God saying? What is He wanting the people in this church to know? What is He teaching me and I can in turn teach others? These are the times where the main idea or theme, or maybe even the title come together. Then, it's time to hit my deep study mode.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Morning After

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?! Is anyone tired?!?!?! We are! It was a good night and according to Madalyn, a great party. The girls were really well-behaved (minus the small group that stayed up till 2:30AM horsing around, but they did no harm). This morning as you walked into our living room it looked like everyone just slept where they fell. Too funny. I should have shot a video or something. All in all it was a good party. Now it's time to clean, nap (hopefully) and get ready for church tomorrow. All I really need to do now...quit yawning!

Held Up In My Bedroom

Try to picture this if you would. Note the time on this post. I'm here in my bedroom at the house. I've got my laptop here on my bed. I'm checking e-mail and looking over sermon notes. I've been run from my house because there are 8 girls who have invaded the living room. Maddy is having her first slumber party (for her 8th birthday). It's gone pretty well. We couldn't invite everyone unfortunately, (she had 15 on her list) so we did the best we could to help her build some relationships on our watch. Overall, the girls have been good and we've done some fun things and made some memories for Maddy. A little while ago I heard Maddy say to a friend, "Is this the best birthday party that you've ever been to?" It warmed Amy's heart and mine to hear that. I'm glad we got to do this for her and meet some of her school friends. I'm just trying to be a good dad, even though I'm held up here in the bedroom. I've got stories and good sermon illustrations out the wazoo from tonight's shindig and I'll be keeping them handy for the future. If you remember these days, smile and think back. If your in them, enjoy them. I hear that they are here and gone in a flash. We have to cherish these moments, even when there are slumber parties involved. Well, I figure 2 more "first slumber parties" to go and I'll be done. I'll talk about the final one in about 6 years, at Izzy's 8th birthday.

I love being a dad. I love my girls. Thank God for the gift of life!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Video from Sunday

Many of you have talked to me, called, or e-mailed asking how you can see that video that I showed on Sunday as a part of my message. I found it on You Tube this afternoon so I thought that I would share. Feel free to share it with everyone you know. E-mail your friends and family. Maybe God will use this to speak to their hearts.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Faithful Volunteer Wife

My wife is at the Lock-in with the elementary kids tonight. She is staying all night as a sponsor. Amy is the most wonderful volunteer that I know. I may be just slightly biased, but she serves her tail off. I was figuring up the other day and I think that she's involved in 10 different ministries, and about 4 of them are in a leadership capacity. Now some would say, "That's just a part of being the pastor's wife." But let me remind those people, she doesn't get paid. When I was hired by the church, they hired me, not my wife. Amy serves not because she ought to. She doesn't serve for accolades. She doesn't serve so other people can see her. Amy serves because she loves Jesus and wants to see lost people brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, just like she was some 16 years ago. If she can make someone comfortable with our children's ministry so they can sit in a service or group time and focus (and not worry about their kids) and be drawn to Christ, then she does it. I'm sorry. Maybe I'm bragging. But I am so proud of her and love her heart for the Lord so much. (I wonder if we had a church full of people with this attitude, what would happen?)

I love my wife attitude about serving others. She has her days of frustration or burnout, but you'd never know it. Her heart is so right. Though there are others like her in our church, I know that God always has room for one more. He wants us to help Him in His work. People who serve and get their hands dirty make a difference in the Kingdom of God.

As we start this new series "Living a Life on Loan", my prayer is that every person in our church would become aware of their life's purpose, repent of apathy, and let God use them in a powerful way for the Kingdom. I will keep praying for these things. I'm excited to see what God will do with a person who realizes that their life is on loan from Him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What is a Christian Church?

I got asked this question this week and probed about who we are and what we're about. Here is a reply I want to post from "What Kind of Church Is This?", a response to some questions that we had about 2 years ago. Feel free to comment.

What kind of church is this?
1. A Christian church Our message is that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” We require no other creed. He alone is Lord and Savior.
2. A church of Christ The church belongs to Him. We have no authority to change the teachings, rewrite the rules, alter membership requirements, or usurp His place. The church is not a democracy.
3. A church seeking unity Like the Campbells and Stone, members of this church seek to be one in Christ with all others He calls His own.
4. A church seeking to restore As much as possible, we imitate the New Testament precedents. That is why our baptism is by immersion, our Communion is every Lord’s Day, our leaders are called elders, our preaching is about Christ, and our prayers are in Christ’s name. Even our church name is rooted in the earliest days, when disciples were called Christians and their congregations were often addressed as “churches of Christ.”
5. An apostolic church The church, Ephesians 2:20 states, is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” Whatever we know about Christ and the church we learned from Jesus’ closest companions, the apostles.
6. A thinking church In the same Ephesian letter, Paul prays that God will give a “Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. . . .” Christian faith demands the best our minds can give, so we are a studying church, seeking to apply biblical truth intelligently.
7. A feeling church Ours is not a dryly intellectual approach to God, however. We rejoice and praise and pray and love and serve from the heart. We are unashamed of the gospel and not embarrassed to let our excitement be seen.
8. A sharing church We share our faith and love with as many as we can reach and our possessions as persons who know that everything we have belongs to God to be used for His purposes.
9. A free church We have no bishops or superintendents or national headquarters to determine local church policies. We elect our own leaders, call and support our own ministers, and decide where our mission money will go. We are not isolationists, though. Our congregations freely associate with one another to accomplish tasks too big for one church alone.
10. A growing church We want to grow, because we are under Christ’s commission to disciple the world. We haven’t completed the task yet, so Christian churches and churches of Christ are renewing our commitment to go unto the ends of the earth, preaching and baptizing and teaching, until the whole world knows the one Lord of all.
To view “What We Believe”, the belief statements for our church, go to http://www.oakwoodchristianchurch.org/

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


You've heard it before and I have too over many years of ministry. One of the most frequent reasons that people say they don't attend church is because it's boring or not relevant. Are you kidding me? I can see churches that struggle with relevance because of the changes it requires for reaching & teaching people. But boring? I think that there's probably only one place to find boring churches. Boring, Oregon. Yes, with google's help you can see that there's actually 25 Boring churches there.

Anyway, I think that churches ought to be the least boring places on earth. We serve a risen Savior who changes lives & eternal destinations. How can that be boring?

If we were going to try to make church boring, these may be some good ideas (from Tony Morgan):

10 Easy Ways to Make Church Services Boring
10. Forget relevant topics and life application. That's overrated. People are really only interested in hearing what you think, not why it matters to them.
9. Use lots of big words that no one uses in normal, everyday life. 16th century King James is always nice.
8. Use the same song every week. And try the chorus, yes, just one more time.
7. Talk more about the past and less about the future. Nothing like living in the past gets your spirit moving!
6. Encourage elementary school children to sit through your services. The love lively 45-minute sermons. It's good for them. Builds character.
5. Make more announcements.
4. Use the same order of service. Every week. No exceptions. Ever.
3. No television, movie clips, or videos. It's just a phase. People don't really need visual stimulation. They prefer talking heads.
2. Straight scriptures, no stories. Jesus didn't teach that way, but you're obviously a better teacher than Jesus.
1. Don't worry about when you finish. I'm sure no one has plans after the service.

Okay, so you get the point.

As a church staff, we sit down and plan services, sometimes weeks out. We ask ourselves: What can we do to make our services more memorable & impactful? What obstacles can we remove that seem to hinder our attendees from worship or listening to the message? Church should never be boring. Or do some Christians believe that we should invite unchurched people, people who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and expect them to show up and put up with something that they perceive as boring and not relevant to their lives? You can call it selfish, but we were all selfish too before Christ came into our hearts. Perhaps some of us still struggle with that. Let me say, the church is not here to entertain anyone. We are here to resonate biblical truth to the lost & broken world. But do our methods actually help us reach our intended recipients? Relevant teaching and services are key to this. We strive for excellence in these areas for our Sunday morning worship services. Times change...but do our churches? Church...boring? My God won't allow it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

When You Let a Sunday School Teacher Off

When you let a Sunday School teacher have a Sunday off, this is what can happen. Actually this was Dennis's 50th birthday and the "half a century old" realization leads you to do stuff like this sometimes. So, here's the pics, hot off the e-mail this morning. Enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Missing My Girl

My oldest daughter is at a slumber party tonight. This is the second of such events in her life. I miss her, pray for her, and worry about her. Will she make friends? Will she make good choices? Will she stand up for what's right even if it's not popular? What will she be exposed to while in someone else's care? We know that who she's with are responsible parents, no doubt. I'm more worried about the other 7 & 8 year old girls and some of their talk and decisions. Will Maddy be tempted? Will she stand firm on her faith? Will she be a light no matter what?

This reminds me of the enormous task we have as parents. We must "train up a child in the way he/she should go". Part of that training is letting them take a venture into the world to see how you've done. It's heart wrenching and hard, but we will all do it at some point.

Too many times I think that we try to protect our kids and never let them be tempted or see evil or be exposed to something wrong. That's our right as parents to choose. Amy and I have prayed and we've decided to let our girls be exposed to some things that we aren't quite comfortable with from time to time or maybe don't even like so that we can see how we've been doing as Christian parents and talk to our girls about it.

In my years of youth ministry, I saw many parents that chose the protective route (over protective at times), which is every families own choice. I've seen many kids finally taste freedom at 18 (or later for some) and they go to college or tech school or into the work force. It's not that the parents did a bad job raising them, it's just that the temptations and exposure to sin and evil are great and something that they've never ever experienced in their life. For young adults who have never even been exposed to anything in the world, the temptations are sometimes too much to bear. The end result is a moral failure or act of rebellion that can sometimes lead to ruin. I've seen it first hand far too many times.

The toughest job we have as parents is to teach our kids to live Christian in an unChristian world. When do you expose your kids to that world? Amy and I would never expose our girls intentionally, but we know with schools and friends the temptations will be there to want to "be like everyone else" even when everyone else is wrong. I don't know that there is an absolutely 100% correct answer here. It's tough no matter what you decide as parents. Maybe Amy and I are wrong. Maybe we're right. We just have a few precious years with our kids. We've got to make the most of it. Teaching them to think on their own and depend on their faith and make right choices are a big part of our parenting. Every child will go into that world someday. I want my girls to be equipped to stand with God on their own.

For tonight I will read through my sermon one more time, pray and turn it over to the Lord and try to sleep. He knows Maddy and He knows the worries of a couple parents. I'm going to trust that He will be there to help when help is needed and rest in the knowledge that He is God and He is in control. Aren't we called to rest in that anyway?

I miss my girl. Can't wait till morning.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Excited About the Future

I just got off the phone with a good friend of mine. I've thought for a long time that God would like to use him to possibly start a special ministry here at the church. Yesterday, someone talked to him and now he is in an 8 month training to start this type of ministry right here at Oakwood. That's awesome! I pray all of the time for the future of the church and that God would supernaturally provide what we need to do ministry here and He answers time and time again.

I'm excited about the future of our church. We have so many good people here serving and joining the church family. It really blessed me to see that family join yesterday with the 5 kids. They are a great example of servanthood and commitment to Christ and His mission, and they weren't even members yet! Amazing!

This morning at our men's group we had true koinonia, sweet fellowship. If you want to know more about koinonia, check out yesterday's sermon on the teaching page of the church's website. We had a man share a burden with us today. He's been diagnosed with cancer. We prayed for him and shed tears together because that's what true Christian brothers do. After men's group I had one of our men tell me that he feels closer to the guys in our men's group than he does to most people that he's been going to Sunday School with for 20 years. I asked why and he shared, "Because we do life together. We pray for each other, learn from each other, share one another's views and thoughts and ideas, all while desiring to grow deeper in the Lord together."

That's right. And that's why I'm excited about the future of our church. This is God's wonderful family of people called Oakwood. True deep and sweet fellowship are taking place and it's changing people's lives and outlooks. Praise be to God for the work he is doing among us (and is spite of us, sometimes). I'm just going to keep praying and asking God to keep pouring it into all of us and we'll see where He's taking us over the next several weeks and months. Count the joy and thank the Lord for all the life we get to experience through Him. Keep praying for His blessing and His hand of provision for the church. Every member being committed to the great commission and the great commandment is what God's desire is. I'm excited about the future because I'm excited that our church is BEING the church!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

TV & the Chiefs

I really don't watch a whole lot of television. When I actually sit in front of that thing, I feel guilty and look up at the clock and think, there went another hour of my life. Wasted! Anyway, Amy and I have discussed at LENGTH getting rid of the TV and saving that money for something else or giving more to the church. I really have only one hold-up. Football, but especially the Chiefs. Yes, I'm a KC fan and everyone knows it. It really doesn't matter how bad they stink, I'm still going to want to watch them. It's my most favorite thing to watch on TV. The only other things I enjoy watching are golf and basketball. Oh, ya, almost forgot. I do like watching the Sooners too. College football is alright. I especially like watching the BIG 12 play.

As for TV shows, I don't really watch much. I'm wondering how much people do. Everything I read says that it's one of the biggest competitors for people's time. Really, watching TV? Sounds harmless...unless it runs your life. But I do wonder this...what if we spent more time listening to God's Word and reading God's Word? If we were committed to reading the Bible as much as we are committed to reading the daily newspaper, I wonder how much more happy, fulfilled, and secure in Christ we'd be?! I know one thing for sure, the Bible changes lives. If we could turn off our favorite program for one hour and just read it, take it in, think about it a little bit, God can use it to do some amazing things in our hearts and lives. I think that's when He shows us how we can take hold of "the life that is truly life" 1 Timothy 6:19.

I was thinking today that I guess I'm just ready for fall. I'm ready for the cooler weather and all that brings. I'm ready for all of the fall stuff with the church. I'm ready for all of the candy collection for FOL to begin. I'm ready to get the dinosaur guy here who's coming in November with Creation Truth Foundation. I'm ready for God to bring it all in and pour it on me...with a little football on top. Go Chiefs and go Sooners!!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday Night ABF's Start

I've taken my airboat into work the last 3 days. Hey, we can't complain. We needed the rain and I love it because I think it's refreshing. I checked the weather today (as I do everyday) and it's supposed to get down to 58 tonight! That's frigid for August in Oklahoma, don't kid yourself. The weekend looks great though and I'm anticipating a great Sunday worship service together as we celebrate our God.

Last night kicked off our Wednesday night ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship). It was great to see so many people here at church and dedicating themselves to fellowship with one another. This Sunday's message is about the Connect of the 3 C's which is about Koinonia (Greek word) or fellowship. I'm excited that so many are now committing themselves to connecting with other Christians on Wednesday nights. I praise the Lord for the opportunities that we have to grow even deeper together this fall. I also praise the Lord for the dedicated leaders that we have leading our Wednesday night groups.

If you're reading this post and aren't involved, you are missing out on sweet fellowship and a huge opportunity to make friends and grow together spiritually. Let me encourage you to be involved and grow with us on Wednesday nights. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I'm so glad that I didn't water my yard today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I like storms. My dad was a pilot as I was growing up and we used to always watch the storms and even chase tornadoes a little bit. Dad knew the weather and to this day pays much attention to it. I guess I'm kind of my dad's son that way. I'm always aware of the weather and can pretty much tell you when things are going to get messy. I'm enjoying the storms tonight minus 2 things: 1) My girls keep getting up scared & 2) I have men's Bible fellowship at 6AM tomorrow, so I need some shut-eye soon.

It's a weird pattern tonight where all of the storms are forming just west of Enid and moving north and east. Amazing how God's weather works. I remember laying in my bed as a kid on nights like tonight and thinking through the loud thunder that God was moving His furniture around up in heaven. Funny how you remember those things. I just keep telling my girls that God's moving His furniture around in His big house and that he's taking some pictures too (flash lightning photography).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Injured the Foot

I injured my foot at softball tonight. I had to actually leave the game. It was sad. I was trying to beat a throw to first on a poorly hit ball and tried to stretch in my stride and gimped up with a pulled (and hopefully not torn) Achilles tendon. It was the last game of the season too! What a sad ending!

Softball was great this summer. Everyone involved had a good time playing and fellowshipping. I've had several ask me about a fall league, but there are no plans for that. We had a really good time this summer and I think that we'll definitely have to do it again next year.

I enjoy sports. I like watching okay, but I'd rather be playing or at least coaching. I enjoyed softball a lot and this was my first time ever to play. I enjoy basketball a lot and even football.

I also enjoy music. Guess I'm kind of "well-rounded" that way. I'm not teaching this weekend so I have the opportunity to play drums for Sunday's worship. I'm just hoping that I can go on the foot okay. I'm praying that it will feel better in the morning. Usually it will feel either better or worse the second day. I'm hoping that it's better.

I'd rather be playing or doing something than sitting with an injury. People that sit and like it drive me crazy. And most of the watchers don't even have injuries! I often times wonder how many watchers there are in the average church? They are injured, they just choose to be inactive and watch. And then I wonder...what does Jesus think about that?

Do Hard Things

Today, a teenager is considered a “good kid” if he gets good grades, gets into a good college, and stays out of trouble. In a culture where the perceived norm for high school students is drugs and detentions, making the honor roll is an accomplishment worthy of a bumper sticker. But the sad reality is that at many schools even the honors classes are so dumbed down that merely showing up and turning in all the work gets you an A. So if a student gets straight A’s, plays a sport and joins a club he is considered top-notch. And if he regularly attends church, well . . . that is even better.

Alex and Brett Harris (yes, the younger brothers of Joshua Harris, and yes, the Joshua Harris) have noticed this trend. They have noticed that teenagers are consumed by low expectations, and by and large have bought the myth that reaching a bar knee-high is something to be proud of.

The Harris brothers point out that this expectation of worthlessness has produced years of wasted potential. In their book, Do Hard Things, they expose this culture of mediocrity as the teenager’s enemy. They make it clear that the victims in this are teens who squander their first opportunities in life to excel — to do things that count for eternity.

Where did this culture come from? They blame “the myth of adolescence” (a term Al Mohler and Rick Holland have been using for years). They assault the idea that there should a be a time period between being a kid and being an adult, and that in that fictional time period it is acceptable to squander your years staying out of trouble, instead of seizing them to serve God.

The first way the myth gets teens to waste their life is by convincing them that being above average is actually something to be proud of. Excellence is defined by getting good grades in easy classes, and if the classes are to hard, at least trying to get good grades should be sufficient. The second way, the Harris brothers say, is by getting teens to be known for what they don’t do, rather than what they do. “Tim doesn’t do drugs or get in trouble at school — what a good boy he is!”

This book is refreshing because it is unlike most other books written for teens; it challenges them with real challenges. It challenges both the myth and the culture of mediocrity the myth creates. And it encourages teens to try things at which they might very well fail. In this vein it reminds me of John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life.
The Harris brothers just turned 20, and they write for a teenage audience. I heard someone say that this book would be suitable for adults to read, but I’m not sure how the Harris brothers would take that. After all, the point of the book is that teenagers need to grow up and act like adults. If culture has set the bar too low for adults too, well that almost misses the point of what the Harris brothers are trying to say. They are not calling teens to rise to the level of the average adult — they are calling teens to excellence.

The most helpful part of the book for me was a section highlighting examples of hard things to do. There are five categories of hard things given, and while I won’t give you the list here, I will tell you that they range from making your bed and working out consistently to ending childhood poverty in Africa. The most common example the book gives, and some might find this the book’s most obvious weakness, is political activism. The Harris brothers themselves worked on a campaign for a state supreme court candidate, and the longest example in the book is about a girl who ran a county-wide election in Colorado.

The appendix of the book is an explanation of how the Gospel fits into this call to do hard things, and it is very evangelistic. I would have liked to see the Gospel at the front end, and I would have liked to see them show in each section how the call to follow Christ fits in with the overall message to teens. But this is a minor concern, and the book is replete with Scripture passages and allusions, so it is not as if they were trying to obscure the Christian message. I just wish it would have been more integrated to the theme.

I would recommend this book be given high school students, and the younger the better. It is suited for freshman. Those who read it will be challenged to escape the trappings of modern-American adolescent mediocrity.

Finally, the Harris brothers have a website, http://www.therebelution.com/, which is an excellent source of information and forums for Christian teens. It is worth exploring, and youth pastors especially will mind much that is helpful there.

Derek has some of these books for sale if you are interested in picking one up. We'll sell them at cost to anyone who wants to pick one up. Just call the church office and ask.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

An Invitation for You and Your Church

Kyle Idleman, teaching minister at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY offered an article in their church paper. It was entitled "Dear Church". It was an excellent piece written to encourage and exhort the church. I'd like to share some of his thoughts here as well as my own.

I want to invite Oakwood to be the church that God wants it to be. To be the bride of Christ means to be married to the Son of God. The church is God's prized possession as each person and soul involved in it are desiring an even deeper walk with their Lord. God is pleased when we are the church. But many times I think that He's disappointed with our complacency. I want to invite Oakwood to be the church like we see in the book of Acts. I see our generation as the one restoring the radical calling of New Testament Christianity and being the church that most pleases God. So I invite every part of the Oakwood body to be a part of this.

This is an invitation to define success not by the size of the crowd in a building, but by the commitment of the followers when they leave the building.

This is an invitation to stop cheapening Jesus by dressing Him and selling Him cheap, but to raise the cost of following Jesus to nothing less than everything.

This is an invitation to preach the whole Gospel of God without concern for polls, popularity, or political pressure. It is an invitation to preach the Truth with grace and love.

This is an invitation to set free those who are bound by the rules of religion, the traditions of man and personal legalisms of preachers who decided the Bible would be better if they added to it.

This is an invitation to love. Not because it's someone you've made into your evangelism project, but because it's someone. They will know we are Christians not by our rule keeping, not by our political influence, or moral policing--but by our love.

This is an invitation to not focus on building your kingdom, but to be a part of building God's Kingdom. It's an invitation to be a part of a global revival that will usher in the second coming of Christ.

This is an invitation to redefine worship as a way of life. It's an invitation to leave behind our humanistic approach to our worship services. We do not gather to be entertained. We do not gather to celebrate ourselves, our families or our country. We gather to glorify God and to celebrate the difference His gift of Jesus has made in our lives.

This is an invitation not to send letters to church leaders about the temperature in the sanctuary, the volume of the music, the length of the service, or the crowded parking lot. Instead, send a letter asking to serve, committing to pray and celebrating the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others. This is an invitation for the church to officially close its doors as a country club and open its doors as a refuge, a shelter, a sanctuary.

This is an invitation to fight a different kind of cultural war--to declare war on issues such as hunger, homelessness, addiction and loneliness.

This is an invitation to answer the prayer of Jesus in the night of His death: that the church would be one. This is an invitation to leave behind our man-made denominations and stand united on the Word of God and faith in Jesus Christ.

This is an invitation to holiness. To put behind the pick-and-choose approach to the lordship of Christ and regain our distinctiveness as those who live as Jesus lived and love as Jesus loved.

This is an invitation to just raise your hand and say a prayer. This is not an invitation to come to church once a week and mark it off your list. This is not an invitation to put a Jesus fish on your car. This is an invitation to surrender your life and your heart. It is an invitation to die to ourselves.

This really is an invitation of Jesus: to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow.

Let's be the church together.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Proverbial Sharing

Our Men's Group is studying Proverbs on Tuesday mornings. It's a great time of fellowship and learning together. We are as "iron sharpening iron" and it's something that I personally look forward to every week.

I thought that I'd share a little bit (just a small portion) of what we talked about this morning. Maybe you will be encouraged to open the Word and do a little study yourself.

We are in Proverbs chapter 4 right now. In verses 18-19, there is a contrast given about light & dark. The life of a true believer is like the dawn of a morning. The light increases. It begins as a faint glow on the horizon and then proceeds to the full light of the noonday. 1 John 1:5 says that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Light exposes and darkness covers. Throughout scripture we see this truth over and over again. Take time and look at these passages: Romans 13:12-14, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 5:8-17, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-9, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 John 1:5-7 & 2:9-11.

As we went over these, many men shared about the light and darkness that we see in everyday struggles. One of the things that most impacted me was that scripture from Ephesians 5:8 that says, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." It doesn't say that we were once in the darkness, it says that we were darkness! We are called to be the children of light, the ones that shine Jesus to all that we come in contact with.

In Matthew 5 (Jesus' Sermon on the Mount) Jesus told us to be salt and light. In that context we think of light being evangelism and that we are to let our light shine to the unbelievers, which is true. But we are also called to expose the darkness around us by confronting sin, being a conscience in our community & by helping brothers and sisters that fall back into the darkness of sin and the world of the "Prince of Darkness".

I always say that nothing good happens after dark. If you are going to break in and steal, it's going to happen at night in the covering of darkness and not in broad daylight. If you cheat on your spouse it's always in covering of darkness so no one will know. As you sin, you don't tout it and brag about it, but you try to conceal and hide it and put it out of sight into the darkness. As God changes your life and your heart, you will find that His exposure of your sin and self to light will keep you on the narrow path that leads to life. And over time, you will enjoy the light of salvation even more.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Closing Program and Carnival

Just wanted to say a couple things about the closing program and carnival from Friday night. It was awesome!!! Amanda and Carina did a great job. The volunteers were great and the kids were wonderful. That's one of the best closing programs I've ever been too. Great job team!

After the program everyone was invited to the OAC dining room to have some ice cream. Then it was off to the carnival! We had cotton candy, balloons, several carnival style games, moonwalks, lots of prizes and candy. It was really fun for us and the girls. The weather couldn't have been nicer. It was a nice northerly breeze, not a convection over wind like we've had lately. The temperature was in the low 80's. The clouds in the west blocked out the direct sunlight. It was near perfect. Praise God for His provision for everything. It was truly a great family night. My girls had a blast and are still talking about it. It was great to mix and mingle with people you know and get to know some new families too. It looked like everyone there was appreciative and having a good time. Again, it was just a really great night. Thanks to everyone, and the Main ONE, who made it possible!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Secret to Golf

I think that I've finally figured out the secret to a great golf game. For many years, people have tried to figure out the secret to getting that little white ball into that cup. I've had the great joy of playing a couple of rounds here lately and I think that I've figured out the secret to it all: consistency.

When you watch players on the PGA Tour, what they possess that you and I don't have a lot of is consistency. If you can learn to be consistent with your clubs, then your game will massively improve. When you are consistent with your clubs, how your strike the ball, where you line up, how you swing and place the ball, then you are at the top of your game. I love to golf and I've hit a 91, 96, and 92 my last 3 times out. Maybe we're starting to see a little consistency.

The worse part of golf is when you don't play for a while. You kind of have to relearn your feel and how you swing and hit. You feel off-kilter and out of touch with everything.

The same is so true in the Christian life. When you quit reading God's Word everyday, when you quit praying, and when you quit attending church regularly and doing the things in the Christian walk that you know that you need to be doing, you feel off-kilter and out of touch. You will not perform well in the Christian life if you have no consistency to your walk. You must do the daily work and work hard at it, just like you would for any sport.

If you've ever sat back and watched someone succeed and do well in their Christian faith, know that it didn't happen overnight. It was because of a personal pattern of consistency in the spiritual disciplines that they could be all that God wanted them to be. If you see people that God uses is great ways and you want the same, it all starts with some consistency in your walk. Then you are allowing God to pour into you and use you to His fullest intent. (Ephesians 2:10 "We are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.")

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

VBS Excitement

Our Vacation Bible School is this week. My girls are so excited and have been for about 2 weeks prior. In my family, my wife has spent a couple of weeks coming up here everyday for planning, cutting, gluing, decorating, making copies and such for our VBS. The girls and I "help" of course and it's great. The girls are so excited every night as they get to learn Bible stories, experience recreation, do neat crafts that reinforce lessons, get to meet and learn from missionaries, and get to be with many friends and volunteers from our church family. It's a great week and I'm so happy that my girls are excited about it.

Tonight I saw a whole lot of kids really excited to be here. They are learning and growing in the Lord. This is when a church is at its best, when we're serving the community and each other through discipleship and ministry that plant eternal seeds in the hearts of hearers. Those kids are the hearers this week. I'm just glad to be a part of what God is doing.

Thanks to God for His blessings and provision and thanks to all of the faithful servants who get their hands dirty by serving the "least of these" in His name!